Go with me on this.
I have a crazy idea. I’ve found that many of my ideas in my academic life have been crazy. When I told my instructor that I was thinking about analyzing religiosity in Kanye West’s music, even I thought I sounded crazy. But she heard me out, supported me and I crushed that paper.
A few weeks ago I had a similar conversation with a different professor, Pastor Joseph, and the director of undergraduate studies in my department. I started by saying “I know this sounds crazy…” and one thing led to another, now I’m on my way to an honors thesis. But, I need your help for that, and so I need you all to hear me out too.
This semester I am taking a course called “Religion and its Critics: The Modern Death of God.” This class engages “the atheistic claim that ‘God is dead’ and the various responses by theologians, philosophers, religious thinkers, and cultural commentators to that claim.” I’m taking this class because it falls into the “D” category of courses in my department from which I need one such class for my major. More importantly, I have taken courses with the professor before and I adore him. I find him very engaging to work with. Professor Michelson, on the first day of class, told us that he understands each student comes from a different religious or non-religious background, and he wants to actively pull at the tensions that may arise from those backgrounds throughout the course. I want to push this one step further.
Pastor Joseph invited me a couple months ago to write for this blog, and I admit I was very hesitant at first. I asked God why my voice would even be a good one for this medium, if there was any way I could misrepresent both my beliefs and my church home? But I’ve been a member of St Andrew since my childhood. I started participating in VBS here as soon as I was old enough to, and when I was too old to participate in the fun - I volunteered to work as a crew leader. I’ve been on eleven mission trips—that I can count—with the CrossRoads ministry here. When I was a sophomore in high school, the pastoral leadership asked me to participate in the Fellowship of 12 leadership course offered through the church. What I’m trying to say is, this church is my home, and I want to share with you so bad.
But my perspective is different and incredibly unique. Indeed, I have this active and long history with St Andrew, but I haven’t lived in West Lafayette in three years. I go to school at Indiana University Bloomington, where I study Religious Studies and Gender Studies. On any given day I have classes that question God’s existence and challenge His relevance. It can get pretty ugly, I will admit. And I do not want to stand here in front of you and tell you that I am on the front lines, ready and armed with the Armor of God from Ephesians 6 . I am not perfect in that way, I get tired easily from the emotional labor it takes. But I am asking you to stay with me as I tug at these tensions. I want you here with me while I challenge these claims and am challenged in my own ways of thinking.
This is a lot, I know. What I really need from you is this—talk to me, join me on this journey, tell me what you think, hold me accountable, please. Take your time, process what I’m asking of you. Most importantly, please pray for me, “that whenever I open my mouth, divine utterance may be given me, so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19-20 ).