I really need to write these posts ahead of time, when I actually feel like it . . . this isn’t really theology, but I’m kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel of inspiration here.
Nonetheless, I would just like to put in a good word for Christian Education. Just, maybe not as detailed a good word as I originally hoped. I am, as it happens, a “Director of Christian Education,” and it’s possible that a few people from Then Church still think that means I’m in charge of a school, but I’m not, and Christian Education at a church is sort of different than the school kind.
I think I might know, because not only am I a director of Christian Education at a church now, but every school I’ve ever gone to in my entire life (with the possible exception of one of my preschools–I don’t really know–and the exception of the public high school where I took Driver’s Ed and was nicknamed “Miss Christian” almost immediately) has been a Christian school.
I’m not bragging.
I’m just no longer apologising, either.
As I said on Monday, I’ve definitely been through my embarrassed phases over this state of affairs, my irritated phases, my not-this-again phases. Also, I’ve encountered the assumptions and stereotypes of people who think they know what the products of Christian schools are like. I’ve also made those assumptions myself–which, when you think about it, is pretty hypocritical, because they’re usually not 100% wrong. I mean, I just spent a whole post telling you about sober, virginal plant-naming celebrations, so really? Isn’t that just what we all expected?
But I also told you about how genuinely happy I was back then (another Wheaton College Jenn gave a similar–and briefer–testimonial in the comments), but I would also like to point out that while the stereotype of smiling innocence might not be so far from the mark in some of our cases (though certainly not all), there’s this other stereotype about Christian schools which is that they don’t actually educate.
It’s not like I haven’t encountered sloppy thinking in Christian circles. I, too, know the Scopes Monkey Trial story and how SMT have become the scarlet letter(s) around the necks of conservative Christians in America ever since. Honestly, this blogpost is probably tending in that direction right now because I’m not feeling as impassioned about this right this second as I was three days ago; also, I suppose in truth I can’t speak for the places I didn’t attend. In that case, then, I would just like to shout out to my elementary and high school, and to Wheaton College, as places that encouraged curiosity and rigorous thought and research. I don’t applaud legalism (I lived in legalism for a long time once), and you may think rigorous thought would be precluded in a place that, say, forbade dancing, but I don’t think even that admittedly silly little rule ultimately conspired against truly higher learning. Maybe in the end it made more space for it to happen at all.
It does help to have a sense of humour about your environment, though, whatever it is, in the moment you’re in it.