I deliberately didn’t say whether or not I have participated in an OWL program. That was not the purpose of the post. The purpose of the post was to ask the question of whether sexuality education, in and of itself, was religious education.
To go even further, what I was asking was what do we offer new UUs, many of whom have little/no religious background, in the way of theological education. How can you ask people to ‘build their own theology’ when they don’t know the varieties of theologies/theo-logical experiences that are out there?
But…if you wanna to go there…I took two human sexuality classes when I was an undergraduate (back when I thought I was going to go for a grad degree in social work). And let me tell you, anatomy was the focus of about 20% of those two class. The rest of it was about everything else, just like OWL. So let’s not kid ourselves, the secular world does actually talk about everything when it comes to sexuality curriculum. It’s not as if values are only a religious thing.
But this brings up a different issue…why is it assumed that I’m attacking, or taking aim at, OWL? Is asking a question attacking? I thought I was adding a new element to the conversation…guess I was wrong.
But I’m going to ask the question again; is sexuality education, in and of itself, religious education?
I know I”m getting ready to step on another UU sacred cow, but since it came up in the comments I feel like somebody gave me the opening.
Please hear me…I think Our Whole Lives is a good program…I’m really glad that two religious groups got together and worked on a curriculum that does go across the lifespan (but let’s talk truth here, how many UU or UCC churches do any part other than the middle-school section?).
That said…is sexuality education religious education? Yes, you can talk about values and sexuality, but does that make it religious?
And if what we have to offer those who are new to UUism is New UU class, BYOT and OWL, how much are we really giving people? Yes I know about Tapestry…but that really does illustrate my point…look at the adult offerings…how much of it assumes that people can acutally build their own theology without ever having been exposed to the multitudes of theological conversation that is out there? Sorry….going off on a tangent.
To repeat the original question…is sexuality education religious education?
In response to my last post, Ogre said:
Better question: What SHOULD religious education be for and about today? It’s increasingly apparent to me that we need it, as badly, for adults…
[It’s amazing how real life ends up meshing with blog life. I was talking about this very subject the other night. And Ogre’s comment falls right into it.]
There is a problem out here in the UU-world my friends. A really big problem. Far too often…when people hear the words “RELIGIOUS EDUCTION” they only thing that comes to their mind is children. This is a problem.
Now…I have to be honest, I’m not that particularly interested in little people’s RE. This does not mean that I don’t think it’s important. It does mean that I think we have focused so much on children that we have forgotten that adults need religious education too. Not just for the fact that it’s ADULTS who teach the children, but for the fact that most adults who come into UU churches are hungry for the religious education that only we can provide.
So the question now is…who is religious education for? if it’s only for children…then that’s one thing. But, if it’s for adults too, what should an adult UU RE program look like?
I think that maybe this is the time to take a step back from the question that I posed almost two weeks ago now. Instead of asking whether it’s a good idea or not to bury Sunday School, maybe we should be asking ourselves another question.
What IS religious education? Is it the same as being educated religiously?
As you can tell by the title, I’m a little stuck on the idea of adult religious education. (and if you’ve read this blog over a period of time, you know that I’ve been stuck on it for a long time)
Last year there was a lot of talk about lay theological education. With the change of administrations, that talk seems to have gone by the wayside. Since this thread has been about religious education, it felt like the right time to bring the subject up again.
Let’s ask ourselves this question…is the reason that so many “new” UUs (those who have been involved with UUism for 5 years or less) go to seminary is because we don’t offer Sunday School for adults that gives them the information they want/need? Do we implicitly tell people to go to seminary so we don’t have to do the job of educating adults ourselves?
The divine Ms. M strikes again. 🙂 In a very short comment on my last post, the divine said:
I’ve always wondered why UU adults don’t need to learn anything but newcomer stuff, or things offered at the local community college (film studies, yoga, knitting…)
I’ve wondered that too. So here’s the real question…is religious education only for children/youth? If not, why don’t we put the time/effort/resources into making young adult/adult religious education as big a priority?
Don’t get me wrong…I think there is a place for the community college stuff in church life. It’s called small group ministry. However friends that is NOT…I repeat NOT…religious education. How can one build one’s own theology if all you are ever exposed to is the community college stuff? How can you know where you agree/disagree with the greatest religious minds unless you are exposed to them for a period of time?
This is why worship cannot be the primary place for religious education. The exposure that one gets to some things is too limited to help one develop in certain ways spiritually.
What is the role/place of the community in the development/growth of an adult’s religious exploration?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I grew up religiously lately. And I’m seeing how much I actually miss it. Now…before you accuse me of nostalgia…I, more than anybody, know the darker side of the black church. But, on the average, the black church gets church in a way that I don’t think UUs understand. (don’t worry, I’ll make this apply to Sunday School in a bit)
Now…if this post were about more aspects of the black church, I would point out that most members of the black church understand that church IS different. It is not Sunday afternoon in the park with George and it shouldn’t be treated that way.
So…what does this mean for RE and Sunday School? Lots, I think.
Wanna make your church intergenerational in a heartbeat? Follow the black church…don’t banish your children to RE while you’re in worship. Have them in there with you.
Want to integrate new members in a non-threatening but real way? Follow the black church…have religious education for adults that goes beyond New Member classes and BYOT.
Want to show your children that religious education is important? Follow the black church…be in a RE class at the same time as your children.
I’m sure there are other things I could say…but that’s all I can think of right now. More later.
Those of you who know me in real life know my pet peeves when it comes to UUs knowledge (or lack thereof) of their own history. Oh sure, most of us know the names Francis David and Michael Servetus, John Murray and Hosea Ballou. But how much do we really deal with them? In our very real and well-meaning desire to be multi-faith, have we disconnected ourselves from whence we came?
How many kids, after coming through UU religious education programs, would know what story The Red Tent is based on? If they are asked to read Absalom,Absalom! in an English class, would they know who the original Absalom was? Do any of them know the story that we get the phrase “split the baby” from?
How much more would they get from Moby Dick if, when they read “call me Ishmael”, they actually knew who Ishmael was?
If you haven’t figured out where I’m going here friends, I’ll put it in really simple language…we need to deal with our family album. And as much as I know it pains some of you to acknowledge it, we are “people of the book.”
Look at the list of people that we venerate…Parker…Murray…Channing…Ballou…Starr King…JLA…they are all people who had an intimate knowledge of the foundational book of our faith. (lest anyone forget…we are the only denomination that is named for two Christian theologies)
Wanna know why UUism is an insignificant religious voice in the larger world (for all our talk of the contrary)? It’s because we don’t the language (or at least we don’t talk it). It’s all well and good to say that we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person…it’s another thing to say that grace and mercy fall on the just and the unjust (I know…not exactly parallel) and since we don’t really know who the just and unjust are, we must act as if all are just.
So how are we dealing with the family album in our religious education programs? Or are we dealing with it at all?
Contrary to how it might look, I don’t have a dog in the larger fight as to whether Sunday School is a good idea or whether it should be buried. I asked the question because it came up in my multi-denominational (Quaker, Brethren, Methodist, UU, UCC, Baptist) RE class.
But I do have a dog in a fight. David, in his comment on my last post wrote:
The MFC reading list should focus on what is UU specific, that a student might not get attending a non-UU school (and even a UU school, at times).
Now…I believe that is true if we are talking about History and Polity. But I think that in talking about religious education, that’s a completely different matter.
So I’ll ask the question…is multicultural religious education not UU-specific? Seeing as though many UUs boast about the fact that our children’s RE programs are soooooooooo racially/ethnically diverse, why isn’t there something about religious education in a multicultural context required on the MFC list? Don’t tell me about Black Pioneers in a White Denomination…that’s not religious education. Don’t tell me about the books dealing with the Black “Empowerment” Contorversy…that’s not religious education. Where is the stuff about multicultural religious education? (if I remember it right, a previous incarnation of the MFC list did have something about multicultural religious education, but I might be wrong)
Since we’re supposed to be so damn interested in being AR/AO/MC, why doesn’t the MFC list reflect that in every area? Why does religious education get the short end of the stick?
If multicultural religious education isn’t UU-specific…then that’s it…I QUIT.
C’mon now…give a sista a little credit. I do know that the MFC list does have other religious education reading besides Fahs. But take a look at most of what that list is…curricula. Now…I’m a big fan of curricula (and lament the paucity of curricula for adults)…but…
It would help if we had a little THEORY with our curricula. You know, educational theory…human development theory…systems theory…all those things that actually go into making curricula.
Not to mention…if we stay with 1950s theory that leaves a whole lot of people out. For all of our talk about trying to be AR/AO/MC, where is the reading that talks about cross cultural religious education? Where’s the reading about religious education with adults over 35?
If the model that we’re going to stick with is Today’s Children and Yesterday’s Heritage then I see a whole bunch of problems that are going to have to be addressed.