When redbloodedgirl tweeted this (“Court upholds firing dance teacher for music mentioning GOD–in SWAHILI–tho played for its African rhythm http://tinyurl.com/yaywcsc“), my blood ran cold and my head almost exploded. You don’t have to be a “person of faith” to understand what is so terribly, reprehensibly wrong with this. Firing a teacher for teaching something that contains a reference to God? Where does that end? How can you teach about the founding of this country without any reference to God? Exactly what documents, from the Gettysburg Address to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, can you teach in a classroom that has abolished the word “God”? How do you teach about the Crusades (or any period of history for that matter?), the history of astronomy, the great philosophers from Plato and Socrates to Descartes to Nietzsche? For surely, even the refutation of God would be a fire-able offense if it’s the mere mention of the word, “God,” that has cost this music teacher her job?
What books, indeed authors, are going to be banned as teachers across the nation scour their course materials for any and all mentions of the word “God” that they can keep their jobs?
The obvious ones are off the school library shelves and off course syllabi in no time: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Milton’s Paradise Lost (and Paradise Regained) and his great Samson Agonistes–actually, just burn all of Milton’s works, the man had a pesky proclivity for sneaking God into everything, even discourses on politics and divorce. Toss all of the Romantics onto the pile, they either mention God or a Creator in every damn thing and should not be taught–buh-bye Wordsworth, Shelley (both of you! No Frankenstein for us, alludes to God in the first letter and actually mentions the word “Heaven” there!), Keats, Coleridge, et al.
Latin American magical realists are certainly off the reading list, so good-bye One Hundred Years of Solitude (one of the greatest books evah!), good-bye Isabelle Allende, Marquez, and Carlos Fuentes. And no more American writers for anyone, ever. That Nathaniel Hawthorne, H. D. Thoreau, Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, Ernest Gaines, Willa Cather . . . you name one, they did it, they dropped the G-bomb.
This is all off the top of my head, and I’m sure I’m missing many more like Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Mathew Arnold, Auden, Dante, Robert Frost, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thomas Harding, Cervantes, Goethe, Dylan Thomas (one of my personal favorites), and on and on. And on. I’m actually hard-pressed to think of any author or poet worth studying in school who does not reference God in some way.
I’m already upset about the removal of God from our daily lives, but from education? What’s left to teach? Gay penguin stories and maths? Songs of worship and prayers to BO?
Firing someone for teaching a piece of music that refers to God sets a frightening precedent. Do you really, even if you don’t personally believe in God, want it to go this far? Literature is my personal interest, but how can we teach any art at all if we ban “God”? What about music, sculpture, painting? Or history? Or science?