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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eastern History

We are in the midst of three weeks studying ancient India, China, and the Americas.

Any study of ancient history will provide plenty of opportunity to learn about false religions, but with the exception of Hinduism and Buddhism, most false ancient religions no longer influence modern societies. I appreciate that Tapestry of Grace returns to Eastern history at least once every year and puts the development of these cultures into the context of world history (although Eastern history didn't intersect with Western history for many centuries). We last discussed Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam in week 19 of Year 4 (last year) as we studied about the history of India and Pakistan. (Islam dates to 600 A.D., so we will not study it until next year.)

Sydney and Hope read Buddha Stories and were able to see that the stories were very similar to Aesop's Fables. Buddhism strives to obtain a level of goodness that requires self-denial and self-discipline. What's wrong with that? Tapestry of Grace teacher's notes assisted me in discussing this issue with the kids. (The teacher's notes in TOG are very valuable. I'm always peeking at the Rhetoric level discussion notes to prepare me even as I teach grammar students.) Would superior morality solve the world's problems? No. The sin problem is deeper than outward behavior and self-discipline cannot overcome our sin nature. We need redemption.

Here are the kids playing Parcheesi on the board we made during our week of studying ancient India. Parcheesi is not an ancient game, but a modern, Americanized version of the ancient Indian game Pachesi. Because of the complexity of Pachesi, we opted to make the simpler modern version.


tonya_german said...

Good to see you back! We haven't yet played our parcheesi game, and looking at yours ours looks a bit different! I have enjoyed the past couple of weeks in TOG. It has been great to learn about Buddhims and Hinduism. We have had a few interesting discussions about the two faiths....the main point being is it really a religion or more of a philosophy....more in relation to buddhism.

Sharon said...

Hi Amy,

Jeff is preaching from Jonah 4 this weekend and one of the points that will come out in his sermon (unless it changes heaps from the version he practised on me last night) is that any attempt to solve the problem of evil without reference to God is doomed to failure. The Ninevites had a much bigger problem than doing evil (to the Israelites and in general) - their problem was that they knew nothing about the One True God. With that in mind, this post seems spot on.

However, I would like to (respectfully, of course!) point out that, while many neo-pagan religions such as the rise of much of the self-help movement are very much westernised versions of Buddhism and Hinduism, there is a large element of the eastern mythologies in them as well. Neo-pagans today (such as some wiccans) worship deities based upon modern re-interpretations and conflations of British celtic mysticism and the Graeco-Roman pantheons, with a particular emphasis on their nature-related dieties. A moon goddess and horned god are heavily featured. So it isn't only the eastern religious beliefs that are influencing those who "suppress the truth by their wickedness" (Romans 1). FWIW!

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

Thanks so much for pointing out that, unfortunately, several ancient false religions influence modern society. When I wrote that most ancient false religions didn't, I was just thinking more simplistically of the fact that Hinduism and Buddhism survive as world religions in a way that Greek and Egyptian polytheism do not. But, alas, I wasn't thinking about neo-paganism. It reminds me of seeing "Osiris", an Egyptian diety, written in graffiti writing on the side of a storm sewer not long ago. I couldn't image what the graffiti artist was thinking, but perhaps I'm just naive.

We haven't studied British celtic mysticism this time around, but I remember the topic in my last cycle through Tapestry of Grace (probably in Year 2). We didn't hit it very hard, because TOG recommended that young students not do so. Dryads sound fun and harmless, and somehow C.S. Lewis always managed to handle it well, but the reality is very evil.

It is sometimes easy to study all of this without feeling the weight of this somber reality: all of these cultures, steeped in idolatry and false religion, were full of lost people, thirsty for Living Water but with mouths full of dust. Heartbreaking. Oh, but for the grace of God go I...

Lisa said...

Oh I never seem to have enough time in the week do any of the hands on projects for TOG. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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