Maddie and Mahaney are in a play at school on Saturday, and these are their lines. When we were first approached about the play, we were told that they would only have to say these lines and to “dress like Christians.” When I asked what that meant, the teacher said, “You know, like the long black dress and cross around the neck?” She then proceeded to tell me that the other students would be saying things like “we are Bengali”, “we are Nepali”, “we are Muslim”, etc.
That’s when it occurred to me what (I think) was happening. Christianity is like a caste to them. Or it is at least something that you are by birth, not by choice. You are born into a family that is of both a caste (think people group) and a religion, and that is who you are and forever will be. It is there assumption that both Maddie and Mahaney are Christians now because their parents are Christian!
But really, how much different is this culture from my own? How many kids grow up with Christian parents who take them to church every week. They “do good” because they are supposed to, sing because they are supposed to, pray a prayer because they are supposed to. Then they reach a certain age, are released to college, and realize they never had any faith to begin with. So while there are some deeper differences in the thought process of this teacher about the “religion” of our girls and how some in America think (or used to think), it’s not really all that far off.
Needless to say, we are not dressing the girls as nuns…even though here they dress more like Mother Teresa than say, Beth in this picture. We are, though, enjoying the opportunity to talk to the girls about what is going on; and we have enjoyed explaining to the teachers more about the fact we are not Catholic, but followers of Jesus.