Monday, 30 September 2013

Y9: Assessment 1 - Pilgrimage

Your first Y9 Assessment is focused on places of Christian pilgrimage. You must pick one place to really focus on; it must be detailed information that shows you really understand the place in the context of pilgrimage.

You may want to present it like a straightforward project book, or some people have chose to make PowerPoints, websites or even videos!

A popular choice is to present it like an advertisement for the place allowing space to fully explain why it is important and why it is a significant place of pilgrimage.

To aim for L6 and above it is necessary to think creatively! Perhaps include an interview with a person to allow for a description of the life changing effects?

Places you may want to choose:

1.Taize, France
2. St Michael’s Tower, Glastonbury, UK
3. Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
4. Vatican City / Rome
5. Slipper Chapel, Walsingham UK
6. St James Cathedral, Compostela (Santiago de Compostela), Spain
7. Medjugorje, Croatia
8. Knock, Ireland
9. Lourdes, France
10. Fatima, Portugal

Thing about:
  • What do pilgrims do and see there?
  • Why it is an important place of pilgrimage?
  • How did it become a place of pilgrimage?
  • What effects can a pilgrim expect?
  • How will a pilgrimage effect their every day lives?
  • How do people get there?
  • Where do people stay?
  • What does it look like (pictures)?
  • Where exactly is it (map)?
Download 'Green' Sheet

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Biggest Threat to Marriage?

Catholic Memes is a website that uses Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It is a way of evangelising through a slightly different means, often using images and text which can provoke debate around various Catholic issues.

Yesterday, they posted: "I am not in favour of same-sex marriage, but if Christians want to really support traditional marriage, then they should realise divorce is far and away the biggest threat."

This was accompanied by the above picture, which was later followed by:

It provided a lot of debate with many people discussing what the biggest threat to marriage was.
What do you think? Should the Catholic Church focus on all these areas and not just same-sex marriage? What do you think has been most damaging to marriage?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Atheist Babies?

Many people define atheists as people who believe "there is no God". But what if that definition was people who do not believe "there is a God."?

This second definition is becoming more common. However it raises certain problems, one such being babies. Are babies born atheists?

Atheists have used this to claim that the 'natural state' is therefore one of atheism.

Yet it creates problems as babies don't believe there is no God, in the same way they don't believe there is a God, thefore is this not a form of non-atheism?

Jimmy Akin explores this in more detail <here>. It is also one of themes of the book, Knowledge of Angels (buy it <here>).

Do you think babies make a good 'test case'? What do you think our 'natural state' is? How do we best define atheism? Should we just leave babies alone to dribble and pull silly faces?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Ban the Burqa?

A number of European countries have banned the burqa veils: France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands have various laws restricting their wearing in public places. Could the UK be next?

Lib Dem Home Office minister Jeremy Browne has called for national debate and possible ban from girls wearing veils in public places such as schools.

This was a reaction to the news that Birmingham Metropolitan College had dropped a ban on pupils wearing full-face veils due to protests.
The Qur'an and the Hadith require both men and women to dress and behave modestly in public, known as hijab. This has then been interpreted in many different ways by Muslim scholars and communities. Some communities do believe that a burqa is mandatory. If it is worn, it is often by young, unmarried women.
Any ban is likely to cause problems with the Muslim community. Mohammed Khaliel, founder of Islamix, a group that aims to build understanding between communities, said: "A small section of the Muslim community do believe that the face veil is mandatory... Now, why should I go and rip that off their face saying 'I don't think you should believe that'?"
The debate is a complex one with many comments already been made on the topic. Does it create division or unity for the UK population?
Do you think the burqa should be banned in the UK? Does it make society 'more free' by banning it? Do you think it is wrong to make young girls wear it at a young age before they really know what they are doing? Do you think it should be banned just in places like schools?
Read more <here>

*UPDATE* 17/9/13

The Sun demands vital reforms:
1) BAN veils in school, courts and hospitals
2) BAN them in airports, banks and secure areas
3) LET employer decide if ok in the workplace
4) BUT freedom to wear them in the street

Read more <here>
Full-face veils aren't barbaric – but our response can be
"It is crucial to distinguish such legitimate debate, and reasonable legal regulation, from political and legal responses such as those in France and Belgium that construct Muslim religious difference as barbaric – thereby targeting veiled Muslim women as the latest victims in Europe's long history of persecution."
Interesting Guardian Comment <here>


Sunday, 15 September 2013

SHoM A-Level RS Blog

"The Examined Life" is the working title of the Sacred Heart of Mary Girls' School A-Level RS Blog. Students are taking it in turn to blog about one aspect of their AS/A2 course, either linked to philosophy or ethics.

Our first post has been made, so please visit here to read, share and comment:

We hope you will visit frequently to find out what we have been learning about and read the reflections that students and staff have made.

What would you like to see on the blog? What topics would you enjoy reading about? Are you inspired to start a blog?

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Teenage Girl Exorcists

The casting out of demons was a power given by Jesus to his disciples. There are numerous accounts of Jesus performing exorcisms and it has forever remained a fascinating part of Christian life. Earlier in the year, Pope Francis was accused of making an exorcism in public (see <here>).

However in the latest tale of exorcisms, Brynne Larson (18) and Tess (18) and Savannah Scherkenback (21) claim to be able to cast out demons and indeed have dedicated their lives to it.

There is a certain 'performance' that goes with these exorcisms, "The teenage exorcists are greeted on stage as if they were celebrities. There is applause and they announce to the audience that they look forward to "kicking some demon butt". They see themselves as "freedom fighter" and hold up silver crosses and Bibles on stage while confronting the demon to make it return to hell.

They have already travelled to over 20 countries casting out demons and performing exorcisms.

Do you think it is right that these girls have been trained up by on of their fathers to perform exorcisms? Do you think that the 'performance' is necessary? Do you think that it is okay for them to ask for donations for doing this (a few hundred dollars reportedly)?

Teen Exorcists will be broadcast on Thursday 12 September 2013 at 21:00 BST on BBC Three. Or catch up later on BBC iPlayer.

Read More:

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Buy A Priest A Beer!

Monday 9th September marks International Buy A Priest A Beer Day. According to The Catholic Gentleman blog: "On this festive day, faithful Catholics all over the world take their priests out for a beer and get to know them better. It’s a beautiful Catholic tradition that goes back to the time of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to take his priest out for a beer."

In the write up of this day, it reminds people that priests are normal people too. It suggests inviting your priest out for a beer, or round for dinner. Despite their often hectic schedule, it is often a welcome break for the dedicated clergy.

I'm not sure how well-known this special day is, or indeed St Hospwald of Aleyard is, but it seems like a good reason to pop to the pub with a priest!

Read more <here>.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Syria: "We Cannot Just Stand By"

The phrase "we cannot just stand by" is often used by the general public and politicians alike as a justification for going to war with Syria.

It is hard to argue that the images and stories emerging from Syria are nothing short of horrific, but the UK parliament have already voted against military action and the US are still awaiting a decision from Senate.

A blogger pointed out this phrase, "we cannot just stand by", is particularly dangerous as an excuse for military action because:

1) Standing by might be better than poorly thought-through action.
2) Diplomatic options are not just 'standing by'.
3) People who say it 'stand by' various other human rights violations day after day.

Do you think it is wrong to 'just stand by'? A well know saying is "Evil exists because good people do nothing", could this be used against the UK's decision? Do you think people are selective in what action they want to take?

Inspired by Alex Higgins

Tweeted by @StanCollymore

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Good Riddance or Cowardly?

On Tuesday, Ariel Castro, the man who kept women captive at his home in Cleveland, Ohio, has died after being found hanging in his cell.

He had been sentenced on to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years on 1 August 2013.

The prosecutor who had tried him responded by calling him a "coward" unable to withstand "a small portion" of what he had inflicted on the women he had raped and kept captive for 10 years.

Reports suggest he used his bedsheets to hang himself and was discovered during a routine 30 check. Doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

Such a long sentence, in a country where the death penalty is still legal and used, was always going to be controversial. This comment from Facebook makes it clear:

It is indeed costly to keep someone in prison for their whole lives. However in this case where Castro kept young women as captives, it was a small dose of revenge in the eyes of many.

In the UK, killers such as Harold Shipman and Fred West have committed suicide rather than live out their life sentences. Both cases caused controversy with one group saying good riddance, while others claiming that prisons should do more to prevent such criminals gaining and 'easy way out' from their punishment.

Do you think suicide is an 'easy way out'? Is it a sign of absolute remorse? Do you think it is better or worse for the victims? Do you think prisons need to do more to prevent suicides?

Read more:Here
Papers Divided After Shipman Suicide

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Conscience of Guide Leaders: God or Not?

In June it was announced that Girls Guides would drop an allegiance to God in their oath. The Queen was to remain, but it was decided that to mention God was inappropriate; read more <here>. However a number of Girl Guide groups have close ties to churches and are run by Christians, as such they have decided to keep the 'to God' part and risk being expelled from the Girl Guides.

The promise to “love my God” has been scrapped and replaced with a pledge to “be true to myself” and to “develop my beliefs”. The idea being it allowed all Guides to make the promise with sincerity.

However a group of leaders from Harrogate, North Yorks, have decided that they plan to defy the change and continue to use the old pledge at the groups which meet in their church and are supported by a Christian community.

Adding to the situation, a volunteer leader, Jem Henderson, who is an atheist has accused the group of forcing her to take the old promise, against her conscience.

The Harrogate Guide leaders' response to this was, "No one need join Girlguiding, so removing the reference to God in the interests of inclusivity removes much of what we stand for."

They added: “Girlguiding has God at its core and anyone who has issue with this is free to start their own organisation.”

However the Girl Guides HQ have made it clear that the leaders risk expulsion from the guiding movement.

Do you think the group is right to use the old oath given they are part of, and supported by, a church community? Do you think the oath should include Christian links? The Guides has always had a Christian foundation, is it right to abandon it? Do you think it would be right to expel these Guide leaders?

Read more <here>

We're Back!

It's the start of a new year and TalkingDonkeyRE is back from his summer holidays!

Hopefully there will be a couple of posts a week to help students and teachers of RE. We have just had our 80,000th visitor which is truly amazing; thank you all for your continued support.

Please do continue to give feedback, adding comments and sharing the links.

Make sure you are following @TalkingDonkeyRE on Twitter to get the latest updates. If you are a teacher, please also follow @iTeachRE and visit

Mr Lewis & the SHoM RE Dept