Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church.
(observed on a bumper sticker in the faculty parking lot)
I'm not really sure what to make of that statement. Have we really succeeded in living in dichotomy?
The loudest word in that sentence (to me) is don't. For all the efforts to be inclusive, our culture is sending mixed messages. Can we really keep prayer out of school? Is it something we can legislate, regulate, and monitor? Really? And, is it too much of a cognitive leap to question whether thinking only happens in academic settings? If that were true, we would be without much of what contemporary knowledge is based in the first place (a completely separate argument).
Matters of faith require the most thought, reflection, and study. The brightest "secular" scholars are baffled by the doctrines of faith not because the doctrine lacks sense, but because the scholar lacks sight. Blaise Pascal (one of my life heroes) lived the struggle between secular and sacred. The Catholic church (the Jansenists, not so much mainstream Catholicism) shunned him because he had given in to the "lusts of the world" by using his mind to study and research. Yet the academics refused his insight because of his philosophical approach to secular subjects, i.e. he did not subscribe to the 'reason' of men like Descartes. And what a man Pascal was! Today, if you look up his name you'll find physicist, mathmetician, philosopher, inventor, child prodigy, theologian... his thought to this day shapes our understanding of the world we live in!! [see vacuum, calculator, geometry, probability, economics...the list goes on]
This, from the man who spent a life wrestling with wild accusations that he either should not use his gifts in light of his faith OR he should use his gifts of understanding at the expense of his faith.
A wonderful, beautiful thing about Blaise is that he left much of his struggle behind by weaving words together. One can find pages of "quotable quotes" from his writings - he is known in both 'secular' and 'sacred' circles. But, even today some are confused when attempting to describe the man with all the wisdom.
In his Pensees, he wrote,
"For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed." (#72)
Hence, the plight of the so-called 'secular' academic. If 'thinking' is really what we encourage in educational institutions, then it can no easier be constrained by the bounds of 'secularism' than a young pup in wild chase of a cat. God created our minds to wonder and wander, but all to reflect the magnificent and inconceivable mind of Himself the Creator.
Yes, please think in my church, maker of the bumper sticker.
Please come in and think the way God intended all human beings to think... for that will lead you straight to your knees, where you will join others in a desperate prayer for redemption.
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