'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - the schools part 3

Whilst at Whitton Junior School, life was pretty good.  You'll recall I trailed things off in part 1...

At that time, it was compulsory to take Religious Education.  RE fascinated me from the very beginning.  It is worth noting here that my parents always declared themselves agnostics.  Mother was certainly philosophically-minded, but I can honestly say that such subjects were NOT taken up for family discussion.  Until I attended those classes, I recall nothing of hearing any mention of bible or 'baby Jesus'; even at Christmas.  

I did have an awareness though and I think when RE came into my life I was 'primed and ready', so to speak.  It seemed to me that the world could be made sense of through such study.  It was a very short time after starting the formal study at school when I dropped the bombshell in the kitchen.

Mother held her peace and ensured that Daughter No. 1 had the opportunity to explore this avenue.  The nearest available Sunday School happened to be that provided at the Baptist Church.

For three years I attended, missing only those weeks when the family headed North for summer holidays.  I thrived on scriptural study, excelling in the Bible Society exams and being presented with a bible for coming first in that final year.  The very bible which sits across the room from me now, which has travelled the globe with me.  I own other bibles.  That one will adorn my casket.

During this time the school class studies covered not just the bible, but made us aware of the varying practices and interpretations of spiritual acitivity. Our teacher was Mr Sleath. A bachelor man and a Jehovah's Witness.

He realised I had questions deeper than most teachers were prepared to answer - at least to a pre-teenager.  He asked my mother if she would allow me to visit his house on a weekly basis to hold more intense discussion.  Now - I know mother was very cautious, but these were more innocent times and trust still stood for much.  Permission was granted. For a period of six months I spent Saturday afternoons with Mr Sleath learning all sorts of wonderful things about scripture which were never addressed at school or the Sunday School.

This stopped for the same reason the Sunday School did - junior school ended.  Senior school began.

I have never forgotten Mrs Cotton at the Baptist Church, or Mr Sleath.  They took me seriously. They guided me well.  Each had definite faith structure, but never sought to press me into those structures.  They encouraged enquiry. A long search had begun.


  1. I wish the study of all religion was in the average curriculum.

  2. Religious Studies can be very different from Bible Study, during which latter the teacher is often required to do a bit of indoctrination. How fortunate that your inquisitive nature was encouraged, with no intent to influence you one way or another.
    When I was out of high school, the nearest college was one that had been recently started by a fundamentalist church. One of the students enquired about my religious upbringing, and when I said United Church of Canada, I was told I couldn't possibly be a Christian.
    Nevertheless, I had one good friend who attended that college with me, and I made one good friend in the faculty. He later became our Member of Parliament, and was very helpful to me when my health forced me out of work. His help was of a practical nature (fax machine, long distance phone calls from his office phone, etc.) or if I just kept up the fight long enough, but I did eventually get a federal pension, and still appreciate that very good man.
    Luv, K

  3. My interest in religions (of all types) did not come until late college.

  4. I went to Sunday school throughout my primary school years. Which was definitely preferable than church. But, once I had turned twelve, Sunday school finished for me and it was ordinary church for me. I did go to bible classes for a few years as well. Not my choice, but that's what happens when you grow up in a Protestant family!

  5. Thank goodness your parents were open-minded and allowed you to follow your interest, Yam. Sunday School is an inedible memory of my childhood and by the time I was in my teens I was teaching the tinies their Bible stories. :-)

    I stayed in touch with my two Sunday school teachers (both only a few years older than me) and indeed still exchange cards and news at Christmas with the one who still lives in the town where I was born. The other emigrated to Australia and we exchanged letters until her death.

  6. That's Kay! Me, too. UCof C. We're rebels.
    They were different times. I'm so glad you can share a good story about religion...


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