David Pressgrove: The Good Book in schools

A man was stranded on his roof during a flood so he prayed for God to rescue him. At different times, a piece of driftwood, a boat and a helicopter came by, but the man didn't take advantage because he was waiting only for God to rescue him.

Soon the waters peaked, and the man was swept away to his death.

When in heaven, the man asked God why he didn't answer his prayers.

God said, "I sent you a piece of driftwood, a boat and a helicopter. What more did you want?"

I opened with this parable to make a point about the effort to get the Bible in history and literature class passed as curriculum for Moffat County High School.

The deadline for this column was before Thursday's school meeting so I don't know the meeting outcome, but it was my understanding that a decision was going to be made.

Regardless of the decision, I hope that getting the Bible back into school isn't seen as the Christian community's No. 1 option for local youth to learn about God's word. My fear is that we will miss the driftwood, boats and the helicopter if we think it is the only way God can reach out.

All of the clergy I've talked to hope similarly.

One look at Jewish tradition will help to understand our hopes.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is Mark 12:18-21,": love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength :" Jesus took those words from the Jewish creed called the "Shema" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

The Shema is the first prayer that Jewish children are taught. It reads: ":Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home :"

The Jewish sense of community is something Christians sometimes miss. I hope that everyone who signed the petition for the class looks first at their home as the place to teach about the Bible and it's influence on Western and American heritage.

Don't get me wrong. I get excited when I think about MCHS students learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech the way he meant for it to be heard: As a sermon about God-given inalienable rights. Not as a speech solely about civil rights.

I would love to have my children read from a textbook how our nation's founding fathers penned some of the most powerful words in the modern world using biblical principals and an understanding of the same inalienable rights that King treasured.

Our country's general misunderstanding of the "separation of church and state" and the founding fathers' purpose behind it has snowballed into a fear that there can be no mention of the Christian influences of some of our country's greatest men and women.

A step away from that fear may or may not have happened Thursday, but I pray if it didn't, we don't give up on the school district.

It's been more than 40 years since the Bible was taken out of schools. It might take a little more than a year-and-a-half to get it back in.

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