Friday, 31 May 2013

Soteriology

Last Saturday morning we started by going to the Farmers’ Market, where we shop for things we don't grow ourselves, greet the familiar faces at each stall, bring our trophies of olives and cheeses to a table and discuss the foods around us, earnest as restaurant critics.

Such conversations are a rare privilege. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still her parent and set boundaries, and at eight she’s not above the occasional pout. Children's questions, though, deserve far more respect than we usually give them, picking at seams that run deeply through our lives.

That morning, perhaps spurred by the library book, The Girl began asking about faith. She knows our church is Catholic, that some of the local churches are Church of Ireland, and that I have friends that are Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Pentecostal. I started to explain the differences, but she slipped into the kind of soteriological parsing that derails so many people.

 I’ll make it easy, I said. You know how we were talking about people taking care of the sick, or cleaning up the land, or making the world better? “Uh-huh,” she said.

Okay, that’s your religion, I said. Look at how someone lives their life. Anybody can say they believe in something.

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