I teach the seventh graders in our religious education program. Today's topic was an introduction to the Bible. As I find the Bible a fascinating book, I was looking forward to discussing it with the kids. What I hadn't counted on was the complete lack of experience they have with the book. Many of them hadn't even held a Bible. Since my kids go to a Lutheran school, and husband and I come from religious families, I had wrongly assumed that other families had similar backgrounds. I quickly revised the lesson and started with the very basics of Bible education. The kids were very receptive to the lesson and I hope they begin to see the Bible in a different light.
It really shocked and saddened me that so many of them (at the ages of 12/13) had such little experience with the Bible. As it is one of Unitarian Univesalist sources, are we doing a huge disservice to our youth by not giving them a basic level of understanding of the Bible? I asked the group to turn to Genesis 1:1. Only one child was able to find it. I could have cried. I find it incredibly important for UUs to understand their history. The Bible is part of that history. Additionally, if UUs want to be taken seriously in theological discussions, we need to be literate on one of the most influential books in history. As many know, the Bible is large, complex, and subject to many interpretations. If we want to be part of that discussion, we need to start Bible study with our youth NOW. I know of several RE programs that are on a three year pillar schedule. Mentioning the Bible once every three years is not enough. I am not advocating that the Bible needs to be present at every Sunday lesson, but it does need to be more integrated within RE. Our kids need to be comfortable with it and not just admire how "thin the paper is".