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Friday, May 7th, 2004

Time Event
12:53p
Ashram, Religious education, 05-03-04
The topic for the May Ashram was on religious education for young people: when should what ideas be taught, if at all.

Those attending the Ashram on the third thought that this outline was good enough that they wanted a copy and urged me to share it with those who did not make it as well, so here it is:

Ignatius Loyola said: “Give me a child until he is five
years old. Afterwards, you may do with him as you will, he will not turn from my teaching.”

I don't agree with Loyola that you can make a child that young flawless on docrine, but I do belive that habits of thought can be inculcated early. I also belive that certain subjects, such as damnation, if that is part of the religion's doctrine, are inappropriate for children.

Program for teaching Greg’s theoretical religion:

Appropriate topics for children from ages up to 6:
Values and attitudes, social responsibility. Examples:
“Our faith teaches us that—
Good people tell the truth and do not lie.
Good people work for what they want, and do not steal.
Good people work out their differences with others,
and do not fight them.
Good people are kind to others.

These ideas are shared by people not of our faith.

Bad things happen because they are caused
intentionally by people who want to do harm, by good
people who may be mistaken or careless, and by forces
outside human control, such as the weather.

All children are born with the equal gift of God’s
love, regardless of their race, wealth, ethnicity, or
the religion of their parents. What they do with this
gift is between them and God.”

Ages 7-13, topics include history of the faith and
articles of faith such as creation of the world, and
our sources of inspiration.

Thirteen and up may be permitted to discuss concepts
of sin, the question of evil, and damnation or
salvation. It must be impressed that, if damnation is
a tenet of the religion that only God may make this
judgment, and it is not for mortals to anticipate or
act upon any presumption of judgment. All people are
God’s creatures and His plan for those not of our
faith is not for us to know.

Confirmation in the faith comes only when the young
person is able to pass an oral exam similar to, but
perhaps not as rigid as, defending a thesis. The
person should know not only WHAT they believe, but be
able to explain WHY. (I admit I see problems here—not
passing your catcheism could be a major stigma--.)

I would welcome any other comments.

I've since had some from other friends: Judy Kader wrote that to the teachings for young children she would add:
*Everyone has good in them.
Respect the good in everyone.

*Also: stories from the faith. I think the stories about how the holidays came to be are great for kids, because they become hands on with the celebrations. For example: we (Jews) celebrate Sukkot because of how Jacob lived in the desert. We can look up from our sukkah and see the same stars that he saw. I belive this grounds a child in the continuation of the faith and the feeling that she/he is part of something bigger than him/herself.


"These ideas are shared by people not of our faith."

*Not only is this very important, but it is part of the Jewish faith to aknowledge that everyone is part of G-D, not just Jews, and everyone has a place in heaven. Every living person has the responsibility to keep the "seven Noahide laws" as they are called. (honor your mother and father, don't steal, don't envy, don't kill, ect.) One of the reasons that I can aknowledge the failings and hipocrysies of my faith is that occasionally it seems to get things right like this.

"Bad things happen because they are caused
intentionally by people who want to do harm, by good
people who may be mistaken or careless, and by forces
outside human control, such as the weather."

*I disagree with you on this one. At a very young age I don't belive that teaching about intentionally bad people is important. As they grow up they will realize this one on thier own. As they watch and read the news they will question other people's actions. But until they get old enough to question it on thier own, I would not go out of my way to teach them about bad people. This may be a knee jerk reaction to getting so much footage about Hitler and the death camps at a VERY young age. When children are under 5 I belive it is the duty of the adults around them to keep them away from hurtful people/situations/and knowledge. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't teach them to get out of situations they don't feel comfortable in, or to tell and adult about them. But all they have to know is thier own feelings about it. They were uncomfortable with that person or that situation, not about how "bad" that person is.

"All children are born with the equal gift of God’s
love, regardless of their race, wealth, ethnicity, or
the religion of their parents. What they do with this
gift is between them and God.”

*This one is a no brainer to me. I can't even imagine any other way. How could G-D be G-D if she didn't love everyone?

"Ages 7-13, topics include history of the faith and
articles of faith such as creation of the world, and
our sources of inspiration."

* Yeah. I agree, but I guess I am selective about this one, too. So many of our "sources for inspiration" in the Jewish faith tend to be martyrs. The story of Hannah and her seven sons is NOT something I think should be handed to a kid too young. Again, knee jerk. I got that one at around 7-8 and had nightmares about my mother having all her skin scraped off with a giant metal comb until she died. However, sources inspriation being the natural world that G-D gave us responsibility for I belive can start at an even earlier age, with simple walks in nature and observational questions that come up. The amazing inspiration of diversity on the planet.

"Thirteen and up may be permitted to discuss concepts
of sin, the question of evil, and damnation or
salvation. It must be impressed that, if damnation is
a tenet of the religion that only God may make this
judgment, and it is not for mortals to anticipate or
act upon any presumption of judgment. All people are
God’s creatures and His plan for those not of our
faith is not for us to know."

*Very much so. Also, for me, this is a good age to start impressing that Jews don't belive in confession of sin and absolution. You are forever guilty of every sin you have committed and the only way to rectify it is to do more mitzvot than sins. If you feel that you have done something very bad, you have to make amends for it and then, on top of that, do something good, to bring the scales back to the good end.

"Confirmation in the faith comes only when the young
person is able to pass an oral exam similar to, but
perhaps not as rigid as, defending a thesis. The
person should know not only WHAT they believe, but be
able to explain WHY. (I admit I see problems here—not
passing your catcheism could be a major stigma--.)"

* We talked about this one there. The more I think about it, the more I think its an ongoing thing. That at each age they could make a commitment to whatever they felt they wanted to. At 5 a child can make a commitment to being a sharing person. She/he could commit to helping people more, to loving G-D more, to trying harder to learn, ect. At 10 they can make different commitments. Maybe I see this one as not about a one time confirmation, but an ongoing commitment to what they belive in. Felixiblity and the ability to grow in our understanding and faith seem to be left out of the one time confirmation thing.
1:11p
Abuse In/Of Iraq
Now we are getting to some philosphically interesting facets of the prisoner abuse scandal. Mr. Bush says that these activities are not indicative of the American character, but I'm very much afraid that they are. The US suffers very much from the "wogs begin at Calais" syndrome, and that has just been aggravated by the September eleventh attacks. As is well known, considering the enemy sub-human makes it just that much more easy to commit atrocities against them. Rush Limbaugh and the other oafs who dismiss it as "fraternity hazing" of course miss the point: even if it were only hazing, one is still not permitted to haze the prisoners. "Blowing off steam," or "revenge" are not justifiable excuses either: revenge is not the province of individual soldiers.

A very good question is raised by asking if whether or not the administration declaration that detainees are not covered by the Geneva Conventions has contributed to an an abusive climate. I suggest the question is larger yet: If the government can rape an entire country just because it wants to and can, what matters a little one-on-one abuse between individuals? If that is not the ultimate source of an abusive climate, what is?

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