by Joel Lurie Grishaver
[cross-posted to the Gris Mill]
I was doing a workshop on “teaching God” to about sixty San Diego teachers. We get to the point in the conversation where I ask them to bring into our discussion questions about God that their students have asked them. And the winner was, a third grade teacher who had a student ask, “Did God Create the Dinosaurs?” Teachers frequently bring up this question when I do God workshops. They get asked it all the time (especially by precocious eight-year-olds), and they’re not sure that they know the right answer to give.
It is not as simple a question as it might seem. What it represents is a testing of two information sources. For an eight-year-old, dinosaurs are the heart of scientific reality. It is what they buy at science museums and read about in science books. Dinosaurs are a symbol of history that has been reconstructed from bones and fossils and clues. They are the end result of the scientific method, the C.S.I. of history. On the other hand, the Bible (Torah) is God’s truth. In the reality experienced by most eight-year-olds, the Torah is not yet a metaphor. It is literal. The distinction between it being a book of truth rather than a book of history (science) is not yet comprehensible.
by Adrian A. Durlester
What Jewish Problem? Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports that, according to exit polls, Barack Obama received 77% of the “Jewish Vote.” Jeremy Ben-Ami of the J-Street lobby (a dovish pro-Israel pro-Peace organization supporting more direct and insistent U.S. involvement in bringing about peace and a two-state solution) told Ha’aretz that “American Jews resoundingly rejected the two-year, multi-million dollar campaign of baseless smears and fears waged against [Obama] by the right wing of our community…We can only hope that these results put to rest for good the myth that fear and smear campaigns – particularly around Israel – can be an effective political weapon in the Jewish community.”
Your students are going to want to talk about the election whether you want to or not. Might as well look for some Jewish angles. Lot’s more to use on Ha’aretz’s U.S Elections web page, http://tinyurl.com/6lzsbf.
Now It’s Israel’s Turn For a Big Election. In case you missed it during the whirlwind of the Jewish holidays and the U.S. Presidential election, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is facing an ever-growing corruption scandal and tendered his resignation back in late September. Israeli President Shimon Peres asked the Kadima party’s Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, to form a new government. After a month or so of trying to put together a coalition, Livni told Peres that the political compromises she would have to make, particularly to right-wing parties, were more than she could accept, even to become Prime Minister. So Israel is headed for elections some time in February, 2009. Livni’s likely challenger is none other than Benjamin Netanyahu. On a simplistic level, it’s right-wing hawks versus centrist and leftist doves. This article from Ha’aretz (http://tinyurl.com/5by2d3), among others, uses Israeli reaction to Obama’s victory as a lens through which to view Israel’s upcoming political choice.