Bolton’s Bias: Religion curriculum needs prayers

Opinion Editor Will Bolton discusses his opinion with anyone who will listen, in person. This column gives him a place to do it where people can escape from his tirades on everything from school programs to American politics by just putting the article down—although given a chance they probably won’t want to.


Senior year is winding down which means that requests for reflection and discussion are as inevitable as they are painful. Everyone wants to know “what it is like” to almost be done, and because I don’t yet have the answer, or particularly like the question, I am going to leave that for another time.

One thing which is abundantly clear is that when time starts running out, people start noticing it, and as a habitual procrastinator, wasted time is something I am all too familiar with. There is an important distinction worth noting about wasted time, however. I do not mind wasted time spent on tangents, frivolous explorations, or glorious relaxation. Those wastes provide a necessary haven from the grind of responsibilities which allow us all to attack those responsibilities with renewed vigor when we return from them. Despite what teachers, and for that matter grades might say, wasted time, wasted well, is in no way a waste.

The issue with wasted time is when it cannot be spent randomly enjoying life and is instead wasted on activities which do not offer a respite from the responsibilities which can seem to plague us. The perfect example is the monotonously repetitive, Archdiocesan religion curriculum for which my class has been the guinea pig. In keeping with that metaphor, we did not make it through the maze.

It is not that the subject matter is boring, unimportant, or even fundamentally a waste of time. In fact, that could not be further from the truth. I distinctly remember sincerely enjoying freshmen religion because it offered such a new take on the world. I am not a Catholic, so such detailed religious and moral instruction from an entirely new perspective was educational to say the least.

Unfortunately, my curiosity about the way in which Catholics view God, morality, and themselves quickly evaporated upon realizing that my sophomore religion class had almost exactly the same lessons, vocab words, and textbook.

So, if as a sophomore I was frustrated at being taught the same material for two more semesters of high school, imagine my incredulous resignation to the fact that the fifth, sixth, and seventh semesters of my classroom religious instruction were also spent on virtually the same material. In fact, I believe that given the abundance of the vocabulary words “trinity,” “mystery,” “transubstantiation,” and “Kingdom of God,” I may have been able to pass junior religion after my freshmen year.

The saving grace (pun intended) of religion at JC is that our religion department has the ability to go past the repetition of the textbook. I can only truly speak from my experience, but I think I am not alone in saying that I learned more from Mr. Huber and Vierheller’s tangents than I did from the textbook as a sophomore and junior. While the tests and quizzes rehashed the same ideas, the lessons went into the sometimes gritty reality of applying Catholic morality to government, society, and ultimately life.

That is where the religion curriculum should go after freshman year. While the fact of what Catholics believe and why is necessary for everyone going through JC, once the basics have been learned, the curriculum should evolve into more complex issues and explanations of Catholic morality. Instead of re-learning the same facts each year, religion class should become an exploration of faith and its impacts on all aspects of life.

While some argue that four whole years of religion is a waste, I understand that it is the only appropriate approach to such a cornerstone of our community. My confusion comes from the fact that it is four years of essentially the same class. That is four years, or roughly 28,224 minutes (yes, I wasted the time to calculate that) of learning the same material. So as a partial answer to all those asking about senior reflections, I wish I could have wasted that time more productively.

Will Bolton is the Perspectives Editor for The Patriot and