Comments: opinions for today

I absolutely agree with Giles Fraser...Sunday School was a big time waster. By the time I was nine or ten, the parish decided to have me try out as an acolyte. While being a klutz at that the local parish priest could hear me singing right under the organ and shoved me into the choir.

I learnt more about Christ in the anthems and Evensongs, and as far as I'm concerned, a structured class setting about God is a joke for a kid who's more concerned about playing pranks behind the Sunday school teacher or whose was going to get tackled running down the stairs to escape the place.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 5 September 2009 at 1:02pm BST

It is not the job of Religious Education to encourage children to have beliefs or faith, but to show that faith exists in the community/ communities and to be able to understand it and even express your own sense of faith or lack of faith into that understanding.

Educationally it offers abstract thought in a curriculum of concrete and near rote learning (today).

The problem with RE is that it is constantly misunderstood, and it should not be compulsory. It was introduced for the wrong reasons as local and compulsory, and has always been seen as something to do with behaviour and a way to reach an unchurched working class.

If freed from compulsion some would be interested in it, from its very different approaches - whether critical, phenomenological, enthnographic, experiential etc.

RE is not the same as assemblies. I am opposed to religious assemblies. It is not the job of a school to promote religious content. It might reflect it on occasions, but equally will not given, again, a reflection on the communities a school serves, most of which are not religious-observing.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 5 September 2009 at 1:58pm BST

I agree with all three comments above. My religious faith, such as it is, was much more fostered by singing in a church choir and playing the organ for most of my life. There is something compelling about the round of the church's year, the music associated with the seasons and the words which mean so much more in the context of worship rather than in dry as dust anaysis of what they might or might not mean. And indeed it is the liturgy and music which has keep me hanging in there, rather than any attempt to convert me to someone else's way of thought. Interesting that the unifying theme in the book 'Why I am still an Anglican' is a love of Evensong.

School Assemblies didn't mean a thing, a reading seamingly chosen at randon, a perfunctory prayer from the headmaster and then a hymn which hardly anyone sang.
Much more relevant was the weekly meeting of the SCM club after school, where we did discus and explore with a chaplain who wasn't hidebound by conventions. I remember the Headmaster denouncing 'Honest to God' in Assembly and being reasured by the chaplain that there were indeed other ways of looking at things. Thank heavens that there are still clergy who insist that there are indeed many mansions and differeent roads and that there is one just right for each of us.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 5 September 2009 at 8:48pm BST

"In my pre-Quaker years, I regard­ed homosexuality as unbiblical and sinful. It was through getting to know same-sex couples and experiencing that there was between them the potential for the same quality of self-giving love as I have seen and experi­enced in heterosexual marriage that I overcame my prejudice."
- Phil Lucas, Church Times article -

I've always respected the Quakers - in their capacity for silent reflection and prayer. It seems that they might be doing more of this than the mainline Christian conservatives on issues of daily life and discipline at the moment. I feel that sometimes we Anglicans are too wedded to the 'Ancient', without sufficient motivation towards the 'Modern' (apologies to A & M Hymnbook)

Discernment is too often left to the hierarchical leaders of the Church, without reference to the grass roots. Issues of gender and sexuality, after all, are not exclusive to religious people. They also affect the whole of humanity, whom God has created in the divine Image and Likeness.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 5 September 2009 at 10:37pm BST

Thanks lots to Phil L. I am blessed abundantly by his simple, clear, honest Quaker witness. Like a breeze of fresh air through an open window.

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 6 September 2009 at 3:32am BST

Sunday School may or may not be a big boring thing - it was for me in high school. But my fanny was on the pew every Sunday - as were those of my parents. In the states, we often have parents dropping kids off for Sunday school and then picking them up after they've had their lattes and NYTimes ... my home parish and others prevent this by having Sunday School come after the reading of the Gospel and before the sermon - the kids are back in the church in time to take part in the Eucharist.

We - and many churches - do programs for kids in the summer called Vacation Bible School. This lasts for a week - in the early evening. There is generally a theme, with appropriate curriculum and 'props.' We do an adult Bible study at the same time for parents. I never did this as a kid - either geographical difference or they hadn't invented it yet.

As for teaching religion in the public - i.e., open to all and supported by local tax dollars - schools, we don't - can't - and it looks like that's a good thing.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 7 September 2009 at 5:33pm BST

". my home parish and others prevent this by having Sunday School come after the reading of the Gospel and before the sermon - the kids are back in the church in time to take part in the Eucharist."

Huh? This makes it sound as if you have about a split second of Sunday School. But even if you mean that the kids leave between the Gospel and the sermon, and are then back for the Eucharist, that's not a lot of time at all. The average sermon in an Episcopal Church can't be much longer than 15 minutes, I would think; tack on seven minutes or so for the Prayers of the People and Geneeral Confession and you still don't seem to have much time for Sunday School.

Posted by BillyD at Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 2:11am BST

BillyD, I'll go get the old small wooden processional cross (the "little cross") from my old parish, and you can come up to the stalls and recess back during the sermon hymn and lead the little lambs across the street to the parish house and entertain (good luck with those quick minds and short attention spans) them for the next three-quarters of an hour until the service is done.

I'll drag the conversation at the coffee hour afterwards to give you more time.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 11:40am BST

Seems to be a fair bit of confusion here... Giles Fraser was referring to 'Religious Education' teaching in state schools not 'Sunday School' which is delivered in church. In England state schools must deliver Religious Education although in response to Pluralist it is not compulsory - parents have the right to withdraw their children from it.

In my opinion RE taught well is invaluable in equipping young people for life in a multi-cultural society. Obviously taught inappropriately it can be dangerous - but presumably the same is true of many other subjects in the curriculum.

Posted by Paul at Friday, 11 September 2009 at 10:52am BST
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