March 01, 2010

On Communal Culture

One of my texts has a primary source from the seventeenth century, that makes an offhand reference to Deuteronomy. That line has a footnote. The footnote says, in toto, "Deuteronomy is a book of the Bible." I read that and laughed- who would be reading texts about seventeenth century French politics, and not know that? Then I realized how parochial I am- in my classes, there are several students from Asia. In one seminar, we had a two-hour discussion of the differences between Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism, with much debate over arcane theological points. In the class was a guy from Taiwan, who spend the lime looking back and forth at the active debaters. He didn't know a damn thing about Christianity, and was lost in the sauce. I can't blame him, either- what the hell do I know about the details seperating various branches of Buddhism or Taoism?

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