Religious material should be discussed in literature courses
Religion has been regarded as a critical issue that is discussed in all areas both far and beyond religious circles. However, there are various things that can be used to represent the perception of people’s attitudes, beliefs, and values towards religion. They include the use of literature to present religious ideas. Western religions have pervaded works of literature to attract a wider audience. Even though the state has tried to distinguish between the church and state, there is no single authority which can separate religion from the literature.
Critical thinking can be described as an approach of thinking based on active and objective analysis of a particular issue, problem, question or the assessment of ideas and information about a particular issue. Critical thinking is used as a frame of reference while trying to relate literature text to actual life events, beliefs and norms. Critical thinking helps individuals to interpret the metaphors used in literal works, to reveal their symbolic meanings. To appreciate life, we need to understand its origin. Critical thinking defines works of literature, without it literature is powerless.
Literature from a broad perspective can be termed as a written piece of artistic work. Literature is endowed with the capability and capacity to arouse salient feelings and emotions that lead individuals to critically assess their understanding of religious issues. A major characteristic of a work of literature is that it supersedes the test of time; an iconic example of this is the Bible. It has the ability to communicate and convey its message across all social classes, gender cultures and ethnic affiliations. With all the power it manifests literature can not exist without critical thinking.
It is now clear that literature and critical thinking have a symbiotic relationship. Work of literature at times my seem very complex with a lot of illusion, imagery and at time encompass a lot of fiction, but deeply embedded in them are salient themes and views about religion that can only be deciphered through critical thinking. Critical thinking mainly focuses on specific evaluation of symbols, themes, imagery and allusions. Through critical thinking the reader and the audience of literal works are challenged to investigate different opinions about common belief from a holistic point of view. This reinforces the audiences understanding and comprehension of hidden meanings.
In Charles Martin’s poems ‘’Taken Up’’ the concept of fiction has been widely explored. The question of alien abductions is most likely not going to happen, no other life forms have been discovered in the universe part from the ones on earth. After employing critical thought to this plot, attention is drawn to the common belief of the return of the messiah or holy entity held by many faiths. This is illustrated by this phrase; “the disc [descending], That glowing wheel of lights… We come here not believing what we find—Can it be your desire to leave behind…To the unearthly harmony of their assent… Come then, the Strangers said, and those who were taken, went.’’ (Martin 876). In The Handmaid’s Tale, ‘though I suppose its faith, of a kind, I say. Like Tibetan prayer wheels,’ (Atwood, p.168) and ‘notwithstanding she shall be saved by childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety’ (Atwood, p. 221). In these phrases the need for one to have faith and belief is manifested, good and moral Christian values are well articulated in the second phrase. In the Unholy sonnet phrases such as ‘and then to make up, for some obscure reason, a lesson on the power of faith and prayer’ (Jarman, p.41) and ‘and try to find a way to make it bend. Try faith and insult. Even try to bless annihilation for its selfness’ (Jarman, p.67). Again, emphasis is placed on the power of religion and its ability to solve daily life problems and challenges.
As illustrated by the works of literature above, it is essential for the audience to have the required skills and knowledge so as to effectively analyse and synthesise literal works. In most occasions literature authors tend to use religious themes as they transcend most social and cultural communities. Religious beliefs and norms are generally commonly shared across all faiths irrespective of their divergent backgrounds. If it were not for religion, literature would definitely loose it appeal to distant audience and most certainly would not supersede time. Basing on this facts religious material should be discussed in literature courses.
Since religion and faith cannot be challenged from within the religious institutions, literature offers an avenue through which critical analysis and evaluation can be carried out. Therefore, literature can be seen as a bold way through which necessary criticism against the religious works can be determined. Literary criticism is critical as it will enable people to have a deeper understanding of what is contained in religious materials. Literature will discuss the contents of the religious materials from various perspectives giving the people different angles of looking at the materials.