"You pays your money and you takes your choice.” Several generations of students at Duke Divinity School have heard James “Mickey” Efird use those carnivalesque words to conclude debates over the meaning of a biblical passage.
A quarter century ago, I dreamed of being a teaching pastor. I burst out of seminary like a wild mustang in the rodeo, an impatiently raring dean of a parish about to become a mini–divinity school. Congregations under my care would learn sound theology and be shaped as faithful disciples.
A generation or two ago, American novelists could assume that people would understand biblical allusions, hence titles like East of Eden, Absalom, Absalom! and Song of Solomon. That assumption is no longer valid.
Mage Knights, those miniature warriors with names like Gibbering Ghoul, Bone Grinder, Soul Stealer and Weresabertooth, were all the rage last year in elementary school. Though designed primarily for the adolescent male world of gaming enthusiasts, Mage Knights also cast their spell on the younger set.
Creators of a Bible curriculum used in 1,000 U.S. public schools claim that "The Bible in History and Literature" is a nonsectarian course, when the truth is that it presents a distinct theological perspective. Discussions of science are based on nonscientific literature; archaeological findings "prove" the Bible’s complete historical accuracy. One chapter describes the U.S. as a historically Christian nation and suggests that it needs to reclaim that heritage.
The day always began at the Fairview Elementary School with the teacher reading ten verses from the Bible, alternating one from the Old with one from the New Testament. We bowed our heads and said the Lord’s Prayer. Then we stood, placed our hands over our hearts, faced the American flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
While Sunday school in Protestant churches remains popular, classes are less likely to be available to the youngest and oldest students, according to a recent analysis of Protestant pastors by the Barna Group.