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So my 5 year old has obviously had a video played to him about Christianity at school and...

(32 Posts)
ajamore Thu 17-Sep-09 23:32:00

He said it was really sad, scary and beautiful! I let him talk about it and his version of Christianity as he saw it is that a man and a woman were in a garden by a tree and a snake made one of them eat something when they had been told not to - this meant that they noticed that they were naked and were really embarassed and that's why we have to wear clothes!!

I felt quite sad. Let's introduce a bit of embarassment about our bodies at this tender age - fantastic sad He mentioned that Christians think God made everything including the grass and that he named all the animals (he namechecked lions and cheetahs).

I am in Scotland and wondering what on earth they showed him! I will ask at the parent teacher meeting next week. It's a non-faith school and they are going to be learning about Diwali too (and I assume all the other main religions).

I was brought up as a catholic but now consider myself to be an atheist as does my partner. I think it is going to be interesting to hear about the world's religions as interpreted by my 5 year old in a non-faith school. He was quite surprised when I told him that "mummy and daddy don't believe that story but Grandma does" - he looked mightily confused!

Wondered how other agnostic/atheists were dealing with any of their children's comments and interpretations of their school's religious instruction?

madlentileater Fri 18-Sep-09 14:54:13

sounds like a fair appraisal to me (of Genesis I mean)- it's a shame about the naked/embarrassed thing, but YOU don't belive that, nor does he have to- YOU can carry on believing your bodies are lovely, can't you?
We are humanists and our 3 of our DCs went to C of E High School- there were a few dodgy moments, I was upset that DD was invited to take communion- but on the whole it has done them no harm. I think you just have to be very careful saying ' Some people/Granma/Christians/Hindus think that....isn't that interesting? what do you think?' etc. What does grate is when teachers don't return the favour and say 'we belive that...'

AlderTree Fri 18-Sep-09 19:37:26

The worst case of 'we think that'/'we go to church to' I ever heard was whilst woorking as a student in a non faith school. It seemed that the faithful thought there job was to enlighten the the children and it made me cringe. IME faith schools can be more open, they are more up front aboput their ethos and whilst some teachers are commited christians, others are not and the climate is one of tolerance, respect and inclusion.

I don't know what he watched - could be miracle maker which is a popular cartoony style film of the bible story. I've only ever seen the easter bit but I would describe the images the same way as your son.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 18-Sep-09 19:52:08

Its a bit tricky, isn't it - you never know quite who is going to say what to your kids once they are at school.

What happened with us, more by luck than judgement, was that by the time DD started school she'd been to so many natural history/science museum type places, and had been exposed to sufficient dinosaur etc books and asked questions such that she had a fair idea about evolution, that she simply never took any of the creation myths seriously.

I think an innoculation of simple fact turned out quite well!

faeriefruitcake Sat 19-Sep-09 23:29:19

Every child has to do RS by law until they leave school and the Government has decided it has to be 51% Christianity.

Faith schools are allowed to only teach their beliefs but many have a broader curriculum.

Also every school has also to have a collective act of worship of a broadly Christian nature. This as a member of a different faith group I have problems with. Do I take my children out or leave them to pray to a God we don't believe in? hmm

As an RS teacher I know we have very little impact on what the students actually choose to believe but it is fun introducing lots of new ideas and yes I do teach about Atheism and Humanism as well grin

ajamore Sun 20-Sep-09 22:30:16

Yes I just hope he keeps talking to me about it all so he doesn't get confused. It's funny, I keep banging on to him about how it's important to tell the truth and I am anticipating a lot of interesting conversations! He loves his books on dinosaurs and the planets so I can tell that he is slightly puzzled by these new "stories" he's hearing. He asked me what Re-Legend was and I said "you mean religion?" but he was determined that it was Re-Legend - quite a good word I thought grin

GreatGooglyMoogly Fri 25-Sep-09 13:02:42

DS1 (5) also came home from school yesterday saying they had learned about how God had made the first man (-is he dead now, Mummy?). One of his friends is a Christian and goes to Sunday school so he "explains" things to the others as well, probably as if it is fact. I said that some people believe that and some don't. DS1 just seems to accept that it is fact though, which is difficult. "God" is so much more believable to a 5 year old than the Big Bang.

Mouette Fri 25-Sep-09 20:46:54

As a Christian I am quite bothered by the way religion seems to be explained to children in some schools. Genesis is a creation myth. Period. The children are right to call it "stories" or "legend" that's what it is and it should be presented as such. Genesis is actually Babylonian in origin and is not the oldest book in the Bible. If they want to explain about Christianity, they should tell the children about Jesus and his teachings, not present as fact stories that were never meant to be taken literally. Am worried now about what DS will be taught at Sunday school! Might have to have a word with the vicar about it. hmm

Mouette Fri 25-Sep-09 20:48:02

Plus it makes us look like a bunch of creationists! angry

Iggi999 Fri 25-Sep-09 21:32:18

The video sounds like one I've seen called "Creation and the flood". Rather poetic language (just how Genesis should be read), nice voice-over for God too from someone I'm sure I should recognise! It's big on symbolism, though obviously that's hard for small children to get. When your DS comes home after a Diwali video, he will probably have a whole new set of questions for you!
By the way (for the OP) there's no 51% Christianity rule in Scottish RME.

2010Dad Fri 25-Sep-09 23:25:35

Mouette, this probably isn't the forum, but I feel I have to ask; if you don't believe the story of creation, why are you a Christian?

Mouette Sat 26-Sep-09 11:22:27

My dear 2010dad,
My vicar himself will tell you that the story of creation is not meant to be taken literally. Most christians in mainstream churches do NOT take every word in the bible literally. I know about evolution and the dinosaurs! I believe in god and that jesus is the messiah, i don't take every word of the old testament literally. I am surprised so many people equate being a christian with being a creationist. I will send you back to st augustine who wrote an interpretation of the genesis story that is compltely symbolical (the fishes represent something, bird something else etc). Interpretation is key to an understanding of the scriptures.

onagar Sat 26-Sep-09 11:36:34

"I am surprised so many people equate being a christian with being a creationist"

We are not being silly to think so. There are creationist christians who post in this very forum and millions outside it. Also at one time all christians were creationist. Those who are not are an off-shoot.

Mouette Sat 26-Sep-09 12:05:12

Nonetheless I can assure you that nobody in my church takes the bible literally, and I don't personally know any christians who do. It is not correct to state that "all" or "most" christians, in the world, today, are creationists.

Mouette Sat 26-Sep-09 12:06:55

I did not say by the way you were silly to think so, you are putting words in my mouth here. Of course if the only christians you come across are creationists you're going to think all or most christians are. I am merely stating that I am not, my fellow churchgoers are not, and to my knowledge most Anglicans are not.

Mouette Sat 26-Sep-09 12:09:57

St Augustine (4th century AD) and St Thomas Aquinas (13th) did not take the creation story literally, by the way. I recommend here Karen Armstrong's exvcellent book "The Bible: the biography" for a story of how the Bible has ben interpreted throughout the centuries. There was a tradition of interpreting the creation story in symbolic terms as early as the Middle Ages.

mmrsceptic Sat 26-Sep-09 12:25:48

Think it's a bit odd. My ds told me the other day he'd learned about all the other religions but not ours, so I gave him a brief summary, and it was mainly the Christmas and Easter stories dumbed down for a nine-year-old. For the story parts, to keep him interested, a bit of Noah's ark and plagues and so on, and a tiny wee bit of the beginning of Genesis. So I had to explain the difference between Judaism as well. But to focus so heavily on Adam and Eve is rather reductionist.

ZephirineDrouhin Sat 26-Sep-09 12:49:31

You do hear a lot on here about creationism being taught in primary schools. I think the simple answer if they seem confused is to explain to children the difference between myth and science. They perform entirely different functions, and coexist perfectly happily, and it's really not that hard for children to understand (they do it quite easily with Father Christmas for example).

Unless these things are being taught in science lessons as fact (in which case I would be in the head's office without hesitation), you just need to explain that they are stories. They are of course quite special stories in that have been handed down over thousands of years and have had a profound influence on our artistic, literary, musical and moral culture - hence the reason that they still occupy this privileged place in education - but they are stories nonetheless.

I was taught about Adam and Eve, Noah and all the rest, but do not ever remember a point where I thought any of these stories were literally true. My father who was a devout Catholic (and also deeply interested in science) was always careful to point out that they were symbolic and absolutely not to be taken literally.

Onagar I have no idea where you get the notion that creationism is somehow mainstream in Christianity, and that anything else is an "offshoot". It is simply untrue.

Mouette Sat 26-Sep-09 13:50:20

Quite right,Zephirine! I have Jewish friends too, and they don't take the Bible literally either. As far as I know only a relatively small group of Christian fundamentalists do, and they're mostly in the US. I think it's a really good idea mmr to start with the Christmas and Easter stories, as it also explains the meaning of those two festivals. I wouldn't personally start with Genesis - children have to be able to understand the difference between myth and science and at 5 it's a bit young.

ZephirineDrouhin Sat 26-Sep-09 14:38:56

I really don't think it is that hard for them to understand though, mouette. The Adam and Eve story was the first biblical story my daughter was introduced to, just because we happened to be at the V & A when she was quite young, and she was quite taken with a statue of Eve. She wanted to know all about it so I told her the story, but I don't think she's in any danger of becoming a creationist. I think she has a sense that the stories she learns across Exhibition Road at the Natural History/Science Museum are of a quite different kind, being concerned with our physical reality, rather than how we understand ourselves as moral creatures.

ajamore Sat 26-Sep-09 20:45:45

ZephrineDrouhin - Firstly thank you for your replies. As you seem up for debating this issue I'd be genuinely interested to hear if you present the events in the New Testament (such as Lazarus, the feeding of the five thousand and the Resurrection etc.) as "special stories". Are you saying that the Old Testament is essentially full of rich and meaningful myth and symbolism but that the New Testament is based on true events?

At some point I will tell my children that Father Xmas doesn't exist (or they'll work it out themselves!) but surely with the Christian faith you have to believe at some point that the stories/myths in the New Testament are actually true (or based on true events). I would personally find that very difficult to explain to my children.

I know that there are scientists that are Christians but I've never had the chance to speak with one about this issue!

ZephirineDrouhin Sat 26-Sep-09 21:12:36

The New Testament is obviously closer to real historical events than Genesis, but yes I probably would put those events in the category of myth. Certainly in my experience of church services in Catholic and C of E churches, when these events occur in a reading, they are usually followed by an interpretation of their symbolic meaning in the priest's sermon.

Dd is only at pre-school so hasn't come up against too much of this yet. She did though happen to see a score last year with a painting of the crucified christ on the cover which intrigued her. She had recently seen the Sound of Music and the two things got a bit mixed up in her mind. She kept asking me "why did the Nazis put prickles in Jesus?" Perhaps the New Testament bears about the same relation to the actual life of Jesus as the Sound of Music does to the events of the Second World War.

ajamore Sat 26-Sep-09 22:13:16

"Perhaps the New Testament bears about the same relation to the actual life of Jesus as the Sound of Music does to the events of the Second World War."

grin

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but do you call yourself a Christian? (And, please be assured that I am not asking this is an outraged "call yourself a Christian??!" way).

Just to be a bit sharing about this, I myself was brought up as a church-going Christian, lapsed into a wishy washy agnosticism and am now an atheist. But I am intrigued about religion and its impact and role in society and about peoples' interpretations and re-interpretations of their own religions.

ZephirineDrouhin Sat 26-Sep-09 22:37:19

No, sorry should have made it clear. I am more or less like you - brought up Catholic, became atheist, now would say agnostic if I had to say anything. Have worked in churches a lot lately though so have slightly unusual degree of exposure to Christianity, and having heard a lot of sermons and talked to members of congregations, find a lot of them almost indistinguishable from liberal humanists (apart from the terminology). That's high church C of E though - obviously there are many different cultures within Christianity.

When I say I view these things as myth though I don't mean that in any sort of derogatory way. I don't think we can do without myth one way or another.

ajamore Sat 26-Sep-09 22:48:59

That's kind of a relief. I was having difficulties reconciling your take on things with any accepted version of Christianity that I've come across!

Catholicism was my flavour too. I think I might have to look into humanism in more detail. My mother once asked me in a pleading way whether I would at least bring my children up in the Christian way and teach them about Jesus and I just told her, I don't think I need Jesus to bring my child up to be a good, kind person - he doesn't have the monopoly on decent "moral" behaviour!!

Am retiring for the evening now (a glass of red wine calls!) thanks for engaging with me on this issue smile

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