Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Hoo boy, have I ever been saving up the links to share with you. I've stumbled across a number of thoughtful and fun posts lately, but I don't have the time to write an entire post for each one. So, without further ado:

"Persecuted" American Christians and conservative campus culture
Limon de Campo writes about conservativism on her campus:
I think it's an interesting phenomenon that our culture (meaning this part of the U.S.) is so damn culturally conservative that parents worry about their kids being ostracized for not belonging to a religious group. But it's a legitimate fear: kids who aren't culturally conservative and religious have had more difficulty fitting into the campus culture.

In one of the comments on this thread, someone asked why Christians had a persecution complex. To reprise my response: I think the persecution complex among fundamentalist (or, as they frequently call themselves, "Bible-believing") Christians comes from the desire to live as closely to Biblical word as possible. Thus, if the Christians in the Bible were persecuted, then today's American evangelicals need to find a way to be persecuted as well. And WWJD? Stand up to the persecutors. Of course, he stood up, as I understand it, on behalf of others, not himself... And that's quite different from what the fundamentalists are doing.


Fringe benefits of the Ph.D.
Print Culture on cavemen and car insurance.

Sidewalk art that's not to be believed
You must check out Julian Beever's portfolio of 3D sidewalk art. Scroll down to "3D illusion." (h/t to Fumbling Towards Geekdom.)

Image medley
This image at Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted) made me laugh and cry.

This photo at Virtualpolitik made me want to vomit.

I'm coveting this. Wish I had that kind of talent. Maybe I'll learn to sew and punish Lucas one Halloween by dressing him up as kiwa hirsuta. (h/t to whip up.)

A must-see photo series: Bird feeder v. bear. (h/t to Grrlscientist.)


Queen of West Procrastination said...

I've been thinking about this issue ever since I read it at Limon's, especially seeing as I'm a Christian, and have been spending a bunch of time over at my friend Karl's blog, mulling over what that means when one is an academic.

Now, I can only speak from the Canadian point of view (and I sure know that it's way different here than it is there), but I would agree that many evangelical Christians have a persecution complex, and especially view the Universities as this evil place where everyone's going to harass you for having any form of beliefs, when that really isn't true. At my old university, I was part of a campus Christian club that was constantly challenging those stereotypes. (And working to get Christian students to realise that, dagnabit, it is "working for God" to get your schoolwork done on time and to do it well, and to use your mind.)

But there are challenges to being both "Christian" and "academic." I find that I've come to the place where I've worked so hard to not be associated with those who have persecution complexes (or those who try to force people to turn their backs on science), that I find myself hesitant to admit that, yes, I actually do have beliefs. I've worked so hard to be credible that it's hard to admit that I believe something that seems illogical. That, yes I am a "Bible-believing Christian" (although I'd like to problematise that phrase, and separate it from American syncretism, but that's another story).

And so I think that it's probably different there than here, and it's funny because in my department, both my department head and a fellow PhD candidate are pastors, but it's a different environment here. Like, the fellow PhD candidate was surprised to find out that the department head was a pastor, because unless you do religious history, it's not something that comes out in class discussions.

So, that's a whole bunch of musing without much structure, but it's bedtime, and there are my thoughts. I agree that there's a persecution complex, it's something I work against, but the whole issue of "Christian" and "academic" are more problematic than just that.

Jeff Mather said...

As always, Ms. Queen has provided a very fair and learned treatment to this issue of evangelicals and persecution complexes. As the son of a wannabe preacherman who blames his divorce from my mother for sabotaging his calling, I find it hard to be as objective...

But I've always thought about the persecution complex as a way of affirming (a) that Christians are living in the End Times, when the virtuous are tried for their beliefs as they live among the sinners, awaiting the messiah's imminent return, and (b) that they are in fact good Christians who, like Job, have their faith tested by their god on a daily basis.

When coupled with a missionary zeal to evangelize, convert, and perfect people and their institutions — which, I have to say, most people find obnoxious and priggish — the result is predictable and self-sustaining.

Mildly antisocial behavior plus a desire to be persecuted yields the belief that there is in fact persecution and a renewed desire for more reformative (read "antisocial") behavior.

Limon de Campo said...

I'm late to the party (over here), but I'm very intrigued by your thoughtful post and comments. As a non-Christian, I'm always concerned that if I immediately assume that my Christian students are *not* persecuted, it may be because I simply have not had to be in their position.