14 November 2016

Exploring World Religions With Nonreligious Kids

Even if you are homeschooling from a secular prospective—perhaps especially if you are homeschooling from a secular perspective—your students will benefit from a well-rounded curriculum of religious mythologies. 

Last year we began to look of some of the world’s most well-known and widely practiced world religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Judaism. We also considered various African, Native American, and Aboriginal beliefs. At the beginning of this year, we continued our study by introducing East Asian religions {Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto} as well as various new religious movements. We discussed the worldviews of agnosticism and atheism, including humanism, rationalism, and new atheism. Recently we began introducing earth-based religions, starting with paganism. Simultaneously, we’ve been reading about ancient Greek religions as well as numerous folk tales, fables, and creation stories.

And we have barely scratched the surface; most estimates agree the total number of religions on our planet exceeds 4000.

Not too long ago, if someone had mentioned “studying world religions” to me, I might have envisioned a Bible study {because at that point I believed it to be the only true religious text} followed by a brief comparison of Christianity to a few other “key religions” {read: the few to which I had ever been exposed} to confirm my bias that “they” were false. Thanks to homeschooling a couple of skeptical kids, however, I’ve been forced to branch out.

We realize that even though we’ve been reading and investigating and chatting about this topic for a long while, we still have so much to learn. And it’s way more interesting and entertaining than we had imagined. The Senior Agents {Agent A hasn’t formed a strong opinion just yet} do not believe any of it to be true, but they are quite fascinated by all the different beliefs and worldviews that folks hold. They know they can extract valuable insights from these myths, and the fact that they are fictional does not diminish their value. They are beginning to note the connections all faith stories share {lots of “a-ha” moments in our reading when they come across a familiar tale such as the flood myth}. 

Presenting many different approaches to how humans attempted to understand the mysteries of our world before the age of scientific discovery—without implying that any one explanation is “more true” or should hold more “weight” than another—has allowed them to appreciate the journey that has kept these words alive throughout time as well as to see clearly the improbability of any of them being 100% correct.

Following is just a sample of some of our favorite resources on this topic. I encourage you to check them out with your own students. Happy reading, friends.

 The Iliad {illustrated retelling for children}
 This Is My Faith {six-book series}
 Treasury of Greek Mythology {Norse and Egyptian versions also available}

2 comments:

  1. This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing your resources. The only related book I have is "The Belief Book." I'm excited to check these out!

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    1. Thanks, Tricia. I hope you'll find the list useful. I have heard of The Belief Book, but we have not read it yet. The same author writes another book called The Book of Gods. They are both on my Amazon list right now because our library doesn't have them.

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