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Old 12-08-2010, 02:55 PM   #1
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Nickel And Dimed-On (Not) Getting By In America

Has anyone here read this book?

Parents Pull Son Out of New Hampshire School Over Assigned Book That Refers to Jesus as 'Wine-Guzzling Vagrant and Socialist' -

A New Hampshire couple has pulled their son out of his local high school after the teen was assigned a book that refers to Jesus Christ as a "wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist."

Aimee Taylor says her oldest son, 16-year-old Jordan Henderson, was required to read "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," this fall for Bedford High School's personal finance class.

The book is a first-person account of author Barbara Ehrenreich's attempts to make ends meet while working minimum wage jobs in Florida, Maine and Minnesota.

But in addition to taking aim at the idea of the American Dream, and arguing for a higher minimum wage, Taylor says Ehrenreich also takes aim at Christians and other groups in the book and uses foul language -- all of which made Jordan unhappy.

"He started making some comments about the book and I said, ‘Well, just read it. You know you have to read it for school,'" Taylor told "But finally he came home one day and said ‘I'm not reading this book, I'm done reading this book, I am not reading any more of this book,' and he slammed it down and said, ‘This is junk!'"

Taylor asked her son to show her what was so bad about the book and after he pointed out a few controversial excerpts she decided to read it in full.

"I finished the book that night, I could not put it down because I was just mortified by the take on this book as well as the language, and the Jesus Christian bashing was unbelievable to me, and that it was in our school was just amazing to me," she said.

One of the excerpts, Taylor points to is Ehrenreich's description of a Christian service she attended in Maine.

"It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth," Ehrenreich writes.

Still, wanting a second opinion, Taylor says she asked her "more lenient" husband Dennis to read the book, assuming he would tell her she was making a big deal out of nothing.

"Actually in the end he said, ‘This is a piece of junk, this book is garbage and does not belong in the school. No matter what you believe politically, this book should not belong in the classroom, it's really inappropriate for their age,' he was really upset that we weren't given notice about the book either," Taylor said.

The Taylors contacted the principal with their concerns. But roughly three weeks later a review committee assembled by the school district ruled that despite its shortcomings, "the book provided valuable insight into the circumstances of the working poor and an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of the 'Financial Impact' competency," it said in a report.

"Even the way that they worded the letter was fascinating. The language wasn't objectionable, it wasn't that it was wrong. It was ‘questionable.' And I thought, it's not questionable in a courthouse, if you're an attorney and you say that you're going to get kicked out by the judge," Taylor said. "…These words are illegal to say on national TV and radio in this country and yet here they are in this book."

Assistant Superintendent Chip McGee told the Union Leader that the district still plans to evaluate the personal finance class to see if "Nickel and Dimed" can be replaced with a less controversial book and will require teachers to notify parents from now on before assigning the book and offer an alternative should they object.

But Taylor says that's not enough.

"We've eliminated Christmas, we've eliminated all these things because we don't want to step on anyone's toes but here we're going to hand out this book? … This is anti-God, anti-religion, it's racial, I mean it crosses a wide spectrum of very touchy and very insulting issues to most human beings and I think that even with a parental consent it's not enough. They need to boot that book out of there," Taylor said.

The Taylors, who have since begun home schooling their son at his request, plan to attend the Dec. 13 Bedford School Board meeting to ask that the book be yanked entirely so taxpayers are no longer forced to pay for it. They have five other children, including a freshman at Bedford High School.

Bedford High School Principal William Hagen and Barbara Ehrenreich did not respond to requests for comment.

More from the Union Leader

Parents outraged over finance class reading - Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010

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Old 12-08-2010, 03:07 PM   #2
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Oh, wow, what a shock! Here come more ignorant, ill-informed conservative Christians that apparently have never actually read their Bibles. . Did Jesus drink wine? I'm going to go with yes. I seem to remember something about water, wine, and a wedding. I seem to remember Jesus being called a drunk by the religious leaders in his day because he enjoyed hanging out with the people they deemed "sinners" and sharing a meal with them. I remember a Jesus who preferred spending time with prostitutes and tax collectors (today, perhaps "gays" and "Muslims", for example) to those of his own faith because He believed that what true mercy, love, and sacrifice is. I remember a Jesus who believed that last shall be first, who believed that the poor and oppressed should be valued and taken care of more than the wealthy and powerful. So, sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. Your gun-totin, money-lovin', right-wing, exclusive, Kid Rock Jesus is a lie. The real Jesus is a lot closer that vagrant, accepting, wino who truly does care more about those being kicked around and abused in His name than your precious "rights" to keep on believing the lie about His message, so you can sleep at night.

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Old 12-08-2010, 03:24 PM   #3
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The Taylors sound like a very confused family. No one backs up what they say is in the book...
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:35 PM   #4
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I read the book a few years ago and thought it was really good. I don't recall any bad language (which is not to say there wasn't any. . .I just don't remember it) or an anti-Jesus tone. The selection quoted from the book can't really be construed as "anti-Christian" if you're reading it at all critically. If anything, it seems to be an indictment of modern American Christianity's abandonment of what Jesus and his faith is really supposed to be about.
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
The selection quoted from the book can't really be construed as "anti-Christian" if you're reading it at all critically. If anything, it seems to be an indictment of modern American Christianity's abandonment of what Jesus and his faith is really supposed to be about.

I haven't read the book but that's exactly the impression I got. Don't know what else she says about Jesus or Christianity.

I guess, for some people, it depends upon what they're looking to read into things.
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:42 PM   #6
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I read this book several years ago and I highly recommend it. Yes, Ms. Ehrenreich can be snarky, hence her Jesus line (a very small part of the book). But I give her credit for shedding a light on the working poor. Not everyone who makes very little money is uneducated or lazy. I'm college educated, a published writer and have worked my entire adult life, and right now I'm doing temp work. There are people working these lowly service jobs who are students, artists, and people who are desperate for a job so they take anything. You never know where your life will end up.

And get a load of those comments-wingnut city. Fortunately, there are a few sensible comments. Here are my favorites:

If your child has been taught values, someone elses opinion should just inspires questions and answers with the parents. maybe they don't like their kid thinking.
- Marla Koot, Las Vegas

Hi, I am a student at Bedford High School and I would just like to say that the book Nickel and Dimed is far from what the Taylor family is making it out to be. It was a great book to read for the class, Personal Finance, and let teens understand what life is like living on minumum wage. I think we are at the age we can hear opinions and make our own off of them without being influence like 3 year old sponge.

I too feel extremely sorry for a child that is as sheltered as this kid. LET HIM GROW AND LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD. There will be people who will disagree with religion, or live tough lives, or have different views. Hiding him from it will do nothing except leave him with no way of learning about the world.
- Taylor Picard, Bedford, New Hampshire

It seems the vast majority of people who are upset about this book have not read it. It appears to me after reading the quote within context that the author was being ironic about hypocrites who profess to follow Jesus but choose to ignore his teachings.

The author is trying to stimulate compassion for working people who struggle to make a living wage and who are treated badly by their employers, and by society in general. I think Jesus would have agreed with the overall message of the book, if not perhaps the way that message was sometimes worded.

Bedford is by and large a wealthy town where kids may not realize how difficult it is to live in poverty. Kudos to the Bedford school system for challenging their pupils and making them think!
- Bonnie M, Hampstead
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Old 12-08-2010, 04:05 PM   #7
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Live free or die!

I was just looking at some of the Union Leader comments. The father left one

I am impressed that so many of my fellow citizens feel free to criticize my parenting skills over my decision to disagree with the Bedford High School. I truly wonder what sort of excessive free time such minds must possess. As I understand it, freedom of expression is protected in our constitution. Furthermore, have so few of you heard of the notion of polite discourse? At the book meeting, I argued that I believe that anyone interested should have the right to buy the book, but I disagreed as to its appropriateness in the high school. I believe that the author bullies Christians and uses unneeded obscenities. She also gives a great case for defeatism. It is this teaching of the inevitability of the poor to remain poor that is absurd in our country. I cannot see why we should teach the children of Bedford such nonsense. However, I am also a believer in security-net capitalism, and thus would have liked to see examples of low wage workers improving their economic status with the aid of food stamps and educational grants. No mention was made in the book of doing things to increase the value of these workers, such as increased educational opportunities and restrictions on the immigration of unskilled workers. It is a dangerous myth to teach our children that the goods and services provided through the federal and state governments come from an unending source. Too much socialism will kill the golden goose and make us all the poorer.
- Dennis Taylor, Bedford
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:34 PM   #8
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I truly wonder what sort of excessive free time such minds must possess. As I understand it, freedom of expression is protected in our constitution.
Oh, the irony. There's quite a few contradictions in that post from him, actually.

I haven't heard of this book until now, but it sounds pretty fascinating to me. And it doesn't sound like it's exactly full of false claims. Sean pretty much hit the nail on the head.

If you don't want your kid to read the book, or he himself doesn't want to, that's fine. But then the kid either fails the assignment or the teacher perhaps gives him another book discussing the same topic or something like that. Pulling him out of school, or demanding the book be pulled, won't solve your problem. Seriously, when has a censorship case like this EVER fixed anything?

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Old 12-09-2010, 06:31 PM   #9
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Sunday Dispatch #139

Let me be your thief tonight, I've planned our getaway. And after I have robbed you of your loneliness, You'll see that crime can pay. Let me break into your soul. ~Terry Scott Taylor


He was a plain man
and learned no latin

Having left all gold behind
he dealt out peace
to all us wild men
and the weather

He ate fish, bread,
country wine and God's will

Dust sandaled his feet

He wore purple only once
and that was an irony

~luci shaw
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:14 PM   #10
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Thursday Dispatch #1

Jesus turned water into wine.

- Somebody Who Wrote the Bible

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