Learning strategies for Religion: Faith, Reason, Areas of Knowledge

Learning strategies for Religion: Faith, Reason, Areas of Knowledge are often combined in different teaching settings. But what is the optimal balance of faith, reason and areas of knowledge? Do we forget how important the relational aspect is with these narrow strategies?

"It's a small wonder there is so much insecurity in these modern, enlightened relationships. What we had was a statement of real love. It was out of the power of that committed love that we found the deepest emotional security. It was an ironic twist of events. I had for years held in highest esteem, almost worshiped, the pursuit of education, knowledge, wisdom, modern thought, the intelligentsia. All that notwithstanding, Nancy and I, because of our upbringing, followed some old-fashioned, puritanical, antiquated, obsolete, scriptural rules. Now we found ourselves indescribably happier for having done so.

For a number of years I had been exploding a variety of myths that plagued me from my earliest childhood-God and Santa Claus are figments of human imagination; miracles like the resurrection are a joke to any scientific mind-that sort of thing. These were academic questions that sent me constantly toward the library. But this current myth, the myth that Christianity is no fun, was in some ways the most interesting of all. It takes a myriad of forms: Church is for women and children, God is for sissies, Church is a bore, Christians are bores, sex between husband and wife is a bore, God is a bore, good sex is reserved for the wicked, if we're having too much fun we must be doing something wrong, and so on. The exposure of myths takes much study and often great emotional strain. I only wish every myth could be exploded as neatly as the last one, which was accomplished in an ecstatic encounter that would get even better over the years. For me, this was the most important myth of all to explode. It was, after all, truly where the theory of religion met the real world. There is no question that I was always curious about whether the claims of Christianity were truth, but even more important, once having determined them to be truth, was the issue of whether they were really useful. As a friend once so nicely put it to me, 'Just because it's all truth doesn't mean it's necessarily for me.' In my years of academic stud, I had learned countless theories that were doubtless truth. But I was hard pressed to find anyone who cared about them one way or the other. Useless truth is in the end just that-useless.

But I was experiencing real usefulness, finding myself happily experiencing more pure physical pleasure than I ever anticipated getting by breaking the rules. This was indeed a mysterious relationship I had developed with the Almighty. Was he playing some sort of game with me? With one hand, he forced me to give up my craving for the shapelier sex; with the other hand, he handed out pleasure.

This is a strange faith. I couldn't help wondering how many more of my desires might be fulfilled by simply giving them up.

That settles it, I thought, from this moment I'm taking the abject vow of poverty. Would it be too presumptive now to just take a peek up toward the sky to see if there was any cash falling?

Anyway, it was a very good year. I graduated from college in the spring, seven years after my high school graduation, got married the next day, and began to live happily ever after. If it took material things to make one happy then we were the most miserable people in the world. We lived in a $65-a-month house that was, even at that price, no real bargain. It consisted of four rooms: kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom with no interior doors. It was infested with rats who could not be persuaded to live elsewhere, and I still defy any human being to drink the water and remain healthy. It would, in later years, be known as our scenic cottage by the river; the Chicago sanitary canal, that is. Nancy developed a variety of other names for the place. After a year of engaging in theological bickering in order to get the woman of my dreams, I was the happiest man in the world and rats, foul water, and sanitary canals were not going to affect me any.

Three months later, my new bride and I settled into a humble one-bedroom apartment on the north side of Chicago where we could be closer to our schools. My vow of abject poverty was paying off in a big way. The price of gasoline doubled that year, leaving precious little money left for tuition, books, and food. Fortunately, we had a good size stack of wedding presents still in their boxes, which we could return whenever we had a shortfall of cash.

'We need thirty dollars, dear. Which one of these presents do you think we ought to return this month?' I would ask the bride. 'That nice set of towels in the box on the top,' she called back from the kitchen. 'I sure hoped we wouldn't have to return those. Remember who gave us those?'

'Yeah, what a shame." That's about the way it went that year. We started the year poor and ended it destitute."

Excerpt from God in the Pits, The Enron-Jihad Edition, by Mark Andrew Ritchie
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