I was hustling my way across that all too familiar stretch of walkway that runs between the Arbor and the library the other day when I overheard a proponent of that all too familiar savior. It struck me as odd how overwhelming this man’s presence was. He managed to smother passers-by in thinly veiled insults and vague threats of a forlorn future. I was a little disgusted at such a scene. I had to ask myself if what I was hearing was at all reasonable background noise to my environment.
Now, I was raised as a Catholic. I spent 18 years of my life going to mass every week. And, well, to be absolutely fair, I have to confess that for the past two years I’ve taken a break. But still, I’m fairly well versed in knowledge about the deeds of that super guy, Jesus, and from this knowledge I can say one thing: I don’t think Jesus would appreciate such evangelism. That’s not to say I don’t approve of spreading His message. On the contrary, I hold that we can all learn a thing or two from what the New Testament says Jesus taught. But I feel that forcing these lessons upon us is not only an insult to our student body, but an insult to what the University of California, Santa Barbara should stand for.
UCSB has an outstanding religious studies department. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of taking a religious studies class, you know the instructors invest a lot of time and effort into their curriculum. The sheer amount of knowledge imparted in a single quarter is amazing. One can gain a strong factual foundation for any number of religions, which can lead to objective, critical analysis of said religion. This, my friends, is productive and good for society.
I’ve met an incredible number of open-minded peers that approach the topic of religion in a way that’s conducive to productive argument. We are a school that very clearly encourages tolerance. Of course, there are those who choose to ignore such encouragements. But, in my experience, these people are a minority. Those who wish to debate the effects of the Great Schism on modern day society or the role of the Islamic faith in U.S. culture do so in a rational, fruitful way. Again, this is good for society.
What’s bad for society is blindly shouting vague prophecies about how we’re in the end times. This is absurd fear-mongering and goes against what Jesus taught. Instead of fear and doubt, He was much more in favor of love and complete self-confidence. I suggest anyone at all interested in what that man had to say re-read his Sermon on the Mount. The Golden Rule, admiration of the meek and a general call for pacifism are all central themes in Jesus’ famous gospel. I’m sure we all remember that we’re supposed to turn the other cheek, but it’s just so hard to do that when confronted with such boisterous Christianity. Yet, because of this wonderful place of learning, we all choose to do so.
I love this school. The people, the campus and the organizations all make this a great place to receive an education. So I suppose I’m writing this column to congratulate you, UCSB. I feel that you are a beacon of acceptance. And while we do have our kinks to work out, UCSB is a remarkably welcoming environment. So in this time of economic turmoil and endless lists of grievances aimed at our humble institution, take a step back and admire. This school encourages thoughtful consideration of many a topic and, because of that, fosters a very accepting vibe. So, yell-y Jesusman, it’s clear that in a world that gravitates toward dangerous extremes, our rational, clear-minded campus stands as a proper role model for what tolerant discourse should be. And for that, I thank you.