Yesterday, while we were on the way to Church, our eleven year old interrupted us with a “you’ve got to read this.” We had her read it to us. She had just finished Matthew Chapter 6 and had to share it.
Of course they had read it a couple of weeks ago at Church in the King James version. It did not have the same impact. She’s smart (three standard deviations above her class’s norm on her latest assessment scores), but two weeks ago it was the King James (which I love for its poetic flavor). Sunday it was a modern translation. When she reads either out loud she sounds flawless. But with the modern translation, she found passion.
She kept reading, engrossed, all through Sacrament meeting. As a result, I’ve seriously rethought my feelings on the King James based on that experience. I love the flavor and the poetry, but to see her just enraptured in the scriptures, that was a significant moment for me. So, if I were doing the Sunday School Curriculum for next year, I would revisit the New Testament, for part of it.
I would assign 20% to buy Net Bibles. 20% to pick up The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version. Another 20% The Jerusalem Bible: Reader’s Edition. That leaves 40% to browse around, use their King James version or try something else.
Then, once a month, have the class read, out loud, a chapter at a time, from selected New Testament readings. They would read along with each other for thirty minutes, then the remainder of the time would be open discussion.
I know. The King James is classic. It has poetry and grace. It can be quoted in general conference without paying royalties and without getting prior permission from the publisher (one of the reasons behind the Net Bible, fyi). But it did not connect for my eleven year old daughter to find joy in the scriptures. It would not hurt to see just what alternative translations might do for others.
Of course that would leave three weeks a month with other topics for lessons.
One lesson a month I’d approach basic topics, such as Anger and Unrighteous Dominion or Prayers of the Faithful or how to engage in Edifying Others. [take these links as rough draft approaches for topics that could use covering].
One lesson a month would be on a practical topic, like how to deal with verbal violence, or how to have a difficult conversation, or how to avoid the pattern of anger, distance and contempt that ruins many marriages.
That would leave one lesson a month for open discussion — teaching people how to be involved in open conversations and discussions, and how to deal with topics. Perhaps using the LDS 12 Step program materials (at least for the first six months). Perhaps using the twelve steps for twelve months and the “fifth Sundays” for practicing open conversation groups.
What would you do if you had a year of the Sunday School Curriculum to work with? Why? How?