Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Big Question

"Daddy, am I a Christian?"

This is what my 7 year-old daughter asks me today as I pick her and her 3 year-old sister up from a slumber party this morning.

Now, I've dodged a lot of existential bullets from her ("How did God make trees?," "Is Great Pop-Pop in heaven?"), but this was undodgable.

Lucky for me, I've become a bit more bold with my heathen pronouncements as of late. Around Halloween, her good friend JD, whose house she was at last night, developed a fear of devils ("not the red ones," my daughter assured me, "just the blue ones"). So when she asked me if I was afraid of devils, I told her I was not.

"Why not?" All big eyes and wonder.

"Because devils don't exist." I didn't even flinch as I wiped out the king meanie of Christianity, and, by default, it's main recruiting tool.

"But JD says . . ."

"Honey, JD is six. Who do you believe, him or me?"

The fact that she didn't answer right away concerned me.

Which brings me back to this morning.

"Daddy, am I a Christian?"

I'm no Bill Cosby, but even I realized this would require a little something called tact, or as I like to call it, "verbal tap dancing."

"Well, honey that depends on what you believe. Christians believe that Jesus is the savior of mankind. Do you believe that?"

"What's a savior?"

From there it was Christianity 101 taught by yours truly, which if there are any Hollywood execs reading, should be a TV show.

"Did Jesus die?" "Did God die?" "Did God go to heaven when he died?"

I give Christians credit because I have a hard enough time teaching her how to tell time on an analog clock, I can't imagine teaching the holy trinity. Not to mention, if you can explain the physics involved with Noah's Ark without laughing, you're either a great liar or a very dedicated believer.

However, what struck me most is that I really, really, don't want my daughters to be indoctrinated with a belief system they have little to no chance of ever understanding in a rational way. I'm not saying they can't be christians, just not yet. Like sex, drinking and cell phone use, they should at least be teenagers before they go down that path.

As it is with most bloggers, eventually the conversation came back to our favorite subject -- me.

"Daddy, are you a Christian?" She asked.

"No, I'm not" I said.

It felt good, honestly. Maybe because I knew my daughter would not judge me for my lack of faith or wonder if I had any morals or a spiked tail in my pants. She just accepted that her father was not a Christian, which didn't make him a bad person.

I hope she's as understanding when she discovers that while I'm no Christian, that I am indeed, Santa Claus.


badasschick said...

You do realize at her age you're the greatest man alive, right?

Claudia said...

This was a surprisingly moving post, b. I don't have a snappy come-back, since I can only imagine how hard it will be when the time comes for me talk to my daughter about religion.... But I think you handled it quite well.

@ badasschick: hilarious picture!