sadly not surprising

Deb and I had a conversation with a friend of ours last night. She used to practice law but now teaches first grade. It was something to hear how she struggled this year to comply with teaching-reading curriculum constraints (complete emphasis on rote learning) while also trying to get kids to want to read, to love to read.

After I described some of my ideas for my thesis (on religion in the writing classroom), she also talked about her experience going from 12 years of Catholic school to Reed College in Portland where students wore t-shirts that said, “Communism, Atheism, and Free Love.” No surprise, but religious ideas were considered at best worthless and at worst juvenile. Again, not surprising. She also recalled asking religious leaders some deep questions and being given either simplistic or authoritarian answers and/or being told that her questions were a sign of weak faith. Also, sadly, not surprising.

Anyway, the conversation reminded me of how often that fear of doubt and questioning happens, as well as how fortunate I was to have almost never experienced it — one, because I didn’t grow up attending religious services or being part of a religious congregation at all, and two because it was actually reading and questioning which lead me to my faith in my early 20s (and then, as an adult, I continued to study — in the 1990s, getting a M.Div.) I almost connect “faith” with thinking, reading, and writing.

So… I was just thinking that I probably need to remind myself that my experience may be, very sadly enough, not common.

“When Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies,’ I think he probably meant don’t kill them.” That bumper sticker was on their car. :-)


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