Thursday, March 11, 2010

CARE group teaching - children and nature

Simple pleasures: teaching your kids to love nature




1. Intro =

“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.”

-Elain Heffner

“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9NLT). Our Lord never promises that anything will be easy. He promises only His presence and power, and that is always enough.” – Campbell, How to Really Parent Your Child

5 Groups of Wise Virtues

a. Truth-seeking*, Honesty, Wisdom

b. Faith* and Hope

c. Humility*, Open-mindedness*, Self-criticality, Nondefensiveness

d. Ardor*, Vigilance*, Fortitude*

e. Fidelity to God and dedication to His cause as one’s chief end

- Love Your God With All Your Mind by: J.P. Moreland

Antithesis = Death By Suburb!

Snapshot (The ugly truth)= Boredom, Sensate (Electronic images), No free time, “scared stupid”, more dependant, addicted to stimulation, narcissistic, spoiled/excess, growing up too fast, lack of physical health, lack of emotional health (antidepressants, Ritalin), shorter attention span, role confusion (kids parenting parents), less creativity, losing some skills that used to be a given (spelling, cursive, gardening, fishing, building a fire), are we becoming Wall-E people??

“Cultural Autism” – “The symptoms? Tunneled senses, and feelings of isolation and containment” – Last Child in the Woods p.64

“Nature-deficit disorder” – “Nature-deficit disorder describes the human cost of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.” - - Last Child in the Woods p.36

Death By Suburb

1. The Problem: Worldliness

a. Environmental Effect:

“The space around us – the physical organization of neighborhoods, roads, yards, houses, and apartments – sets up living patterns that condition our behavior.” –Kenneth Jackson “Crabgrass Frontier”

b. Envy/ Coveting

c. Self-Love – comfort, narcissism, who you are to others

d. Busy and Chaotic Life

e. “Immortality Symbols”

“An immortality symbol is not really about the thing. It’s not about baseball. It’s not really about my child. It’s about the glory that the thing bestows on me.” P.42

-what we call idolatry, identity

f. “Shirking”

“Shirkers are religious folk who inadvertently disengage from the suffering of the world and who unwittingly collect to themselves every available religious experience.” P.100

“The flow of Shirker Religion is all one direction: toward me” p.112

Viewing spiritual things as entertainment – a spectator sport; I go to sponge some stuff out of it, but not necessarily to do anything for anyone else.

g. Utilitarian “Transactional” Friendships

“Intimacy is the one thing in…church that everyone craves but few seem to have. You can’t use relationships as a means to position yourself in life and then also expect to experience in them the kind of friendship that sweetens life and takes the edge off its hard parts.” P.154

h. Utilitarian “Transactional” Relationship with God

-Quid Pro Quo



2. Some Spiritual Solutions: 8 spiritual practices to counteract our environmental toxins

#1 Inside Space

- Contemplating the Supernatural

- Prayer, Sabbath, and Solitude

- Listening to God

“becoming still…And to stop the scheming inside my head.” P.32

- Gradual vs. Instant

“It’s not easy to sit and trust that in solitude God will speak to you – not as a magical voice but that He will let you know something gradually over the years (Nouwen)” p.32

#2 The Journey Through Self

- “This purification process…is not a journey into my own inwardness, it is a journey through myself, to emerge from the deepest level into the place He is, the point at which God and I meet.(Bloom)” p.44

- Jn. 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease.”

- Recognizing and Combating Self-Love

“Self…the inner voice that suggests you live for yourself. The voice of self-love is even more powerful than the voice of the serpent. (Fenelon) p.49-50

“The biggest problem in any church I attend is my love of self.” P.140

“Is this continual resistance [to God] due to the fact that He has not given you what you want in a way that will flatter your ego? (Fenelon)” p.179-180

- Needing God

“the presence of Jesus would be found not in met needs but in unmet expectations and perceived need…the end of myself.” P.192

#3 Loving the Unlovely



- Counteracting Coveting

- Change the direction of our gaze

“Instead of riveting my gaze on the possessions of others economically above me, I do an about-face. I turn to face the person whom I perceive to have less than I…opening ourselves up to people in and with whom God seems to be most active.” P.72

“There must be something about beholding the Holy within that pushes you back to the street.” P.46

- “Mortality Symbols”



#4 Remembering Laughter / Having grace in difficult times



- Making peace with our allotment of suffering

- The difference between bitter old woman and happy old woman

- Suffering = the enemy of self-love (suffering isn’t the worst thing in the world)

p.52

“It’s good to learn early enough that suffering and God are not a contradiction but rather a unity, for the idea that God Himself is suffering is one that has always been one of the most convincing teachings of Christianity. I think God is nearer to suffering than happiness, and to find God in this way gives peace and rest and a strong and courageous heart (Bonhoeffer)” p.94-95

#5 Pursuing action/ Obedience

- Shirking vs. Obedience – Putting our faith into action

#6 Staying put in Your Community

“Only in relationships that permit no bailing out can certain forms of spiritual development occur. Marriage is one. Church is another.” P.140



“Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we’re fortunate with ourselves…only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all it’s unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.” -Bonhoeffer



#7 Finding and Keeping Good Friends

“there is always a little humility on the part of each toward the others; with all my friends, I feel lucky to be counted as one.(C.S.Lewis)”

“[Friendship] heightens the joys of prosperity and mitigates the sorrows of adversity by dividing and sharing them.(Aelred)” p.162



“In friendship I can say I have felt the grace of God.” P.166



#8 Pursuing Time

“There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord…spiritual life begins to decay when we fail to sense the grandeur of what is eternal in time (Heschel)” p.176

“Christian contemplation begins at the point where the meaning of the swiftly flowing surface of earthly events is broken to reveal their relation to heaven (Hans Urs von Balthasar)” p.190

3. His conclusion: Mending

“Entropy is nowhere more at work than in one’s spiritual energy and good intentions…Mending must be an ongoing continual activity. Entrance into the deeper spiritual life is by way of obedience in the small things…mending one’s life, making small adjustments on a regular basis to avoid the speed and clutter of modern living.” P.184

Thesis = Teaching our Kids to Love Nature and Stillness



Benefits of nature?

- Physical health

- Emotional health (Nature is a stress reducer)

- Instills a sense of wonder; combats a know-it-all attitude

- Heightens senses and independence

- Helps teach us to pay attention

- Quiet

- Helps develop patience

- Produces creativity – poets, artists, craftsmen

- Produces confidence/competence

- Produces intelligence

- Promotes community and relationships more so than indoor activities

- Adults and children experience camaraderie (WW “What is grass?”)

- Nature is free, and enjoying it loosens the hold that materialism has on us

- It connects us with people around the world and throughout time

- Produces bravery and danger and adventure --- also fun



Theology of Nature

1. We can know all about God through nature

Romans 1:20 “For His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly understood, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse.”

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”

Psalm 139:14 “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and my soul knows that full well.”

Psalm 29:9 “The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in His temple all cry, ‘Glory!’”

2. God is the Maker, Owner, and Sustainer of all the earth

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and all who dwell in it.”

1 Cor. 8:6 “For there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

Job 34:14-15 “If He should set His heart to it and gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together and man would return to dust.”

3. God is a Creator, and made us with the ability to be creative too

4. We are stewards of the earth

5. When we threw off God’s leadership of the earth, the earth became wild and now “groans” waiting to be redeemed again

6. We are not to worship the earth or “created things” (Rm. 1)

7. This earth is temporary, eventually God will make “all things new”



Nature Lovers:

Certain people will be drawn to nature more than others

Types of intelligence:

1. Linguistic intelligence (word smart)

2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reason smart)

3. Spatial intelligence (picture smart)

4. Kinesthetic intelligence (body smart)

5. Musical intelligence (music smart)

6. Interpersonal intelligence (people smart)

7. Intrapersonal intelligence (self smart)

8. Naturalist intelligence (nature smart)

-Howard Gardner, Harvard University 1983



Feeling Close to God Through:

1. Nature

2. Senses

3. Traditions

4. Solitude

5. Activism

6. Relationships

7. Celebration

8. Contemplation

9. Intellect

-Gary Thomas, Sacred Pathways

Practical Advice =

1. Think about something that inspired you – re-learn it with your kids

2. Think about “nearby nature” in your community

3. Think about how we see and appreciate attributes of God in nature

4. Talk about being counter-cultural. Question “must-have” things and activities together as a family

5. Metro Parks have amazing programs all year round. Get a bulletin or go online

6. Zoo, FPC, Slate Run Historical Farm, Smith’s Dairy, State Fair

7. Older kids would enjoy something a bit rougher – caving, white-water rafting, biking through a state park, canoeing, snorkeling, rock-climbing

8. Kids of all ages can get into camping or family trips – even day trips!

9. Get non-fiction books from the library for young kids about animals, plants, the earth itself, etc..

10. Use a gimmick to get into nature – rock tumbler, microscope, bug net/home, telescope, binoculars, bird feeder, field guides

11. Plant a garden together

12. Make goals to visit different states/ parks.

13. Read stories set in nature: Jack London books “Call of the Wild”, “White Fang”; “Little House on the Prairie”; Gene Straton Porter books “Girl of the Limerlost”, etc.; “Trupet of the Swans”; “Treasure Island”; “Caddie Woodlawn”

14. Watch movies with a message about nature – “Alaska”, “Wall-E”, “Fern Gully” and watch nature documentaries “Planet Earth”

15. Do nature crafts together – “Let’s Make a Memory” etc..

16. Do community service projects that involve working outdoors

17. “Creative Punishments”

18. 4H, summer camps, etc..

19. Take a night walk with no lights – let your eyes adjust to the dark and get spooked out together

20. Set boundaries about tech-stimulation

21. Take time out of your busy schedules to enjoy each other and nature





“I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve in his cunning, your thoughts also might be led away from the simplicity of devotion to Christ.” – 2 Cor. 11:3

1 comment:

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