picklesink

A mom, a dad, and two nutty kids.

The Rainbow Connection

I picked up a really lovely book a while back at the Grand River Book Store at the Five Oaks Retreat Centre outside of Paris, Ontario: God’s Dream, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams.

God’s Dream
Cover art by LeUyen Pham

It’s fitting that I picked it up at the beginning of February, Black History Month, as telling Ben and Molly about Archbishop Tutu sparked a conversation about apartheid and racism. Ben was shocked at the idea that anyone would think that people should be treated differently because of what they look like, citing examples of his friends at school who had different-coloured skin but were just the same as him. We also talked about Archbishop Tutu’s own experience of growing up in South Africa during apartheid and witnessing and experiencing the mistreatment of black people by white people, but always advocating for both change and forgiveness.

God’s Dream comes in both a large hardcover edition with a dustjacket or a smaller board edition; I chose the board book in the interests of durability. The language is simple and the pictures bright and appealing, making the book suitable for children from infancy to school-age. In 28 sentences and 15 illustrations, the book covers love, racism, ageism, diversity, apology, reparation, forgiveness, theism, and universality, delivering as its core message that we are all God’s children, worthy of love and respect, and called to love and respect one another.

The engaging illustrations depict cultural and religious diversity (sadly, as with so many children’s books, it is missing pictures of children with disabilities) and the universal message makes the book relevant to and suitable for families with any theistic worldview not specifically Christianity (or organized religion at all): You could read the story to a group of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish children, for example, and they could each recognize their faith’s core message.

God’s Dream ends with the message that when people fulfill God’s dream by loving one another, “God smiles like a rainbow,” and ends with a picture of a rainbow made up of children’s handprints.

Book illustration

Final page of God’s Dream
Art by LeUyen Pham

Ben and Molly immediately asked if we could do a craft like that, and I suggested that in the interests of size we try fingerprints instead. We started with rainbow-coloured paints in an egg carton…

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Rainbow-coloured paints in an egg carton
©PicklesINK 2013

..then took turns painting each others’ fingers with cotton swabs…

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Molly painting Ben’s finger yellow
©PicklesINK 2013

…and stamped the painted fingers on the canvas to make the rainbow.

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Ben stamping his yellow fingerprints
©PicklesINK 2013

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Ben painting Molly’s finger purple
©PicklesINK 2013

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Molly painting my finger pink
©PicklesINK 2013

Finished painting

Finished rainbow fingerprint painting on canvas
©PicklesINK 2013

The finished product was a complete team effort and is now proudly displayed on the playroom wall.

~ karyn

Have you read any particularly meaningful children’s books lately? What would you recommend?

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Grinning from ear to ear – Part 3

and finally…

THE VOTE.

We won.

The knot that has been in my stomach for weeks has finally disappeared and has been replaced by a whole-body glowing sense of relief. Not only did we win, but we won by a landslide – for every person who voted to keep the status quo, 4 people voted for change, and the atmosphere in the room when it was announced was alive and joyous.

I explained it to Ben and Molly thus:

We had a really important meeting at church yesterday, and I was really worried about it because we were having a vote about something that I think is really important. Our church had a rule that not everyone could get married at our church. That meant that for some people, even if they came to the church and said, “We really love this church, and we really want to have our wedding here!” we would say, “No,” and I didn’t think that was fair, because God loves everyone equally. I thought that anyone who loved God and loved the church and wanted to have their wedding there should be able to do that, and so did a lot of other people, so we had some meetings, and we arranged some times that when anyone could come and talk about how they felt about it, and when that was all finished, we had a vote.

Everyone wrote on a piece of paper if they thought we should keep the rule the same, or change it so that everyone could get married at the church if they wanted to. And I was really, really worried that more people would want to keep it the same, but it turned out that lots more people wanted to change the rule and so we did, and now EVERYONE who comes and says, “We really love this church and we would like to have our wedding here!” will get a, “YES!”

~ karyn

Jesus with Rainbow Sheep, http://www.othersheep.org/

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I am a Christian, so I support same-sex marriage.

I am a Christian.

To me that means 2 things. First, it means that I believe in God. That doesn’t mean that I think there’s some old white man who looks like Santa sitting on a cloud shaking his finger at us. When I think of God, I always think back to The Secret Garden and Mrs. Sowerby’s description of “the big good thing,” something or someone that encourages goodness and gives us strength through troubled times. Second, it means that I try to live my live the way that Jesus taught, and that also boils down to 2 things (I don’t know; is there something about the number 2?): Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10: 27).

A very wise man, now gone from us, once preached a powerful sermon on the topic of the former commandment that has stuck with me. He spoke first about loving God with all your heart and soul, and said that that’s fairly self-explanatory. You let that love show in all that you do. You revel in that love, and you see God in everything and everyone around you and love them too.

He then spoke about loving God with all your mind, saying that that is the part that people often have trouble with. Using the example of evolution, he said that he had heard people talk about how believing in the concept of evolution is totally at odds with what the Bible says and is the “greatest danger the church has ever faced.” He paused for a moment and then said, essentially, that that was hogwash. If you love God with all your mind, you honour the mind that God has given you and you think with it. And if science, or society, has made new discoveries and come to new understandings about topics that the Bible, in its historical and geographical context, once described differently, you think about those concepts in relation to those new discoveries and understandings using your God-given brains, and you maybe realize that what the Bible says, outside of that historical and geographical context, doesn’t make sense. So in order to love God with all your mind, you recognize that God wants you to come to realization, that the times, they are a-changin’, and that your beliefs need to change along with them.

An extremely thoughtful and articulate young man, Matthew Vines, gave a sermon recently that has been now been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and has been changing minds all over the world.

Watch the video here – it is an hour long, but well worth the time.

or

Read the transcript here, but a lot of the power is in Matthew’s presentation.

He makes a compelling argument that if you look at what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, taking into account historical and geographical context and nuances of language and translations, not only should the Bible not be seen as condemning same-sex relationships, but in fact that 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul says, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” should be interpreted as encouraging marriage between two people of any gender who love each other. He also points out that Jesus himself has given us a litmus test to weed out false teachers and false teachings: In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit – therefore, good teachings will have good consequences and should certainly not lead to the destruction of human dignity and tearing down of self-esteem.

Very soon, my church will be embarking on a journey that I really hope will lead to a new understanding of how to love our neighbours. We will be making a decision about whether or not to change our marriage policy, which currently prohibits marriages between same-sex couples in our church building. The people at my church who wish to keep the policy as it stands do not consider themselves homophobic. Their understanding of the Bible is that it prohibits same-sex marriage, and they feel that they can accept and welcome gay people as neighbours and church members while still being true to their belief that the Bible dictates that marriage is between a man and a woman. I disagree — strongly — but I also have to acknowledge that for many of them, even coming to that point has been a journey in a positive direction. I just hope that over the next few months, with thoughtful discussion, they will come even farther on that journey and we will become a truly accepting and welcoming community.

To me this situation epitomizes the question of “What Would Jesus Do?” If two consenting adults are in love and wish to have God be a part of their marriage, would the Jesus who told his disciples to “Let the children come unto me,” really say, “Nope, not on my watch!”? I believe that my church could be a good tree, but right now the fruit we are bearing is a little hard and underripe. I hope that in the next few months we will plant some seeds that will flourish and grow and soon come to bear plump, juicy, satisfying and life-sustaining fruit.

~ karyn

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