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Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

Time Event
Teaching Sunday School
Our church has asked me to be one of the Religious Education teachers for this year. For the middle school class. So this may be more a matter of my demonstrated willingness to put a testosterone-crazed 13-year old in his place than any teaching aptitude I may have.

Not that I think I'd be a bad teacher, I enjoy teaching. But I'd have to stick to the Unitarian Universalist curriculum for the age group. This Sunday I had a chance to sit down and go through the teacher's manual (despite the efforts of another parent who felt the need to tell me her life story). Which had a surprise for me.

It's something that would only happen at a UU church--a pagan gets to teach Jesus's life story to the kids.

Not that I have a problem with teaching that, there's a lot of good things in the gospels and it's important cultural background. The main worry I had was that there'd be a lot of PC platitudes driving me up the wall. There was actually only one lesson that I had a problem with. The stories of the Young Rich Man ("Sell all that you own and give it to the poor, then follow me" said Jesus) and the Widow's Mite (a small contribution from the poor is a greater sacrifice than a large one from the rich) are used to kick off a discussion of wealth and poverty. The gist is that some people and nations have lots of money, others don't, and the rich should give lots of money to the poor.

My objection to that is not that we shouldn't help the poor but that it creates this image of wealth just being randomly distributed among nations, so fairness demands that the lucky ones share. In reality rich nations such as America got that way with lots of work from many people and the social fabric needed to let them be productive. Most of the third world has lots of natural resources but anyone trying to do something useful with them will have a corrupt government or bandits stealing whatever they produce. That's what keeps them poor. So just parachuting in bundles of cash would help the thieves, not the poor. The same dynamics apply at home--three generations of hard work and investment produces a very rich family. If the same people had dropped all their spare cash on booze and card games they'd be dirt poor. Just handing over cash won't make lives better, it's a lot more complicated than that.

Fortunately Jesus recognized that. When Laurie (the RE director) saw me after the service she asked if I still wanted to be a teacher. I said "I'd want to tell them the Parable of the Talents." "Sure," she said. So I'll be teaching Unitarian Sunday school.

Current Mood: pleased

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