Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A first religious ed lesson for teens.

(Note: DO NOT copy and paste text from OpenOffice into Blogger. It makes Firefox crash and all your work go byebye).

I had to substitute for a class tonight, so I pulled together some things very quickly. However, the night went so well, I thought I would document what happened.

Handouts:
  • Sheet with Bible passages - Jeremiah 14:17-22 (let my eyes stream with tears), and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (O Death, is is your victory?).
  • "Catholic Lists" (ten commandments, capital sins, etc., copied out of the back of the Opus Dei daily missal)
  • A series of current events of bad things happening, found via Google news.

After taking attendance, I passed out the sheet with the scripture passages, and we prayed Jeremiah as our opening prayer. In the introduction to the prayer, I ask for a full minute of silence after the prayer. 60 seconds go by, and (hopefully) somebody messes up by giggling or making a comment or some such nonsense.

The first words out of my mouth are: "So. Why did you fail?" One or two students explain, "I laughed!" or "He made me laugh!" I counter, "I didn't ask how you failed. I asked why."

I am trying to get the kids to think about why silence is uncomfortable for them. "There are 1, 440 minutes in a day. Why do you insist that each one be filled with noise?"

After some batting about of different answers, one precocious girl raised her hand and said, "Well, dead people are silent, but we're alive, so we want to make noise while we can." Brilliant!

I ask, "So do you think that by talking more you can postpone death?" (I get some 'hms').

Another guy (who is very talkative) says, "I like to express myself. I'm very expressive." I respond, "So why do you feel you're the one who always needs to be expressed?"

He says, "I don't like to keep things bottled up inside." I respond, "It's a good thing you're not afraid to let yourself be known. But we should remember that when our mouths are open, our ears are closed."

"When we make noise, we fill our world with ourselves, and we create a comfort zone. It is less comfortable to listen because then we have to share our space with somebody else's words. But even others' words are better than silence, because in silence we hear nothing, and we discover that we are small in a world of emptiness."

I pass out the news stories, making some students share because I didn't have enough stories for each one. I give 'em about five minutes to go through the news articles, and then I interview each one about what their story said (no play-acting. Just me). Each student tells reports--suicide bombings, kidnappings, murder, abortion deaths, all by the hundreds and the thousands and the tens of thousands--and most of the stories were from that very day.

After a little discussion about current events, I ask, "Who here has spent more than $25 in the last week?" About half the hands go up. "See, now, if I were a guy who worked for a company like McDonalds or Dillards or Spencers, I would be looking at you right now and I wouldn't see teenagers, you know, with dreams and futures and stories and real lives. Instead, I see wallets." (some giggles). "Big, FAT wallets."

"And I know that if I want to get into those wallets, I have to decorate your world to make you believe that my things are what's important in life. I have to make noise."

"Tell me, how many of you think about the stuff in the news articles I gave you?" (A couple hands) "Every day?" (one hand) "And it drives you to tears?" (No hands). "'Let my eyes stream with tears, day and night, without rest, over the destruction that overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people.'"

"Can I suggest that the reason we don't like silence, that we're afraid of a little silence, is because in silence we begin to remember that our noise is a happy illusion?" [Pause] "The world is groaning in pain. People are left in streets with gunshot wounds, begging for mercy, but the hospitals are full. 48 million corpses are torn from their mothers' wombs, with tiny little arms and tiny little feet, every single year, and thrown away like trash. And ourselves. We are afraid of death. We do not want to accept that death will finally claim us. So we make noise. It helps us forget. We are a people who love to forget."

... I'm kind of exhausted even from writing this. I'm going to sleep.

1 comment:

Matt of C G said...

Hey, don't leave me hanging, man. You better turn that into the intermission!