Why do you think they want prayer in schools?

Comment by _Robert_ on September 19, 2013 at 8:01am

I disagree, If he said "I forgive you" it would be a social, humanistic act. But no, he passed the buck. It's ok to do as we will as long as we believe, God will sort it all out later. Typical ancient, outdated morality.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 8:14am

"Empathy also involves knowing when to keep silent and to just be with the person. Empathy can also mean respect. its about being person-centred. How do you teach that without a common model? Its too hard."

But just look what you've done right here, Angela - on a small scale, at least, in just a couple of sentences, you've taught empathy. And there are ways it can be illustrated - that famous experiment (that was actually done to test power, but could be easily modified to demonstrate empathy) in which one day (in this particular classroom), brown-eyed students were allowed to bully blue-eyed ones with impunity; the next day, the roles were reversed - in doing something like this, we teach children to recognize what another feels like under similar circumstances,  with an after-session, analyzing feelings.

You're an intelligent lady with keen insights, I've no doubt that if you spent merely a day, attempting to devise ways of teaching empathy, you could come up with a dozen, without ever resorting to lying, misrepresenting yourself, or referencing Yeshua, or even the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, with his Holy Meatballs.

For some reason, we (humans) have left the teaching of ethics and mores to parents and churches, and they've both fallen short of the mark. Further, they've taught a patchwork quilt of how people should treat each other, based on, 1), what they've been taught, and 2), how they've been treated. Intelligent, educated minds should be able to do better than that, and to do so uniformly.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 8:51am

"At the same time, experience is necessary for true empathy I think.  Otherwise we don't recognize what's going on with the other person.  Maybe this is why so many young people lack empathy - they lack experience."

I don't think that's true at all - the young, uncorrupted mind has much to teach us, if we'll but listen. I realize that this is anecdotal evidence, and as such insupportable, but it still is a good example. When my grandson was five, I took him fishing, thinking what a confidence-builder it would be for him to catch a fish. On the way to a nearby lake, we stopped at a lakeside bait shop, where I bought a small container of live earthworms. We got out our gear, and I proceeded to bait his hook, but the worm kept wriggling, and I couldn't insert the hook. I strongly suggested to the squirming worm that I would greatly appreciate it if it would hold still, though I may have used slightly stronger terms. My grandson, his eyes wide with the sudden realization of what I was attempting to do, exclaimed in panic, "Drampa (his name for me)! He just wants to go home to his family!"

I knew that worms didn't have a social structure, that the worm wouldn't recognize a relative if it met one, but to this child, raised in love, family was all-important, and he had ascribed that quality to the little wriggler in my hand. I put the reprieved worm back in the container, and we dug a shallow hole in the shade of some brush, where I poured out the entire container of worms, and where they likely all died in dry, sandy soil a short time later, but the boy had cared for another living creature - had empathized with a worm - and that earned him the reward of a happy ending.

One way to teach empathy, is to practice it, children learn what they live.

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

And not once, did Dr. Nolte mention Jesus.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 9:17am
"Jesus' major contribution was his emphasis on forgiveness."

In the Bible, which of these scenarios does it say happened?

"I forgive you, fig tree, for not having any fruit, it was wrong of me not to realize it was not fig season --"


Mark 11:12-14 and 11:20-25:

"The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Matthew 21:18-22:

Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 9:26am

@Angela - RE: "Same -same"

Not entirely, there were some notable differences:

"Empathic judgements also activated left anterior middle temporal and left inferior frontal gyri, while forgivability judgements activated posterior cingulate gyrus."

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 9:35am

"Simon Paynton commented on Sophie's photo 'Why do you think they want prayer in schools?' on Think Atheist
"It's probably best if we back-and-forth privately on this one."

Interesting advice, Paynton, afraid of opinions that differ from yours?

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 10:39am

The point I want to make begins at minute 1:37 --

Comment by Strega on September 19, 2013 at 3:27pm

WWJD doesn't exist in the UK - I had to look it up.  What a bizarre concept! 

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 19, 2013 at 3:45pm

"afraid of opinions that differ from yours?"  - not at all Arch, I seek them out.  I just didn't want to take over the thread with a personal project. 

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 19, 2013 at 3:48pm

"In biblicle (sic) days the law was God." - I cannot accept that, as there IS no god, only men, telling a superstitious audience that there is, and telling them what he/she/it had to say, in order to control them.


"But look at how much you need to write when all that could be said is "WWJD" or some other similar catch phrase."

Not really, Angela, since Dr. Nolte is a real person, who has devoted her life to teaching children, while your Yeshua (Jesus) may or may not have ever been a real person, and even if he were, no one who ever knew him, insofar as we know, ever recorded what he said.

But if you believe he did, please give me book, chapter and verse, where he provided instruction for children regarding:

learning to condemn
learning to fight
learning to be apprehensive.
learning to feel sorry for themselves
learning to feel shy
learning to feel envy
learning to feel guilty.
learning confidence
learning patience
learning appreciation
learning to love
learning to like themselves
learning it is good to have a goal
learning generosity
learning truthfulness
learning justice
learning respect
learning to have faith in themselves and in those about them

learning the world is a nice place in which to live.


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