The Question Matters


Why I’m OK with Questioning God

 

The title card for the musical comedy series G...

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I’m a Gleek.  I’m sappy enough to enjoy the poignant moments.  I’ve been around high school students enough to appreciate the roller coaster ride with its high highs and low lows.  Musically, I dig harmony and Glee has great harmonies and music.

And this show doesn’t mess around.  It has tackled homosexuality, blended families, discrimination against women and minorities, and the sports vs. arts debate in schools, just to name a few.  This week’s episode was, for me, the high point of Glee’s audacity.  They tackled prayer in school.  And forgive my mixed sports metaphors, but they hit a home run.  They didn’t just have a friendly conversation in the principal’s office about it.  In a 60 minute show, I found one question coming up over and over again in the show: Who are we to weaponize our beliefs? By “we,” I mean humanity in general and certainly Americans.  When have we done this, you ask?  Tuesday night’s show provided many pointed observations.

Mercedes and several other friends prayed with Kurt‘s dad against Kurt’s wishes.  They weaponized their faith in prayer.  Yet Kurt was similarly guilty when he refused to accept those prayers as genuine concern for him and his father.  He weaponized his belief that there is no God.

Kurt summed up his disgust with God and those who believe in Him–that many Christians believe he (Kurt) made a choice and should be punished for that choice.  He sees that he was made that way and that others are punishing him for being who he is.  We–I– have weaponized our beliefs about homosexuality.

Kurt was a victim again in this show–when Sue Sylvester attempted to use his disgust towards his friends in Glee to prosecute Will Schuster for allowing his students to sing about their faith.  She weaponized her faith in the government to regulate religious practice.

And then there was Finn and Grilled Cheezus.  When Finn saw an image of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich he made, he took that sign to mean that he had a direct connection to God to ask whatever he wanted.  He weaponized his spiritual awakening for his own benefit, praying for the chance to take the next step sexually with Rachel and to win the quarterback’s job over the new kid in school.

In the end, Kurt was touched by his church experience with Mercedes, yet still skeptical at best.  Finn was confused, hurt, and doubting God more now than ever before.  Kurt’s dad showed the faintest sign of recovery from his heart attack.  How did it happen?  Was prayer involved?  Was it his deeply powerful connection with his son?

In the spirit of the best writing, the writers of this show declined to answer, leaving that for their viewers to decide.  The writers of the show openly questioned God and our beliefs about him, however devoted or skeptical we may be.  Yes, I’m OK with questioning God, especially if it comes at the expense of our easy answers, answers that we too often weaponize against those who see the world through different lenses.

Achievers and Pragmatists about Aiming High

Dr. Guy Litton, professor at Texas Women’s University and their semi-official first year students’ supervisor, spent his valuable time with me recently.  Yesterday, I shared some thoughts around his observation that the current group of college students is achievement-driven, to the point of missing out on more meaningful pursuits.  In short, I think there are some connective threads between the achievement-driven approach Dr. Litton is observing in college and the short-sighted educational strategies we’re seeing in our educational system.  If you read the comment on Tuesday’s post, you know that at least one Millennial is seeing this same dynamic carry over into the job market.

In spite of our system’s limitations and our own imperfections, there are always standouts.  Dr. Litton shares two stories which I find uplifting:

This student overcame long odds

I had a student from a small town called Seymour, TX.  She competed for a NASA internship with hundreds of other students from much more competitive and prestigious schools.  Her goal was to become a high school science teacher.  She had the “gumption” or “pluck” to compete with phenomenally talented students from all over the country for one of only 20 spots.  I admire tremendously the guts she had in going after it and winning it.

Good thing this student wasn’t written off too soon

On the other hand, I had a student who was a first generation student (parents didn’t speak English) who was on probation after year one, but she had such a positive attitude, such curiosity about life and learning that she went on to graduate study at George Washington U, was a major worker for the Hillary Clinton campaign, and is now finishing her PhD in Public Policy.  I tease her now and then about how insecure she was.  Little did she know then that she had so much more than most of the peers she thought were superior students.

I’d like to hear from you: what other impressive stories have you seen or heard from our 20-somethings?

  • An accomplished businessperson
  • A polished and confident communicator
  • A master at their craft at an early age

We need more good stories out there.  It’s easier to point to negative trends and thereby paint an entire generation with assumptions and generalizations.