Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tall Tales and Bible Stories

Back when our first child went off to public school, we wanted him to know the difference between tall tales, fairy tales, and stories from the Bible. Even back then a story circulated about the two little boys who were discussing Satan. One told the other that Satan was sure to turn out to be just like Santa—just his dad after dark.

Ignorance is pretty pathetic, but determined ignorance is deplorable. We don’t need to study Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic to know the basics of the Bible any more than we need to learn BASIC computer programming to use a computer. But some things are pretty essential to sharing in the foundations of American thought patterns. Our laws are based—for the most part—on the Judeo-Christian heritage—the Ten Commandments. If we break it down to the two great commandments, we still acknowledge that there is a power or authority above all men and that we are our brother’s keeper.

At one time, when I did my first teaching of adult classes at college level, I naively assumed that every student would know the story of the three little pigs. A young man from the inner city area of Houston assured me that bedtime stories were not a part of his childhood. During that same year, a fellow student asked me about the story of Job because we were studying the play J.B. by Archibald MacLeish. Again, ignorance had the power to astound me.

While the level of ignorance has become more understandable because of the proliferation of different kinds of knowledge, some things are simply too basic to ignore. Our children and grandchildren are quite capable of text messaging and using the controls to the X-box with a dexterity that would astound many an older craftsman. And the children continue to practice these skills as if becoming proficient might determine the direction of their lives. Who knows? Perhaps these are the skills of the future. However, the ability to read, the ability to understand and apply knowledge to their lives, and the ability to discern the connections between the laws of the spirit as opposed to the rules of governments will determine the quality of life for future generations.

If our children and grandchildren have no sense of the origin of our social mores, they will not understand why we have lived our lives as we have. Whether it is an elective taught during zero hour or an extracurricular activity after school, Texas has made a good step in the right direction by offering the Bible as a class for our young people. No matter who teaches the classes—ministers or English teachers—nobody’s brand can cover up the entire hide and hoof to disguise what is really in that book: His Story.

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