The College Influence on Student Character: An Exploratory Study in Selected Colleges and Universities Made for the Committee for the Study of Character Development in Education

By Edward D. Eddy Jr.; Mary Louise Parkhurst et al. | Go to book overview

6. The Opportunity for Religious Understanding and Practice

Some people can really get obsessed with seeking perfection in the smaller virtues and lose sight of the bigger ones. Actually, I think a sincere and active love of man and God will, of necessity, lead one to practice all these virtues--you know, the ones like kindness and charity--while still holding the big view in sight.

Let's get down to the meat of it. I'm interested--deeply interested--in what religion has to offer. I'd like the chance to explore it and maybe to attempt to practice it. But every time I get anywhere near religion, I'm driven away by the pomposity and hypocrisy of some of the believers. Boy, I don't want to be like that. I'd rather stick to my lost old self.

THESE VIGNETTES from conversations reflected the desire and the reaction we frequently found among students. The words were first those of a senior woman and then of a sophomore man with whom we talked. These students mirrored many of their counterparts in wanting to know what religion is all about, in approaching some understanding of it, but also in rejecting sometimes the opportunity because of their concepts of what is involved. We include the opportunity for religious understanding and practice among the elements leading to excellence in character because of the interest and concern on the part of so many whom we met and because we believe the college cannot escape an obligation to deal positively with religion. Many expressed the hope that religion possibly could offer the summing up-the unified approach-in contrast to the fragmentation of values promoted by other influences.

At the same time that we observed this hope, we observed also the profound effect of secularization in American education.

-114-

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