I just returned home from one of the major book superstores near my home. While waiting to pay for a boxed-set of Flat Stanley books for a five year-old coming to visit, I overheard the following conversation between the bookstore cashier and a nervous acquaintance of his.
Customer: Did you get the email I sent?
Cashier: No, why?
Customer: I did a speech on evolution.
Cashier: Not for it I hope?
Customer: Of course not.
Customer: At ____ (the local community college)
Cashier: I thought you stopped going.
Customer: Nah (with a shrug)
Cashier: A lady was telling me that I had to read this great book by Christopher Hitchens
Cashier: He’s this dude who wrote a book, “God is Not Great.“
Customer: Shakes head
Cashier: Do you ever read anything from the other side just to see what they think?
[Gary thinks to himself: Things may be looking up.]
Customer: Not really
Now, I’m all for religious tolerance and the free exchange of ideas, but by people who can support their arguments with evidence. After all, I’d hate to live in a country where scientific decisions were being made by lethargic part-time community college students.
The shy creationist exits the store and I wonder if I should say something to the cashier.
Frankly, I can’t resist.
I approach the cashier and say, “You really ought to read Hitchens. He’s one of the smartest guys around. You don’t have to agree with him on every issue. In fact, I think his support for the War in Iraq is dead wrong.” The cashier admitted having seen Hitchens on Hardball. Perhaps he’ll actually consider the perspectives of people who don’t agree with him. That’s the kind of citizen, neighbor and bookstore employee we need.
Note: The full title of Christopher Hitchens’ best-selling book is, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The complete title is required if one is to begin to understand the author’s thesis.
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Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is the author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Forward 50, co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.