“Be Not Afraid”
A director of religious education once told me that as grade-school children begin to process the world, they come to their parents and teachers with questions. We need to answer those questions, she said, because the window isn’t open all that long. If you don’t answer their questions honestly, somewhere around the fourth grade, they just quit asking.
How can we say “thou shalt not kill” and fight wars and execute prisoners?
What does gay mean?
Why don’t so-and-so’s parents live together?
What is contraception?
Why are those people fighting with the police?
Why would someone shoot schoolkids?
What does climate change mean?
Why do those children have flies around their mouths?
For many adults, answering questions like these is terrifying. We are jaded, embittered, and overwhelmed by the scope of the world’s problems. When we try to put into words what we believe, it often seems simplistic—a woefully inadequate answer to reality. Trying to explain God and the world to children brings into sharp relief the inadequacy of our own faith and understanding of both.