It’s been a over a week since I last posted on here since Jen McCreight’s “God’s Lady Problem: Breaking Up with Abusive Supernatural Beings” speech last tuesday. Her speech lasted about an hour with follow up questions that kept the momentum of the night going for us. She touched up on the sexist elements that are present in most religions that make women second class citizens in the eyes of men and gave the audience a rundown of the definition of feminism (the advocation for gender equality, not women being given “special rights”). It was an overall good talk, so we hope Jen can come around a second time for future events.
So here I come to the main topic of this post, sweeping generalizations. One of our members, Benjamin, had made a facebook post of this article that caught my eye, “In Defense of Literature” from the University Chronicle opinion section. The writer, Jack Lofgren, had talked to one of our members and the discussion included an argument as to whether art and literature are useful to humanity. Our member supposedly mentioned that literature produces no testable results and said that the English Department must be disbanded because “art is simply decoding what the artist is “trying to say” and literary theory and english professors get in the way of this”. Jack did not take this well and he goes on to make several valid points about why literature is important (Benjamin made several comments himself explaining why people should appreciate literature); however, he makes a generalization of atheists based off his own view that I can’t help but point out, “It is fitting, then, that the atheist would be the strongest critic of art and literature, for the atheist does not accept things that cannot be measured by humans”. This isn’t something I can agree with him on in totality. For one, the position of athiests concerning the supernatural and untestable claims does not necessarily apply to literature, since most of us realize literature in general is abstract and subjective to begin with, it’s not something any reasonable athiest would demand a test for. For books or scriptures like the Bible or the Quran that claim absolute truth, we will hold those to testability because they are making a claim that apparently applies to an objective reality, i.e. ours.
I don’t know who Jack was talking to when this conversation came up, and I don’t have everyone’s thoughts on everything so I can’t comment on who says the English Department must be disbanded, but they don’t represent my views on literature or anything beyond the organization’s mission statement. I, myself, like creative writing and art, why would I share the sentiment of disbanding the English department or think , “literature produces no testable results, so it’s useless”? It’s important to avoid sweeping generalizations of a demographic since those types of generalizations ignore individuality, and I suspect no one here wants their identity reduced to one aspect of their lives.