What Should Kids Know about Religion? #Giveaway
By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 25, 2013
- If you’re reading this blog, it’s very likely that you 1) are a secular parent, and 2) want your kid to know something about matters of faith and religion. And that, as you know, makes you a superior human being. Because you know that only through religious literacy can we satisfy our kids’ natural curiosity, protect them from confusion and ignorance; ensure that they are given a context for religious beliefs; and instill in them a true sense of tolerance for other belief systems. But I’m curious: What exactly do you think kids need know […] Read more – ‘What Should Kids Know about Religion? #Giveaway’.
Quick! What the Hell is Diwali?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 1, 2013
- Here’s the Diwali installment of Relax, It’s Just God’s beloved* Holiday Cheat Sheet, a series offering parents the quick and dirty run-down on major religious holidays, so that they might come across as intelligent beings to their kids. I’m sure you guys remember all this stuff from last year, but rest assured, Diwali is just as cool and fun as it has always been. Why? (C’mon, you don’t remember this?) Let me count the ways: 1. Fireworks 2. Bollywood music 3. Poker 4. Cool back story 5. Curry 6. Candles 7. Shopping * too strong? Holiday: Diwali Pronounced: Di-VAH-li […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Diwali?’.
Can the Bible Help Kids Think Critically?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 26, 2013
- Once upon a time, I would have choked on my own vomit at the idea of buying a children’s Bible for my daughter. The way I saw it, the Bible was an indoctrination tool. I no more wanted to crack that book open than I wanted to get her baptized or plan her Bat Mitzvah or teach her to pray toward Mecca five times a day. It was all the same to me. In my mind, only religious people read the Bible. But, times have changed. Today, I don’t equate the Bible to religion; I equate […] Read more – ‘Can the Bible Help Kids Think Critically?’.
Crucifixion Story, As Told By a Freethinking 7-Year-Old
By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 15, 2013
- A couple of weeks ago, while walking along a gravel road in the French countryside (!!!), my 7-year-old daughter, Maxine, decided to tell her 4-year-old cousin the story of Jesus’ death. It hadn’t been a recent topic of conversation in our house or anything, but we’d just passed by a very old, very Christian cemetery, so that must have been what prompted the storytelling. The narrative was classic Maxine — relatively accurate, deliberately paced, full of distractions and incredibly amusing, with an editorial comment or two thrown in along the way. After the story was […] Read more – ‘Crucifixion Story, As Told By a Freethinking 7-Year-Old’.
‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old
By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 15, 2013
- It is a common misconception that the Golden Rule began with Jesus. In fact, it’s part of the reason some Christians think of their religion as synonymous with morality. After all, to treat others the way you want to be treated is the essence of moral conduct. And it was Luke 6:31 in the New Testament that quotes Jesus as saying: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Matthew 7:1-5 also addresses the topic.) But Jesus didn’t invent the ethic of reciprocity anymore than did Muhammad, who said: […] Read more – ‘‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old’.
Only Five Religious Books Have Won the Caldecott — Most Before 1963
By Wendy Thomas Russell | April 1, 2013
- If you’ve ever perused the religion books within the children’s section of your local library, you’re probably aware that it can be a bit underwhelming. Whether you’re going for a book about the life of Buddha, the history of Confucianism, or the holiday of Easter, so many of the books are old and outdated, clearly written for religious children, or without much literary merit. It sticks out particularly because there are so many great secular children’s books — brilliant, award-winning books that will stick with our kids for the rest of our lives. Sometimes it’s […] Read more – ‘Only Five Religious Books Have Won the Caldecott — Most Before 1963’.
Quick! What the Hell is Easter?
By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 28, 2013
- My favorite anecdote told by Teach Not Preach blogger Jim Morrison appears in one of his first blogs. As you may recall, Morrison is a World Religion teacher at a Minnesota high school, and has been for decades. This particular anecdote involves a junior named Angel — Angel! — who approached Morrison after class one day in 1997 to ask one, discreet question. “Is Jesus dead?” Morrison said the girl had waited until they were alone and appeared to be blushing when she asked the question. Morrison played it off warmly, but, inside, he was […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Easter?’.
Despite Controversy, World Religion Teacher Tells It Like It Is
By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 28, 2013
- I may have a new BFF — or, at the very least, a great new source for my book. Jim Morrison (no, not that one) has been teaching World Religion at a high school in Red Wing, Minn., for 17 years. He’s not a pious man himself (to say the least), so his classes are comparative, historical and incredibly eye-opening. His students love him. Christian fundamentalists in the community? Well, they don’t. But they do tolerate him. And that’s something, dammit. Jim recently began his own blog — Teach Not Preach — which I like […] Read more – ‘Despite Controversy, World Religion Teacher Tells It Like It Is’.
15 Secular Songs to Share With Your Kids
By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 21, 2013
- Not long ago, I suggested that nonreligious parents share religious music with their kids. I put together a Christian playlist and, later, a Hanukkah playlist. I also recommended some Cat Stevens songs about Islam, including one I love called “Ramadan Moon.” Some readers voiced concern about the ways in which religious songs have been used to indoctrinate children. They argued that the potential downsides to sharing such music outweighed the benefits. But I still think that, as long as we do it right, these musical journeys can be excellent ways to develop religious literacy, learn tolerance for other cultures, and give nonreligious children a […] Read more – ‘15 Secular Songs to Share With Your Kids’.
Inject Some Religious Literacy into Your Valentine’s Day
By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 14, 2013
- For the most part, I’m fine with being a nonbeliever. Like Bill Mahr says, “it requires so little of your time.” But every once in a while, I’m struck by how limiting my worldview can be. Take, for instance, the fact that I’ll never be a Whirling Dervish. That’s a real bummer. I’d love to be able to spin like that. And even worse? The chances are almost zero that I’ll ever be sainted. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wendy! Don’t be so negative! You are a fantastic person, and you help so many others […] Read more – ‘Inject Some Religious Literacy into Your Valentine’s Day’.