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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Instruction of Children
anoesis
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So - I took my kids to a 'light party' yesterday, run by a local Anglican church of which I have a little experience, as some elderly relations attend it regularly. I had some reservations about the whole thing, beforehand, but decided to go, partly on the basis that I don't like my kids to go trick or treating so it's good to provide an alternative, and partly on the basis that a few other people I know to be sane were also taking their children.

Well. It. was. not. a. success. In fact, it was an absolute debacle, and a complete bloody shambles. However, never mind. Just when I was wondering if there was anything they could bollocks up any more about the occasion, lo and behold their children's worker appeared to tell the kiddies a story, illustrated by props.

And here we get to the good bit. The prop was, surprise, surprise, a pumpkin. My keen mommy-eyes could see that it had been pre-hacked-about-with in the style of a jack-o-lantern and the pieces re-inserted. (Actually, I imagine anyone over five picked that up). Anyway, the story concerned a farmer who grew all kinds of pumpkins, that came out looking different, different sizes, different, skins, each one unique, etc., etc. How lovely. Well, one day, the farmer took a look inside one of his pumpkins, and saw what was in there. 'We all know what's inside pumpkins, don't we, kids', says the children's worker, lifting a handful of pre-loosened innards for inspection - 'all this gross, slimy, gooey junk - uck!!' - drops it to one side on the tray while I think to myself, You have got to be freaking kidding me. Is this going where I think it is? Oh, yes. Oh yes it is. Well the farmer fixed his pumpkin up very nicely, much better than before. He scraped out all the yucky junk and put a candle in there so the light could shine out through the eyes and the smile. And that's why we need Jesus, to replace all the bad stuff inside of us and shine out through our smiles.

It's being polite to say that this annoyed me quite a bit - it's twenty-eight hours later and I'm still seething - but help me out here, people. What do you actually think?


1.) Is it appropriate to suggest to children that they are full of bad stuff inside that would be best scraped out? Or is it potentially damaging to their psyche?

2.) Is it (at all) theologically correct, that the stuff of ourselves needs eviscerating, so that we can all get Jesus-transplants and walk around as android Jesus-clones with something that isn't ourselves beaming out from our hollow eye-socket? If so, why emphasise the farmer's glorying in each pumpkin's uniqueness?
2b.) If it IS theologically correct, do we not worry about damaging their psyche? (I mean, that's not a construct that appears in the Bible anyway)...

3.) If it is, in fact, theologically dodgy, as well as a gross offence to metaphor, to try and turn jack-o-lanterns into an illustration of why we all need Jesus, how DO we approach communicating this stuff to kids? Do it anyway because any understanding of Jesus is better than none? Let them read the Bible, ask questions, and answer them as they arise? Explain it correctly and without condescension, knowing there will be some gaps in understanding, and fill these in later? Or just leave the whole thing until 'later'? And might some of these approaches be appropriate for some children, and not for others?

Interested to hear your responses. In the meantime, I'll be chewing my knuckles, trying to think of a way to explain to my eldest child that she is not brimful of yuckyness on the inside, that she doesn't need to stop being herself to be acceptable to God, and that if you cut open a pumpkin and scrape out its insides in order to put a candle in, you'll have an oozing, maggot-ridden heap in fairly short order, whereas if you want your pumpkin to stay healthy for a good long time, you just leave it be.

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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Cathscats
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Good grief! I had never heard of a light party until this year, and do so hope that this was a bad example. Of course you don't tell kids they are full of yucky things inside, especially while disembowelling a pumpkin, so that the illustration becomes what is remembered. Yucky things then becomes guts, not sin, etc.

I would think that of your options, either let them read the Bible and then be prepared to answer questions is good - and they might come to a completely different understanding of faith than you expect! Or explain properly without condescension. But you don't have to do it as an alternative to Hallowe'en.

Meanwhile I must remember to get treats for the guisers.

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"...damp hands and theological doubts - the two always seem to go together..." (O. Douglas, "The Setons")

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Morgan
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I would have been appalled. It is not only bad theology but does children a grave disservice. Jesus is neither a transplant nor a health additive. And good luck getting the children to eat pumpkin after that little lesson. Instead of being healthy and tasty, it is now not only slimy and disgusting but also infected with sin. I wonder whether you can plant it in the compost heap and grow the tree of temptation from the garden of Eden.

Halloween can be complicated, not least because we all come from different perspectives and understandings, but my current go-to lesson on Halloween trick or treating is when faced with someone different, strange or scary we are asked to choose. Will our relationship be one of conflict (trick) or of kindness (treat)? Will we welcome the stranger with hospitality or follow the adrenalin response to fight or flee? Will we fear the darkness or help to bring the light?

It's not a totally solid answer but can start a conversation.

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mr cheesy
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This wouldn't have happened in the church where I grew up as a small child. Illustrations were always supposed to be "wholesome" and it wouldn't have gone down well to subvert a halloween lantern.

But I think the theology is fairly standard. Many churches tell their kids that they're sinful and need to be saved.

Which was always problematic for me as a child. I couldn't think of anything particularly bad I'd done (which looking back.. *shudder*..) and hearing the same message a lot made one wonder whether something was supposed to happen following "accepting Jesus into your life".

Personally I think this is a meaningless concept for a child of 5.

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arse

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Martin60
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It's all so discouraging isn't it? Are you able to feed back anoesis? Or is there no point? Send them this thread! Or the vicar at least.

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Love wins

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Erroneous Monk
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It's a totally daft metaphor.

The stuff inside a pumpkin isn't *bad* - it's the seeds, and Jesus uses seeds, planting and growth as metaphors for all kinds of *good* things.

God doesn't want us to have empty heads - he wants us to have a faith that is equal to our intellect.

Is there "badness" inside us all? Well we're all inherently selfish and children are well able to understand this. They know that babies cry when they need things, but that as we get older, we have other ways to say what we need and we begin to understand that other people need things too.
In practical terms, love is about treating everyone's needs as important. and sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it's hard to do.

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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mr cheesy
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Well also there is nothing bad about a pumpkin, it can all be eaten including the string, skin and the seeds.

One might not like pumpkin, but it isn't actually poisonous..

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arse

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
It's a totally daft metaphor.

The stuff inside a pumpkin isn't *bad* - it's the seeds, and Jesus uses seeds, planting and growth as metaphors for all kinds of *good* things.

True, but then Jesus didn't particularly seem to like dates or salt. Neither of which are really bad in-and-of themselves.

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arse

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Ohher
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It's also one single experience. It's entirely possible that the children will forget about this and escape unscathed because they've had previous experience with pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, etc.

While I agree that it's bad theology and a very questionable "lesson," your kids may learn more about this lesson from your reaction than from the lesson itself.

Let it go.

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From the Land of the Native American Brave and the Home of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free

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Bishops Finger
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anoesis' experience sounds like the reverse of Godly Play:

https://www.godlyplay.uk/

We don't do Godly Play at Our Place, but I'd like to introduce it if and when the couple presently running the Sunday School/monthly 'Crafty Church' retire.

IJ

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

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Martin60
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Never let go.

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Love wins

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hatless

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‘A gross offence to metaphor’ is a brilliant phrase and idea. Never mind the theology, please don’t torture anyone’s mind with such a brain thumping analogy.

I was told I was made of slugs and snails and puppy dog tails. My sister was apparently much nicer. But I knew it was playful.

Giving talks to children is very difficult and it’s easy to seize on any half-promising idea, gimmick or gadget. The desperation can be measured by how many of my cohort of theological students, so poor we live nearly cashless lives, nonetheless splashed out on boxes of chocolates when we went to preach at local churches, because up to 1988 you could buy in the UK a brand of chocolates called Good News. And the Gospel can also be called the Good News, you see? So the chocolates represent the Christian message, and sharing them is a bit like evangelism, isn’t it? And nothing gets people’s attention like someone wandering the church with an open box of chocolates.

Of course, sharing a box of Black Magic chocolates is also a bit like evangelism, and the dissonance would make it a far more memorable children’s talk, but no one had the nerve to do it.

I suspect there is something about the expectation that you can express the Gospel in five visually memorable minutes to a group aged from 2 to 102 that produces such dreadful failures.

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My crazy theology in novel form

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Boogie

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Get a pumpkin, let your kids scrape it out and put a design on the outside, put a candle in. They’ll then see there’s nothing disgusting about the filling. Discuss whether the seeds would grow if planted. See if they refer to the illustration - I bet they don’t, these things don’t usually bother kids one way or the other.

Your kids will learn by your example, not from a loopy youth worker’s misguided story.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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lilBuddha
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“Christian” alternatives to Halloween are inherently fucked up, so the “teachings” included will be Rubbish as well. The pumpkin “lesson” is potentially harmful to children and isn’t a competent lesson even if the theology were sound.
Light parties. [Roll Eyes]
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus had already returned, looked at y’all, shook his head and turned back ‘round.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Stejjie
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It sounds, from what anoesis has said, like a fairly standard evangelical presentation of the gospel*, aimed rather clumsily at children, with an absolutely terrible attmept at using a pumpkin as an illustration.

What made me think as I was reading the OP, though, wasn't the pumpkin part (lousy an illustration as that was), but the "aimed at children" part. From my experience, it's fairly common in such circles to present the gospel* to children in the same way as they would to adults: ie you have sinned, Christ died for you (and rose again, though that never seems to get mentioned) to take away your sin so that you can go to heaven/have eternal life/not get burned in the afterlife (delete as applicable). ISTM to be a one-size-fits-all message (and one in which there seems to me to be a kernel of truth - though how much more there is than that I wouldn't like to say).

The trouble I have with doing that is this: off the top of my head, I can't remember a single instance of Jesus preaching anything remotely close to this message to children. Jesus wasn't averse to calling adults to repentance, to pointing out sin when he saw it, and sometimes to warning of the dire consequences if people didn't take heed of his message - though whether that equates to the classic evangelical presentation of the gospel* is open for debate. But I can't think of an instance when he ever said anything remotely like this to children. Quite the opposite: he welcomed children, blessed then (over-ruling his disciples in doing so); more than that, he often used children as an example of what the Kingdom is like and told adults they had to change to be like them in order to enter it.

Now, this is probably a simplistic summary of Jesus' attitude to children and I don't want to romanticise children's innocence (as a father of 2 very boisterous girls, I would find that impossible!). But it seems hard to me to square the message that anoesis heard with Jesus' apparent willingness to bless and affirm children. Given the picture we have in the gospels, I can't help thinking that gospel* presentations to children like these are a long, long way off target.

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*That is, the gospel as they understand it.

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A not particularly-alt-worshippy, fairly mainstream, mildly evangelical, vaguely post-modern-ish Baptist

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mr cheesy
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Pumpkin seeds won't grow - or are very unlikely to - into plants because they're usually f1 varieties. It is very unusual to find a heritage pumpkin variety from which the seed can grow into a plant.

Boring but true unfortunately.

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arse

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Pumpkin seeds won't grow - or are very unlikely to - into plants because they're usually f1 varieties. It is very unusual to find a heritage pumpkin variety from which the seed can grow into a plant.

Which is an interesting point, far more so than the silly nonsense the youth worker was spouting.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Pumpkin seeds won't grow - or are very unlikely to - into plants because they're usually f1 varieties. It is very unusual to find a heritage pumpkin variety from which the seed can grow into a plant.

One year we grew pumpkins in our garden, and the next year a few came up that we had not planted. This was around 1980, and maybe the variety we planted is no longer available.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

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Bishops Finger
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What hatless and Stejjie both said above.

[Overused] [Overused]

BTW, why are pumpkins so associated with Halloween? Is it because (a) they're easy-ish to carve, or (b) that they're orange - the correct liturgical colour for Halloween, along with black?

IJ

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

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Baptist Trainfan
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I don't know. It might be a matter for intense debate.
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quetzalcoatl
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Truly amazing that the guts of a pumpkin, where life is stored if you like for the next year, is being labelled as something negative. Nature is pretty messy at times, but right in the mess, is new life, new birth, creativity, energy, and so on.

This applies to people as well - if you go right into your own mess and shit, eventually new life will emerge.

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everything must go.

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Jemima the 9th
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Absolutely 100% what Stejjie said. Actually, I've never thought about the difference in what Jesus said to adults & kids before, but it's now very obvious. Not that I have ever, or ever would, tell my kids that they were full of yucky stuff and needed to be saved from their sins by the death of Jesus. Especially as that then seems to involve (involuntary) smiling. [Projectile]

Our church does one of these parties, though they don't call it a light party as such, and they don't make a massive downer on Halloween. We had it on Saturday, and it was, in part, great. Partly I think because we have a large number of kids coming (about 100 I think) and so it is run with great efficiency. Everybody comes in, there is singing, there is a short talk* then there are crafts & games - you're given a coloured sticker when you come in, so you take it in turns - the kids with blue stickers do apple bobbing first etc etc. Then they sit down to watch a short film, and the little kids go home, and the older ones stay to watch another film. Everyone gets sweets and glowsticks.

*The talk, though. These are kids who by and large don't do church - they come to holiday club in the summer, but neither they nor their families are regulars. It feels to me like there's a desperate need to clock up another sale for Jesus (TM) - and I doubt very much whether the concepts of sin and being saved by the death of Jesus (again, resurrection never gets a look in) are understood by these 6 year olds. Morgan's ideas about what our encounters with people are like makes so much more sense, and seem so much healthier.

Gah. It makes me mad. I fell into evangelical Christianity at 15. I prayed the Sinner's Prayer. The years I struggled with worrying about whether I was truly forgiven. What a bunch of arse. Not appropriate at 15, and definitely not at 5.

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L'organist
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Oumpkins are associated with Hallowe'en in the UK because we've allowed the cultural hegemony of the US free reign and lost our own traditions.

Any jack-o-lanterns carved in the UK were from turnips - which, being basically white, made them look like the faces of the dead, which is what they were meant to represent since they were to frighten away restless spirits.

Apple-bobbing was popular in my youth, as was nut-roasting. Dressing-up or face painting was greatly enhanced using the juice from walnuts as a natural skin-staining agent. And I definitely remember the baking of little saffron-spiced cakes called soul cakes for Hallowe-en.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Jemima the 9th
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The soul cakes sound goooood.
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
anoesis' experience sounds like the reverse of Godly Play:

https://www.godlyplay.uk/

We don't do Godly Play at Our Place, but I'd like to introduce it if and when the couple presently running the Sunday School/monthly 'Crafty Church' retire.

IJ

I use Godly Play as the curriculum for the church where I serve, and there is much that is lovely about it. However, it does need to be said, it is not the "reverse" of the pumpkin parable (which, being an evangelical, I'd heard many times before). Godly Play contains many similar stories with similar messages-- the only difference being that they're draw directly (and literally) from Scripture. One of the more troubling ones is the Godly Play take on the parable of the fishnet (which I won't use) with it's fearsome image of Jesus pulling the fishnet up and deciding some fish are "bad" and need to be "thrown back" and some fish are "good" and so are "chosen" (the fact that, for a fish, being "thrown back" means life and being "chosen" means death is never explored). There are other troublingly literal explorations of troubling stories like Hagar that are not explored in anything like a child-friendly or life-affirming way.

All of which to say that using any curriculum, story, or parable uncritically, especially with children, is fraught (including, apparently, those told by Jesus). You have to be willing to engage the kids, have a conversation, see what they are hearing-- which is often quite different from what was intended. Godly Play does a really good job of the listening part with it's famous (or infamous) "I wonder" questions. However, if those "I wonder" questions reveal any disturbing interpretations ("I am a bad fish that Jesus says should be discarded"), it is ideologically opposed to any redirect/ reinterpretation/ reframing. While I understand the principle, I think is a mistake with young children who may get very false and troubling messages (eg from the fishnet story) and need to be helped to see something beautiful and wonderful-- or just be told (as perhaps the youth worker should have done with the parable of the pumpkin)-- "oh, what a silly story! We all know God created us and said 'it is good'-- and that means YOU are good! Let's sing a fun song instead."

[ 30. October 2017, 12:52: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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LutheranChik
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One of the most depressing church experiences I ever had was taking part in a lay ministry training exercise where we were given a Gospel text and tasked with turning it into a children's sermon. It was a lesson for me that children's ministry is not for everyone, or even for most people; and that even the concentrated efforts of seminary professors and mentors could dislodge the crap theology from some lay ministry students' heads. It made me wonder how these individuals could go through standard catechesis AND our classes and still be incapable of answering the question, "What does this mean for me and for the faith community?"

The pumpkin illustration? Crap theology. Good only for teachable moments on the way home about how God made us and God doesn't make junk, and that sometimes teachers aren't always right.

I'd think the vicar would be interested in knowing your opinion of that chat. I used to think that pastors sitting in on small groups were being control freaks, but I've since decided that many lay- led groups need someone with some theological chops to keep the trolley on track.

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Simul iustus et peccator
http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

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Bishops Finger
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@cliffdweller - thanks for sharing your not altogether lovely experiences of Godly Play, with warnings duly noted.

IJ

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

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cliffdweller
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Totally agree, LC.

I've found our gradeschoolers capable of some incredibly deep thinking. Sure you gotta throw in a few games or fun songs to keep them excited/interested, but once they settle down they are capable of some really thoughtful explorations of deeper aspects of theology-- as well as recognizing that there are things that are difficult, nuanced, or mystery-- so we don't have to come up with a neat-and-tidy answer to every question.

The hit-and-miss attendance of most kids in Sunday School these days is part of the problem. Some of that is just the inevitable and mostly unavoidable consequence of divorce/shared custody; some of it is the result of Demon Soccer and other intrusions on any family or church life; some is just Not Making This a Priority. The end result of having kids who attend at best 1-2 times a month is each lesson has to be stand-alone-- turning it into a simplistic "morality tale" that strips it from it's context, rather than being able to teach a long, full arc of Scripture where they get the context and the fuller message. I would wish for more creative solutions to both custody-sharing and extracurricular activities that prioritized getting that continuity in spiritual formation.

Surprisingly, one of the best curriculums I've found for teaching a larger, fuller, narrative arc is the video-based Buck Denver series by none other than Phil Vischer of Veggietales fame. Vischer (emerging from bankruptcy) seems to have taken all the criticisms of veggietales to heart, giving us a series that has all the best aspects of that series without the pap/simplistic morality, etc. He also seems to have read a good share of NT Wright-- the is able to communicate a broad understanding of the narrative arc with an eye to Wright's inaugurated eschatology that is accessible even for younger kids. A good example of why we don't need to talk down to kids.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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LutheranChik
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Totally agree about the problems of hit- or- miss instruction. When I was a kid, back during the Baby Boom, our church had a huge Sunday School, with each grade in its own room after the all- grades devotion. I can't imagine that ever happening again.

What my former church tried to do to fill in the educational gaps was basically a DIY homedchool Sunday School program; enrolled parents would get a monthly packet with four weeks of Bible lessons and devotionals suited for family reading/ discussion, plus games and suggested activities. (Even then, not all the parents even bothered to pick them up, necessitating a monthly mailing.) Then every month there'd be a special Sunday School hour at church where kids could interact with one another. This was not a rousing success, and the church eventually switched to a monthly All Ages weekend get- together at a sympathetic local preschool, where adults had mommy/ daddy time with intermittant Bible study in one r room, the kids had Sunday School in another, and everyone joined for an informal meal and service with Eucharist afterward. This tack finally seems to have worked, at least as far as parent participation, and I think they're on about their third year.

(In this scenario the left- out parties were the tweens -- not old enough to mix easily with the high school confirmation class kids, too old for the Sunday School activities. They wound up being minders, which isn't really my idea of including them in the learning community...they got a quarterly lock-in retreat, but no regular learning space of their own besides that.

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Simul iustus et peccator
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Lamb Chopped
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SUCKY suck suck suck suckety suck.

Give me pumpkin innards any day over the sucky theology of that presenter.

It's bloody heresy. And no doubt they don't even know it.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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SusanDoris

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anoesis

I would have felt as you do in OP! Mind you, I would not have gone in the first place, but that's beside the point.
It was in my opinion entirely inappropriate to provide such an image for children, being not only a bit weirde factually, but also wrong psychologically. As a teacher I would never have presented any lesson or situation in such an appallingly negative way.
From an atheist point of view I would add that to tell them they need Jesus etc is to tell them something that is false, since Jesus has been dead for nearly 2,000 years and the presenter could not in any way back up what he said with correct evidence.

Hope you don't mind the fairly forceful way I have written this!

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Bishops Finger
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@LutheranChik - Our Place seems to be working towards a smaller version of your church's monthly All-Age event. Ours is for 7-12s, and has proved quite popular with local young families (we call it 'Crafty Church').

The people running it would now like to expand the worship/teaching element a little, and encourage more parent participation, based on that which already exists.

Our previous priest took no interest in it whatever, but, if and when we get a new priest-in-charge, we might be able to incorporate a very simple Eucharist as well, not necessarily every month. We shall see.

We don't have a regular Sunday School on Sunday mornings now, but those children who do attend the Eucharist seem quite happy to spend the whole hour in church with Mater and Pater.

@SusanDoris - don't forget that even devout Christians can't directly prove the existence of God, either!

[Biased]

IJ

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The future is another country - they might do things differently there...

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
@cliffdweller - thanks for sharing your not altogether lovely experiences of Godly Play, with warnings duly noted.

IJ

Oh, my experiences ARE mostly lovely-- there is so much that is wonderful about the approach But yes, some warnings should be noted-- as with all curricula.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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quote:
And here we get to the good bit. The prop was, surprise, surprise, a pumpkin. My keen mommy-eyes could see that it had been pre-hacked-about-with in the style of a jack-o-lantern and the pieces re-inserted. (Actually, I imagine anyone over five picked that up). Anyway, the story concerned a farmer who grew all kinds of pumpkins, that came out looking different, different sizes, different, skins, each one unique, etc., etc. How lovely. Well, one day, the farmer took a look inside one of his pumpkins, and saw what was in there. 'We all know what's inside pumpkins, don't we, kids', says the children's worker, lifting a handful of pre-loosened innards for inspection - 'all this gross, slimy, gooey junk - uck!!' - drops it to one side on the tray while I think to myself, You have got to be freaking kidding me. Is this going where I think it is? Oh, yes. Oh yes it is. Well the farmer fixed his pumpkin up very nicely, much better than before. He scraped out all the yucky junk and put a candle in there so the light could shine out through the eyes and the smile. And that's why we need Jesus, to replace all the bad stuff inside of us and shine out through our smiles.
Well...I'm going to poke my neck out and say I think this could be OK! (I wasn't there, and perhaps the delivery was wonky. But...)

What if we decide to get across to kids things like

"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"

"If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"

"Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"

My kids (now 10 and 12) have long, long been OK with the sensible idea that everyone is a tw*t, including Mum, Dad, and themselves. It's part of the Good News, required so that lovejoypeacepatiencegoodnesskindnessfaithfullnessgentlenessselfcontrol exist - are real, solid, objective, to be relied upon, not the outcome of a focus group - and that their absence is not due to the foreigners, the unemployed, the (dare I say it) bosses - but due to all of us.

And Jesus-in-me does make me smile, now and again. He even temporarily stops me being such a twat, until the next time. My kids have often reminded me of his apparent absence in me.

(Most memorably during a heated argument my wife and I were having in the car about the fruit of the spirit. They just about broke their nascent irony meters [Smile] ).

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
Most memorably during a heated argument my wife and I were having in the car about the fruit of the spirit.

You had an argument with your wife in the CAR?

Surely not! That's never, ever happened to us, of course ... [Hot and Hormonal] [Hot and Hormonal]

[ 31. October 2017, 16:30: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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sabine
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quote:
Originally posted by hatless:


I suspect there is something about the expectation that you can express the Gospel in five visually memorable minutes to a group aged from 2 to 102 that produces such dreadful failures.

Especially since it took Jesus his entire life to live it, and the rest of us are stumbling along in his footsteps. Visualising the process as a pumpkin just makes me want to kick the darn thing out of the way so I can get on with the process. [Smile]

I remember someone trying to describe grace to me as a child....a vase that gets filled if you're good but spills if you do something against God's wishes. ????

Seriously, sometimes I think we underestimate the ability of children to absorb (over time) ideas about God's love and how to live within that love.

sabine

[ 31. October 2017, 19:25: Message edited by: sabine ]

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"Hunger looks like the man that hunger is killing." Eduardo Galeano

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Martin60
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Hey m_i_m, love ya man. Real, cognitive, true. How Jesus makes us magically better, I can't imagine. Us being real, cognitive and true, honest, naked, vulnerable, yeah, that helps for sure. Well, at least it does no harm.

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Love wins

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Martin60
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Kids need to know that they are normal, that everything they feel is normal. OK. Natural. Every scary, scared impulse, every feeling. That is better, best objectively, safely said than acted out.

And God will ALWAYS listen and fully understand and wants you to find a way ahead with Him if no one else, for the rest of your life: it's the same for EVERYBODY, especially people who have known themselves for longer.

Why we're scaring kids with the weirdness of the Bible, the NT, let alone the OT, I don't know. I think the RCC was on to something in keeping it out of unlearned hands.

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Love wins

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Golden Key
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Many people do alternative jack-o-lanterns--religious symbols (even a cross), stencils, words, etc. It's easy to adjust.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
we might be able to incorporate a very simple Eucharist as well, not necessarily every month. We shall see.

Why do you need to? Celebrate what you have - it's their "church."

Please don't go down that route or it will just become another "service"

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anoesis
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Hi everyone - thanks for your responses and sorry about not checking back in before now - we're moving house at the moment so all is chaos and internet coverage is patchy. In order to avoid a huge blurt of posts all by me, one after another, I'm going to address a few short responses in one, and take time for a couple of longer ones after, if I have the energy..

Morgan - I found your idea of reflecting on the choices we make when faced with those we find different or scary inspired - I would never have thought of that but it will be on my mind come next Halloween.

Other - You don't need to be concerned about my kids making anything of my reaction - I managed not to have one at the time, and haven't actually gone back over the ground with them specifically - I just feel like I might need to reinforce that it's ok to be you, the way you are. I sure wish folk had been clearer about that point with me, as a child.

Stejjie - [Overused] - and nothing more to add...

To those scoffing at light parties - it's not that I think they're particularly wonderful, nor that I think that Halloween is to be stringently resisted on the basis that it's somehow celebrating evil - it's more that I'd prefer not to get us involved in Halloween because it was just never done here until recently, and still isn't widespread, despite retailers' best efforts. It's abundantly clear to anyone with a few cells still ticking over that it's nothing more than an excuse to shift tonnes of cheap shit in the form of costumes and sell bushels and bushels of sugar - and all in the service of what, exactly? Whereas in the States there's some actual weight of tradition behind it - I mean, it's not even pumpkin time of year here, for crying out loud - they're having to be imported!

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Kids need to know that they are normal, that everything they feel is normal. OK. Natural. Every scary, scared impulse, every feeling. That is better, best objectively, safely said than acted out.

Yeah, I think you may be right. Just like it helps to hear your spouse say, 'I love you'. I mean, it's not like you don't believe it, but it makes a difference, to hear it now and then.

I sometimes wonder if this race to get children to 'invite Jesus into their hearts' as early as possible is based on some sort of theological version of the idea that nature abhors a vacuum, and if you don't fill 'em up with Jesus, then the devil will move in before you know it. If so, it's an analogy I'm unconvinced by.

quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Why we're scaring kids with the weirdness of the Bible, the NT, let alone the OT, I don't know. I think the RCC was on to something in keeping it out of unlearned hands.

This will amuse you - My mother (fundagelical), relating to me (aged about ten, probably), a conversation she'd recently had with her own mother (Roman Catholic). Mum: "She said to me, you don't let your children read the Bible, do you? I mean, it's full of prostitutes, and incest, and murder! Ha, ha, ha!" Me: [Paranoid] ... ? ... ?

But, in all seriousness, my parents read the WHOLE Bible through, over and over, a chapter a day, at mealtime, throughout my childhood and adolescence, and - honestly - I don't know how I feel about that. I think I'm probably not sorry they did it, in many ways, but it probably did have the effect that the bits of it that resonated most with me for the longest time were the parts that made good stories, rather than the parts that contained good instruction. I mean, the book of Daniel is a rollicking read, Jonah is kind of hilarious, and Esther seems really neat too before you are old enough to think through how seriously fucked up all that stuff is. The thing is, I suspect just reading it isn't enough - I had read it all, so many times, I could quote chunks of it off by heart, and I'm only just realising now (in my forties, and having had a break from it for a while), what some of the undercurrents running through the thing are. Maybe the Bible is like a crossword in that way - you make better progress with it if you put it down and do some other stuff for a while. [Biased]

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by anoesis:
Maybe the Bible is like a crossword in that way - you make better progress with it if you put it down and do some other stuff for a while. [Biased]

This. I'm not sure there are any suitable stories to teach children from the bible. The idea seems zany in a lot of ways.

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arse

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anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
Well...I'm going to poke my neck out and say I think this could be OK! (I wasn't there, and perhaps the delivery was wonky. But...)

What if we decide to get across to kids things like

"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"

"If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"

"Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"

Mark - thanks for your contribution - it's made me think. In response to the above, [With the disclaimer that I Am Not A Teacher] I would simply not attempt verse three with children - they're likely to focus on the 'body of death' bit to the exclusion of all else, and the context it's nested in, in Romans, is, well, complex. And what if they don't feel wretched? Does that mean there's something wrong with them? With reference to verse 2, well, yeah... I would, I guess, prefer to approach sin as a state we're in, rather than a set of things we have (or potentially, haven't) done, with reference to a predefined set of rules. It potentially does make it more difficult to explain by illustration, but at least it avoids turning God into an frowning sky-father or a headmaster with spies everywhere. As to the first verse, I'd be quite comfortable addressing this topic with children. Nobody's perfect. Nobody. And no matter how hard they try, nobody can make themselves perfect. So even though it might seem to us like there are lots of differences between people - different languages, different race, some rich, some poor, some kind, some not, etc., etc., - there's one important way we're all the same. Not perfect, and all in need of God's help.

quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
My kids (now 10 and 12) have long, long been OK with the sensible idea that everyone is a tw*t, including Mum, Dad, and themselves. It's part of the Good News, required so that lovejoypeacepatiencegoodnesskindnessfaithfullnessgentlenessselfcontrol exist - are real, solid, objective, to be relied upon, not the outcome of a focus group - and that their absence is not due to the foreigners, the unemployed, the (dare I say it) bosses - but due to all of us.

Well, if you actually do specifically outline that last bit to your children, then very good on you.

quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
And Jesus-in-me does make me smile, now and again.

Here's the thing* - I guess everyone brings their own baggage to any message they hear, and I brought the baggage of an evangelical upbringing to the message I heard a few days ago. One of the reasons I had such a visceral reaction to it was that I'm still struggling to shed some of the damage that upbringing did to me, psychologically. How could having Jesus in my heart damage me psychologically, you ask? Well, it did not give me peace and joy and patience and etc., but years and years of guilt and shame and anxiety, and sometimes even terror, over my unfitness - mostly because of my lack of 'fruits', in spite of the intensity of my belief. It really, seriously grinds my gears to hear people saying things like 'Jesus shining out through your smile', because I have come to realise, slowly, painfully, that yes, I'm ok the way I am - I'm acceptable the way I am - and here's the thing. I'm not a happy person. I'm just not. I don't mean that I'm tortured, or deeply miserable. Neither do I suffer much from anxiety or guilt, any more. But 'happy' just isn't me. Oh, you will say, well, happiness is a misused term - it should really be joy. Well, I'm not joyous either, most of the time. Sometimes I'm depressed, and when I'm not, I'm mostly neutral. And I'm ok with that. Probably because of this, I think happiness is grossly oversold, and the practice of suggesting that knowing Jesus will make one happy is wronger than a wrong thing on a wrong day in Wrongville. If you try and get an idea of what the disciples might have felt, when called, ISTM that happiness just isn't in the picture at all. Excitement, possibly - inspiration, opportunity, urgency, the sense of being part of something so much greater than themselves - a whole new kingdom! Happiness seems sort of...insipid, somehow, in comparison to that. Is that the best we can tempt people with? Martin's just said upthread, maybe the RCC are on to something. Right now, I'm leaning toward the Sallies**. Trumpets! Cymbals! Join the Lord's Army!!

*This will inevitably turn into a rant, but it isn't aimed at you, ok?
**I've also had two glasses of wine, so it's not impossible I'll recant some of this at some point. Or at least regret the way I worded it.

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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quote:
This. I'm not sure there are any suitable stories to teach children from the bible. The idea seems zany in a lot of ways.

Alright, I'll bite again. Suitable in whose terms? Within its own terms, it surely the Bible can't rule itself out. So which acknowledged or un-acknowledged g(G)od is guiding us in our decisions about suitability?

On the 'OT - let's not even go there' front - with which I have some sympathy, having taught Sunday school - I happen to be reading a collection of essays by Marilynne Robinson called 'When I was a child I read books'. There's one in there called 'Moses: The Fate of Ideas' which expands rather learnedly on the theme of judging the OT by C21 standards, and what that implies about what we think of its status as literature.

I intend to discuss the article with my kids when the occasion next arises [Smile]

(Oh - and if you haven't read her novel 'Gilead', I very much recommend it).

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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x-post with Anoesis - to be addressed, then I really ought to go to work [Smile]

quote:
I have come to realise, slowly, painfully, that yes, I'm ok the way I am - I'm acceptable the way I am - and here's the thing. I'm not a happy person...If you try and get an idea of what the disciples might have felt, when called, ISTM that happiness just isn't in the picture at all. Excitement, possibly - inspiration, opportunity, urgency, the sense of being part of something so much greater than themselves - a whole new kingdom! ...Right now, I'm leaning toward the Sallies**. Trumpets! Cymbals! Join the Lord's Army!!
I see now perhaps where you are coming from. I think if I felt 'Jesus didn't make me happy, so I failed' then this would suck. Perhaps I rather more feel 'I failed.' (all the time, to be expected, nothing unusual about it, no need to be anything more than just averagely mindful (rather than complacent) about it, so as not to add more pride and hypocrisy to the already smelly mix). The failure is OK, because I am accepted. This acceptance gives me at least a shot at having the heart to have another go - without it, I would be left with a big 'fuck it'. With it - well, why not have another shot, and try not to smash my head on the wall quite so hard next time (see my sig).

Sallies - I've skirted around them in the past; I could do that too (if I could give up my residual drink thing, which I might be growing slowly out of). I also hang with RCs, and I'm meant to be a liberal Methodist. It's handy to not have to take on the group identity but to find what we have in common. Around here, breathing Christians need to do that; there are not so many left.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
quote:
This. I'm not sure there are any suitable stories to teach children from the bible. The idea seems zany in a lot of ways.

Alright, I'll bite again. Suitable in whose terms? Within its own terms, it surely the Bible can't rule itself out. So which acknowledged or un-acknowledged g(G)od is guiding us in our decisions about suitability?
In the simple terms that the stories are not suitable for children.

quote:
On the 'OT - let's not even go there' front - with which I have some sympathy, having taught Sunday school - I happen to be reading a collection of essays by Marilynne Robinson called 'When I was a child I read books'. There's one in there called 'Moses: The Fate of Ideas' which expands rather learnedly on the theme of judging the OT by C21 standards, and what that implies about what we think of its status as literature.
Again, y'know, I do try to be a sensible and thoughtful adult. And I did try when my child was small to give some sort of guidance as to what they were exposed to. As it happens, my child was frightened by witches, ghosts and violent people when around 5. I wouldn't have deliberately taken them to the library and told them that they had to listen to something that clearly made them upset - so why should they have to listen to these upsetting stories in church?

It seems to me that things said in church would be unacceptable to say to 5 year old children in almost any other context.

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arse

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bib
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I think I would have felt pressed to challenge the teacher instructing children re pumpkins. I love pumpkin innards - we roast pumpkin pieces, make pumpkin soup and enjoy mashed pumpkin.I have no interest in the skin that people use to create grotesque faces. I grow plenty of pumpkins in my garden and they are a valuable food source for my family. I would rather teach children this than the rubbish that was dished out in the children'setting.

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"My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring"

Posts: 1280 | From: Australia | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
SvitlanaV2
Shipmate
# 16967

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Jemima the 9th

Unfortunately, if your church wasn't interested in 'clocking up sales for Jesus' (i.e. evangelism) it probably wouldn't have attracted 100 kids, and would almost certainly have too few committed, able and willing adult Christians to work with them.

mr cheesy

I wonder how many children are damaged by attending mainstream, normal Sunday schools. Sunday school attendance has fallen dramatically, which perhaps signifies that Sunday school really is a very unpleasant environment for children.

I think the more usual attitude among leavers is that Sunday school is simply boring and babyish, but perhaps parents who don't send their children at all do worry that the experience might be harmful in some way.

OTOH, it seems so normal now for modern kids to access age-inappropriate video games, films and websites. Family break up and the influence of the wider society also mean that many children (from non-religious families) hardly live in a protective cocoon when it comes to scary ideas.

[ 01. November 2017, 12:27: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

Posts: 6414 | From: UK | Registered: Feb 2012  |  IP: Logged
mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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quote:
In the simple terms that the stories are not suitable for children.
Well...I get that as parents we have to make snap choices about 'suitability' all the time. But this is Purgatory - even if we don't acknowledge the complexity of the way we decide 'what's suitable' in the moment we are doing it, it's surely informed by a load of deep-down stuff which is not simple.

In the context of the kind of purgatorial knob-polishing we're indulging in, it's perhaps a grotesque posture to pull up that I had to tell my kids, at age 4 and 2, that one of their classmates was dead. Later I had to confirm the playground rumour that the father was responsible for the death. I suppose I am saying that life is unsuitable, and that I welcome digging into that with my kids in the context of bible stories. More than welcome it.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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