My girls and I have done a bit of traveling lately to an array of creeks, lakes and rivers, for fishing, swimming, exploring and generally enjoying the summer weather. I, having tired of the same-old traveling game of who can irritate whom the most effectively, of which all four seem equally adept, took it upon myself to introduce our form of Jeopardy.
Initial categories were the main subjects of my younger daughters (a rising 9th grader, two rising 8th graders and a rising 6th grader): English, science, math and social studies.
After a couple of games, I found myself having to improvise as I was beginning to struggle to find the right mix between what my kids knew and what I thought they might know. When questions such as “Name any of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina” and “Define the term ‘heliocentric’” began to draw blanks all the way around, I figured I probably needed to dial it down.
But first it was time for a little fun.
A little more than a year ago, I wrote of Daughter No. 3’s bible acumen, or lack thereof. She’s sharp as a tack, an excellent writer and is on the advanced track at her school. However, it should also be noted that she is far, far down the recruiting chart for the local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Prayer.
Daughter No. 3, you may or may not recall, is the one who described Adam and Eve as having fallen victim to “Forbidden Fruit Theory” – which involved, according to her, the pair eating poisonous peaches in the Garden of Eden.
So, guessing my 13-year old’s bible knowledge hadn’t increased markedly over the past year, I announced we’d play another game of Jeopardy, but with different categories.
“All right,” I announced, “the categories are: The Old Testament, the New Testament, Geography of the Bible, Translating the Bible over the Centuries, and Major and Minor Prophets.
Daughter No. 3 was seated in the front passenger seat and I as I drove: I could see her expression out of the corner of my eye. It could best be described as dumbfounded dismay, with her face crinkling up like a balled-up newspaper.
“Caroline,” I said to her, “you want to go first?”
She proceeded to give me one of those looks. Head titled down, eyes peering up, slight frown on face. “I don’t think so, dad. That’s not Jeopardy – that’s all bible stuff!”
“So? What’s wrong with having questions about the bible? They have bible questions on the real Jeopardy, right?”
“Yeah, but not every category! You can’t have every question be about the bible. It’s not fair.”
I looked at her for a moment with a smile. “You only think it’s unfair because you don’t know much about the bible, right?”
“I know some things,” she responded (apparently at least one word in nearly every teen’s sentence has to be heavily emphasized).
“Really,” I replied. “Well, let’s see what you know.”
Almost before I could get the sentence out already she was objecting that I was going to ask questions that were too hard.
“OK, let’s start with something simple: Name the Twelve Apostles.”
I’ll give her credit, she started spouting off names. They were dead wrong, but she wasted no time in yelling out various biblical-sounding names:
“Jonah, Noah, Jacob, Jack, Abraham, Abel, Cain, Caleb, Joseph …”
At this point she paused, then stalled out. I informed her that with the exception of “Jack” she’d done an outstanding job of detailing biblical figures, but she had failed to name a single apostle. She looked at me aghast. “What do you mean?” “I mean,” I replied, “that you didn’t get a single one correct.”
After detailing as many of the apostles as I could (and likely throwing in a couple of incorrect names at the end to get to 12), I decided to move on to something else: “Name four of the seven sacraments.”
She started strong, reeling off “communion,” “marriage” and “confession,” but then stumbled. “Umm, ‘death’?” she tried.
“Death?” I replied. “No, death is not a sacrament.”
“Birth? Praying?” she tried.
“No and no,” I said. “Birth and praying are incorrect.”
I looked at her. “What sacraments did you get on the day you were born?”
“Do you mean ‘anointing of the sick?’ (Daughter No. 3 had a narrow scrape at birth and had been given the sacrament of extreme unction, also known as anointing of the sick or last rites, within a couple of hours of being born.) If so, I’ll give you half credit.”
She thought for a while than admitted she didn’t know what the other three were.
“Um, how about baptism, ever hear of that?” I asked, to which she and her sisters laughed. “The other two are ‘confirmation’ and ‘holy orders’ – the latter of which is when someone becomes a priest or bishop.”
Daughter No. 3 was now zero-for-two. I decided to throw her a softball for her last question:
“I will give you five chances to name three Old Testament prophets.” I figured she had this in the bag as she already named several when she’d tried to answer the first question.
“I’ve got this, I’ve got this,” she yelled. “Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel and the Last Supper.”
I looked at her incredulously. “First of all, the Last Supper was an event, not a person; second, are you at all familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. I’m guessing not. Cain killed Abel; so he probably wouldn’t be classified as a prophet.” She was now giggling. “And Adam and Eve weren’t prophets, either.”
I looked over at her. “Where did you get the Last Supper from?”
By now Caroline had her usual sheepish grin – the one that indicates that, “Hey, I’m a busy kid; I can’t be expected to keep up with all my wheelings and dealings and know the bible.” She simply shrugged.
I shook my head in mock disgust. “You know, Caroline, I would have accepted, oh, I don’t know, Jonah, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah or any of about three dozen other names. I will give you credit, though, you may well be the first person to ever offer up “Last Supper” as one of the Old Testament prophets. Well played, young lady. Well played, indeed.”
If she were younger, I’d consider enrolling her in one of the various vacation bible schools offered in the area, but, to be honest, I can’t think of any context in which those three words belong together.
When I was a kid, summer vacation was spent catching critters, playing ball and swimming in most any body of water that one could find, no matter what its viscosity or turbidity.
I love learning, but I can’t see sitting inside a church portable brushing up on the Good Book during the summer being anyone’s idea of a good time. That can be done on the way to outdoor adventures and other fun times.
(Top: Da Vinci’s Last Supper, infrequently referred to as an Old Testament prophet though better known as an event that took place during the last week of Jesus’s life.)