Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So what is a Bible Nerd then?

According to Urban Dictionary it's

Someone who is religious to a bizzare extent. When angry, they will quote
scripture at you. Often enforce their morals, values, or ideas on others. Travel
in packs.The bible nerds meet every Sunday evening to discuss scripture. Oh
Well that's hardly me then. Or any of the biblical scholars I know! Though I do want one of these. If anyone is looking for last minute Christmas presents.

The definition does make me think of Dot Branning in Eastenders on BBC. Dot (played by June Brown) is one of my favourite television characters associated with the Bible. She admittedly is also the worst biblical exegete I have ever encountered, but her love for the word of God is heartening. She can quote at length from the Bible and uses her vast repertoire to win any argument she feels like she is losing. She is a poor exegete as her quotations are usually designed to confuse rather than to give spiritual guidance and she quotes entirely out of context. The BBC was accused of anti-religious bias by a House of Lords committee, who cited EastEnders as an example. Dr. Indarjit Singh, editor of the Sikh Messenger and patron of the World Congress of Faiths, said: “EastEnders Dot Cotton is an example. She quotes endlessly from the Bible and it ridicules religion to some extent.”

On a survey of 430 students aged 18-23 last year, over 300 hundred of them had seen Eastenders in the past week and over 400 of them knew who Dot Cotton was. She is often depicted as the “old doll” character-the only person left in the world to which the Bible is relevant.

It is difficult to find past episodes of Eastenders as they are copyrighted, but BBCWorldwide has an account on YouTube. The clip “EastEnders: Dot & Den Have Heart-to-Heart in Launderette” has a good moral overtone and many of the other clips available have good “bible-bashing” segments which are great for sparking off debate in a classroom setting.

Flora Hoori has a good examples of task and display work for the character of Lucas in Eastenders (he's a Christian preacher who knows his Bible but who tends to let the side down by killing people, but you can forgive the association because of headlines like "Lucas Bashes More Than His Bible"). The tasks are good but may need to be revised in light of more current storylines. You can also use the scenes where he quotes from the Bible to help students to find the biblical passages he quotes from-what was his motivation behind them? He also quotes the Lord's Prayer before one murder-claiming that he is only carrying out the Lord's wishes (crazy or prophetic?)

Bible Funnies

As all my students will know, I feel I can't give a reading assignment of the biblical text without sticking something "amusing" on it. Hey, if you can't have a laugh...

I get most of my stuff from The Back Pew and from Reverend Fun though I have nicked this one from my colleague Kieran --->

I usually put this one up as the "opening screen" of PowerPoint presentations I give at workshops. People usually spend some time having a quick gander at you before the session begins and to attempt to divert attention from the inevitable "she doesn't look like someone who knows a whole deal about the Bible" I display this instead so they know they're not in for an hour of heavy hermeneutical exegesis.

Childrens' Liturgy of the Word

Myself and my sister Aine (sorry sis they won't let me do the fada!) help facilitate the Children's Liturgy of the Word in our home parish, Lordship and Ballymascanlon with our cousin Clodagh. Aine is a primary school teacher and Clodagh has three lovely kids so I tend to leave the crowd control to the experts and engage in my role as "theological advisor" and storyteller (I have bequeathed my large stack of Bible stories for children to Aine, we're just waiting for the Religion Inspector to comment how well stocked her library is!)

Some of the websites we use for resources such as pictures and colouring in pages (you can't go wrong with a colouring in page!):

The cypberfaith website is an excellent general resource for those who work with children. It graphically and in simple terms explains topics such as the liturgical year and gives a link to activities for each Sunday and major feast days. The resources are mainly an exploration of the topic in questions with reflections and discussions for both the adult and child. As this in an American website, the activities are categorised according to the American grade-school system in terms of age and ability, but nonetheless the site is very easy to navigate with colourful pictures and diagrams.

The subsection of the ever reliable Catholic Ireland website has a well-developed interactive prayer “corner” especially for children. The presentation is based on the gospel reading of the day, and encourages children to participate in prayer through bright and colourful cartoons that the child can personalise with their own name and the names of those they wish to pray for. While the application will not suit group work, it is relatively easy for children to use with supervision from their parents on their home computers.

Don't let the moniker put you off Sermonz4kidz is an essential resource for anyone working with children, whether in the classroom, home or parish. The site is very user friendly and has a good search engine. Each Sunday gospel reading is accompanied by a story that expresses the main themes of the gospel at a level that is adaptable to most levels, especially with the primary school child. In addition, there are pictures to colour in, word searches, and puzzles, all of which are easily downloadable (both in word and pdf format) and provide a helpful medium for children to engage with the Gospel. The page of links is also very useful as is the artwork by Henry Martin, which makes a pleasant alternative to clipart.

A subsection of the popular BBC website that provides an admirable resource for dealing with queries from children about Christianity and world religions that may confound the best of us. Every major world religion is referenced here, and the main feast days of each are simply but thoroughly explained with links to useful websites and classroom activities.

I've also started to get "fancy" with my blog thanks to my fool's guide that I've found.