27 January 2008

Global Literacy

A visitor asked me if I had written any article on global literacy. Yes, I have. It appeared in Fusion: Papers Read at FUSE Assemblies, volume 2 (December, 2000). I delivered it on 26 October 1999 to members of the Foundation to Upgrade the Standard of Education (FUSE) in Manila. Here is the unedited file I retrieved from my computer:

To prepare Filipino students for the 21st century, educators must make them globally literate. Global literacy is the amount of information that a person needs in order to live in the world. Global literacy is made up of three elements: cultural literacy, scientific literacy, and multiple literacies. Global literacy for a Filipino is the amount of information that a Filipino needs in order to live in a Philippines that is situated in a global village. Philippine Global Literacy is nothing else but literacy for a global Philippines.

Fellow educators, ladies and gentlemen:

What I want to talk about this morning should be – and will be, when I go on sabbatical – a book. Necessarily, then, this talk will be sketchy, but I hope anyway to give a little bit of flesh to the idea I am going to try to sell to you today.

Today I want to sell you an idea – the idea of literacy, not the literacy that comes with being able to read and write, but the kind of literacy that makes a person literate. I want to sell you the idea of global literacy, not global only in the sense of transcending the physical and geographical boundaries of our archipelago, but global in the sense of encompassing not just culture or what has been called cultural literacy, not just science and technology or what has been called scientific literacy, but all types of literacy, including multiple literacies or the different literacies based on multiple intelligences.

Since most of you are familiar with these types of literacy anyway, let me very quickly review them with you.

First, cultural literacy. In 1981, a literary critic from the University of Virginia, E. D. Hirsch Jr., electrified the academic community by claiming that he had found a way to solve the problem of poverty in the United States. At the annual convention of the world’s largest professional association of literary critics – the Modern Language Association of America, to which I belong, which has about 35,000 members around the world – Hirsch outlined a theory of reading that eventually became known as Cultural Literacy and, today, as Core Knowledge. That talk was published in the periodical The American Scholar in 1983 and attracted the attention of Exxon Education Foundation, which funded Hirsch’s subsequent work. Soon, the US Federal Government also got wind of the project and the Cultural Literacy or Core Knowledge movement was born.

Said Hirsch in Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, the book that became a bestseller in the United States in 1987: “That children from poor and illiterate homes tend to remain poor and illiterate is an unacceptable failure of our schools, one which has occurred not because our teachers are inept but chiefly because they are compelled to teach a fragmented curriculum based on faulty educational theories. Some say that our schools by themselves are powerless to change the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. I do not agree. They can break the cycle, but only if they themselves break fundamentally with some of the theories and practices that education professors and school administrators have followed over the past fifty years.”

What were these outdated and harmful theories and practices? Basically, they were the educational theories and practices popularized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and John Dewey (1859-1952). Rousseau, at least as Hirsch interpreted him, “thought that a child’s intellectual and social skills would develop naturally without regard to the specific content of education.” In his famous book Schools of To-morrow (1915), Dewey, following Rousseau, then attacked what he called “the piling up of information.” Said Hirsch: Dewey falsely “assumed that early education need not be tied to specific content.“ Needless to say, neither Rousseau nor Dewey lived in our Information Age, when information is crucial to any decision, whether personal or non-personal, whether cultural or scientific, whether educational or commercial.

The book Cultural Literacy, and its sequels – dictionaries and textbooks belonging to what is now known as The Core Knowledge Series: Resource Books for Grades One through Six – cited numerous studies and experiments to prove what is actually quite a simple insight, namely, that children do not learn by learning skills; they learn by learning facts. Information, in our information age, is what American children need, and Hirsch and his associates eventually identified the information – or core knowledge – that every American, in order to be a good American, should know. These pieces of information they distributed among the different levels of elementary schooling in the United States, and many American schools today use these facts in lieu of what, in the old days, used to be called Minimum Learning Competencies. Today, American education is working because American schoolchildren are memorizing a list of facts named collectively as Cultural Literacy, or what an American should know to be literate about American culture.

Hirsch defines Cultural Literacy succinctly in this way: “Cultural literacy,” he says, “is the network of information that all competent readers possess. It is the background information, stored in their minds, that enable them to take up a newspaper and read it with an adequate level of comprehension, getting the point, grasping the implications, relating what they read to the unstated context which alone gives meaning to what they read.” Core Knowledge, on the other hand, is defined similarly as, in Hirsch’s words, “a body of widely used knowledge taken for granted by competent writers and speakers in the United States. Because this knowledge is taken for granted rather than being explained when it is used, it forms a necessary foundation for the higher-order reading, writing, and thinking skills that children need for academic and vocational success. The universal attainment of such knowledge should be the central aim of curricula in our elementary schools, just as it is currently the aim in all world-class educational systems.” If you are wondering which world-class educational systems Hirsch is referring to here, they are those of Sweden, France, and Japan, systems that he calls “the highest-achieving and most egalitarian elementary school systems in the world.”

As defined by Hirsch, the literacy of American 17-year-olds in a 1985 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress was less than 25%. You need not be a blind admirer of all things American to suspect that, if the cultural literacy rate in the United States is below 25%, the literacy rate in the Philippines cannot be anywhere near the much higher percentage we love to boast about.

Let us now shift to scientific literacy. Sometime in the eighties, the Public Opinion Laboratory at Northern Illinois University asked American adults questions about elementary scientific concepts. The result of the surveys showed that the scientific literacy rate in the United States was, at that time, not more than 7% Even American college graduates had a scientific literacy rate of only 17%. That is even less, we can see, than the cultural literacy rate.

In 1991, the founder and director of the Public Opinion Laboratory, Jon D. Miller, was named the first director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy (ICASL) by the Chicago Academy of Sciences. The ICASL coordinates efforts at raising scientific literacy levels in various industrialized nations.

In 1992, Richard Brennan, a technical consultant to numerous American government agencies, published a book entitled Dictionary of Scientific Literacy. Brennan’s insight was similar to that of Hirsch. Following the Illinois investigations, Brennan realized that American adults, even after school, could not understand the latest developments in science and technology. As James Rutherford of the American Association for the Advancement of Science put it in his Introduction to the book: “Life is complicated, and getting more-so, it seems, by the hour. One aspect of this – perhaps the central one of our times – is that science and technology have left the lab and the factory and are no longer the sole concern of scientists and engineers and their clients. Those fields of thought and action are now part of every one of our lives, no matter what our occupation, no matter where we live. Science, both basic and applied, has much to do with the nature of the work we do, how we travel and communicate, diseases we are prone to and those that no longer threaten us, what we eat, how we wage war, what we do to our surroundings and to other living creatures, and much else. Scientific literacy is the ticket for admission to such a world.”

Brennan defines Scientific Literacy succinctly in this way: “A scientifically literate person,” he says, “understands the vocabulary well enough to follow public debates about issues involving science and technology.” One does not need to be a scientist to be scientifically literate, just as one does not have to be an artist or a historian or a social scientist to be culturally literate.

A more detailed definition of scientific literacy may be found on the website of the Illinois Scientific Literacy Network (http://www.imsa.edu/project/isln). ISLN describes “scientific literacy habits of mind” in this way: “(1) The capacity to formulate questions; to seek, comprehend and use available information; to gather and interpret data; and to draw logical inferences in relation to an area of investigation; (2) The ability to comprehend and communicate the language, concepts, theories, and practices of science, mathematics, and technology in ways that promote mutual understanding, cooperative problem solving, and shared vision; (3) The awareness that science, mathematics, and technology are ongoing processes and growing disciplines that are constantly evolving and being refined through inquiry and open-ended investigation; (4) The awareness that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent – that the tools and methods of each are interrelated and mutually supportive; (5) The understanding that science, mathematics, and technology have strengths and limitations in both theory and application, particularly as they relate to societal and ethical issues.”

What Brennan did in his dictionary was to select what, to him, were “those technical terms that are necessary for a broad understanding of a major science or those terms that nonspecialist readers will most likely want to know a little more about.” In terms of validity, Brennan’s list is open to a lot of questions, the way the Core Knowledge curriculum – which was the result of numerous surveys and studies – is not. But it is a list that has to be ingrained in the working memory of every American adult, and that is what is important.

Third, multiple literacies. In 1972, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero, which had been established in 1967 by Nelson Goodman primarily to help disadvantaged schools, Howard Gardner started trying to solve the same problem Hirsch was trying to solve, namely, the problem of poverty in the United States. Gardner’s solution was similar to that of Hirsch. Gardner realized that there was something very wrong with the way American schoolchildren were being taught. In 1983, he published a book entitled Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, in which he set forth the theory upon which he would base his later, more practical work. As described by his colleagues at Harvard, “this book challenged the traditional psychological view of intelligence as a single capacity that drives logical and mathematical thought. Instead, it proposed that all individuals possess seven independent intelligences. These, in combination, enable people to solve problems or fashion products with varying levels of skill.”

Initially, Gardner thought that there were only seven intelligences, namely, “linguistic and logical-mathematical (the styles of thinking measured most often on psychological tests), musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal (self-knowledge).” Since 1983, some other intelligences have been added to the list, such as naturalist intelligence and existential intelligence. (Since there is now something called “emotional literacy,” we should probably add “emotional intelligence.”) As explained on its website, “Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory, in a nutshell, is a pluralized way of understanding the intellect. Recent advances in cognitive science, developmental psychology and neuroscience suggest that each person's level of intelligence, as it has been traditionally considered, is actually made up of autonomous faculties that can work individually or in concert with other faculties.”

Gardner solved one of the limitations of both Hirsch and Brennan, that is, their exclusive focus on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences, or what has traditionally been known as IQ. If literacy theory is to take into account all the latest advances in psychology and neuroscience, it must then start to compile information lists that are neither linguistic nor logical-mathematical, but based on the other types of intelligences. These lists, unfortunately, have not yet been compiled, even for American students or adults. Harvard’s Project Zero is known for its almost obsessive, therefore, very slow-paced acquisition of empirical evidence, and it will take a lot of surveys and studies to compile the list of Multiple Literacies.

We can, however, from Gardner’s later work, have an idea of what these multiple literacies should look like. In his Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi (1993), for instance, Gardner maps out the broad outlines of these multiple literacies. Look at the way he discusses Picasso’s spatial intelligence: [Picasso] “evinced skill in noticing visual details and arrangements, thinking in spatial configurations, remembering virtually every live and painted scene that he had ever witnessed.” Persons with spatial literacy would have, inside their memory, visual images of paintings. Particular paintings, thus, would have to be added to the lists done by Hirsch and Brennan, not to be memorized as words that are read, but as images that are seen.

Similarly, in his discussion of Stravinsky, whose intelligence was almost exclusively musical, Gardner focuses on “the importance of conventions and traditions” (which, of course, Stravinsky pushed to their limits). To the lists of Hirsch and Brennan, then, we must add musical pieces that have to be heard by the schoolchild, in addition to words that have to be read and paintings that have to be seen.

Even Freud’s personal intelligences – both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences – are based, says Gardner, on a rich and solid literary background. Gardner realizes that Freud drew from “a panorama of sources, testifying to Freud’s command of the scientific literature, the classical literature, and the political and cultural events of his own and other eras.” Without knowing the words, images, and sounds in our hypothetically expanded cultural literacy list, persons cannot develop their interpersonal or intrapersonal intelligences.

In fact, even bodily intelligence, which would seem to be the least related to cultural literacy, needs the memory. Dancer Martha Graham, says Gardner, “turned out to be a remarkably quick learner of difficult styles and techniques – a prodigy in the bodily-kinesthetic sphere.” In other words, it is not only words that are read, images that are seen, or sounds that are heard that are necessary for multiple literacies, but even body movements that are actually done by the schoolchild.

If we put together all these types of literacies – Cultural Literacy, Scientific Literacy, and Multiple Literacies -- we have what I call Global Literacy.

I define Global Literacy very simply: it is the amount of information that a person needs in order to live in the world. This information is not all verbal (that is merely cultural literacy). It is also visual, aural, and kinaesthetic, in short, it is also multiple.

This sounds like all I’ve done is to put together the insights of three key thinkers of our time and given the sum a name. I daresay that would be no mean achievement in itself, but it is not exactly very significant. What I want to push, on the contrary, is that the sum of these literacies is greater than the sum of its parts. But that is only my theory, and it is a theory that I will have to support through my future book.

But instead of talking on the level of theory, let me give you an idea of how all this works in practice. How is global literacy working in practice in the United States?

Hirsch made a list of facts that should be known by every American schoolchild by the end of sixth grade. Brennan made a list of scientific terms that should be known by every adult American. Harvard will, sooner or later, come out with its own list of facts that should be known by every American, child or adult. The list of Hirsch, as I have already mentioned, has become the basis of curricular reform in the United States.

In contrast, in the Philippines, we have not yet made even an initial list of facts for our own schoolchildren to learn. We are still using what we call Elementary Learning Competencies and Philippine Secondary School Learning Competencies, which are, by and large, still dependent on the long discredited educational theories of Rousseau and Dewey.

Let me give just one little example. Let’s take Grade 1. Since I know you are all very interested in the teaching of English, let’s take the Elementary Learning Competencies for English for Grade 1 as promulgated by DECS in 1997. We can see from the Introduction to the English Competencies that our curriculum developers still swear by the ideas of Rousseau and Dewey. This belief is explicit: “Language learning,” says DECS, “is not only product oriented but process oriented.” That would be all right if, in fact, the competencies focused both on process and on product, but in reality, practically all the competencies listed for all grade levels, and not just for Grade 1, are process oriented. One example is typical. DECS asks our students to “talk about topics of interest from 2 to 3 sentences, e.g., My Pet, My Family.”

In contrast, and I hate to use Hirsch again, but we have no choice because there are no local examples handy, the Grade 1 curriculum of Hirsch makes the student memorize the verse “Thirty Days Hath September.” There is only one way to know which months have 30 and which months have 31 days, and that is to memorize the pattern. This is not process; this is result. This is a topic that should be of interest, of much more significance in terms of the child’s future than a pet or even a family. And this is just one example out of dozens of key curricular decisions.

In fact, one problem is that we were all brought up in a system of education founded on Rousseau and Dewey. That is why, instinctively, we do not like it when people like Hirsch, Brennan, and Gardner challenge the way we were brought up. We unconsciously think that we should teach the way we were taught. Well, the world today is drastically, qualitatively different from the world in which we grew up. It is now virtually a virtual world, with everyone wired and connected to everyone else. We cannot raise our children to be exactly as we are – globally illiterate, unable to put together what we think and how we feel, unable to cite facts about our history, unable to describe the latest scientific breakthroughs, unable to use our multiple intelligences. Put simply, we are, most of us adults anyway, globally illiterate. But we have a chance to change the world through our children. We must make our children globally literate. We must give them a chance. We must give ourselves a chance.

Theory has given us a clue as to where we should be going. Cultural Literacy, if you will recall, correctly theorized that each nation needs a different set of information in order to become and to remain a nation. We can thus define Filipino Global Literacy as the amount of information that a Filipino needs in order to live in a Philippines that is situated in a global village, or, in other words, we can say that Philippine Global Literacy is nothing else but literacy for a global Philippines.

I know that there are persons here today that can institute policies and programs to inculcate global literacy in our students. I challenge all of us to drop our ELCs and PSSLCs and our instinctive defense of skills-building and our kneejerk reaction against memorization. I challenge us to examine ourselves to see if we are educating students who will move into the Information Age that is the 21st century or who will remain in the process-oriented age that is the 20th century. I challenge us to turn our backs on Rousseau and Dewey.

The 21st century will be a century of global literacy. Actually, I am not talking about the future here, nor perhaps even about the present. Paradoxically, I am actually asking us to return to the past, the distant past.

Global literacy is not anything new. In fact, it is very old. It was first articulated, as far as I know, by the legendary Emperor Chang of China in 2500 B.C. Emperor Chang formulated the tautology or self-referring definition shih yen chih. This is a tautology, because the character for shih is the combination of the characters for yen and chih.

In English, shih yen chih roughly translates into poetry expresses intent. I say roughly, because Emperor Chang was not talking of what we now know as poetry, which is basically musical language, but of all linguistic utterances. He was also not talking of what we now call intent, or something more or less limited to certain faculties we have, but of our total personality. At that time, there was no artificial distinction made between mind and heart, thought and emotion, intellect and will. Later, Confucius would take shih yen chih and make it even more concise with his concept of jen, which as you know encompasses not only a person’s total being but even a whole community’s total being.

Chih does not separate mind and heart or idea and feeling. Just as in the Confucian jen, a person’s intent is whole or global; what one thinks is how one feels, and vice versa. It is not what Western poets eventually called the “dissociation of sensibility,” the division of labor, so to speak, or, in technical terms, a binarization of left brain & right brain, male & female, body & soul, human & nature. Chih or jen or global literacy is a totality, a Oneness, what Plato called The One, what philosophers call Being, what Christians call God. To be globally literate is to be true to oneself, for as poets so well put it, only one true to oneself can be true to others.

I started by saying that I came to sell you an idea, but it is not just an idea I have talked about, but an approach to education, perhaps an approach to life. Let us be one with each other. Let us be one with the rest of the world. Let us be global and literate. Let us be globally literate.

20 January 2008

Tips for Young Writers at a Workshop

1. So far, you have focused mainly on craft, on yourself as a writer. Let me now pull you back, zoom out, take you back to the context in which you find yourself. Let us talk a little bit about yourself as a writer in society, in the country, in the global community, in an environment that is rapidly degenerating.

2. But I don’t mean that you should write about your society, your country, the global community, or the environment. That would be the end of your being a writer.

3. You should write only about yourself. But you must make yourself worth writing about.

4. You owe it to the world to write. That is your contribution to humanity and development and progress and the environment. You must write. And you must write with all the energy and talent that you have.

5. There is no such thing as a part-time writer. Look at Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Gary Kasparov, Lisa Macuja, Cecile Licad. You have to be obsessed with writing. You have to be so obsessed that you do not do anything else but write. There can be no compromises with your art. All pianists and painters and dancers practise their art five, ten hours a day. You must also. You must also write ten hours a day. Otherwise, give it up right now, right here. If you cannot see yourself sitting down in front of a computer or typewriter or a blank sheet of paper for hours, forget about being a writer.

6. Why do you think the Philippines has not produced a Nobel prize winner? We certainly have the talent. Everyone that has been with you in this writers' workshop has the talent to win a Nobel prize. Believe me, we are better writers than many of those that have won recently. But no one in this country is going to win the Nobel today because no one among Filipinos works full time at writing. You cannot be the best in something if you are doing something else.

7. But you have a chance to be a full-time writer. You will be a writer in the next millenium, and times will change, have changed.

8. You have to make yourself a better writer. Because writing does not come from nothing, and because all good writing comes from personal, not just vicarious, experience, you must experience everything, I mean everything. It is time for you to be friends with all kinds of people, not just your kind of people. It is time for you to go up the mountains and breathe for yourself the air that is there. It is time for you to go to Makati and dress up and try to get through the corporate jungle. It is time for you to have sex. It is time for you to fall in love, deeply and without restraint, and then to be rejected completely unexpectedly, to lose the greatest love of your life. You have to experience everything, if you want to be a writer.

9. You may point to Emily Dickinson and say that she never experienced anything. But read her letters, and you will see that she did. She fell in love with a married man, and that love colored everything she wrote. She knew how birds felt as they came down the walk, because she had herself been lonely. Or you may say that Shakespeare wrote about political things when he was a mere actor. But he wasn’t. Recent scholarship has shown that Shakespeare was a fugitive from Elizabethan justice, because he was deeply involved in a coup plotted by Prince John against Queen Elizabeth. He was as political as anyone, and you can see it in his plays. Or you may wonder why Amado Hernandez wrote such powerful novels, or of course Jose Rizal, and all you have to do is look at how they lived, how they experienced everything, particularly Rizal. Only one who had gone around the world and lived in poverty and in riches could have created the characters Elias and Ibarra. You cannot write from nothing.

10. You must give up everything for writing. You owe that to your society, to your country, to the world, to nature. Above all, you owe it to yourself.

(These are my notes for a lecture I delivered at the National Writers Workshop in Dumaguete City, Philippines, in 1997.)

12 January 2008

Sex and the Bible

While rummaging through some old files, I found this article I wrote ages ago.

Is the Bible pornographic?

In these days [1972] when the sword of legislation is hanging once again over the heads of those who think it proper to print or to film stories about man’s sexual nature, another glance at the book least likely to be banned by the Board of Censors or by the Bureau of Posts might be of some help.

Few literary critics will maintain that there is no such thing as pornography, but most literary critics would contest the definition of pornography as anything that deals with the sexual activities of man or uses words that are normally associated with the sexual act. Even moralists would not say that the simple use of words such as “semen,” “vagina,” “intercourse,” “clitoris,” “fuck,” and “coitus” constitutes pornography. But some senators and generals apparently think themselves much more knowledgeable than literary critics or moralists and are preparing legal swords that will, unwittingly, render the Bible suspect and pornographic.

For anyone who has read the Bible knows that sexual imagery and sexual subject matter are important features of this book said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is full of words that, in a modern book, would make the censors think twice. “Fuck” is an English word, but it is a safe bet that its Hebrew equivalent was used in the passages now harmlessly translated into “go in to her.”

“Fuck” (or “go in to her,” as the modern English translation puts it) is used in several places, among them, Genesis 38:2: “There Judah saw the daugher of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; he married her and went in to her.” In Judges 16:1, “Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a harlot, and he went in to her.” The book of rules, Deurenonomy, is explicit about what it forbids: “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her, and charges her with shameful conduct … then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the tokens of her virginity” (22:13-15).

The old Jews were very particular about menstruation and wet dreams. In Leviticus, the law provided that “if a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water, and be unclean until the everning” (15:16). The emission of semen became more complicated if the man were married or had a mistress: “If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening” (15:18). One wonders if a Filipino author can get away so easily using the word “semen” in a short story.

One of the more interesting habits of the Old Testament people was that, after a big battle, they would collect the foreskins (the fold of skin that covers the end of the penis) of their enemies and pile them neatly in one mound as a sign of victory. (The Indians in cowboy movies content themselves with their victims’ scalps.) Use of the word “foreskin” was so much taken for granted that one of the beautiful theological metaphors in Deuteronomy uses the image: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (10:26).

But even if modern purists will excuse the use of so-called “bad words” in the contexts above, the Bible still offers sexual subject matter as fair game to the censors. Seduction is the theme of the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-19). Adultery is the theme of the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-5). Incest is the shocking meaning of Lot’s being “raped” by his two daughters (Genesis 19:30-36). Tape is added to incest in the story of Ammon, David’s son, and his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-14). Premarital sex is not even a matter for debate in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4-20).

Ribald tales, such as those which appear in certain magazines, seem to be below the dignity of a holy book, but the Bible has a genuine ribald tale in the sotry of Susanna (Daniel 13).

But the most offensive (in the sense that the word is used by modern Victorians) is the Song of Solomon, a full eight chapters of erotic poetry. The song, which is considered one of the most beautiful poetic expositions of the relationship between Christ and his Church, is full phrases not normally associated with deeply religious feelings. The lover is “to me a bag of myrrh, that lies between my breasts” (1:13). The woman longs for the horizontal position (otherwise known as the missionary position): “O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me” (2:6). The woman’s “two breasts are like two fawns” (4:5). The lover makes his desire obvious in “You are stately as a palm tree and your breasts are like its clusters / I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its branches / Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine” (7:7-8).

Breasts, incidentally, figure prominently in the Lord’s metaphor of Samaria and Jerusalem in Ezekiel 23:2-3: “There were two women, daughters of one mother; they played the harlot in Egypt; they played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled.”

It might be an uncharitable thought, but those who claim that they are guardians of morality might do best to read that sourcebook on morality, unless, of course, the Bible is going to be banned for all children unless read aloud to them by their parents.

(Published in PIC: The Ultimate Magazine, August 1972)

Today, essays such as this abound on the Web. For example: