Our Bog Is Dood
or What the Naraka Is Religious Diversity, Anyway?

Do we mean by diversity that we silently tolerate the private religious beliefs and practices of our colleagues and classmates? Does this amount to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy applied to atheists and other other-believers? Do we avoid talking about religious differences? Is religious difference the great taboo?

When we do address religious differences, do we recognize only those whose idea of God (or gods) differs from--but doesn't contradict--our own? Do we welcome under the umbrella Catholics and Baptists, Nazarenes and Mormons, Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists? Or do we also recognize the claims of agnostics and Gnostics, pantheists and polytheists, shamanists and Satanists, non-theists and atheists? In other words, are there some religions that don't qualify for our broadmindedness?

What kinds of biases are being passed along (or bypassed) in common parlance when we refer to something as "faith-based" or "spiritual" or "religious" when we really mean "Christian"? What, for example, is a "faith-based" initiative? What nuances or codes do we use to avoid discussing difficult religious questions? And by doing so, do we doom ourselves to a "faith" that is not only blind but also irrational and, worse, inarticulate?

How can we include relevant discussions of religion in the classroom without encouraging the chaos that comes of mere righteous assertion? What kind of discourse about religion is appropriate in a "religious" institution?

These are just some of the questions we might address in our discussion. To get us started, though, we might begin with a discussion of Stevie Smith's poem "Our Bog Is Dood" (1950):


by Stevie Smith

Our Bog is dood, our Bog is dood,

They lisped in accents mild,

But when I asked them to explain

They grew a little wild.

How do you know your Bog is dood

My darling little child?

We know because we wish it so

That is enough, they cried,

And straight within each infant eye

Stood up the flame of pride,

And if you do not think it so

You shall be crucified.

Then tell me, darling little ones,

What's dood, suppose Bog is?

Just what we think, the answer came,

Just what we think it is.

They bowed their heads. Our Bog is ours

And we are wholly his.

But when they raised them up again

They had forgotten me

Each one upon each other glared

In pride and misery

For what was dood, and what their Bog

They never could agree.

Oh sweet it was to leave them then,

And sweeter not to see,

And sweetest of all to walk alone

Beside the encroaching sea,

The sea that soon should drown them all,

That never yet drowned me.

  • Led by: Dr. Richard Collins (English)
  • Date: Thursday, November 16, 2006
  • Time: 12:15 - 1:05 PM
  • Location: Library Resource Center 502
  • Sponsor: Center for the Advancement of Teaching

Tags: religion
Format: discussion
Event ID: 00760

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