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What Kind of Question Is That?

Had another interesting conversation with a classmate while waiting for class to start. A teacher was walking down the hall and he said, "I think that's the teacher that got hit by a student not long ago." Hit by a student? Yes, it happened in class, he said. A discussion got out of control and he hit her and she had to go to the hospital.

I could not believe this. But apparently you have to be very careful what you say because this is not an uncommon occurrence, he said. He went on to tell me about his experience in one of his classes, ironically titled "The Study of Love." People were getting into near-physical arguments all the time in that class. I said, it's a good thing that it wasn't "The Study of Hate", we'd be having World War III.

Something has changed since I last went to school and I can't really put my finger on it. Outwardly everything looks the same but there are subtle differences. Like the time some students went by the classroom shouting about the Superbowl. Just for a faint moment I thought I saw fear flicker across my professor's face before he went to the door and locked it. What has happened here--what is happening here--at this community college?

Apparently people can no longer have civil discussions about hot-button topics. I noticed early on that my professor seemed to be going out of his way to placate certain groups. At that time I was unaware of the underlying tension, otherwise I would have never raised the issue of the Book of Mormon's account of how humans came to the Americas. I wanted to spark a lively, but civil discussion--why couldn't this account be true, especially as some (non-Mormon) theorists think that people could have come to South America by way of the western Pacific? He danced around that like a hot potato and would not take the bait. Now we are discussing race, gender and religion in Latin America and I think he is glad that the class is more apathetic than engaged. Maybe it is better that way, but that is not what I came to school for.

This reminded me of a question one of the people from my old church recently asked me. She wanted to know how school was going and I said it was going well. She then asked me if my professor was a liberal and what did he think of the United States. I told her I didn't know and that we really didn't discuss that subject (not quite true but she does not need to know that). But I was a bit taken aback by that. What difference does that make? Why is it so important to know? Well, yes, I do know. It's a matter of ideological and spiritual contamination. Although nobody will come right out and say it directly, public universities and community colleges like the one I am going to are very dangerous environments for Bible-believing Christians. I am in the bastion of The Enemy. Nothing less than my eternal welfare is at stake. Therefore I must be on guard against the kind of indoctrination that masquerades as education. It is my duty to use every opportunity I can to proclaim the (conservative) truth against their liberal lies. Yes, this is what many young students are coming to this school with. No wonder there are fights and arguments rather than reasoned discussion. Again, this is not what I am going to school for.


That's the eternal problem with education here in Tennessee and, I imagine, many other places as well. To use the most obvious example, evolution: I sometimes wonder if it even matters what high school kids learn, how well they're taught, how well the teacher presents the evidence and tries to prompt critical thought. Much of it is for naught, as many of those kids will return to their (very conservative) congregations on Sunday, where the institutions and the parents will quite successfully end up poisoning the well. The teachers' hands are always tied to a certain extent, at the whim of the political climate and the parents. If any seed manages to take hold in the student's mind, I wonder if it's less often the efficacy of teacher and more often in places they are exposed to outside of school, i.e. the Internet, etc.
Ah yes, the Internet. My friends from my old church are SO worried about pornography that they fail to realize the OTHER dangers of the Internet. There are more and more sites out there telling students that they are not alone if they doubt or don't believe in the existence of God, the truth of the Bible, and so forth. If I can find them without even looking very hard, there's no telling what kids who are digital natives can find. Yes, the believers find these sites too, and leave their trolling comments, BUT, the videos have been watched and the blogs have been read and who knows what it might lead to down the road. Short answer, I "deconverted" because I wanted to know what the other side was saying so I could better witness to them, but it turned out they were asking better questions and had better answers. Knowledge is definitely a danger to faith.

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Spinning Compass
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