Backseat philosophy

As a salute to summer lethargy, Jean has pulled one from the archives

In the interest of good manners and personal freedom, I stick with the old 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 between some obligatory errands one afternoon.

For reason completely unknown to me, he and a friend were mulling over the Biblical phrase stating 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 anyone with more clout than an archangel who wasn’t already occupied.  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 considerably more ecumenical.  She has been close friends since first grade with the child of an Orthodox Jewish family.  Not just Jewish, but “two sets of plates, sundown Friday marks the beginning of Sabbath and if she can’t walk there on Saturday she just doesn’t go” Orthodox.

My child, raised Church of England, is still quite comfortable with whatever is going on at her pal’s house.  She did confide to me that she thinks they have to follow way too many rules.  Still, she easily shares Sabbath dinner, observes preparation for their holidays, and smoothly accepts the differences between theirs and ours.  The girls never argue that one’s choice is superior to the others.  They happily occupy different rooms in God’s house, sometimes here, sometimes there, 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.

I may drop a note to our secretary of state.  Well, has she ever offered those fellows in the Middle East or the Balkans a Beach Sparkle Barbie, a Spice Girls CD or a Disney movie?

 Jean Gillette is a freelance writer loving the simplicity of children. Contact her at jgillette@coastnewsgroup.



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