We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Monday, November 18, 2013

Putting Fun Back into CE

The website BBC Future offers intriguing insights into what the future could and might be like.  In a recent posting entitled, "Can games create an education fit for the future?," viewers are introduced to a potential educational advance using video games for teaching and assessment. The example given is of a new version of the popular game, SimCity, which is called "SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge."  It teaches players how to manage pollution in a simulated city and provides teachers with a way to assess how well their students understand and are mastering such things as systems thinking, a skill required for doing well in the 21st century working world.  The goal, more generally, is to bring 21st century technologies into the classroom for 21st century education and learning.

That set me to thinking.  One of the greatest challenges for mainline Christian educators is to make the study of the Bible compelling for the folks in the pews.  Every church has a few members that are "interested in the Bible" and regularly populate its Bible studies.  Rarely is an entire church or even a significant slice of the congregation so interested, which leaves our churches depressingly biblically illiterate.  It is, furthermore, generally impossible to move beyond the Bible into such fields of study as Christian ethics, theology, and spiritual practices such as meditation.  But, if we had a set of games that would take us into the world of the Bible, perhaps the whole realm of grass roots Christian education could be transformed into something interesting and fun, as well as beneficial and informative—something that our young people would relish rather than resist, something that adults would look forward to rather than avoid.  And well-done Christian education games would make quality CE available to even the smallest of churches, to small groups within churches, and to individual members who want to strike out on their own.

In many corners of the faith, creative people are rethinking what it means to be a community of faith.  In that context, it is possible that in fifty years the traditional mainline congregation has gone the way of the wooly mammoth, and in its place we will find a variety of "churches" availing themselves of a variety of 21st century technologies.  Among those technologies, there will be creative and even inspiring learning games, which bring the faith alive in new ways.  Amen.