Yesterday I interviewed James Morrison, a world religion teacher at a public high school in Red Wing, Minnesota. If you haven’t already taken the time to read it, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s extremely thought provoking. Today, with Mr. Morrison’s permission, I’m providing excerpts from his end of semester course feedback so you can hear about students’ experiences “straight from the horse’s mouth.”
As you read the quotes, consider the various premises these kids are working from: being a Christian doesn’t allow for critical thinking, a religion being “sensible” equates to its possible truth and religions are equal if they all address morality, to name a few. Again, I pose this question as food for thought: Will a world religion class shake your kids’ faith in one of these ways? Can you see your kids writing one of these statements eventually?
I absolutely loved this class…but I’m not sure if my mom likes the fact that I took it. I think she dislikes the fact that I began to be more open about my personal beliefs, which differ from hers. Because of this I’m not allowed to talk to my little sister (eleven years old) about religion at all! I got in trouble for telling my sister “false ideas,” ideas that were not exactly pro-Christian. Despite this, I’m happy I took the class. Yeah for critical thinking!
The necessity of a world religion class has never been more obvious as it was the night I was studying for my Christianity test and I remarked to my mother how little I knew about Protestants despite being one. How she responded made me a little sad. “You’re not a Protestant, you’re a Lutheran,” she told me. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe she didn’t know that Lutherans are a Protestant sect.
Islam was the biggest shock to me. I thought they were all about blowing stuff up and terrorism. But learning about them made me think differently about them. I find it amazing how they can stick to such a strict prayer schedule and honor their religion every day. I will now think differently whenever I see a Muslim.
One lesson among many that I will take from this class is how important it is to understand people and their beliefs before passing judgment on them. It is so very easy to have preconceived notions about a person/group without truly understanding them.
Coming from a Christian home with many Christian friends, many told me that taking World Religions would not be good because “all Morrison does is bash the Bible.” Well, they were wrong. In no way did I find what you said offensive toward my religion or my personal beliefs….Many fear that their little Christian boys and girls are being corrupted by exposure to other religions, but to me, that talk is just silly and is nonsense. Exposure to an idea that is different from yours isn’t corruption of the mind, it is really the expansion of the mind. Through out the semester I have learned about so many interesting ideas, and I really wish the course was a year-long class.
I’m really glad we talked about Buddhism because it is sensible information. I’m not a Buddhist, but I do believe in a few things the Buddha taught, especially the Eightfold Path. I have discovered it helps me to live my life better as a person, not as a Christian or Buddhist or someone from a religion, but as a person.”
It has long been my opinion that all religions are equal…they all preach morality of some form. Therefore, it was quite refreshing to have my own thoughts on religion repeated to me during the first few weeks of class. It makes me feel good to know that someone else has come to the same conclusions that I came to while staring off into space during Sunday school.
I am very happy I took this class, but I do know that it has kind of affected my beliefs…it has made me question my beliefs. I honestly don’t know what I believe anymore. Your lectures on Christianity flipped my perspective completely. You made valid points, but it is very difficult because these are the beliefs I have grown up with. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the class. Now, I must try to learn for myself what to believe.
I grew up in a mostly non-religious home. But for some reason my parents sent me to a private Christian school from preschool through second grade. It was a Lutheran school and they were very strict about what kids were expected to believe. Because of this I sometimes got into trouble for saying things like “wouldn’t it be cool if they made a potion that let people live forever.” In this case the teacher responded by saying “No, that would be against Jesus’ will for us.” As a first grader I thought the teacher was always right and all-knowing, so I stopped asking questions.
There was only one time when I felt uncomfortable in class, and it was during the Buddhism unit. I felt bad because I was raised a Christian, but everything in the Buddhism notes and lectures were things I connected with. It was really an eye opener for me to take this class. And it sucks that my family is moving next year, I really want my sister to take this class.
From the beginning, this class has challenged my beliefs and sparked many questions about what I have grown up to believe. It is hard to say exactly what I believe now that I have taken this class. Currently, I still call myself a Christian. My family and church have never followed all of the Christian traditions, so my beliefs are a mix of Christian traditions and morals. I believe that Christianity can lead you to be a person of good morals, but I also believe that other religions can do this for people as well.
What stands out to you about these quotes? What insights about faith do they encourage you to give your own kids?