Upcoming for 2012-2013
If I were to summarize Religious study at Cathedral School, I would say it is eclectic, relational and universal. We read ancient texts in developmentally appropriate renderings, with an eye to what relational and ethical truths they speak to us today. When boys ask the invariable question, "Is this really true?" about a Bible story, my answer is to ask back, "Does it have a message for you? The details may be ancient understanding, but the message is true even for us today."
Here is a brief summary of what we have started in Religion classes this fall:
K-2 have started at the beginning--that is to say the creation and Adam and Eve stories. We read these as the stories and ancient creation myths that they are and not as the history of the universe. The themes we have highlighted in our discussions and in Lower School Chapel are the opposing states of jealousy and happiness, and also the reality of consequences for actions.
Third Graders have studied some simple parables with morals about learning from mistakes. Fourth Grade is into C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We pause amidst the reading to discuss the metaphors of the story: Narnia as the spiritual realm; the wardrobe as gateway into the transcendent realm; character and disposition; meanness and kindness ... and we're only in chapter three!
Fifth graders have begun a more scholarly approach to ancient religious texts, specifically the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures. We have broached the subject of creation myths and tried to make the distinction between these and the scientific inquiry into the origins of the universe. My hope is that the students will become skilled in navigating both disciplines intellectually, and not one at the expense of the other. If they really put two and two together, this will also answer the boys' eternal question, "Where were the dinosaurs during Creation?"
Sixth graders will hopefully carry their analytical skills from the past year into their survey of the New Testament. There is myth here too, and what the mythologized stories--e.g., the feeding of the 5000, Jesus subduing the sea storm--tell in moral and ethical terms will be our task to decipher.
I have Seventh Graders for only this quarter in the fall, so our challenge is to master enough basic knowledge of Buddhism for a deeper understanding of the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the subsequent exiled mission of the Dalai Lama. Soon we will be watching the movie base on Heinrich Harrer's book Seven Years in Tibet.
I will work with Eighth Grade in November for a study of classical philosophers.
October 5 was our first celebration of the Holy Eucharist at Upper School Chapel. This is a tradition at Cathedral School and occurs approximately once a month. The Eucharist is a celebration of Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper and a symbol of togetherness and spiritual union. Upper School boys attend this Chapel and are welcomed to receive communion or a blessing or simply have the opportunity for a meditative ritual. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.