Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trust Issues


As not so many of you may know, that deeply controversial activist for all things human, Sarah Masen, my partner in crime and matrimony, has taken to attempting the education of children at the place called Downtown Presbyterian. Needless to say, she's amazing everyone. And I couldn't resist the temptation to post something she sent out to our congregants. There's so much here. So much that reads (as you'd've imagined) like a song. Enjoy:
Two weeks ago I attended a seminar on children's religious education at Trevecca University. We walked through Godly Play, a regimen similar to our Sunday school program. It focuses on story-telling and reflection using manipulatives (story-specific figures and props) and meditation techniques. I met a number of other area education directors from different congregations and traditions and enjoyed hearing about the successes and failures of their teaching adventures.
During a group discussion at the end of the day, a question arose concerning the pressure we often feel (be it illusory or otherwise) with regards to making sure the children are “learning the right things”. I suppose you could call it a trust issue. Letting a child hear a story from the Bible and giving them the space and means to reflect on it is something we are not inclined to do. My instinct is to tell them what I think the moral, the climax, the conflict, or resolution of the story is in my expert (somebody gag me) opinion. Simply telling them the story and getting out of the way isn’t the model I was given growing up in church. This may be one of the reasons I had little trust in my own ability to make good decisions as I got older. These days, however, I think of the church and children’s Sunday school as a place for discernment rehearsal. It is all we really do when we say we “study” the bible. We are grasping at the wonders and complexities (the mystery) of the bible as a healthy part of our psychological development. Maybe you are already there, but I was struck afresh with the enormity of leading a class full of children through the beginning stages of their spiritual journeys. I want to encourage them to trust their already-holy spirits that have them discerning (and sometimes saying) all manner of amazing things week after week.
I want to make sure you know that the opportunity to join me in this enormous endeavor is available to you. You will learn so much, and all that is required is a listening ear and a desire to be hospitable. I at least ask for you to pray about your potential involvement in the children’s programming. Write me if you want to sit in on a class with these little theologians. I guarantee if you are open, you will be sitting at the feet of great teachers (and I am SO not talking about myself).

That's it.
Hope this finds everybody well.

19 comments:

mark said...

learning the right things...

this concept is exactly why we know that these kids, the creation, know more than we understand.

regarding our confidence, what else would we expect from a zealous lot than intervention? Imagine what "christians" were thinking during the boomer uprising... 'we gotta help god!'

obviously, what religion doesn't kill us makes us better.

Lambchop said...

Sarah, your "expert (somebody gag me) opinion" means more to me than perhaps you'll ever know. LYLAS, seriously.

gene said...

ok Dude, you have done it again. I admit my conflicts about the "J" concept is because I was (metaphorically) beat over the head with the fear of damnation and got too little of the mercy and grace I have received from you, your partner in crime and the product of your love (especially that oldest one I want my 9 year nephew to meet..such a romantic). Thanks for the post, darn you I learned something again...

shirley said...

have you been reading the email conversations between me and your brother or something? or maybe just reading my mind? in any case, thanks for this to sarah and to you for posting. supernaturalsuperserious. xxx from each of us. sometimes we think we wish we could be near you which is ridiculous because clearly, we are.

mjaneb said...

Hooray for giving even the smallest humans great weight! They need to be assured of the importance of their minds and souls (which abides in a combination kids probably understand better than we do).

and Hooray for Sarah living this out so graciously!

Joe Nolan said...

Here's to more "Godly Play"!

Variations On A Theme said...

oh...you're so lucky...both of you are. Lovelies. I'd actually consider it an honor to sit at her feet and hear her opinion. Give her a big kiss for me. I miss her.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I will read and reread this again.

Angela Hart said...

already-holy spirits. i think this is my new favorite three word combo. great to be on your blog for a bit. makes me miss you both. ah

Anonymous said...

It is all an everlasting pat-on-the-back, all of this is!

jdaviddark said...

"An everlasting pat-on-the-back." Nicely put. One of those things Interweb's good for, I suspect.
Thanks to everyone. Keep 'em coming to the extent that it feels good and natural. As of last night, i'm not sure Sarah'd read any of them, but i think she has now.

Ahnalog said...

"...telling them the story and then getting out of the way..."

So L'Engle! So lovely! And isn't that so often exactly what Jesus did? Thank you for this.

nardcore said...

the teacher says: "does anybody have a favorite line? a word that grabbed your attention? please, anybody, in the name of whatever you call holy!?"

and i now stand up, little white book in hand, and quote: "if we claim to be without spin, we lie and the truth is not in us."

keep re-appropriating. it serves you (us) well.

mjaneb said...

Sarah is beautiful. And Nardcore, thanks for sharing that thought and image.

mjaneb said...

Hey, Darks:

I saw I Love You, Man tonight and one of the major characters was reminding me of Peter (and you guys) in some ways. Have you seen it?

Anonymous said...

Sarah's site is down. Is there any way to buy the 3 ep's? I just found out about them tonight.

jdaviddark said...

hi anonymous.
just write the dear woman and we'll work something out. it's sarahmasenmusic AT gmail DOT COM

Anonymous said...

David, thank you. Email sent; hopefully it will get through!

anne elise said...

Sarah, you hit it square! We are currently embroiled in the desire to bring this kind of vision to the adults in leadership at our church. Bring it on, Jesus!