The November 3rd issue of The Christian Century had a couple of interesting articles about the decline of biblical literacy in our society, including in the church. At the heart of the challenge, noted Kristin Swenson, who teaches religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, is “this well kept little secret: the Bible is incredibly difficult.”
Interestingly, both Swenson and Dale Salwak, an English teacher at Citrus College in California, suggest that one of the most effective ways to combat biblical illiteracy is to teach the stories. Salwak writes, “the Bible comes alive when people focus on the human predicament- the choices characters make and the way those choices play out. The stories illustrate all aspects of the human condition, about which the Bible has no illusions.”
Those of you who have been fortunate to work with The Bible Workbench will recognize the truth of that statement. The Bible Workbench has always been focused on the stories and the connections they make to our lived experience both inwardly and outwardly.
Brad Hirschfield of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership says, “Real literacy creates great independence. . . allowing people to wrestle for themselves with the big questions without necessarily providing a fixed resolution.” That’s what we believe, and, we hope, that’s what The Bible Workbench offers each week.