24 November 2011
- Hello, I’m a Toronto-based Canadian journalist, author, and blogger. I will post here on what works and doesn’t work in education, and how it relates to culture.
Recently, I ran into a retired editor of a national Baptist women’s magazine, who was disheartened by the decline of Baptist congregations in Canada. I have a fair bit of experience in curriculum for public education systems. So after a while I said, “What people don’t see is that for three decades now, the school systems have – by law – been inculcating in students a way of thinking that makes it unlikely they could understand why anyone would be a Baptist. Never mind that they themselves would be a Baptist. Kids are forced to go to those schools and you are forced to pay.”
She didn’t dispute that but—she said—there is more: Parents tend to politely accommodate the system—for example, they make their boy go to hockey practice at 6:00 am Saturday, with the result that he is “too tired” for Sunday school at 10:00 am the next day. So he doesn’t go.
What the parents should tell the boy is, You can play hockey, if you can still get up and get yourself dressed for Sunday School next morning, with your Sunday School homework done.” Making clear that the spiritual life is just as important as worldly success. But the trouble is, all too often the parents don’t believe that themselves any more . . .
They wouldn’t directly deny it. But they are learning to live as if it is not true, to avoid conflict.
The transition is just about complete when the boy, now a young adult, admits to friends, “I come from a Baptist background,” slightly laughing, but discouraging them from believing that he especially wants to hear them make fun of his folks and their beliefs.
Faith doesn’t get lost. It gets more and more neglected, and then abandoned to starve somewhere.
Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.