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My reward for making it through the next eleven days will be hopping on a 6AM flight to Beijing and passing out for 18 hours straight (window seat, don’t fail me now).

I wrote the final paper for my Bible literature class (a highly recommended course, btw–more on that later)  last night, and had some very interesting conversations with my religious friends while trying to gather feedback on my thesis + ideas. You can tell a lot about someone–their upbringing, thought process, main modes of argument, general intellectual curiosity– by how they defend their faith. One impressive point about the Christians that I talked to in writing the paper was that no matter what their specific flavor of Christian belief, they all voluntarily grabbed their Bibles and looked up passages with me throughout our discussion, even when our conversation on the topic was obviously unexpected and interrupting whatever else they were doing at the time. How many friends would randomly grab a copy of Dickens to help you think through contextual points on your Great Expectations paper over IM? The distribution of respect has shifted slightly in my head :).

I am proud that even as a mostly non-religious person who had never read Genesis before September and was confused by chapter-verse notations, I can sustain in-depth conversations on scripture now (well, the parts that I’ve read), and even sometimes raise points that  my most theological friends find eye-opening. It makes me realize how far I’ve come in just one semester! Taking this course has piqued my interest in religion far more than years of going to intermittent youth groups, church retreats, and “social” church activities. Maybe I’m more academically minded than I thought?

Something that I found disappointing was how much my non-religious friends shut down on the topic as soon as I mentioned writing a paper on the Bible. Atheism can be a very close-minded place–which is sad, because the Bible is one of the most fascinating literary and historical works that I’ve ever had the pleasure of studying. It has helped frame my understanding of ancient history + civilizations tremendously.