The theme for the religious education classes in April is Mother Earth, and as we are still exploring indigenous traditions and modern neo-paganism we are having fun looking at the sacred feminine. We had our first class on this theme last Sunday, and as I watched the children explore this I was struck by just how important this is, for several reasons:
1. One aspect of goddess reverence includes a reverence for the female body. In a denomination that promotes OWL as a positive sexuality education program and has taken on reproductive justice as a study issue, it also behooves us to explore body-positive spirituality.
2. Particularly for the elementary aged kids, who are mostly in the mythic-literal stage of faith formation, storying is a very important aspect of their religious explorations. They are finding the big mythic stories – the hero tales, the religious founder tales, etc – that help them make sense of the universe. I believe that even as we grow out of any literal belief in these stories, the hero image that we focused on will still form our superego, or internalized ideal. This need for a superego was identified by religious educator Sophia Lyon Fahs as one of the basic human needs that lead to religion. And if we are finding superegos here, it is vitally important that there are more options than just male ones.
3. And, finally, this language of goddess-reverence is deeply embedded in the environmental movement and weaves throughout our 6th Source and 7th Principle without usually being noticed in any explicit way. To use the symbols and language when it suits us but not take them seriously at other times is a shallow approach to theology and faith. If Mother Earth is important to us, lets spend some time on that “mother” part as well.
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