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From the Horses’ Mouths: 2013 Edition

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

For the few years that I taught in the religion department at our local community college, I required students to write personal reflection papers consider how the subject matter might be relevant to their personal lives. I wrote a series of blog posts based on student responses to the prompts I assigned here, here, and here. This semester I’m doing the same thing. But this time I’m teaching primarily Christian students at a Christian institution (Ouachita Baptist University), and I’m teaching the Bible. For this first assignment, I asked them some questions about their familiarity with the Bible. Below are my questions along with my summary of their responses.

Tell me about your experience with the Bible to this point in your life.
About half of the students said that their primary exposure to the Bible was in church. They have heard the stories in sermons and Sunday school. Instead of hearing all the stories of the Bible in church, they tend to hear the same few stories over and over again. So they are fairly familiar with a handful of stories, but most of the Bible is relatively unfamiliar. In fact, many of them said that, for the most part, they have heard summaries of or lessons on the Bible more than they’ve engaged the Bible itself directly. 

Nearly all of them acknowledge that they ought to read the Bible devotionally but admit that it’s hard to make Bible reading a part of their daily life.

Have you ever read the Bible from beginning to end? How well would you say you know the stories of the Bible?
Out of 28 students, only one has read the entire Bible from cover to cover. A few said they’d probably read most of the Bible a piece at a time but never straight through. Most students said they know the New Testament better than they know the Old Testament. No surprise there. But a surprising number said that what they know best from the NT are the parables of Jesus.

Nearly all—even those who said they know most of the stories of the Bible—reported that they don’t understand how the stories fit together.

How well do you feel like you understand the Bible?
Here’s where responses got interesting (to me). The vast majority of students said that although they try to read the Bible faithfully, they struggle to understand what it means. Even the few who say that devotional reading is part of their daily routine seem to do it out of duty more than because they comprehend and, therefore, value what they read.

A couple of students offered insightful commentary on ministry: one pointed out that although her church leaders encouraged her and her peers to read the Bible, they never offered any guidance in how to read for comprehension or to truly study the Scriptures. Another said that he didn’t grow up in church and by the time he became a Christian as a young adult, his church leaders assumed he knew the stories of the Bible—so instead of teaching them, they simply referred to them. 

What do you most hope to get out of this class?
These students want to learn how to interpret the Bible. It struck me that many of them said they hope to learn enough that they can teach others how to read and understand the Bible. The students who feel like they weren’t properly equipped want to be able to equip others. That’s good news.

The Arkansas Connection in Music

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

One of the fun parts about returning to my home state as an adult is that I’ve discovered there was more going on here in Arkansas than I realized while I was growing up. For example, although I drove past the billboards darn near every time I left Northwest Arkansas, I didn’t realize until a few years ago that Arkansas is home to quite a few wineries and vineyards. Arkansas wine country—who knew?

Because I’m enjoying these little discoveries, I plan to promote them here as I come across new gems worth sharing. One such gem is Arkansongs, a syndicated program (and website) produced by Arkansas Public Radio. It features short historical accounts of notable Arkansas musicians—like Johnny Cash—and their influence on national music trends. It also highlights more obscure musical influences that originated in Arkansas or songs and movements of more regional interest.

In any case, I commend this to you. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Out to Lunch—For a Month

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Hi, all.

I’m entering the home stretch in my dissertation writing, so I won’t be updating the site until it’s done. See you in April!

you are adding a second monitor, it just happens to be wirelessly over wi fi

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

In fact, you are adding a second monitor, it just happens to be wirelessly over wi fi. Download the program to laptop (or desktop, Windows or Mac), download it to iPad, and with one click the iPad serves as an extension of your screen. It look me less than five minutes to get it running, and there wasn’t the slightest hiccup.Once connected, you simply work on your laptop, dragging any files or program windows you want off the right side of the screen and they appear on the iPad.

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