elephant pee

22 03 2013

I walked nervously into the lion’s den that is the year 8 RE lesson. I like the challenge, but as the tyre leaves a skid mark under heavy braking, it comes at a cost. You need a certain robustness of faith – and attitude – to handle the questions that range from the serious to the cynical to the silly. I manage to undermine my own faith with questions about 300 times a day, I don’t need any help from 13 year olds talking about elves and that their friend is really a fish.

What struck me though was the mount of questions about the fantastical, the out-of-the-ordinary. I know it’s to be expected from over-stimulated teenagers with their defences up against the weird religious man talking about Jesus, but nevertheless…

  1. do you believe in ghosts?
  2. can you see into the future with ouija boards?
  3. do you believe in spirits?
  4. my friend believes in poltergeists, do you?
  5. what’s the thing about the rapture?
  6. don’t you believe that at the end there’ll be a huge battle between all demons and angels?
  7. can you see angels?

This was interspersed with various “I don’t believe in God I believe in science”, “I believe in Santa Claus”, “Why do you wear the collar thing?” and a general feeling that I had come from the planet Og to talk about believing in a Fairy-Wizard made of elephant pee. It’s quite a different feeling from Sunday church. It’s another part of the front-line. It’s hard. It’s the place to be. 

my fantastical alter-ego

my fantastical alter-ego

Usually I try hard not to be mundane. But here I felt differently. I said that although it can be fascinating to look to the fantastical, exciting to think about angels and demons and battles and poltergeists, what I wanted them to know about Easter is that it means Jesus is with us through the mundane of everyday life. Because most of life is ordinary, it’s eating and sleeping and sitting in lessons, and that is when Jesus is with us because of Easter, because of the resurrection.

One of the boys asked what the point in life is: we are born, we go to school, we go to work and we die. That is the crux of it. That was possibly the most honest question. Where is God when everything is mundane? Where is God when life has no colour and the music is on mute? He’s not far away in a galactic battle of spiritual powers, he’s not busy moving Victorian candlesticks around the mantlepiece when no-one’s looking, and he’s not as remote as a Fairy-Wizard from Og made of elephant pee.

He was raised from the dead and he is here.

I know it sounds loony, I said. It sounds just as loony to me as to you.  So at least we can agree on that. 

Please pray for people like Sutton Schoolswork who do this sort of thing everyday, in primary & secondary schools. 

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4 responses

22 03 2013
dorothy726

as a teacher of – among others – year 8s, I love this. And you don’t need to be teaching them RS to field questions like that… a month ago was into a discussion with a Yr 8 Chinese animist about death, then last week had a fascinating 4-way discussion last week between me (sort of anglican), 2 Roman Catholics and an avowed atheist from Hong Kong who declared himself “but very interested…” about the new pope. Well, that’s how it started – you can guess how it might have ended… (see above blog…)
And yes, it’s absolutely the place to be… 🙂

22 03 2013
Kevin

I don’t know how teachers manage to keeps kids attention all day! An hour is enough for me…!

22 03 2013
dorothy726

🙂 it’s great fun – and never a dull moment! and I don’t even teach RS… just piano… but to kids from all over the world. Two days ago I wanted to get “happy holidays” ( a nicely non-religious phrase) on the whiteboard in as many languages as possible. A Russian lad whose parents are Buddhist insisted that no Russian would say “happy Holidays” at Easter and then insisted on teaching me to say in Russian, with the correct pronunciation, “Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!”. Then the next lad, from Nigeria, said he couldn’t remember his village language in England but told me that at home he and his family are proper Christians – with “proper” vocally underlined, in bold and italics! intrigued, I enquired further and gathered they are members of the RCCG in Lagos – thousands at each service. I’ve googled them and watched a video – live and learn! Mass will seem tame by comparison…

23 03 2013
c2drl

Well done Kevin. Actually I get questions like that in the car from my grandchildren, but don’t tell their parents!

The sad thing is the world view we give children is that man is at the top of the tree and can fix anything its all down to us, but that there are all sorts of bad guys and alien things that can be beaten by a superhero man. Which now I have written it, doesn’t sound that far from Christianity!

What is missing is the love and the wonder at creation and the willingness to see that there is much more to life than utilitarianism and science, grreat as science is. Maybe our lives as mature (?) christian doesn’t reflect the joy and wonder of being a christian and knowing God. Now who’s fault is that? I blame the EU.

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