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View Full Version : Religious Literacy - need suggestions on material



MamaB
06-12-2010, 04:07 PM
Well, I am a big believer in religious literacy. Since so much of our language is wrapped in religion I feel the need to educate my children more in Christianity. We were watching something taped from the History Channel ( I looooove that channel, we all do) and a reference was made to 'challenges of biblical proportions' which prompted my 10 year old to ask what that meant. So, this brings me to my current dilema. What material can I use to teach my children about the Old Testament and the new Testament? Obviously grabbing any odd Bible won't do the trick. It would need to be more child friendly. Or is there a way I can teach my children about biblical references in language without using a Bible?

Any suggestions welcome. My children are non-religious and I want to keep it that way.

Thanks a bunch!

EruraScribus
06-12-2010, 05:29 PM
I would also be interested in suggestions. Comparative Religion 101, or Religious History, or some such.

pandahoneybee
06-12-2010, 08:51 PM
We used the Usborne religions (http://www.amazon.com/Usborne-Encyclopedia-World-Religions-Internet-Linked/dp/0794510590/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276390162&sr=1-1)books this is the link to the internet linked version which I have on order we have the older one, but it is a good start .

Shoe
06-12-2010, 09:37 PM
Well, I am a big believer in religious literacy. Since so much of our language is wrapped in religion I feel the need to educate my children more in Christianity. We were watching something taped from the History Channel ( I looooove that channel, we all do) and a reference was made to 'challenges of biblical proportions' which prompted my 10 year old to ask what that meant. So, this brings me to my current dilema. What material can I use to teach my children about the Old Testament and the new Testament? Obviously grabbing any odd Bible won't do the trick. It would need to be more child friendly. Or is there a way I can teach my children about biblical references in language without using a Bible?

Any suggestions welcome. My children are non-religious and I want to keep it that way.

Thanks a bunch!

I know there are a lot of children's bibles out there that are an easier read than the regular translations, but I've never used any of them, so I can't recommend anything specific.


I would also be interested in suggestions. Comparative Religion 101, or Religious History, or some such.

As far as comparative religions, I'm using My Friends' Beliefs: A Young Readers' Guide to World Religions (http://www.amazon.com/My-Friends-Beliefs-Readers-Religions/dp/0802773761) by Hiley H Ward, which appears to offer a non-proselytizing overview of the major world religions and several branches of Christianity in a language that looks like it is easily readable for my middle school children. I've developed a worksheet which they will need to fill out for each religion using this text and some internet research, which will hopefully give them at least a bit of perspective on why religion has been important to most cultures over history and the contributions that each religion has made in history.

Melyssa
06-13-2010, 01:30 AM
We have the The Usborne Children's Bible and the DK children's bible. I presented them like any mythology/fables. She actually enjoyed them.

Other good choices we have are One World, Many Religions....and A Faith Like Mine which is written by the woman who writes the Magic Tree House series.
Oh, also we have Usborne's Encyclopedia of World Religions.

jessicalb
06-13-2010, 02:05 AM
We looooove learning about religious stories and myths from around the world and in all the various faiths throughout time. The only thing I have run across is actually reading the Christian bible can be a scary thing. There are some whacked out violent creepy stories in there. Way creepier than anything we have come across for any other religion so far. We are using the Usborne religion book, and then we'll use World Religions (http://www.amazon.com/World-Religions-Faiths-Explored-Explained/dp/0756617723/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276409084&sr=1-1) later when Alex is more ready for that level of material.

SunshineKris
06-13-2010, 03:01 AM
... The only thing I have run across is actually reading the Christian bible can be a scary thing. There are some whacked out violent creepy stories in there. Way creepier than anything we have come across for any other religion so far.l ..

Yeah, why are so many Bible stories scary and graphic? Not that by any means have I read the texts of other religions, but it seems to me that many other religions talk about more peaceful, non-scary, more welcoming things. I could discuss the heck out of that, but I won't. :)

And I had ordered bot the Usborne and Mary Pope Osborne books for religion discussions based on Amazon reviews. Can't wait for them to get here so I can add it to our studies. I can't wait to learn more myself!

Closeacademy
06-13-2010, 06:46 AM
I've found that in the 200 section of the children's library that there are some nice colorful picture books of Bible stories as well as other religions. Some of our favorite stories are from Demi.

paganmomblog
06-13-2010, 06:53 AM
You can also talk to your local Unitarian Universalist Church and ask for recommendations. They are categorized as a Christian Church, and their history is well rooted within the Church, but they don't have any sort of dogma. Most tend to draw from all spiritual paths and I bet they would be pretty objective when it came to learning about Christianity without indoctrination.

jessicalb
06-13-2010, 09:25 AM
Yeah, why are so many Bible stories scary and graphic? Not that by any means have I read the texts of other religions, but it seems to me that many other religions talk about more peaceful, non-scary, more welcoming things. I could discuss the heck out of that, but I won't. :)

I've run across violent stuff in other religions - Set and Osiris, Odin, Persephone, etc., but those are always presented as "these crazy gods and the nonsense they get up to". The violent Christian stuff is "the crazy stuff real people get up to because a voice in their head they assumed was god told them to." That second one is waaaaay creepier.

reversemigration
06-13-2010, 11:41 AM
As far as comparative religions, I'm using My Friends' Beliefs: A Young Readers' Guide to World Religions (http://www.amazon.com/My-Friends-Beliefs-Readers-Religions/dp/0802773761) by Hiley H Ward, which appears to offer a non-proselytizing overview of the major world religions and several branches of Christianity in a language that looks like it is easily readable for my middle school children. I've developed a worksheet which they will need to fill out for each religion using this text and some internet research, which will hopefully give them at least a bit of perspective on why religion has been important to most cultures over history and the contributions that each religion has made in history.

I purchased My Friends' Beliefs after Shoe made a recommendation in an earlier thread (http://www.secularhomeschool.com/threads/350-Are-you-OUT-to-other-homeschoolers-in-your-area-(you-know-IRL-)?p=3206) about religious education and have found it to be succinct and useful. There are several religions which are covered in only a paragraph or so (such as the Church of Latter-Day Saints,) so if one of these is the dominant religion in your area you may wish to supplement.

I plan on using additional materials from the library, but it'll be highly dependent on how much time we have after finishing our core subjects. OTOH, I'd rather he have a stronger base than I did - growing up with irreligious parents in the South, I was at least a teenager by the time I realized that Judaism and Catholicism weren't just additional Protestant sects. :eek:

firefly
06-16-2010, 10:13 PM
I once had lofty plans to physically take my kids to each building of worship I could find for a truly hands on experience. Imagine all those those pamphlets! Free educational material - straight from the source! And when you tell folks you'd like to learn about what they believe... just imagine trying to get out of there before sunset!

Have any of you ever checked out the yellow pages just to see what's out there? It's Real World University.... As Spock would say...."Fascinating"! Now that I'm going to hs again I should do this... What do you think?

laundrycrisis
06-16-2010, 10:26 PM
There was a great article in the last (not most recent) issue of Secular Homeschooling Magazine on studying the bible for religious literacy. She had a list of resources. This particular article is posted online:

http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/010/teaching_bible.html

BPier12
06-16-2010, 10:56 PM
I once had lofty plans to physically take my kids to each building of worship I could find for a truly hands on experience. Imagine all those those pamphlets! Free educational material - straight from the source! And when you tell folks you'd like to learn about what they believe... just imagine trying to get out of there before sunset!

Have any of you ever checked out the yellow pages just to see what's out there? It's Real World University.... As Spock would say...."Fascinating"! Now that I'm going to hs again I should do this... What do you think?

I think it is a great idea, firefly, and one that I would like to do with my son as well. Even my atheist husband (I'm an agnostic, I guess..lol) thinks that there is value in exposing him to other belief systems. There are so many religious references in our society and I feel it is important to at least get some exposure to a variety of religions so that one is culturally literate.

BPier12
06-16-2010, 11:00 PM
I purchased My Friends' Beliefs after Shoe made a recommendation in an earlier thread (http://www.secularhomeschool.com/threads/350-Are-you-OUT-to-other-homeschoolers-in-your-area-(you-know-IRL-)?p=3206) about religious education and have found it to be succinct and useful. There are several religions which are covered in only a paragraph or so (such as the Church of Latter-Day Saints,) so if one of these is the dominant religion in your area you may wish to supplement.

I plan on using additional materials from the library, but it'll be highly dependent on how much time we have after finishing our core subjects. OTOH, I'd rather he have a stronger base than I did - growing up with irreligious parents in the South, I was at least a teenager by the time I realized that Judaism and Catholicism weren't just additional Protestant sects. :eek:

I purchased it too based on Shoe's rec. and had occasion to use it at the dinner table this evening when an argument arose as to Jesus' year of birth. There had been a little scoffing from certain parties about the book so I felt vindicated that I had the answer at hand immediately. ( For those who want to know, it is proposed that 4 B.C. is the year of his birth, although with changes in the calendar over the centuries, this has been disputed on occasion.)

jessicalb
06-17-2010, 12:09 AM
I once had lofty plans to physically take my kids to each building of worship I could find for a truly hands on experience. Imagine all those those pamphlets! Free educational material - straight from the source! And when you tell folks you'd like to learn about what they believe... just imagine trying to get out of there before sunset!

Have any of you ever checked out the yellow pages just to see what's out there? It's Real World University.... As Spock would say...."Fascinating"! Now that I'm going to hs again I should do this... What do you think?

I've thought about this, but I wonder... for a lot of people religion is really important and *real* to them, so I would feel kind of like an imposter peeking in on their important ritual. I don't know. Thoughts?

BPier12
06-17-2010, 09:11 AM
RE: My Friends' Beliefs....Twilight Zone moment....

I was looking through my copy and happened upon the section about Quakers. I went to a Quaker college so of course I was interested in reading what the author had to say. I'm reading along and read the quote from the 16 year old Quaker who was interviewed. The name seemed familiar. Then it hit me....I dated his brother my senior year! LOL!!

mommykicksbutt
06-17-2010, 03:26 PM
Well, if your children as very young (<8 or so) and want to expose the child to critical thinking applied to myths and religion (aren't they the same?) Then search for Dan Barker's books for children on Amazon. I believe he wrote 2 (or was it 3?). Spoiler alert! He yanks Santa out of the bag!

Another good one for the pre-teen or mature child is What About Gods? (Skeptic's Bookshelf Series) by Chris Brockman.

Snoopy
06-17-2010, 09:13 PM
RE: My Friends' Beliefs....Twilight Zone moment....

I was looking through my copy and happened upon the section about Quakers. I went to a Quaker college so of course I was interested in reading what the author had to say. I'm reading along and read the quote from the 16 year old Quaker who was interviewed. The name seemed familiar. Then it hit me....I dated his brother my senior year! LOL!! That was weird, I'm sure!
Nick picked up that book at your house today and asked me to buy it for him. I just checked our library system and they have it so I put it on hold for him. I'm impressed that he wants to read it because he's more of a recreational reader, usually. I might look through it when it comes in. Noah and I have discussed the major world religions as we work our way through SOTW but since we don't practice any religion, it's kind of nebulous for him, still.

firefly
06-18-2010, 10:57 PM
Jessicalb, I've also wondered about how to observe respectfully & be authentic without opening a can of worms. You're not an imposter if you're honest. Granted, you may need to learn a little lawyer-like “legalspeak”.

If they ask what brings you there – say you just want to learn about their church & what they believe. If they ask you what you believe – say you’re not comfortable discussing that today you’re just here to learn more about them. Smile, be polite, if they try to pin you down – redirect. There are just as many nice folks out there as there are over zealous ones…

I don’t think you should feel uncomfortable “peeking in”. It is what it is. How else will you truly know what it is unless you look?

That said a few ground rules might apply… Like don’t show up at a hellfire & damnation type church in the middle of nowhere dressed all Goth w/ tattoos a blazing. They can ask for forgiveness next Sunday - but you’ll still be dead! Seriously, the goal should be to observe & learn, not to engage or offend.

I guess that’s where the whole learning process begins. Like, I won’t wear a dress - period. Would this be too offensive to some religions? Which ones & why? I don’t know. Although I know people who go there, I’ve never personally been to a Synagogue or a Kingdom Hall, etc. Guess I need to get busy studying…

Snoopy
06-18-2010, 11:40 PM
I attended a Mormon service to support my friend's kids who were having their children presentations. The kids' part was cute! I also attended a Buddhist wedding and that was cool to observe, as well as the Wicca wedding that I attended back in the days (OK, I'll admit that I got a little nervous when they got the dagger out and I told my husband at the time that if they were going to sacrifice a chicken, I was out of there! Don't laugh, we have people practicing Santeria in Florida and they do sacrifice animals! Of course the Wiccans didn't sacrifice anything, it was a beautiful ceremony). And I attended plenty of Catholic masses, baptisms, weddings, confirmations, etc. because I was raised Catholic (until the age of 9 or 10 when I declared myself an atheist, something that didn't go over too well with my mom who was very Catholic back then, but now she is a Jehovah's Witness). A very good friend of mine is a JW and we've had many discussions about our respective "value system" so to speak. After my parents' divorce I grew up in the projects in France, where most of our neighbors and my friends were Muslim so even though I never went to a mosque, I was exposed to Islam. I even did Ramadan with my best friend in college although I only lasted about 2 days, lol.

It never occurred to me to expose my kids to experiences like that on purpose because I think they need to seek them on their own if they wish to have them. You might disagree but that's my opinion. My 3 older kids' dad is remarried to a Christian woman so they go to church once in a while, although all 3 of them tend to describe themselves as atheist, and they routinely attend church services with their friends if they are invited because the friend is being honored or performing. Even in our tiny agricultural community, we have a mosque in the next town, and of course several churches just a couple of blocks from our house. The only kid who has ever expressed any interest in learning about religions is Nick (14) when he picked up the "My Friend's Beliefs" book at Beth's. Noah and I routinely discuss religion since there are several religious stories in SOTW.

MamaB
07-04-2010, 04:07 PM
Wow, what response! I thank each and everyone of you for your wonderful suggestions. I have no doubt that we'll use many of them.

Thank you again.