Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week gives us something to think about!

This is national Banned Books Week. To kick off the celebration, I was hoping to get a dialog going about censorship and Christian moral responsibility but I just couldn't figure out how to get the party started. I finally decided to solicit statements about it from our faculty.

I asked Professor Roberto Sirvent, "If you were to sum up your thoughts about the idea of banning books in context of Christian moral responsibility in the US (or maybe internationally?) what would you say?"

Here's what he said:
"Contrary to what others may think, the Christian academic institution does not serve to reinforce its students’ beliefs, values, and worldviews. We do not promise students that they will leave with more conviction, more certainty, or even more answers. In fact, we don’t promise many answers at all.
To be faithful to our calling as a Christian academic institution, we devote ourselves to challenging the students’ beliefs, not reinforcing them. We ask them to examine their assumptions and biases about the nature of God, the world, truth, morality, history, literature, etc. We explain (and model) the importance of giving others a fair hearing. We ask students to embrace the value of saying, “I don’t know” or “I was wrong” or “This is complicated.”
At our best, we teach students how to see three sides of a two-sided story. Our school is not, and I hope will never be, an institution that claims to possess the last word on any issue, doctrine, or creed. As our librarian Robin Hartman wrote last year, “Academic inquiry doesn’t take sides, it reviews them with an open mind.” Does 'Christian' academic inquiry have a different purpose? A different moral standard?  To think so would be a tragic mistake…"

(It seemed a little self-serving to include his quote of me, but to leave it out would probably seem like censorship to him. So it stays!)

Thank you, Professor Sirvent, for getting us thinking!

Do you have a response? Leave a comment here or go to our Facebook Page and comment there.

Roberto Sirvent teaches American Government, Critical Thinking and Argumentation, Ethics and Contemporary Issues, and Constitutional Law and Interpretation. Read more on his faculty profile.

1 comment:

Karen McReynolds said...

I am encouraged to read your comments Roberto. There are many who certainly seem to believe that the Christian institution should only reinforce its student's (existing) beliefs, or at any rate it certainly should not challenge them. Yet I point out that this is what education is all about; this is why students are here pursuing a college degree: to learn more than they know already. This means realizing that yes indeed, things are complicated.