Students, I want you to finish this sentence.
“This I believe…”
It was a writing prompt based on an NPR program of the same name.
My students eagerly completed the sentence, writing essays on everything from “I believe a turtle can change your faith” to “I Believe in Rice” to “I believe Homework can rot your Brain”.
But one student’s essay took me by delightful surprise. It was entitled, “I Believe in Questioning”.
It was written by a student who had the guts to admit he questioned his faith.
Before attending a faith based school he blindly believed in stories of a man being swallowed by a fish and a God created the cosmos in less days it would take him to write a social studies report. But after attending a school full of students who know more about Justin Beiber’s life than the God they profess to follow, he called it quits.
“It’s important to question your faith,” I told this student. “It’s my job as a teacher to help you explore your questions.”
“Really? So you won’t flunk me for writing this essay?”
“I will flunk you for leaving candy wrappers in your desk.” I laughed and continued, “A person who has never doubted their faith has never believed. That is a piece of advice I received from a pastor.”
He pondered my words of wisdom, “Well then, I’m going to be an atheist as soon as I throw out this Skittles bag.”
I am taking my student’s atheist declaration with the same weight I take any 8th grader’s vow to vegetarianism. It’s probably just a phase. But, if one were to question their faith, South East Asia is the place to do it. Below is a handful of my favorite deities in Bangkok.
The God of Stolen Office Supplies