COLUMN LIKE I SEE 'EM
EDITOR'S NOTE: The opinions reflected in this article are unique to the author and are not representative of the Clocktower, ASB or Union College.
I’m 24 and have been in the Adventist church from birth. Being 24 years old grants me certain privileges over others when it comes to worship credits. I need a whole lot less than the rest of you. I think I need ten, give or take five credits. Probably give, seeing as how I only got six last semester and that was more than a tad under my predetermined goal.
I’m not a proponent for worship credits. If you read this column, that probably doesn’t come as the biggest of shocks to you.
A big reason why I don’t like worship credits is because I’m not sure exactly what they are supposed to accomplish.
Maybe they’re supposed to make me attend worships. I’m living proof that didn’t work out.
And at the few worships I attended, I looked across the pews just to find most people typing away on their phones, playing games or watching Netflix—that is, when I had time enough to look up from my own phone.
So attending worships doesn’t make me a more spiritual person either. God isn’t working via osmosis like we seem to be hoping for.
Besides, what few worships I did attend were barely worships in their own right. Having a town meeting about why getting good sleep, not binge drinking, and not having sex is good for your health doesn’t bring me any measurable distance closer to God, as far as I can tell.
Nowadays, however, I'm told new worship requirements in town include “Life 101” credits, specifically designed to talk about those kind of life-important yet spiritually-void topics.
These changes baffle me even more, as I'm not actually required to go to a single “Life 101” credit. You’d think the 24-year-old layabout living entirely off his parents money with a huge spending problem who, often enough, goes days without eating because he spent his money on board games and sugar-coated sour cherry Coke gummies would need more “Life 101” credits than, say, the 17-year-old paying her own way through college working thirty hours a week and still taking nineteen credit hours.
What are they supposed to accomplish, then?
Worship credits devalue the ways I actually like to worship. I don’t receive any worship credits when I go to church, or when I discuss spirituality, faith and doubt with friends. I don’t get credit for watching “The Prince of Egypt” at my house, but, magically, I get credit if the school decides to have a showing in the girl’s dorm basement.
I’m left wondering whether school-approved worship is more valid than worship I conduct on my own.
I understand parents are most likely helping to pay at least some of the bills that allow their children to attend this school. One of the reasons I, if I were a parent, might fork out that extra cash required to attend an Adventist college is because of that guaranteed worship exposure. But I can't make that decision for my kid. If I were to make him/her go to worships now, I'm just pushing back their actual decision a few years, and they’ll still choose what they want, whether it be what I had hoped for or not.
I admit, it's a risk to put your kid in the driver’s seat at a crossroads.
They could go either direction, for better or worse, but forcing their hand to the right just makes the left seem like a real nice place to go.
Things that are required eventually become things that are resented. Any power I might feel from a vespers, V2, chapel or whatever is undercut by my being forced to attend.
And, in turn, forcing people to attend worships undermines the entire idea of salvation not by works, but grace, and cuts short the power freedom of choice should hold. God wants us to choose him.
He does not want us to feel imprisoned. He wants us to feel loved.
The God that I love, and that loves me, is not the kind of God to hold me up at the gates of heaven, don glasses, browse his clipboard, and turn me away because I didn’t meet my meager worship credit requirement the semester before. He wants me to come of my own volition, and that isn’t possible until the gun is lowered from my head.
Kevin Niederman is a junior nursing major hailing from Santa Rosa CA, about an hour north of San Francisco. He enjoys cartoons, hats, and driving ridiculous distances for food that has the potential of being amazing.