Adults and Children Together – Reality

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In today’s column for Weekly Whittlings, I included a drawing from the Noah’s Ark story, hoping that is would be a reminder to adults that Reality does not go away just because we deny it.

“Reality will still be what it is and will continue to impact our lives.”

I want to share with the care-givers of children, including religious educators, just a snippet of Reality that children, and the rest of us, must understand if we are to care for God’s creation and live harmoniously within it; which is to say, if we want to live at all.

Much religion has taught us a human-centered (anthropocentric) view of the world. That is, the creation is all about us, for us, for our use and abuse; however we see fit. This is dangerous, if not suicidal, nonsense and madness.

Let me take you on a short trip to view my favorite creation account from the Hebrew scriptures. We are headed to (No, not Genesis. We have abused that story beyond recognition and intention.) the Book of Psalms, especially # 104. Immediately, we experience a celebration of God as Creator in verses 1-9. (Please read these.) Then, we get into the details of the creatures for whom the creation was made and how specifically God cares for them; no, not just the human ones, all the animals. Note that the Psalmist begins with a description of nature’s technology, the water system that provides for all creatures:

10 God makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

I hope you will go to your Bible and read out loud to yourself and a child, Psalm 104. Pay special attention to verses 27-30. Do you see it?

27 All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

Do you see the announcement beginning in verse 27? Not only does God create a water system and everything else required for a holy and continually emerging circle of life. Also, the creatures of the creation we often call, “dumb animals,” are aware of God’s presence. This is a revelation of Reality utterly denied by human-centered theologies. The animals depend on God and respond emotionally and spiritually to God’s activity in their world!!! And they do not destroy this creation nor to they oppose God’s activity because, well, because that would be suicide.

But what about the human ones? Are they, we, equally aware of the presence of the Creator and care-full with the creation? No, not when our minds, hearts and spirits have been corrupted by anthropocentric view of Reality.

What do I want you to do this fact?

I want you to teach your children a creation-centered view of Reality; creation on behalf of all and God in all. Everything is sacred.

Can’t you be more specific. I certainly can. As soon as you can, find any children’s books about Noah and the flood and put them aside for your children to read when they become adults. Noah and the cataclysmic flood is not a children’s story. Psalm 104 is, on the other hand, very much a story for teaching children about Reality, the way things really are, the ways of Just Love.

Next? Since you asked, with permission of course, or not, gather up the appropriate resources, like paint, brushes and rollers, and paint over any and all depictions of the horrifying, not cute, very definitely not cute, Noah story. Bring an artist with you. Create the title, “God’s Way of Caring for the Animals, Psalm 104.” Then paint your new mural depicting all the ways the scriptures say God cares for everything. (You might want to come prepared with the examples you have found from a thorough review of the Biblical material, especially the Psalms and the teaching of Jesus; you know, lilies of the field, tiny sparrows, that sort of thing.)

Then, at every opportunity, teach the children an “inclusive of everything” view of the Reality of God’s love. As they mature, be sure to point out the destruction done is the name of “humans first and last and only” beliefs.

PS—To be fair to the Noah saga, there does come a time—Not Nursery School for Heaven’s Sake!—when teaching the Noah story to our children becomes the right, though difficult, lesson on Reality they need to learn. That will be the time when they need to be introduced to the devastating consequences of human-centered idolatry. Idolatries, including anthropocentrism, always kill.

Do you deeply know this truth? You can’t teach your children about Reality until you know Just Love and have been transformed into an expression of this love.

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