In the interest of good manners and personal freedom, I stick with the classic rule suggesting you avoid discussing religion. Children, it seems, do not subscribe to such narrow conventions.
My son’s foray into theological debate came up in the backseat of the car as we ran errands one afternoon. For reasons completely unknown to me, he and a friend were mulling over the biblical contention that Jesus sits at the right hand of God. That didn’t puzzle them, but it was obvious to these 9-year-olds that there seemed to be a vacancy on the left-hand side and it really ought to be filled. “It would take someone pretty powerful to sit at the left hand of God,” his pal pointed out.
I wondered if they were envisioning Batman or some character in one of their computer games. Showing more religious knowledge than I expected, his friend suggested an archangel. My son agreed, but noted that it might need to be someone even more important than that. Right offhand, they couldn’t come up with any heavenly host with more clout than an archangel. Well, maybe someone still alive might eventually be good enough, they commented.
The friend, with a wide grin, allowed as how he might like trying for that cool left-hand spot himself. They very briefly pondered this possibility and then started laughing their heads off.
“Oh man, forget it,” his pal howled. “I’d have to be soooo good, it would be worse than Christmas.”
My daughter’s life has been more ecumenical. She was close friends with the child of a two-sets-of-plates, sundown-Friday-marks-the-Sabbath Orthodox Jewish family. This child would make old money blush at the grace with which she made her way through the very un-Orthodox Southern California world around her.
My child, being raised Church of England, is only a few notches from the absolute opposite end of the religious spectrum. Nevertheless, when at this friend’s home, she is quite comfortable with whatever is going on.
She did confide that she thinks they have to follow way too many rules, but the girls never argue that one’s choice is superior to the others. They always keep the doors open between them and understand that each is welcome in the other’s domain, even though the furniture is arranged differently and they have no intention of staying.
In spite of the differences in their lives, the girls’ focus is on what they share. They like the same games, music, movies, television shows and each other.
I may drop a note to our secretary of state. Well, have they ever offered those fellows in the Middle East a Beach Sparkle Barbie, a top-10 CD or a Pixar movie? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who avoids too many subjects these days. Contact her at [email protected].