Monday, August 17, 2015

RELIGION - "Relax, It's Just God"

"The secular parent’s guide to talking to kids about faith" PBS NewsHour 8/10/2015


SUMMARY:  How do you explain religion to your kids when you don't follow a specific faith?  Author, journalist and NewsHour online parenting columnist Wendy Thomas Russell sits down with Jeffrey Brown to discuss her new book, "Relax, It's Just God."

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now the latest addition to the “NewsHour Bookshelf.”

Raising children is a journey generously sprinkled with what many view as teachable moments, perhaps none as challenging as those surrounding faith and religion.

Author, journalist and NewsHour online parenting columnist Wendy Thomas Russell comes at this from a different angle in her new book, “Relax, It’s Just God:  How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious.”

She recently talked with Jeffrey Brown and explained how the book came to be.

WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL, Author, “Relax, It’s Just God:  How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious”:  I was in the car, and my daughter announced to me that God had made her and that God had, in fact, made all children and all people.  And…

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  And you thought?

WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL:  And I was so — you know, she was so incredulous because she just thought, this seems like really big news, and how you don’t know it, mommy, is really beyond me.

So — but it did. It struck me.  I was really caught off guard by it.  And it…

JEFFREY BROWN:  And what did you say to her?

WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL:  I didn’t say much at the time.  I sort of stumbled through the conversation, oh, who is God?  And I sort of stumbled through the conversation, and then later went home and talked to my husband.

And he said, you know, it’s not what Maxine believes, but what she does in life that matters.  And it was a turning point for me, this idea that, if we raise kids to be moral and ethical and kind and generous, then what they believe is secondary.  And it was — it’s been a guiding force to the book.
JEFFREY BROWN:  This word indoctrinating is an important one, because it comes up time and time again here.  What’s the difference between indoctrinating and guiding children, right?


Indoctrination, I see, as almost the antithesis of critical thinking.  Of course it’s fine to guide your children, but I see indoctrination as sort of this middle ground between full-on brainwashing and guidance. it’s stronger than — it’s stronger than just merely guidance.

I see indoctrination as telling children that there is only one way to believe, and that all other ways and people who believe all other things are less worthy of our respect, less intelligent, less moral.  It’s that — that’s the crucial issue, because I think that, when you do that, you set up your child to be bigoted against those who don’t believe the way that you do.  You know, we are — it’s not a black-and-white world.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Well, so give me an example of the most basic question of — your child says, mommy, does God exist and what is God or who is God?

WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL:  The way that I go about it is to say, that’s a great question, and I’m glad you’re thinking about it, that there are a lot of different ways that people describe God and describe what God is.

And this is what some people believe, and this is what other people believe.  And this is — and I don’t believe in God, but that’s OK.  It’s all OK.  And you get to make up your own mind about what to believe.

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