In 7th grade religion on Wednesday, we were reading the parable of the sower. As we went through Jesus’s explanation of the types of soil, we had to stop to unpack what persecution and tribulation meant while discussing the rocky soil. For the first time in a long time, today, I felt actually attacked for my faith. Before we even reached the convention center for the actual conference, I could hear a man bellowing into a megaphone. As we turned the corner, I saw people wielding the following signs and yelling about false gods etc.
I was taken aback, but thankfully no one seemed willing to engage in the hateful exchange that the man with the megaphone was trying to start. People respectfully and quietly ignored him and went on with their days at the congress.
Beyond that, today has been a very vocation affirming day. My first session was a talk by Bishop Robert Barron from Word of Fire ministries. He gave us nine suggestions for ways to help young people remain in the church, and I loved all of them, but the best suggestion I heard was to stop dumbing down our faith. Amen to that. I have been looking for a religion curriculum for my classes for years now, and most of what is out there is fluff. I am feeling pretty inspired to start work on my own,
My second workshop was about poetry, and while I didn’t get any classroom take always from that session, it did introduce me to two poets who I think I am going to love: Mary Oliver and Jessica Powers. It had been a long time since I had taken the time to look at poetry and listen to commentary, and I did feel a little like I was back in college (in a good way).
My third session was really amazing. It was called Islam, Conflict, Peacemaking and the Modern World and was taught by a man named Jihad Turk. After hearing him speak, I want to look him up and see if he has any books, blogs etc. that I can read. He was super knowledgeable and I was so impressed with his humor and delivery of information. I now also want to read the Koran. At the end of his presentation he thanked us as a community of faith for welcoming him and the whole vibe in the room gave me a lot of hope for our church and our country.
Stay tuned for day two!