After thinking about the Booking Through Thursday questions in the last post, I found this article.
Dr. Stephen Prothero has been "conducting informal tests of the religious knowledge of undergraduates and what he finds is disturbing. Students have told him that it was Moses that was blinded on the road to Damascus and that Paul led the Israelites on their exodus out of Egypt. He notes that more scientific polls have found that only one out of three US citizens is able to name all four Gospels and that one out of ten think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Small wonder, he writes, that noted pollster George Gallup has concluded that the United States is 'a nation of Biblical illiterates'." (emphasis mine)
"On the principal that it is better to light a small candle than to curse the darkness Prothero’s book offers a set of proposed remedies based on his hope that 'the Fall into religious ignorance is reversible.' Among those remedies the most controversial is his call for the teaching of the Bible in American public school classrooms, not simply as literature but also a study of the Bible’s impact on history. As the professor notes, teaching about religion as opposed to preaching about it, is not prohibited by the First Amendment’s ban on an 'establishment of religion.'"
At the risk of offending some, I have to say that I agree. The Bible's impact on literature and history is worth examination.
And what of Joseph Campell in the examination of world religions? In The Power of Myth, Campbell and Bill Moyer's exchange views about the importance of myth in civilization and in individual lives.
Belden C. Lane's The Power of Myth: Lessons from Joseph Campbell begins: "Theology and myth are stepsisters of truth. The one probes with questions, the other spins out tales on gossamer threads. But both serve a common mystery."
Also from Belden: "Simply put, theology gets caught up too often in explaining the meaning of life instead of seeking an experience of being alive."
Oops, I'm wandering again... One subject leading to another. I think what I'm saying is that theology and myth have importance in our lives -- and learning more about religious works can be useful in ways we aren't even aware of. Western literature draws heavily on the the Bible and without understanding the allusions and symbols, much of the impact of the literature is lost. A general knowledge of myth and world religions adds to our appreciation of what we read.