Theodore Parker: Listening to our conscience.

Our UU Superhero of the day today was 19th century abolitionist Theodore Parker.

We started with a story about how Parker, as a little boy, first identified the voice of his conscience. (Here is one version of the story; the one in the curriculum is longer and much more engaging.) We paused there to talk about whether Alex has ever heard an inner voice telling her that something she’s thinking of doing is wrong. She told me about catching a firefly and wanting to keep it, but realizing that she should let it go.

(I am glad her conscience spoke up then, but I wish it hadn’t been so quiet when she got the bright idea to cover the bathroom mirror with liquid soap.)

Then I read the second part of the story, about Parker’s fiery support for the cause of abolition. At one point, he even wrote his Sunday sermon with a loaded gun on his desk because a fugitive slave was hidden in his house. (The curriculum doesn’t mention this fascinating incident, in which Parker incited a mob to attack a jail holding a fugitive slave.)

We talked about some of the implications of Parker’s story. Your conscience might tell you that something is wrong even though people around you think it’s all right. Your conscience might lead you to break a law, and then you would have to face the consequences.

In the first story, Parker’s mother tells him that if he fails to pay attention to his inner voice he will eventually stop hearing it. We made some bracelets to remind us to listen for our conscience. I told Alex about the WWJD bracelets that many Christian kids wear, and then reminded her that as UUs we don’t have a specific set of rules to follow. We have to listen for our own inner voice to tell us what is right. We made bracelets that say WWUUD – “What would you, as a UU, do?”



We finished up by watching a video clip of “Give a Little Whistle” from Pinocchio – “…and always let your conscience be your guide.”

This lesson seemed to give Alex a lot to think about. It also tied in very nicely with the biography of Harriet Tubman that she’s been reading for our history book club.

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5 Responses to Theodore Parker: Listening to our conscience.

  1. Iucounu says:

    This is a wonderful post.

  2. tinderbox says:

    Thank you! I am really enjoying this program, and Alex is too.

  3. Jennifer says:

    You never know what you might be inspiring people to think about while they drink their coffee in the morning. Linking back at you:

  4. Pingback: Would Your Teenager Cross the Street? | Teaching My Baby To Read

  5. Lauren Werner says:

    You are a lifesaver! We are a UU family, homeschooling our two kids. I happen to be teaching the UU SuperHeroes class at church this year and my co-teacher (slash the lead for this week) just bailed on me. It’s 7:20pm and I teach at 10am tomorrow – and I left my book at church last class, not expecting to need to lesson plan this week. I can’t wait to read the rest of your posts, but for tonight, I am vaguely weepy at the assistance you have provided to this RE teacher. THANK YOU!!!

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