“Christianity: You’re Soaking in It” 1

I am not sure how I missed This article at Inside Higher Ed from Nov. 2, but it is great! Not only do I (more or less) agree with what he says, it is very witty and has some of the best one liners. He begins:

Inside Higher Ed’s recent article on the prevalence of religion on campus came as no surprise to me. Although it has been about a month since the article came out, I still think that the time is ripe for me to make a confession: I actively incorporate the gospel of Christ into my teaching — although not for the reason you might think.

It turns out he is “like all church musicians, a liturgy junkie.” This is an odd place for Golub since, “attending church seems infinitely more transgressive of my socials norms than does, say, running around naked in the middle of the desert while dosed to the gills on synthetic mescaline.” He goes on to say that being a Church singer (though Jewish and of a “lefty” background):

makes you realize about Christians is that they’re everywhere. When it first hit me, this revelation filled me with the same shock that fills those ladies in the old Palmolive commercials — I’m soaking in it! These “palmolive” moments continued into the classroom and it soon became apparent to me that many of my students — who looked perfectly normal — actually considered Jesus Christ to be their personal savior.

He continues the commercial metaphor by (rightly, in my view) saying

academically speaking, Christianity could be used to soften hands while I did the dishes. That is to say, I realized that I didn’t just have to let the fact that my classes were saturated with Christianity go unremarked. Rather than simply soak in it, I could use it to further the goals of the class. Even the fact that my students came from diverse faith backgrounds within and without Christianity could be foregrounded as a way of asking students to think through and share with each other exactly what their beliefs were.

What follows is an explanation of an excellent use of common backgrounds, amid diverse beliefs, used for a (positive) pedagogical end. Excellent. Please do read it all.

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One thought on ““Christianity: You’re Soaking in It”

  • Matthew Baldwin

    Chris, I’m leaving a second note here on this earlier piece. It seems to me that Golub’s piece is truly germane to the various issues which have been raised on the Biblioblogs and in our SBL sessions.

    I like Golub’s approach because he simply names what is true (we’re “soaking in it” and some of us may even be a part of the “it” in some way) and affirms that is can, does, and perhaps ought to shape what takes place in the classroom. Knowing Golub, I am certain that his class loses not a scintilla of academic rigor for the incorporation (pardon the clumsy pun). It is more difficult and interesting to think about how we could do something similar in Biblical lit classes; or rather, I suspect we already do this in some way but the question is can we be more deliberate about it??