Thursday, April 30, 2009

Now that my work load has lightened and free time has become more abundant, I've been able to sit down and start watching cartoons again. Childish, yes, but that's not to say it's not a good form of entertainment. Though, it has made me a bit nostalgic.

I remember watching cartoons when I was a kid. Back then, I wasn't concerned with ethics being taught, and I definitely wasn't paying attention to the hidden morals and themes throughout episodes. Now, however, I'm noticing certain themes coming out in jokes made during episodes of cartoons like Spongebob, Hey Arnold, and Invader Zim. One of them, was religion.

I noticed that more and more cartoons are addressing the issue of religion and its values. Spongebob, for example, has an episode called "The Magic Conch Shell" where Spongebob and Patrick come across a fortune telling conch shell toy, and begin to both worship it, and follow its words as law. Spongebob is notorious for having subliminal adult content, but this was blatantly overt. I took this as an obvious mockery of religion, those following an "all knowing voice." Despite the fact that the episode is sped up, you still get the point. I couldn't find an original clip of the video.

Throughout the video, allusions to organized/cult like religions are made. In the beginning, Spongebob and Patrick make a club and don't allow Squidward to come in because they don't think he'd understand. They then get lost, and show Squidward "the magic conch shell." The shell itself represents a diety or religious icon in which they abide by. Like all religious icons, there is oposition to it and its teachings. Squidward denounces their belief that the conch knows all and will lead them to freedom from the kelp forest, but the other two insist. Through a series of fabricated events, the conch is made to seem as if it's truly magical, and eventually Squidward believes too.

Although it's done ina ridiculous manner, the message can be taken one of two ways. The first and more cynical view is that religious belief is fabricated, and any miracles that occur are chance. On the other hand though, it could be seen that infact religion and the miracles that follow it are actually a series of circumstance and chance. The question is what are our kids getting out of it? Is it inadvertently turning the younger generations against certain beliefs and values that our country and many others were founded on, or is it just all in the name of entertainment?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Religion in America

I came across this article on just yesterday. I thought it was an interesting read because it talked a lot about what we talked about in class. The article mostly talks about how religion has changed a lot in America. According to the article, more than half of American adults have changed their religion. The article also touch on the fact that religion has shifted. As we found in our class alone not to many of us do not go to Sunday church. Also, in the article I found it interesting that one of the reasons people may have drifted away from church is because of the Catholic Church sex scandals, which connected to the movie that we watched "Doubt". When one of the Sisters believed that the Priest was being inappropriate around the students.

Monday, April 27, 2009


After watching the movie Doubt in class today, I began thinking about the whole Catholic Church molestation scandals. A certain line in the movie struck me as being funny on the surface, but when I started to think about it it worried me a bit. Father Flynn was talking to the boys about girls and how to handle themselves around them. When a boy asks him what if every girl he asks to dance turns him down, Father Flynn replies "then you become a priest." This may make the boys laugh at the time but maybe Father Flynn really didn't mean it as a joke. Maybe these men are turning to religion because they can't find women to marry and, being human, they feel the need for companionship and they will take it any way they can find it. And even if the clergyman finds a woman that he could potentially date and marry, the church does not allow it. The molestation scandals could potentially be avoided if these clergymen were allowed to date and get married. Maybe the church could amend their rules to accommodate this new trend of lonely priests.

Wanting More

As the semester comes to an end, I have been thinking a lot about American life and how religion fits in. I feel like we as a nation, are missing out on something because of our lack of faith. This brings me to think about the Amish people with their simplistic lifestyle. Our world is so full of commodities that we don’t need and these commodities have taken us away from something important. Religion is something that is very different in today’s society. These commodities have taken us away from what truly is important. Some would probably argue about this. My response would be; What do you get out of your video games? There is no true meaning in video games. We constantly overlook the best part of life. Spending time with family and friends and enjoying nature as it is. I think the Amish have all this. Yes, their life is very hard but I argue that they truly live life to its fullest. They appreciate every day and are experiencing life as many of us won’t. I want what they have, a life with peace and a true understanding of their faith. I feel very strongly that the faith of the Amish and people from the beginning of our country, had faith like we never will. I guess this is due to the lack of knowledge about evolution and commodities but I want that. I want to not have this faith that isn’t questioned but truly believed because I feel they have peace in their lives do to this. It’s just something I have been thinking about for years and really feel I have missed out on something. I want the world to go back to these days but realize this will never happen. The Amish interest me with their simplicity and community based society. I constantly wonder what it would be like to live in their society. Would I feel more at ease? Would it really provide me with all that I’d hoped it would? I have this urge to know this and yet I probably never will.

So I know that I probably won’t become Amish even though that thought is very tempting. I have realized I need to make changes in my life so that I don’t feel I am missing out. William Deresiewicz wrote an article “The End of Solitude”. He talks about how our society has turned away from solitude but specifically refers to our generation. “I once asked my students about the place of solitude in their lives. One of them admitted that she finds the prospect of being alone so unsettling that she’ll sit with a friend even when she has a paper to write” (1). This is a very startling thought to me because it describes me in some ways. Ever since I have been in college I have this fear of being alone. I don’t like it at all. I contribute this fear to when my parents had to leave me at college and I stood there knowing no one. That was the scariest thing I have ever done. Never have a felt more alone in my life. Ever since then, I make sure I am not alone for long periods of time. Yet, when I’m home, I seek out alone time. I can’t wait to spend time by myself just thinking but often to read and let my mind wonder.
Deresiewicz also talks about the use of cell phones and facebook. I honestly don’t have facebook because it would take up too much of my time and I don’t want that. I do agree that I would meet a lot more people if I did have facebook but I don’t feel I’m missing out. The idea of being on the computer that long is truly frightening to me. I also am not a fan of texting. It is not personal enough to me and I feel like I’m talking to a robot. I admit my phone is constantly on me and I should try not being with it but I am not constantly using my phone either.
To wrap these two ideas together, I think the reason I want to be Amish is because of the lack of solitude in my life. If I were to have more time to myself to enjoy my surroundings and get to know myself more I would find the peace I am longing for. Does anyone feel they need more solitude in their life or is it just me?

Educational Philosophy

We have spent a great deal of time in school up to this point. Most of us in this class have spent at least sixteen years in school to reach the point that we have today but what is the point of education? Is it to make us better more enlightened individuals? Maybe it is to train us for our future careers? What about to make us good consumers to stimulate the economy?

Depending upon what one views the purpose of education to be the methodology taken for that education can vary greatly. If education is to make us mindless consumers then maybe the best method is a rigid curriculum with frequent standardized assessments. Or maybe this is how we should be educating people to prepare them for the workforce. On the other hand, to be successful in a career people need to be independent thinkers with good leadership skills so maybe a loosely structured curriculum with both teacher and student driven aspects is best.

The Core at Champlain College is an experiment in educational philosophy. The idea that by mixing disciplines such as history, economics, philosophy, psychology, science, literature, arts, and aesthetics students can gain a better understanding of each by being able to analyze them from the perspectives of various disciplines. But yet for some reason many Champlain students in Core consider it to be stupid and a waste of time. The argument against Core that makes me the angriest is “This has nothing to do with my major so why should I have to waste my time learning it”. Champlain College is a four year liberal arts college. It seeks to give its students a liberal arts education which includes a cross section of many disciplines to ensure students are well rounded and prepared for the real world. If you are among those who do not want this then leave. There are many great two year technical schools that focus on teaching a skill or profession without the general education component.

In the Western World Philosophy, Immanuel Kant describes enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage” and nonage as “the ability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance” (149). If the purpose of Education is to create enlightened individuals, which I believe it should be, then the Core’s goal of teaching us how to think is certainly pointed in the right direction. The problems associated with Core and any of its shortcomings are as much the fault of its students as its professors and administrators. Kant points out that laziness and cowardice are the primary reasons why “such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance” (149). If Core, or even education in general, is to succeed at created enlightened individuals then students need to break free from laziness.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is our faith blind?

As Stephen Prothero states in the article “Blind Faith” that Americans are some of the most religious people in the world, but that they are also the least knowledgeable about their religion. He states that

“Americans are also the most religiously ignorant people in the Western world. Fewer than half of us can identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible, and only one third know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. These are just two of the depressing statistics in Stephen Prothero's provocative and timely Religious Literacy. The author of American Jesus (2003) and the chair of the religion department at Boston University, Prothero sees America's religious illiteracy as even more dangerous than general cultural illiteracy ‘because religion is the most volatile constituent of culture, because religion has been, in addition to one of the greatest forces for good in world history, one of the greatest forces for evil’” (1).

Recently, The Daily Show did a stint where one of the reporters interviewed several people about the Rapture. Many of them believed heavily that followers of Christianity would be saved from the eventual end of days while those that did not follow Christianity would not. One interviewee was Scott Butcher, the creator of, a site that would email anyone that was left behind after the Rapture and would explain what had happened. He could not even answer a simple question when asked about a specific detail about the prophecies regarding the Rapture. The video is shown below.

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Miss California

One of the Miss USA contestants, Miss California's Carrie Prejean, said that she believed that marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman. Here's a clip of her from the pageant.

She later claimed that "Out of all the topics I studied up on, I dreaded that one, I prayed I would not be asked about gay mariage. If I had any other question, I know I would have won." Well, how fortunately for her that she yes indeed received a question on the topic of gay marriage AND in fact was asked the question by celebrity-(ish) Perez Hilton who is homosexual.

This issue already has a lot of attention in recent politics and she did acknowledge that it could have been a potential topic to be asked upon. Should have studied harder, tsk tsk.

Her answer caused her to be faced with a lot of negative attention-- Perez Hilton blogged about her on his site calling her a 'dumb bitch' and went on with how her having 'half a brain' and even said he would've stormed up onto the stage and ripped her tiara off if she had won.

It amazes me that in 2009 we still manage to live in such a closed-minded society. This is exactly one of the things that's wrong with the world today. Yeah, I do believe that Miss California had every right to express HER opinion on gay marriage that "Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage." She later told Fox News that "By having to answer that question in front of a national audience, God was testing my character and faith. I'm glad I stayed true to myself." But when did we become such a religiously strict Christian society? (I'm not exactly sure what faith Prejean believes in.) In McDannell's Material Christianity, she states that Christians believe that "sexuality is God-given, homosexuality cannot be 'natural' " (pg. 217).

Still, I think that Miss California did not answer her question the way that a beauty queen should have. She wasn't asked what she thinks of same-sex marriage, she was asked if she believes that states should pass laws regarding same-sex marriage. And THAT is a completely different question than how she answered it. She was competing to be a representative of her state and country so she should have known that. Again, she definitely should have given more thought and much more carefully worded answer that didn't address whether or not she thinks same-sex marriage is wrong.

It's almost like we are going backwards; we fought so hard over the past years for our rights and beliefs, and now there are still people being told that they cannot marry because of their homosexuality. It's pretty silly that only FOUR out of fifty states make same-sex marriages legal. The other forty-six needs to realize that when religious and sacred meaning is taken away from the equation that homosexuality isn't a negative impact on our society.