Sunday School and Ritual, plus Pagan Parenting (again)
Erin and I have recently gotten very involved in the church we attend. Erin does tech stuff in the back on the first and third Sundays of the month, and I teach elementary Sunday School on the 3rd Sunday. Usually, if I’m teaching, we’ll try to go to the 10AM service so I can see it, but we slept instead this past week. On the weeks that I’m teaching, we get the lesson a few days before so we can prepare what we want to say and how we want to teach it.
This lesson was all about teachers, and how the different religions all have different teachers, but that they all came and continue to come to help us learn things.
We had a picture with a bunch of different religious symbols on it, and we talked about what they all meant in the class.
I then asked the kids, “What is God?”
I didn’t ask who, I asked what. I got a lot of blank stares at first, so I reworded the question, “What is it that God wants us to do?”
The kids started shouting out things about helping others, and acceptance, and being nice to people. So I summed up all their responses into three words: God is love. Then, I asked them, “What do you do to show someone you love or care about them? What do people, maybe your parents or friends, do to show or say they love and care about you?”
They said stuff about hugs, and helping them, and smiling, and being nice. I pointed out that everyone’s versions of what love was was different, and then I asked them, “So if everyone has different views on love, is everyone’s view on love going to be the same?” Of course, everyone said no.
Then I asked, “Does everyone learn the same way?” No… “How are some different ways people learn?” Seeing, hearing, doing, being shown by someone else, etc.
Then I wrote the word “God” on the board and wrote all the positive stuff about God that we’d already talked about (and the kids were adding more at this point). Then I drew a line at the bottom of the screen and drew some stick figures and labeled it “us.”
Then I said, “Here’s God. And God wants us to know what love is and how to express love and how to know when others love us and how to love others. God wants to teach us this, but if we don’t all learn the same way, then how will we all learn love?”
Then I drew a different arrow to each person and labelled each arrow a different religion: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Wicca, and Hinduism (there were eight kids in the class). And I said, “God made all these religions with their own teachers to help all the different people on the planet learn love in different ways.”
One kid asked me, “Which one am I?” And I responded, “You can be any of them that you want to be.”
Then we colored and made “Wisdom Tellers,” which are Chinese fortune tellers but with quotes from all the major teachers from the major religions on the planet: Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, Tao-zu and some others who’s names are escaping me right now. Then, we did a meditation and a prayer to thank all the teachers we have from the past, present and future for helping us learn all the lessons we need to learn, and then we cleaned up and class was over.
After the class, Erin and I stayed late to re-organize the room and straighten it up. The minister thanked us and said that I must really like and have a really organized classroom since we stayed and did all this. Erin and I both laughed. I said, “No, I just get a wild hair sometimes and just organize everything.”
One of the things that really stuck out to me in the class, though, was one of the girls in the room. She’s one of the older girls, and her family is very much Christian, no matter how liberal they are by being at Unity. She kept mentioning over and over again that all the other religions were “weird.” I kept saying, “They aren’t weird, just different.”
Erin and I talked about, and we both agreed: Our faith as Kemetics and our faith to the Gods comes first, but we refuse to talk negatively about other religions. We don’t want our kids growing up thinking other faiths are “weird” or “bad,” just different and not for us (unless they’re older and decide to make that change for themselves). Honestly, it’ll take a lot of mindfullness about what we say about other faiths or churches, specifically a mega-church in the area that is not known for its friendliness.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, “I believe this faith practice (or church) is wrong, and here’s why…” But I do think it is a problem when we start just saying things like, “They suck.” And then give no explanation as to why we think or feel that way. Blind negativity is never okay, and it’s important to remember that. Always.
In other news, I submitted the required paperwork for my 6-week workshop, and now I’m waiting to hear back about dates. I think I want to start in January. We have to give six week notice, but that’ll start the workshop in December, and that’s too much for most people. So excited!