Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My six year old daughter has been keeping my family and friends howling with laughter for most of her verbal (and even non-verbal) life.

Recently, she has developed a severe case of religious imagination, and in some instances has taken up evangelism with a vengeance.

She has a thing for the popes, which has caused her lapsed Catholic dad a lot of consternation -- what did he, a good and religious atheist, do to deserve a daughter who plasters her walls with pictures of old men in white robes and tall white hats? Good question.

A few months ago, she was outside on the porch by herself and my husband went by the screen door and was able to witness the following: she was looking up at the sky and saying "God? Where are you? Are you there? God? Gawd? Where are you?"

One time, she and her dad were having a conversation about Joseph -- who he was. Her dad said he was Jesus' father, and A said no, that God was Jesus father. So her dad said Joseph was the earthly father. And A said no God was that too. Then she said to him: You don't know these things, Daddy. You don't know Jesus. You did as a child, but you don't know him now.

About a week or so ago, I got after her about some behaviour, and told her that was naughty and not at all nice, that it was hurtful to one of her friends (I think she had laughed about one of the little boys in her class because he'd not made it to the bathroom and pooed in his pants.) A broke down in tears, and sobbed that she couldn't help being like this, because God had made her like this, and how could she go against what God made. I explained to her about freedom and human will, and about choices to commit either sin or goodness. She was unconvinced as she continued to sob out her excuses.

Another time recently, she asked (on the way to church) why Daddy didn't go to church, and when I said it's because he doesn't believe in God, she was shocked. "Whaaaat? He doesn't believe in God? How could you NOT believe in God?!?! He's EVERYWHERE!!!! He's in the car, beside me, he's outside, he's on the sidewalk, in the trees, in heaven,........"

What ensued was a lengthy conversation about the nature of belief, with A saying that Daddy couldn't believe in God because he didn't see Him, and that was very hard for him. She also said that sometimes some people will not believe anything unless they see it.

When we got home later she asked her dad point-blank why he didn't believe in God. (He couldn't answer.) And she struck up the same hue and cry she gave me in the car.

It says that a little child shall lead them, and I fervently hope and pray that in my husband's case this is true, because I've failed miserably. Perhaps Anna will do better.