I have no good memories of third-grade math. I don't remember much of my elementary school days, but math in Mrs. Smith's classroom is strangely familiar. It was the first time I realized I was a crock. Here's how it happened.
It wasn't long before I noticed my friends were picking up math quicker than I was. I can't recall the exact lessons — just that I wasn't good at them. And everyday, during that math hour, Mrs. Smith would have students step up front and rehearse homework problems on the board. My classmates would write out the problem and swiftly solve it. They would carry numbers here and make a few notes there — and voila! — the answer just flowed out with ease.
But what seared this exercise into my memory was that after every answer was offered, Mrs. Smith would ask the rest of the class if they had the same answer. "Raise your hand" — she would say — "Raise your hand if you agree with this answer."
I don't know that my real answer ever lined up, but to me it didn't matter. When she asked for the class consensus, I would simply swallow the knot in my throat and scan the arms in the air around me. If there were enough hands held high, and the smart kids were in, I'd stick my hand up too. I didn’t really know what I was doing, or what I really thought, but I passed as if I did.
It was a hollow agreement, a conviction by association. It was the same problem I fear persists today with many Christians who call themselves pro-life.