The extent of my religious education was ‘Love God, draw a rainbow

A good reminder on the importance of catechesis and how often, even students of Catholic schools are deprived of good teaching.

Oakland Bishop Michael Barber: “Students should be able to articulate the answers to three questions when they leave your school: ‘Why do I believe in God?’ ‘Why do I believe in Jesus Christ?’ ‘Why do I believe in the Catholic Church?’”

I once read an Op-Ed piece in The Tablet, one of Britain’s leading Catholic journals, written by a young woman who had just completed 12 years of Catholic school education and was now a freshman at Oxford University. She was really upset that, although she had received an outstanding education in the secular subjects of science, math, history, languages, etc., her religious education was trite and absolutely boring.

She was angry because she could not answer the basic questions about Catholicism put to her by her well-educated classmates. As she wrote, “The extent of my religious education was ‘Love God, draw a rainbow.’”

We need to give our students credit for their intelligence in the religion class as well as science and the liberal arts. Our theology courses need content. Students need to be presented with the in-depth teachings of Jesus and the Church, and the reasons why we believe.

Sadly that is often true today…

A doctrine like “love God, draw a rainbow” seems simplistic, but it could change people and the world for the better … and I’m sure has done much good in its use and belief.

It may not be very Catholic, but it’s quite poetic and much deeper than it seems–grasping the most important part of Jesus’ --and other spiritual teachers and prophets’–teachings.


That’s a lot of “whys”.

I don’t think I could have articulated “why” I believed in God, Jesus Christ, and the Catholic Church when I left 12th grade. That’s like, one step removed from asking me “why” I believed in Mom and the United States. I’ve never not believed in any of those things, and asking me to disbelieve in any of them now would be like asking me to go to the grocery store with no pants on.

Some things are just a given, and for some of us, that’s fine, that’s what we need them to be. A solid rock that is just there. Maybe somebody else is more into the “whys”.

My CCD classes were more like “what does this simon and garfunkel song make you feel about Jesus?”

Since the instructors were all volunteers, unpaid at that, what they presented as ‘lessons’ was pretty spotty.

I think That has a lot to do with why many catholics of my generation walked away ftom the church. Smoke, mirrors, and hand waving only go so far. I Really wish it was better, but I know you can only go so far with volunteers.

Never drew any rainbows, but some of the S&G stuff came pretty close to audio rainbows!

I have always believed in God and Jesus, the church, not so much. I have come back now, just decided it was time…

Having said that,

  1. I agree that a lot of my religious education in the 70s was “trite”. I learned very little - it was mostly a rehash of stuff my mother, an old-school older Catholic, had taught me at home years ago.

  2. There was a religion class offered at my high school called “Belief and Unbelief” that addressed questions about why we believe, etc. It was an elective though, and I did not take it as I had to take some other religious elective that fit better into my schedule around the college prep stuff. I also wasn’t terribly interested in taking it because I didn’t have any “why” questions then and have had very, very few of them since.

I am trying to remember what religious elective I did choose instead…drawing a bit of a blank unfortunately.


Some days I really miss the 70s

Yeah…the 70’s rock!

Yes, the bishop is young enough that he’s talking about contemporary events, not things that happened in the '70s.

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