FOULDS: Wondering about God since the beginning of his time
The Catholics want you to Come Home as part of the religion’s massive advertising blitz designed to lure back those of the faith who have wandered away from the church.
The Mormons have long funded an effective radio advertising campaign reminding us all that family is about time.
And, of course, signboards outside of churches from coast to coast to coast vie for the attention of passersby with solemn and witty words alike.
But, it was in a motel room in ice-cold Lillooet during a hockey-tournament weekend that an 11-year-old boy with a mind as inquisitive as can be decided to start to try to figure out all this God stuff.
Raised in a non-religious home and peppering dad with questions of creation since the beginning of his time, my son spied the Bible in the drawer (placed there, as always, by the Gideons), set aside his novel and opened the Good Book.
And, starting with Genesis, he read. And read. And read. And repeated a paragraph here. And asked a question there. And wondered about literal and figurative context.
And, finally, decided to attempt to finish the Old Testament by the end of the year as his one and only New Year’s resolution.
No chance, I said, noting it is an extremely difficult book to read.
Nevertheless, the boy will plug away and has various editions of the Bible at home to peruse in his quest.
The question of why we are here and from where we came is eternal; I ponder those queries as often today as I did as a child, as a teenager, as a first-time father.
The questions are daunting; the possible answers beyond frightening.
The question from my kids is thrown at me now and then: Do you believe in God?
My answer is incomplete, but honest: Sometimes I think I do; sometimes I think I don’t.
I have long believed each of us must determine what we believe with respect to our purpose for being here and all to which that relates.
It’s fine to baptize your baby.
It’s fine to have your kid attend Sunday school and instil in him your beliefs, religious or otherwise.
However, it is that brain inside that head of that little person that will ultimately decide the belief system.
It may be guided by a parent’s beliefs; it may have nothing to do with years of teachings.
Whether my kids grow up to be atheists or seminary students doesn’t matter.
What matters is they make the decision based on what they believe, not what I perceive to be the way to enlightenment.
As I told my boy, one can be an atheist, agnostic or, in my case, simply confused and still read the Bible, study scripture and debate the book as a literal life guide versus an entertaining collection of allegories.
Regardless of how you approach the tome, it’s all a learning experience and there is no downside to adding more data to that grey matter between your ears.
So, as the boy tackles more of the very fine print that has baffled centuries of mankind, he will, in all likelihood, find himself vacillating between believing and doubting, which, when stripped of all else, is what constitutes the scales of life.
We either believe or we don’t — be it God’s existence, a friend’s promise, a mate’s vow, a child’s explanation.
When I was a child, I briefly took part in a few Bible-study sessions arranged by a devout aunt.
I had one question that vexed me: If God exists, who or what created God?
Her answer was to not answer by explaining our minds could not handle the explanation, lest they explode.
To me, though, that is the crucial question that applies even to those who side with life emanating from a random Big Bang event: Who or what created the ingredients that led to the Big Bang?
Maybe the boy will decipher something to explain all that as he delves deeper into the pages of the sacred text.
God knows (or not) his innocent mind has as good a chance as any to solve this eternal mystery.