Theology 141, also known as liberation theology, is currently my least favorite class this semester. It’s ironic because I actually thought it would be the one I would most look forward to, given that I enlisted under a legendary professor whose 62 slots ran out in less than a minute. But I never imagined that there are times I think to myself and realize that I despise his class more than thesis.
In a nutshell, liberation theology teaches us that sin is deeply ingrained in social structures, resulting to poverty, and that taking concrete action to make a better world for these people by following Jesus Christ’s example is the way to God’s Kingdom. At least that’s how I understand it. The highlight of this class is the Immersion program, where we will live among the marginalized people for three days and later on prepare a group report about it. Mine will be in a fishing community in Zambales this coming March.
It’s funny how I dislike this class because I actually am really fond of my professor. He’s a good man, his lectures are engaging, and the hype surrounding him is real. There’s something about his presence that lights up the room and makes you want to be a better person. My seatmate and I actually mentioned we find himself clinging on to every word he says, the same way we did when we took a class under another legendary professor for theology of sex and marriage.
I suspect the reason for my negative sentiment is the subject matter itself. Despite the good intentions and noble causes behind it, it instills a messianic complex in students. Suddenly, some of them think they’re above everyone else because of their newfound sense of purpose, and under the guise of “taking concrete action towards changing society”, they feele their sanctimony and self-righteousness is warranted. And I really hate that.
Earlier tonight, one of my acquaintances made several posts about his Immersion on Twitter. It was captioned “Immersed as fuck”, and it had pictures of a farm, muddy feet, fried fish and his grim face. Another was a picture of a can of beer, and captioned “Post immersion-necessities”. I wasn’t personally offended by the tweets, but I found it really insensitive, considering the point of going through immersion was really to be exposed to these harsh realities in order to be humbled and more conscious of the plight of the poor.
Other people’s reactions to the post were, to put it in the best way I can, batshit crazy. It’s unfortunate because I know a lot of these people, their tweets appeared in my timeline. They called the guy hateful names, openly expressed their anger towards him, and said really nasty things about how the guy didn’t deserve an education like ours. Of course, not to be forgotten is the ultimate phrase self-righteous Ateneans loved to chant during times like these: check your privilege. Given the way they ran their mouths, it was as if they’ve never done anything of that sort before. It was like the kettle calling the pot black. Sure, what the guy said was unacceptable but so was the way they reacted to him was worse.
What puzzles me about all this is that these people, in their attempt at pointing out the guy’s mistakes, are motivated by their learnings in Theology 141 but in no way followed what was taught in class. They threw that part out the window and just crucified the guy, which was so un-Christ like. I don’t have any more words to say about this so I’ll leave it at that. This is the reason why I gave up on organized religion altogether.
I guess my belief stands true: You don’t need religion to be a good person, and religion doesn’t have a monopoly on morality. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure I’m right.