Tower of Babel



Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Scripture Reference: Genesis 11:1-8. Such a short lesson, it may be easiest to just read it aloud, each student taking a verse in turn around the circle.


  1. Service References: St. Andrew of Crete, in his canon sung the first week of Great Lent, laments: “You, my soul, desire to build a tower as a fortress for your lusts, as the people of Babel erected a tower to increase their strength. But as He did with them, so will the Creator also overthrow your desires and shatter all your plans.”


It comes as no huge surprise that the confusion of the languages at the tower of Babel is compared by the Church with the speaking in tongues of Pentecost. “Of old there was confusion of tongues because of the boldness of the tower-builders. But those tongues have not uttered wisdom for the glory of divine knowledge. There God condemned the infidels to punishment, and here with the Spirit Christ illuminated the fisherman. At that time the confusion of tongues was designed for vengeance, but now the unison of tongues hath been renewed for the salvation of our souls.” The practice of “speaking in tongues” is discussed by Paul as a “gift of the Spirit” and is still practiced today. In some Pentecostal denominations, the ability to speak in tongues is considered proof of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What does the Orthodox Church teach about this “gift”?


  1. Discussion:

If you’re an actor (or actress) or can recruit one, this would be the perfect

time for a cross-cultural experience. Suddenly start talking another language (or nonsense syllables, they won’t know!) and doing strange things (greet them with a foot-shake, sit in your chair strangely, click your fingers yes instead of nodding your head, tap your thumb on your ear for “no”) – i.e., create a whole, new culture and language. Keep this up for about 5 minutes, trying all the while to get the class to do a certain something like sit in a row instead of a circle. Frustrating? After you return to English, compare and contrast their experience with the builders of the tower of Babel.

Discuss alienation. What kind of alienation did the people experience in Genesis 11? Do we still have alienation of one nation to another? Of peoples within a nation? Examples? Serbs and Croats, Irish and English… Brainstorm. Is there a “history” that cannot be changed between these peoples? What can be changed? Why can’t we all get along? What similarities do we share? What differences? What are the reasons behind war? Brainstorm some. How do diplomats try to resolve these reasons and avoid war? What can we do to lessen the tension between nations? What can we do to better understand people of a different culture and language?

How do we experience alienation in our own lives? Between classmates? Between child and parent? Between myself and God? What are the reasons behind these alienations? (e.g., Dad’s always away on business trips, John made fun of me in class) Is there a “history” that can’t be changed? What can be changed? How can I act to change it?


  1. Close with prayer: Have each teen sit quietly and think of a time in the past week when he or she has felt isolated or alienated and why. Have each mention this time in prayer and pray together for the breaking down of that wall of alienation.