Letters to the Editor

PEP for Church

Sean
Major-Campbell

Friday, February 22, 2019

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The time has come for us to call on the powers that be with regards to producing a primary exit profile (PEP) for the church. Too many people leave Sunday School and Sabbath School without any facility with critical thinking skills.

The primary exit profile for primary level pupils in Sunday and Sabbath schools would empower children to understand that creation myths are not intended for literal interpretation (snakes do not talk); hyperbole in the gospels are not intended for literal interpretation (it is actually okay to exceed 70 times seven in the spirit of forgiveness); and yes, you got that right, a common fowl that eats roaches is no more delicious than a pig that eats only corn.

Just imagine what it might do for our people when a PEP approach invites them into a whole new world of thinking beyond the frills of the stories in Sunday and Sabbath schools. They would discover such truths as their own capacity to think for themselves and to not depend on the pastor as a substitute for their brain. Imagine congregants being able to process information independently and with the capacity to hold a theological or political view that may be different from their pastor's. Oops!

A question on the Genesis myth of creation employing the PEP approach would therefore move beyond: What did God make on the fifth day? It would move to: Why does it not matter what happened on any of the days in the creation story? Answer: It does not matter what happened on any particular day, since the purpose of the story is just to say that God is creator. The children would have learned that, in oral traditions, stories had to be told with lots of frills and embellishments to enhance memory as the myth was conveyed through the generations.

No one expects their child to take literally the myth of Pandora's Box. However, we would appreciate the value of our children's understanding that, through the ages, people have always wrestled with questions regarding the origin of evil. I am not sure, though, that we would want them to blame all women for Pandora's choice to open her wedding gift.

It is worthy of note that the matter of Eve's “listening” to the snake and “taking” the apple to Adam has been used for centuries to sustain misogyny as women are demeaned and blamed for evil.

PEP church members would then be able to appreciate the symbolic capacity of woman to be an independent thinker who asks important questions, raises critical issues, and faces difficult conversations with life-transforming engagements. Many of the American evangelical ilk would also understand that there is no such thing as God “choosing” an uncouth, crude, and despicable character to be president of the United States of America.

Above all, more Christians would come to understand that the Bible has been used to support xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, racism, and various crimes against humanity. We would be more vociferous against rape and child molestation. We would embrace the social justice values of Jesus Christ. And, yes, the world would then know that we are Christians by our love.

Fr Sean Major-Campbell is an Anglican priest and advocate for human rights. Send comments to the Observer or seanmajorcampbell@yahoo.com.


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