Catechists, Pastors, Catechetical Leaders, RCIA Teams, Adult Educators
Scripture for Today's Disciple
Since Vatican II, Catholics have increasingly been encouraged to read and to study the Bible. As Catholic educators, there is a particular onus on us to instruct the faithful in the skills needed to read Scripture faithfully. For a lot of educators, though, the skills seem locked away in academia, making the teaching of Scripture a daunting task. St. Augustine makes it easy, however, and we will turn to him as a guide in this presentation.
1. Recognizing and Responding to the New Atheist
A typical Catholic approach to Scripture has been to focus only on the "good stuff." We stick mostly with the New Testament and we avoid controversial and disturbing passages. We focus on love and mercy. Unfortunately, Scripture is full of passages that seem anything but loving and merciful, and militant atheists seize on their knowledge of Scripture to convert Christians away from the faith. Safe-guarding the faith of our Church, and especially of our young people, requires that we address the difficult passages and give them the ancient Catholic tools for interpreting them properly. Again, St. Augustine makes this easy, and he will be our guide.
2. Tools for Teaching a Catholic Reading of the Bible
Finally, we live in a society where fundamentalism is on the rise. The literal reading of Scripture has societal implications that are not always good. Catholics do not read all of Scripture literally, but we are often painted with the same broad brush. Atheists, once again, use this to their advantage by asserting an intellectual superiority. Christians, in their view, are simpletons, superstitious, unscientific, and irrational thinkers. As educators, we have an opportunity to set the record straight. Catholics read the Bible (and always have!) without committing "intellectual suicide." Faith and reason are mutually enriching God-given ways that we approach the Truth, and they never contradict. And so, with Augustine as our guide, we will bring Faith and Reason to our reading of Scripture, and learn strategies to teach even the most difficult of passages with the light of Catholic Faith.
Kevin Dowd, Ph.D.
Kevin Dowd is a native of Worcester, MA, the third of 8 sons and a graduate of the Worcester Public Schools. He graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree in history cum laude, and from the former Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College with an M.Ed. in Religious Education, earned with distinction. Kevin is currently a doctoral candidate in Theology and Education at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry where he focuses on religion and public education. He also teaches theology at Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA and writes a weekly Scripture Blog for Bayard Publications called TWIL: The Word is Life. He has served as President of the Worcester Public Library Board of Directors and is currently on the board of St. Mary's Healthcare, a ministry in the tradition of St. Marguerite D'Youville and the Grey Nuns. Kevin has taught religious education and theology (as well as math, history, and English) at every grade level from pre-K to graduate school, in both the parish and the Catholic school/university setting. He began his teaching career at Mother Cabrini High School in NYC before moving back to his home in Worcester. His favorite line from Scripture is in the Book of Tobit where it says, "And the dog ran along behind them" (Tobit 11:4; cf. Tobit 6:2).