The United States is one of the most religious places on earth, but it is also a nation of shocking religious illiteracy.
- Only 10 percent of American teenagers can name all five major world religions and 15 percent cannot name any.
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that the Bible holds the answers to all or most of life's basic questions, yet only half of American adults can name even one of the four gospels and most Americans cannot name the first book of the Bible.
Despite this lack of basic knowledge, politicians and pundits continue to root public policy arguments in religious rhetoric whose meanings are missed—or misinterpreted—by the vast majority of Americans.
"We have a major civic problem on our hands," says religion scholar Stephen Prothero. He makes the provocative case that to remedy this problem, we should return to teaching religion in the public schools. Alongside "reading, writing, and arithmetic," religion ought to become the "Fourth R" of American education.Many believe that America's descent into religious illiteracy was the doing of activist judges and secularists hell-bent on banishing religion from the public square. Prothero reveals that this is a profound misunderstanding. "In one of the great ironies of American religious history," Prothero writes, "it was the nation's most fervent people of faith who steered us down the road to religious illiteracy. Just how that happened is one of the stories this book has to tell."
The second book I am currently working through is one I purchased for my Nook with a gift card from my daughter. It is a classic I should have read years ago. Written by Alexander Schmemann the title is For the Life of the World. I believe this was first recommended to me by an orthodox priest I met several years ago on a Greyhound bus on my way back to the sem. I was reading a copy of Athanasius' On the Incarnation, and seeing the title initiated a discussion with me. So, if you are out there dear father, I finally go around to your recommendation!
As an addendum, I also purchased another book for my Nook that I would like to pass along to the readers. It is actually a reference work, but one I know I will use. This is a diglot New Testament of the Nestle-Aland 27 with the ESV. I am aware that they have now released the 28th edition, but that was not included in the available Nook book. You can purchase the same work through Amazon and also directly through the publisher Crossway. It is cheaper than the one I purchased for the Nook, and seems adaptable to all e-readers. Go here for more information. P.S. A "diglot" is a bilingual book, which in this case alternates the ESV with the Greek, verse-by-verse.
Finally, on the list of "I need to read," I include a book that is on the bibliography of my thesis proposal (still in process, more later), that my dear wife gave to me as a birthday gift this year. Written by Dr. Frank C. Senn (see previous blog post for additional information on the author) it is entitled Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical (Fortress Press, 1997). This tome is nearly 750 pages, so I don't think I'll have it finished anytime soon for review.
Well, that's it for my reading list going into the new year.....