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Spirituality for Children

 
pollinator
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Hello everyone, I originally wanted to name this post "the church of Holzer", but I thought I might get more bites with the current title.

I am becoming a first time parent and wanted to get some permie advice, hopefully some reading material, on spirituality for children. I was raised pretty conservative in the christian community and some time between my anthropology years and my hardcore permaculture years I delved deep into my own spirituality. Some sort of hybrid Buddhist, Hindu, Franciscan, earth centered--typical hippy--universal spirit kind of stuff. those who know who Dieter Duhm is will know what I'm spouting. I really think that permaculture is a wonderful way to explore your own spirituality and connect with the Spirit, no matter your background.

But how do kids get approached with this kind of stuff? Book lists anyone? Podcasts or any media would be appreciated.
 
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Hi Daniel,     I have always enjoyed the Jataka Tales as told by the Buddha. They are short, simply written and have a moral to teach that are akin to most faiths and children of all ages.

Jataka Tales

 
pollinator
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Traditionally, Aesop's Fables have been incredibly useful, like biblical parables, but more accessible in most cases.

In the same vein, I would suggest the rich and diverse tales of indigenous peoples from the Americas, Australia, the Arctic circle, basically wherever you can find them.

Truly, these are usually non-denominational tales told to illustrate moral lessons, but they can be useful.

Incidentally, I like the idea of sourcing your spirituality lessons from widely varying sources.

I am wondering, though, what the end goal of spiritualising children is. I don't believe you need to attach spirituality to morality tales in order to make them teachable. Is there a point?

I am not saying there's anything wrong with doing so, just that, at this stage of cultural development, for some it could prove counter-productive.

Spirituality arose as stories, likely analogising life, used to teach people, probably specifically children, about the world, about how it works, and why. They were also conveying traditions, cultural biases, and cautionary tales about behaviour that conflict with life in society. Religion formalised worship, and then further funneled all wonder and everything supernatural into one mental space and called it god, or divinity, or what have you.

While people can do as they like, I like to remember the last two lines of the Wiccan Rede:

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
'An it harm none, do what ye will.

I strongly feel that if spirituality or religion stifle intellectual, social, or personal development, that it is doing harm. Certainly any religious belief that preaches intolerance or hate is an obvious example, but also harmful is the idea, borne of broken or misunderstood religious mentalities, that it is possible to do nothing, hope really hard, and that the universe will provide something. This is a recipe for wasted time and effort. It doesn't have to be that way, but in a lot of cases, god becomes an excuse, something to blame for personal failures.

But it doesn't have to be that way. As an example, Santa Claus can be used to teach children about the joy of giving, even though those same stories can easily be twisted and commercialised, turning the joy of giving into the empty dissatisfaction of unrealistic wants unrealised.

I like the idea of Karma/Dharma, and the Wiccan principle of Three-fold Return to teach ideas of treating others as one would like to be treated. As to the afterlife, I like what physics has to say about energy being indestructible, about fractals repeating in nature, and how like the law of conservation of energy, there seem to be other congruent conservation laws. Reincarnation is messy, but works to my mind, much better, I think, than each soul getting a single kick at the can, and their eternal dispositions determined by that.

I will teach by story. Children love stories. Most persistent bible tales are those told to children by their parents (who else would believe a story about a wooden ship larger than any in history, still too small to fit the hundreds of thousands of pairs of animals), and they are remembered their whole lives long.

I just want to be sure that I am telling stories that teach what I intend to teach, that open doors and windows and minds rather than closing them, that encourage curiosity and investigation as opposed to attributing big, complex ideas to mysticism, and then dismissing them, except for lip-service paid weekly.

I hope this is both useful and not too much of a downer. We all want to do the best we can for our children. That's already a great step forward. Let's make sure the stories we tell them instill in them what we wish to have flourish there.

-CK
 
Daniel Ray
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Thanks for your replies--very nice to have this section in Permies.

I love that idea Chris about using the diverse stories of indigenous peoples. Again, I feel for me permaculture was a great way to add depth to my spirituality and I think that will be my focus on children that will hopefully give them their own insights into the universe.

Thanks again.
 
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I taught my daughter the miracle of a seed sprouting, the birthing of a goat, the nurturing and patience that comes with all of it all.  

Care for the Land, and the Land will care for you.  
Care for the animals and they will provide for you.  

Simple,... The basics of spirituality, of caring, of nurturing, and thus the roots of interconnectedness.

I am Pagan.

Cheers!  K
 
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Chris Kott wrote:
I will teach by story. Children love stories. Most persistent bible tales are those told to children by their parents (who else would believe a story about a wooden ship larger than any in history, still too small to fit the hundreds of thousands of pairs of animals), and they are remembered their whole lives long.



The story of Noah and the ark is a fascinating one for me. Did you know that most cultures in that area have story extremely similar to the biblical flood? Now, of course, this could be for various different reasons:(a) people marry into different regions, sharing the stories their elders taught them, and then their children tell it to their children and on and on (b) floods happen, and so the story of a Great Flood is something that's easily created by all who deal with smaller floods (c) there actually was a great flood of some proportion. Just looking at the myths, (here's a big ol' list of them http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html), it's largely only in the areas surrounding Mesopotamia and where Israelites traveled, that you see flood myths with the same elements as Noah's (giant boat, saving animals in it, sending out birds to see if the land is dry, etc). This makes the world-wide flood seem a bit less likely.

I recently learned that the word in Hebrew for "world" is the same as for "land." It is used sometimes tor refer to the whole entirely of the earth, and at other times it is used to refer to a given area. (source--not the source I originally found, but it is similar)

The Hebrew term eretz translated earth in Genesis 6-8 should be translated land instead of earth. The word eretz is used more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament with 80% of the time being translated land rather than earth.



If I recall, when Abraham tells his nephew lot to pick land, it's the same "eretz" word--he certainly wasn't telling his nephew to pick a earth, but rather a span of land.

Anyway, when, thinking about the flood, the whole scripture has a whole different meaning when the word "land" is substituted for "earth." Suddently, there's a whole lot more room in the ark for 2 of every animal, because they would only need to save the local animals, not the ones, say, in Australia.

Speaking of the animals, my largest pet-peeve since I learned to read was that all the children's bibles and tellings of the story never mention that there were seven of the "clean" animals. I.e. they has 2 of every one of the animals you wouldn't eat, but 7 cows and 7 sheep and 7 goats, etc.

-------------

Anyway, sorry about the Noah's Ark tangent. I just find it so fascinating! And, I think that fascination is something that someone who doesn't have a set religion can really share with their children. Share with them the different myths and tales around the world. Find what connects those. What makes these people--from so many different places--so alike. Studying fables and myths and tales around the world is fascinating, because there's so many "tropes" that are similar--many cultures have tricksters and many have ogre-like creatures, even cultures on different continents. Why? What are the common themes? What are the themes your family does not agree with? Give your children the WHY of your beliefs. They need that "why"--that reasoning--to guide their choices. That way they are not blindly acting, but acting based upon principles and ideas that they understand and agree with.
 
Chris Kott
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In rereading your last post, Nicole, I had a sudden flash of a story idea hit me, wherein the whole Noah story is actually a tale of interstellar flight from a "flood" of another nature, maybe (what is it a quasar puts out, a...?) gamma ray burst (I think) that was sterilising all unprotected life in an area of the cosmos.

Noah is told by his planet's Steward, an independent digital entity evolved from AI, that the quasar is going to eradicate the life on his planet, and to prepare generational ships for their escape. The units of measurement used in the tale already vary based on the telling, so it's conceivable that the original units were much larger.

Many thousands of ships are built, as many live animals as possible that can be useful to the escapees are loaded on, and a complete DNA library, with multiple copies, is loaded on each ship. Perhaps Noah is the name of a tribe, and/or the head of the tribe, with Ham, Shem, and Japeth also representing groups of people.

So the arks lift off and set course for another place. Something happens in mid-flight, and Noah's Ark is separated from the others, cut off from communication; it is plausible that the rest of the arks were caught in the gamma ray burst, or that a navigational malfunction separated them. If the settlers on Noah's Ark were somehow wronged by the other groups, in reality or perception, that would lead to the vilification of the other groups.

Forty units of time measurement later, Noah's Ark enters orbit around the third planet of the Sol system. An AI probe named "Dove" is launched to do a mass spectroscopy and environmental assessment, including a biomass sample, for which it returns with the branch of a fruiting tree with an oily pitted fruit.

As the ark makes it's final approach to land, though, its engines start to go critical. The occupants of the ark quickly fill the escape pods, taking with them all they can fit, including pairs of animals and the equipment to make use of the DNA library copy they were able to fit. Sadly, unicorns and dragons were among some of the creatures lost when the library cube was dropped, it's corner dented.

What do you think? At least as believable as the original (or is it the original?), don't you think?

So if you teach an extreme serious respect, perhaps devotion, to life, biodiversity, and earth stewardship, but in the absence of anything that could be considered spirituality, could it be called reverence?

-CK
 
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You talk to them. The great thing about kids is they ask 9 million questions so you have 9 million chances to indoctrinate them. LOL
 
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