This past week in our social action class a debate came up that got a lot of our class thinking about what it means to believe in God, where we stand as far as our faith
goes, and the main focus; what does it mean to be spiritual.
According to Ohio State University's Student Wellness Association, Spirituality is not religion and is not even necessarily affiliated with religion. While the definition of spirituality is different for everyone, here are some common themes associated with spirituality:
The idea of a process or journey of self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be.
The challenge of reaching beyond your current limits. This can include keeping an open mind, questioning current beliefs, or trying to better understand others' beliefs.
A connectedness to yourself and to others. Spirituality is personal, but it is also rooted in being connected with others and with the world around you. This connection can facilitate you finding "your place in the world."
Meaning, purpose, and direction. Spirituality, while it doesn't necessarily solve or reach conclusions, often embraces the concept of searching and moving forward in the direction of meaning, purpose, and direction for your life.
A higher power, whether rooted in a religion, nature, or some kind of unknown essence.
In a rather unanimous effort many of us agreed that spirituality relates specifically to a person. It doesn't have to do with who or what you believe in, just more of the idea that you hold beliefs that are relevant to your life - even if that means not believing in a "god-like" figure at all. As we got further and further into the conversation the issue turned to the topic of what today's society is like in pressuring spirituality and religion, and even more specifically, what that pressure felt like within our own school.
For four years we undergo religion classes, school masses, prayer services, morning prayers, and the constant reminder of what it means to Catholic school. As Teresa Pond put it, "We're going to a Catholic High School, so of course we've somewhat signed ourselves up for the discourse on religion". But at what point does it become overbearing to the student? I think many of us have at times felt the suffocating affects of religion in our school. The ever-constant Jesus praise that, necessarily isn't always a bad thing, but becomes extremely tedious and almost ineffective. The way I see it, you can't force beliefs, a religion
book and/or homework won't change my life, and no matter how many times you tell me how great God is, it won't convince me to believe in him. If any of you had Dr. Qualls sophomore year you will most likely remember having to do the daily prayer and saint of the day. After I was done with my prayer I was then told by our ever so spiritual teacher that I had "prayed wrong", and was therefor docked 30 points. How on earth can you 'pray wrong' is what I wanted to ask. This example embodies some of the pressure that our school has put on its students. Now I know that our school can be relatively tolerant of other religions at times, but situations like the one in Dr. Qualls' class are not okay. It was her personal opinion that I had prayed wrong, and forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I'm pretty sure nobody has ever came out with the do's and don'ts of talking to God.
I think you need to let students experience (or not experience) God on their own terms. Yes, you can educate them and state your opinion
, but it's when you force your beliefs on them that it draws the line.