This was a response to a quiz question: “What was Jesus’ religion?” The course was World Lit I. The question was meant to be easy.
At first I didn’t know what she meant. She began with the right answer, and then went on to make it bizarre. This is a problem with a lot of students: they have a piece of information that is in fact accurate, and then they stop and think–what? “Is this a trick question?” That plagues students who think an answer that is fairly obvious must be wrong, and hampers any class discussion that begins with an easy question meant to lead into more complex ideas, because students are reluctant to answer the easy question.
But this student stopped and thought something else, I believe: WHAT ABOUT THOSE CRUCIFIXES?
In a society that seems obsessed with religion, an awful lot of us have only the sketchiest of notions about religious doctrine, including the doctrine of a religion we ourselves may claim to espouse. My students have on occasion made truly weird statements that seem to be the result of an on-the-spot effort to reconcile a hazy religious idea or image with their own common sense. Hence another of my favorite examples, “Holy Ghost is another name for Jesus. He became the Holy Ghost when he was crucified on the cross and came back to life.”