I haven’t read The Bible Tells Me So, yet; I never even heard about it until this week. But I love it, because Lisa Mladinich has written so entertainingly about it, and about the fellow behind it!
It’s the beginning of the catechetical year on a warm Wednesday evening in September, and a noisy crowd of raw recruits has just shuffled in and slumped into chairs, worn out from a long day at school.
Before they can droop any further, he engages.
“Hey y’all, welcome to 6th grade Wednesday Night Sunday School. This is your textbook. I don’t want to see it again.”
“Take it home, there’s no time in class to be reading from the textbook; I’ll let you know each week what you ought to read for next week’s class, as in: read it at home.”
An outburst of objection to this flouting of rules is quieted with the cool-eyed reassurance: “This year is the opposite of last year. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
Now they’re sitting up a little straighter.
“Now, who likes parties and crafts and games?”
“I do! Me, too!” they chorus, eyes brightening.
“Okay,” he says, quickly, “you are going to be miserable this year. We won’t have any time for that stuff, there’s too much to learn. Yes?”
“No parties?” they gasp.
“Nope. Look here’s what I want y’all to do this year [on the board]: SUFFER.”
“Yes, suffering is good, and I’m the meanest teacher in Sunday School. Yes?”
“My brother says he really didn’t suffer last year and he had fun.”
“Oh. Well, he was supposed to suffer. If you do have fun in here it’ll be a miracle, but keep it to yourself. Don’t spoil the suffering of others. Hey there, daughter, stop smiling!”
It’s only 6:35 and he has them laughing, engaged, arguing with him, and yes, paying attention. The learning quickly follows with Chapter One of Genesis, in a flurry of storytelling, scriptural references, explorations of deeper meanings via English, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, classic art reproductions, cartoon drawings, practical and moral applications, personal witness, creative dramatics, and lots of comedy. They’ve been guided into guessing right so many times they think they’re Bible geniuses.