During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daily Progress has provided local government school teachers a public place to address their students.
The feature, known as “Teacher Talk,” appears frequently in the back pages of the newspaper. The messages are sometimes heartwarming, sometimes benign—and sometimes disturbingly revealing of a teacher’s worldview.
In the May 13 edition of Teacher Talk, a strange message from “Ms. Jennings,” an Astronomy teacher at Albemarle High School, was transmitted to her students (and the community at-large):
Are you taking time to look at the sky? Remember that you are made of star stuff — millions and billions of years ago ancient stars fused and exploded into the universe to spread the elements that are you! I think about you and miss seeing you. I hope you are healthy, safe, and finding ways to be well physically and emotionally. The universe IS yours, because you are the universe!
Ms. Jennings’ twisted messaging to her students is troubling on many fronts:
- For those families who have imparted a Biblical worldview to their children, Ms. Jennings’ remarks directly contradict God’s version of creation.
- Being made of “star stuff” diminishes students’ self-worth, as there is no inherent or eternal value in “stuff.”
- That the random fusing and exploding of elements “millions and billions” of years ago could somehow have resulted in the magnificence of humanity, the pinnacle of God’s creation, is fanciful at best.
- Finally, human beings are NOT the universe. They are known individuals created by a loving God to have a personal and perpetual relationship with Him.
Inadvertently, Ms. Jennings did get one thing right: we should take time to look at the sky. Not to contemplate “star stuff” or other cosmic nonsense, but rather because the “Coming of the Son of Man” approaches, as described in Luke 21:25-28:
25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Now that is a very good reason for Ms. Jennings’ students to “look at the sky”… only she forgot to mention it.
This is how and why we should look in the sky. Not to discern when Jesus is coming back to deliver good Christian nationalists from godless liberals, but “with wonder.” That teacher may not be a believer, but the awe she’s indirectly leading kids to experience can bring them to know and better understand their Creator. Hand-slapping in the name of Biblical teaching will only turn them away.
“…you are the universe” directly contradicts Proverbs 1:7. Children are parents’ responsibility to educate. Children are destined to know a world much greater than their 5 senses can experience, for an eternity far greater than the reaches of the created universe! Their Creator, guised as a humble carpenter, left them instructions to that world. Blind teachers should respect parents and their children and stick to their secular facts and figures. ‘Stick to your pay-grade.’