Integral Resources to Teach Religion
How can we build a meaningful family and community life together that is grounded in the deep well of the world’s wisdom traditions, even if (or especially when) we don’t feel completely at home in synagogues, churches, mosques, or temples?
How can interfaith couples or spiritual-but-not-religious families use spiritual wisdom to strengthen relationships and give their children an orientation to global citizenship?
Feel free to browse some of the tools I offer to help families and groups approach religion and spirituality in ways that extend beyond the boundaries of a single religious identity.
Re-Inventing the Holidays
THE CONSCIOUS GRATITUDE GUIDE –
AN INTERSPIRITUAL APPROACH TO THANKSGIVING.
When you put all your energy into inviting guests, preparing food, cleaning house, setting tables, arranging flowers, getting dressed, and so on, where is the inner quiet required to choose words or create rituals that bring depth and meaning to your Thanksgiving tradition?
For my interfaith family and my clients, I share an activity that gets family and friends of all ages talking about (or drawing) and thinking about (or feeling) life’s inspirations. In the process, each one present at the Thanksgiving table reveals his or her sense of gratitude.
The exercise is interspiritual in its approach to gratitude. Families and friends as young as age 4 are drawn to making positive connections between their inner life and outer world.
THE FORGIVENESS GUIDE – INTERSPIRITUAL DAY OF FORGIVENESS. Inspired by the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), I teach a holiday ritual that draws on the wisdom of multiple faiths. Adults and children, each in their own way, are invited to gently consider the burdens of guilt or anger they may be carrying and see what they are ready to release. All of the world’s religions provide teachings on forgiveness. As I interpret these traditions, we forgive and ask forgiveness not in order to be good, but in order to be free. Free in our souls. Lighter, and more joyful.
The Jewish prayer known as Ashamnu is the central experience of this holiday (holy-day). We also learn about practices from Islam, Jainism, Christianity, Hinduism, Native American, Amish and Secular traditions. Together we journey into a comfortable and meaningful space for people of all faiths or no faith to embark upon the spiritual and practical path of Forgiveness. I love bringing this experience to spiritual-but-not-religious and interfaith families and communities.
More Interspiritual Holiday Programs & Activities
- FESTIVALS OF LIGHT GUIDE – HANNUKAH REVISITED
- A UNIVERSAL PA$$OVER: FREEDOM FROM MONEY
- THE SPRING HOLIDAYS: RE-IMAGINING OUR SELVES
Social Justice Teachings
for Children and Adults
RELIGIONOMICS: Perspectives on Giving and Economics. A series of lessons and activities that invite us to explore the relationship between religion and economics. In the process, we gain a deeper understanding of our own values. We venture into learning the basic factors of production. Do they reflect the values taught by the world’s religious traditions? How do our spending, saving, and giving choices support our personal values? What basic human values do people share across all religious traditions, and how does our economy support or inhibit behaviors that express those values?
Drawing on the work of E.F. Schumacher in Small Is Beautiful, students compare Western, capitalist economies and Eastern, Buddhist economies. We examine not only measures of productivity (GDP), but also measures of happiness (GNH). This is an empowering program with a social justice perspective. Youth and adults discover that they can take action to change the way they experience life as consumers and producers in our society. For ages 11 – adult.
JUBILANDIA! Food Justice & Religion. You are a farmer, and your job is to grow enough food for the residents of your country, Jubilandia, while also resting the land every seven years. How are you going to do that? Inspired by the biblical concept of “Jubilee,” an ancient practice for correcting wealth inequality, this gaming-simulation has much to offer.
Originally designed for youth attending a Food & Land Justice Fair, Jubilandia accommodates any number of players. My students and I ran it in 45 minutes with a group of eight people from age 6 and up with great success. Everyone learned about the issues and challenges we face as stewards of our world and its people. It can be played by families, co-ops, study groups, and work teams.
More Interspiritual Lessons for Children & Adults
- GIVE ME THAT NEW TIME RELIGION: Religious calendars and our life’s meaning
- WHAT’S FOR DINNER?: Dietary laws and our relationship with food
MOVIE NIGHTS ~ Interfaith Awareness & Global Perspectives
THE DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND documents rumspringa, a rite of passage for Amish teens. It’s a compelling story that raises questions about the tension between communal responsibility and individual freedom. How free are we? How free do we want to be? Can we belong and have free choice? What are our responsibilities to self, family, community? Who decides?
The Devil’s Playground is one of my favorite movies to show to groups. We follow it up with discussion around our own relationship to self, community and religion. The interviews of Amish youth struggling with these decisions inspire us to reflect on our own choices and cultural expectations, opening to deeper inquiry into personal and collective values.
For ages 14 and up.
KUMARE – Can a fake religion and religious leader have the same effect as the real thing? I was so impressed by the originality of this film when I previewed it for my interfaith students that I invited all the parents to Movie Night. Both laughter and compassion were palpable while we watched. The discussion that followed was highly animated. This clever, surprising documentary makes you laugh, wonder, and reflect on your personal relationship with religion and your needs and goals regarding spiritual growth. You’ll think differently as a result.
I introduce the film with relevant background and follow the screening with discussion questions from the perspective of evolutionary spirituality. This inspires thoughtful reflection and a broader understanding of the varieties and purposes of religion.
For ages 13 and up.
More Movie Nights
Attend one of my gatherings or host me at yours — I’ll bring the DVD, introduce the film, and lead your family or group in an age-appropriate discussion that inspires awareness of our common humanity and interspiritual themes. The list here represents just a small sample from my top hits list.
- FURY (1936). Ages 14 +.
- DUNE. Ages 14 +.
- WHALE RIDER. Ages 11 +.
- FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (an excellent companion to Whale Rider). Ages 10 +.
- MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (Original). Ages 10 +.
- A THOUSAND WORDS. Ages 10 +.
If you’re interested in running one of these programs or in hosting me to run one for your group, contact me for a 30 minute consultation at no charge.