I grew up in a time and place in which education was highly valued both in my family and by society. I was the first of my generation (in my family) to graduate college. Young people were going to college in record numbers, which was a matter of pride for many families and communities. And although there was an assumption that college might not be for everyone, there was also an understanding that the world was changing (this was the Space Age, after all) and education was Very Important for the whole society.
At the same time, however, "education" was not something that seemed to be particularly valued when it came to church. Oh yes, there was plenty of "education" at church, but it consisted of memorizing the books of the Bible and particular Bible verses, and coming to Sunday School and church in order to listen to the minister talk about morality and sin and how Jesus saves us. Although not actually how Jesus saves us so much as that Jesus saves us if we will accept him as our Lord and Savior. So, although one might go to college and study comparative literature in order to become a teacher or professor of literature, studying comparative literature in terms of the Bible was frowned upon. After all, treating the Bible as literature would be to treat the Bible as if it were any old book, not Sacred Scripture. The Bible was not to be examined like that - such would be disrespectful. It would be the same as saying that one doesn't believe the Bible to be the Word of God. Scholarship was for secular education, which of course was highly prized. But the Bible was to be read on its face, without the aid of scholarship of any kind. Questioning was not OK. (I always wanted to know: HOW does Jesus save us? But asking it was impertinent. It suggested I didn't have faith.)
So, at some point, I decided that if questioning said I didn't have faith, then maybe I didn't. If our relationship with God is so important and yet we are not able to enter into it with all our God-given faculties and gifts, then maybe a life of faith wasn't for me, a person to whom education and scholarship were Very Important, as I had always been taught. Add to that some really bad behavior on the part of the church in the Civil Rights era South and I headed for the wilderness for a long, long time.
When I came to the Episcopal Church, I remember in the inquirer's class someone said, "I like the Episcopal Church because here we don't have to check our brains at the door." I've heard it said many time since. God gave us brains. Let's use them on our walk with God!
Sadly, this anti-intellectualism is still with us. Not as much as it was back in the 1950's, but it is still part of the fabric of religious life and conversation today. In some circles still, even some Episcopal ones, using one's brains when it comes to faith and religion are tantamount to denying God and Jesus and becoming Christopher Hitchens or Charles Darwin or some other ungodly person. (Note: I do not think either of the above are ungodly persons. I don't keep a list.)
People are hungry. Not just for food, not just for spiritual refreshment, not just for connection, but also people are hungry for substantial, meaningful religious education. It may be that most of us need to go off into the wilderness and stomp around about how disappointed we are in "church" at some point in our lives (usually as teenagers/young adults), but I believe we need to invest in education about our faith and how we practice it (and how rich it is!) to everyone. Especially those teenagers and young adults in whom we have inculcated the Importance and Value of Education. Life in God is a life that demands our all - our brains, our bodies, our spirits, our imaginations, our wonder and our awe. The use of our brains and the life of faith are not mutually exclusive.
Here ends the rant.