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Concerned about paganism and teaching young children mythology


MouseBandit
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I love the WTM method of going through history chronologically, starting with the Ancients.  However, I'm concerned about exposing my children so young to the paganism and witchcraft that permeates mythology and fairy tales.  I'm torn - I agree that they need to learn it to be able to join "the great conversation" and understand so much that stems from these, but I can see how easy it is to develop a "fascination" with these topics, especially so young.  I am a Christian who came from a paganism background, and it's very easy to trace my involvement back to early reading and "fascination" as a child. 

 

How do other Christian parents prepare their children for this exposure?  Have any of you skipped it in large part of altogether in the Grammar stage?  What are your thoughts?

 

Thanks!

MouseBandit

 

 

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Guest sylune13

I am Jewish and my son is endlessly fascinated with ancient history and mythology.  I go along with it because of my own childhood interest and just talk to him about why people believed as they did back then and what the difference is between the beliefs from that time compared to now.  I think many children are interested in ancient myths because they are so different than our own and frankly because they are awesome stories that capture the imagination.  

 

I know that my child will be exposed to many other faiths while growing up so I want him to be able to think critically about them (including our own religion) without feeling the need to judge other faiths.

 

As an aside, I also came from a pagan background while I was "seeking" the right place and feel that without that part of my life, I wouldn't feel so blessed to have found faith and love in God now.

 

Rachel

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Were you raised in a Christian household and read the stories and became a pagan? Or were you raised in a pagan household and read the stories and continued being pagan? Or were you raised with no religion, read the stories, and then became pagan?

 

I was raised in a Christian household and while the stories were fun, I never for a minute believed anything about them. But I was very solidly grounded in my faith. If I hadn't been (raised with no religion at all), I could see searching for answers and turning to the stories, perhaps. Maybe.

 

If you are not comfortable with it, then I say don't have the kids read them. Just don't. The kids can read them later or barely even at all. It's a tiny, tiny part of the great conversation. If that part will bother you too much, then it's ok to let that part go. They'll learn plenty of other things.

 

Save some of the mythology till high school if you like. It's not like you're refusing to teach them math or grammar. They'll miss some references to mythology when they read literature, but it's not something that will hold them back in life. If you were refusing to teach your daughters past 8th grade or refusing to teach them grammar and writing and math, then that would be a problem. But mythology is ok to hold off on.

Edited by Garga
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In our family, we've tried to emphasize the difference between fictional stories (whether they are mythology, fairy tale, fantasy, or just otherwise fictional) and our beliefs in the truth of the Bible.  My kids read or listen to things like the Percy Jackson series, but they know these are just stories made up by an imaginative author.   The Bible itself discusses idol worship, and we read in our history texts about the various religions and idols that people worshiped through the ages.  I am hoping that by shining light on the good (reading the Bible, growing in our relationships with God), they will be attracted to the Light and won't let their fascination with something fictional get away from them. 

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I am Jewish and my son is endlessly fascinated with ancient history and mythology. I go along with it because of my own childhood interest and just talk to him about why people believed as they did back then and what the difference is between the beliefs from that time compared to now. I think many children are interested in ancient myths because they are so different than our own and frankly because they are awesome stories that capture the imagination.

 

I know that my child will be exposed to many other faiths while growing up so I want him to be able to think critically about them (including our own religion) without feeling the need to judge other faiths.

 

As an aside, I also came from a pagan background while I was "seeking" the right place and feel that without that part of my life, I wouldn't feel so blessed to have found faith and love in God now.

 

Rachel

I agree with this post a lot--most people will be fine reading the stories as kids and easily put them in the box marked "fun stories, not true."

 

But if you're feeling very uneasy about it, then don't read them the stories. Why put yourself through a bunch of worry when it's really a small issue? Hold off on the stories until they mature more. There are sooo many things to fret over when raising kids. It's ok to put this one aside for now and worry about it later.

Edited by Garga
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Thank you!  FYI, I was raised LDS.  (I am no longer LDS, I am a born-again Christian.)  I was, actually, very worried that skipping them until 5th grade would cause gaps, so your reassurance that it wouldn't was exactly what I needed!  I think I just feel like we need some more time to build our foundation of what is true, what is lovely, what is praiseworthy, etc, before we start to study and immerse ourselves in what is completely contrary to God's Word. 

 

So, I will just skip them for now, and stop stressing over it, LOL!   THANK YOU! 

 

MouseBandit

 

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Another thought is to use a Christian worldview type of text for ancients.  I like Mystery of History for that time period.  I have quibbles with the author over some of her dating decisions in the first few lessons of the first volume, but other than that I love the way the author points things back to Christ even as she discusses things like idol worship or the development of various world religions.

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One of the coolest things about studying the mythology is to see how so much of it is similar to the Christ and Biblical stories. Iean down right word for word in some instances. The flood mythology, the Book of the Dead, there is a very strong arguement in a lot of it that there is one resounding story told in different languages through the ages.

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Any pagan story is a wonderful opportunity to glorify the true God because contrasts intensify each other.  That's why we study Pagan Literature in our Christian homeschool.  Pointing out specifically how very different these pagan gods are compared to the real God is yet another opportunity to glorify Him. Pagan gods and demigods are humanity amplified. God is completely unlike us and unlike them.  Contrasting them to Him clarifies that. Literature is the study of humanity and its need for God's transformative work in us from the inside out.

For example, Christians unfamiliar with Nordic Mythology might say "how nice" when they hear the Christian Icelandic Hymn lyrics written around the year 800 when Christianity came to Scandinavia.



Jesus came to save pagans after all.  Any Christian familiar with Nordic Mythology: the brutality of Viking culture, the hopeless fatalism of Ragnarok, the empty debauchery of Valhalla, the cold bleakness and fear of nature's elements in Scandinavia and the cruelty of their gods, would be inclined to be overwhelmed by the grace of God on people so far gone in paganism and weep with love joy when reading those lyrics.  They talk about the mercy of Jesus who has replaced Thor as "the smith of the heavens." Transformation from spiritual death to spiritual life, hopelessness turned to hope and resignation to joy are understood by anyone with a background in the mythology.  You just don't get that when you're ignorant of the back story.  You miss depth and breadth.  You miss the transformation of pagan Yule to Christmas Yuletide.  You miss how, as redeemed pagans become children of God they redeem their holidays from  people trembling in fear of Lussi the witch hag just before Yule to remembering St. Lucy who stood confidently proclaiming her faith in Jesus Christ as she was burned at the stake that we now remember during advent. Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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In my classics degree, our Christian professor put a heavy emphasis on ancient Judaism in the classical world to contrast with the development of paganism. It would take a high level of skill and knowledge. We had the choice of learning Hebrew, Greek or Latin. Super fascinating.

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Any pagan story is a wonderful opportunity to glorify the true God because contrasts intensify each other.  That's why we study Pagan Literature in our Christian homeschool.  Pointing out specifically how very different these pagan gods are compared to the real God is yet another opportunity to glorify Him. Pagan gods and demigods are humanity amplified. God is completely unlike us and unlike them.  Contrasting them to Him clarifies that. Literature is the study of humanity and its need for God's transformative work in us from the inside out.

 

For example, Christians unfamiliar with Nordic Mythology might say "how nice" when they hear the Christian Icelandic Hymn lyrics written around the year 800 when Christianity came to Scandinavia.

 

 

 

Jesus came to save pagans after all.  Any Christian familiar with Nordic Mythology: the brutality of Viking culture, the hopeless fatalism of Ragnarok, the empty debauchery of Valhalla, the cold bleakness and fear of nature's elements in Scandinavia and the cruelty of their gods, would be inclined to be overwhelmed by the grace of God on people so far gone in paganism and weep with love joy when reading those lyrics.  They talk about the mercy of Jesus who has replaced Thor as "the smith of the heavens." Transformation from spiritual death to spiritual life, hopelessness turned to hope and resignation to joy are understood by anyone with a background in the mythology.  You just don't get that when you're ignorant of the back story.  You miss depth and breadth.  You miss the transformation of pagan Yule to Christmas Yuletide.  You miss how, as redeemed pagans become children of God they redeem their holidays from  people trembling in fear of Lussi the witch hag just before Yule to remembering St. Lucy who stood confidently proclaiming her faith in Jesus Christ as she was burned at the stake that we now remember during advent.

 

Awesome post.  :hurray: And that song was beautiful.

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The ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythologies provide context.  Ex.  The 10 Plagues of Moses' day are merely unfortunate events until you read with an understanding that each plague was a direct defeat of an Egyptian god...the 10th being the ultimate b/c killing Pharoah's 1st born son meant killing the heir, killing a GodKing, killing their god on earth.  The Plagues were not just punishment, they were communicating something deeper and that understanding is lost when you skip the mythology.  That is just one example.  The Bible is full of pieces that are not fully understood without the context of the ancient cultures, and those cultures centered upon their religions.

 

 

I think it is better to introduce mythology early, 6-7yo.  They understand the difference between real and pretend.  They also put a great amount of trust in Mommy & Daddy at those ages.  It is the overly-sheltered 12yo meeting Thor (or Percy Jackson) for the first time who is more likely to allow fascination turn to obsession.  We've done quite a lot of mythology through the years, and I assure you that there have been conversations where my kids have flat out asked me how we know that the stories in the Bible are different from the Greek/Roman myths.  Those have been some of the best conversations, and I would NOT want to start that process in the preteen years when they are in the logic/argumentative stage. 

 

A 12yo who comes from a rigidly authoritarian home, no questioning The Truth allowed, is the most vulnerable when it comes to leaving the Faith of their parents altogether.  "What else are you hiding?" becomes the constant question.  Open up a healthy dialogue very young.

 

 

 

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I am always surprised when people worry about this.

 

Presumably, you are raising your children as Christians ? A collection of Greek myths, studied as the belief systems of a people who lived thousands of years ago, is not going to turn a child pagan, is not going to trump the values you are actively inculcating.

 

Put it this way, I read my kids the bible stories in SOTW and they didn't end up Christian. 

 

Same here. :)

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I am not in the school of thought that thinks non-Christian religions and stories should be taught primarly to show how they are so different than Christianity.  Of course in some ways they are different, and that will come out of the stories.  But they represent the same kinds of internal searching for the divine, and typically they make many of the same kinds of observations.  People aren't stupid, and they have great and moving insights in all their stories about the meaning of life.

 

I don't think that the way we lead our children to Truth is primarily about indoctrinating them with a set of particular facts - be it about Christianity or materialism or Greek paganism.  It's about a desire and longing for truth, and to be in touch with the core of reality, its organizing principle.  People who have that will go searching and will respect Truth where they find it.  If we think the facts and logic of reality point to Christ, why would we be afraid they will lead somewhere else?  Do we think we can really override people's free will through information control?  What we need to do is provide the background for thinking clearly, the ability to assess fiorst principles and assumptions, and a sense of that spark of the divine within us all.

 

It's worth thinking about IMO that for C.S Lewis, that spark was seen not first in Christian stories, but in Norse mythology.

 

 

Edited by Bluegoat
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Thank you! FYI, I was raised LDS. (I am no longer LDS, I am a born-again Christian.) I was, actually, very worried that skipping them until 5th grade would cause gaps, so your reassurance that it wouldn't was exactly what I needed! I think I just feel like we need some more time to build our foundation of what is true, what is lovely, what is praiseworthy, etc, before we start to study and immerse ourselves in what is completely contrary to God's Word.

 

So, I will just skip them for now, and stop stressing over it, LOL! THANK YOU!

 

MouseBandit

This is what my DH and I decided to do and we are glad we did.

 

I am thankful for the solid foundation my kids have in Biblical Truth at 12, 10, & 9. Now when we come across greek myths they see it for what it is rather then having a fascination with its fanciful side, which I do think they would have had when they were younger. They spot pagan ideas quite easily by this point. Until my oldest was 10 or 11 we focused entirely on laying a foundation in God's Word.

 

I think you are on the right track.

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I think Bluegoat's post is important. I don't think Greek mythology is absolutely essential any more than everyone agrees that knowing Brunei's location and capital is essential, but I'm not comfortable with the idea of entirely avoiding a topic because my children might lose their religion.   My family is religious and I do teach my children about my religious beliefs, but we also learn about many other belief systems.  I don't teach them about Islam to show that Islam is wrong or that my religion is right; I teach them about Islam because it's important to understand in its own terms, not from my religious perspective (as much as I can avoid my own bias).  None of my children have become Muslims because of learning about Islam or even because of living in Muslim countries where everyone around them was Muslim.  I want them to feel that they can learn about any topic without my being fearful that they'll change because of it. I don't have to fear knowledge, and Greek mythology is really fun knowledge for kids.

 

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I honestly think there's more paganism and superstition in American churches today than there is in the whole book of D'Aulaires Greek Myths. I read Greek myths to my kids but we don't memorize the gods or anything. I teach my kids that satanic and worldly thinking is always a lot more attractive than we wish it were. There's always a temptation to make the "bad stuff" something easily identifiable and easily avoidable. I don't want to give my kids the impression that avoiding evil is as easy as censoring ancient mythology. If you're uncomfortable reading myths to your children right now, by all means, skip it. It's not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. I decided not to skip them, though, because I don't want my kids to be afraid of what is weird or different, but instead to learn to discern the truth. If you read a lot of the "watch out" verses in the New Testament, we're usually asked to watch out for false teaching INSIDE the church, not from without. So when we read D'Aulaires or SOTW, we don't make a big deal out of the stories. We talk about how the habit of all people, including ourselves, is to make a god of our own imagination and worship that. It's something we ourselves are usually guilty of doing, even if we are Christians. I try to keep the idea of idolatry relevant, in a sense. Anyway, we just read the stories and enjoy noticing cultural references to some of the Greek gods, and pray for repentance for our own sin of idolatry. Not only that, but we spend about 14 hours a week in Bible study, whereas we spend about 10 minutes a week reading ancient pagan myths. So I don't see it as "teaching" paganism, just exposing them to some old versions of it so they can grapple with ideas.

Eta.. I suspect this gets into theology... but I believe that a dark, worldly heart will find darkness facinating. I don't think it's the paganism that leads a heart astray, but the dark heart that is already astray and finds paganism attractive. So a love for paganism is not caused by reading about paganism, but by a love disorder already present in the heart, in other words. Just my opinion :-)

Edited by Ms.Ivy
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I just made sure they had enough solid years of

Biblical teaching only before introducing all the other stuff. So around 2nd grade I let them start reading mythology with me and explained the differences and why our True God is vastly different and vastly superior. We talked through all the DAulaorrs myth books that way and then they were prepared. I did this naturally it's not like I went through a curriculum or anything. I trained them to think through it and we have always kept up a conversation about what they are reading.

 

My kids are huge mythology buffs and it has poured over into better understanding of all literature and much more, they are always catching references to it/ very thing from allusions to TED talks to the names of moons and planted and stars-

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I love the WTM method of going through history chronologically, starting with the Ancients.  However, I'm concerned about exposing my children so young to the paganism and witchcraft that permeates mythology and fairy tales.  I'm torn - I agree that they need to learn it to be able to join "the great conversation" and understand so much that stems from these, but I can see how easy it is to develop a "fascination" with these topics, especially so young.  I am a Christian who came from a paganism background, and it's very easy to trace my involvement back to early reading and "fascination" as a child. 

 

How do other Christian parents prepare their children for this exposure?  Have any of you skipped it in large part of altogether in the Grammar stage?  What are your thoughts?

 

Thanks!

MouseBandit

 

 

Thank you!  FYI, I was raised LDS.  (I am no longer LDS, I am a born-again Christian.)  I was, actually, very worried that skipping them until 5th grade would cause gaps, so your reassurance that it wouldn't was exactly what I needed!  I think I just feel like we need some more time to build our foundation of what is true, what is lovely, what is praiseworthy, etc, before we start to study and immerse ourselves in what is completely contrary to God's Word. 

 

So, I will just skip them for now, and stop stressing over it, LOL!   THANK YOU! 

 

MouseBandit

 

MouseBandit, I just want to put out there that we have LDS mamas on this board, we have pagan mamas on this board, we have wiccan mamas on this board, we have agnostic mamas on this board, we have parents of all and no faith.   First you say that you were raised pagan..... then you say you were raised LDS.   While you may equate the LDS faith with paganism, if you ask LDS Mamas what they are, they will say they are Christian.  So your statement calling their faith paganism or non-Christian may be viewed as offensive.  You talk about pagan and witchcraft being harmful and fascinating.  You hold the stories and myths of your faith to be above the stories and myths of other faiths (granted you may not view it that way, but as a non-Christian, that's how it appears.)   I'm sure you hold the tenants of my faith in disdain as well....which is your right.  I would just ask you to be more sensitive to the fact that this is a multi-faith/multi-belief board and that's one of the things that makes it great IMHO.  There are plenty of Evangelical Christian boards where you can talk dismissively about other faiths, but please try and be respectful of other beliefs besides yours here.  We of the non-born again type don't have as many resources out there. 

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We're brand new and just in the planning stage for K5 next year, so take this with a huge grain of salt. I haven't really thought about history yet so I don't know what we will do about that topic. But we sort of felt similar about the whole evolution/creation thing. We want him to know the arguments for both and what his father and I believe as he grows. But, we are waiting to introduce the topic until later. There are plenty of other science topics to cover, and we purposely chose an evolution/creation neutral curriculum for next year. Maybe this is a cop out, but oh well.

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I am not in the school of thought that thinks non-Christian religions and stories should be taught primarly to show how they are so different than Christianity.  Of course in some ways they are different, and that will come out of the stories.  But they represent the same kinds of internal searching for the divine, and typically they make many of the same kinds of observations.  People aren't stupid, and they have great and moving insights in all their stories about the meaning of life.

 

I don't think that the way we lead our children to Truth is primarily about indoctrinating them with a set of particular facts - be it about Christianity or materialism or Greek paganism.  It's about a desire and longing for truth, and to be in touch with the core of reality, its organizing principle.  People who have that will go searching and will respect Truth where they find it.  If we think the facts and logic of reality point to Christ, why would we be afraid they will lead somewhere else?  Do we think we can really override people's free will through information control?  What we need to do is provide the background for thinking clearly, the ability to assess fiorst principles and assumptions, and a sense of that spark of the divine within us all.

 

It's worth thinking about IMO that for C.S Lewis, that spark was seen not first in Christian stories, but in Norse mythology.

 

 

Beautifully said.

 

To the bolded, this is what trips up many good Christian kids.  We have seen a few generations of young people leave the church, never to look back.  Why?  Thought control is high on the list.  Kids do grow up and begin to think for themselves.  If they have been forbidden to read outside of the Bible and a few carefully selected authors, revolt is probable (and dare I say, healthy).

 

Further more, when we model IGNORING whole people groups in the world in order to stick to our personal doctrine without question, we model rigid thinking.  This is part of a perfect storm here...now you have an adolescent who can access whatever he pleases online and in the library (They can. Don't kid yourself!) AND he is a rigid thinker.  There will be no discussion.  Those neural pathways have been set in stone.  This kid is not likely to begin worshipping Baal in 2016, but is very likely to find what pleases him and refuse to move beyond the rigid sort of thinking that has been modeled for him all of his life.

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Guest livingskies

We are doing Gr1 this year, the Ancients.  We are using SOTW.  After reviewing several books about myths etc. I have decided to mostly skip them this time round until Gr5 and we revisit Ancients.  I personally believe that many myths and legends have some seeds of truth in them, and then are embellished to create a "good story".  For example I believe that the Greek & Roman gods have some semblance of truth to them re: the "sons of God / daughters of men" referenced in Genesis, along with the giants.  And that there really were dragon-like creatures co-existing with mankind.  (I am a literal 7-day creationist).  So whenever we do talk about these things, and fantasy subjects (unicorns, magic, fairies, monsters and the like) I clearly explain to my children that these are things that God doesn't like as they rely on a power that does not come from him, and the only other option is from satan and how he continually deceives mankind.

 

Obviously my worldview is very literal./Christian/biblical and my teaching reflects this.

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We teach our children similar to Bluegoat's description, deep down inside mankind there is the natural call to worship. It is the recognition that there is some force greater than man that has created the universe. For younger children we simply add that other beliefs don't have the fullness of revealed truth and that their worship was misguided.

 

ETA: For any Catholics who want to read a book that goes into this, I recommend The Spirit of th Liturgy by Pope Benedict written when he was Cardnial Ratzinger. This is the level of conversation we have with our older children.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I am always surprised when people worry about this.

 

Presumably, you are raising your children as Christians ? A collection of Greek myths, studied as the belief systems of a people who lived thousands of years ago, is not going to turn a child pagan, is not going to trump the values you are actively inculcating.

 

Put it this way, I read my kids the bible stories in SOTW and they didn't end up Christian. 

 

Yes, I always find such concerns perplexing. These stories have been around for centuries, millennia even. They have been read to Christian children who are still Christian as adults. 

 

People who leave the faith of their FOO rarely do so because someone read them ancient myths when they were children. Some might, when they notice similarities in stories, but that usually happens years later when they begin comparing belief systems. Usually by then, they've already been questioning and have begun searching. The stories from childhood didn't plant any seeds.

 

Your last line was also true in our house.

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Thank you all for the additional replies.  I'll address a couple of things:

 

Umsami - I didn't say that I was raised pagan.  I was raised LDS, and as a young adult turned to paganism, therefore I came to Christianity from a pagan background.  I am acutely aware of what the LDS beliefs are and how they would describe themselves.  I was very careful to NOT say anything against their beliefs, nor paganism for that matter, except that I am no longer in that camp of thinking, and that I now describe myself as a born-again Christian.  :-)  I didn't speak dismissively about anyone.  I was very intentionally circumspect in my statements to avoid offending anyone.

 

For those who took my question to mean simply that I fear my children will read "something" - whether that be pagan mythology or anything else - and *become* a follower of that belief system - that wasn't what I was intending to convey.  My concern is that it can be the first step on a very enticing and slippery slope.  I can definitively say that in my own life, it happened just that way.  Without getting into it all, one book led to another, one study led to another, and by the time I was 7 or 8, I was quite the little expert on most things "paranormal."   I had a "fascination" with all such things, and once my faith in the religion that I was raised in began to crumble, it was a very short jump over to paganism, and new age teachings. Again, just to re-iterate, I am not afraid of my children reading or being exposed to one thing, and "losing their religion".  :-)   I'm afraid of exposing them to teachings and concepts that directly oppose my beliefs, before they've had a sufficient foundation in what we *do* believe to readily recognize the difference. 

 

Ms Ivy - there is SO much truth in what you said!!  YES! 

 

4blessingmom - those are some excellent points, and I will be considering them carefully!  Hadn't thought about any of that, but yes, I can see exactly what you're saying! 

 

For those who take this to mean that I don't allow my children to read anything other than Bible, or non-christian authors or whatever, that is not at all what I'm saying, nor what I practice.  :-)   I'm not attempting to "indoctrinate" my children with only the facts and information that I deem necessary to replicate in them my own worldview.  However, as their parent, and as a Christian parent, I do fully believe it is my responsibility to teach them truth, obviously as I know it, and to direct them back to their Creator.  I think there is a great responsibility on me as a parent to use discernment in what information and knowledge my children ingest, especially at a young age, the same as I hold the responsibility to supervise what they ingest as food and nutrition.  They have not yet developed discernment for healthy foods vs unhealthy foods any more than they have for healthy and *building* knowledge and information vs *unhealthy* or *dangerous*.  Many non-Christians will likely scoff at the idea that any knowledge or information could be dangerous, and that is fine - it's your belief.  :-)  But for my worldview, there is absolutely knowledge out there that can ultimately be detrimental to their lifelong and eternal well-being.  I wish to use discernment as to when the best time to introduce such information to kids will be.  :-) 

 

I will continue to ponder on this matter.  I truly am torn.  I do appreciate the input and commentary you're all providing!  THANK YOU! 

 

MouseBandit

 

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4blessingmom - those are some excellent points, and I will be considering them carefully!  Hadn't thought about any of that, but yes, I can see exactly what you're saying! 

 

For those who take this to mean that I don't allow my children to read anything other than Bible, or non-christian authors or whatever, that is not at all what I'm saying, nor what I practice.  :-)   .......  I wish to use discernment as to when the best time to introduce such information to kids will be.  :-) 

 

I will continue to ponder on this matter.  I truly am torn.  I do appreciate the input and commentary you're all providing!  THANK YOU! 

 

 

 

Forgive me for coming off strong.  Many Christian parents do strictly prohibit reading material and information, and those are generally the parents who feel that teaching the ancient myths is akin to teaching them to be pagans.  I've defended my use of the myths a few too many times. :wacko:

 

I took my kids through Greenleaf's Guide of the OT in the same year that we did SOTW 1.  

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I am always surprised when people worry about this.

 

Presumably, you are raising your children as Christians ? A collection of Greek myths, studied as the belief systems of a people who lived thousands of years ago, is not going to turn a child pagan, is not going to trump the values you are actively inculcating.

 

Put it this way, I read my kids the bible stories in SOTW and they didn't end up Christian. 

 

Same here. She has read the Bible stories in SOTW, heard Christian stories repeatedly at family holiday gatherings since she was a young child, read the Bible through in middle school for a Biblical literacy class to be able to participate in the great conversation :) (Tanakh for Hebrew Scriptures, Protestant New Testament, Roman Catholic Bible for deuterocanonical material), attended a synagogue on a semi-regular basis for years when my husband sang there, occasional Christian services, etc. She has remained steadfastly an agnostic Neopagan UU. In fact, she said reading the Bible really cemented her beliefs.

 

Now, on a separate note, we did avoid a lot of the Bible stories featuring various forms of immorality, sex, torture, genocide, etc until she was older. We also avoided some of the stories from our own mythology for similar reasons. The sacred stories of all groups deal with most of these topics at some level at some point because they are part of the human story, so I would advise discernment in choosing which particular stories from various mythologies to read at various ages, just as I'm sure you pick and choose which Christian stories to tell at which age.

Edited by KarenNC
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I just wanted to leave you this verse- Jeremiah 10:2. I hope you see it! I posted something similar to this question on what would be considered a forum that was more "Christian" leaning and I still received all sorts of answers similar to what you did here.

 

I think there is a way to cover and give knowledge about other belief systems without "studying it". Personally, I found the coloring pages of the pagan gods to be a bit too much for me in SOTW 1. That is silly I am sure for some.

 

This year they are doing VP's New Testament Greek and Rome and I wish they would cover that part a little less and I would if I were teaching it, but they are doing the self paced this year.

 

I wont ramble on, but I just wanted to encourage you that I am also trying to find a balance on how to give them knowledge of these things, but not going as far to study it or immerse them in it. I definitely agree with waiting until they are older.

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The ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythologies provide context.  Ex.  The 10 Plagues of Moses' day are merely unfortunate events until you read with an understanding that each plague was a direct defeat of an Egyptian god...the 10th being the ultimate b/c killing Pharoah's 1st born son meant killing the heir, killing a GodKing, killing their god on earth.  The Plagues were not just punishment, they were communicating something deeper and that understanding is lost when you skip the mythology.  That is just one example.  The Bible is full of pieces that are not fully understood without the context of the ancient cultures, and those cultures centered upon their religions.

 

I'm fascinated by what you said about the Egyptian plagues, I never studied mythology myself as a kid. About all I know of ancient Egypt I got from that TV show, Stargate, lol. 

 

Do you have any resources that go into this (or other)  correlations in more detail?

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Homeschool Mom in AZ said this, "Pagan gods and demigods are humanity amplified. "

 

I've always thought that. As a christian I believe we were made in God's image. But, in myths the gods always seem to be made in man's image, a pretty one-dimensional image too.

This is so so true!!!!

 

To the op, we used to use mfw, and their rec was to start teaching about mythology when your oldest child was 9-10 so their foundation in the truth of God's Word was firm first. They held that your oldest child would know truth and their beliefs by that point would help set the tone with the youngers.

 

I do understand your concern and had that concern when my oldest was small. We studied mythology a lot last year and so enjoyed learning about all of it and discussing the stories and the beliefs of the people.

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You can't avoid exposing children to non-Christian mythology unless you entirely drop out of modern civilization.

 

Your children will look elsewhere, if they do, not because of what else is out there, but because something in your faith as you teach it to them is lacking, or rejects them.

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I think there is a way to cover and give knowledge about other belief systems without "studying it". Personally, I found the coloring pages of the pagan gods to be a bit too much for me in SOTW 1. That is silly I am sure for some.

 

This year they are doing VP's New Testament Greek and Rome and I wish they would cover that part a little less and I would if I were teaching it, but they are doing the self paced this year.

 

I wont ramble on, but I just wanted to encourage you that I am also trying to find a balance on how to give them knowledge of these things, but not going as far to study it or immerse them in it. I definitely agree with waiting until they are older.

 

One can certainly easily modify the time spent and depth at which one covered any of the topics in SOTW 1. We had the audiobook, activity guide, and book. I liked the curriculum better than any others I saw, but found the amount of time devoted to studying Jewish and Christian sacred stories to be more than we wanted, as our goal was exposure rather than in-depth immersion. As an example of modification that I remember, I didn't see a need to spend an entire chapter on Joseph and the coat of many colors, so I just let her listen to the audio of the chapter in the car and we skipped doing activities (including coloring pages) for that chapter. That gave her what I felt was sufficient exposure for cultural literacy at that age. Since there are several activities given per chapter, we balanced it by sometimes doing more than one activity in the chapters we did want to emphasize or by searching out additional material from other cultures. You might find that approach to be helpful.

 

We found it easier in levels 2-4 as there was more factual material and less dependence on mythology/theology. There's just much more material available in general once you get past the ancients because of the way many civilizations changed in the way they kept records.

 

Edited by KarenNC
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I am not in the school of thought that thinks non-Christian religions and stories should be taught primarly to show how they are so different than Christianity. Of course in some ways they are different, and that will come out of the stories. But they represent the same kinds of internal searching for the divine, and typically they make many of the same kinds of observations. People aren't stupid, and they have great and moving insights in all their stories about the meaning of life.

 

I don't think that the way we lead our children to Truth is primarily about indoctrinating them with a set of particular facts - be it about Christianity or materialism or Greek paganism. It's about a desire and longing for truth, and to be in touch with the core of reality, its organizing principle. People who have that will go searching and will respect Truth where they find it. If we think the facts and logic of reality point to Christ, why would we be afraid they will lead somewhere else? Do we think we can really override people's free will through information control? What we need to do is provide the background for thinking clearly, the ability to assess fiorst principles and assumptions, and a sense of that spark of the divine within us all.

 

It's worth thinking about IMO that for C.S Lewis, that spark was seen not first in Christian stories, but in Norse mythology.

I'm reading Mere Christianity right now and it came to mind reading your post. Not everything in every religion is wrong because it's a different religion. I'm not saying I follow any other religions, I don't, but there are sayings and beliefs that ring true in every religion. In Abolition of Man CS Lewis points out the similarities. Also I really dislike putting the idea out that the Ancients somehow weren't as smart as us so they believed silly stories. The same society that believed these myths produced Euclid, Socrates, Aristotle and countless others that lay a foundation for our civilization. Smart people believe different things. It's important for me to lay a foundation for my kids so that they know what we believe and why (and CS Lewis has some great study material) but I believe it's also important to understand western society and their beliefs and where and how Western Philosophy was founded. I haven't had trouble with my kids questioning their faith due to Mythology but I am planning on studying theology and apologetics. At some point in their life they will face things that may make them question what they belive and I want them to have the knowledge to despute those doubts. Edited by Momto4inSoCal
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I'm fascinated by what you said about the Egyptian plagues, I never studied mythology myself as a kid. About all I know of ancient Egypt I got from that TV show, Stargate, lol. 

 

Do you have any resources that go into this (or other)  correlations in more detail?

 

Greenleaf's Guide to Ancient Egypt is a good resource.

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I'm fascinated by what you said about the Egyptian plagues, I never studied mythology myself as a kid. About all I know of ancient Egypt I got from that TV show, Stargate, lol. 

 

Do you have any resources that go into this (or other)  correlations in more detail?

 

Here's one quick reference chart about it.  http://biblecharts.org/oldtestament/thetenplagues.pdf

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I'm reading Mere Christianity right now and it came to mind reading your post. Not everything in every religion is wrong because it's a different religion. I'm not saying I follow any other religions, I don't, but there are sayings and beliefs that ring true in every religion. In Abolition of Man CS Lewis points out the similarities. Also I really dislike putting the idea out that the Ancients somehow weren't as smart as us so they believed silly stories. The same society that believed these myths produced Euclid, Socrates, Aristotle and countless others that lay a foundation for our civilization. Smart people believe different things. It's important for me to lay a foundation for my kids so that they know what we believe and why (and CS Lewis has some great study material) but I believe it's also important to understand western society and their beliefs and where and how Western Philosophy was founded. I haven't had trouble with my kids questioning their faith due to Mythology but I am planning on studying theology and apologetics. At some point in their life they will face things that may make them question what they belive and I want them to have the knowledge to despute those doubts.

 

Absolutely. 

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My kids enjoyed different mythology and fairy tales since they were 4. We talked about the differences in the different gods and our God. I really didn't think much about it. We are Christian as well, and I really thought how neat it was for my kids to see how people believed in the ancients.

We also read the Bible and believe it in as truth. 

 

That all being said, we have enjoyed SOTW 1-3 at young ages, and my kids are very strong in their faith. 

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Seems like there have been plenty of answers to the question about teaching young children, but I would like to leave a few links for further thoughts.

 

For those who do want to understand myths a bit better, I found that Cynthia Rylant's retellings were very helpful to me in appreciating deeper truths, seeing symbolism in the Greek myths.  It's a lovely book for children.  Beautiful Stories of Life.

 

I had been assigned Beowulf in high school and college and found it pretty dull stuff.  In teaching it to my older children this last time, though, I relied on some guidance from J.R.R. Tolkein's important essay on Beowulf, "The Monsters and the Critics," and I found it  rather exciting.

 

Hoping that the article  quotes him correctly, here is G.K. Chesterton on fairy tales:  

 

The God of Men and Elves: Tolkein, Lewis and Christian Mythology 

 

And here is St. Augustine, from his Confessions, trans. by Henry Chadwick.   In the midst of a section expressing regrets about some of the theatre he attended and some of the books he regretted studying (including some on Manichee beliefs), he writes this to God:

 

"At that time where were  you in relation to me? Far distant.  Indeed I wandered far away, separated from you, not even granted to share in the husks of the pigs, whom I was feeding with husks.  How superior are the fables of the masters of literature and poets to these deceptive traps! For verses, poems, and 'the flight of Medea' are certainly more useful that the Five Elements which take on different colours, each in accordance with one of the Five Caverns of Darkness--things which have no reality whatever and kill anyone who believes they have.  Verses and poetry I can transform into real nourishment.  'Medea flying through the air' I might recite, but would not assert to be fact.  Even if I heard someone reciting the passage, I would not believe it.  Yet the other (Manichee) myths I did believe."

 

 

The question of the value of a Christian studying myths has been taken up by great minds.  Apparently, it is a good question!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Stellalarella
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Your children will look elsewhere, if they do, not because of what else is out there, but because something in your faith as you teach it to them is lacking, or rejects them.

Yep. We are Buddhist. If being exposed to Christian stories was a threat to my children's beliefs, we'd be sunk because American culture is saturated in Christian references, symbols, and beliefs. I've never understood the idea that learning about what other people believe is a threat to what we believe. Despite knowing a ton about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and ancient beliefs, my kids are still Buddhist.

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 Also I really dislike putting the idea out that the Ancients somehow weren't as smart as us so they believed silly stories. The same society that believed these myths produced Euclid, Socrates, Aristotle and countless others that lay a foundation for our civilization. Smart people believe different things. It's important for me to lay a foundation for my kids so that they know what we believe and why (and CS Lewis has some great study material) but I believe it's also important to understand western society and their beliefs and where and how Western Philosophy was founded.

 

This goes beyond what one would teach directly to a young child, but it may help to remember that we really know comparatively little about the day to day religious practices and the complexity of the religions of even those ancients like the Greeks who left written records (much less about others). It's important to look at the religion and sacred stories of a culture through the lens of their experience as much as possible, not that of our own culture. The sacred stories of any group can look simplistic and absurd to those from the outside (read "The Christians as the Romans Saw Them" by Robert Louis Wilken for some good examples and compare those views of the same actions with those of the early Christian Fathers). There's nothing inherently more fantastical or "silly" about seeing a rainbow as the road traveled by Iris than as a symbol of a promise by God of no more worldwide floods (and neither theological understanding is precluded by a scientific understanding of the interaction of light and water in the atmosphere).

 

Much of what we know about Greek religion, for example, comes from art, plays, philosophy, and from material quoted by early Christian and other writers (who often had a vested interest in giving as negative or redacted a spin as possible or who just had no idea of the real context), most written very late in the several thousand year history of the religion. Only fragments, a very small body, have survived, and not necessarily what the Greeks would have considered most representative of actual experience at any given point. It's hard to know how much was an accurate reflection of common religious practice and belief and how much may have been written for dramatic or political purposes. The Greeks, as with many polytheistic religions, were also far more concerned with orthopraxy (what one did in religious ritual) rather than orthodoxy (what one believed about it). There was no central unchanging canon, no Sola Scriptura. The Athena of Athens was seen and worshipped in very different ways than the Athena of another city, for instance. The Gods were also not understood to be models for behavior, no concept of imitatio dei---that was hubris and many of the stories talk about the ways in which that was very dangerous (no "WWZD" bracelets, ;) ). Religion was primarily a civic concern rather than a personal one, with no expectation of a "personal relationship" with the Gods by the average Greek. The Gods were immortal but neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and certainly not expected to be omnibenevolent.

 

Imagine if all one had of the entire history of Christianity was the ruins of Chartres Cathedral (with its gargoyles and labyrinth), "The Da Vinci Code," the movie "Dogma," a few writings of Jonathan Edwards and Matthew Fox, a few pieces of art, the catacombs in Rome, a few episodes of "Veggie Tales," and portions of the Bible as quoted in a couple of books by Richard Dawkins. Would that give one a full and accurate understanding of the complexity and actual beliefs and experiences of a modern-day Christian of a particular denomination, much less the range and nuances of Christian thought and teachings over the last 2000 years? 

Edited by KarenNC
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I had been assigned Beowulf in high school and college and found it pretty dull stuff.  In teaching it to my older children this last time, though, I relied on some guidance from J.R.R. Tolkein's important essay on Beowulf, "The Monsters and the Critics," and I found it  rather exciting.

 

Look up Benjamin Bagby on Youtube. He does a wonderful performance of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon. There is a clip of his perfomance dvd at  http://www.bagbybeowulf.com/ 

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To be a Christian can mean so many different things to different people.

 

And to convert to Christianity from Paganism can mean a LOT to you, that can be misunderstood by current Pagans and people of other religions. YOUR experiences were YOUR experiences and they are relevant to you and your children.

 

Take a paper and fold it into 3 columns. Label the columns: Us, ?, Other. For YOU myths would be "Other"; myths are NOT part of YOUR tradition. Bible would be "Us"; your entire life now centers on that book. For YOU most fairy tales are probably "Other".

 

Some things you just might not know if they are "Us" or "Other". Put those under "?" for now.

 

Grammar stage children are concrete thinkers. They are not ready for compare and contrast yet. That is a logic and rhetoric level skills and can wait. Grammar stage children need to be immersed in their own culture. Learning about "other" can wait until they know what their own culture is first. 

 

I can get most confused by reading list that are close to "us" but not "us". Those lists share all my same fears. So the fear of skipping things are my fears, even if the books are not my books.

 

We have a ruling minority in this country and we are being told that the default "good" education is to prepare to enter that ruling minority. What if YOU are not part of that minority? What if you don't want to prepare your kids to be "other" from you? The choice to rear children in the parent culture was common in oldschooling, but is becoming increasingly rare post Y2K.

 

It is scary to buck the trends. Even though homeschooling isn't all that rare, now, it is just as rare for many a homeschooling family to choose to hunker down and rear their child in their OWN culture. It is just as isolating and scary now, as it was pre Y2K. But sometimes doing the scary thing is what we are driven to do.

 

It is not educational neglect to prepare your children to live in your own culture. It is what most cultures throughout time have done. 

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