Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wearing a Rosary in a Public School

I am interested in this particular case because of the symbols I have seen on my students.

As a teacher for more than 25 years in junior high to college courses, I have seen students wear every kind of religious symbol:
pentagrams, yin/yang, demons, skull and cross bones, Hindu gods and goddesses, Buddha, crosses, crucifixes, stars of David, you name it.

When I was teaching at a community college, a student reached out to grab the Miraculous Medal, Sacred Heart Medal, and Crucifix that hung on the chain around my neck, and asked me what they do. She was a self-described voodoo priestess. I told her that they reminded me to pray for those I love, and remember the dead in my prayers. She nodded and said she could help me talk to them if I wanted to. Spooky and weird were the only thoughts that came to mind. When I arrived home I washed my medals with Holy Water.

The young boy in the most current story is not a model student. His family is troubled. But someone gave him a plastic rosary during his time of grief and he wants to wear it. Why not?

Walk into Kohl's, J.C. Penny, Target, Walmart, or any other clothing store and find multiple examples of clothing that uses symbols from eastern religions, or the satanic. This clothing is popular. It sells. Why not allow a Christian or Catholic symbol? Apparently because these symbols are deemed oppressive or political.

One of the things I find strange is that Americans have so little understanding of the symbols they wear, on clothing or tattoos. Buddhism reveres as its highest honor for the dead, the practice of Sky Burial. Sky Burial means that the deceased is left on a mountainside to be eaten by vultures, returning the body to nature through the feeding of predatory birds. Is this what Americans imagine as they learn to meditate? It is after all, the highest calling of Buddhists.

When they see the image of Krishna on a yoga mat or shirt, do they realize, "Krishna loved to play the flute and to seduce the village girls. Krishna is the eighth incarnation of lord Vishnu and was born in the Dvarpara Yuga as the "dark one". Krishna is the embodiment of love and divine joy, that destroys all pain and sin. Krishna is the protector of sacred utterances and cows. Krishna is a trickster and lover, an instigator of all forms of knowledge and born to establish the religion of love." (

Probably not. When they wear the yin/yang symbols do they understand:

"The yin-yang symbol and concept of the Zhou period reach into family and gender relations. Yin is female and yang is male. They fit together as two parts of a whole.

From a philosophical standpoint practitioners of Zen Yoga see yin-yang as a flow.

The Yin/Yang symbol is one of the oldest and best-known life symbols in the world, but few understand its full meaning. It represents one of the most fundamental and profound theories of ancient Taoist philosophy. At its heart are the two poles of existence, which are opposite but complementary. The light, white Yang moving up blends into the dark, black Yin moving down. Yin and Yang are dependent opposing forces that flow in a natural cycle, always seeking balance. Though they are opposing, they are not in opposition to one another. As part of the Tao, they are merely two aspects of a single reality. Each contains the seed of the other, which is why we see a black spot of Yin in the white Yang and vice versa. They do not merely replace each other but actually become each other through the constant flow of the universe." (

These religious symbols have become pervasive in fashion, along with the Jolly Roger. I recently saw my little nephew wearing a shirt that said, "Jesus is my Superhero!" I thought that was much cuter than the neighbor girl who was wearing a pink, sparkly, t-shirt with a skull and crossbones.

Clearly, we need to be more tolerant of Christian symbols. Particularly as fashion presents us with the symbols of so many other faiths. Goose, Gander, get it?
Post a Comment