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Thursday, April 23, 2009

School Assembly Update

Tuesday was The Big Day - the day of the assembly. (If you haven't read the back story on this, you really need to, or this post isn't going to make any sense. Here is part one, and here is part two.)

So I showed up at the school on Tuesday armed with my little brother's MP3 player. It has a recording function and overall seemed like a much better choice than the camcorder, because it was small and fit alongside my cell phone in my hand, getting better audio and not looking at all suspicious.

I sat right in front with EJ's class. No one asked why I was there; it was almost like they were expecting some parents to come, because there were chairs set up alongside the cafeteria for adults.

The speaker was lively and engaging, and for the most part, the presentation was completely secular. He threw in a lot of "by the grace of God"s and told the kids they were "blessed" to have a principal like Mr. W. (I think Chris looks like a child molester. Truly. You know when you see stuff on the news about child molesters, and you look at them and go "Duh! Of COURSE he's a child molester!" That's how he looks. But whatever.)

Anyway, that little stuff did not bother me. I do, however, think a line may have been crossed with the Bible stories.

Yes, you read that right. Now this is funny, in a way. He said (and I'm paraphrasing, because I don't have the recording playing in order to quote): "Who here has read the Bible story about David and Goliath?"

What's funny is, EJ's eyes flew open and her head snapped around and she looked at me like "Is this guy for real?" See, we've talked about how religion is very important to most people, and isn't it wonderful that we live in a place where we can believe however we want. And that schools should not teach people about the Bible and religion, because that makes it harder for us to choose which religion to practice. We had this discussion because I wanted to make it clear to her that it was not the subject matter that I was concerned about, but the venue. (I was trying to keep the whole thing under wraps, and not let her in on it at all, but she overheard a conversation and had questions.)

So the speaker went on and on about David and Goliath. He said (and again I am paraphrasing) that what most people don't know is that Goliath came out every day for forty days and said "Come fight me, and whoever wins, the other army will become slaves." And the Israelites had the strongest fighters but they were scared of the Philistine army and especially Goliath because he was so big. On the fortieth day, David, who was a shepherd boy, came in from the field and said to himself, "I've killed a bear while I was protecting my flock. Goliath can't be stronger than a bear. And I've killed a wolf and a lion, he can't be stronger than a wolf or a lion." So David killed Goliath. And there was one strong man in the Israelite army who, after this whole David and Goliath fiasco, went and killed 800 men in one day. And another killed 300 men in two days. And all those strong men became David's army.

The point of this story was, kids, never give up. Even if you are a puny shepherd boy, it is still possible - no, preferable - to take the lives of perfectly innocent people who disagree with you.

No seriously though. He said the moral of the story was that we should be more like David, and when people are telling us that we can't do something, to put our minds to it and do it.

Then this guy demonstrated his equipment, which was nothing to write home about, but had a decent premise and seemed appropriate for little kids, and then he took some questions.

It was, for the most part, very appropriate. The Bible story throws me though. I do know that it is completely acceptable for schools to teach about religion. For instance, they can teach the basic principles of what religions believe, but they can't take a stance either way. I think it is also acceptable to teach stories from religious texts, so long as they are presented as literature and not "truth," per se. (I know that Christians consider the Bible to be Truth. I am working very hard to write this in such a way as not to alienate my Christian readers. [although, i do say fuck a lot, so maybe i don't have that many Christian readers...])

I'm not entirely sure what, if anything, I should do about this situation. I don't want to do something, and then have EJ suffer repercussions. I don't want to not do something, and have the line pushed further and further, and then have to try and explain why I never brought up my previous concerns.

I am still thinking about this. I have a lot of thinking to do, since we are having another, separate, issue with the school (about which I will update when I feel up to it. This has been draining.)

I do have the mp3 of the assembly available. It is an hour long and I don't know how to post it online, but I am going to try to edit it for time and post highlights at a later date. If I get to it.


nava said...

well...did he present David's victory as being from G-d, or as an example of perseverance? I think unless he phrased it religiously, like "this is why you need to listen to your Creator/ He will reward you for etc. etc." then I wouldn't have considered it crossing the line. Otherwise, personally, I don't see it as anything other than a story. I understand what you mean though; it's hard to know where the line is.
On a personal note, I had a teacher who actually asked how people like Noah and David showed Christian values. I responded "They didn't. They were Jews. They showed Jewish values." I was not a popular kid with my teachers ;)

Lisa said...

Yeah I don't think that was so bad. The story of David and Goliath is pretty popular and well-known. Seems like he could have come up with something based on the story though without bringing up the Bible, but that alone wouldn't make me angry. I like your interpretation better. I want to know what else is going on now!

Stuff On My Blog said...

You know, I could have lived with the bible story I suppose. For me the HUGE issue is that they are using your children as a way to get to advertise to the parents... no way would I be happy to have my kids sit through an 'assembly' that is nothing more than an excuse for some guy to try to sell is crap to me. @@

Momma Bear said...

Hey I'm a christian and you haven't lost me at "fuck" but instead you had me at "fuck" hah!

Look you're for real and straight on your blog and I love that and so what if we have different beliefs.

I believe in separation of church and state and if they are by any chance breaking the law and teaching kids something they're not supposed too...get em!!