A Professor’s Response to Another Professor’s Classroom Exercise

Earlier today, I read a Facebook post from a friend of mine. It read,

“My World Literature professor just made the class participate in a Hindu ritual. It was about throwing your enemies and people you hate into god’s mouth. Me and one other person were the only ones who didn’t do it.”

I responded thus:

“Good job Shaun Leavines. As an instructor, I believe this goes too far. Here is what I mean. If religion is nothing more than an objective, systematic body of ideas, then what this instructor did was fine. However, religion is something that people, for better or worse, orient their entire lives around. It is an extremely personal affair (this goes for true adherents in any religion). Thus, what this instructor did was objectify religion. He did not take into account that for those who subjectively adhere to one particular religion, that person will not and cannot betray their convictions for an exercise a professor deems purely intellectual. Follow Christ!”

We live in a very spiritual Universe, and to enter into another religion’s rituals that no doubt are associated (whether one is conscious of it or not) with various spirits, seems more akin to witchcraft than an innocent “intellectual” exercise. Our problem sometimes in the sophisticated, scientific West is that we are naturalists at heart. We do not really, really believe in the spirit world even as Christians. We need our eyes opened. Paul wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

As I like to reiterate every chance I get, “All things are spiritual.”

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7 thoughts on “A Professor’s Response to Another Professor’s Classroom Exercise

  1. I’m a Satanist, and I’ve went to a couple of Churches and attended mass for self-educational purposes. I think there’s nothing wrong in discovering the beliefs and rites of other belief systems, as long as we remain true to our beliefs.

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    1. I definitely agree with your comment, “I think there’s nothing wrong in discovering the beliefs and rites of other belief systems, as long as we remain true to our beliefs.” Though a whole-hearted follower of Jesus Christ, I am teaching a World Religions course this Fall at a local college. However, discovering/learning and practicing are two different things.

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      1. Some things can only be understood by experiencing the practice oneself. However, I totally agree with the student’s choice not to participate in the activity. I don’t condemn the teacher’s project to replicate the practice.

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      2. Fair enough. I would add that in my opinion, one cannot fully experience the practice without being an adherent to that particular religion. For example, if an atheist wanted to take the Lord’s Supper with Christians, he/she would not be able to really experience what Christians experience because of the subjective, personal element involved. Part of what makes the Lord’s Supper meaningful is the belief in a real, historical Jesus (who Christians call “Christ”) who had His body “broken” and His blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. So, to some extent, one can only experience the practice on a somewhat superficial level.

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  2. Let me take a moment to say something I’ve never said before: “I agree with the Satanist.” Lol.

    There are a lot of mitigating circumstances that I’d have to figure out before i can decide what I would have done in Shaun’s place. Ultimately one has to remain true to their own convictions. However, I would not completely dismiss the idea of participating in said practice of another faith, if it meant gaining trust and friendship with a person who is of that faith. I don’t think paying lip service to a practice of another faith is anymore unfaithful than paying lip service to God in a Christian worship service. If doing so would have opened up conversation and understanding between me and that person of a different faith, I think that’s a good thing.

    I’m confident enough in my relationship with Christ that I believe he would know my heart in doing so and would not see it as unfaithful but as being faithful in reaching out and trying to understand someone that is different from me that he loves.
    Granted, I don’t think everyone should do the same as me tho, as there are levels of maturity in the Christian faith and some people might be more susceptible to being enticed by the other faith, of any spirit that might be involved with the other faith than I am. I wouldn’t fault a Christian who is uncomfortable with it from abstaining from the exercise. But, I wouldn’t fault any Christian who is okay with it from participating either.

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  3. Proud of Shaun! But also proud of my son B J. The ability to converse with someone of a different belief has never been a noticeable gift of mine. As for the situation Shaun found himself in I would relate it to someone telling me I had to practice adultery in order to better understand those who might believe it to be acceptable. Don’t think my wife would be to happy about that just as I’m not sure my Savior would be happy with my tolerance of blurring the lines. It’s not about legalism either, it’s about my love for my Lord.

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