17 October 2013

two parables, in two programs

Another thing that we did today, at Level 1 training for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, was to see and hear two Parables of the Kingdom - the Precious Pearl and the Mustard Seed.

(CGS Pearl materials)
Godly Play presents these same parables, but very differently. My very first reaction was that I preferred the CGS version of the Mustard Seed, but the GP version of the Great Pearl.

CGS won the Mustard Seed hands-down by letting us look at, touch, even taste a real mustard seed. It was a particular variety found in Israel - which might well be the one Jesus was talking about. These seeds were MUCH smaller (or rather, much smaller) than the ones I grew up with.

That black dot on her middle finger - that's a mustard seed!

GP and CGS differ, in the Pearl parable, in how they interpret the phrase, all that he had. (I've written about this before, saying Normally I think we understand the merchant to have sold "everything he could spare". The version of this parable found in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas has him selling all his merchandise for the pearl. But in Matthew 13 the words are "everything he had", and the Godly Play presentation encourages us to wonder about that wording.)

(GP Pearl materials)

In other respects, though, GP remains noncommittal about how the parable is to be interpreted. CGS, on the other hand, takes it for granted that the pearl represents the Kingdom of God. The catechist may choose whether or not to emphasize that, but it's very different from the Godly Play situation in which the storyteller asks questions like, I wonder what the pearl could really be? I wonder who the merchant could really be? I wonder where all of this might really be? If you believe the pearl is the Kingdom, that's fine, but if you believe that actually Jesus is the merchant and the pearl of great price is the hundredth (lost) sheep, that's also acceptable.

It strikes me as very "Montessori" to let children interpret parables for themselves, as indeed the Gospel reader has to do!

UPDATE: In our discussion the following day one participant noted that the parable does not say the Kingdom is like the pearl, but like this story or this situation. The trainer said that children in CGS will, over time, begin to wonder about other interpretations. I wonder if *I* am the pearl? ... Maybe the pearl is the Eucharist... and she emphasized that that was good! But the doctrinal statement we were given for this lesson took it as a given (presupposition) that the pearl was the Kingdom, so in that sense I think I can stand by this post as written... for now at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for conversing with me about Godly Play®! I do moderate some comments for the sake of the children I write about. Please be polite: to quote the Velveteen Rabbi, Whatever you're going to say in response to my posts, consider whether it's the sort of thing you would say to your host or their children if you'd been invited to someone's home for tea. If it isn't, then please don't say it here.

If you're new to commenting on blogs, I recommend that you "Comment as" Name/URL. You can use your real first name or a nickname. URL is the address of a website that you want to be linked with your name - feel free to leave it blank. Before your comment is accepted, you have to pass a spam filter. After clicking on 'post comment' or 'preview', just type in the sequence of letters you will then see (or click on the wheelchair for a recording of characters to type). Thanks for reading and commenting!