Thursday was one of those grey days, when the ceiling hangs very low and the clouds rather than the grass seems to come up from the ground. I relish these days. On my way to work, to Leverett, I watched the Charles misting as I drove. The winter wouldn’t be so bad if we had more days like these, or, if we had snow.
A moment ago a few flakes teased my winter sensibilities. They have since stopped. The heat was shut off for the break, and I have bundled up in a coat, scarf, and floppy hat. Rather than read math, which is what I had intended to do today, I picked up Gordon S. Wood’s short history of the The American Revolution again. I’ll put it down at the end of the chapter.
The history got me thinking. It’s something I would read to my children, should I someday be allowed to raise children, before tucking them into bed. My father, after all, would cycle between a library of books written to supplement Sesame Street and the Bible. At least the language Wood uses is more tractable than that in King James. But then, and here’s the thinking part, I thought about my father’s reading me the Bible and whether I would do the same. You see, there are two competing forces: on the one hand, I think that religion is a very grown-up affair. Its practitioners should demonstrate an informed faith [something I don’t really believe I have, actually], and such an education requires a mature mind. Really, Piaget would back me up. So most children simply aren’t even biologically equipped to process the implications of their religion, especially not my hypothetical ones. But then on the other hand, if I really believe, let’s say — and now we’re getting theoretical, not personal. My beliefs are more nuanced, but this works for the present — that Christianity is the key to salvation, then it only makes sense to introduce it to my children as soon as possible. And here St Augustine would back me up. And how can I, neither a celebrity developmental psychologist nor a Christian saint, hope to reconcile education with religion?
My friend Michelle offers an anecdote while I continue to ponder. Her childhood friend was born to Quaker parents. Faced with the same problem, they refused to bring their daughter to church until she was eighteen. She was welcomed to go to church with other families if she wished but not her own. Rather than denying my children church, and I confess I haven’t been regularly since I started college, I suppose I would supplement verses not only with discussion, but also with readings from historical exegeses and treatises from the medieval church. I better be careful before I say that we should present children with every possible vantage and then let them choose for themselves. Don’t worry, I don’t think that. But I do want them to be better read than me. And maybe I can use them as an excuse to read more.
If ever I do have kids, it’ll be terrifying. I’ll have to think about things I haven’t even thought to think about then. Good thing grad school is so long.