Evolutionary Life

Voices of the Emerging Movement for Conscious Evolution

June 2007

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We got help revising the Pluto Parable!!


Pluto's Identity Crisis: A Great Story Parable

by Connie Barlow and homeschooler Bella Downey

Last issue we wrote:

The Great Story is "the story of the changing story." That means we must be open to changing the details of our ways of celebrating the story to incorporate discoveries and shifts in the underlying sciences. In 2003, Connie Barlow wrote "The Pluto Parable" to playfully survey the debate about whether Pluto should be demoted from its status as a true planet. The solution she proposed in the parable (suggested by Leslie Pilder) was that Pluto be considered "an adopted planet", because the Sun held Pluto in its "loving gravitational embrace" no less than any other planet. The parable was thus a great way to introduce kids to the concept of adoption. But in August 2006, after a half dozen years of intense debate, the world's astronomers collectively decided to demote Pluto from the status of planet to that of a "dwarf planet", while adding two other solar system bodies to this category of dwarf planet. So, help!!! Does anyone have a brilliant idea of how to adjust the parable, yet keep intact the "adoption" resolution?"

And we received the following email:

> We appreciated the use of your parables and Chapter one, Stardust! I
> wanted to drop you a quick line to let you know what my daughter came up
> with to update Pluto, the Adopted Planet. It is very simple and word for
> word from her:

> Starting with the Sun's line:
> Sun: Yes, my dear dwarf planet.
> Pluto: You just called me a dwarf planet! Am I really a dwarf planet? Am
> I really your dwarf planet?
> Sun: Indeed you are! Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus
> and Neptune are NOT dwarf planets, but you are.
> Pluto: What, then, makes me a dwarf planet?
> Sun: A dwarf planet is too small to clear its own path, and very light.
> The one thing all planets and dwarf planets share is my loving
> gravitational embrace. That is what holds you in your orbits.
> Pluto: (jumps with joy)
> Sun: It is true that you, Pluto, are different from the rest. Your orbit
> is slanted because you came to me from outside my original family of
> planets. You are my adopted dwarf planet....
> and so on, with dwarf inserted for each time Pluto is called a planet.
> Thanks again for sharing your important work!
> Kristin Downey, mom
> Bella and Mallory Downey, homeschoolers