Religion and College Students
1 December 2010
I wasn’t sure if Marilynne Robinson‘s Gilead would go over so well with undergraduate students. Despite it being a Pulitzer Prize winner and bestseller, it seemed to me a book most popular among, shall we say, mature (i.e. 40 and over) readers, along with perhaps readers friendly to Christianity.
It seemed to me obvious – although, in retrospect, I find my assumptions curious – that most students would come to the text with anything ranging from negativity to hostility toward Christianity. In other words, smart is the opposite of Christian in the secular university environment.
For the most part my assumptions were correct (though I had an interesting chat with one student after class, who “outed” himself as a Christian). But we had quite a rich discussion about it in seminar class. And Ms. Robinson I think would be pleased by the comment of one student – firmly in the hostile camp – who said, “As I read this, though, it occurred to me that if all Christians were like this guy [the narrator, a minister], the world might actually be a much better place.” Struggle and doubt and wonder are at the heart of the narrator’s world view; we can all get together around these, no?