Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere. — Theodore Parker, 19th-century Unitarian minister and abolitionist
IN TODAY'S SESSION… we are learning about the Unitarian Universalist Principle about being free to search for what is true and right. We will hear the story “Many Paths to God,” which shows that many people have different beliefs that meet the same spiritual needs. We will make a sand painting and have the opportunity to play a game with our Unitarian Universalist symbol, the chalice. We will experience the concept that everyone is free to develop their own beliefs and that the differences we each brings are celebrated.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Ask your child to retell the story “Many Paths to God.” Then invite family members to talk about their beliefs. Does everyone in the family have similar beliefs? Do adults in the family have beliefs that differ from the beliefs of their parents?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Children thought of symbols that represent who they are. Explore your home. What symbols are in your home? What do they represent? Do you have symbols from many different religions? Identify the religions that are represented in your home.
A Family Adventure. Visit and worship in a denomination of friends or relatives. What symbols do you see? What do the symbols stand for? How do their beliefs seem to differ from yours? Their values?
Family Discovery. As a family, choose another religion to study, perhaps one you are not familiar with at all. At a local library or in your congregational library, find age-appropriate books on the religion.
A Family Game. Guess the Symbol: Ask each person to find a small object they think symbolizes them. Have everyone secretly bring their symbol to a central place. Then, re-gather and try to guess which family member has chosen each item as a symbol.
A Family Ritual. Find a book of prayers or meditations from many different religions. Read a different one each night at the dinner table or at bedtime. Vary the religious traditions as much as possible.
FIND OUT MORE
Books for adults that represent a wide variety of religious beliefs in prose and poetry include The Enlightened Heart (New York: Harper & Row, 1989) and The Enlightened Mind (HarperCollins Publishers, 1991), both edited by Stephen Mitchell.
Books with meditations and prayers are A Grateful Heart, edited by M.J. Ryan (Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 1994) and Earth Prayers From Around the World, edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991).
A children's book on world religions is The Kids Book of World Religions by Jennifer Glossop (Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2003).
You have to have an alertness to deal with the unexpected. The history of science is filled with almost-made discoveries, missed by a hairline because … [someone] didn't have the alertness to realize they had a discovery. — Clyde Tombaugh, astronomer, 1906-1997
IN TODAY'S SESSION… We’ll hear a story about Clyde Tombaugh, a Unitarian Universalist who discovered Pluto, and we will talk about our fourth Principle, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We will learn how our faith affirms us to ask questions; investigate the world; and be open to new information, ideas, and truths, as Tombaugh would have done had he lived to see Pluto's 2006 “demotion” to dwarf planet status. Our signpost to help guide us in faithful action is “Ask Questions.”
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about… Invite each family member to share about a time you had to let go of a “truth” upon learning new information. Take turns filling in the blanks: “I used to believe ______, but then I learned ______ was true instead.” Discuss how it has, or has not, been easy to accept new truths.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try… Pay extra attention to times when your child asks questions, shows curiosity, or otherwise actively seeks to learn. Point out instances of your child acting faithfully in a way that affirms or promotes a free and responsible search for truth and meaning — their own search, or others'. Your child will have the opportunity to share their actions next time Faithful Journeys meets.
Choose a topic that interests family members or a question you would like to have answered. Spend an evening in a library or online, learning everything you can about it. Challenge each person to learn at least one new thing (or five, if you are ambitious).
A FAMILY RITUAL
Gather as a family before an evening meal. Have each member of the family name something they are wondering about or something they learned that day. If you like, light candles as you share. Consider saying candle-lighting words that affirm asking questions, for example, “We give thanks for our curiosity and the answers it brings.” Avoid editing or answering one another's questions, correcting information, or exchanging dialogue until everyone has shared. Where possible, provide resources and encourage family members to seek answers themselves. It is okay to validate questioning as a process that is as important, if not more important than, determining answers. (To keep this activity popular, avoid pressuring family members to do research every time a “wondering” is shared.)
A FAMILY GAME
Twenty Questions. One person thinks of a person, place or thing, and the others try to guess by asking questions that can be answered yes or no. For example: “Is this a person?” / “Is the person alive?” / “Is it a character from a book?” / “Is it a man?” If someone guesses correctly before twenty questions have been asked and answered, it is their turn to think of a person, place, or thing for others to guess.
We need not think alike to love alike. — Francis David
To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven. — Joseph Priestley
IN TODAY'S SESSION…
We explored diversity of faith heritage and religious belief as a desirable and welcome feature of a Unitarian Universalist congregation. The activities helped children practice active affirmation of each individual's faith heritage and personal religious beliefs. The children learned that when we affirm each other's meaningful faith traditions and their theological questions and beliefs, we affirm each other as individual truth-seekers (our fourth Principle) and show that we accept every individual and encourage their spiritual growth (third Principle). The session introduced the six Sources that support and nurture Unitarian Universalist faith. Children will explore how the Sources embrace a variety of faith traditions, including Unitarian Universalism itself. A story about Thomas Starr King illustrates that to follow one's own faith path is not only allowed but a core value in Unitarian Universalism.
Children learned symbols of Unitarian Universalism and several other major faiths. Some children used these symbols to represent their faith heritage in an art activity.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER . Talk about …
Ask your child what they shared about their faith heritage today. Ask if they learned anything surprising about themselves when it was time to think about what they believe about God or another religious topic. Were they surprised by anything a peer contributed? If your child learned that a friend holds a different belief or comes from a faith tradition that is different from yours, ask how it felt to discover this difference. Ask them what they think about the religious diversity around them and the ways this diversity is celebrated in your congregation and/or your home.
Share your thoughts on religious diversity, inside and outside your congregation. Share your feelings about freedom of religious belief.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
A FAMILY ADVENTURE
Do you have friends whose religious beliefs differ from yours and are comfortable articulating their faith choices? Arrange for your family to join them for a religious service or celebration and some conversation about their beliefs. Bring along a copy of the Unitarian Universalist Sources and find out which Sources, if any, resonate religiously for your friends.
Discuss the theological diversity within your family. Sketch your family's faith heritage “family tree” and discuss the faith journey(s) that led you to your Unitarian Universalist community.
How will the countries of our world convert their energy grids to use primarily renewable energy? What might these energy sources look like when implemented on a global scale? What are the implications of such developments for our sixth principle, the goal of a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all?
Today we will be envisioning one aspect of our goal, inspired by a Ted Talk that presents the story of an invention from inception to initial production that could be the missing link to a global energy supply based on renewable energy. We will also look at hypothetical images of global scale renewable energy solutions.
Coming of Age
What happens to us after we die? This question is often central to a faith statement. It ties into our beliefs about God, spirituality, the web of life and many other things. We'll watch a part of the movie, What Dreams May Come, with Robin Williams. This movie explores ideas about a possible after life. Then we will finish our session with a clip from Hannah and Her Sisters which explores the idea that there is no afterlife.