Greek Myths and the origin of our US Justice System

Last time RE met with UUSA Member and RE Volunteer Ed Tick we learned about Athena and how the city of Athens chose her as their patron. This week we learned how and when Athena set up the court system and brought Ares and then the Furies to trial. The Gods in the jury heard all sides of the stories and ruled that Ares would not be punished for hurting someone who stole from him and hurt him, but they told him he could not take justive into his own hands. The Gods told the Furies that they should leave Orestes alone because they had made him feel guilty enough for what he did to the people who had harmed his family, but they also told Orestes that he had to rely on the court system from that period on. In the process of hearing the story, we talked about how sometimes it is possible to be right and wrong at the same time.

These stories reflect our UU 2nd Principle: We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.

Photos: Orestes Pursued by the Furies, Ares God of War and Athena Goddess of Wisdom, Handicraft and Warfare.

Ancient Acropolis in Athens

David and Goliath and the Five Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion

It is hard to do anything substantial in 30 minutes (on Zoom), so at some point you have to embrace the notion that as long as the kids are learning/absorbing one or two things then you’re doing OK, even if its just that their UU friends are still out there zooming in on a Sunday for community.

This past Sunday Rev. Rachael joined us and she told the story of David and Goliath. When she finished with the story we had a quick discussion and looked at the following picture to see if it matched up with their imaginations.

We then jumped quickly into discussing the five smooth stones of liberal religion (developed by James Luther Adams) and the themes that each stone represents. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will circle back to the idea that each person, no matter how big or small, young or old, can make a difference just like David. In the meantime we all came away with pictures of the five smooth stones. We chose colors and objects to represent the themes. The one below is the one I worked on.

Until next week… try to stay healthy and breathe!

Empathy

This past Sunday we talked about empathy.

Empathy is the ability to imagine how someone else is feeling in a particular situation and respond with care.

Because our Time for All Ages ran long this past Sunday, we spent the majority of our RE time looking at slides and trying to figure out how the people in the photos were feeling. We talked about how sometimes it is very difficult to empathize and how we need to practice from the time we are young until we get old.

Here are a few of the photos.

All Souls Day

Souls Day (Nov. 2) is a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away.  This past Sunday Reverend Rachael helped us remember those we have lost.  

The Roman Catholics started this holiday, but there are other holidays like this one celebrated around the world by different religions and cultures such as: Día de Muertos (Mexico), Samhain (Gaelic), Zhongyuan (Bhuddists and Taoists), Chuseok (South and North Korea), Chingming (China), Día dos Finados (Brazil) and Gaijatra (Hindus in Nepal) to name just a few.

Do you have something that reminds you of someone you lost? Find a present they gave you, or an object that reminds you of them. Or you can find something that was their favorite color. Or you can simply write their name on a piece of paper. Think about how this person inspires you to make the world a better place.

Here is the worksheet that was sent out for kids to use while they listened to the service.

October in Summary

On October 4th we spent a little more time on the meaning of the Jewish High Holidays and how they relate to the UU Principles. We talked about what it means to be reflective and how we can think about our actions and words and decided to try harder to be more understanding, respectful and say we are sorry if we make mistakes.

Apples and Honey to celebrate fall.

On October 11th we acknowledged Indigenous People’s Day. We watched this video featuring Navajo Mark Charles. In RE we talked about how we can think of America as a house and what the white people did to the Native peoples who were here before us. Charles says we “locked the Native people in the bedroom upstairs” and forgot about them. We discussed the Native tribes who were here in Western MA before we came: In Amherst there were two different tribes:  Nipmuk and Pocumtuk, to the north of us was the Wabanaki Confederacy, to the west of us the Mohicans, and to the east of us Massa-adchu-es-et lived.

Following that discussion we watched the reading of the book Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers and we talked about we all have many different identities, some we can see and some we can not. Like the boy in the book, we all have a long list of identities. Some we share and some we do not.

On October 18th we had a whole congregation service based on consent and saying no. Our time for all ages featured the book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems.

Finally, for the grand finale of the month, we had a special guest, Ed Tick tell us a Greek Myth. We learned about when Athens voted to let Athena represent the city instead of Poseidon. As part of the lesson the children and adults voted on who they thought should earn the position of patron based on what they offered the citizens. Athena, like in the myth, came out on top. UU Principles stress the importance of democracy and allowing every person to have a say.

Where did September go??

It suddenly occurred to me that the month is almost over, several Sundays have come and gone and I have not kept up with my posts for the 2020-2021 UUSA year. I will attempt to summarize the past few weeks, but I will preface the attempt with a short exclamation – thank you to all the people who are now attempting to do their jobs online! It isn’t easy!!

Last Spring when we switched to Zoom we all experienced a sharp learning curve. This fall, it almost seems like we are experiencing the same pressure because we know we are going to be using Zoom this entire year and we want to make the best of it while we pick up where we left off with our Religious Education Classes.

Our first Sunday of the year, September 13th, was dedicated to Water Communion. This service was a Whole Congregation service. You can read more about the ceremony here.

On September 20th I met my Sanctuary Keeper group (6th graders) for the first time. We made a covenant and talked about what we were going to do this year. We discussed the word “sanctuary” and what it meant to us – physically and spiritually. For fun we took two minutes to do a scavenger hunt in our homes and we ended with a Mad Lib I wrote using the 7 UU Principles

On the 20th we also had our elementary children log into the congregational Zoom and then log out and into our own Zoom space. IN our own space we came up with a covenant and talked about skin colors. We then tried to color our own skin color – very hard to do with markers! But the main point was people are not exactly black or white, we are many shades of colors and yet so many things are determined by those labels.

This past Sunday, Septmber 27th, was another Whole Congregational worship based on the Days of Awe and the story of Jonah. Oh Jonah!! The two meditations were on doing the right thing and asking forgiveness. Jonah certainly had a hard time with both of those things.

Welcome to fall and October at the UUSA!

Anti-Racism and Multiculturalism – so much work to be done

Dear UUSA RE Parents,

Anti-Racism and Multiculturalism is an important part of UU religious education.  In the fall we read the book Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higgenbotham (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39979639-not-my-idea) and we typically read several books each year on the topic of racism. When we discuss our UU Principles we often talk about how we have a lot of work to do because our country (and our world) is not systematically set up to respect all people.  I have been continually impressed with how much your children understand, but I think we all know that we need to keep learning and working.


Here is a list of resources for adults and children you might want to look at.  It was forwarded to me by a fellow UU: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES<http://bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES>

This is an interesting list that appeared in the New York Times:

The local organization Embrace Race helps families understand and work on racial justice.  If you sign up for their emails they send along a lot of good information. https://www.embracerace.org/

Watch out for UU sponsored events at the national level. Here are two links:

https://www.uua.org/racial-justice

https://www.uua.org/youth/identity-formation/resources/btcp

There are many other local, state and national ways of getting involved. Please email me if you would like more information.

Take care,

Rebecca

Flower Communion

#12 RE From Home 

Flower Communion

This coming Sunday is Flower Communion and we are asking that families take a photo of themselves with flowers and send the photo to Lea, our Office Administrator, who will be making a slideshow.  Lea’s email is on our UUSA website.  Please do this ASAP!

Flower Communion was created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek of Prague, Czechoslovakia and introduced to the United States by Rev. Maya Capek, Norbert’s widow.  Flower Communion is celebrated in many different ways and this year will be no exception.  You can check out this link to see more of the history of the celebration:  https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/documents/zottolireginald/flowercommunion.pdf

For my suggested activity this week I am going to include three coloring sheets for you to print out and color.  If you want you can send the coloring sheets in for the congregational slide show or have them hanging nearby when you zoom in on Sunday the 7th.  The coloring sheets were designed by my daughter – thanks Augusta!

Here are the links for the coloring sheets:

Easy sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qu0FmX0ScrIKr2DTddyq_LUxuQLrCevn/view

Medium sheet (picture shown):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/18JMEWDe2ie2ykh03Z7NtbstWWnLng5eD/view?usp=sharing

Hard sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3Pjjr3hkzTkiLA-1_8VLikZWielrFwu/view

 

PLEASE NOTE

There are two more services after Flower Communion Sunday!

June 14th – Celebration of Transitions including Briding our High School Seniors

June 20 – Father’s Day and Summer Solstice

Please Join us for 10:30 Zoom Worship

 

Imagine Yourself in Few Years – Coming of Age

#11 – Imagine Yourself in Few Years – RE At Home

This coming Sunday is very important for our Middle School and High School Youth.  They are going to participate in a Coming of Age Ceremony. For a whole year these youth and several adult mentors have been meeting together to discuss hard topics such as – Is there a higher power?  What happens when we die?  Why do people do bad things?  What do UU’s believe and why? During the ceremony, these youth will tell the congregation what they believe and I hope YOU will be listening.

 

For this week I ask you to draw a picture of yourself in junior high and then draw five thought bubbles.  In the thought bubbles predict what you will be thinking about when you are 13.  If you want to, mail it to me (Rebecca), at the UUSA and I will save your drawing for you to see when you are in the Coming of Age program!

RE At Home – Memories and Memorials

#10 RE At Home – Memories and Memorials

Memorial Day is celebrated to honor and remember all of the men and women who died fighting for our country.

  • Memorial Day is celebrated every year on the last Monday in May.
  • The original name for Memorial Day is Decoration Day.  Decoration Day was started on May 5th 1868 by General John A Logan commander of the Grand Army of the Republic to honor union soldiers who died in the Civil War.  Families decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers and ribbons on Decoration Day.
  • Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day on May 11 1950 .
  • Red poppies are often shown and used on Memorial Day.

Unitarian Universalists do not have a set position on war.  UUs seem to acknowledge that some fights are more justified than others.  Here is an article you can read if you would like to talk with your children.  It is from 2003, but it raises some interesting ideas such as can you support troops, but be opposed to the war they are fighting?  Is there such a thing as a justified war?  How many countries have to believe the war is justified before it becomes “right”?  https://www.uuworld.org/articles/uu-war-questions

Think about your own family.  Are there people in your family that have fought in a war?  Is it possible to talk to them?  Ask them what it was like.  Why did they sign up? How do they view their service?  What did they do? Please try not to share your ideas unless they ask.   It is very important to just listen and thank them for sharing.

Do you have a memory you would like to memorialize?  Your memory could be of a person or animal who is no longer in your life or an event or place.  What could you make that would help you remember this person, place or thing?  Look online for different kinds of monuments.  Can you design and build one in your backyard or one small enough to fit on your shelf?  The picture here shows a temporary monument made out of blocks that someone made at the UUSA in RE for the 2016 Memorial Day.