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Posts Tagged ‘Creation’

Good morning, parents and friends. We had an interesting class last night. Sorry you missed it. (I’m assuming that most of our students are probably not reading this. It’s OK if they do, but I suspect it isn’t at the top of their hit parade.)

We had some interesting feedback from last week’s discussion about the scientific and biblical accounts of creation. Apparently they loved it. Given the choice, I think our students would prefer an anthropology class over religion. Too bad. We’re teaching religion.

We did finish off our discussion of the first chapter of Genesis. I emphasized again that the target audience for Genesis was a group of nomadic sheep and goat herders. It had to be written in a way they could understand, and still convey its important messages.

1.) God created the world and everything that is in it.

2.) What he created is good.

The details of how he did it are left up to science. And the Bible is a religious book, not a science text.

I drew a picture on the board of the ancient Hebrews concept of the world. Rather than the modern view of planets, a solar system, galaxies, etc, the Hebrews thought the world was like a “snow dome” a flat disc covered with a dome and suspended in water.

The Hebrew concept of the world

The Hebrew concept of the world

We talked about this and then had the students take turns reading the first chapter of Genesis aloud, with that concept in mind.

Although I really didn’t want to go that far, there was a lot of interest in the Adam and Eve story. The class had trouble grasping the concept that the story was more symbolic than historical. One student asked if Adam and Eve were the first humans, and they had children, did that mean that their children had to marry one another to produce the next generation. (Where do they come up with these things?) I really didn’t want to get involved in a lengthy discussion of early humans and evolution, so I just pointed out that there were many things that Bible does not address, like Adam and Eve’s other children and so on. It wasn’t a very good answer, but it got us off of an uncomfortable subject.

Finally, we got back to the main topic of the class, the Eucharist. We passed out a sheet of paper with three columns, with headers for the Eucharist as a Memorial, as a Meal and as a Sacrifice. We asked the students to pair up with a partner and to read a portion of the text that described the Sacrament in those three terms. They were to write a few words about the Eucharist in each column. Aside from the difficulty of getting them to settle down and actually concentrate on that task, it went fairly well. Some of the students had difficulty grasping the concepts of memorial and sacrifice. So we talked a little bit about the use of objects and actions to remember a person or event. We also talked some about the practice of most ancient cultures to sacrifice farm animals or other valued items as a way of worshiping God. We don’t do that anymore. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and subsequently the Eucharist replaced that practice.

A reminder that next week’s CCD class (February 13) will be replaced by Mass and ashes (It will be Ash Wednesday.) at 7 pm in the church. We encourage all our CCD families to attend.

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I’m a little late posting an update for last week’s class. I was traveling for work Thursday and Friday of last week and, to be honest, didn’t think about it over the weekend. Oops.

We had a small group turn out last Wednesday, maybe only 10 or 12 students. We started off the first of two chapters covering the Eucharist. We covered several key points.

–The first Eucharist was at the Last Supper, which in turn was a Jewish Passover meal (Seder.) We talked a little about the origin of the Passover celebration and the Passover story in Exodus. We had a lot of questions about why God would kill the Egyptian first-born sons, which didn’t help us stay in topic. My fault.

–We connected the words in Luke’s Gospel account of the Last Supper to the words used in the consecration in the Mass. We emphasized Jesus’s command to “Do this in memory of me.”

–We discussed the concept of the Real Presence, that Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This differs from what most Protestant faiths profess, that their “holy communion” is simply representative of Jesus’s body and blood, not a Real Presence.

–We emphasized that the Eucharist is at the very center of what it means to be a Catholic.

I’d like to tell you that I was making a significant impact on the students, but in truth, I think everything I was throwing out was bouncing right back at me.  It wasn’t working. Then we changed the subject.

We were talking a little about the connection to Passover and Jewish history. Students started asking questions about the Bible and the focus switched to the biblical account of creation (Adam and Eve, etc.). There seemed to be a lot of interest, and since I was making such great progress with our earlier topic (sarcasm), I decided to head off in a totally different direction. (We’ll pick up where we left off with the Eucharist this week.)

Most of the students were very confused about the relationship between the biblical account of Creation and what they learn in school. They didn’t understand why Adam and Eve weren’t eaten by the dinosaurs. So we talked a little about how Genesis was written for a group of illiterate, nomadic goat herders who lived in tents in the desert. Those people had no concept of the Big Bang, DNA, evolution or anything of that nature. We told the class that Genesis tells us that God created the world and everything in it, and that what he created is good. However, the Bible is a religious book, not a science text. So it’s up to science to explain what “tools” God used and how he did it. The creation story in Genesis should be viewed as a broad story with a strong underlying truth. The details are left to science. As such, Genesis is not really in conflict with their science classes.

This probably sounds a lot like “intelligent design,” however, I pointed out again, we are teaching a religion class, not a science class.

This week, I want to finish up just a little more on the Creation story and then complete the half-taught lesson on the Eucharist.

An important scheduling note – NEXT WEEK, February 13, is Ash Wednesday. There will be no CCD class. We ask parents to bring their children and join them for Mass at 7 pm.

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Mike writes:

We had a fun class. I always like this chapter because it creates so many questions and discussions.

The focus of last night’s lesson was the biblical story of creation and what it means to us today. The textbook has an abridged, plain English, version of the first chapter of Genesis. We read that and talked about it. We especially focused on the difference between this account and what the students have learned or will learn in their science classes. We pointed out that some people do believe in the absolute literal version of Genesis, but that most people do not. As Catholics, we are not required to believe that Genesis is the literal and only acceptable account of Creation.

We described how the first five books of the Bible were supposedly written by Moses in approximately 1,400 BCE for a people who were mostly illiterate nomadic shepherds. They had no concept of the solar system, the “Big Bang,” or anything remotely close. We also showed the ancient Hebrew concept of the world (below). They believed the world to be like one of those “snow domes” with a flat surface and an overhead dome. We discussed the obvious differences between that picture and what we know the Universe to be today.

The Hebrew concept of the world

The Hebrew concept of the world

With that in mind, we probed the students to try to justify the two different stories of the same series of events. We pointed out that Genesis says that God created the world and everything that is in it, but is a little vague on exactly how he did it. We also told them that the “days” in Genesis should be thought of as time periods, not necessarily 24 hour days.  The answer to the dilemma of the two versions is this.

Genesis says that God created the world; modern science tells us how he did it.

This may sound an awfully lot like “intelligent design,” and I guess it is. However, please remember, we are teaching religion,  not public school science. We also talked about why they would not hear about this in a public school.

We emphasized to the students that there are a few key messages they should get from Genesis.

1. God created the world and everything that is in it.

2. Everything God created is good.

3. It is our responsibility to care for God’s gifts of Creation.

To reinforce #3, we talked about the story of Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, and one of the first pioneers of the environmental movement. We finished off by asking the students to brainstorm about ways they can work to improve the environment in their own neighborhood. They came up with ideas like recycling and cleaning up trash.

All in all, it was a busy hour.  The class stayed engaged and active in the discussion. We’re looking forward to next week.

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