Brown M&Ms and Religious Illiteracy

Rod Dreher::

The rock band Van Halen was famous for putting a rider in their contracts requiring that a bowl of M&Ms be backstage for them, and that there be no brown M&Ms in the bowl. It sounds like typical rock star vanity, but there was actually a good reason for it. The band had this provision buried in their contract as a trick to see if the local crews assisting the band had actually read the contract. In a similar way, minor mistakes like these are the brown M&Ms of journalism about religion. They reveal a fundamental carelessness that might have more serious consequences.

The problem is not just with the media, but is even internal to Christian communities. I’ve said in this space on many occasions that as I travel to Christian colleges, one of the biggest complaints I hear from faculty is that young people have next to no theological knowledge. They are the products of parishes, congregations, and (especially) youth groups that have reduced the faith to mere relationality. I was once in the presence of a college student who had been raised in the church, been involved since childhood, and had been active in a parachurch youth ministry. She knew that Jesus was her best buddy, but she did not realize that he had been physically raised from the dead.

We’re not talking about expecting laymen to explain the hypostatic union here. We’re talking about the Resurrection.

A couple of years ago, the Charlotte Observer did an interview with the author of a book about how few Americans really understood the Bible. Look at this:

Happy Easter.