A Public Stoning for Extra Credit

Amy Brosemer

 

BANG!!!

 

Holy Crap! I think as a massive copy of the New King James version of the Holy Bible thuds onto my school desk. My head spins, frantically searching the facial expressions of the other tenth-grade literature students. BANG! BANG! BANG! No one else is showing any signs of alarm as more Bibles crash down sporadically around the room. In fact, they continue their discussions like everything’s ordinary.

 

Hello? Don’t you guys see the gigantic Bibles being plunked down in front of us IN A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL? What am I supposed to do with this?

 

I should have known that there wouldn’t be any expression of anxiety though. Even having been in South Georgia for only a week, I had caught on to the completely different view of religion prevalent in my new home. However, I was accustomed to Central Florida, where if you do have a professed faith then it was on Sunday morning.

 

I’m definitely not in Orlando anymore, I think as I slide lower in my seat. Then movement catches my eye. I turn just in time to see a baseball star pull out a smaller Bible from his bag. What in the world? They carry their own Bibles with them to class?

 

The class settles as the teacher moves to the front of the classroom. Am I mistaken, or is this a Tuesday morning, NOT a Sunday morning? Is this teacher asking for a lawsuit?

 

“Today you will be exploring the Bible. In order to become familiar with the layout and content, we will start off with a scavenger hunt,” the teacher explains. Snickers occur around the room as the students exchange self-righteous smiles. Of course, this would seem like a waste of time to them.  By now, I’m close to being on floor, trying to become invisible while rehearsing my certain deposition with the ACLU I know will be the inevitable conclusion to this bizarre lesson.

 

We are divided into groups of four, and a scavenger hunt sheet is placed before me. I look around my group as they talk amongst each other. I guess this isn’t a joke, I think.  Always the good little student, I sigh and read the first question on the page. Okay, I guess I’m going to have to do this. The lawyers will understand that I couldn’t refuse the teacher.  Anyway, I’ve sat through many years of CCD classes, so some of that must have rubbed off.  As a Catholic child, CCD, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, is our religious education classes taken all through grade school until you are confirmed, usually in the eighth grade. I consider myself devout to my faith; however, I know my knowledge of the Bible is minimal compared to the many Baptists around me. Tentatively, I reach out to touch the Bible on my desk, keeping an eye on my group members. No one has noticed. I sit up a little in my desk, open the cover, and begin digging.

“Can you believe anybody wouldn’t know this? I can’t believe we even have to do this scavenger hunt,” the perky blonde I’ve decided to hate in my group speaks up. 

 

Oh crap. Please don’t notice me. I’m already the new girl from the city. Now I’ll be the atheist new girl from the city. Yeah, I’ll be the popular one.  

 

“All right, number six. Everybody ready?” Perky asks.

 

Number six? What happened to the first five?

 

“Wait a minute,” Baseball Player interrupts.

 

Oh no. He’s seen my paper.

 

“She doesn’t have it yet,” he says, motioning to me.

 

Here we go. Three sets of eyes turn toward me. My mind goes blank. Wow, I should be the spokesperson for Making Friends and Influencing People.  Time ticks by, and I can tell they are coming to their own conclusions in their mind.  This is an honors class, after all. Then the soft-spoken brunette beside me slides her paper over where I can see and nods to me. Thank you! Maybe everyone isn’t so bad here.  I quickly jot down answers, trying not to make eye contact with any of the others.  As the group winds up the activity, I stay quiet and just write what they say.  I am amazed. Bible verses are being recalled automatically, and every character asked about on the scavenger hunt is identified without ever opening a page.

 

Okay, I’ve survived this. But what about the main lesson, and why aren’t the administrators busting through the door?

 

Our groups start to break up, and the teacher again moves to the front of the room. I expect to sit like a whore in the back pew during the sermon, sweating and praying lightning doesn’t strike me down.  I am certain Catholic is stamped on my forehead and there will be a public stoning for extra credit.

 

“For the next week, we are going to take a different view of the Bible than many of you are used to,” our teacher explains. “We are not going to look at it from a religious viewpoint, but as literature because the Bible is the oldest piece of literature in existence today.”

 

Excuse me? Wow. This is kind of cool. However, I still think I’m going to have that deposition ready and keep an eye out for any suspicious piles of stone.