Friday, May 21, 2010

It Makes My Blood Boil

As of late, our dearest religion teacher has taken leave due to a critical fall that has broken her left arm, preventing her from performing various daily acts such as driving and grading papers and the like.

So in her stead, our class has been presented with a clown, a white knight, a theologian, a philospher, a former Marine and alcoholic, a soccer player, a skilled impersonator, as well as a righteous cowboy and conservative, hailing from the wild, wild west -- or as others choose to call it, Texas.

Such a great variety of personalities all invested into one person makes for a highly entertaining, but at the same time, rather disproportionate classroom experience in which various Englishmen, southerners, teenage girls, and the infamous Beavis and Butthead will stop by for tangenital commentary.

So this replacement teacher espouses some highly conservative Catholic views for which may have stemmed from his fight with alcoholism, his experience in the armed forces, his divorced household growing up, and likely from a lack of satisfaction with the Anglican church.

And as I mentioned earlier, I find his class to be quite 'disjointed', or 'uneven' -- probably for his childlike loyalty to the Catholic church in which little questioning seems to occur, and a great deal of condemnation is delivered to my peers. Most of the time, his comments are more backhanded or subtly condescending, but there are instances where he'll scrutinize a classmate head-on -- all the while, implying that he is 'leading by example', he is the righteous one, and that he is the white knight.

In line with the famous quote, "W.W.J.D.", or "What would Jesus do?", I have a hard time fathoming Jesus would so viciously attack or scapegoat the less than pious in our class, and make light of the teachings of Aristotle, Plato, Kant, More, Saint Ignatius, Aruppe, and Day by sprinkling the aforementioned Beavis and Butthead references throughout.

What's more is that this unnamed teacher is well read in some of the most legendary theological and philosophical writings, yet insists on so juvenilely refuting my classmates in favor of a grossly traditional Christian belief. It is my perception that in order to be a fully committed Catholic, one must "make up", or envision the teachings in the Bible for oneself, rather than adhere to a standard, universal belief. (E.g. You believe that Jesus literally roamed the streets of Jerusalem after his resurrection, while I feel that's a merely metaphorical depiction. Now whether you feel that way or not, it's likely for someone that has an interpretation of the Bible that does.)

To be completely lucid, I only take offense with said teacher's remarks for he clearly has been unexaggeratably insititutionalized from school to the United States Marines, and yet enduring so much in hopes of achieving ambitions so tall, constantly reverts to childish remarks, references, jokes, anecdotes, and even scolding.

While I realize those mannerisms aren't exactly meant to be taken seriously, it's not only that he oftentimes lacks seriousness in the classroom, but rather it's the amount of disrespect I feel he has for our class. He will assume to [seemingly] no end that students attending our school have ubiquitously engaged in casual sex and autoeroticism, take, or smoke drugs, and drink alcohol. Now this is particularly where I find reproach with such a teacher's principles.

Regarding students overwhelmingly as smokers, drinkers, and former virgins is not the kindest and most reverent outlook to commit to. (And in fact, almost makes me wish to engage in all three this instant out of active rebellion. Although I admit I would achieve nothing but a warm sense of pride in doing so.) But my point is that being fully "Catholic", at least in my mind, involves giving people the benefit of the doubt, allowing them to redeem themselves, and treating them as one may wish to be treated. That certainly doesn't seem to be the case with this teacher.

For this, I thought it'd be appropriate to bring up the etymology of the word "Catholicism", or "Catholic" -- according the, a widely trusted etymology database, the word, "Catholicism" dates back to the mid 14th century, and implies "of the doctrines of the ancient Church," or "universally accepted". I can only speak for myself, but I interpret the phrase, "universally accepted" as one having no barriers for which to respect another human being in fashion that Jesus may have, and being fully willing to acknowledge and include all people of all backgrounds, religions, sexual and political orientations, despite past decisions made in his or her life, and definitively because it is our Catholic belief that every person has been made in God's image. Now whether you believe that or not, it's sure as hell to contribute in some way, big or small, to making the world that we live in a progressively better place in which to thrive and love.

And to that end, I realize this teacher for which I clearly have mixed opinions, in fact has an ego the size of Texas, principals as insurmountable as claiming America for oneself, and is as hypocritical as the Scribes and the Pharisees.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Stolid Classroom

A stolid classroom,
No laughing, winking, pointing, or talking allowed,
Utmost attention at all times is an expectation,
The man conducting the class, fearful to say the least,
With his eternally stern disposition and his peppery black moustache to boot,
He plays no games, and makes no [good] jokes,
He is not your friend, nor anyone else's for that matter,
But he is a cipher, a means by which to absorb useless knowledge of science,
Equations, facts, and answers are by what a student lives by,
Attentiveness, though is what said student fears,
For staring in such a man's eyes is likely to cause one grave insanity,
The intense look in his eyes is indescribable, it intimidates, it confounds, it is profound, but never spontaneous,
And by that regard, it is like an equation -- it is standard, and it is routine,
The class for which I speak boasts an undoubtedly militaristic atmosphere,
Students quiver for fear of being called on,
The instructor will uproar should an answer be incorrect,
Students will cry with joy should this instructor be absent on any given day,
His rudeness is only paralleled by his formality and seemingly insatiable expectations,
His expressions convey complete orderliness, discipline, and decades of arduous work,
No one knows for certain how to please this disgruntled old man,
A correct answer is met by a retort that in essence, says 'You should have gotten this correct anyway', nothing especially gratifying, but everything especially penalizing,
He shoots down one's most earnest efforts, and rarely approves of much of anything,
He is strict, does his work respectfully, formally, and sternly through clearly traditional means,
Do your best, and you'll get a half-hearted 'Way to go',
Fail, greatly or slightly, and you'll encounter the most humiliating body language and unrelenting verbal abuse imaginable,
There is little margin for error, if ever in this militaristic science class for which I bear each day.