Local News

12/6/2012

Bible has new view

By MICHAEL HALL The Brunswick News

When senior Lauren Whatley first stepped into Susan Cox's Bible as Literature class at Brunswick High School this semester, she was told to bring more questions than answers.

"(Cox) wants us to ask questions and challenge what we know about the Bible," Lauren said. "That is the thing I love about this class. There are not many boundaries."

So far, the class has illustrated to her just how deeply the book permeates all aspects of modern culture.

When the elective classes were authorized by the state General Assembly in 2006 and were begun to be offered in high schools in 2007, opponents feared the door would be open for public school teachers to preach their own beliefs.

Sophomore Stephen Wilkes, who has gone to church his entire life, says the class has been a world away from Sunday school. He says he asks questions in class he would not ask in church.

"They are the kind of things people don't often think about, but they are important," Stephen said.

Cox encourages her students to ask those questions so they can see the breadth of the Bible's influence, especially as it pertains to modern culture.

"They know this is not a Bible study class or devotional time," Cox said.

In fact, she makes it a point to find national news articles from the debate in 2006 over offering a Bible course to discuss so her students have some perspective on the class they are taking.

About 30 students are taking the class in two sessions at Brunswick High School, one taught by Cox and the other by Diana Powers. There is one class with 18 students at Glynn Academy this semester.

Cox, who is also a literature teacher, says the class makes sense because learning about the religion of a people is the first step to understanding its literature.

"The Bible is especially prominent in its influence of American literature," Cox said.

As an illustration of its influence in modern culture, she plays a game with students called, "You Might be Quoting the Bible." In it, Cox asks students if they can identify the origin of famous quotes and phrases, such as "the apple of my eye," to see if they know the lines are derived from the Bible.

Cox and Scott Infante, who teaches the class at Glynn Academy, say it is interesting to see how students approach the class.

Those who have not spent their lives in church and those who have often ask similar questions.

"They all seem interested in making connections to our modern cultural landscape," Infante said.

Viewed as a work of literature, the moral lessons in the book still ring true, he added.

To learn the lessons, Infante asks all students, Christian or not, to approach the Bible with a secular point of view.

"The class is about taking off the lenses we have been looking at (the Bible) through and consider it for what it is - a piece of literature," Infante said.