In thinking about Michael’s post yesterday, I was imagining what a difference it makes to my own children that they don’t go to Sunday school. They really never have. And I wonder, is that helping them or hurting them?
Growing up, I went to Sunday school, just about every week. I have some good memories of that, and I was raised in a moderate, centrist, thoughtful church. Nevertheless, it’s the very theology that I was taught in Sunday school from which I’ve had to disabuse myself for years now. At HBC, Bo offhandedly mentions this in a post,
There seems to be a recurring problem that is inherent to the traditional view – it is tough to get around the fact that the short story is a violent one.
What I call the “Short Story” goes like this: A short time ago (say 10,000 years) God created the world in a short period of time (6 days) and He (always ‘he’) will come back shortly (any day now) and set things right.
The short story comes from an elementary reading of both the first book and last book of the Bible that is unaware of the two different genres they were written in. It is a violent reading because (in English) it makes it look like God does what ever God wants – or shall we say – whatever God wills. God acts both unilaterally and coercively to bring about what God desires.
As a process theologian, Bo goes some places I don’t, but he makes a good point. The overarching story in which the entire biblical narrative is couched in even the most moderate Sunday school curricula is one that I find irrational and even dangerous.
For my own kids, they go to Solomon’s Porch one week (with Courtney and me) and Catholic mass the next (with their mom). In both cases, they sit in the adult worship environment — while there are Sunday school options at both churches, my children choose not to go. And in neither congregation is Sunday school the de facto choice that it was in my youth.
At Solomon’s Porch, Doug is wont to say that the Bible isn’t developmentally appropriate for children, and I tend to agree. On the other hand, I can imagine the Israelites sitting around campfires and telling their children the stories of their ancestors. I don’t want to shield my children from the raw honesty and humanity of these stories.
But neither do I want someone else — i.e., a Sunday school teacher — interpreting the stories of the Bible for my children. I want to do that myself. Sadly, I don’t do it enough.
Do your kids go to Sunday school? Has that been good or bad?