Friday, January 29, 2010
Last night was the first meeting of the "Intro to World Religions" class I'm teaching at a nearby prison. This college-level program is sponsored by Rising Hope, Inc., a non-profit organization that funds similar programs in seven prisons. Their website is: http://www.risinghopeinc.org/introduction.htm
My 12 students were respectful, engaged and engaging, and eager to learn. The two and a half hours of class time breezed by. At no time did I feel threatened or in danger, even though this is a maximum security prison. In fact, these men put me at ease with their humor and grace.
If these men study hard and stick with this program, they will earn one year of college credit. When they get out, they will have the skills to continue their college eduction. Studies show that programs like this dramatically reduce recidivism.
It fed my soul to be with these eager students and I look forward to our journey through the major religions of the world. None of them had ever taken a world religions course and were very curious to learn about them. They were especially curious about Sikhism and Taoism.
As I told them, I will learn much more from them than they will from me. The paradox of the Christian faith is that when we give of ourselves, we are the ones who receive.