Author: Emery Desper
Although Oxy might be a mecca of political correctness, it seems odd that among the many other heated discourses, there is an elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about religion. How could this be, especially considering the knowledge that the College was founded by Presbyterians, there are a number of groups on campus devoted to religious exploration, there is a faith center and there is a Religious Studies major? This is baffling. How is it that despite all of this, religion and faith are not topics up for discussion?
Perhaps the strange period of self-discovery that often takes place with many college students plays a role in their religious views, or non-views for that matter. Maybe it is the fact that people are so open and PC that they do not want to offend anyone by even discussing their beliefs at all. Being “religious” seems to have a very negative connotation. If you believe in God and go to a church, mosque or temple, people seem to think you are going to automatically judge them, burn them at the stake, throw Bibles at them or try to convert them. While some people with religious convictions can be very aggressive, having a faith base or being religious does not automatically make you a fundamentalist.
There is something to be said about people with religious convictions-religion is supposed to give you hope, keep you focused, teach you how to treat other people with common decency and aid in the fostering of a number of other admirable qualities. It cannot be denied that students here, for the most part, don’t respond well to the idea of religion outside of the classroom or outside of a historical context. I suppose that shame and embarrassment may play a role or, ironically, the fear of judgment might prevent students from being comfortable enough to share their religious views openly.
It seems as though intellect also dictates attitudes towards religion. Although there are interesting political, sociological and economic developments that emerge as a result of religious movements, the fact that the concept of faith is something that cannot be explained logically seems to be the biggest problem. Additionally, there appears to be a general contempt for believing in something that cannot be fully articulated and is therefore “flawed.” But that should not be a reason to completely reject the validity of faith or religion and its importance in people’s everyday lives. I would imagine that a large number of students grew up with some sort of faith background and that these interactions play a large role in what they value, their moral code and what dictates their conscience in assigning right and wrong.
Religion, just like race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation is something that helps us to define ourselves and what we will become. In many ways, it is a very private matter that means different things to different people, but this should not prevent the exploration and embracement of religion and the fact that for many it is extremely important. As students in constant flux, the suggestion of religion seems to be the antithesis of growth and change because it is based on doing things the same way, yet there is significant value in many traditions and things that remain constant. Embracing religious diversity and the idea of religion in general is something that Oxy has not quite gotten the hang of.
Emery Desper is a junior ECLS major, she can be reached at email@example.com
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