Friday, March 13, 2015

Simplify, Simplify

I don't teach Thoreau when I teach civil disobedience... but he's there of course - hiding, just behind Gandhi.

So, I feel like it's appropriate to use his quote for the title of today's post - even if I'm not taking his advice to simplify.

I took his advice in the classroom - or I tried.  That is, I tried to make it simple in there.  There are a lot of deep and difficult concepts when teaching about God or gods; about the supernatural, and what various cultures believe about it.

A couple years ago, I published my "Plenty to Discuss" post, which is one of my most frequented posts on the blog.

In it, I discussed what we are as people - and ideas that different religions hold to.  And I shared this picture:

The 3 Ways a Person is Viewed

I'm not going to go into everything I talked about there, but I want to point out how over-simplified it was.

All the religions we've studied so far hold that there is a "View 3: A TRUE You."  It's not how you see yourself, it's not how other people see you... it's how or what you really are.

But in a theological sense, even this is confusing.  Am I who I was at 5?  At 25?  No, I'm not.  Not mentally, not physically.  The cells in my body have regenerated.  (In Crash Course World History 36, John Green criticizes "Me From the Past" saying.  "Oh, Me From the Past, You're an embarrassment to our family.  Also to all our other selves."  I also like the quote from Elliott Smith, "People you've been before that you don't want around anymore - they push and they shove and won't bend to your will...")

So, in light of eternity, what is the "True View" of a person?  Is it the person they were when they were 5 or 50?  Is it the person they were at their death?  And if there's a God, or karma, how does it deal with that?  What do Christians and Muslims and Jews and Hindus believe about this?  And is it important?

It's also worth noting that "View 2: The Way Others View You" is more complicated than it's made out to be.  ...Because, I've had students who thought I was great, and I've had students who (mistakenly, right?) thought I was boring or mean.  And we lump them into the same group of "The Way A Person is Viewed by Others..."  It's not static, because we're all individuals.

It's a lot to think about...  But I try to take Thoreau's advice in class.  I try to keep it simple.

As was the case last time - and every time - there's plenty more to talk about, but it's the weekend.  If you want extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss this blog with an adult.  If you did this, write a couple thoughts from the post on a scrap of paper.  Then, have the adult you read the blog with sign it.  Turn it in when you return to school on Monday.  See you then.

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