Archbishop of Canterbury's reply to a six-year-old
“Dear God, How Did You Get Invented?” A six-year-old girl sent letters (via her father) to the heads of various faith groups asking that very question. The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (head of the Anglican Communion) sent the following in reply (h/t Ben Myers)
Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –
‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected. Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like. But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’
And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off. I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.
As a clergyperson who strives to bring a helpful theology to children and youth in my local church, I really appreciate people who put big theological ideas into simple words and understandings.
I really like the idea of God as the author of a story that a child could relate to readily. To relate God to an author is a bit deterministic as far as the character’s free will…perhaps the next generations’ Archbishop might say that God is more like a programmer of a video game where the characters choose how to interact with the world. But that’s mere nitpicking in the face of the Archbishop’s clear pastoral love for the child. Awesome.
(Photo: “Hausausgaben” by gianmerizzi on Flickr [Creative Commons licensed])