In my note yesterday on teaching children faith in this multifaith era, I did not note that the article by Monica Coleman that was my starting point was actually part of a larger collection of articles at Patheos that are a symposium: Passing on the Faith: Teaching The Next Generation.
Another contributor to that conversation is a favorite writer of mine (if you haven’t read You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism, I highly recommend it), Rabbi Brad Hirschfield. He notes that most parents are pretty good teachers, but that what we teach is not always what we think we’re teaching:
Our kids can tell the difference between what we say we love and what we really love, and they will follow the latter over the former every day of the week, including when it comes to observing whatever Sabbath we tell them to observe.
When our kids see us living and loving the traditions we claim, they will learn well the real and durable value of those traditions. That’s what it means to be our kids’ best teachers.
Hirshfield suggests that we may need to redefine what it means for our children to “follow in our footsteps,” that the external ways of living out a tradition that is thousands of years old may not look the same for the next generation. But if they hold the heart of it, will their new ways of living it out not add to the richness of a living faith?
One last reflection: I had a chance today to watch a video of a group of teens of different traditions who took part in this year’s Silicon Valley Interfaith Teen Council trip to New Mexico. They visited religious sites for Native American, Catholic, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, and Hindu traditions. I can’t help but wonder what their lived faith will look like after experiencing such breadth and depth.
Here’s the video: