Sunday, 12 November 2017

Faith in University

You might think that some of the most obvious difficulties faced in University for a person who is young in faith would be something like coping with a newfound independent life, living away from home or peer pressure, but what about if one of the hardest difficulties turns out to be the course you are actually studying? I chose a degree in English, a degree which I expected to be about literature.

Yet not long after my first year began I started to discover that this degree was going to be a lot harder than I had ever anticipated. It was going to challenge my beliefs and everything that I had built upon before I made the decision to go back into education. After the first couple of months there, I really did consider quitting. I thought perhaps I had made the wrong choice, taken the wrong path.

A month before I had started the first term I had been given my reading list which I had poured over in excitement. All those books!! I could not wait to get stuck into them. Yet even that presented some conflicts. As I got further along in my reading list, I realised that some of the books I was being asked to read were uncomfortable for me and my newfound faith. Books that had issues with sex, pornography etc. One of the worst I had to read in my first year was Money by Martin Amis. I felt like I was being forcibly thrown into a world that I didn't want to immerse myself in.

Yet even this was not that bad, I did feel conflicted but I could cope with it. Until we started to be introduced to literary theory. This was a real obstacle for me. It had never occurred to me that we would be studying any sort of theory for English. I was gradually introduced to feminism, psychoanalysis, postmodernism etc. All of these theories deal with big life questions and in some ways all of them are controversial. Now we use these theories as a rubric for understanding texts. Some texts we would study from a psychoanalytical reading or others a feminist reading.

In my second year, we had a whole module dedicated to literary theory and once again I was tested to keep a clear head as I wrote assignments based on certain readings. In particular, my last assignment was a feminist reading of "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, in which I needed to tear apart the institution of marriage and how it traps a woman (which I found quite funny!)

Still all these issues I began to eventually adapt to hoping that somewhere in all this was a purpose. That God was strengthening me through my weaknesses. The last unexpected part of my experience in University was the lecturers who chose to voice their opinions on God very loudly. From my first year, I have had lecturers who have mocked the Bible, who have referred to it as a 'Myth', who have referred to it as Pagan based and who have gone into long academic explanations to show that God is not real.

These moments in class kind of felt quite surreal. The first time it happened I felt a bit shocked but after that, I came to expect it. These kinds of lecturers make it really obvious that they have a problem with Christianity and the hardest thing can be watching my other classmates as I see them making faces of shock and then agreement with the lecturer.

So I decided to write this blog post as I just wanted to share some of the personal conflicts and obstacles I have had to overcome in order to do my degree, and also some unexpected parts of the experience as an English student. These experiences that I've had are really not that bad. I have heard of much worse things in other studies such as Philosophy and even in the movie, God's Not Dead which explores this experience.

I am, however glad that I have gone to University, though it has been a difficult journey. It has strengthened my faith, it has awakened me to healthily question why I believe in God and be more ready to give that answer when asked for. It has also helped me understand that people do have so many questions and lastly that God is unshakeable even when I feel shaken.

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