This theological discussion started towards the end of the last semester.
‘When you were little, did you go to church?’, my daughter asks.
‘You mean, synagogue.’
‘Synag – yes.’
‘Because I don’t believe in God.’
‘Is that so?’
‘Yes. Miss Edmonds said that there’s a God.’
‘It’s unlikely she said that.’
‘I suspect she said that some people believe that there’s a God.’
‘Yes, people like me.’
‘But not because there is a God but because people hold various beliefs, which help them to cope in life. Just so you know, even though Miss Edmonds is right about the vast majority of things she tells you, her remit doesn’t actually extend to saying there’s a God. What she can do and has done is teach you about God, Allah, Vishnu & 4 and the rest of it. Just as she taught you about Diwali and Ramadan and Christmas.
(Which indeed Miss Edmonds confirmed at the next parents’ night, turning ever so slightly pale at the query. )
This morning it continues.
‘I know you don’t believe God exists, but it’s true. For real life.’
‘Sure. Agree to disagree. I don’t believe Jaffa cakes are breakfast food and you do.’
‘Mama, Guru Nanak is real. Believe me.’
‘I believe you. Guru Nanak is real.’
‘Yes. Or rather, he was, because he’s long dead. But I do believe he existed. As did Jesus Christ.’
‘I agree. I think he was a good man.’
‘He meant a great deal to many people. He taught them about forgiveness.’
‘And about compassion.’
‘And about how few material possessions we need to be happy.’
‘If Jesus Christ saw the amount of plastic you’ve accumulated in your first five years on this Earth, he would not smile at you with that benevolent expression you might remember from Jesus Christ Superstar.’
‘But we’re already in trouble with the polar bears on that one so I’m not going to pile on. Although, if you’re so intent on believing, you should brace yourself for an abundance of guilt. We would, after all, traditionally be Christian.’
‘Mum…’, she says with a forbearing sigh.
‘All of this I’m happy to believe. The bit I don’t believe is that Jesus was the son of God, who is a supreme being with magical powers.’
‘God is not a supreme being with magical powers.’
‘No, Mum. God is kindness and wisdom.’
‘Oh, come on.’
‘What then is the difference between God and Granny?’
‘Granny is kindness and wisdom, too.’
‘Oh, mum.’ She rolls her eyes. Not unlike other people in this house when they’re losing an argument.
We get on with breakfast.
‘Amira prays to God. She also thinks God exists.’
‘Amira prays to Allah.’
‘It’s the same thing.’
‘Well, see, we agree on that. I don’t know where Amira stands on that but you have my blessing to discuss.’
‘So then, you agree God exists.’
‘No. Same thing, but which doesn’t exist. In my opinion.’
‘You’ll see when you get to Heaven.’
‘I don’t think I’ll be going to Heaven.’
‘Thank you. But I think I won’t. Because, as you might have guessed, I don’t think Heaven exists.’
‘Oh, Mum, you are making me so frustrated. You’re not listening. Heaven is real. God lives in Heaven. Believe me. She exists.’