Monday, July 21, 2008

Gum, Geckos, and God

Have you ever been driving down the highway, anxious to get to your destination and from the backseat your child asks you one of those thought provoking questions that demands your full attention? Questions like, "Why do some people not believe in God?" "When will we see Jesus?" or "Why is it so hard to be good?" Those untimely interruptions often lead to some hilarious conversations and hopefully greater insight into the complex issues of our faith. James Spiegel, a homeschool father of four, knows these conversations quite well and has chronicled them in his new book, Gum, Geckos, and God so we can all laugh and learn together.

Spiegel is also a professor of Philosophy at Taylor University so handling complex questions was not new to him. However, answering them in every day language so that his children could understand proved to be very challenging. Or as he says in the preface,
"If you can probe the sticky topics of faith and life's meaning with a kid while he probes the sticky recesses of his nasal cavity, then you can discuss theology with anyone."
Spiegel is conducting a blog tour to promote his book and asked me to participate by asking him a question. Since he's always been in the role of teaching his children about God and the meaning of life, I decided to turn the tables and asked what he has learned from them...

Q. As a professor of philosophy and one who diligently seeks to understand God, what was the most enlightening thing you have learned from your children about God’s nature?
A: There have been many insights about God I have gained while interacting with my kids. Some of these I explore in the book, such as aspects of what it means for God to be our "heavenly" Father-including his patience, generosity, humor, grace, and unconditional love. With regard to God's love, I understand much better now what it means to say that there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more or less than he already does.

Another fact about God that I have glimpsed more clearly as a parent is what a remarkable artist he is when it comes to human development. There is much in creation that is breathtaking in terms of its beauty-from the Grand Canyon to butterflies, but to me nothing compares to the beauty of human development. Not only is the physical process utterly fascinating (heck, a single cell is a work of art more profound than any work a human artist has produced), but the narrative of each individual life is amazing. Every person's story is complete with plots, themes, morals, conflicts, crescendos, and resolutions, all intricately orchestrated, involving a host of supporting characters in the drama. As a parent, I have seen this much more clearly in my kids, so my view of divine artistry has expanded tremendously.
Truly, it does take a divine artist to create the masterpieces we call our children. (And a bit of divine patience to answer all their questions.)

Thank you Jim for the opportunity to participate in your blog tour. You can find out where Jim will be tomorrow by going to the Zondervan blog. To keep up with Jim and his family, you can visit his new blog Wisdom and Folly. Now we all have a place to go when our children ask us one of those tough questions and we need a witty but powerful answer.

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