Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Just Saying

Today the 10th graders burst into American History and told me that, "Mrs. K (one of their Judaics teachers) says we should ask you about this because you love to answer these questions!"

"And what's this one?" I asked.

Oh, it turned out to be about the Trinity. An easy one. Not.

"What, exactly?"

Polytheism.

"We have had this discussion a million times. And Mrs. K knows that we are not polytheists. I know that sometimes you guys think we are, but we aren't."

Well, no, that wasn't it exactly. It was more, well, they had been discussing the rationale behind the refusal of many Jews to enter a Christian place of worship. I had always thought it was the crucifix, central to most Christian sanctuary design, that was such a problem. But no, they said, it's that Christian churches often have pictures or statues of Jesus and, since the Trinity smacks of polytheism and idol worship to them, and they can't worship idols, they can't step inside a place where idols might be found.

Please don't be offended, they said.

"I'm not offended. I keep telling you how important it is for us to discuss these things. How else will we understand each other?"

So, they persisted, what does it mean, three-in-one?

And we talked about the Trinity. And they told me about the Jewish concept of the 13 aspects of the Mercy of God. And I told them about the 99 names for God in Islam. And we agreed that maybe there are some similarities in the ways that the monotheistic religions try to understand God.

And having exhausted that topic for the time being, we moved on to the subject of women in ministry. And Catholicism and the sacraments and the Christian concept of redemption and the entire idea of forgiveness and what Christians really think about Israel.

We never did get to pre-World War I American imperialism.

There are some things I am really going to miss. I'm just saying.

4 comments:

more cows than people said...

i hope you find such rich discourse opportunities where you're headed. i trust you will. but you've been very privileged in your current context. i'm sure it's going to be hard to say goodbye.

steve said...

How wonderful to be surrounded by such open and inquisitive minds! I would echo MC's hope that you continue to find opportunities for such dialogue in the future. Best wishes as you move forward with this transition in your life.

Carol said...

The type of classroom discussion you shared here was what made school and learning relevant and fun to me. You are a gifted teacher. I'm certain that the future holds many more opportunities for such impromptu learning opportunities.

Kathryn said...

The dialog is terrific.

I had a flash about the Trinity this weekend. We keep trying to humanize God so that we can wrap our minds around the concept. We make him an old grandfatherly type person in the clouds, bring him to earth as one of us, and use a spirit to represent the magic, unseen parts.

We get the concept of God but have a need for concrete expression. It really isn't polytheism because it is one God; it's our attempt to represent the mystery and magnitude in a form we can comprehend.

Am I making any sense?