We had THE TALK a few days ago. It was not the most comfortable talk in the world, but I thought it was important that the kids hear this from me rather than from their friends at school. If I had a choice, it would be a topic I wouldn't have to address at all, but the world being what it is, I did have to address it, and I'm sure I will again in age-appropriate ways as the children get older.
"There are people in the world who believe that gods exist," I told the boys.
"Nuh-uh," said A.
"No, really," I said. "In fact... there are MANY people who believe that."
"No, Mommy, no, you're TRICKING us!" D said.
Last year I had given the kids some parts of the story of Jesus, but I'd
left out a key detail about the whole son-of-God thing. This year I
laid it all out for them.
"I know who Jesus is!" D said. "Jesus Price!" Then he got distracted by the fact that I have fingers, and my fingers have bones. Apparently this is more interesting than discussing the nature of divinity.
"What do you think a church is?" I asked A.
"It's a place where people go... to sing... and, uh, take their shoes off." I think he realized for the first time that he actually had no idea.
"People go there to talk about God," I said.
We read the book What is God? by Etan Boritzer. There are many things I like about this book:
I like that it dismisses the "old man in the clouds" idea of God out of hand: Next time you fly in an airplane, look out the window at the clouds. But you won't see that God there, because no one has ever seen that God!
It describes Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and Buddha as "teachers" without any hint of the supernatural.
It talks about how religion often causes fighting, which is a big issue I have with religion. It says that most religions are almost the same! and gives equal weight to many people who believe that there are many Gods, not just one God. It also says that although people of different religions pray in different places, you can really pray anywhere, again a knock on organized religion.
My favorite part is the end:
You can close your eyes now,
And listen to your breath go slowly in and out,
And think about how you are connected to everything,
Even if you are not touching everything.
Try to feel how you are connected
To your Dad, and how you are part of your Mom,
Try to feel how you are part of your whole family,
Like your brother or sister, your grandparents,
Your aunt or uncle, cousins, even your friends.
And try to feel how all of those people,
Are part of a whole bigger family,
And how all the families of the world,
(Even those we can't see or touch),
Are really a part of you and your family.
I talk about this connection with our kids a lot. I never use the word "God" to describe it, but the idea is the same.
The only thing I don't like about this book is that it makes no mention of people who do not believe in any gods. So it's not perfect. But only Allah is perfect, right?