I’ll Open My Door

How far is too far? At the “Atheism in America” presentation the Friday before last, Dr. Mary Cantor implored the audience to “open their doors,” in the spirit of Non Sibi, to the ideas of different religions. The example she cited was a case of the Evangelists who came to her door peddling their faith. She said she is always nice and polite but then turns them away with a smile. But, what they said to her in return was “Thank you for opening your door.” Dr. Cantor was so struck by this that she brought it up to the hundreds of student philosophers sitting in Kemper that evening. She asked us to please open our doors so that we might enlighten ourselves a little, and learn why religion is important to so many people. But how open should that door be? There is a huge difference between the Dalai Lama traveling the world to give lectures to anyone who wishes to listen and Evangelists trekking door-to-door preying on the random civilian. As a non-Buddhist, I would go out of my way as I could to have the opportunity to listen to the Dalai Lama say just a few words. But I, for one, don’t feel the same about missionaries. By trying to convert me, they don’t respect my decision to follow a different path. I want to open my door; I just want to be able to do it on my own terms. Furthermore door-to-door preaching is a poor way to promote your religion. Does one have time to listen to ideas they have already heard, and dismissed, before? When I don’t open my door, I am not belittling their religion, I am merely saying that there is only so much religious information one measly little girl can handle. I just don’t have the time to keep my door perpetually propped open. Last year, Scotty Flemming ’10 wrote an article advocating the Bible as required reading. Though the Bible is a historical text full of wisdom, stories, and ethical discussions. In addition, it has played its role in influencing American literature. Still, is it necessary to make an obligatory assignment out of it? The Bible is huge, and not exactly the quickest of reads. Is all of it relevant? Much of the Bible is of no consequence to the standard American student. Should the Bible take away valuable reading time from other potentially enriching books? I have, and I will continue to peruse the Bible at my own leisure, because it is important to me. I don’t, however, think it should be forced upon all students. Is it possible to look at the Bible, in the average American classroom, with an objective point of view, or would any discussion of the content only provide context for other literature? To be taught all around the U.S., the teachers would have to be tactful and the students open-minded. I don’t think our country is capable of fulfilling those standards, and is there a point in reading that important of a book just to provide context? It’s like writing an essay, where the introduction paragraph is just as big as the rest of the paper. If there is a portion directly relevant to a text being read in class, then by all means, that piece of the Bible should be studied, but should the entire tome be required reading? Personally, it is my belief that religious conversation should be sought, not coerced, and the desire to embrace should ideally come from within. Everyone should have a deep, ethical hunger for theological conversation. Raeva Kumar is a two-year Lower from Poughquag, NY.