"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Teaching Holy Week to 12 year olds

For the past few weeks here at the Knowledge College, we have been looking at Easter Themes with Yr 8. The lack of background knowledge is gobsmacking.

"What do you mean Lent? What did he lend?"

My one Asian student in this class has a better grasp of the events of Holy Week than any of the indigenous kids. (There's probably an M.Phil in there somewhere.)

My Maths pal Karl has been winding my kids up as they come into the room. "Do you believe in God?" he asks them in turn.

The general consensus is that they don't.

"There you go then" he says looking at me as if he has just won the Oxford Union debate.

What? WHAT?

We begin the lesson.

"But I thought Jesus was a Christian." Donna is trying to brush her hair.

Let's think about that for a minute.

We spend a little time discussing Jesus' Jewishness and the theory that he wasn't setting out to found a new religion so much as to reform the one he was born into. This is clearly a new idea.

"So where did Christianity come from then?"

We discuss - or perhaps more to the point I spell out - how the Disciples were turned away from the synagogues for their heresy and how this little Jewish sect began to take on its own identity which ultimately led to a recognisably new set-up.

"Was Jesus an epileptic?"

I'm sorry?

"You know: epileptics can have this huge strength so he could of (sic) moved the stone."

This is the point at which the relentless and totally illogical 12 year old imagination runs riot.

"Yeah and he could've escaped and bribed the soldiers and crossed the border and lived in witness protection for the rest of his life."

You've been watching too much Law and Order. Just remind me what sort of state Jesus would have been in after the crucifixion. In an earlier lesson we had been watching the scourging and crucifixion scenes from The Passion of The Christ.

By which I mean dead.  (If, dear Reader, you have seen those scenes, and managed to sit through them, you'll know just what an excoriatingly appalling set of circumstances Mel Gibson portrays.)

"But he could of recovered."

So hang on. With shock, blood-loss, dehydration, sun-stroke, a severe beating, nails through his hands and feet and a spear in his side, he's going to revive, find the strength to move the stone and leg it?


With Roman Soldiers on guard?

"They were in on it."

"They felt sorry for him."

"The Disciples helped him."

Hang on. Where did we last see the Disciples?

"They were running away from the garden."

As in frightened?



"Well they got brave again."

Brave enough to take on the disciplined soldiers of the greatest fighting machine then known to man?

"But they were in on it."

"No. The disciples killed them and put on their uniforms."

And, what? Lived the rest of their lives pretending to be Roman soldiers?

"Yeah. Why not?"

So, just remind me. Why did the Disciples steal the body?

"Because they wanted it to have a decent burial."

He already had a decent burial. He was buried in a rich man's tomb rather than left to rot in a communal ditch to be eaten by scavenging dogs which often happened. All he needed was for the women to complete the funeral rites.

"No, right. He was in a cave. Maybe a bear or rats ate him."

And left no bones?

"They were hungry."

Of course.

We go on to Google and look at pictures of First Century tombs, interior and exterior.

So not a cave, then? Now, where were we? Ah yes, the Disciples rebury the body secretly and within the next thirty five years most of them go to their deaths for preaching the Resurrection? I can't see it.

"No, no. Don't kill me. I was only joking. He didn't really rise from the dead. I was only messing about. We buried him outside Nazareth. April fool. Ha ha ha."

No. Not seeing it.

"Well you come up with a better idea."

Could I suggest we consider the Resurrection?

No. This is clearly not a welcome idea.

All I'm suggesting is that if God exists and he is capable of doing what religious people claim, then anything is possible.

"And what" triumphantly "If God doesn't exist. Ha?"

Then we still have a mystery and you still have to come up with a better explanation.

"The Romans stole the body."


"I dunno."

You need to think about it.


Look, that's not good enough. The onus is on you to explain what happened.

"Well the Romans were just mean and it was a nasty trick."

Hmm. I quite like that but it still doesn't work.

"Why not?"

Surely when the Disciples had been fooled into believing that Jesus had risen from the dead all the Romans had to do was to produce the remains to prove them wrong.


"Sir, were Jesus' followers on Twitter."

Yes. @Jesus' Crew.


"I don't believe in God."

That's fine. It still doesn't explain where the body went.

"I know, right. The guy whose tomb it was, right? He had a set of secret tunnels at the back of the tomb."

And where did Jesus go?

"Dewsbury Hospital. Ha ha ha."

"Shut up Tom. You're a div!"

Why would the tomb owner do that?

"Because he wanted Jesus' body."

But no-one knew in advance he would offer them his tomb. What? So he kept the body?


What? Like people do? Anyway, do you not think the Romans would have scoured that tomb?



"I don't believe in God."

Yes, I think we've established that.

I look around at their expectant little faces and wonder what Dan Brown must have looked like when he was twelve.

"I don't see why we have to do this."

“Still,” says Karl after the event, “It could’ve been worse. While you were doing that I had set seven. I wan’t you to draw this hexagon at a scale of two to one. What does that mean to you?”

Well, I venture, You want it twice as big.
“Exactly. And at any stage did I say draw it five times bigger and add in two extra sides?”

Oh well, maybe R.S. isn’t so bad after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment