I grew up Catholic so rarely read the Bible. Actually, never read the Bible except for the year I was confirmed and I was infatuated with my Children’s Bible. My overall religious knowledge was pretty low, but my knowledge of all things culturally Catholic was pretty solid. Case in point – I assumed Joseph of the “Coat of Many Colors” fame was in fact also Joseph, father of Jesus. I was impressed that he had a backstory.
By High School, I was barely active in the Church because of the pedophile priest who was firmly in charge of Holy Spirit Parish. I spent most of my teen religious time with the Presbyterians down the street. They were sort of crazy, but felt safe and comfortable.
I was like fresh meat for a science teacher eager to teach young minds how critical thinking skills work. Enter Mr. Price, beloved Physics teacher and master of the art of preparing us for college. He routinely failed everyone on the tests to show us how a curve works. Physics was hard.
It started so innocently when he brought up Noah. What kid doesn’t love the story of Noah? Animals, rainbows, boats, etc. Then he asked us to consider the practical matters of constructing an ark, followed be a few seemingly innocent questions about the gathering of animals. When he moved into carbon dating, we were done for.
I was reeling – it wasn’t an actual literal honest and for true story? It didn’t happen? It was symbolic, like all the things we were reading in our literature classes? So what else wasn’t true? Was Jesus real? What about God? Was the priest lying to us in addition to being creepy and inappropriate with the boys? It wasn’t at all funny at the time, but in hindsight – I have to laugh at my poor innocent little self.
I was 17 years old my senior year of high school and I was blown away. Ironically, I would go on to attend a Catholic university and eventually work for the Catholic Church. I took a half-dozen theology classes and grew in my understanding of how Biblical literalism was not part of Catholicism. Mr. Price didn’t destroy my faith – he gave me the tools to embrace it.
The Church did all of the destruction by itself.