Unitarian Universalists believe that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues — such as the existence, nature, and meaning of life, deities, creation, and afterlife. Our shared covenant is found within the 7 Principles and the 6 sources of our living tradition.
Children need different kinds of support at different times as they navigate the stages of faith development. Some of James Fowler’s work may be helpful to read:
As a child’s first religious education teacher, a parent sometimes needs some help or tools to get the conversations started.
DIVINE OR DIETY CARDS
Toward that end, I made various simple Divine or Diety cards in 4″ x 6″ that can be printed and slipped into dollar store or craft store picture frames for ritual play or group ritual.
I like the sun and moon best for small children because very young children are so literal and all the world is bright, shiny, new to them. One of the simplest and most enduring forms of belief is to go to bed and have faith that the sun will come back in the morning. Over and over this happens. And when the sun goes down the moon pops up. When the moon goes down, the sun pops up. We cannot touch them, but we can feel the sun’s heat and we can see the moon’s glow. They are there.
It’s a stepping stone to believing in other intangible things later — justice, equality, love, etc.
You can print any of the designs out or invite the child to draw their own concept of the “sun” or “moon” or what the “Divine” or “Lord” or “Lady” might look like. You can frame their artwork for ritual play or use in family ritual.
You can also teach young children how to sing the UU Principles.
Visual Unit provides a lot of useful religious education material for older kids. I particularly like the world view graphic for teaching children how different people view or experience the “Divine” or “God” or the “Holy.” One’s worldview informs their beliefs. One’s beliefs informs one’s thoughts or feelings.
Other articles that help explain pagan theology and view of the Divine include
- Why “Pagan”? – An Atheist Pagan’s Response to a Theist by John Halstead
- Pagan Deism: Three Views by Margarian Bridger and Stephen Hergest
In my pagan group, we come from many different pagan paths, but what we all have in common is that we are all also Unitarian Universalist. Ritual is let by volunteers, and they do it in the style of their path. That seems fair to us since everyone can volunteer to lead and when it is your turn you get to do it in your style. My children attend both pagan ritual and Unitarian Universalist worship. They see people of various personal beliefs under one roof, managing to get along. I think that’s important for them to know.
THE BIG FUZZY
I myself experience the Divine as something between a pantheist or panentheist pagan. For me all of nature is holy, and I don’t really need or use a personal or anthropomorphic god or goddess.
The “Big Fuzzy” works for me — a Divine that is nameless and formless, but is sometimes felt. The Divine and wonders of the world are One to me. Or perhaps all of the world sits within the Divine but the Divine extends further out to places we as mere humans cannot fully understand.
When I need to use symbolic representations of the Divine in ritual, I’m happiest with the spiral , or various tarot card representations of the sun or moon. Sometimes I’ll go with “Lord” and “Lady” in the sense of masculine or feminine energies that make up the whole. Something like the yin-yang symbol.
All I See Is Part of Me by Chara M. Curtis is a big favorite and one of the earliest books I used to introduce my kids to the idea of the Divine, that there is something bigger than them out there.
These are two designs from Novica that seem to convey the idea of “we are the many, we are the one” or “interconnectedness” that I like for kids:
Eternity of Love by Wayan Rendah
World Peace by Nyoman Karsa
I’ve taught my kids that each person has to figure out what worldview resonates most with them and that it is ok for people to have different ideas about it. Even if we believe different things and take different religious paths? We can manage to get along.
And the sun is still going to rise tomorrow morning.