I have spent nearly my entire adult life working in the spiritual realm. I have worked in military chaplaincy, been a student of theology, a minister, and a teacher of religion. My pilgrimage through “this world below,” has not always been an easy one, yet my faith is dear to me.
I almost daily have that faith assaulted. This is not new to people of belief, especially in this secular age, but I find it nonetheless disheartening to have my faith and my profession challenged as an invalid enterprise, by those unwilling to even explore its validity. In my present role as a teacher of religion, I am faced daily with “all knowing” teenagers who profess a devout atheism. When examined most prove to be somewhat more agnostic than they would like to admit. The intellectual and spiritual battle is nonetheless there.
More telling is the attitude of adults, who want to know why religion is even taught at all. One once said to me “I have spent my child’s entire life teaching them not to believe in fairy tales, so why do they have to learn about religion?” I find this disturbing for several reasons. On the one hand, I feel what a diminished childhood it must be without tall tales and fantasy. But, more significant is the failure to see that in this world there are people of faith, and that community cohesion, social understanding, and mutual respect can all be enhanced by being aware of everyone’s views (religious and secular alike). Greater still is the limiting of the child’s exposure to faith itself, closing the doors of hope which it can bring.
I know some readers would say, that Christians do the same, by “brainwashing” their children with religious values- giving them a closed mind. But is this so? Do we live in a world where belief is the norm? Can any Christian parent screen their precious child from scepticism and secularism? I doubt it. Yet, it is a world shrinking in biblical literacy, with even basic stories such as Noah or Goliath drawing blank stares when mentioned.
So I struggle on. I teach, I tell the tales of faith, and I do my best to “fight the good fight.” Your prayers for my endevours will gratefully welcomed.