From time to time during this trip, I sent updates. Now that I am in the blogosphere, I can put them all in one place.
Just thought I'd keep you updated on how thing are going. The research trip is going really well. Am learning lots. Great materials for the book and other research projects. People have been really nice. The people at the Southern Baptist Archives, Disciples of Christ Archives, UCC Archives, Wilberforce University (with AME records), American Jewish Archives, and Cushwa Center at Notre Dame could not have been nicer or more helpful. Have also had a lot of sightseeing and adventure. I am coming away really impressed with a lot of places including Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Have tried some local cuisine, such as the unique chocolate and cinnamon laced chili served on spaghetti in Cincinnati. Had bourbon-flavored sauce over cake in Bardstown KY. Great fried chicken and homestyle cookin' outside of Nashville. Also lots of events and visuals. Got to see the Thunder, the opening of Kentucky Derby season. It is a major fireworks event where fireworks are shot from a bridge over the Ohio. Then there were the little things. Am learning that I am right now in Cuyahoga county, which locals pronouce something akin to Kai-a-ho-ga. I saw an ore steamer navigating a turn in a very narrow river outside of Cleveland. The ship must be about 600 to 700 feet long and the "river," is a canal that is about the width of the Arkansas is in Wichita--with a sharp turn. This is an old ship with no bow thrusters so this took some real skill. And you thought parallel parking was a challenge!
April 18, 2008
One other adventure I had was when I got to visit the creationism museum in northern KY. You can check out the info at http://www.creationmuseum.org/
Let's see...I guess the best way to put it is if you follow their premises (that the Bible is literal and their understanding of it is correct), then the rest follows logically. The crux starts out as God's Word (the Bible) vs clearly inferior human reason. Again, a lot of the interpretation is more about how man's refusal to accept God and his plan for us is the root of our problems, the belief in evolution simply being a major symptom. That said, it sometimes gave the notion that if we just abandoned this silly belief in evolution, that all our social problems would go away. No mention of how the Bible was used to uphold slavery. But I digress.
The Flood plays a big, even central role in the interpretation as it underscores 1) humanity's sinfulness and subsequent punishment and 2) shows up in the fossil record, as they see it, in the form of masses of fossils together. They posit that the flood was the cataclysmic event that pushed even the continents apart, rather than slow geologic processes. They also argue that dinosaurs survived the flood by being taking on the ark as young animals. How they got the T -Rex to behave on the ark without eating the rest of the passenger list is not a detail they chose to explore.
There are some subtle messages that put their interpretation within a particular framework within the creationist worldview. For example, dinosaurs did exist, but existed alongside with humans (reinforced with displays showing people in the Garden of Eden with dinosaurs in the nearby bushes). The bones were not just put there as a way to trick people into not believing in God, which had been a common creationist argument at one time. The six days were six literal days, not eras, another distinct viewpoint. An additional point was that Adam's sin condemned animals to killing and eating meat and dying etc. That meant that before Adam and Eve sinned, all animals, from humans and sheep to lions and velociraptors, all ate plants. No real mention how they did that with sharp teeth. No real mention of how aquatic animals survived or did not.
Again, it's not really designed for the evolutionist or change minds. It is designed to reinforce existing belief systems, which, let's face it, a lot of museums do on a variety of issues. I will say that the first part, about major themes and questions and setting up the issue, was one of the better framings that I have seen. Geared toward kids and having them ask questions--to which the rest of the exhibit tries as much as possible to provide a distinct set of answers.
On the whole, a very entertaining museum. The dioramas and animatronics were first rate. A HUGE gift shop. One of the biggest that I have seen in a museum. In fact, there is a whole arcade just for food and other facilities.
Just thought you'd find it of interest.
March 25, 2008
Well, folks, just letting you know I made it as far as Notre Dame. Drove back through St. Louis without much problem. I elected to stay at pretty cheap university lodging accomodation here on Notre Dame campus. Turns out that I am staying in a former convent. Bleak. It just looks like the stereotypical institution that they drop the little orphan onto to go live with the stern nuns. I've included pictures! My room is on the third floor just out of view of this photo Has the bathroom down the hall. Old, old woodwork and layout. I mean, if this place isn't haunted, I don't know what is. Plus, I get the fun of staying here pretty much alone tonight. We'll see. Got to eat on campus at Legends, a great little sports bar that is university run and on campus and has great food. What a novel concept--good food on a college campus? Can't be legal. So far, my impression of Notre Dame: Now THIS is a college campus!
Now we'll have to see how their archives are. It's supposed to be rain/wintry mix for the rest of the week. Good time to be indoors at an archives.