Oct 12, 2010

Lesson One: Stewardship and Oral Sex, (With Bits of Hebrew and Greek Thrown In) - Erin McCahan's Blog Tour Stop

Today I have the honour of being Erin McCahan's host in her blog book tour for her latest novel, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else.

If you visit Erin's website, you'll find a really funny story about her working at her step-dad's medical office. So for today's tour stop, I asked Erin if she had any other story as funny as that last one.

You've read this post's title! She suggested it! And I suggest you read the whole post, cause it's hilarious!
Go on, read the post!

Here's what she has to share with us:

            It was a Thursday when my minister, who was also a friend, called to offer me the job of youth minister at our church.  I had a religion minor in college because of one phenomenal professor whose classes I just kept taking, and even went to seminary after undergrad just to keep studying the topic.  Then in seminary, I discovered I really liked studying Hebrew and Greek – the ancient, as in dead, forms – so I did that for about a year and a half until I finally figured out that it was nothing more than an expensive hobby.
            So then . . . Thursday.
            My minister-friend sounded desperate, and I felt conflicted, because youth ministry was not anything that interested me.  I didn’t even baby-sit more than 4 or 5 times growing up.  But I could hear the desperation in my friend’s voice, so I agreed, and she said,  “Great.  You’re hired.  You start Sunday.  And, by the way, you’ve got junior high and high school.”
            Junior high and high school?! 
I wanted to shout that in horror but instead, in classic Episcopal, by which I mean terribly polite, style, I said,  “Okay, great, thank you.”
            If I liked the class in undergrad, I saved the textbooks.  Didn’t sell them at the end of the semester.  So I still had all my religion texts, and I got the things out and spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday creating a general outline for Christian education classes I’d be teaching and then created a couple very specific lesson plans beginning with Creation.
            Now, you have to keep in mind that Episcopal youth education is practically comical, it’s so bad.  I remember doing a lot of coloring in Sunday School, and a couple times we played Simon Says.  Apparently Simon was God, and God, for some reason, always wanted us to hop on one foot. 
            So having grown up in a church that treats Coffee Hour as sacred, I decided I was really going to teach my students something.  I’d turn them on to the incredibly fascinating stuff of God that that one professor in undergrad turned me on to.  I wouldn’t water it down.  I wouldn’t pander.  I’d more than spark their interest.  I’d ignite a fire in their hearts for God, and maybe, if they were lucky, I’d teach them some Hebrew and Greek along the way.  Because – really?  What’s more fun than lessons peppered with Hebrew and Greek?
            So Sunday arrives.  As it will.  I’m an hour early for my first class – junior high – setting up the room, arranging chairs, organizing pens, nametags, stuff.  And in walk 8 12- and 13-year-olds, which, for a suburban Episcopal Church, is a lot.  We do the introductions, and I launch my attack.  My sneak attack.  I’m telling a story to teach, building suspense, drawing them in with trivia questions, and it’s moving, moving, moving.  And they’re engaged.  They’re making eye-contact.  They’re eager for the next trivia question.  And I’ve got them hooked.  I know it.  And I come to the end of the lesson, and I ask for questions, and one boy’s hand shoots up.  Just shoots up, and, yes, Colin.  Yes!  He’s curious.  He want to know more.  I did it.  Yea, me.
            And Colin asks,  “Is oral sex sex?”
            For a second, maybe two, I was frozen. 
            This wasn’t in my lesson plan!  And – wait – how did we get from stewardship, and the Fall affecting the animal kingdom to oral sex?
            So I ask,  “Why are you asking?”
            Oh, geez!  Did I just ask a 12-year-old why he wants to know if oral sex is sex?
            I start sweating because Colin clearly is not shy about expressing himself.
            Fortunately – sort of; well, it could have been worse – this class met right at the height of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky Oral Sex, Blue Dress, Cigar and Oh, Yuck Scandal.  It was in all the newspapers, on the Internet and on the nightly news.  And these kids truly were curious.
            I think, for a second, you could have heard crickets chirping as I stared at eight sets of eyes fixed expectantly on me.  And this was one of those “it” moments, as in This is It.  Make it or break it.  Stay or go.  Win or lose.   If I were going to have any kind of credibility with these kids, I’d have to answer, and I’d have to answer honestly.  So I did, but I did it with boundaries, seemingly for the shy kids but, in truth, for myself.  I was hoping to prevent further discussion.
            I said,  “Okay, I’m going to explain this, and if I use a term you don’t know, just wink at me or make a face or something, so I’ll know you don’t understand.”
            And then every couple of sentences, I’d stop, ask if we were clear, see 8 little heads nod – whew – and move on.  And apart from huge amounts of anxiety and some vocabulary acrobatics, it went pretty well.  
            So I found my minister later that afternoon and told her what had happened, and she was thrilled.  She said kids need to be able to ask these questions of someone who will answer honestly, and she thanked me, which was a relief.  I had visions of a parent walking down the hall, past my room that morning, hearing what I was talking about, and organizing a mob to drive me from the building with torches and pitchforks.  Episcopalians do not discuss oral sex in public.  Or in private.  And they certainly don’t write guest blogs about it and suggest the title:  Lesson One:  Stewardship and Oral Sex, (With Bits of Hebrew and Greek Thrown In).
            And how – you may be wondering – did I answer Colin’s question?  I’ll say what I say to everyone who asks after I tell this story:  I’m sorry, but I don’t teach that class anymore.


Thanks Erin for sharing that with us! I really enjoyed it!
All my best to you, I know you're feeling ill, and I hope you get better soon!

3 monkey thought (s):

mshatch said...

hah! that was a funny story. I think I would've been mortified if I'd been in a similar situation!

Gina said...

Wow...what a funny post though I can see where it might now have been so funny to encounter first hand! Whew! That would have been a tough one....great answer though...I mean on the "I don't teach that class anymore"....lol. Thanks for sharing....


i joined the episcopal church (in my teens) because i felt free...free to ask any question and get a straight answer (well, most of the time...there was a bishop who i think could have done without me). i remember he came to canturbury house one night as asked why more of us didn't go to morning mass and sunday school. after listening to 5 min. of stock answers i was ready to choke. my hand was up and waving like crazy. ft sargent gave me the wait sign (i think he thought it would get me dander down). 20 min. later, he pointed at me. 'what a bunch of horse manurer. most kids have had a late night and want to sleep in! that one of the reasons they come to here...they have mass and good conversation after. and as far as being afraid of god...balderdash...how can you be afraid of someone one who loves you so much?" father sargent gave me a sweet understanding look...the bishop looked like he was going to have apoplexy. he did later confirm me...i think hoping for the best.

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