Friday, April 1, 2011

Uneducated Bible Scholars and Mark Twain--Lord Have Mercy!

Good Friday morning everyone!  This is a part two from yesterday's post on the lack of common sense and basic fund of knowledge.  This one is about a religious topic.  It is not because I want to educate you on this topic, rather I was astounded to hear that my Bible College student employees didn't know it.

Several weeks ago, Rose asked me if she could have Easter weekend off to go visit her family.  She asked if Dod could cover for her on Good Friday and if Ruthie could cover for her on Easter Monday.

Rose has covered for them a lot.  It seemed like a reasonable request.  I said I'd ask them.  If they could cover her hours, it would be fine with me for her to have the time off.

I realize Easter moves every year.  It's based on something astrological, I think.  It's like the first Sunday after the last full moon, something, something, something. I don't know.  I am not the Biblical scholar in my family, that's my mother's job.  I simply know that Easter moves around the calendar but that it is generally between late March and late April.  I look at the calendar each year to determine when it falls.

So, I looked at my calendar and established the dates we were talking about.  I didn't expect my herd of little Christians to know the exact dates.  They may know, but I didn't expect it because of this rotating slot on the calendar Easter has each year.

I asked Ruthie if she could work for Rose on Easter Monday.  Ruthie asked the date.  I told her.  She said no problem.  We were done.

For those who don't know when Easter Monday is, it is the Monday after Easter Sunday.  Some countries recognize it as a holiday, some don't.  That's not the big deal here.

Later, I asked Dod, in the presence of Phil--who was still here at the time--if he could work for Rose on Good Friday.  No, he didn't ask me the date.  He asked me if Good Friday is before or after Easter. Phil said he didn't know either. My head nearly exploded from the sheer force of total disbelief.

According to the Pew Foundation, 78% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.  So, Easter in the US should not be an obscure holiday.  Look at the merchandising around it alone.  You can walk in any major retail outlet about now and see Easter baskets and such.  On the display, it has the date.

My herd of little Christians are such devout Christians that they are dedicating their college careers to studying the Bible.  The ones in undergrad will graduate with a degree in Bible.  Some of them will have a double major, like Dod, and finish with degrees in Bible and Intercultural Studies...or some other major.  But, every undergraduate at the Bible College is required to major in Bible.  They all finish with a degree in Bible.  Dod and Phil should know when Good Friday is in that case.

Good Friday, to devout Christians especially, should not be a mystery as to when it occurs.  Why?  Because you simply cannot have Easter without having Good Friday.  I am supposing those who are not devout Christians or those living in countries where the predominant religion is not Christianity are asking themselves: "Why not?"  Why can't you have Easter without Good Friday?

Let me preface this by saying again, I am not a Biblical scholar.  I am not a regular church attendee.  I was raised Lutheran.  I was very active in church as a child and teenager.  As an adult, I became an  Episcopalian. I was very active in that church for a number of years, too.

I am no longer active in church, but I don't have anything against it.  It's just how my  life has evolved right now.  My life revolves around the farm and there is little time for much else.  All of this said, even I know whether or not Good Friday falls before or after Easter.

Good Friday must occur before Easter because Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified.  As a result, he died. Christians believe he paid for their sins with his death, so that they will not have to suffer in Hell.  After being dead for three days, Christians believe Jesus rose again and later ascended into Heaven.  The day he rose again is celebrated as Easter Sunday.

I am making a gross oversimplification of this most holy Christian day.  I realize that.  Remember, this is not a religious entry.  It's about lack of a decent fund of knowledge by people who really ought to know such things.

So, in not nearly as many words, I state this fact of the Christian belief system to Dod and Phil.  Then I ask them, "How can you not know if Good Friday falls before or after Easter?"

Dod says, "Because it's not important."

Huh?  How can the day that starts the ball rolling to allow the basic premise of Christianity, of which Dod and Phil are serious students,  to exist not be important to them?  The basic premise of Christianity is that if Christians accept that Jesus has died for their sins--which he did on Good Friday--that they will not have to suffer in Hell.  Good Friday is a pretty darn important date on the Christian calendar.  How can two Bible College students not know this?  Furthermore, how can at least one of them declare it's not important?

Maybe Dod was trying to save face for not knowing whether Good Friday fell before or after Easter.  Maybe he was tired.  Maybe his brain was fried from too much studying.  I have no idea.

I even posted this conundrum on Facebook.  My most wayward friends, including ones who do not profess to be Christians at all, knew this information.  I'm not even counting my mother the Biblical scholar or my friend the former nun.  I mean the ones who haven't darkened the door of a church since they were baptized as children. I mean the Buddhists.  I mean the agnostics.  Everyone knew this information...except for Dod and Phil, my Bible College students.

What is going on here?  Do people not even know the most basic facts about what they are studying and profess to believe with their whole hearts?  And, this isn't just in the case of Bible students and religion.

I made a reference to a Mark Twain novel to Rose the other day.  She said she was unfamiliar with Twain.  Rose has a degree in English, for crying out loud!

How do you get a four year degree in English from a college in the US without being vaguely familiar with Mark Twain?  Mark Twain could arguably be called America's most famous author!  Like him or not, it's true!

I'm not talking about some obscure Twain reference.  I'm talking about the title to a Twain novel so common that it was on my required reading list in high school!  And, I didn't go to some exclusive, obtuse high school. I went to public school, for goodness sakes.

I'd tell you the name of the novel, but it incorporates the name of the state where Rose is really from.  Since I'm trying to let my staff remain anonymous, I'll leave it there.  If you have a degree in English or are vaguely familiar with Mark Twain's writings, you will know.

So, you see my perplexity.  Not only do they not build Bible College students like they used to, they don't build people with English degrees the way they used to, either.  These are just two examples of the lack of basic knowledge that exists on my farm among college educated people.  It worries me.

How can they not know this stuff?  It's simple.  It's basic.  If  you've ever been to Sunday school, you know when Good Friday is.

If you've ever been to public high school, you should be vaguely familiar with at least the titles of some of Mark Twain's most famous books.  These are not great mysteries or hidden facts.

It is just the basics of the American fund knowledge.  And, before someone makes themselves look of knowledge is the stuff you know...and apparently, the stuff you should know, but don't.

What else don't they know?  Maybe, I don't really want to know the answer to that question.  Maybe it would blow my mind to the point that my head actually exploded from the sheer force of disbelief.  Hmmm...I wonder if that could really happen?  Best not to ask my employees.  They probably wouldn't know anyway.

Have a good day folks.  Expand your basic fund of knowledge.  It'll help you feel like you know what the conversation is about, even if you don't.  You can at least pretend a little better.

And, to answer your question, once we established that Good Friday is before Easter and that it's a school holiday at the Bible College, Dod could cover Rose's hours.  Rose is going home to visit her family the entire Easter weekend, from Good Friday until Easter Monday.  Hallelujah!  

Thanks for reading!

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