May and June are going to be rather crazy busy around here, so I asked my friends in the Five Minute Friday community if they might lend a hand and write me a post or two, just to take the load off. Ruth took up my plea and gave me this LOVELY post you’ll read below. I love the thinking behind this post. 🙂 She blogs here.
I first heard the phrase, “everything is theological” in 1998. To say I did not like it or the professor who tacked the quote to his office door would be an understatement.
I’d believed up to that point that there is indeed sacred and secular. The one must be separate from the other for good Christians to live in this world – in it not of it. I believed this wholeheartedly. Checkboxes, black and white thinking (never any gray), and a shallow understanding of grace made for an easy way to live.
For months that professor kept at us, as a good teacher does, with many different examples of how “everything is theological”. As students often do, we ignored him, all of us future teachers. Until someone had an ‘aha’ moment in class. “You mean everything we believe about God matters in the rubber-meeting-road of life??” The rest of us sat back and our prof was blinded by all the proverbial lightbulbs going off.
My philosophy of teaching began to change that day. I no longer thought of teaching as a “me standing above you telling you things” idea but rather “how can I open your eyes to see who God is, even in the dull parts of math”. (One
plus one will always equal two because God never changes.)
I’m now the mom of 3 kids who love to read! The 13 year old girl and her 11 and 9 year old brothers all have extremely different tastes in books. I could see this morphing into an unnecessary battleground. So when they were young, I did my best to whet their appetites for great stories and deep characters whether good or evil, and help them learn how to observe and discuss as they read. I bought up every Great Illustrated Classic book I found at thrift stores and garage sales. They offer the great stories of redemption and justice like: The Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, and Jane Eyre at a level my children can embrace.
As we read, it became a habit to ask these questions:
Who are the characters and do they remind you of anyone?
Why did Harry Potter choose not to ask for help from an adult?
What does the author believe about people?
Are they basically good or evil?
Are adults treated as imbeciles and the kids save the day?
Is the story dark and scary? How? Why?
Are you surprised by what you feel about the story?
Is there an unlikely character who becomes the hero?
Is there a character you really don’t like? Why?
Does the story remind you of any other stories?
Even Dr. Seuss can contribute to amazing discussions about the most surprising things. It’s not simply books, either.
Movies are books we see through someone else’s eyes, and we need to help our children develop habits of thinking as they watch.
My middle child told me he checked out Les Miserables (the full version) from school. While I was very impressed with him for wanting to take on this amazing story, and not being swayed by his school librarian’s doubt of his abilities, I also didn’t let him read it. My 11 year old is not ready to discuss the idea of prostitution. In his disappointment, I began to tell him the story. The familiar story of a thief receiving grace and what it cost the giver blew him away. It was one of those very satisfying mom moments.
You won’t have these moments each and every time you read aloud.
Some days it’s slogging through a chapter while certain individuals repeatedly cannot keep their hands to themselves. Some days they beg for more chapters. It’s the journey.
Remember you’re giving them tools to sift through what the world tosses at them. They need to know that everything is truly theological.
Ruth Verkaik is a teacher turned writer. She’s also wife to an engineer who
loves to ask “why??” to most things in life as do their 3 children. Her favorite
place is her bright windowed space where she loves to create and write. Often,
she can be found with a cup of tea and a good book while ignoring the laundry.
Sometimes her 50lb puppy joins her. Sometimes her book-loving kids. Her digital
space can be found at