Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to School

Surprisingly often I receive reader messages asking about my personal life. So, here's a little about what's going on in my world. 

I've been out of college nearly two years, but tomorrow I return to school. Sunday School. Tomorrow marks the start of my fourth year teaching the 5th grade class at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral. When I transferred to a college close to home four years ago, I became the advisor for the youth group at church. Somehow, I was roped into teaching church school as well. Since that time, I've come to find teaching an incredibly rewarding experience, especially given that I'm able to set my own curriculum each year.

When I was in church school, everything revolved around the Bible and little was taught about the history of Christianity, more specifically the history of Orthodoxy. So, when the opportunity was extended to teach what I'd like, I set a curriculum based on the development of the Orthodox Church and the Church's interactions with general secular history.

Here's how I see it. Why should you be expected to believe something without knowing the back-story? The greatest movies draw us in with solid expositions, letting us know why we should root for the hero and against the villain. The Bible is, of course, the resource for Christianity but there's more to being Christian than knowing the Bible. When we identify ourselves as Orthodox, Catholic, Presbyterian or whatever, we should know what that means (though I believe Christians should see themselves simply as Christians overall). By teaching the history of the Church, kids gain a better understanding of why they're taught to say certain prayers, why church services are structured a certain way or performed in a certain language. Anyway...

Here's what the kids will be learning this year. Four years in, I think I've nearly perfected it.

Illegality of Christianity
Edict of Milan
First Council of Nicea
-the Nicene Creed
First Council of Constantinople
Council(s) of Ephesus
Council of Chalcedon
Fall of Rome / the West
Rise of Byzantine Empire / the East
Dark Ages
Rise of Islam
Great Schism
Rise of the West
Fall of the East
-Orthodoxy in Russia, Greece, Middle East
Protestant Reformation
Orthodoxy in America

1 comment:

  1. Nice, I'm Syriac Orthodox myself and I think its important specifically to avoid characterizing the church as if it were some insulated entity somehow separate from the rest of the world. I'm curious however, especially when you consider the present highly agitated environ,and at times unfortunate history of Christians and Muslims in the region, as to how you discuss the complicated relationship between Christianity and Islam.