A Place For Indifference

Dr. Jim discusses the future of the Society of Biblical Literature in his Thinking Shop & Tea Room. In part, he reacts to a post by April DeConick at The Forbidden Gospels in which she correctly complains about the proliferation of groups with overlapping interests within the society. In part, he defends the need for a new Secular Critical Scholarship of the Bible Group. His whole post is abnormally interesting. I particularly liked this little ditty,

[The] society as a whole tends to treat “secular” as synonymous with “atheist” and since very strident and widely read atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris (who count as non-academics when it comes to the study of religion) rub so many people the wrong way, attempts to “secularize” biblical studies is taken by some as being equivalent “church bashing”. It is not. It is merely church-ignoring.

But Jim, many church folks equate church ignoring with church bashing. I am reminded of a remark by Mark Twain. A remark I have often quoted here and now quote again.

Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor’s religion is. Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code. [apud Paine, Mark Twain: a Biography]

As Jim notes, sessions like “Preaching from the Psalms” or “The Homiletics and Biblical Studies” are hardly indifferent to church and faith.

One thought on “A Place For Indifference”

  1. I don’t care…
    Actually, you touch on something very important; the way people often see ignoring the concerns of various religions as a deliberate anti-religion status. This I interpret as simply bemoaning the loss of privilege and its inherent social protectionism. It need not bother the conscience of the secular scholar.
    Out right church bashing, however, chronically viewing the impact of religion as solely negative, or measuring the value of a person based on their religious beliefs is something that should disturb the scholar. I don’t know who the neutral “judge” of that could be, but the self-professed victims should neither be ignored nor have their claims taken at face value.

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