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Posts Tagged ‘false god’

I thought we had a good class on Wednesday, but maybe not the “home run” we are always striving for.

The topic of discussion was the Ten Commandments. We began by distributing a sheet with the Commandments listed, and a photocopy of one of the chapters in Exodus where they are presented. We gave the class some of the background surrounding the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt, Moses, Mount Sinai and the stone tablets. Then we had six students read the biblical passage.

During this exercise and a subsequent discussion about taking the Lord’s name in vain, some of the children were very cute. The student assigned to read the passage with the tenth commandment stopped short. The passage contained the word “ass,” referring to an animal. He looked at me and said, “I’m not allowed to say that word.” I told him in that a context, the word referred to a donkey and it was OK to say it. As expected, it produced a round of giggles from the rest of the students. Likewise, during our discussion of using the Lord’s name, I had to grant them a “special exemption” so we could use examples and have a discussion.

We then discussed the first three commandments. We discussed what “false Gods” meant in the context of the Exodus story. However, we also brought the concept forward to the 21st century. We broke the class into three groups and asked them to brainstorm a list of false Gods in modern times — for both adults and children. We defined modern false gods as anything in life that can become more important than God, or can get between a person and God. As an example and to start the process, I suggested that for many people, money is a false god. The students caught on to the concept very quickly and all three groups produce very interesting and thought provoking lists. If they got nothing else out of the class, I hope that is one concept that will stick with them.

We then progressed into a discussion of misusing God’s name and of keeping the Sabbath. We spent some time discussing why most Christians celebrate the Sabbath on the first day of the week rather than the seventh.

All and all, it was a pretty successful class. Next week, we will tackle the remaining seven Commandments, and have the class develop a set of Commandments for modern-day 5th graders.

What follows below is simply a repetition of the email I sent out earlier this morning. If you have already read it, then this will be redundant.

Mrs. Hubert, Mrs. Rudolphi and I share a concern we think we should bring to your attention.

After class, some of our children have been heading out to meet their rides in the parking lot. This is difficult for us to control. In addition to sorting through the mild chaos of dismissal, frequently the children are being “picked up” by an older sibling. We don’t know if they are going to meet a parent in another classroom or in the parking lot.

We would like to strongly discourage this practice. The school parking lot is not a safe place for unaccompanied children. This is especially true during this time of year, when it is dark, and even more so when there is another activity happening at the school like there was this week.

So we would like to ask you, please, to come into the school building to pick up your child. Please do not ask them to meet you in the parking lot. If you have a situation where that is difficult (sleeping baby, older grandparent driver or whatever), just let us know, or instruct your child to tell us. Mrs. Rudolphi or I will be happy to walk your child (children) to your car. Seriously. We don’t mind.

Thank you very much for your cooperation on this.

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Good class last night. We were very happy to see that ten of our 13 students braved the lousy weather to attend. Thank you, parents!

Our main focus was the Ten Commandments. We had lots of discussion and lots of questions. Those are the best classes.

We started with a story, telling the class the background that lead to God delivering the Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

We had volunteers read the passage from Exodus 20 that is the first mention of the Commandments. (The students were somewhat “atwitter” last night, and references to an “ass” (ie: jackass) and “alien” caused more than a little giggling.)

We distributed list of the traditional “Ten Commandments” that demonstrated how some different religions count them. For example, Catholics count the God-related commandments as the first three, while many Protestant churches count them as four. On the other end, Catholics divide the last two “you shall not covet…” Commandments into two separate statements, while most Protestant sects combine them into one. We pointed out this only a concern if they are talking to a Protestant friend about the 4th Commandment, for instance. A Protestant would be talking about the Commandment to respect the Sabbath, while the Catholic would be honoring his father and mother.

As we walked through and discussed the first four Commandments, we talked about some of these points.

With the first Commandment, we spent some time talking about false gods. In the time of Moses, the issue was not to worship the sun, the Earth, a statue, etc. We asked the students to think about some of the false gods people may encounter today. They came up with ideas like money, drugs, alcohol, fame, celebrities, and so on.  We connected the Commandment to relevant issues today.

The second Commandment, to not take the Lord’s name in vain, was fairly easy for them to grasp. One student did confess she had a lot of trouble with that one. We suggested that it was a challenge she should try to master with prayer.

We talked about the concept of a Sabbath and why most Christians consider Sunday the Sabbath, rather than the “seventh day” (Saturday.) We pointed out that many early Christian leaders wanted to make a distinction between their older Jewish faith and their new Christian religion. Designating Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, as the Sabbath was one way to do that. We also discussed that in today’s culture, we have largely gotten away from the concept of resting and avoiding work on the Sabbath, and not necessarily for the better.

As we discussed the fourth (Honor your father and mother.) Commandment, we emphasized several points. The Commandment may seem fairly obvious to fifth graders because they are still very dependent on their parents for the essentials of living. However, even ten and eleven year-olds may need to be reminded from time to time to love, respect and obey their parents. We pointed out that the main thrust of the Commandment was not towards children, but rather towards adults, especially adults whose parents are older and may depend on them. Role reversal. At the time the Commandments were written, it was not unusual for older, dependent tribe members who became a burden to be rejected or abandoned to die. While we typically don’t do that today, the Commandment is especially important when parents or grandparents grow older and need the younger family members’ love and assistance.

Next week, we will finish up with the last six Commandments, and they always generate some interesting discussion. How can you go wrong discussing murder, lying, theft, jealousy, adultery, and gossip?  Should be fun. Parents – come on out and enjoy the class. You are most welcome.

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Before I get any further, there is an important schedule change. The calendar I have had posted on this blog since September has a mistake.

We WILL be off next week (April 11) due to the public schools’ spring break.

Our final class of the year will be the following Wednesday, April 18.

There will be NO class on April 25 or any subsequent Wednesdays.

Last night, we had a good session. We covered the Ten Commandments. Originally, I thought we had two classes to cover this subject, but, obviously, I was wrong. So we had to move a little more quickly to cram all ten into the class session.

You can sure tell that it’s spring. While generally well behaved, the students were very “antsy.” During our discussions, hands were up all the time, and everyone wanted to tell a story.

We started by reading the first (of several) version of the commandments in Exodus 20.  Then we walked through the commandments. Among the items of discussion were:

The commandments are split into two sections — those that pertain to God and those that pertain to man.

Different religions count the commandments differently. Catholics divide the God-related directives into three commandments, while many Protestant religions count them as four. On the other hand, Catholics count the “covet” directives as two separate commandments (9 & 10) while the Protestants combine them into one. This is only important when people refer to commandments by their number rather than its verbiage. We distributed a chart that showed how the commandments are arranged by various faiths.

We talked a little about “false gods” and what things might be considered “false gods” today – anything that can get between you and your relationship with God. Among the examples the students came up with were money, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, sports, etc. We emphasized that while most of these are not evil in themselves, they can become harmful when they assume a too-great measure of importance.

We talked about using God’s name improperly and the Sabbath.

We discussed the importance of honoring and respecting parents, not only when they are children but also as adults, especially when their parents are older and may need their assistance.

The commandment against killing did not generate as much discussion as in past years.

Most of our students were not familiar with the term “adultery.” We described it as someone in a married couple having another boyfriend or girlfriend on the side. We did emphasize that God included two commandments respecting the sanctity of marriage. One (adultery) was aimed at the married couple. The second (not to covet your neighbor’s wife) is aimed at someone outside the marriage who might want to break it up.

The commandment against stealing was grasped easily and did not provoke much discussion. We did have a couple of questions that involved some convoluted “what if” scenarios. We didn’t spend much time on those.

We discussed the concept of “false witness” in terms of lying about someone or just spreading rumors and gossip.

We talked about the concept of coveting. Most of the class was not familiar with the term. We described the difference between simply admiring something that belongs to a friend (a new baseball mitt, a bicycle, a cell phone, etc.) and coveting it. They covet it when they want it so badly that they are willing to do something wrong to get it for themselves.

Our last class will be in two weeks. We will do something special, although I’m not sure just what it will be. We have two weeks to think about it.

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