Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Amazing Grace: A Program about Exploring Right and Wrong for Grade 6

Activity 5: Creating Gods for Today

Part of Amazing Grace

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • White art paper, at least one sheet for each youth
  • Oil pastels, such as CrayPas
  • Cleanup supplies
  • Music player and recorded background music
  • Optional: Tacks, painter's tape, or other supplies needed to display completed artwork

Preparation for Activity

  • Gather supplies and place them where youth can reach them quickly and easily.
  • Decide whether and how to display completed drawings.

Description of Activity

In this activity, youth are asked to design new gods and goddesses for a contemporary system of deities that can right the world's wrongs and help the human race survive.

Note: This art activity suggests the use of oil pastels, as in Session 3, Being Good, Being Bad. Using similar supplies may save you from having to acquire additional art resources. However, if you prefer to use a different medium, do so. Almost anything from pipe cleaners to clay to washable markers will be fine.

Remind the group that the name "Unitarianism" comes from the fact that early Unitarians believed in one, unified God. Then explain that other cultures and religions have taken different approaches:

Some people, like the Hindus, believe that there is only one god but that it has many different manifestations. This means that the god appears in many different forms. Many societies, both past and present, have believed in whole systems of multiple gods and goddesses. The ancient Greeks, for example, had gods and goddesses for things like war, hunting, wisdom, agriculture, fire, marriage, family, thunder, and love. These gods and goddesses often fought and quarreled with each other because they had very different ideas about what was right and what was wrong. "Polytheism" is the name we use for belief in and worship of more than one god. Perhaps one reason for polytheism is that people have so many different beliefs about what is important.

If we were to have a polytheistic system of new gods and goddesses for today, what would they be like? They would certainly be different from the old ones, because the world is different today. The Greeks did not have a god of electricity, for example, or a goddess of the Internet. Maybe we would want those today. To decide what gods and goddesses we should have, we need to choose what we think are the most important things in modern life, both right and wrong things. We would want to create gods and goddesses who could make wrong things into right things and others who would protect the things that are already right. Who are these gods and goddesses to be?

That is what you want the youth to tell you by drawing new gods and goddesses, or their symbols, and naming them. (The name might be simply "Goddess of the Internet," or it could be "Cyberna, Goddess of the Internet.") Say that each youth may have enough materials to create as many gods and goddesses as they want; one is fine, but more are also okay. Stress that youth can draw symbols instead of the gods and goddesses if they want. Somebody might draw a fancy cyberperson as the goddess of the Internet, for example. Somebody else might draw just a television screen to symbolize the god of television; whatever the youth do is up to them.

Tell youth how much time they have for the project. Try to reserve some time at the end for sharing and discussion. Hand out art supplies and let the youth begin. Play quiet background music if you like.

When the drawings are finished or time is running out, ask the youth to put their supplies away and to share what they have done. Help them hang their creations for continuing display if you have space for that. Otherwise, ask them to take their works with them when the session ends.

Ask whether they think their gods and goddesses would agree about what is right and what is wrong. Have they made a god or goddess of electricity and a god or goddess of the environment? If so, would these two agree about the morality of building new power plants to supply more electricity? Point out that even the gods and goddesses in a polytheistic system would have trouble making ethical decisions. Therefore, it's not surprising that people often have a tough time, too.