Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Déjà Joué

Yes- almost déjà vu.

I've been playing wargames since I was 11 years old. Just in case you aren't up on what a wargame is, it's this sort of thing.  Let's agree that they are, like opera, an acquired taste. Anyway, in this weekend's edition of the Wall Street Journal, there was a review of a novel, The Third Reich, in which the wargame The Third Reich (I own a copy) plays a critical role. This game came out when I graduated from highschool in 1974.

It's oddly affirming to see it mentioned in the WSJ of all places, after so many years.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Res Ipsa Loquitur 6

9 minutes from the November 16 class. Review of earlier Old Testament material connects to future New Testament material, as described in Plus de Review 2.

Notice that from :30 to :54 my bouncer decides to separate a couple of mischievites, and the kids are rearranged on the fly with very little disruption to the lesson flow.

Sorry about the rough edit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving Dinner, courtesy of My Wife the Energizer Bunny

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Plus de Review 2

This article is also posted at Amazing Catechists

Review is a form of repetition. And review, like repetition, should be used introduce new concepts which relate to the items being reviewed. That is, review is not just for reteaching old shown from these bits of review from the November 16 class:

"Y'all remind me please, who did God tell to get out of town last week? Elijah! Yes, why? 'Cause he told the King there would be a drought. Yes. And if God tells you to leave town on short notice during a drought, what would you soon be needing? Water! Yes,! Yes. "So he went and did according to the word of the LORD; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank from the brook." (1Kings17)

Someone else remind me what the Israelites needed while they were in the desert. Water! Yes,!'d they get those things? Moses hit the rock with his stick and water came out. Yes, and? They had manna. Yes, which was...fried chicken? Well, wasn't it bread? Yes, sort of. God had said he'd rain down bread on them, and what "rained down" was manna. What other food did God provide? No guesses? Remember when the Israelites complained to Moses about being hungry they said, "in the land of Egypt...we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full." So what did they want besides bread? Umm...flesh? Yes, but in modern English what would we say? Meat! Yes. Somebody decirme, cómo se llama "meat" en Español; how do you say "meat" in Spanish? Carne! Yes. And how do you say "flesh" in Spanish? Ummm...I think that's carne, too. Yes. In English we have two words for that idea. One Bible will say "meat" when another says "flesh". Spanish doesn't have that problem, it's always carne, like in carnivorous. But I think it's better if English Bibles say "flesh" as we'll see in a minute. But first, y'all remind me what flesh God gave the Israelites. Ravens! Close, another bird. Quail! Yes, quail flesh, quail meat.

So God gave the Israelites bread and...flesh! Yes, and He gave Elijah...bread and flesh! Yes, the same. When the Bible says things the same way on different occasions, you should understand that they are related. For example, did the Israelites walk on wet mud when they crossed the Red Sea? No, dry ground! Yes, and Elijah crossed the Jordan on...dry ground! Yes. 

By the way, when God provides people bread and flesh like that, what's it called? A miracle? Yes, a miracle. And speaking of bread and flesh miracles, can anyone tell me a Jesus bread and flesh miracle? When he made the loaves and fishes? Mmm, good guess, but fish don't count as meat, as flesh. Another guess? No? Sometimes 6th-graders get this. OK, later on we'll cover Jesus' bread and flesh miracle. When we get to it, remember these other ones. Yes, what? What's the miracle? Nuh-uh, if y'all can't guess, I'm not telling. Just pay attention when it comes up later on.

New review topic: what's this? A stick. Gosh, really? Think some more. Moses' stick! Yes. Tell us about it. He hit the rock and water came out. Yes, and? He parted the water! Yes, so the Israelites could cross on...dry ground! Yes.

And what's this? Your coat. C'mon, y'all don't play dumb. It's Elijah's coat! Yes, his cloak. So tell it. They hit the water with it and it parted.  Yes...what water? The Jordan River. Yes. And Elijah and Elisha crossed...on dry ground!  Yes.

And this is...Elijah's bone! Close...Elisha's bone! Yes, somebody tell it please. They threw the dead man on his bones and he came back to life. Right. Yes? That's a chicken bone. Yes, use your imagination. If you don't have any imagination you can't be in this class. What do all three of these things have in common: the stick, the cloak, and the bone? They're all stuff? Yes, genius, they're all stuff! Yes. And would any of those miracles have worked without this stuff being involved? No! Right. God's power went through His creation, His stuff. What are we made of [I draw the Gingerbread Man]? A body'n'soul! Yes, and our bodies are made of...stuff! Yes. Our bodies are stuff. Now when people experience God through miracles like the ones that go with the stick, cloak, and bone, pieces of stuff, is it through the soul or the body? The body? Yes, they're just physical miracles. Dogs don't have eternal souls, but even a dog could have crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground or eaten a quail. But if we were just souls without bodies, that sort of miracle wouldn't mean much to us.

 Body'n'Soul, aka The Gingerbread Man

Remind me again, we're a...body'n'soul. Yes. So if we want to have a complete miraculous experience of God we'd want to have it with which parts? Well, both parts? Yes. But these Old Testament miracles just affect people's... bodies? Yes. But Jesus left us with some miracles that let us experience God body and soul. Can y'all think of one? No guesses? What's the water miracle we do in church? Ummm...baptism? Right...yes, what? Is baptism a miracle? Well...tell me what happens. You pour the water and the sins are gone. Yes. Washing away sins with water is pretty miraculous, isn't it?  I guess so, but baptism's a sacrament, not a miracle. That's a good point, but maybe Baptism is both a sacrament and a miracle, and we're just so used to it that we don't notice. We can't see the miraculous part of a sacrament, but it's still there. By the way, if there's no water is it ok if the priest just pretends to pour water? No!  Right, the miracle won't work without the stuff. We are spirit'n'stuff, so the sacraments are...spirit'n'stuff too!  Yes.

When we get to Jesus in a couple of weeks we'll see him work some physical miracles, but also some that are physical and spiritual. I want y'all to be able to tell them apart, so keep an eye out for that."


The above review took about 10 minutes. Probably half of the time we were applying new ideas to the old material in preparation for Jesus and the New Testament.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pitchers 4

This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

Partial board from the November 9 class. As usual, comments are limited to what's on the board, and don't include everything that was covered.

1. Picking up from last week, Elijah flees Samaria for the safety of pagan Sidon. He stays with the widow in Zarephath, a key story which Jesus will refer to in Luke's gospel. (1Kings 16-17)

2. A reminder that Sidon is a pagan country which worships the baby-eating false god Baal.

3. Elijah returns to Samaria, and has a showdown with 450 priests of Baal. Elijah wins. The people haul the priests down to a creek, where Elijah slits their throats. The creek runs red with their blood. Samaria returns to worship of the LORD, and the drought ends. (1Kings 18)

4. God tells old Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor. He puts his cloak over Elisha's shoulders, which indicates Elisha selection, and also a sense of being protected, being a protege. (1Kings 19:19+) This idea of protection by covering is related to the Glory Cloud overshadowing the Meeting Tent & Tabernacle (erased). This idea will later be extended to Mary and the Holy Spirit, and the Epiclesis at Mass.

5. Elijah journeys again across the Jordan. On the way, Elisha affirms 3 times he will not abandon Elijah. They cross the Jordan on "dry ground" after Elijah strikes the water with his cloak. The kids tell me that Elijah didn't die, but was taken up in a whirlwind. This reminds them of the other guy who didn't die...Enoch, and also Mary. Elisha picks up the left-behind cloak, strikes the Jordan, and recrosses on "dry ground." (2Kings 2)

Volunteers and I act out all of the Elijah & Elisha bits. If we can act things out, I usually won't draw.

6. I briefly read a couple of Elisha's miracles which remind the kids of both Elijah's miracles and Jesus' miracles. Then I start drawing as I read and tell the story Naaman and his miracle cure in the Jordan. (2Kings 5) That's a picture of Naaman in his horse-drawn chariot coming to Elisha's house. After Naaman is cured, he takes a wagonload of earth back to Syria so that he may properly worship the LORD. I note that the Bible says Naaman "plunged" into the Jordan. Next week I'll introduce the Greek word baptize, and review ritual sprinkling.

7. Elisha dies and is buried. Years later, a dead man comes back to life by being thrown on Elisha's bones (2Kings 13: 20+). I use my chicken bone for acting this out, and we discuss saints and  relics for a couple of minutes before class lets out.

Go to Res Ipsa Loquitur 5  for the audio of this class.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pitchers 3


Partial board from the November 2 class, from David's adultery up to Elijah in Zarephath. From left to right:

1. Review of Levitical sacrifice reminds kids of the necessity of both forgiveness and atonement. I read bits of 2Sam11 as the kids learn the story of David & Bathsheba.  David later confesses his sins (violating 3 commandments which the kids figure out) to Nathan .  I tell the kids that Nathan is Hebrew for gift.  Remembering that -el- in a Bible name means God, they then figure out that Nathan-i-el means Gift of God. (BTW, Netan-yahu means Gift of YHWH.)  Through Nathan, God forgives David [forgiveness is checked off].  But God takes David and Bathsheba's baby as atonement [atonement is checked off].

Old Testament examples of forgiveness and atonement are emphasized in class.  Later on we'll compare them to Christ's perfect atonement.

Coincidentally, Tuesday's Dear Abby involved a reference to David and Bathsheba. Next week I'll read that article to start class, and get the kids to explain the relevance of D & B to the situation.

2. The kids tell me that later on David and Bathsheba have another child named Solomon; they also tell me he was famous for his wisdom. I say a bit about the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and then the kids tell the story of the two women and the baby. I draw a baby with women's faces to each side, and adjust their expressions as the story is discussed [this picture was erased]. The key lesson is that the mother loved the baby more than herself, while the other woman loved herself more than the baby.

3. Following a comparison of Solomon's Temple with the Meeting Tent [I have a handout: they're too complicated to draw] I draw a king, and to his right a queen. The kids tell me that's Solomon, and then figure out that the Queen is his mom Bathsheba, not one of his wives. I read (1Kings2) and tell the story of Adonijah seeking Bathsheba's intercession with her son. Based on that story, the kids extend the king/ queen mother concept to Jesus and Mary. They then tell me the story of Cana, and see the intercessory parallel between Bathsheba and Mary.

4. After Solomon dies, Israel is split into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The kids make fun of my banana map of Samaria and Judea, and recall the parable of the Good Samaritan. I briefly explain the problems Samaria has due to its separation from Jerusalem and the Temple.  Now the king becomes Ahab, king of Samaria, and his queen is Jezebel, a woman from pagan Sidon. Along with Jezebel, Ahab worships the baby-eating false god Baal. 

5. I introduce Elijah to the class and write his name, but then replace the J with a Y: ELIYAH.  I write YHWH next to ELIYAH, and with some help, the kids see that El-i-jah means [my] God is YHWH.  I read a bit from 1Kings17 as Elijah speaks for God. Elijah tells Ahab there will be drought as long as there is Baal-worship in Samaria.  Then Elijah follows God's command to flee to pagan Sidon, lest Ahab use his head as a bowling ball.

Class over!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Catechist's Psalm

In case you catechists didn't know, yes there is a Psalm just for you. Maybe not the whole thing (it's way long), but at least the first part: "Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children; 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7 so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments."

But Psalm 78's not for just catechists: it's for the catechized as well. As I tell my class:

"Y'all see how this Psalm describes my job...which is... to teach. Yes. And what’s your job? Our job? Yes. To learn? Yes, but more, listen again and tell me: “he commanded our fathers to teach to their children; 6 that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children…” Well? We have to learn so we can tell our kids! Yes. You don’t learn about God just for yourselves, but for the children you'll have and teach. When you become parents, teaching your kids about God will be one of your responsibilities.

I don't want y'all to just drop your kids off at Sunday School and think you're done. You'll have to teach your children well. Do y'all get that?  

Get what? 

Never mind.