Thursday, December 02, 2010

6yr old theology

About a month ago Alexandra started asking about God. Then the other night Alexandra hits me with "what is 'Hell'?" Well, most parents I suspect would short this answer, but I know my daughter and she won't take the brush off, so I, despite some personal discomfort, decided to go back to my roots.

I am the son of a Presbyterian Minister and retired Professor of Theology, in fact the "James Henry Snowden Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology" at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (*note: as a kid I always thought my dad was saying he worked at a cemetery!*) I've grown up around theologians, so when I get lobbed a "what is Hell" question, well let's just say we could teach a course on this one. So out comes the "Children's Bible." I explained to Alexandra "if we're going to do this, we're doing it right and we're starting where all stories start, at the beginning. But be warned," I said, "these are not stories like Dr. Seuss stories. There is good. There is evil. Most of all, people in the world have very strong feelings about these stories. They argue over their meaning. They go to war for them. They die for them." Pretty heavy stuff for a first grader, but she took it pretty well. That said we're definitely going to pace this a bit.

Last night we read about Creation. Gee, nothing controversial there! I did overlay some of my beliefs, but explained them as such. I explained that not everyone thinks of this the same way I do, and as you get older and learn more you can make your own choices too. At the end of the night I explained that in my opinion, the arguing about the historical accuracy of these stories, e.g. did Creation really only take 6 days as we know days, really misses the point. The message in the stories is the important part, especially as we move into those later stories. Be a good person. Don't try to hurt people. Forgive others. Don't be a d-bag (okay I didn't tell her that one!).

And then, as only a child can do, she stared at me and said, "Okay Dad, but who created God?"