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24

Mr. Benedict announced that our individual reports on our year-long project would be due next Friday. They wouldn’t be graded so we were to be completely honest and not worry about pleasing him. He hoped we had each learned something of value. On Thursday night I wrote a letter.

May 25

Dear Mr. Benedict,

I have conducted a year-long experiment in religion. I have not come to any conclusions about what religion I want to be when I grow up-if I want to be any special religion at all.

I have read three books on this subject. They are: Modern Judaism, A History of Christianity, and Catholicism-Past and Present. I went to church services at the First Presbyterian Church of Farbrook. I went to the United Methodist Church of Farbrook on Christmas Eve. I attended Temple Israel of New York City on Rosh Hashanah, which is a Jewish holiday. I went to Confession at Saint Bartholomew Church, but I had to leave the Confessional because I didn’t know what to say. I have not tried being a Buddhist or a Moslem because I don’t know any people of these religions.

I have not really enjoyed my religious experiments very much and I don’t think I’ll make up my mind one way or the other for a long time. I don’t think a person can decide to be a certain religion just like that. It’s like having to choose your own name. You think about it a long time and then you keep changing your mind.

If I should ever have children I will tell them what religion they are so they can start learning about it at an early age. Twelve is very late to learn.

Sincerely, Margaret Ann Simon

On Friday everybody handed in a thick booklet with a decorated cover. All I had was the letter. I couldn’t put that in with the pile of booklets. I was too embarrassed. It looked like I hadn’t done any work at all.

When the bell rang I sat at my desk while everyone else filed out of the room.

When Mr. Benedict looked up he said, “Yes, Margaret?”

I walked to his desk with my letter.

“I didn’t hand in a booklet,” I said.

“Oh?”

“I, uh… I wrote you a letter instead.” I handed it to him, then stood there while he read it.

“I really tried, Mr. Benedict. I’m-I’m sorry. I wanted to do better.” I knew I was going to cry. I couldn’t say anything else. So I ran out of the classroom.

I got to the Girls’ Room before the tears came. I could still hear Mr. Benedict calling, “Margaret- Margaret-“ I didn’t pay any attention. I splashed cold water on my face. Then I walked home slowly by myself.

What was wrong with me anyway? When I was eleven I hardly ever cried. Now anything and everything could start me bawling. I wanted to talk it over with God. But I wasn’t about to let him know that, even though I missed him.

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