I was shopping at Kmart (because that's all we really have in Ramona), purchasing some rubber dodge-balls for Youth group on Sunday night, when I saw a lady from our church who I have known for almost my entire life. I stopped and chatted and she asked me how school was going. In response I told her how I was feeling about it, how I wasn't sure if it was as academic as I would prefer, and she asked if it was the theology that I was not happy with.
"No," I replied, "the theology is great, I have no real issues there. This is a solid school and I love the professors."
She looked relieved.
"good, cause I worry about what some of these schools are teaching these days."
I wasn't quite sure what she was talking about.
She then mentioned a new book by David Jeremiah, a theologian for whom I maintain my respect by not reading anything he writes, about the crisis in the Middle East and the "end times." I was worried that now even Jeremiah was writing books in the tradition of Hal Lindsey and Tim Lahaye with the same recycled arguments for why this is the end times, because apparently every generation who came along before and said the same thing with the same arguments were wrong.
"I haven't read that one, no."
"Well, you should. He's so grounded in scripture. Everything he says is from the Bible."
"That can't be bad," I said, questioning the statement as it escaped my lips. She talked with the same kind of fear in her voice that has become so familiar to me coming from people who have that type of echatological anxiety.
"I am afraid of what's happening in this country... especially in the schools. It's scary to see how we've come from being a Christian country to whatever it is we are now."
I didn't quite know what to do with that one...
She continued, "I wouldn't put my kinds in public school these days. When I went to school we read the Bible in class, that was what this country was." As she said that all the American wars that happened in her lifetime flashed through my mind with the phrase "Christian country?" in the foreground.
Then she said, "I am afraid God won't bless us like he has if we keep going in this direction."
I though, but didn't say, "God? has God blessed us? Or have we just been taking our own blessing? What about our responsibility to bless others?"
Heh! I am a public school teacher. When I traveled in more conservative Christian circles I used to love the reactions I would get when they would hear my profession. I would tell them I am a teacher. "Wonderful!" they would say. "Do you teach at the local Christian school?"
"No," I would reply, "I am a public school teacher."
Often they did not know how to respond other than to look like they had just ate something sour. Or they would ask how I could survive doing that as a Christian.
If I was feeling really sassy, I would respond "Well, it is ok, except I do try to draw the line at the goat sacrifices to Beelzebub we do once a week before gym."
Christians have made such a boogie-man of the public schools that their exaggerated claims take on a life of their own. The truth is that the schools are full of nice people who want to educate children.... but you can't convince a lot of Christians of that fact.
It is a shame that for many Christians, their public attitudes and behaviors are driven by fear rather than the Saviour.
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