Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high school
Scriptures - Hebrew and Christian scriptures; God's
covenant with his people; Bible timelines
World religions - Judaism, Islam and Christianity; monotheism
and polytheism; the Qur'an
Christian lifestyles - peacemaking
Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs outside the classroom,
Parish sacramental preparation programs and
CCD classes; young adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion
groups; RCIA programs.
Parents will also find this material useful
in initiating discussion around the dinner table, in home
study, at family activities.
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for the key words and terms below as you read the article.
Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article
itself or from the resource materials cited throughout the
Links for Learners. You can also find a list of terms on the
glossary page of AmericanCatholicYouth.org.
Abraham, father of faith
People of the Book
Top Reasons Why We Are One
We're all familiar with David Letterman's humorous Top Ten
lists on his late night television show. On a more serious
note, this month's article highlights ten reasons why Jews,
Muslims and Christians should be much more understanding of
one another than we are now. The number one reason is
that we all believe in the One God, a personal, loving, merciful
God who cares for his people.
The basis of Islam is monotheism, that there is no being
worthy of worship except God, and God is Absolutely One and
Absolutely Unique. The Five
Pillars of Islam proclaim "there is no god except
God." The Arabic word for God is Allah.
A belief in one God (Biblical
monotheism) was also part of Israel's original covenant
with Yahweh (God) on Mount Sinai. The first of Moses' commandments
declares, "I am the Lord your God."
A Christian's belief in the One God is likewise the first
of the Ten
Commandments. Catholic Christians see the One God as a
further mystery, the
Trinity, three persons in the one God (see the Apostle's
Contrast this monotheistic belief with Hinduism,
whose followers believe in many gods and goddesses (polytheism).
Another reason to be more understanding: Although
we are like children scattered to all parts of the globe,
we are able to trace our "faith roots" back to one
man, the prophet Abraham.
Jews, Muslims and Christians alike revere Abraham as the
father of faith. (See the National
Geographic article "Abraham: the Father of Three Faiths"
from December 2001 for an extensive discussion on this subject.)
In the biblical time of Abraham (who
is considered to have been born about 1991 B.C.), a polytheistic
culture prevailed. People typically worshipped multiple gods,
often idols or statues formed by human hands. Abraham was
instrumental in recognizing monotheism,
that is, worshipping one God. (Refer to a Bible timeline or an historical
perspective of what was happening through early Old Testament
times, and for events in Abraham’s
life in the book of Genesis.)
Citing Abraham's birth to be about 1991 B.C. means 1,991
years before the birth of Christ (B.C. = "before Christ").
We now live in 2002 A.D., that is, the 2,002nd year of the
Lord (A.D. = Anno Domini or "in the year of the Lord").
Some suggest that the designation
of time should be less religiously oriented, so that the familiar
B.C. would change to B.C.E. (before the common era); A.D.
would become C.E. (common era). You may see this usage in
some of your reading. This might be especially helpful in
interfaith dialogue situations. Among Christians, using A.D.
and B.C. is a way of acknowledging the lordship of Christ.
Through Abraham, God reached out to mankind and offered a
covenant. “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham,
saying: ‘To your descendants I give this land from the river
of Egypt to the great River, the river Euphrates’” (Gen. 15: 18
The covenant required Abraham to journey in faith from the
familiar to the unknown. “Go from your country and your kindred
and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you,
and make your name great so that you will be a blessing… by
you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves”
(Gen. 12: 1-3
This "great nation" will follow from Abraham's
son Isaac. “Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.”
Then, in an incredible test of faith, God asks Abraham to
sacrifice his son as an offering. Abraham’s faith is so strong
he willingly prepares himself to do so. God, seeing the level
of his trust, intervenes and promises reward for his faith.
For this reason Christians, Jews and Muslims alike look to
Abraham as a model of unconditional submission to the will
of God. See the recent Catholic commemoration of Abraham in the
year 2000, celebrating his deep faith and pivotal role.
Another top ten reason to be more understanding of
one another - we are all "people of the book."
All three faiths draw inspiration from God's word. For Judaism
God speaks in the Hebrew scriptures. Christians look to both
the Old and the New Testament books.
For Muslims God speaks in the Qur'an. There are two
mainstays to the Islam faith: the Qur’an, which is literally
God’s word, communicated through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad;
and the Sunnah, words inspired by God but with the Prophet’s
wording. (See also the Articles
Can Move From Division to Harmony
Judaism, Christianity and Islam value the importance of weekly
worship services. We are all “people of the book”. Every
week we listen to the same or similar stories of Abraham and
other biblical faith figures. Every week we hear the words
God spoke to us throughout the years of our common heritage.
Every week we use these stories, these inspired words, to
make sense of our world. Yet, as our article reminds us,
we so often spend the rest of every week hating, maligning,
even committing violence against each other.
The premise of this month's article is the more we know about
one another the easier it is to love (and forgive) one another.
Efforts at this kind of learning abound.
Like many churches and organizations, Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston,
Texas offers classes in understanding Islam. The University
of Southern California's Muslim Students Association works
to educate on the Qur'an and other tenets of Islam. See the
site for “The Noble Qur’an” translations, interpretations
and authoritative chapter notes.
In Washington a Catholic educator promotes
peace education for teens and children. Small groups called
encourage teens to explore peace in their daily lives.
for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University
offers summer classes for educators on topics such as "Teens
in an Arab World".
Peace Fellowship in Seattle, Washington suggests 24 ways
students can work for peace in our world. Click on “Youth
Work” on the site’s home page to find the suggested activities.
The Fellowship encourages students looking for class projects
to explore the lives of peacemakers such as Oscar Romero,
Rosa Parks or Dorothy Day. It also prompts teens thinking
about career choices to consider working at jobs that promote
social justice and reconciliation. Additionally, teens can
learn about peacemaking by taking classes or starting peace
Courageous efforts exist to work for peace
in the Middle East. The Jewish Peace Fellowship supports
an end to the mutual violence in the Holy Land. The Jewish Peacemakers
Initiative recently sponsored Olive Tree Summer '01, a
nonviolent demonstration in Israel and Palestine.
We praise and celebrate one God. We have so much in common.
How can you promote knowledge and understanding? How
can you be a peacemaker?
General sites on Islam and Judaism:
Catholic Update's World
Religions: A Primer for Catholics explains why Catholics
need to be familiar with other faiths and gives a thumbnail
sketch of eight world religions.