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Activity 3: Story and Discussion – When No One Is Looking (10 minutes), Session 4: Telling Right From Wrong

In "Amazing Grace," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read through the story.
  • Photocopy Story 1, "When No One Is Looking," one for each participant.

Description of Activity

Share a Buddhist story about making an ethical decision.

Prepare for the story with a comment and a couple of questions:

The Bible and the word of God helped John Newton know what to do. Where else can we get help deciding what is right and what is wrong? What are some of the religious rules you know about right and wrong?

Offer ideas like these in the course of your discussion, if participants do not:

Family members, teachers, friends, and the law often help us know what is right and what is wrong. Many religious faiths have rules about what is right and what is wrong. We saw some of those when we talked about the seven deadly sins and the seven heavenly virtues. Another famous set of religious rules is the Ten Commandments, which we will explore more thoroughly in Session 11.

Point out the empty plate in your Conundrum Corner. Tell participants that it has to do with today's story. Read or tell the Buddhist Jataka tale retold in Story 1, "When No One Is Looking." Alternately, you might ask for one or more volunteers to read it.

Help the class understand that many faith groups use stories to help people decide how to act virtuously.

This is just such a story. But in the story, the student did not turn to a religious book like the Bible. Instead, she/he seemed to look inside for the answer. Would you agree that sometimes we just know what is right and what is wrong without someone or something telling us? Is that an example of conscience?

Lead a brief discussion of conscience, using these questions as needed:

  • What is it? Some people would describe it as "a small voice inside you that knows what you should do."
  • Does everybody have a conscience?
  • Where does it come from? Do we develop a conscience or are we born with it? If it develops, how does that happen?
  • How does conscience relate to temptation? ("Sometimes your conscience tells you not to do something that temptation wants you to do. That's when the inner battles begin.")
  • Does the group agree that your conscience is a good tool for helping to distinguish right from wrong? Can youth offer examples from their own lives?
  • Should it be your only tool? (See Session 9, Spirituality and Me, for more about conscience.)

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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