cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (dead)
Cimorene ([personal profile] cimorene) wrote2011-04-14 08:18 pm
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Update on the school/Christianity situation (but no big news.)

Several people have asked me about hypothetical other people in my situation, so probably many people have missed the early post where I mentioned that Religion classes for elementary school students are opt-out. For the most part nobody should be unwillingly exposed, and that would also probably prevent most non-Christians from familiarity with the contents of the textbooks. My concern is not about Christian indoctrination or whatever, but about the apparently widespread and even official anti-Semitic slant to the misinformation given as a matter of course to small children, and still unquestioningly believed, evidently, by the adults.

The idea that the Jews were "guilty" for Jesus's death was something that, prior to coming to Finland, I hadn't encountered for YEARS other than as an ignorant/obsolete piece of propaganda or example of crazy Fundamentalism to laugh at. My point is, a) Christian scholars and historical scholars agree that that's not what happened; b) that's not what the Bible actually says; and c) no purpose is served by simplifying the story in this particular manner - which I hardly think is a coincidence in modern terms either1.

Anyway, today I accompanied one of the second grade classes, at the teacher's request, on an Easter field trip. It's kind of a "participate in the story of Easter" thing where they take a guided tour of some ordinary rooms containing people dressed in Christmas pageant-style outfits pretending to be witnesses to various parts of it. The relevant portions of the presentation were

  • There was a woman dressed as a soldier waiting for us on a green piece of fabric surrounded by paper trees representing the garden where Jesus was arrested, and she said that she came there and hid behind some trees for his arrival because there were "some people who weren't happy that he was saying he was the son of God".

  • In the sanctuary there were three paper crosses on the wall and a woman pretending badly to cry who said that after his arrest, Jesus was taken to some priests' house and accused of saying he was the son of God, because, she said, the priests "claimed" that anyone who claimed to be the son of God was challenging the emperor. And then she abandoned that half-sentence attempt at politics and just said that it was unfair because they said he was lying, but actually he is "of course" the son of God (I couldn't stop an eyebrow-quirk), so basically he was just being punished "because they don't believe him". Then she said that he was taken away by the soldiers from the priests' house. No mention of Roman officials, of Pontius Pilate by name, or indeed of anyone but "priests" and "soldiers" was made - the entire presentation didn't even distinguish between Romans and Jews or hint at the two ethnic groups/empire situation in any way. The impression given was that the priests were the governors or something and had the power to make such decisions unilaterally.3

I didn't have a chance to spy on the textbook to note down its deets today, but I haven't forgotten. However, I doubt the city's sole Swedish-language congregation is working solely from said textbook, even if by some chance they do own it, so the book is clearly not the whole problem. (Although, granted, "WICKED PLANS" and "THE RICH JEWS~~" was actually worse than just kind of glossing over the fact that the people in question were Jewish and, indeed, the fact that not 100% of everyone aside from the Evil Priests was a follower of Jesus.)

(By the way, I did paint a 6-pointed star on a blue hoodie last night; but I did it freehand and got carried away so, as Mirabella pointed out, it doesn't necessarily look like one at first glance. I should have used a stencil to do the distinctive overlapping/2 interlaced triangles pattern. However, I just want to note that I once pointed out a star of David to apparently it was some other Finn and not Wax, and she was just the one who explained that many Finns are completely ignorant of Judaism and the significance of the star as a symbol was probably simply foreign to them and she didn't know that it was a symbol of Judaism at all. Anyway, nobody reacted at all to my hoodie, so they probably didn't recognize it.)

1. It's almost certainly a political choice on John's part in historical terms, as the early Christians were very concerned with distancing themselves from the Jews since the latter were extremely persona non grata in the Roman empire - not allowed into Jerusalem at all, not allowed to vote, then finally allowed but charged a "Jew tax" at the polls, in punishment for "rebelling" against the Roman control of Judea2.

2. I've read like 10 or 12 hours' worth about this stuff in the past week thanks to this State Church/Easter nightmare, as well as seriously considering becoming a separation of church and state activist. But anwyway, most of the specific stuff is quite recent knowledge gleaned from Wikipedia and websurfing links and various experts I've talked with, so feel free to correct me if some of it's wrong. I wouldn't be exactly surprised.

3. NB: Yesterday through the mists of rage I made sure that the OTHER 2nd graders - BB's class - are not under this misapprehension. BB had already told them about the Romans, to her credit, but she was busy explaining how the fact that the priests weren't allowed to simply arrest Jesus whenever they wanted meant that they had to be "smart" and "sneaky" about it, and I was the one who pointed out that they were subordinate to Roman authority and that it was Roman law and the Roman justice system in effect, and Roman soldiers.
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2011-04-14 06:24 pm (UTC)(link)
This is really infuriating to me, partially as someone who had what I would consider a fairly good semi-secular Christian education: that is to say I was taught, mostly “This is what we believe. This is what there is historical evidence for,” and the distinction was usually carefully maintained, and fairly honest.

So, I can certainly understand if “well meaning Christian” is not a category of people who you are currently feeling charitable toward, but if you want someone who can help separate the doctrine from the bullshit, I'd be glad to help.

I feel so angry and sad you are experiencing this. Is shitty and unfair and wrong, and I know it is not just happening to you.
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2011-04-15 04:09 pm (UTC)(link)
It really oughtn't be your responsibility to tackle the propaganda. :(

Perhaps one benefit of centralized religion is that if you can go to the top, they can enforce things downward. Maybe a letter to the bishop of whatever saying "It is actual doctrine that “blah blah blah?”

Of course, the danger there being that he might say, “Duh, yes!”
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2011-04-15 05:30 pm (UTC)(link)
No, no, writing angry letters to the Bishop is how you change it from the inside. Or at least, one of the ways. It is allowable. But uh, I guess maybe the most junior guy who is in charge of the territory is the most likely to react.

I'm sorry, I keep on going “Argh, this is bad! Must think of thing to do!” and then coming up with things for you to do, and then being all “But Cim is harassed enough!” so I'm… flailing at you who least needs it.
cesare: Elijah Wood in the movie Everything is Illuminated (elijah - melancholy window)

[personal profile] cesare 2011-04-14 08:22 pm (UTC)(link)
the fact that the priests weren't allowed to simply arrest Jesus whenever they wanted meant that they had to be "smart" and "sneaky" about it

anatsuno: a cartoon fork with a sad mouth (with the text: forked again) (argh)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2011-04-14 10:30 pm (UTC)(link)
They do not recognize the double triangle 6 point star as a symbol of Judaïsm. WHAT. I realize that Finland wasn't invaded by Hitler (or am I wrong about this?) but WWII kind of happened RIGHT NEXT DOOR, and Jews across EUROPE WERE WEARING THAT FUCKING STAR, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

I just. This whole thing is giving me so much rage I don't even know what to do. I can't imagine what it's like for you. D:
waxjism: Lyn-Z (Default)


[personal profile] waxjism 2011-04-14 11:15 pm (UTC)(link)
By 'they' are you referring to the entire population of Finland? Because whatever may be going on in second-grade religion class, we do have actual history classes in which we are taught about fuckin' Hitler.
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

Re: What.

[personal profile] anatsuno 2011-04-14 11:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes I was! sorry, I might have overreacted, but yes, I was refering to the entire population fo Finland, and not the school-children. And I'm unsurprised to learn there are history classes where Finns learn about Hitler - but definitely still shocked that you can have had classes about Hitler and not known (or did I read this wrong?) that the star of David is a symbol of Judaism.
waxjism: Lyn-Z (Default)


[personal profile] waxjism 2011-04-14 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Omg, what is this Star of David incident? Just to BEGIN with, I saw Schindler's List and Bent and a dozen other Films About The Holocaust before I met you (not to mention IB history higher level, concentrating on the two world wars), so either you have me mistaken for some other Wax Jism or I was actually unconscious or possessed when this occurred. Obviously I have no memory of it, but it sounds highly unlikely.

I'm not highly educated, though. I'm fitfully and awkwardly educated.
anatsuno: a barcode representing anatsuno's username and account number on Dreamwidth (barcode)


[personal profile] anatsuno 2011-04-14 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
I now see this comment! Which... makes mine entirely obsolete, haha, okay. I TAKE IT BACK THEN.
waxjism: Lyn-Z (Default)


[personal profile] waxjism 2011-04-15 12:37 am (UTC)(link)
Now I feel like I have to go around telling everyone ever that I do know what the Star of David is so they don't think I'm an actual idiot. :(
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)


[personal profile] anatsuno 2011-04-15 12:43 am (UTC)(link)
I didn't think you were an idiot at all! I was aghast at the idea that somehow the entire population was underinformed on this, but that's nothing to do with idiocy. Sorry :(
bluesbell: (Default)

[personal profile] bluesbell 2011-04-15 11:06 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I wouldn't have recognised the star on your hoodie as a star of David if I didn't know that was what you were going for.