Let’s take a moment to look at faith’s place at an institution of higher learning.
Robert Wohner’s article in this week’s Pendulum featured this key idea: “But by neglecting to present any esteemed speakers with a traditional worldview, the assumption is that anyone who reads from the Quran or the Bible in a literal way is inherently intolerant.”
So, the idea stems from Elon’s push for alternative religion, and questioning of what constitutes faith, and student’s ability to recognize their own role in that. Making the case that students of Christian and other “traditional” faiths are neglected (through criticism of holy texts, critical discussion in class, lack of speakers, and whatever else), Wohner argues that the university setting is allowing classrooms to be too liberal with their discussions on faith.
Now, here is where it gets interesting. Because just like that kid who was hauled off of the Palin rally’s turf for vocally supporting Obama last semester and arrested with a $500 bail, the classroom is an area where students are free to say whatever Elon deems appropriate. And in some ways, even what it doesn’t. That’s part of the whole idea behind private, liberal arts education.
So that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be equality within the class studies–there should be equal criticism of all faiths, or equal praise or equal bashing, whatever. Wohner’s right: consistency is important. But part of having a faith means having the ability to defend it, and the gall to stand up for yourself when your professor is being condescending.
This is where the role of the student comes in, and this is the incredibly important part: your education in college is personal. Especially at a liberal arts school. SO take what you learn, consider it, question yourself, torment your brain and your thinking and your priorities, lose your mind trying to figure out why you believe what you believe and what your morals will be. Because you’ll reach a point where it all makes sense, where things don’t need to be explained and they make sense, whether that can truly be described or not.
The way that pertains to the classroom is this: consider those bashings in class, leave feeling like nothing and not knowing “why you came to Elon” in the first place, when you’ll end up having a fundamental aspect of your life questioned. A significant role of the college student is to question his or her own beliefs, to put themselves to the test.
If a class unfairly portrays one religion over another, make it known. Make sure that professor does not forget you or your value of equality of analysis. And fuck grades. The education itself is infinitely more important (as grades are a function of the education itself), and that means questioning and defending and allowing yourself to receive a well rounded curriculum.
So I agree with a lot of Wohner’s points, sure, but here’s my advice to him: things are not going to be that simple. And as a college student, it is your responsibility to look at the fundamental values within your life and question them. That is part of strengthening faith, that is part of becoming wiser, it is part of life. To allow lopsided classes to disillusion you about college is to give up on your role as a student, so live up to yourself.
Read the Bible again if you have to. Or the Koran if that’s what you believe. Or if you’re a science person, and your holy book is Principia Mathematicae, read that. Whatever. Find affirmation within yourself, without blaming the systems around you for being neglectful or biased against your religion.
After all, is there anything more personal than spirituality?