Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Are you there, God? It's me, Scrumptious . . .

Last night at the Parent/Teacher’s meeting, the lovely Reception teacher told me that Scrumptious is enthusiastic about learning and loves questioning the world around her. Every statement is countered with a Why? Don’t I know it.

When it comes to parenting, some questions are easier to answer than others. I know why my kids need to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. I know why exercise, fresh air, and the right amount of sleep are so important. I know what to say if my teenager asks me if she can get facial piercings or tattoos. But do I know how to answer questions about religion? I’m being put to the test by Scrumptious who is fascinated with Jesus and God and the Church.

I was raised a Catholic, in a very traditional Catholic family, and went to Catholic school all my life. I was taught by nuns, except for Sex Ed which was taught by a priest, so the high number of teenage pregnancies in my school should have come as no surprise. If there ever was a better reason to embrace agnosticism as an adult, I can’t think of one. HRH is an atheist. He wasn’t raised with any religion whatsoever and is a man of science. If you can’t see it and you can’t explain it logically, it does not exist. Truly studies Religions of the World in school and is happy to discuss reincarnation, the quest for spirituality, or the good versus evil that religion has played throughout history. She does not, however, have any interest in attending a church, synagogue or temple on a regular basis. Sure, HRH and I try to instill values. Help a neighbor. Stand up for a cause. Be kind. Make ethical choices. But organized religion has not played an active role in the raising of our children.

We spent two years in Japan and, during that time, we visited temple after temple. We saw all types of magnificent Buddhas---glitzy and gold, fat and jolly, serene and smiling. But Scrumptious never took up the fascination with Buddha the way she did with Jesus. She has been fascinated with Jesus since she saw her very first crucifix at my mother’s church. It’s gotten to the point where Jesus creeps into the conversation on a daily basis.

‘Who was Jesus?’
‘According to the Bible, he was a man. But he was also a teacher and a healer.’
‘And was God his Daddy?’
‘Well, they say that God is his Daddy in Heaven but he had another Daddy on Earth.’

Somehow she’s found her own way around this conundrum. Jesus must be the product of divorce so he had a biological Dad and a step-Dad. And then there is Jesus the miracle worker. He turned water into wine (that one is brilliant), he walked on water so he could meet up with his mates in the boat, he healed the blind and calmed the storm. This is very heady stuff for a 5-year-old.

Then there are the stories from the Bible. Adam comes out looking like Prince Charming and Eve is the beautiful fairy princess. For some reason, they are naked and they’re hanging out in the Garden of Eden which is like paradise on earth. There’s a bad guy, that tricky serpent, and there’s some forbidden fruit, oh that tempting juicy apple. Meanwhile, God created this paradise, complete with sunny skies, lush gardens full of flowers and little singing birds. It’s possible that I jazzed up these stories too much because they’re sounding a lot like Disney.

‘So God created the whole world, you and me and the Royal Hound and all those flowers and trees?’ asked Scrumptious.
‘Some people believe that he did,’ I said.
‘But, Mummy, you believe it don’t you?’
‘Well, I’m not sure. Maybe. Sometimes. People who have faith, like your Nana, believe it.’
‘What is faith?’
‘It’s when you believe in something very strongly, even though you can’t see it or touch it.’
‘Oh, faith is a good thing then. I have faith too.’
‘You do?’
‘Yep, I have faith in Father Christmas. I can’t see him and I posted his letter to a place I’ve never been. But I know he will bring me all the toys on my list. He always does,’ she said confidently.
‘Hmm, I’m not sure it’s the same.’
‘You know what, Mummy? I think God is magic. And Jesus is magic too.’
‘Well, they’re not magicians, Scrumptious.’
‘Yes, but Jesus escaped from behind that rock even after he was dead. That’s magic.’

I’m struggling with this one. Scrumptious asked me to take her to church and I did. I thought she might get bored with it but she still wants to go. As a parent, do I have a moral obligation to expose my daughter to some form of organized religion? If I don’t give her a religious foundation and she’s expressing an interest, if I don’t take her to church and Sunday school, and never teach her how to pray, am I balking on an important parental responsibility? Am I cheating her out of her right to Freedom of Religion just because I personally derive no joy from it, because it’s not the answer for me? That sounds pretty selfish. Today I can make my own choices because I know that Catholicism doesn’t work for me personally. Perhaps I am better able to make my choices today because I was raised in a religious home.


  1. Very interesting. They say God speaks to the little children. They also say that God works in mysterious ways. Just think how your Mother would be so happy if you went to Church! Ha Ha!

  2. Enchanted By Ella11 March 2010 at 09:15

    I am a big fan of your blog, and I love this post. I think that you daughter has a good view on how Religions should be, good and (as she said) Magical. In this day and age finding someone as innocent as that is a challenge, even if 5 year olds!

  3. suester, God does seem to work in mysterious ways. Keeping that in mind, I certainly hope that my Mother does not find out about this whole church thing. Ahem. Because I know that she doesn't know how to work a computer, let alone own one.

    Enchanted by Ella, thank you for your thoughts.