For Jennifer Ayres, it’s crucial to name our ecological identity and responsibility.
Reformulating the landscape in changing times
Each year a Hindu priest asks my students to “worship our own, but respect all.” They find the second part easier.
I wanted to give them better than what I had. It wasn't easy.
A student I taught with recalls licking honey from Hebrew letters as a child. My own memories of religious education are less auspicious.
I teach a variety of courses at Piedmont College, but “Introduction to World Religions” is my favorite. I have taught it more than 20 times now, to more than 500 students. One of them tells me how different the news from Iraq sounds now that she knows the difference between Shi‘as and Sunnis. Another brings me pictures of a new Hindu temple going up in his old neighborhood, which he is able to interpret for his alarmed parents. Students who complete the class say they feel more at home in the world. They are less easily frightened by religious difference. They are more informed neighbors, better equipped to wage peace instead of war.The only place the course backfires is in the unit on Christianity. Students who have spent every Sunday of their lives in church may be able to name the books of the Bible in order, but they rarely have any idea how those books were assembled. They know they belong to Victory Baptist Church, but they do not know that this makes them Protestants.