What We’re up Against

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An elementary school teacher in Bennett, Colorado, has been suspended for showing her class a 12-min portion of the opera Faust, according to reports in the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

Specifically, Tresa Waggoner, a first-year teacher, showed her elementary-school class a section of a video that used sock puppets to animate the opera. The video featured the soprano Joan Sutherland, whom many consider the greatest soprano of her generation. Ms. Waggoner found the 30-year-old videotape in the school library. She had invited singers from Opera Colorado to perform at the school and used the video to prepare her students. The performance was canceled, and no reason was given, according to a spokesperson from Opera Colorado.

Parents accused Ms. Waggoner of devil worship and, in at least one instance, of not being a Christian, as if not being a Christian were somehow reprehensible. In fact, Ms. Waggoner, herself an opera singer, describes herself as a Christian and has two Christian recordings among her credentials.

Ms. Waggoner, the mother of two children, was further accused of being a lesbian aiming to promote homosexuality. Ms. Wagonner says she was - get ready for this - explaining “trouser roles” in opera. (In Faust , a young man in love with Marguerite is played by a soprano.) Other parents complained that the video deals with abortion; Ms. Waggoner says flatly that they lied.

Some parents thought that the material was inappropriate for small children and were mollified when they were assured (by whom is unclear) that a similar situation would not arise. But other parents were not so easily satisfied.

At least part of the motivation for the attack may be Ms. Waggoner’s earlier refusal to include Christmas songs at the winter concert. The Rocky Mountain News quotes Ms. Waggoner as saying, “I told her we couldn’t sing them because public schools didn’t want to offend people of other religions, including Jewish people, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The mayor of Bennett resigned over the incident and said that the town has a “mean streak” that she can no longer tolerate. Earlier, when the Mormon church built a facility nearby, letters to the editor of the local newspaper questioned whether Mormons were truly Christians. The town is roughly evenly split politically between long-time residents and newer residents who live in a subdivision, and a recent town board meeting required police intervention to ensure the safety of the city planner.

Ms. Waggoner was suspended from her job with pay. Most parents supported her at a hearing of the school board, but she has not been reinstated. According to the latest report I read, she was looking for a new job.

It is against this backdrop that we struggle to keep creationism out of the public schools.

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The brouhaha is over this music teacher showing elementary students the play Faust and saying it is a great part of our civilization and Western culture while prohibiting Christmas songs at their “winter concert”. Christmas songs aren̵... Read More

Rocky Mountain Low from Clever Beyond Measure on March 22, 2006 11:49 AM

At Panda's Thumb there's a post about a situation in Colorado where a teacher got in trouble with the local religious right for showing her primary-grade students a short video clip of a children's sock-puppet adaptation of the opera Faust. Read More

168 Comments

Time to get the Bhurkas out, the theocratic Christo-Taliban regime is here, next they will be banning kite flying and music in hair salons.

Are there links available to the original news reports? If so, I’d really like to read what’s been reported and any follow-up stories.

If this is true as reported, it greatly disturbs me. I’d rather not see this teacher cut and run, but to get some sound legal advise as to what her options are.

This just in: a teacher has been ousted by his christian community for reading a book promoting infanticide, genocide, rape, incest, and genital mutilation. But then they reinstated him when they learned that the book was the bible. J/K of course.

The rocky mountain news picks up some interesting stuff from time to time.

Tim asked: “Are there links available to the original news reports?”

Try “teacher faust colorado bennett” at news.google.com

Sorry, Tony asked that, not “Tim”

GW

Web search for “rocky mountain news teacher faust”, maybe?

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/dr[…]6164,00.html

The story as written here is even worse. The school administration did not appear to stand up for her at all.

If you leave “faust” off the search terms, you’ll find stories about another Colorado teacher put on suspension for criticizing Bush. He was reinstated last week. His case is different, and not as sympathetci, but it makes interesting reading as well. Letters on both incidents appear here:

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/dr[…]2348,00.html

Now this sounds familiar; from Wiki. The name of “Faust” has since become attached to any number of legendary tales about a charlatan alchemist (some claim “astrologer and necromancer”), whose pride, vanity, and vile hucksterism would inevitably lead to his doom. Similarly, the adjective “faustian” has come to denote any acts or constellations that involve human hubris leading to doom.

Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” and ‘Count’ William Dembski Conrad’s ‘Kurt’ in ‘The Heart of Darkness’ and Nabokov’s ‘Humbert Humbert’ in ‘Lolita’

All these stories are about the creation of private myth, literally a private reality which is actually ‘Hell on earth’ for personal gain, that the anti-hero knows is a hell and only on impeding death does the anti-hero repent.

Cervantes, Goethe, Conrad and Nabokov have their anti-hero neatly follow a ‘Christian’ death. In the end, God saves Faust by bringing about his purification and redemption

See what happens when you only read the Bible.

OMFG. That’s all I have to say. I can *maybe* understand what might get Fundamentalist Christians might get upset about stuff like Toni Morrison and Catcher in the Rye, but opera?

Just when I think the bigoted fanaticism of Fundamentalist Christians couldn’t get any more over the top, it does.

Christians, can’t live with em, can’t feed em to the lions anymore.

What is it with Colorado? it must be the altitude and lack of oxygen to the brain. Faust is a passionate drama,about unconscionable choices, and heartbreaking consequences - the ultimate battle of good and evil. One of the world’s most popular operas, it is filled with touching melodies, rousing choruses, and unforgettable characters. How could that be even slightly detrimental to a students education?

Sorry, I usually include references, but URL’s to newspaper articles are sometimes transient, so I omitted references. Here’s the best I can do.

RM News: Tillie Fong, Teacher who showed ‘Faust’ video awaits her fate, Feb 22, 2006. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/dr[…]6164,00.html

Deborah Frazier, Despite support, educator sees no future in Bennett, Mar 10, 2006. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/dr[…]9857,00.html

Denver Post: Kyle MacMillan, Dramatic tension bedeviling Bennett, Mar 21, 2006. http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3540512

The Post also had a column that I didn’t use as source material: Ed Quillen, Another tragedy of Dr. Faustus, Feb 19, 2006. Quillen commends Bennett for at least having a school music program, then discusses Faust and scary children’s fables. http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3517622

LA Times: Search their site for Arts Notes, by Chris Pasles, Feb 5 and Mar 19, 2006. You will have to pay for those. I got one by e-mail and another from an unauthorized Web site.

At least since the beginning of the modern ERA, the English speaking world has had its Luddites. They have waxed and waned over time. In our time they have gained enough ascendancy to elect one of their own to the White House. Nevertheless, just as the 19th Century English man wanted cheaper cloth, modern Americans will not go long without the benefits of modern science – especially the benefits on modern medicine. Perhaps “informed consent” forms should include an acknowledgment that the treatment/drug/whatever was developed under the assumptions of Darwinian biology.

That’s f***ing pathetic, is all.

Thank you to all for the news links. What I’m reading is really disturbing. Obviously, these narrow-minded screwball fundamentalists haven’t heard about Article I in the Bill of Rights.

I hope that Ms. Waggonner takes this school board to court for wrongful termination and religious persecution. Last time I checked, burning at the stake was unconstitutional.

For whatever it’s worth, I found this website. It has some news links, although some of the information is dated. It also has the email addresses of the school administrator and school board.

http://www.savetresa.org/

The ignorance and intolerance of the religious right is astounding. Don’t these people read anything else besides their bibles?

What is it with Colorado? it must be the altitude and lack of oxygen to the brain. Faust is a passionate drama,about unconscionable choices, and heartbreaking consequences - the ultimate battle of good and evil. One of the world’s most popular operas, it is filled with touching melodies, rousing choruses, and unforgettable characters. How could that be even slightly detrimental to a students education?

You are right, and no thinking religious person would object to Faust. If anything, Faust is about falling into sin, repentance and forgiveness. Here’s the synopsis from the Metropolitan Opera. Check out the last act! Were it not for this opera’s artistic merit, the teacher could conceivably be charged with teaching religion!

Those parents are uncultivated idiots and their brains must have the electrical activity of walnuts. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to be introduced to great music, in an age where public school budgets for the arts are usually slashed. The parents should be ashamed of themselves.

It is a stupid situation. I heard an interview with Tresa Waggoner’s husband the other day on the local Boulder radio (Jay Marvin show on AM760). He’s got a website (www.savetresa.org)that has a lot more links to news articles and other info.

Oh my Gawd! Danny Miller is right, this country turning into, a Margaret Atwood novel!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny[…]b_17611.html

Just what is it with these pig ignorant folk? Even worse, why do we listen to them at all? They should simply be told they are wrong, and be done with it.

Wow!! I suppose the Theocrats better ban Handel’s “Messiah” and a few other traditional oratorios. Some of the solos were written for castrati and we wouldn’t want that getting mixed up with our “pure” religion. And about those “trousers” roles.… Boy, real history is almost as bad as the bible.

Wow!! I suppose the theocrats better ban Handel’s “Messiah” and a few other traditional oratorios. Some of the solos were written for castrati and they wouldn’t want that getting mixed up with their “pure” religion. And about those “trousers” roles.… Boy, real history is almost as bad as the bible.

All good fiction is modeled after reality in some way.

Yup, it gets worse. The teacher was pressured to write a letter of apology to all of her students’ parents for the transgression of teaching elementary school students about the venerable art of opera. Although she’s still being paid her salary, she has not yet been allowed back into the classroom.

These people are absolutely nuts, and by this I mean no disrespect to people who are suffering from mental illness. (Mental illness isn’t “nuts” – it’s illness. Filing complaints about a teacher because your kids learned that men and women sometimes played each other’s roles on stage is just plain nuckin’ futs.) Besides, I keep hearing complaints from the wingnuts that we’re too hung up on cultural diversity to value the classics of “Western civilization”. What in Faust’s rec room do these people think opera is?

Was this country always this collectively stupid? For the life of me, I don’t understand any more why anyone would want to be a teacher and subject herself to this kind of crap. And, no matter how teachers try to counter this in the classroom, the kids are being taught at home that education is an inferior option to remaining ignorant, superstitious, and provincial.

Public education was supposed to be our way out of this morass. Un-buggin-believable.

Excluding Christimas songs from a winter concert is idiotic, but so is suspending someone for showing a video of Faust.

We would all be a whole lot better off if we just lightened up and grew thicker skin. Life is too short to have to constantly worry about offending this or that group.

Was this country always this collectively stupid?

It probably used to be worse.

Matt Young Wrote:

Other parents complained that the video deals with abortion.

How on earth does one illustrate the concept of abortion using sock puppets? I’m fairly certain the plot of the opera doesn’t deal with abortion at all, so any “mention” of the subject would be in mime, so to speak. With sock puppets.

Sorry about the double post. I have no idea how it happened. Now, a further comment.

The superintendent sounds just like many other adminstrators I met through forty years of calling on schools (as a science textbook editor and publisher). For many the most important goal is to keep the school quiet and calm. Any teacher who tolerates boisterousness or does semething that upsets just one parent is a candidate for dismissal. Too many school boards don’t like waves of any kind. So the teacher with initiative, like Tresa, either gets harassed or canned for doing nothing more than being a good teacher.

Was this country always this collectively stupid?

It probably used to be worse.

Yes, it used to be a lot more worse. Never underestimate what unabashed christian fundamentalism is capable of doing, even in this country. Here’s something from the not-so-distant past.

http://www.auindy.org/good.html

Those people are pathetic. Just plain, stupid, beyond hope, pathetic.

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

— H.L. Mencken

http://www.teambio.org/2006/03/quot[…]e-day-33106/

k.e. –

And did I mention how much I dislike psychological literary analysis?

Just kidding. I got out of that game ages ago. Your point is well taken, if you are saying that Dembski et al. have created their own internally self-consistent world view that has little to do with the real world. They tilt at windmills (evolution), only to be dashed to the ground, then rationalize the experience by referring back to their internal world. Wizards enchanted the giants and made them into windmills!

Quijote was more likeable as a character, though. Humbert Humbert was just plain creepy, as well as tragic.

The debate about God’s name here brings to mind an Arthur C. Clarke short story called “The Nine Billion Names of God.” A computer in a Buddhist monastery has been programmed to find all of the names. When it reaches the last one, the stars go out.

So, just in case, folks, ease up on the names. You’ve used up a few already.

Doug Moran, at Uncommon Descent, apparently Wrote:

Put a six year old in front of a porno and they will react quite predictably.

I’m not sure I know how a six year old would react. I wonder how Doug knows so much about it?

Oh, and God’s first name is Hallowed:

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.…”

Kind of an odd name; sounds a bit Saxon or something. (P.S. Sorry, Carol, for spilling the beans. Does this mean I’m in the club?)

Wheatdog: Sure Psychological analysis of literature can take the pleasure out of letting a story wash over us and just let its meaning float to the surface, but for me on revisiting a story and trying to understand today’s events, it does help to make sense of the human condition an ‘aid de memoir’ if you like. And artists (probably unknowingly) tap into what for me are the hidden aspects of that condition. One tool of many. And depending on the point of view of the reader (are there any left ?) that type of ‘reading’ will of course provide ‘internally consistent’ results. I agree Don Quixote IS a sympathetic character.… and for the later ‘incarnations’.… has the world become a less sympathetic place ? Anyway it all gets a bit academic, like science, art ‘as a spectator sport’ is subject to the prejudices, personal beliefs, likes and dislikes of the spectator. A truly great artist is one who can construct a story that talks to all of us and we each see ‘into the mind of man’ or the ‘aspects of the other’, expanding our horizons. Movies today are probably performing that function best; note where they get their inspiration from …mans timeless tales, mythology. Strangely that would be the ideal function of the old sacred texts which religion and windmill tilters constantly manage to twist into a form of madness.

burredbrain,

There always existed a small circle of priests (kohanim), Levites (assistants to the priests) and scholars who knew the name in the holy tounge and passed the information on from generation to generation by providing instructions for its enunciation without actually enunciating it.

I happen to know this by virtue to my good fortune as a Levite and my many years of study.

The name is based on a hebrew acronym for the Hebrew words that mean, “was, is and will be”, not in this order.

As I said the Bible (that is the original correct version) makes all this quite clear, one just needs to know where to look.

Unfortunately, none of this has any practical consquences in the absence of the temple on Mt. Moriah, presently occupied by those Islamic structures put up there for the sole purpose of mimicking and being a thorn in the side of Judaism (despite what they say or claim).

Carol Clouser Wrote:

There always existed a small circle of priests (kohanim), Levites (assistants to the priests) and scholars who knew the name in the holy tounge and passed the information on from generation to generation by providing instructions for its enunciation without actually enunciating it.

That’s not really verifiable is it? It is common practice amongst all of the priesthoods in all religions for some or many of the priests to try and use “sacred knowledge” as a means to an end i.e I can tell people I know the magical incantation/esoteric knowledge/true meaning because it has been passed down to me in a secret order or method of which I am a member of and therefore I deserve worship/adoration/wealth.

How do you know where your version of the so called “name of god” originally came from? You don’t. You think you know it is true, but it is simply faith on your part.

I happen to know this by virtue to my good fortune as a Levite and my many years of study.

You think you know but you have no way to verify that what you think is true actually is true.

The name is based on a hebrew acronym for the Hebrew words that mean, “was, is and will be”, not in this order.

Name shmame.The Jewish religion is an eclectic mix of older traditions. The names of God in the bible were taken from surrounding areas from other traditions e.g from zoroastrianism (mazdaism), Heliopolitan, Rhodian, Vedic, etc. It wasn’t until the babyloinian exile that judaism started to become montheistic due to the influence of their savior (he’s called a messiah in the bible) from captivity Cyrus the Great. At that time the persian conquered babylon, their religion was zoroastrianism, which is monotheistic and highly moralistic and ethical. The mixing of the hebrew’s various religious beliefs with zoroastrianism was to form the beginning of judaism as a singular montheistic tradition. There were monotheists amongst the hebrew peoples at that time due to the influence of various other traditions, but there was no single hebrew religion, most were polytheists or henotheists, they were a people united by nationalism, not religion.

As I said the Bible (that is the original correct version) makes all this quite clear, one just needs to know where to look.

And the “Book of Mormon” makes it quite clear that a bunch of jews left judea before that time and eventually sailed to south america and created a great civilization. They split into good and bad tribes and the good guys got wiped out. The bad guys are the incas, mayans, aztecs, etc. It is quite clear that the messiah appeared to them as jesus also.

Point being that books that claim divine authorship are a dime a dozen.

Unfortunately, none of this has any practical consquences in the absence of the temple on Mt. Moriah, presently occupied by those Islamic structures put up there for the sole purpose of mimicking and being a thorn in the side of Judaism (despite what they say or claim).

Like god cares about some building. Like god cares about some priest muttering some “secret” word in some building.

These songs are a billion times more spiritually potent then some creepy dudes hiding god away in some building somewhere with a “No one allowed” sign.

Govinda: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=S3VBI4ER

Mystical Machine Gun: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=IQF0WMMM

Tattva: http://s52.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=[…]T2HA8N1XHR7J

Shower Your Love: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=ONG967ZP

Oh Carol:

I happen to know this by virtue [of] …my many years of study.

Ah! That explains what you were doing when you weren’t learning evolution.

Shower Your Love:

Isn’t that the one by I.P. Freely?

(sorry, couldn’t resist)

…or maybe it was R Kelly?

I am not as superstitious as Ms. Clouser. The ineffable name of God is YHWH (or YHVH). That is the name used in the J document; the E document uses Elohim. God was also known by other names. The name Jehovah derives from YHWH; the vowels were inserted by analogy with Adonai, a euphemism used to avoid pronouncing YHWH.

No one truly knows how YHWH was pronounced. It is sometimes rendered Yahveh or Yahweh. I have my doubts about those pronunciations.

An article in Biblical Archeology Review a number of years ago noted that the suffix -yahu was sometimes appended to Hebrew names, as in Yeshayahu, or Isaiah-yahu, and Yirmiyahu, or Jeremiah-yahu. In addition, Jehu (pronounced Yehu) was one of the kings of Israel.

Such considerations suggested to the author of that article that the ineffable name, when rendered effable, may have been pronounced Yahuah or Yahoah.

If I recall correctly, the article in BAR was not exactly greeted warmly, but it seems possible to me that Jehovah is after all close to the truth.

(((Put a six year old in front of a porno and they will react quite predictably.)))

Inferring “porno” means pornographic/erotica visual dramatic depiction in some recorded format, albeit this is a presumption on my part…Any adult with a six year old sprog in their care can definitely predict the following:

S/he wil demand that you stop wasting their viewing time with the boring stupid video. Take it out and put on “My Little Pony Blows Bubbles, Part 43” (or suitable video fixation. Every parent and baby sitter has been through this)be played for the 419th time this week.

What is it with these adults insisting on projecting their own repressed fantasies everywhere they look and claiming they’re ‘doing it for the children’.

Gee, Carol, thanks for (yet again) sgharing your religious opinions with everyone.

Why, again, should anyone give a flying fig about them … ?

Lenny:

Minor quibble:

Rouas J. Rushdoony

That’s actually “Rousas”.

I cna spelll, I jst cnat tipe.

:)

Thanks.

I bet Mary Martin or any other actress who ever played “Peter Pan” are having a good laugh. Here is some positive brain-stroking for this feeble minded community.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pants_role

I bet Mary Martin or any other actress who ever played “Peter Pan” are having a good laugh. Here is some positive brain-stroking for this feeble minded. totally uneducated community.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pants_role

As a Christian I’d like to apologize for the behavior of those people in Colorodo. “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” -Jesus

Posted by Niles on March 24, 2006 06:07 PM (e)

(((Put a six year old in front of a porno and they will react quite predictably.)))

Inferring “porno” means pornographic/erotica visual dramatic depiction in some recorded format, albeit this is a presumption on my part…Any adult with a six year old sprog in their care can definitely predict the following:

S/he wil demand that you stop wasting their viewing time with the boring stupid video. Take it out and put on “My Little Pony Blows Bubbles, Part 43” (or suitable video fixation. Every parent and baby sitter has been through this)be played for the 419th time this week.

What is it with these adults insisting on projecting their own repressed fantasies everywhere they look and claiming they’re ‘doing it for the children’.

I am not so sure about that. At 6 or 7 years old my son was definately interested in getting to see naked women.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 21, 2006 12:49 PM.

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