Originally posted by hardeeharhar
There are songs that are objectively secular. Driedle being one of them. The prayers over the Hanukah Candles not being one of them. White Chistmas being one of them Holy Night not being one of them.
I think this mother would disagree with you assessment. The very word Christmas is not secular. That is why it is no longer "Christmas Break" but Winter Break.
You show the problem with this whole line of thinking which is that it certain actions become acceptable or not based off nothing more than the feelings of one party. No one is completely objective. You as a party would have no problem with White Christmas. Another party would object because of the word Christmas. They wouldn't stop until Jingle Bells was sung since it contains no holiday references of any sort. Perhaps they wouldn't even stop there since Jingle Bells was written by a minister.
The only way something can be truly objectively secular is to take a humanist naturalist perspective which means no religion, no magic (ie no Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, etc.) nothing but singing about objects. (Dreidle) Obviously most people draw their circle of tolerance a little wider than that. But we aren't talking about what most people would do. We are talking about what happens to the celebrations of most people when a small minority get upset.
This allows us (me?) to establish a reasonable definition of secular and nonsecular -- does it mention god (and in the case of a tritheistic religion like Christianity, the holy spirit, jesus/christ?)? If it does then it is not secular and can be sung at non-school sponsored events and not at school sponsored events if the community truly wants to be inclusive.
You've yet to convince me or probably anyone how throwing out certain views and beliefs is "inclusive." Inclusive means being comprehensive, or taking a wide scope. You narrow what can be celebrated and call that inclusive. What you really should admit is that you are using the word inclusive to attempt to allow parties to be exclusive under the motivation of being free from being offended.
Inclusivity does not imply that all of every culture needs to be included as that would be impossible, what it does mean is that we should seek to avoid stepping on eachother's cultural toes.
Nonsense. What is so silly about your view is it assumes that you bring the parties together and that the past, present and future remain static snapshots. No where in that article or in many similar circumstances have the Christmas or Christian parties attempted to control how the other parties and their cultures are celebrated or dictate terms to them.
Even in this instance the Jewish parents were not told that their children HAD to sing these songs. They were never told that the PTO was unwilling to include more or clearly religious Jewish songs. That would be stepping on toes. Instead they wanted certain types of songs simply removed. That is akin to cutting off the toes.
. No Amidah to avoid stepping on non-jewish toes and no singing the praises of christ to avoid stepping on non-christian toes. Get it? Nothing about the pursuit of secularism in such things is exclusionary as it doesn't bias against one group any greater than another.
Nonsense. As I said this is cutting off the toes to avoid stepping on them. It is clear these parents were simply scared that their children were being exposed to gentile culture and they would not have a nearby Jewish community to go back to and reaffirm their Jewish traditions. When they realized their children had no problems with certain actions, were begging for certain future actions they probably began to imagine their children being invited to the homes of their peers. They imagine their children starting to have crushes on and deep friendships with gentiles.
None of this is clearly acceptable to them and so they move their children to somewhere where they their influence can be controlled. It is no different than when some white parents realize their child's best friends are black or hispanic and then they suddenly have "white flight" to the suburbs.
Hypothetically, what would a Christian parent request?
Obviously what they did request is for the continuance of their small minority of songs within the general celebration.
What is hysterical about hatred is how similar the patterns are with thoughts. With racism in the U.S. we had the one drop rule for blood and being black. Just one drop of blood and you were black and could have hatred practiced against you. It is clear the same is true of people who hate religion. Just one song, and the whole event is religious and offensive. There clearly is no context.
I suspect that a Christian parent in a Jewish neighborhood would request a secularization of a holiday .... scratch that, look there is nothing like this in American Jewish culture (or I suspect in the Jewish culture of any other place). There are no sing alongs, there are no pagan symbols of Santa Claus or the Nativity scene, it is a much simpler religion overall.
Scratch both. Obviously there are Christian parents who are upset about the whole secularization and Santa thing. But the reality is that life is not a snapshot and things change. I'm sure once upon a time the English and German parents were cursing the local Dutch children and their damn belief in Sinter Klaas. Perhaps people still should be offended with Santa Claus but are ignorant (just as these Jewish parents were) and have forgotten he is based off Saint Nicholas
, a Catholic saint.
Tell me again how Santa Claus can be secular when he is based off a saint? Are these Jewish parents offended because they know who Jesus is or because they do not know who Saint Nicholas happens to be? When they do learn, can they declare the song "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" to be religious and demand it be removed?
With Christmas it isn't really that things are secular so much as that the influences are religious and have been forgotten. Jingle Bells was written by a minister. Santa Claus is based off Saint Nicholas, etc. etc. You cannot truly take religion out and be celebrating it.
. So a christian parent in a Jewish community this time of year would be free to send his children carolling all they wanted. My real question is why are we now formalizing the carolling experience?
The reality is that people have always used their community institutions for these purposes. What has changed is that over time people have been willing to try moving outside ethnic enclaves and begun interacting with each other. The institutions are trying to adapt but some parties prefer complete removal to adaptation. A hundred years ago it was likely that the school and church were in fact the same building and no one though anything much about the actual pastor coming into the church/school and running the actual celebration.
Note again the experience of the mother/author....Growing up in a tightly knit Orthodox community in New Jersey, I attended Jewish day schools and Jewish camps and was active in Jewish youth movements, as insulated from the Gentile world as anyone could possibly be.
It is likely that if that mother traveled back to the same community she grew up in today. It would probably be part something other than Jewish, perhaps part Puerto Rican and part Ukranian. The same local resources are now likely being used by all additional parties. Even if this hasn't happened it is clear that many more influences are going to be competing for the attention of her children. Like all parents, they wish they could control them but often you cannot. Your children are independently thinking humans and we ultimately cannot control who they love, what religion they practice, what they do with their lives. Many parents hope their early indoctrination creates similar beliefs and actions to their own but that is no guarantee.
Her choice was first to try to control everyone else. When she could not do that her second choice was to try to run to another school where more people would hopefully, certainly no guarantee, think like and choose like her. Ultimately however the only way to avoid Gentile influences is to probably go back Israel. Even there perhaps traditionalists are bemoaning modernism.
Why are they teaching children of unknown faiths Christian songs, and requesting (if not forcing) them to sing them in front of a group of parents?
Unknown faiths, they were simply doing as they had always done. I really don't think you would feel any better if they started acting and treating someone differently because they are Jewish.
As a teacher we deal with parents all the time who do not want their children to encounter certain information or influences. However we do not DEFAULT into a type of thinking that would say because child is X, we must exclude them in Y manner.
If I were to teach the class Feliz Navidad in an attempt to be inclusive, should I automatically assume that anyone who doesn't speak Spanish should be excluded from the song? That is nonsense. You give people the freedom to pick and choose. These parents were horrified because their children never chose. I think it fine that they delude themselves by believing they didn't understand what they were doing or singing. However kids are awfully smart and the reality is likely that the kids didn't care or chose not to say anything on purpose and the parents were horrified.
It is no different than a white parent being horrified when their child likes that N.W.A. CD or when a Christian parent is terrified that their child is singing Candy by Mandy Moore and has no ideal to what it is eluding.
Why can't the children learn these carolling songs on their own, with their parents? Are we now in need of a school structure to indoctrinate children in the dominant religion?
You consider it indoctrination. The reality is that it is simply a continuation of what people have previously done and now there are simply new parties experiencing it.
I finished the logic gate before you did it seems. If you allow any bit of religious experience into these state sponsored events, you have to allow all relgious experiences into the state sponsored events... that is simply impossible.
It isn't impossible at all if you limit it to parties who are present. The two parties who are present are Christian and Jewish. We can other parties as they move into the community.
. What if a Christian Child refuses to sign the Amidah that his teacher is trying to teach him for the Holiday sing along? You know what, that doesn't even work. No Christian parent would complain about praying to god. Jewish prayers make up a significant fraction of Christian Prayers, but the converse isn't true. Jews are set up in this system to be the offended party. If I asked your children to pray to god in hebrew, I suspect, as a Christian parent you would have very little problem with that. However, if you asked a Jewish parent's children to pray to Jesus, they would become enraged. The two religioun aren't equal. One is a derivative of the other. Now, this discussion would be more enlightening if I were muslim, but I am not.
Sorry the street doesn't run both ways.
Here you lambast the fundamental idea that the Christian Right has recently used to get its perspective into public schools... the parent's can't have schools not indoctrinating their children (or more broadly, indoctrinating into a perspective that isn't their own).
You show the conundrum within your own attempted thought right there. Attempting to get your own perspective into the school IS NOT THE SAME as attempting to avoid or exclude perspectives that are not your own.
You see, you can't have it both ways. You can't simulatenously care about the parent's perspective in a child's education and not care about a parent's perspective in a child's education.
That isn't having it both ways. I can care about a parents perspective and attempt to accomodate it. What I cannot do is insure it will be the only influence or perspective their child encounters.
And I must say, as the son of two educators, your failure to understand the interplay of child/parent futher shocks me into questioning your ability as a teacher.
Insults are the realm of small minds.
Of course the parent's are going to care about what there children are learning. If a teacher told my children that Santa Claus was coming at the end of December I would be infuriated, because 1) its a lie, and 2) ITS A LIE THAT IS SPECIFIC TO ONE RELIGION.
Yet you previously endorsed White Christmas and supposedly secular songs about Santa Claus earlier in this discussion. Obviously those were simply ruses and prove what I stated that it is impossible to celebrate Christmas truly free of religious influences.
Also most teachers would likely attempt to deflect such information to the parental background. It would be much more likely that a child would ask for information rather than the teacher simply volunteering it.
Is it shocking to you that this parent wanted her children to not have to say christian prayers?
That is not shocking to me at all. What is shocking to me is that she did not want Christian children to say Christian prayers and was not content to merely have her own children exclude themselves from such activities. She reflects this in her own writing...The day Tamar told her classmates she was leaving the school, I encountered the father of a classmate of hers, a reverend of a local Lutheran congregation. "Why not?" he asked, when I said we did not feel religious songs should be sung in American public schools, in response to his queries about our decision to pull Tamar out. "I think it's intolerant to demand that Christians not be able to sing their songs."
I have to say I am surprised by your blaise attitude about this whole thing. I have attended mass several times in my life, and not once was I forced to knell, bow my head, or even state prayers. Yeah, it made me uncomfortable but I was allowed the choice to not say the prayers.
What this mother demanded was not the choice to not participate which is what you exercised. She demanded the right to not be uncomfortable. That is not a right you exercised nor would it be reasonable.
These children were not given that option... these children were taught the equivalent of prayers in a school setting, and were made to feel like their culture's dreidle... was equivalent to Holy Night -- which is bad in both directions.
It does not say anywhere in her own writing that the children were forced to learn these songs. If the dreidle were an attempt at inclusion and deemed a bad attempt, then I am sure the school and community were open to better attempts at inclusion.
Now as both a teacher (a good one regardless of what you think) and as both a parent, I have a lot of insight into what the backstory often is in such cases. A child is a parents most precious possession and is often where they will show the most bias and irrationality. I really find it very hard to believe these children had no ideal about what they were singing. It sounds like a classic type of denial about the fact that their own children simply wanted to be part of the gentile crowd.
I've seen it a thousand times from "my Johnny would never listen to a CD with words like that" to whatever else you care to spin it to. They all amount to the child not being responsible for their own behavior and instead it is those evil outside influences. My kid isn't this.. it is that kid, that teacher, that CD, that whatever that made them this way.
She simply doesn't want her children to praise Jesus. If that is intolerance and hate, then you should drive off a cliff.
Nonsense. She asked for all parties not to do this, not just her own children. That is intolerance and hate. If you asked for freedom from being uncomfortable in the Catholic church and told the people there they shouldn't say Jesus because it made you feel that way, that is your own intolerance. Instead they simply allowed you to respectfully observe. That is tolerance being practiced by both parties.
She did not ask for exclusion of her own children from activities that made them uncomfortable and inclusion of additional activities that made them comfortable. (Can they sit out these songs and can we add this more authentic song) Instead she asked for all other parties to give up what made her uncomfortable.
Really, what did the principle do to include traditional Jewish songs like the Prayer over hanukah candles?
Need I say more?
You can say whatever you desire. The reality is that you deemed their attempts at inclusion to be a miserable failure. However they still show an earnest attempt. To say they would be open to a better attempt is a reasonable conclusion. To say that the intent was to exclude is not because otherwise even the bad attempt would not have occurred.
You missed the salient point that that neighborhood where Jews were a majority was Israel and I have to say that the dominant Jewish Culture there behaves very similarly to the dominant Christian culture here, in that they are "open as long as we don't have to change".
Inclusion of one culture does not mean suppression of another. As I stated earlier attempting to get your own perspective into the school IS NOT THE SAME as attempting to avoid or exclude perspectives that are not your own.
Again with the inability to know that the parent's discomfort translates into their children's discomfort. If my children begged for a giant cross of jesus I would refuse... it seems you consider the children's request for christmas lights endearing.
I don't have to consider it endearing. However I also don't have to assign it malicious intent which is what you have done. You seem to think the other parties put up the lights just so the five year old would beg and cause the discomfort. That is why you call it an attempt at indoctrination. You assign wrong intent to people merely exercising their own ideals and views.
Christians acting like Christians does not mean they are trying to get Jews to act like Christians. However it also doesn't stop some Jews from wanting to act that way either. That is the horrifying ideal that I encounter all the time with parents. "You mean I can't simply exclude all ideals I disagree with and that my ideals and beliefs are likely to be weighed by these independent thinkers called my children against the others they encounter." Yes Mom and Dad, sad but true.
Looking at it from the other side, once those children are told that christmas lights/tree are not part of their religious life, those lights burn into their souls every winter.
Sorry if exclusion hurts. If hated black culture than every rap song would probably burn my soul. If I hated Jews then probably half of all stand up acts would burn my soul.
No one guarantees you the right to not be uncomfortable. This parent demanding all songs be removed is like you demanding all neighborhood lights be taken down just so your own feelings (soul burning) does not occur. If you cannot take the inclusion, then your choice is to exclude yourself.
I can't look at a christmas lights set up and not think waste of electricity. The children were getting along fine with the implicit assumption that everything they learned in school was correct... that chirstmas lights should be had by all...
While it can't guarantee that everything is correct it also doesn't prove a wrong intent. What it does mean though is that when your children do not have their souls burned by the Christmas lights that it wasn't an evil intent at indoctrination.
Children are the most wonderfully perplexing beings. We see ourselves in them. We think they are a little "us" and that is why parents so easily come unhinged. They are staring at this person they love, that is a part of them and thinking "how could this little part of me somehow not have their souls burned by Christmas lights."
It is rather unthinkable.
Nick, what of the little boy who told the Jewish child that Christmas is a better holiday than Hanukah, where do you think he got an idea like that from?
He probably got the ideal from ignorance. Children display plenty of it as do adults. How will the child learn about their ignorance now that the only Jewish influence in their lives has fled school and taken their (by the ignorant view of that child) crappy holiday with them?
On a side note, I've gone through something very similar with my own child just so you know. My very bright son reads at around a fourth grade level even though he is only six. He already had everything pretty much set up for him at our neighborhood school which was majority white. Everyone knew who he was, how bright he was, etc.
Instead we moved him to another school in town that was suffering white flight. They were introducing a dual-immersion language program where the instruction starts in K or 1st for 85% of the day in Spanish. He was guaranteed to be a minority ethnically. He has an incredible linguistic and reading advantage that now is pretty much gone. We took him from a school where we absolutely knew the educational background and cultural background of the parents, teachers and administration to a school where we could easily allow our biases to fill in our ignorance of their backgrounds.
Such things are hard. When my son has gotten in trouble a couple times, part of me as a biased parente truly wants to believe such things would not have happened if he were at that other school with those other kids. However I truly believe that the advantages, hopefully being bilingual, bilierate and even bicultural are something that will outweigh the short term concerns.
There are larger questions for sure. My child is Protestant (although at 6 all you really are is whatever your parents tell you you are) and likely 75% of the class is Catholic.(What happens when he gets invited to various events, dances, etc that are not at his church or religion?) His first crush was on a girl named Abish.(Is that even Spanish? What is that Indian?) Is he being excluded from certain birthday parties/events because the parents of the kids fear he doesn't know enough Spanish or fear the reality that his parents know hardly any at all?
All these changes are much harder than just going with what is already known or what I grew up with. Hell I'm the coach of my son's soccer team and I never even played it in any formal fashion while growing up.
The reality is that the world our children will grow up in is different from the one we grew up in. I can curse the changes and run away from them or make my peace with them and still try to bring about the best result for my child.