Rowan Williams: a letter to a six-year-old
Apropos the theology of Rowan Williams, I was quite touched by a news story in The Telegraph.
A six-year-old Scottish girl named Lulu wrote a letter to God: “To God, How did you get invented?” Lulu’s father, who is not a believer, sent her letter to various church leaders: the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (no reply), and the Scottish Catholics (who sent a theologically complex reply). He also sent it to the then Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent the following letter in reply:
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.”
Now that’s what I call real theology! Isn’t this exactly why we need theological specialists: not to make the faith more complicated and obscure, but to help us grasp how simple it really is? – (our friend)
Just received this delightful piece from a friend in the upper North Island of N.Z. Knowing of her incipient agnosticism, Diana and I were completely surprised by her acceptance of Archbishop Rowan’s delivery of a simple explanation of the existence of God, in response to a six-year-old child.
If only some of our modern-day theologians in charge of educating future clergy were willing and capable of producing such convincing answers to perplexing questions from children, might not the Church be better briefed to deal with the areas of soteriology and relationships between God and us?
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand