Drivel that cannot fit in a single panel comic.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I taught my first Sunday school class. It went well. Most of the success should be credited to my co-teacher. She was very good at directing the kids in discussion. I'm looking forward to next week.

The kids were given a homework assignment, that I did not know about, beforehand. They were to come up with names to describe themselves. I call myself "She who runs like a tortoise". It will probably be shortened to "Runs like Tortoise". Slow and steady and finish the race.

The curriculum is a native American thing. Respect the earth and all living beings, just like the native Americans. We won't mention that they were not vegetarians. The native Americans are just as human as other people groups; compassionate, generous, brutal and greedy but we won't mention that. We will just focus on their reverence for the earth and all its creatures living and non-living.

There is a large industry devoted to connecting white people to native American traditions. Become one with nature, connect with the spirit, find your inner animal, simplify. It is the "noble savage" of James Fenimore Cooper and other 19th century romantics but only on a larger, more commercial scale. Mark Twain would have had a field day with the CDs, dream catchers, books, and other merchandise. At least Cooper confined his romantic notions to fiction. I wonder what Mark Twain would make of the new age spirituality that is growing in American society of the 21st century?

The kids are too young to understand the absurdity of this curriculum. For them it is just fun and a cool way to look at things through other eyes. I will try my best to enjoy it in the same light. Maybe as they grow, they will be able to integrate it with their own white, American, middle class upbringing and be able to appreciate both without being forced to feel guilty about being white, middle class Americans. One should feel guilty for wrongs that one has done and try to atone for them but how do you atone for fair skin and fortunate circumstances? All you can do is give something back. But wouldn't it be better to do it out of gratitude instead of guilt?

I'm tired of this notion in Unitarian-Universalist circles that only Native Americans can truly appreciate the earth and that white people are not capable of reverence for the earth without invoking the traditions of native peoples. Maybe this notion exists to help atone for the sins of our ancestors. I will atone for my own sins and while I respect and enjoy learning about native American traditions, I don't @#$%! need their traditions to tell me to respect the earth. Respect for the earth is part of the traditions I grew up with. My traditions do not anthromorphize every aspect of the earth but I can damn well appreciate its beauty, bounty, treat it with respect, try to minimize my impact and encourage others to do the same without going around thinking that a spirit is in every single damn rock, pebble and grain of sand.

Nobody ever talks about the spirit that inhabits shit. Shit is part of nature. Everything in nature has a spirit inside it, according to the native American traditions as appropriated and perverted by guilt-stricken, new age, white people. Yet, the great shit spirit is never prayed to, there are no CDs filled with songs of the great shit spirit, shit totems, dolls nor other merchandise. Jack shit for shit. Come on, shit fueled the fires that the native Americans danced around, told stories by and warmed themselves as they pondered the mysteries of the universe. The fire spirit has songs sung about it and the fire spirit is prayed to but nothing for the shit that fueled the fire. Perhaps, the native Americans had a sense of perspective about these things. Maybe all of nature does not need to be worshiped in order to appreciate nature in general.

The next Sunday School assignment it to bring something from nature to the altar. Maybe I'll bring one of Daisy's turds.

No, I won't inflict any of this on the kids. I'll enjoy building the shields with them, listening to their stories as they search for their own truth and meaning, learning from them and hopefully making a small positive difference in their lives. There will be plenty of time for guilt to be thrust upon them.

White people nearly wiped out native Americans then poorly appropriate parts of their cultures. At least they have casinos to avenge the injustices against their ancestors.

The Sunday school curriculum is making me think. My thoughts may not go in the direction they are expected to go but in Unitarian-Universalism they are allowed to go in any direction within the confines of the 7 principles and there is not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

Stick that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

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