“Education”, I respond, after only a brief pause. “Critical thinking, science literacy, and compassion.”
I would like to thank everyone that sent words of encouragement following my previous post. Let me give my current conclusion on the matter as an answer to bluegray’s comment on Do Any Shofarians Care About Science? He asked:
Sorry if I seem blunt, but I don’t read your blog regularly, so a few questions before I reply:
Why the need to rescue Shofar from the clutches of Creationism? Are you a member?
If you don’t agree with certain aspects of the Shofar faith, why do you feel the need to change it, and not discard it entirely, maybe look for something more in line with your beliefs.
I care about education in general, and would like to play my part in teaching critical thinking and encouraging scientific literacy. Furthermore, I would like to evangelise compassion and humility, and fight hypocrisy, arrogance and hatred. Shofar’s teachings provide me with something to respond to in the process of doing all these things. I am not a member of Shofar.
I do not want to come across as anti-Shofar, Shofar consists of more than just its teachings. First and foremost, I see a church as a community, a group of people, rather than a particular set of doctrines. I don’t have anything against Shofarians, only against a significant number of things they believe or are taught (you know, love the sinner hate the sin? ). I can just as easily respond to EveryNation’s doctrines, for example, or some other church for that matter. Shofar is just the most criticised (sometimes accused of being a cult), the most visible, I have good knowledge of their teachings and enough material to work with. (For example, the first semester of their three year Bible school. Shall I try to get the second as well? That’s the semester that features creationism, for example.)
I will also be defending the good in religion, because hypocrisy, arrogance and lack of compassion is of course also found in non-theists. I would love to see the best of both worlds come together, in a process of developing mutual understanding and cooperation to make this world a better place — in Christianese: to make the Kingdom come. The Kingdom of Heaven, the Republic of Heaven? Whatever. I don’t care about the politics as much as I care about the result. (I believe we can have a Kingdom and a Republic at the same time.)
With regards to trying to find pro-science Shofarians: if I succeed, I can learn more about how other attendees perceive Shofar: how it works and who it appeals to. If there are people that care about Shofar and want to improve it, I want to give them that option. It would be good for the rest of their community. On the other hand, if I cannot find any pro-science Shofarians, I will have a good excuse when anyone accuses my writing of stereotyping/generalising.
Looking for the Good in Everything
I am not on a vendetta. I am not on an anti-religion crusade. I don’t like Dawkins’ approach very much, even though I understand why he does it. I don’t like hypocrisy and negativity. In order to avoid being negative, I always try to find the good in everything, to the point that I can defend it (the good), before I allow myself to criticise the bad. Most of the madness on this blog came about precisely as a result of this process.
On Shofar Membership
I actually did consider joining Shofar, as it is a requirement before you are allowed to attend Foundations 3, 4 and 5. Back then I was interested in attending these in order to learn what they teach about things like the demonic. However, I was unable to sign their membership contract. I documented one of the reasons in the post titled Why I Cannot Join Shofar. One friend in particular suggested it might be worth it to go covert and sign it anyway, but I value honesty and would like to “stay clean”. Going covert could be considered hypocritical, and would be used against me.
More on their membership requirements may follow at a later date, pointing out where and how I can agree, and where and why I cannot.