Welcome to Day four! Today and tomorrow we will have part 1 and part 2 of my friend Drew's post. This is so true, in that you must believe not only in your head but in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and it has helped me as I encourage and help my own friends. I hope you will be blessed through this, just like I was. Please also join me as we pray for those who have been affected by the Lilac Fire in California, that the fire fighters would be able to stop the fire and that those who have lost homes or had to evacuate will have peace and trust in Him. Enjoy the post!
What we believe in our minds and what we believe in our hearts can be quite different. A person who believes in their head that God can do miracles will preach boldly that God can do anything.
To quote the Bible, “Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19b NIV). However, the person who believes in their heart that God can do miracles will stand before Nebuchadnezzar and refuse to bow down to the golden idol even when threatened with death. But how does one take what is believed in the mind, and believe it in the heart?
For me, that transition came in the fall semester of 2011, when I was attending community college. I was taking an American History II course, focusing on the period of post-Civil War America through present day. My professor (who I will call Mr. Ren for the purposes of this retelling) taught the class with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm was not for teaching the truth of American
history, but rather for revisionism and the advancement of an anti-American agenda. You may think me guilty of exaggeration, but I kid you not, in the first day of class, he happily stated with a smile on his face, that Americans throughout history just loved killing people. From that moment, I knew that it was
going to be a long semester.
For the first few weeks of the course, I generally kept my head down. I spoke up a few times to challenge some of his blatantly false claims about American history; but more often than not, I kept silent when he began one of his anti-American rants. After all, it wasn’t like I was going to be able to
change his mind. And since no one else spoke up to challenge the professor, I figured everyone else in the room believed his lies – hook, line, and sinker. So why should I bother to stick my neck out?
A quarter of the way through the semester, it was time for the first class assignment. Each student was tasked with writing a paper on the Industrial Revolution – specifically, its effect on the lower classes of American society. However, there was a catch. Professor Ren only allowed us to use one source in writing the paper. Just one source. A book called Maggie by Jonathan Crane. While the book was inspired by the events of the American Industrial Revolution, “Maggie” was entirely a work of fiction. And it was our only source for writing a paper on the true historical state of the American working class during this time. In other words, we were to repeat the exact opinion stated in the fictional short story onto a 3 page essay and hand it back to the professor.
This situation alone irked me. But it was the portrait that the lone piece of source material painted that truly bothered me. If one were to only read the book, one would think the Industrial Revolution was a horrible, dehumanizing force on the lower class, forcing all to make immoral life decisions and become an animal just to survive. These choices were understandable, and indeed justified according to the book. The people of the lower class had no hope and no opportunity for both
surviving and living a moral life. This image of the American Industrial Revolution lined up perfectly with Professor Ren’s worldview that American capitalism and the free market are the world’s greatest evils, and that man’s moral choices are determined by outside circumstances, and therefore man is not responsible for his actions – his actions are the fault of cruel capitalists, not his own fallen nature.
I did not feel comfortable writing a paper that contradicted my beliefs and worldview. These feelings were made worse by the fact that in Professor Ren’s lectures, he talked about Christians who set up halfway houses in the inner cities, helping people who had made poor life decisions back to health and helped them find honorable work. The people of the lower classes had hope, and a choice to
do the right thing. Despite this, no student was allowed to mention the inner city Christian missionaries in their papers. Only the fictional book was allowed as source material. So I wrote the paper as best as I could, using only the fictional short story as source material; but, in the final paragraph, I added my own personal opinion. I wrote that the people of the lower classes were not without hope, even though I couldn’t use any evidence to support such a claim.
Unsurprisingly, my paper was given a ‘B’ grade and a scathing note in the margins, remarking that I did not support my final claim with any evidence. I was prepared to accept my grade and continue with the class, content that I didn’t go along with my professor’s tainted worldview. My mom, on the other hand, was not satisfied. Ever one for justice, she urged me to talk to my teacher after class for an explanation
for the lower grade, since the teacher’s notes in the margins did not point to any problem in my writing ability. Reluctantly, I agreed. What was the worst thing that could happen? (Spoiler Alert: a LOT could happen).
So I attended class the next day, a little worried, praying for confidence when I spoke with my professor. The lecture ended, and most of the students immediately left the classroom. I made my way to the front of the class, reaching Mr. Ren in front of about three other students who were now waiting to talk to the professor after me.
“Hey, can I talk to you about my paper?” I asked politely.
He calmly responded, “Yeah, sure. What’s up?”
“So, I saw that you gave me a B on the paper, and I just wanted to be clear on why I was marked down, so I could do better on the next one.”
He promptly replied, “Oh, yeah, you didn’t cite your sources.”
“On the final paragraph, about the lower classes having hope?”
“Yeah, you didn’t cite any evidence for that.”
My heart began to race as I searched for the words to say in response. I said a quick prayer in my head, and replied slowly, “But… the lower classes did have hope in actual history.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Yeah, but that wasn’t in the source I gave you.”
Perplexed, I began to ask, “But… if I only use the source you gave me, I can’t represent history truthfully –“
He quickly interrupted, “No, no, no, no, no. It’s not about the truth. It’s about doing the assignment I gave you.”
My brain was moving at a mile a minute. All I could do was pray frantically for the right words to say. I persisted, “But in actual history –“
Again, he interrupted, “Listen, I have a PhD in history. Who do you think knows more about history? You or me?”
As diplomatically as I could, I replied, “Well, I don’t know. I mean, I’ve known a lot of professors with PhDs who don’t necessarily –“
Mr. Ren’s face darkened as he became visibly frustrated. He took a step closer to me and thrust his index finger into my chest, pointing forcefully. Standing this close, he seemed to tower over me.
“Listen, if you want to get a good grade in this class, you got to jump through my hoops and play by my rules? Okay? That’s how it works.”
to be continued tomorrow...
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."