TAMMEUS IS TALKING AGAIN
P.S.: Yes, I know, a P.S. should go at the bottom, but I'm afraid some of you will miss it there. I'm being interviewed on a University of Illinois radio station from 5 to 6 p.m. (central time) today, Sunday, about the book I'm writing with a rabbi on Jews in Poland who survived the Holocaust with Christian help. I think you can hear it online by going to this site. If not, it eventually will be in the show's archives there.
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A PAPAL VISIT TO THE BIG APPLE
Pope Benedict XVI has accepted an invitation to visit New York City (and the U.N. there). Well, darn. I was just in New York a week or two ago. Wonder why the pope didn't coordinate with my schedule better. No date for the pope's visit is set yet, so maybe I still can run into him on a subway the next time I'm back there.
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ISLAM FINDING A HOME DOWN UNDER
A few years ago I visited a large mosque outside Washington, D.C., and wrote a piece about the way Islam is finding its sea legs in the United States by adapting to local conditions. Something similar seems to be happening in Australia, this report says. Both Islam and Christianity are finding new homes around the world, and they are having to react to local situations in various ways. It's a fascinating process to watch.
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THERE ARE BENEFITS TO TEACHING ABOUT THE BIBLE
In columns and, as I recall, blog entries, I have written in the past about the need to have a bliblically literate society.
By that, I don't mean a country in which everyone reads and interprets and believes in the Bible in the same way. Rather, I mean a society in which people are familiar with biblical references ("my brother's keeper," "go the extra mile," and so forth) so we can speak intelligently to each other and understand the history and background of what we're saying.
The best book to help with this project, in my opinion, is The Bible and Its Influence, though no book is without its critics when it comes to educating people about the Bible.
A paper recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association suggests that biblical literacy can improve student achievement and scores.
The paper was presented by Professor William Jeynes, a non-resident scholar at Baylor University and a professor at California State University at Long Beach. Jeynes reported that students with high levels of biblical literacy tended to have considerably higher grade point averages overall than students with low biblical literacy rates.
". . .biblical literacy is associated with positive student outcomes," Jeynes concluded. Courses on the Bible as literature in public school likely will improve academic achievement, he concluded.
What do you think? Do you agree? Can classes about the Bible be taught in public schools without crossing constitutional boundaries? (I think so.) And why are biblically literate students likely to do better academically? I think part of it is that biblical literacy is a reflection of an even wider literacy.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My Saturday column this weekend is about the condition of the Episcopal church 400 years after its founding in the United States.)