Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Questions about God.
Tonight I had an interesting conversation with my five-year old twins. They are very curious and inquisitive about everything in life. I attempt to always answer their questions with honesty and sensitivity. I love how their minds work and the incredible amount of information that they are able to retain in those developing brains of theirs.
So tonight we had a discussion about God, Jesus, flying, thunderstorms, dragons and rainbows. It all began when my little guy asked if Jesus could fly and walk on water because he was from heaven. I asked what he thought about that (a great trick to deflect answering a questions you don't have the answer to). He said, "Of course he can do anything." I said that is true. He followed up with, "Are all the things in the bible true?" (We have been having a lot of discussions about fiction vs. fact and fantasy vs. reality as of late. For instance Buzz Light Year is a character and therefor not real. Or Dinosaurs did live on the earth and were real even though they are all dead now. So you get the idea of what is bouncing around in this kids head. He is sorting out his world and trying to make sense of it in very black and white terms.) I responded to his question by saying, "the bible has many truths and some really great things to teach us." He pressed the question again by telling me that, "huge thunderstorms happen and one time God sent a rainbow to say he would never do it again." I told him that was true. He became serious and told me that all the people that lived in the bible are dead and he wanted to know why. I tried to explain that people do not live for thousands or millions of years but rather for like 90 or 100 years. It has been thousands of years since the biblical times, so yes they are all dead. I tried to explain how this is a natural process and that it is ok. But I wanted to be careful to not go down the road of "everyone dies." I could tell that little man was getting troubled. He wanted to understand and he wanted to make sense of it all.
His sister jumped in and with all the authority she could muster stated, "the bible is truth." It worked and the little man moved onto asking where God lived and how can he be in my heart. (Oh great! He is going for it tonight, I thought. I had made a point of never saying the favorite Christian phrase "he lives in your heart" to my kids. But certain, ahem, family members decided to take it upon themselves to lay out this whole ridiculous metaphor. Now how in the hell do you undo something like that and explain a metaphor to a 5 year old? Answer: YOU DON'T!!!! So I did what I had previously in the conversation and threw the question back in the little man's court. He paused a moment and said, "He is God and he can do what he wants and be where he wants." I smiled and said, "yup".
Anyhow this entire conversation got me thinking. Or more so it got me back on a subject I have been thinking on for sometime....the facts of the Bible and Christianity. I was taught that those words written on those pages were infallible, utter and complete truth. They are God's words written on paper, not to be questioned and to be followed to the letter. I lived that way for sometime...well a LONG time..too long. Now in the past two years I really wonder about all that. Seven day creation story? Burning bushes? God writing on tablets? Flood? An arch carrying every animal species? Walking on water? Come on. Could these have been oral traditions/parables told and passed down to teach an idea, a moral or ethical way of living? Probably yes. Do I look at the Bible as black and white truth, um pretty much no. So when my kids come to me and want black and white answers and are trying to sort out their world I really am stumped. I want them to keep the wide eyed wonder of childhood but I don't want them growing up being naive like I did. I want them to take the lessons of the bible....loving others, ethics, morals, kindness, the idea of a greater power-God, a savior-Jesus, and become giving and caring adults. I want them to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions about spirituality. I don't want to force feed them. So I am left with the struggle of instilling these principals while not lying to them about my own doubts and ideas about the bible, God, and religion.
Walking the tight rope, Annie
PS. I forgot to ad that the little man also asked me if dragons were real. I would have said no, but a few months back I watched a Discovery Channel documentary about how they probably did exist. Holy fuck, who knew!?!?!