I recently took a course. It was an adult enrichment class, offered through a local community college. It wasn’t for credit and it had only a modest fee. The topic doesn’t really matter here—it’s something I’ve written about from time to time—but it’s the taking of a class that’s important. As much as I believe in lifelong learning, finding time to take a class during my busy schedule is a major feat. Were it not for my family urging, insisting even, that I sign up I would’ve probably let it go. I’m glad I didn’t. Like many such classes, I suppose, the other class members were mostly retirees. It does me good to see people remaining curious in their post-work years. Some people disparage community colleges, but I value any educational institution that commits to truly educating people. Not all of them do.
Some religious institutions focus more on indoctrination. Indeed, the word “indoctrination” includes the very word “doctrine.” Such places often use faculty who went through schools who manage accreditation because accrediting bodies have to handle religion with kid gloves. (The course I took wasn’t about religion.) Religious institutions are quick to cry “Persecution!” should their lack of rigor be pointed out. Freedom of religion is a double-edged sword. A society without it ends up killing a lot of people for what they believe, but societies with it get taken advantage of by predatory religions. When your faculty can claim the title “doctor” it’s easy to believe that you equal a Yale or Harvard. Even when the faculty degrees are from religious institutions accredited by those who fear offending the religious.
No, my course was offered through a community college. It was a non-credit course (I really can’t afford one of those in either time or money) but it was an opportunity to learn. It was also a Zoom course which is good because I don’t think I should be out driving too late. I sometimes wonder if a local community college might be interested in such a course on religion and horror. Not for credit, of course. If anyone would sign up for such a class. I’ve been researching and writing on the topic for several years now, but religion’s that kid on the playground nobody wants to play with. Partially, I suspect, because some religions make up their own rules and then go on to damage society by them. Or because it’s kind of embarrassing in our secular world. Maybe I should take a class on how to make such a topic appealing.