Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prayer in school

I occasionally see the bumper sticker:  as long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school.  I always want to ask the driver if they really meant to link up prayer with cheating because most teachers with tell you that so long as there are tests, there will be cheating in school.  I realize it was almost certainly not what they meant, but maybe it was, what do I know about the kind of person who wants that to be the message to all the random other people who share the road.

I wish I could find the article, but it was ages ago (before the interwebs, girls & boys) about a teacher, a devout Christian or so she described herself, who was so bothered by the mandatory prayer thing that she began having the students read prayers from other religions during this allocated time.  The upshot was her school district had a hard time explaining that when they said "prayer" they meant only their prayer, the prayers of the majority of attendees who wanted to pray (which was not incidentally a majority of attendees).  The teacher, who was born again - I remember because this is the moment when I learned a born again person's definition of "born again" - felt that jamming prayer down everyone's throat, even if it was good for them, was not the way to become born again.  Apparently there is something voluntary there, like needing to ask forgiveness before being forgiven.

It has been years (over a decade) since I read the little human interest thing about this teacher.  Alas, I have NO IDEA what part of the country she was even in as in those days I did a lot of traveling for work & newspapers are often complimentary.... 

Ah well, wherever she is or was, here it is the countdown to the final.  I have bitched before about people who use their religion as a get-out-of-exam free card, but that is actually less common at the student level than the administration level.  Among the students it is dead grandmothers & cheating.  All of this kind of brings us to the saint of the day (it has been a long time, hasn't it?  Or is that just me?):  Wolbodo of Liege.  How can you not love that name:  Wolbodo. 

He was born in to a wealthy Flemish family, which I also love.  It is so hard to find someone who calls themselves Flemish.   & he died of natural causes, which always peak's my interest.  In between he was the Bishop of Liege.  Wolbodo was big in caring for the poor, not so much in regional politics, thought there should be more emphasis on the saints (I presume he didn't know he would be joining them) & is one of legion Patron Saints of Students.  What really caught my eye was that his name has been taken by the Menschen Vereeniging Wolbodo, a group founded by catholic students who for whatever reason did not want to join the other catholic students in their official catholic students group.  This group effectively left the church less than ten years after they formed & went in, well, a different direction.  No, not satanists.  More humanists.  Or contemporarists.  They have been strongly identified with hippies, but that was when most hippies were still students.  Wolbodians are more about the present than anything & don't worry too much about what you are either.  Funnily enough, their patron had that same reputation.

So if you are going to pray to someone during finals, why not Wolbodo?  At least his followers look interesting.

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