Friday, March 07, 2008

Yay for unity!! Baha'i children's classes on NPR this morning

"Class Teaches Virtues to Children of Many Faiths

It sounds like the start of a bad joke: A Jew, a Baptist and a Baha'i get together every Sunday morning ...
But it's a new kind of Sunday school, where families from a range of religions gather to teach virtues to their young children. On a recent Sunday in Falls Church, Va., Layli and Gil Miller-Muro invited parents and children — aged 14 months to 6 years old — to their home to learn about helpfulness.
"Parents of my generation feel incredible pressure to make our kids read earlier, to know math sooner and better, to get into the top preschools and then the best schools," Layli explains. "But what many of us forget is the other side of the character of our children, not just the academic side, but the spiritual side and their character side."
...In the past decade, the Baha'i Faith has sponsored about 900 such classes nationwide. They're based on the central Baha'i tenet that all religions are different but come from the same source, God. Gil says the couple then asked their friends if they'd be interested.
"When we proposed this idea to them, they said that was something they'd like to do to," Gil says. "So we realized we had a critical mass and it was time to get started."
The parents come from Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Greek Orthodox and Baha'i backgrounds. Rachel Galoob-Ortega, who is Jewish, says she wants her son Luka to learn about and accept all religions."

...So, do the virtues stick?
Shazia Philipsen thinks so, especially when she receives an occasional lecture from her daughter, Serena.
"It's things like patience," she says. "In the car, when I'm driving, Serena will say, 'Mommy, you have to be patient!' So she understands through the books, through the storytelling, what it means. I don't think she learns that at school. She's changed, and it's great."
And the children have been so patient for more than an hour, waiting for the highlight of the class, Cowboy Hay. Gil Miller Muro's stepfather strides into the room, sporting a long white beard, a hillbilly hat and a banjo. He begins strumming and the kids join in, perhaps not realizing they are crooning a theological message.
"We are drops ... of one ocean. We are waves… of one sea. Won't you come and join us in our quest for unity. It's the way of life for you and me," they sing.
The parents collapse into comfortable chairs, as Cowboy Hay and his young virtuosos sing about unity in the complex future they face.

Read whole article


Blogger Celeste said...

wow, thank you for posting this! how amazing - and these are friends of yours, right?

looks like you've been having quite some fun... i hope we can catch up soon. xoxo

3:26 PM, March 08, 2008  

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