Somebody forgot to tell the kids in Lindy O'Brien's fourth-grade class that studying the Bible is supposed to be boring. When the Christian schoolteacher announces that it's time to review God's Word, 20 of her 23 students can't contain themselves, letting out whoops of glee usually reserved for recess or lunch.

That is because O'Brien uses an unconventional teaching method called HoneyWord, which uses cartoon characters and household objects to drive home complex theological concepts.

Instead of telling her kids to turn to a chapter and verse, O'Brien holds up a cartoon showing a monkey falling from a broken gymnasium exercise ring. Meanwhile, a frantic mouse attempts to catch the monkey in a bathtub. The cartoon looks baffling and even a bit silly to uninitiated adults, but for these MTV-generation kids, it's a flash card from heaven, conveying a treasure trove of biblical information and moral instruction.

"This is from Matthew 19 and Mark 10," says one student, analyzing the cartoon's happy hieroglyphics in less than two seconds. (In the HoneyWord Way, monkeys always point to Mark, and mice mean Matthew. The monkey's prominent feet and the mouse's bathtub signify chapter numbers.)


But the teaching system does more than provide handles for memorization of Bible trivia. It also helps youngsters home in on what the Bible says. Focusing on the broken exercise ring, one girl gets the jump on her classmates by calling out, "Jesus is teaching about divorce." And sure enough, as O'Brien draws her students out with questions about the cartoon, the kids recite the high points of Jesus' lesson: the importance of honoring commitments, the reality of human unfaithfulness, and the unchanging faithfulness of God. ...

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