Questions some Gr. 8's have me asking

Today I had the opportunity to visit with a group of Gr. 8 students from a public school in Vancouver. They came to visit our Church as part of a "Religion Tour". I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the students and I was very happy that they came to visit. The experience was a new one for me and I learned a lot. The meeting left me mulling over several questions.

Why did no one laugh at my jokes?
I told some really good ones, I promise. 

Why do Gr. 8 students know so much about the Illuminati?
Really, why? Can anyone help me here?

When did learning about religion get reduced to learning about culture?
The organizer of the tour asked me to give a talk explaining the basics of Christianity so I did my best to talk about Jesus, the Cross, the Resurrection and Redemption. Unfortunately for the students, I wasn't answering the questions they came to learn about. They all had sheets on which they had to answer three questions: 1) what are some symbols of the religion? 2) what is their building like? 3) what are their religious practices? Though important, these questions are secondary in my mind. They have to do more with culture than religion. The students were not asked to write down anything about what we as Christians actually believe. They were not expected to learn about how we view God or the world. All religions try to grapple with some pretty important questions. Why are we here? What does it mean to live a good life? These are questions which I think would be helpful to discuss on a Religion Tour. Ultimately, I felt like I was a guide at a museum. It seemed like I was expected to explain some artifact from the past that people feel is far removed from their daily lives and has little power to challenge the way they look at the world.

Is it a bad thing that most people know the word "Trinity" only in reference to a character in the movie the Matrix?
She has good ninja moves, but still, the real Trinity is better.

When did it become a given for people to assume that science and religion are in opposition?
At the end of the visit, I had a little time so I asked the students some questions. For me it was the best part of the day. I explained that many students in Catholic schools have questions about the relationship between science and religion. I asked them if they thought that science was opposed to religion. In unison, the majority of the students - who had been quiet up till this point - shouted "Yes!" I was not surprised with the answer, but with the enthusiasm of their response. After I asked why they thought science and religion were opposed, a couple brave students explained that the big bang theory proves that God doesn't exist. The students could not explain what the big bang theory actually was, but they were convinced that it proves God doesn't exist. Some also explained that "scientists don't believe in God". All of them, apparently. I didn't have too much time, so I explained a little bit about why Catholics don't see religion as opposed to science, particularly the big bang theory and evolution. I also told them about George Lemaitre, the Catholic priest who was the first person to propose the big bang theory.

George Lemaitre
How can we make sure that religion and society don't become irrelevant to one another?
After the students left, I couldn't help but think that I am out of touch with what the majority of people in Vancouver are thinking about religion and God. I live in a bit of a Catholic bubble. I spend most of my time talking to Catholics about Catholic things. This is something I enjoy doing, but if I want to reach out to those who don't come to Church, I need to get to know them better. Theoretically, priests are supposed to serve those within their parish boundaries, whether they are Catholic or not. On the other side, I couldn't help but think that for many of the students, religion is somewhat irrelevant. I don't think it's a deliberately formed opinion or that there is any animosity, I just think that religion doesn't really play a large role in the lives of many of those students I met today. The fact that society and religion seem to be growing apart is bad news for everyone. On a positive note, almost all the students heard of Pope Francis. By his words and actions people seem to be getting more interested in Christianity again. His approach is really working.