Some topics I’m preparing for High Schools*
who want a sensible, broad, package of religious education topics, without coercing anyone.
Ethically, so there’s no hidden curriculum since they declare upfront the presenter’s bias (which will reinforce Judeo-Christian social values).
A list of sources for further investigation is also supplied.
1. A Scientific Approach to Religion
Science & Religion do mix. It’s not either/or. Why it is important to keep God out of the Scientific Method; the religious origins of science; and fundamental scientific findings (entropy, relativity, higher maths, quantum physics, limits of the 4D universe) that certainly suggest other dimensions besides space & time.
2. A Historical Approach to Religion
History & Religion do mix. How do we know what happened in the past? To what degree can we know? Applying neutral historical tests to documents and archeological clues, provides important foundation to religious claims. Important exposure to the historical method.
3. An Experiential Approach to Religion
Experience & Religion do mix. Quantitative & qualitative research tell us that nearly all people have “spiritual” experiences. Wuestions for students to consider their own experiences. Canvasses the role of prayer & contemplation throughout religions.
4. A Developmental Approach to religion
Developmental stages and Religion do mix. As we grow, we understand and relate to the world differently. James Fowler’s stages of faith (based on Jean Piaget’s cognitive stages), shows how faith should change and develop as we do. Understandings from later stages need not be seen as contradicting earlier stages, but broader & deeper understandings of the same phenomena. This encourages maturing, rather than conflict, or static fundamentalism.
5. A Sociological Approach to Religion.
Society & Religion do mix. The role of religion in social transformation. But how to keep political processes from being dominated by religio-political agendas? Compare when religious influence has dominated society, and when it has served & empowered. It’s not whether we do religion, but how. Encourages a pluralist approach to social policy, rather than merely secularist (which is also a religious worldview.) The role of the Law in limiting & protecting religious freedoms & influences.
6. A Practical Approach to Religion
Practice & Religion do mix. A critical key to religion is the practical outcome – religion profoundly effects people’s behavior. Explore the link between belief and behavior. Why do some act more mercifully & justly, and others become cruel and over-bearing? What we do with the beliefs is as important as the beliefs themselves.
7. A Co-operative Approach to Religion
Co-operation and Religion do mix. Co-operating with people from different world views is desirable. But how to do it in a way that respects liberty, without diminishing the importance of the religion on life & behavior. When & how to disagree and argue and yet also work together. The roots of true friendship.
8. A Comparative Approach to religion
Comparison & Religion do mix. It is a great taboo to compare or evaluate one religion to another. And yet everyone does. So let’s name this reality, and look at the benefits and dangers of doing it, with a view to doing it well. One-pagers outlining what the big world religions believe at core (though that core may be variously applied).
9. A Relational approach to religion
Relationship, mystery, & religion do mix. It stands to reason that if God is so much more “other-worldly” than we have the “tools” to comprehend, then the only way God can be known by us, is relationally. Knowing all about God is simply out of our capacity. Which is why mystery and paradox are to be expected. This nudges students towards development of their capacity for mystery, wonder, and relationship.
10. A Re-ligious Approach to religion
Science, history, experience, development, society, practice, co-operation, comparison, mystical relationship, and religion do all mix. (This is a technical definition of “religion,” related to the root word ligio, ligament: how we make connections to understand our world.) How to integrate the pieces of the puzzle. To live with integrity. A process for students to consciously begin to build their own worldview.
11. A Q&A Approach to religion
Enquiry & Religion do mix. Students may ask the presenter any religious questions. Many questions arise about religion, loose ends which can be taken up in this session. Responses will always be grounded, offered within a range of answers, and direction given for students further enquiry. And always non-coercive.
Is this a series that interests you?
*In future, may be adapted for Primary School on request.