Never Question a Nun July 8, 2008

Never Question a Nun

Cartoonist Kelly Ferdinando draws a strip called Rule of Three.

In the latest strip, she gives us a little background on the character Ivy — she asks her teacher an awful question during a discussion of Adam and Eve (click for larger version):


How dare she question authority!?

I thought Catholics were better with all the evolution stuff, but I wouldn’t be shocked if this type of scenario played out at some religious schools. We’ve already seen unfortunate interactions in public schools between students and religious teachers.

Anyone have similar experiences, where asking a teacher a good question actually got you in trouble?

(Thanks to Andrew for the link!)

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Jen

    I have a friend who basically was booted from Christian school because she was always getting pick on due to her health. She has a disease- you can’t tell by looking at her, but the teacher told the other 4th graders in an effort to assure they wouldn’t treat her differently, which of course assured they would. When her parents approached the school about the bullying, they got the brush off- which makes sense, in light of the fact that kicking out three bullies, who would then leave with their siblings, meant that the school would lose several tuitions instead of just one.

    It was probably better for her in the long run, because they were apparently teaching the kids young earth bullshit.

  • I was in christian schools from k-12. I was becoming a freethinker in HS. I once asked the in bible class in 11th grade, “How can god hold Adam and Eve responsible for sinning if he created them and was omnipotent and omnipresent? It was really his fault for setting them up.” I never got an answer to that one, just shunned for the rest of the semester.

    I made the mistake in my senior year in doctrine class to answer the 1st test truthfully as I saw it. I provided the required correct answer then wrote what I thought was wrong with that doctrine and provided proof text to support my claim. I failed the test. It took me the rest of the year to get my grade up. The funny thing the answer to each doctrine question was basicly “jesus loves me”.

  • Trepur

    A poorly-drawn, poorly-written comic with more words than pictures (at which point it can hardly be called a comic)? There’s no need to endorse this shit just because we agree with its author. A little discernment would go a long way.

  • Christian Guy #2

    I went to Catholic schools from high school through college. I never once encountered any teacher, professor, priest, nun, laity, etc. who doubted that evolution had occurred.

    In addition, we were encouraged to ask “good questions” in order to have discussions with the person leading the class as well as with our colleagues. Also, we were encouraged to write papers that were critical of the Catholic Church. If you had a disagreement, you had to back it up with facts.


  • NDawson

    I attended a Jewish private school in Las Vegas from kindergarten through 3rd grade. While I don’t remember any particular details, I do know I tended to ask a lot of questions and also do my own thing instead of pay too much attention in classes; even though the classes were about a year ahead of public school ones, I was still ahead of most of the other students. Anyway, I was always getting in trouble and at one point, during a Hebrew lesson with the Vice Principal teaching, I did/said something that made her so mad she hit me, causing me to fall out of my seat. Naturally my parents said that was the last straw and took me out of there.

    Even in public school though I tended to ask a lot of questions, if the class interested me that is. Some teachers were glad that I was paying attention, but most just thought I was being cheeky or a smart ass.

  • Jaroslav Sveda

    Also, we were encouraged to write papers that were critical of the Catholic Church. If you had a disagreement, you had to back it up with facts.

    It’s good to hear at least some of Catholics are liberal. I only met the orthodox ones. And thank goodness that we live in 21st century. Once upon a time, different opinion when it came to the Trinity or whatever else meant persecution.

  • I wish I’d been a Catholic. When the priest says ‘ite missa est,” do they have stamps back in the sacristy? how much are they?

  • I wish I’d been a Catholic. When the priest says ‘ite missa est,” do they have stamps back in the sacristy? how much are they?

    Thanks, Andrew, please thank Kelly for the comic.

  • Not to me, but to my Mom in the 60s . . . she went to a Catholic school, and one day, being the critical-thinker she was, pointed out several of the inconsistencies of the Bible. She was expecting to get a pat on the head, as you would for pointing out the author’s inconsistencies in any other book, but she was immediately dragged into the hall and told that she would be failed if she ever questioned the authority or perfection of the Bible again. The good thing that came out of all of this is that she didn’t raise her children with any religion and let us figure it out ourselves. Interestingly, my brother and I have come to pretty much the same conclusions, without any input from my parents at all . .

  • Is this strip auto-biographical? If so, that nun has an appalling lack of familiarity with her own Church’s doctrines when it comes to evolution.

    If not, then the cartoonist has an appalling lack of familiarity with the differences of beliefs among Christians, and displays her ignorance by anachronistically putting the words of a Prostestant fundamentalist in the mouth of a Catholic nun, as if you could just portray a generic religious person and assume they all just think exactly the same.

  • Amanda

    I, too, once flustered a Catholic school teacher by asking how dinosaurs fit into the biblical creation story. The school itself taught evolution as a policy, but let the younger kids think that the old testament stories are literal, since they are a bit young to understand them any other way. The teacher seemed annoyed, responding that we could choose to believe in dinosaurs or God, and she would choose God. In retrospect it’s clear that I had just caught her off guard and that this kind of answer would not be endorsed by the school.

    The nun in the comic seemed to have an answer already thought out, but it may have just been her own agenda. Lying to the principal only makes this scenario seem more likely. Officially, evolution is considered to be non-conflicting with Catholicism, but it’s hardly required doctrine.

  • Vincent

    Totally non-religious story.
    I was in calculus class in high school and we had an assignment. (I’ll make up the numbers but set them proportionally for the narrative)
    The problem set was at the end of chapter 4 (early in the class) and I worked hard and got an answer “5” for problem #7.

    Get to class the next day and the teacher says “Never mind #7, that was an error in the book. That problem belonged in chapter 20. You can’t do it yet so don’t feel bad that you didn’t get it.”
    Well that got me curious, since I thought I’d solved it. So I asked: “what was the answer, cause I think I solved it.” She said “you can’t have solved it, you don’t know how.” and I said “But I got an answer, so I did something. Was my answer right” and she yelled at me “you can’t have done it, you’re not capable of doing it! You won’t know how to do it until chapter 20!”

    So, talk about ignoring a possible teaching moment and stifling a kid’s interests by shouting at him that he’s not capable. Though I can’t give that teacher all the blame, I never took another math class again (5 on AP calculus exam, perfect score on math section of ACT, waved any college math requirements).

    Oh, and when we got to chapter 20 I looked back and the answer was “5”.

  • Liz

    I never got in trouble with a teacher for questioning religion because I was too much of a kiss-ass and wanted them to think I was “good”. I asked all of those questions of my mother instead. I always got the incomprehensible answer, “You think too much.”

  • Doreen

    I went to Catholic grade school (grades 1-8) and never had a problem with asking questions. Looking back I think I, luckily, ended up in a pretty moderate school. We had several sex-ed seminars in the higher grades where safe sex seemed to be discussed more than “chastity.” When it came to evolution and genesis, we were taught that genesis simply contained metaphors and the Catholic church had no qualms with evolution.

    I started 9th grade at an all girls Catholic high school. My experience there wasn’t as friendly. Within the first two weeks of school, the whole school met in the auditorium for a lecture on chastity and were made to sign chastity pledges. The major issue though was how they dealt with some health problems I developed a few years prior. I had high absenteeism at times because of it. One day while I was out of school, my mom came home in a huge fuss. The school district called and said I was no longer enrolled in a school. The Catholic highschool had un-enrolled me without notice to my mom or I. The Catholic school system just doesn’t have the resources to deal with special needs students.

  • I would hardly call the monks who taught me “liberal”, but they weren’t so-called “conservative” Christians, either. On sex: “You shouldn’t, but if you do, don’t be an idiot. Use a condom.” On Genesis: “Jesus used parables, Moses used parables. They’re just stories.” Evolution was never questioned; we learned real science. We prayed before each class period, but besides that religion wasn’t really mentioned outside of Religion class – which was mostly history and ethics, not a lot of Bible.

    The bishop who confirmed me (also not liberal) recently talked about the Hubble and the beginnings of the universe 13 billion years ago. During the homily. At a Catholic high school graduation mass.

    My Catholic upbringing was basically, “Love Jesus. Go to church. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be a dick.” That was 15 years ago. I guess things change.

  • Kelly

    Wow, I never realized so many people read my comic! I never thought that this one comic would bring up such a conversation (the comic is also over on livejournal, and I usually get one or two comments, mostly from my in-laws and the “real” Ivy; this comic got 18 comments). I’d like to thank everyone for reading it, but remember it is just a comic. Like the late, great George Carlin has said, every joke needs some exaggeration, something to be waaaaaay out of proportion. Otherwise, real life just isn’t that funny. And remember, George Carlin was a prominent atheist, and one of my favorite comedians 🙂

    This scenario never happened, although in third grade in Cathlic school, I did wonder if Adam & Eve came before or after the dinosaurs, but I was too chicken to ask. The real Ivy (my friend who Ivy is loosely based off) worked in a Catholic school a few years ago but no one found out she is a pagan. I just made up this over the top storyline for the comic, nothing more.

    By the way, Hazel is Rule of Three’s resident friendly atheist, and Ivy’s the pagan. And Katerli is just plain non-religious. 🙂

  • I think the comic is funny and Trepur I challenge you to draw any better.

    But anyway, you all are assuming that the character, Ivy is telling the absolute truth. As I am sure you all are aware people often embellish the truth for a good story.

    I have to confess, I did lie about my year of catholic school. I told everyone for years that I received a C in religion class because I refused to go to confession (I never believed in that stuff, I just liked the uniform).

    The truth was far less interesting… Dan asked us what we deserved for our term grade, and I thinking I should be modest said C. Oh was I dumb.

    My point is, maybe….just maybe…..this is what the character imagined her school experience to be…..instead of what it actually was.

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