Let me open by saying I am not a particularly religious person in a church-going sense. I have my own spiritual beliefs, and they are profoundly held and cherished and they serve me well, and I have never felt I needed the interpretations of a person in a stiff collar to guide me along.
At the same time, when I was a small kid I went to Sunday school. Not necessarily willingly, but it was a demand that we all go to SS. I didn’t like the idea, and did an awful lot of screwing around, and was regularly exiled (excommunicated) and sat staring at the coats and galoshes in the hallway. That was OK. It wasn’t ‘real’ school, so there wasn’t much they could do in the punishment realm.
Later, it was expected that I be confirmed as an Anglican (Episcopalian) and take communion. I went through all the rigors, including memorizing the Apostles Creed and all of that stuff. And, I took communion – “Hey, you get to drink wine! How cool is that?” – possibly twice, but never again. I had fulfilled the formal familial theological obligation.
Also, at that time, in school each morning (this continued from first grade right through to graduation) we recited the Lord’s Prayer and had our daily scripture reading. Often New Testament and never Song of Solomon.
And, that was the way it went in those days. In many respects I’m sorry that it doesn’t still go that way. I’ll explain why. What it gave me (and many others of my generation) was the basics of our Judeo-Christian culture. Not so much to do with God, but to do with who we were and where we came from. Although I didn’t pay much attention, I picked the stuff up osmotically, I assume. At a later date I could read and understand Shakespeare, and I knew the metaphorical reasons why Faulkner titled one of his tales Absalom-Absalom.
Today, we live in a more culturally diverse society in North America and Western Europe. Many people of non Judeo-Christian heritage populate our lands. Nothing wrong with that. I am not a biased person and I like the presence of other cultures and interacting with them. At at times in my life I have pondered some of the tenets of Buddhism and love the meditations. Likewise, the basis of Taoism is “shit happens.” Can’t argue with the wisdom of that, either.
At the same time we’ve gone wrong along the way. As we listened to the PC fascists (school boards and administrations did especially) we decided that in the name of ‘inclusiveness’ our schools must become purely secular institutions and there must never-ever be references to that aforementioned JC connection. So, no Bible readings and no Lord’s Prayer. Consequently kids from non-churchgoing families would have no points of reference as to who they are and where they come from heritage-wise. It almost goes as far as to suggest they should be ashamed of their heritage.
Today, however, school administrators and teachers absolutely wet themselves in catering to the other ethnic groups. Sikh festivals and Islamic holy days and Chinese New Year are to be given full play, but don’t you be mentioning Christmas or Easter by name.
The sad point in this is that those other groups never ‘asked’ us to do this. They are happy to have Christians and Jews in their midst because they admire people of a spiritual bent, regardless of the origins of that spirituality.
But, to show you how terribly silly (and boneheaded) we have become. A few years ago in this area there was the opening of a new middle school. Lots of ceremonial stuff, including a spiritual smudging by elders of the local Native band. Nothing wrong with that. It’s colourful and fun. But, at that same time, can you imagine the uproar if a pastor or priest had come to bless the school? That would have been unacceptable.
We have in recent years been engaged in military and political conflict with elements of the Islamic world. What we fail to recognize is that these people, even if they are misinterpreting their own scripture, are vehemently religious people who ‘know’ the tenets of their faith. We don’t. We don’t know theirs, because we don’t even know ours.
This is yet another reason why I cringe a little bit for what is to come, and weep a bit for our culturally-corrupted children who actually believe a Justin Bieber or Rihanna are of any consequence in the world of their futures.