My husband and 7-year-old daughter had another totally awesome conversation about God a few days ago. They used to do that from time to time, but it's been a while since the subject has come up in much detail. I sure love it when it does. The talks are always fun, insightful, thought-provoking and, frankly, cute as hell. They also present Charlie with golden opportunities to teach Maxine about honesty, diversity and the importance of kindness. Anyway, this one's particularly good, so I wanted to share:
Maxine: Where do you think God is? Like, which house or school...
Charlie: I don't think God is anywhere. I don't believe there is such a thing as God.
Maxine: But if you did, where do you think he is?
Charlie: Well, people who believe in God believe he is everywhere and see everything. They believe he is with everyone, watching over you.
Maxine: Is he with bad guys?
Charlie: They think he is everywhere.
Maxine: God is with bad guys?
Charlie: Yeah. They think God wants you to make good decisions, and even if you are making bad decisions, God is with you so when you are ready to do good things, he'll be there. They think God is there to help you and protect you. (Pause.) Other people who believe in God think he made the world and then kind of stepped back. He just watches from heaven to see what we'll do, but he doesn't interfere or help. Like the whole word is a big science experiment.
Maxine: A HUGE experiment.
Charlie: What do you believe?
Maxine: (Exasperated, like "I've told you a hundred times") I believe in God on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Charlie: But what do you believe about God? Is he everywhere?
Maxine: (Pause) I think he stepped back.
Maxine: I believe in God on Sundays and Wednesdays because Sunday is the day for church, and Wednesday so I can have a school day.
Maxine: Is God good or bad?
Charlie: Everyone who believes in God believes he is good.
Maxine: I wish the biggest policeman in the world climbed a huge giant ladder up to heaven and there was a huge microphone as big as five million houses stacked on top of each other and the policeman said into the microphone, "God is real!" or "God is not real!" and then everyone would know and everyone would believe the same thing.
Charlie: It's hard not knowing, isn't it?
Charlie: (Pause.) What I think is it doesn't really matter what you believe. What you think doesn't matter. It's what you do that matters.
Maxine: Or say.
Charlie: Right. You can think whatever you want. I can think someone is stupid —
Maxine: But don't say it to them. "Hey, you're dumb!"
Charlie: Right. It's what you do and say that matter. Think whatever you want.
Maxine: Because we don't want to hurt their feelings.