The questionnaire that I have my students fill out at the beginning of every semester includes questions designed with a view to getting to know who my students are. I always find the answers interesting and revealing, and occasionally alarming.
One of the questions I ask is, “What is the biggest idea you’ve ever had to come to terms with?” As you can no doubt imagine, I see quite a range of answers to this one: everything from “what goes on inside a black hole?” to “I’ll soon have to move out of my parents’ basement,” with a smattering of references to mortality and religion in between. A few students leave that one blank – just don’t care to touch it. (Have they never wrestled with a big idea?) A few semesters ago, one student responded with, “fucking magnets – how do they work?”
Among last semester’s crop of students was a young woman from a small Oklahoma town who wrote the following in response to my nosy question: “Everyone does not believe what I do from a religious perspective. It’s hard for me to understand why others believe what they do. I am Southern Baptist.”
Believe it or not, I understand her predicament and sympathize. I’ve been there.
What I wish I could have said to her, and of course didn’t and never will on principle, is something like the following:
Continue reading “When They Stand at the Edge of Non-Belief It’s so Hard Not to Push”