Sunday, November 27, 2005

Because I Could Not Stop For Jesus

Lacking any original thoughts or the will to create them, I will merely draw your attention to another episode of "Those Evangelicals Are Scary and Insane!" brought to you by The New York Times. Having grown up evangelical, I suppose I should be shrugging my shoulders by now at yet another piece of news that suggests most Americans would like to live in a world in which the Enlightenment never happened, but it still makes me cry out in disbelief when alone in my apartment reading the paper. Today we learn that Emily Dickinson, when not properly taught, is as corrupting a force as Marilyn Manson. According to the "Week In Review" section, a group of California Christian high schools are suing the University of California because the university system refused to credit some of the high schools' courses when their students applied to U of C colleges. Having been sent to a few different Christian schools, I can attest that this is a wise decision on the part of the University of California. One of the courses under fire is "Christianity and American Literature," which uses a textbook published by Bob Jones University called Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, an excerpt of which showed up in the Times. Here you go:

Dickinson's year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary further shaped her "religious" views. During her stay at the school, she learned of Christ but wrote of her inability to make a decision for Him. She could not settle "the one thing needful." A thorough study of Dickinson's works indicates that she never did make that needful decision. Several of her poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general. Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a certainty. Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life.

Christina Rosetti, however, gets the green light:

The loneliness she faced is often reflected in her poems. But stronger than her loneliness was her total confidence in and submission to her Lord and Savior. Rossetti filled her mind and heart with Scripture. She gained from it a unique appreciation of the sustaining and sacrificial love of God. Her poetry and uplifting devotional literature are the natural overflow of her complete dependence on God.

I'm going to get my hands on that textbook to see what they say about Flannery O'Connor.