Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Some Papal Never Learn

You'd think, with our track record, they would have hidden the children in the basement of the church last year when we became members.

Not that we aren't well-inentioned. We are. Very.

Perhaps we simply are living proof that a lapsed Catholic and a lapsed Methodist should never be allowed to team up to teach Sunday school.

The first sign of trouble is that word "lapsed." Doesn't sound so bad at first, but the word itself doesn't really provide any indication of degree of lapsitudidness, does it? There's a big difference between, say, one month lapsed and twenty years lapsed. One month lapsed falls in the "things got busy and church fell by the wayside for a bit" side of things, while twenty years lapsed is more at the "remind me again who this Jesus guy is" end of the spectrum.

Then there's practical knowledge and personal experience to consider. The lapsed Catholic doesn't immediately understand the intended purpose of Sunday school, because it isn't really a habit of the Catholic Church to sit young children down in a room, read passages of the Bible, and then open the floor for discussion and interpretation. It isn't a habit amongst its adults, either.

Yet even for a lapsed Methodist, having grown up in a church that did provide many lessons aimed at instilling an understanding of the Bible and a willingness to look at it from many angles, you have to consider the quality of the student. The first thing I learned in Sunday school was how to take off my jacket, tie, belt and shoes in under 15 seconds without the teacher noticing until it was too late. The pants would have gone, too, but even at that young age I knew where the line was and not to cross it.

Several years ago, when we decided to reconnect ourselves to the religious world, we opted first for the Episcopal Church. It was a great combination of Catholic-like structure and Protestant-informed openness -- Catholic Lite, if you will. We threw ourselves into the place and, in short order, were somehow recruited to teach Sunday school.

Given the fact neither of us has ever received any training on how to teach, and considering that due to an oversight no educational materials or lesson plans were provided to us, you'd be hard-pressed to rate our performance that first year as anything other than heretically miserable. For all the good we did, we might as well have been handing out leaflets for Hinduism, Judaism, Muslimism and any other ism that exists in the non-Christian world. We neither understood, nor did we impart any degree of understanding of, the Bible or its teachings. We were the anti-teachers, frequently learning more from the kids in our class than they learned from us. Naturally, then, we were asked to teach again the following year. By the time we left the Episcopal Church, the Sunday school program was all but in ruins. They're probably still picking through the smoldering ashes trying to recoup the souls we corrupted.

And, now, here we are at the Presbyterian Church, recently having been asked to -- you guessed it -- teach Sunday school.

Who knows? Maybe it's our mission in life to hop from one Christian sect to another until we've managed to decimate the youth-oriented biblical study programs of every denomination within a 20-mile radius of our home.

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