We’re on the East Coast to celebrate with one of our granddaughters her Confirmation. For some, perhaps most, it’s a right of passage forced on young teens by parents, but endured because it is their get out of jail card. Once confirmed they are liberated from the childishness of Sunday school and free to decide for themselves whether or not to attend church ever again. There is a certain ironic truth to the old joke that the way to get rid of the bats in the belfry is to confirm them.
The idea is that young teens are old enough to make a mature and informed affirmation of their faith according to the traditions of their denomination. Now and then it happens. I reveled in my own confirmation process, and took special delight in arguing with the catechism whenever I thought I knew better. Maybe that’s what started me on my path to seminary. On the other hand, few of my fellow confirmands ever considered it more than an irrelevancy to be endured. That is one reason why I always held adult confirmation classes each year. They became popular sessions for adults to learn again for the first time what they had ignored as teens.
I don’t know why, but we seem to expect adult Christians to have a sophisticated and well informed understanding of their faith with no more than a poor sixth grade education. How dumb is that? Not so long ago I attended my in-law’s Methodist church where adult Sunday school classes are very popular. Enthusiastic as they were, each class seemed to me to be led by the ill informed teaching the less Informed.
However, back to this weekend, I am pleased to say that my granddaughter has taken confirmation seriously and I have confidence that her affirmation will be as mature as any young teen is capable of making.