How to Keep Kids Catholic? The Answer Is In the Cards
WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Katherine Andes, a creator of Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards, wants to make an entire generation of children more like her daughter, Lauren.
At least she wants them to know apologetics as well as 14-year-old Lauren does.
At a summer camp two years ago, a friend told Lauren that confession scared her and a Christian counselor — an ex-Catholic — overheard. “You don't have to confess your sins to a priest,” said the counselor. “You can confess them to anyone — that's what the Bible says.”
“Lauren sprang to the girl's defense, responding ‘Oh yes you do,’” recalled Andes, “quoting John 20:22-23 — ‘Jesus breathed on them and said, ’Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’”
Said Andes, “The counselor later telephoned me to comment on Lauren's knowledge of the Bible and to say that she was impressed that Lauren knew why she believed what she believed.”
Andes, along with Matt Pinto, author of Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons?, recently announced the introduction of their Catholic apologetics flash cards for young people.
The Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards present the most common objections people have regarding the Catholic faith, accompanied by short, Scripture-based responses. The full-color, 50-card set features objections in 12 categories, including questions about confession, Mary, salvation and the Eucharist.
The cards are engaging. They are illustrated with five Catholic kids like “Joyful Joey” and “Gracious Grace” responding to questions from five non-Catholic kids like “Curious Connie” and “Questioning Quincy.”
On the front of one card, for example, “Questioning Quincy” asks, “How can you believe a piece of bread is really Jesus?” On the backside, “Gracious Grace” says “Jesus called himself ‘The Bread of Life’” and reinforces the quote up with Scripture John 6:51 and related verses.
The cards were the idea of Pinto, based upon the work that Andes had already been doing with her own two children. The cards took two years to create and are being distributed by Ascension Press.
A catechist and “revert” to the Catholic faith, Andes began teaching her children basic apologetics through a self-designed, weekly program of introducing the basics of the faith intermingled with supporting Scripture, which they systematically memorized.
“In our community, we interact with a large interdenominational group,” said Andes. “I knew my kids would eventually be challenged on their faith, and I started thinking seriously about what I could do to help them know and share it truthfully and charitably.”
Andes hopes that the cards might help prevent people from leaving their faith. “I interact with many Protestants,” said Andes, “and so many of them are ex-Catholics. That is what motivated me to teach my children apologetics at a young age.”
Support has already built for the cards. Many believe that they will be useful in Catholic classrooms and with both children and adult catechism students.
“I am delighted to see these cards make their debut,” said Father Peter Stravinskas, editor of The Catholic Answer. “What we have here is an interactive learning system that presents Catholic theology accurately.”
In addition, the cards are tied into an elaborate Web site (www.friendlydefenders.com) featuring additional games, quizzes, and contests for children.
“I think they will be of great help in the formation of children,” added home-school mother and author Laura Berquist. “They are easy to use, speak to the point, teach the doctrine of the faith, and move the heart.”
While Andes added that the cards are based upon how she taught her children, she did not have the advantage of a complete set of flash cards. Even Lauren, she said, “is really looking forward to learning the entire set of cards.”
Collector Cards are Also Popular
Flash cards aren't the only cards being used to strengthen children's faith. Six years ago, Cactus Game Design released a novel modification of an old favorite – the collector card. Think of them as baseball cards with a twist. It was this popularity that game designer Rob Anderson hoped to seize upon with the creation of Redemption.
“I grew up in a home where we had a fond appreciation for games,” said Anderson. “When collectible trading card games, such as Magic: The Gathering, first came on the market, I found many aspects of creating one's own deck to play against an opponent intriguing.”
However, Anderson found the card's dark and horrific themes and artwork troubling. “The question in my mind,” he said, “was whether or not I would be comfortable with my own children playing such a game.”
Finding it difficult to reconcile such a game with his Christian faith, Anderson created a collectible trading card game based upon the Bible. A $600,000 project, Redemption was first previewed at the Christian Book Publishers Convention in Nashville in January of 1995.
Since then, the game has grown in popularity, especially among church youth groups, and has expanded to four additional sets: The Prophets, The Women, The Warriors, and The Apostles. It has also been endorsed by groups such as Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the Salvation Army.
In the game, players create their own card decks to play against one another. Each player sends their heroes into battle against their opponent's evil characters in an attempt to rescue lost souls for Christ.
Michael Turnidge was first introduced to the game by a friend five years ago and has been hooked ever since.
He admitted that the game has strengthened his faith, primarily from the Bible verses found on the bottom of each card. “I find that Redemption supports my faith and beliefs unlike games such as Magic and Pokemon which are based upon the occult,” commented Turnidge.
While Turnridge, an Evangelical Protestant, says that the card game has been helpful to his faith others wonder if the collector cards might not be Catholic enough.
New age expert Randy England, author of The Unicorn in the Sanctuary, said, “Like so many other Christian products, I wonder if the cards might not be confusing to Catholic children that have not received proper instruction in the faith?”
While a Catholic version of the card game does not exist, Cactus Game Design has released a Catholic version of their children's game Scattergories.
In addition, the company produces a Bible edition of the popular game Outburst, the computer game Saints of Virtue, and a set of comic books by the title Archangels.
Tim Drake is editor of Catholic.net, a Web site maintained by Register publisher Circle Media.
- August 19-25, 2001