by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
The name of my birth state in The Christian Science Monitor headline grabbed my attention — “Georgia may OK Bible as textbook.”
The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, with headquarters in Greensboro, N.C., reported the Bible is already being referenced in as many as 1,000 American high school courses of study. The U.S. Supreme Court has long allowed the Bible to be utilized in public education as long as it is presented objectively.
A spokesman for the Georgia bill’s sponsor said there are misconceptions regarding the bill. He said that the proposed bill would use the Bible as a primary text to teach a course in history and to teach literature influenced by the Bible.
A recent conversation with a high school English and world history teacher of 20 years revealed that using the Bible in the classroom is hardly a new idea. She, and many others, have used Bible passages, stories and historical characters to teach history and to help students understand literary allusions — a natural thing to do, since much of American and English literature has been heavily influenced by biblical references to stories, writing style and language, as well as by allusions to lines in the Bible.
The current question seems to be whether public school curriculum decisions — in this instance, approving the Bible as a textbook for a course of study — should be made by state legislatures or individual school districts.
I do love thinking of the Bible as a textbook, a term I think fits it well.
Mary Baker Eddy, author of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” spent years studying the Scriptures before writing her primary work. Her writings make many references to the Bible, describing it as “her sole teacher,” as “the chart of life,” as her “only authority,” as her “guide” — and, yes, as her “textbook.”
The Bible has long been my textbook, a reference book I’ve searched to find answers to countless life questions and problems. Granted, my use of the Bible as a textbook goes well beyond classroom perusal and comparison.
In her chapter on “Christian Science Practice,” Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The Bible contains the recipe for all healing.” I’ve always found this to be so.
A few years ago the company I worked for did an exercise in which each manager was to pick a Bible character and discuss his leadership and management qualities and skills. I chose Nehemiah.
I was impressed with his vision for rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. He illustrated tact when he made his request to the king to be sent to Judah. He showed good organizational skills and attention to detail as he collected everything needed for his journey and goal.
Throughout his work, there were times when he needed to pause and go to God in prayer to seek guidance, direction, wisdom. In this way he kept his own ego in check.
He had great people skills. He inspired people working with him to feel united with a common goal. To feel empowered. To understand the importance of cooperation. He was frank and forthright when needed, while also patient with people’s fears and discouragement.
He wasn’t a time waster, but a man of action. He had a “let’s do it” attitude. Not impressed by gossip, criticism or doubt, he stayed on task and focused.
Nehemiah’s example of trust, faith, courage, persistence and purpose made the people working with him rally to do what was needed to accomplish the shared goal.
In my job, this turned out to be a great exercise, and I think all who participated in the exercise learned much on how to improve their management skills. I felt like I did. The Bible was a management textbook that day.
Whether the Bible is used in public education or not certainly doesn’t keep parents and students, businesses — anyone — from using it as a textbook, a guide, a manual, a workbook and an exercise book for their lives.
The Bible is the oldest textbook I own. It remains at the top of my recommended reading list.