Thursday, December 5, 2013

California Field Trip #1: Mission Santa Clara

I have many opinions about the California missions, and it's definitely one concrete case of the victors writing the history books, but nevertheless, missions are a notable feature of the state of California, and so explore one, we did:

Will and I talked about the generalities of missionaries, religious faith and superstition, the destruction and conversion of native peoples, etc., without going into the sordid details of the public floggings, work crews, mule stealing (and eating!), and a priest/prophet that typify the history of the Mission Santa Clara de Asis, but we also all took the time to explore, absorb, and study the architecture and design of the building and grounds:

Look, a reliquary and relic! As a former medieval scholar, I had MUCH to say about this, as well.

hole in the wall

This visit turned out to have been quite a successful one when, the next day, as we were driving around town, Will pointed out the window at a school (Matt's former high school, I do believe) and declared, "Hey! That looks like the mission!"

Yep, mission-style. We got it down.

P.S. Here are some of the resources on the California missions and Catholic saints that we've been using:

Saints and Angels offers an interesting tangent to the mission study, since the saints that the missions are named after have fascinating (and often fascinatingly gruesome!) stories of their own. Life in a California Mission is as close to a children's living history as I could get--it discusses the daily life of the people involved, at least. And The Birth of a State: California Missions DOES include the very problematic conversion activities of the missionaries, but in matter-of-fact, declarative sentences that make it a little easier to stomach.


Tina said...

That looks like a fantastic trip! I am really impressed by your teaching approach to religion. We are not religious, but I feel that we need at least a basic understanding of how the different religions work (so as not to offend anyone). It's on our to learn list (for both of us because I don't know much about religion either!).

I love the hole in the wall photos!

julie said...

Oh, we still have a lot to learn about religious etiquette--I figured that out a couple of weeks ago when we had lunch with a family who wanted to pray before they ate, so the rest of us bowed our heads respectfully while my kids noisily ate stir fry. I AM big on comparative religion, though, and I especially love all the different stories in all the religions. Winter is a good time to start comparative religion, actually, because you can do Hanukkah and Christmas, and then Easter isn't too far off for seeing how the Jesus stories end.

Tina said...

Good point with the collection of religious events all smooshed into the next few months. We've started reading some picture books about Christmas, so that's a start I suppose.

The hubby and I were chosen to be god-parents to my sister-in-laws baby girl and he and I were both, "Wait, what!? Do we have to do anything?! You know we aren't religious right?!" Slight panic on our part, but we were told we just needed to love her and be there if she needs us. Then we went to the baptism and let me tell you, the hubby, kiddo and I were VERY uncomfortable throughout the entire ceremony. Love her we can do. Help guide her to God? Not so much.


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