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Well, this looks interesting:
This January, we are proud to announce a new addition to the Formations line of curriculum resources. Available as a digital download, Formations for Youth is an engaging, low-prep curriculum resource for Middle and High School youth groups. The lessons in this resource begin with activities that ask youth to consider a common theme in their relationship with God and their everyday lives. Then questions help youth explore those themes more deeply in discussion.
I’m proud of Michelle Meredith, the editor of this new offering from NextSunday Resources, and of all the great work she has put into making Formations for Youth happen!
Michael Bird and I have similar tastes in stories from the Talmud, as this has long been one of my favorites as well:
It has been taught: On that day R. Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument for his teaching about the cleanness of ovens made with sand, but the other rabbis did not accept his teaching. So R. Eliezer said: ‘If the halakhah agrees with me, let this carob tree prove it!’ And immediately the carob tree was uprooted and thrown a hundred yards out of its place – some said it was thrown four hundred yards! But the other rabbis retorted: ‘No proof can be brought from a carob tree.’
So R. Eliezer said to them: ‘If the halakhah agrees with me, let this stream of water prove it!’ And immediately the stream of water began to flow backwards. But the other rabbis retorted, ‘No proof can be brought from a stream of water.’
Again R. Eliezer said to them: ‘If the halakhah agrees with me, let the walls of the school house prove it.’ And immediately the walls of the house began to bow and bend inwards. But R. Joshua rebuked the walls saying: ‘When scholars are engaged in a halakhic dispute, what right have you to interfere!’ And so out of respect for R. Joshua the walls did not fall, but they did not resume to being completely upright either out of respect for R. Eliezer.
Again R. Eliezer said to them: ‘If the halakhah agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!’ And immediately a heavenly voice cried out: ‘Why do you argue with R. Eliezer since the halakhah agrees with him in all matters!’ But R. Joshua stood up and quoted Scripture: ‘It is not in heaven’ (Deut 30.12). What did R. Joshua mean by saying this? According to R. Jeremiah: Since the Torah had been given at Mount Sinai, we pay no attention to a heavenly voice, because G-d has long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, ‘One must follow the majority’ (Exod 23.2).
Later R. Nathan met Elijah and he asked Elijah: ‘What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do in that hour when R. Joshua challenged the heavenly voice?’ According to Elijah, G-d laughed with joy and he replied, saying, ‘My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me.’ On that day all the objects which R. Eliezer had declared clean were brought and burnt in fire. The rabbis then took a vote and excommunicated him. (b.Baba Mezia 59b, slightly paraphrased).
“Did you ever think, child,” she said, presently, “how much piecin’ a quilt’s like livin’ a life? And as for sermons, why, they ain’t no better sermon to me than a patchwork quilt, and the doctrines is right there a heap plainer’n they are in the catechism. Many a time I’ve set and listened to Parson Page preachin’ about predestination and free-will, and I’ve said to myself, ‘Well, I ain’t never been through Centre College up at Danville, but if I could jest git up in the pulpit with one of my quilts, I could make it a heap plainer to folks than parson’s makin’ it with all his big words.’ You see, you start out with jest so much caliker; you don’t go to the store and pick it out and buy it, but the neighbors will give you a piece here and a piece there, and you’ll have a piece left every time you cut out a dress, and you take jest what happens to come. And that’s like predestination. But when it comes to the cuttin’ out, why, you’re free to choose your own pattern. You can give the same kind o’ pieces to two persons, and one’ll make a ‘nine-patch’ and one’ll make a ‘wild-goose chase,’ and there’ll be two quilts made out o’ the same kind o’ pieces, and jest as different as they can be. And that is jest the way with livin’. The Lord sends us the pieces, but we can cut ’em out and put ’em together pretty much to suit ourselves, and there’s a heap more in the cuttin’ out and the sewin’ than there is in the caliker. The same sort o’ things comes into all lives, jest as the Apostle says, ‘There hath no trouble taken you but is common to all men.’
“The same trouble’ll come into two people’s lives, and one’ll take it and make one thing out of it, and the other’ll make somethin’ entirely different. (Eliza Calvert Hall, Aunt Jane of Kentucky)
Peter Enns shares a reminiscence of something John Dominic Crossan once said:
Anyway, Crossan said that if you took someone who knew nothing of Jesus, but did understand that religious-political powder keg of 1st century Palestine–tensions between various Jewish groups with different ideas about God and how to live in their own land under Roman rule, and tensions between Jewish and Greco-Roman customs, now centuries old–and then handed that person the Gospel of Mark, he wouldn’t be far into it before he would ask, “Who is this Jesus?” and “When is he going to be killed?”