“This is a Religious War” by Andrew Sullivan
(note: below this essay are the other two essays)
1. According to Sullivan’s essay, “what” and “who” is the voice of fundamentalism?
Faith is the core of fundamentalism; however, ALL religions have EXTREMIST who
distort loving, peaceful and tolerant religious writings or teachings and accept
“fundamentalist” ideology – meaning “believe as I believe or else.”
2. Whom did Evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell blame for the 9/11 tragedy?
Falwell blamed the pagans (non-believers); abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians,
A.C.L.U (American Civil Liberties Union) and any one who tried to “secularize”
America (take God out of our society).
3. According to “This is a Religious War” during the Spanish Inquisition, the
torturers believed they were doing what to their victims? The torturers believed
that they were helping their victims as they burned them alive.
4. America was founded on the principles of what (see passage about John Locke
and Founding Fathers)?? NO SINGLE RELIGION could use the government or
political means to enforce its own orthodoxies (First Amendment to the
Constitution of the U.S. of America – the supreme law of this country:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.) We commonly refer to the freedom of
religion as “separation of church and state.”
5. According to Sullivan, what is the critical link between Western (Christianity) and
Middle Eastern (Islamic) fundamentalism? The critical link is the pace of social
change; “if you take your beliefs from books written more than a thousand years
ago, and you believe in these texts literally, then the appearance of the modern
world must truly terrify.
6. In terms of the events of 9/11, what is Sullivan’s view of Islam’s culpability
(guilt)? Some Muslims denounced; some Muslims criticized; some Muslims
celebrated; some Muslims remained silent. However, this radical part of Islam
cannot be denied nor ignored, so the moderate leaders of Islam need to address
those within their own religion.
7. According to Sullivan, why should we not condescend to fundamentalism (either
Islamic, Christian or any other religious fundamentalist)? We may disagree with
it, but it has attracted millions of adherents for centuries . . . It elevates and
comforts. It provides a sense of meaning and direction to those feeling lost in a
8. What is Sullivan’s purpose comparing Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union with
the Islamic State? All cultures truly believed they were creating a new dawn for
humanity, security, and glory for their culture (and with Islam – God).
9. In what way is Islamic fundamentalism like a philosophy out of 16th century
Europe? The lessons Christian Europe learned in its bloody history have yet to be
absorbed within the Muslim world. The promise of purity and salvation seems far
more enticing than the mundane allure of mere peace. (Sullivan believes we are
at just the beginning of this Islamic War.)
10. In what ways might a Christian or Islamic fundamentalist view Manhattan as
Gomorrah? Women wear revealing clothing, along with makeup and jewelry.
Gay life style is acceptable in this city. Many fundamentalists (on both sides)
believe women should be consigned to polygamous, concealed servitude, and
homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.
11. What does Sullivan mean when he claims that “insecurity” is a “critical aspect” of
Christian fundamentalism (par 21)? American fundamentalists know they are
losing the culture war. They are terrified of failure and of the Godless world they
believe is about to engulf or crush them. They speak and think defensively. They
talk about renewal, but in their private discourse they expect damnation for an
America that has lost sight of the fundamentalist notion of God.
12. Why does this insecurity have “worse implications” for Islam than for other
cultures (par 23)? “For misbelievers to rule over true believers is blasphemous
and unnatural, since it leads to the corruption of religion and morality in society
and to the flouting or even the abrogation of God’s law.” Islam lost territory, and
Western power and civilization encroaches upon it every day.
13. What did the 9/11 terrorists do the night before they flew their planes into the
twin towers? They sat by a pool in Florida and drank a lot of vodka. (Either/or
fallacy in a fundamentalist’s mind: Either we must assimilate and become like
Western culture, or we must destroy the Western culture.)
14. According to Sullivan, what should every clear thinking American and/or World
citizen do in response to the Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists,
any religious fundamentalist? THESIS/MAIN POINT: Islam and all
fundamentalists are a sincere threat to peace in our world. We must continue
to fight for our universal principles stated in our U.S. Constitution – and the
possibility of free religious faith it guarantees. (We are not a Christian nation;
but we are a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslim, Hindu, and other religious and
“The Details of Life” by Jonathon Kozol
1. According to Kozol, what are the “details of life”?
Skinned knees, band aids, handiwork of children’s fingers, oddball humor, silliness,
whims, a child’s love, a grown-up’s gratitude, joys – the joys/tears of childhood.
2. Why are the “details of life” important?
They are important because they renew our faith in life. Childhood renews our faith
3. Why should poor children’s “inner health” (par. 12) be given high priority in
policy-making and budget decisions?
Emotional IQ (EMPATHY) has been shown to be more important than high
intellectual IQ’s. Little children need to have loving, nurturing childhoods in order to
become healthy-minded adults.
4. How is the term “productivity” (par. 11) defined by the people who make the
budgeting decisions? If you aren’t “profitable,” then you aren’t important.
5. Why is it wrong to think of children as “economic units” (par. 13) or “investment
values” (par. 15)? Kozol worries about future decision makers who lack
empathy; what if these future decision makers decide not to invest in the
economically poor children because the return is not profitable.
6. How will spending time during the school day consoling a child about a lost pet
be more valuable than reading, math or history? Emotional IQ is more important,
overall, to human beings – especially children.
7. What problem occurs when the poor are treated as groups rather than individuals,
according to Kozol? When we study “groups,” they tend to lose their humanity.
8. According to Kozol, is it possible to solve society’s problems one person at a
MAIN POINT/THESIS: Let children be children; every child (rich or poor)
deserves a fun-filled, innocent childhood; they are not “adults in training”; they are
not economic investments; they are what makes our lives worth living on this earth.
“Meanings of a Word” by Gloria Naylor
(Note: students please answer for next class Class # 13)
1. How was the grandparents’ apartment a “mecca”?
2. What were the various definitions of the word “nigger” as explained in this essay?
3. Why does Naylor explain the meaning and use of the word “girl” in her family?
4. What does the author mean when she says that the “people in [her] grandmother’s
living room . . . rendered the word “nigger” impotent”?
5. What does the author mean when she claims that, although the word had been
uttered in her presence several times before, she did not “hear” it until it was used
by a classmate?
6. What is Naylor’s thesis (main point)? (par 2)