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Activity 1: Questions about Tomorrow (10 minutes), Session 3: Looking Toward Tomorrow

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Leader Resource 1, Questions about Tomorrow
  • Two white and two yellow index cards (or, any two contrasting colors) for each participant

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy Leader Resource 1.
  • Post a blank sheet of newsprint. Write "cosmic" on one side and "quotidian" on the other."
  • Optional: Post newsprint with an explanation of how to use the index cards.

Description of Activity

This two-part activity lays groundwork for youth to learn the concept of humanism. First, teach the terms "cosmic," "quotidian" and "butterfly effect." Next, invite youth to respond to some questions using these terms.

Part 1. Point out the words you have written on newsprint and say:

Let's think again about today's Big Question: Where are we going? There are many, many answers. We'll come up with some that are cosmic and some that are quotidian.

Invite the group to call out answers to "Where are we going?" Identify any answers that are obviously cosmic in focus (existential, pertaining to the future of humankind) and those that are equally obviously quotidian (mundane, concrete, related to daily life). Explain that "cosmic" refers to everything there is—the whole universe, the whole cosmos. "Quotidian" is sort of the opposite. It is a fancy word for "daily " so it refers to something ordinary that might happen every day. Say, in your own words:

A sneeze is a quotidian event. Or is it? Maybe that depends on what happens after the sneeze. Maybe the sneeze wakes up a nearby mouse that runs into a field where it scares a huge elephant... and things build up from there. A chain of events like that is called the "butterfly effect."

Ask if anyone knows what the "butterfly effect" is. Affirm or explain briefly:

The butterfly effect is the idea that a tiny butterfly flaps its wings and changes the air just a little bit in a way that changes something else that changes something else until in the end something as huge as a hurricane results. That is a quotidian event turning into something cosmic.

Part 2. Say the group now has the vocabulary it needs to answer some questions. Distribute two white and two yellow cards to each participant (other contrasting colors will also work). Explain that the youth are to hold the cards up to respond to the questions. Holding up one yellow card means, "I agree." Holding up two yellow cards means, "I really, really agree." One white card means "I disagree." Two white cards mean, "I really, really disagree." Indicate the summary of this code on newsprint, if you have made and posted one.

Ask the questions on Leader Resource 1, allowing comments and discussion after each. As suggested on the leader resource, note humanist belief in the human role in our own shared future.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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