At seventeen and already a rising junior, she is a credit to her parents, who raised her to believe in God and love Jesus and work hard for the betterment of the world. And even more credit goes to her parents for her previous twelve years of education. She was homeschooled.
(A note to all of those parents out there who are homeschooling their children: keep it up. Because many of the top students here never went to public school. Never went to private school, either. Their school was the kitchen table or an upstairs study.)
All that said, college life has had its share of surprises. It’s hard work and long nights and very strange people, many of whom have no use for all things religious. Ironically, the biggest surprise thus far has come by way of her religion classes.
Christian Scripture (New Testament) 102 appeared to be an easy A for her and a class that would require little in the way of studying. She had, after all, spent most of her life reading the Bible and acquainting herself with the doctrines and theology of the Christian faith. I did warn her to be wary of what she was getting herself into. “A college class about the New Testament isn’t going to be what you think it is,” I said.
She listened and nodded and smiled, and then ignored my advice. Much like my children.
In she stormed after the first day of class, throwing her books onto the table by the door and kicking a chair for good measure.
“Problems?” I asked.
“That class sucks,” she said. “S-U-C-K-S.”
Told ya, I thought, but said nothing. I merely nodded sympathetically and sat down beside her instead. Because young people do not want to hear the words “Told ya” by someone older. It makes them feel bad. Still…
“Told ya,” I said.
“If you were going to take a class about the New Testament,” she asked, “what would you expect the professor to cover?”
“—Yes!” she shouted. “Jesus. You know, CHRIST!”
“I’ve heard of Him,” I offered.
“Well, not to the stupid professor!” she huffed. “Look.”
She handed me her class syllabus. Early church? Check. Paul? Check. Apostles? Check. Jesus?
“I don’t see Jesus,” I said.
“She doesn’t see Jesus, either. Can you believe that? An entire semester about the New Testament, and she’s not going to mention Jesus at all!”
“Did you ask her why?” She shot me a look for an answer. “What’d she say?”
“She said, ‘Jesus wasn’t integral to the New Testament, and I’ve found Him to be a divisive figure in the classroom.’”
“Jesus wasn’t integral to the New Testament?” I asked.
“Divisive,” she said. “And you know what’s worse? She’s not just a professor. She’s the college chaplain.”
I nodded. That sounded about right.
The worst thing, she said, was that the class was strictly lecture-oriented. No discussion. And the prospect of sitting in that classroom having to keep her mouth shut was more than she could bear. She was dropping the class, she said. But she was adding a class about faith in life, taught by the same professor.
“This one is all discussion,” she beamed. “I don’t have to keep quiet.”
And she hasn’t. Not for the entire semester.
Things reached the boiling point last week, when the professor professed that she hadn’t quite reached the point in her life where she fully accepted the existence of God. She still has many questions, she said.
“So the chaplain of the college isn’t sure if she believes in God or not?” I asked.
“Nope,” my employee said. “And she’s more than the chaplain. She pastors a church in town, too.”
So we have a college chaplain, who also happens to be the pastor of a church, telling her students that Jesus isn’t really important to the overall meaning of the New Testament and that she doesn’t know if God is real or not. Higher education. Can’t beat it.
For a final exam, the class has to make what is called an “ethical will.” Instead of possessions, the students are supposed to write about what traits they would leave behind to friends and loved ones.
I just read my employee’s will. She left her love to her mother, her strength to her father, her hope to her brother, and her kindness to her sister.
And she left her faith to her professor.
She’s a little nervous about what grade she’ll get. I’m not. Because whatever her professor gives her, God gave her an A.