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Opening (15 minutes), Workshop 3: Indigenous Religions—The Earth Speaks

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice, candle, and lighter or LED/battery-operated candle
  • World map or globe
  • Leader Resource 2, Indigenous Religions Background
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Leader Resource 2, Indigenous Religions Background so you will be comfortable presenting the information it provides.
  • Be sure you can locate, on the map or globe: Australia and New Zealand; Ireland; South Africa; the "horn" of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia today); Southeast Asia, Japan, and China.
  • Post blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

Invite youth to sit in a circle. Answer any questions you were unable to answer from the last workshop.

Then, light the chalice with these words:

We light this chalice in celebration of Unitarian Universalism and the sustaining faiths of all people of the world. May the flame represent the fire of our commitment to understand all faithful people and build bridges that connect us as one human family.

Invite participants to check in by saying their names and briefly describing a place in nature they have been where they felt the presence of the sacred or where they were filled with awe or wonder.

Read or share, in your own words, the information in Leader Resource 2, Indigenous Religions Background. Write important terms on newsprint. Indicate on the map or globe the areas where the earliest humans lived.

Then say, in your own words:

Think for a moment about what it would be like to live in a very early society. There are probably only ten or twenty of you. All of you have to work hard, to hunt or collect enough food for everybody, to keep the fire going, to protect yourselves from predators and bad weather, and find or build adequate shelters. You have no knowledge of any part of the world other than the miles you can range on foot. Your religion is likely to fit your environment and would offer answers to the big questions: how the world works, how it came to be, how it all fits together, why things are as they are.

You have no writing. How would your religion be transmitted from generation to generation? (Allow youth to answer.) What would your religion deal with? (Allow youth to answer.) Would you feel strongly about your part in the natural order? (Allow youth to answer.)

The faith that would speak to you would also reflect the seamless oneness of all life, the interconnectedness of all things that live, plants, animals, humans, everyone.

Discuss the ideas presented in Leader Resource 2, Indigenous Religions Background, using questions such as:

  • If you were in a group and there was so little food that some surely would starve, would you be more likely to make sure all the males got food, or all the females? Why?
  • Sometimes indigenous faiths are called "religions" and sometimes "mythologies." Why do you think this is so? Who gets to decide if a religion is a "mythology?" Do you think people a thousand years from now will call our religion a mythology?

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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