Thursday, October 2, 2008

Who's the Bad Guy?

We had an interesting class today in ENG 250. I liked class overall, but I was bothered by a story my teacher shared.

The theme for today was "Traditions and Education". So we talked about the purpose of traditions mostly and why we should keep some and weed out others. Some traditions are done just for the sake of traditions, but don't exactly have any reason to back them up. Well if it's just for fun, then it doesn't really matter, but basically we need to continue building up good traditions in our life and constantly making sure that we are benefitting from them- not somehow hurting ourselves or others in the long run.

Now back to my teacher's story: he transitioned topics from traditions to sacrafice and told us about a particular class of his a few years back. There was a student who was from somewhere in South America and she came from a rough background. Her dad had passed away, her mother had cancer, and I think she was even a convert. She came to BYU-I and although she was bright, she was failing my teacher's class because she didn't go to class often and didn't complete all the assignments. There was another student in the class and he stayed after class one day to chat with my teacher. Some how the subject of the South American girl came up. That student, who currently had an A+ in the class, offered his passing grade to trade for the girl's failing one because he didn't mind re-taking the class. My teacher thought that would be fine, but he wanted this student to see what the class thought first. The next class period, the boy asked the class what they thought of him trading grades with the girl. The teacher said much contention arose because half of the class agreed and the other disagreed. Some said that it was fine, others argued that she should have to face the consequences of not preparing for class. So, he gave the opportunity to any students who wanted to participate and asked that they just slip a note under his office door. He got 7 notes: 1 was a note stating the girl should not get the A grade, 4 were from students with "ok" grades, 1 was from a 4.0 student, and the last from the guy who started it all. Apparently the guy had an extremely low GPA overall and this class was his only A ever. My teacher concluded this story as an analogy to the atonement of Christ, His sacrafice for our shortcomings, to Justice and Mercy, and as always, how we need to be a little more giving and willing to sacrafice. I agree with the last statement because I truly believe that we all need to have more charity in our lives.

But here's my thought: I wouldn't give up my grade for someone's failing one. Does that make me the bad guy? Because I sure felt like it when my whole class seemed to be nodding in agreement and thinking how courageous that student was. The atonement is to make up for our short comings, but only after we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and are trying to be the best we can be. He makes up for that last stretch. There has to be a balance of justice and mercy. Justice would have been failing the class, and mercy would have been the second chance to re-take the class, not taking someone else's passing grade. I do not believe that the atonement makes up for our irresponsibility, like not attending class or finishing assignments. That is laziness. The atonement is a really amazing gift to us, but I just did not agree with my teacher's analogy.

I am so grateful to have a husband who comforts me when I feel like an outsider in my class :)

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