De Bono and the Bible

May 18, 2009

Here’s an idea from the chief eleven year old in my life. Reading the bible is important stuff, so he wants use the top thinking skills he knows. “Why can’t we read the Bible wearing the six thinking hats?” he asks. He’s referring to Edward de Bonos famous framework for creative collaborative thinking. Google it if you’ve never come across it before – but it’s routinely taught in most Australian primary schools.
Well – I’m game – how about you? Let’s take bible bit – Mark Chapter 12
will do:
” One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”

Pick any hat you like and try it on. Let us know what thoughts you have…hats


  1. I shall wear the red hat, ‘Intuition and Emotions’, described on Wikipedia as:
    “Feeling (Red) – instinctive gut reaction or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)”

    For me, my gut reaction is that Jesus’ answer to the question posed seems like a pretty good one, an appropriate baseline from which to base everything else.

  2. I am wearing my yellow hat which is benefits. It is also a bit of red hat because it was the first thing that came to my mind: People are more important than things which is great Jesus says that it is more important to love your neighbour than burn offerings and sacrifices.

  3. The white hat is for information.
    Debating the law was a very common practice, as a means for growing in understanding.
    When Jesus is asked which of the commandments is the most important, he doesn’t answer with a quote from one of the ‘Ten Commandments’ commonly drawn form Exodus 20.
    ‘Commandments’ means the whole of the law – all of God’s good ways for us…not just 10 rules.
    The ‘Hear O Israel..’ quote that Jesus uses in his answer is from Deuteronomy 6 and is foundational in Jewish faith history.
    There is an amazing piece of music ‘A survivor from Warsaw’ by Schoenberg that remembers the atrocitiies of ethnic cleansing in polish ghettos in the 1940s, that climaxes in the chanting of this verse as Jewish people are persecuted but are united around this declaration of God’s voice in their historical and contemporary midst.

    The man replies with a reference to ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ which draws on the message of the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah (and a few others too).
    He is linking Jesus’ answer to the prophetic tradition.

    Anyone willing to wear the green, blue or black hat?

  4. I’ll wear the black hat ‘Disadvantages, Difficulties or Dangers’…

    What Jesus says really challenges me. I can find it hard to love God with everything, particularly if it means putting God before stuff like other relationships, money and my time. Also, loving my neighbour “as myself” means that loving myself needs to be a part of my Christian walk. As a perfectionist, I can often get down on myself and struggle when I make mistakes. Jesus calls me to be good to those around me and show love, but also to be less hard on myself and let him build up my self esteem. That’s certainly not an easy task.

  5. […] angles. (If not, there’s a summary sheet here with the sort of questions that might be used.) This blog suggests using the technique to open up Bible exploration with older […]

  6. I think this is blue hat, but not sure…Maybe a bit of green mixed in as I go along

    What does it mean to love God and each other?

    What does it mean to love is a question that seems to come up again and again in life for many different reasons.

    Those who know some New testament greek can fill us in on which word for ‘love’ is used here and how we understand that…

    We could add in the list of adjectives from 1 Cor 13: love is patient, kind, not jealous boastful proud or rude, does not demand it’s own way, not irritable, does not keep record of wrongs, never glad about injustice, rejoices in the truth, never gives up, never loses faith, always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
    So, if we substitute these, we get something like:
    Be patient with the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Be patient with
    Be kind to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Be kind to your neighbor as yourself.’

    You can go through the rest.

    As I say each one to myself, I am challenged in tangible ways about being less irritable with God, others and myself, of never giving up on God, others and myself (despite what statistics might suggest), of rejoicing in the truth seen in God, others and myself. I am challenged to not be jealous or proud with my emotions (heart), thoughts (mind), being (soul) or strength (physical, social, emotional etc).

    We have lots of ideas around us that suggest what love is. Maybe some of them could be helpful in thinking about what this part of the bible might be saying, and also how it might be read by those without good models of love.

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