Last night, while driving to a bowling alley of all places, my five-year-old niece MB asked me out of the blue:
Liz, are you Christian?It's not as easy a question to answer as one might think!
For one thing, MB's parents are raising her as a Jew. For another thing, MB's family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. For a third thing, how likely is it for a five-year-old to be able to grasp the difference between "primitive Christianity" and today's secular Christianity? Not to mention my own personal journey with the whole topic!
So I took a breath and answered
Well, I don't believe in anyone named Jesus Christ, if that's what you mean. But I do believe in God, and since I was raised Jewish like you, I guess I still am kind of Jewish. Even more important than if I'm Christian or not, I believe in doing things that are common to both Judaism and Christianity, like treating people well and doing charity or tzedaka.She seemed to accept my answer.
Then I asked her if she was Christian or Jewish. "I'm Jewish!" she replied. "But my daddy is Christian so we celebrate Christmas for him and Hanukkah for me and Mommy."
I'm waiting for the day when MB, my partner, and I can all talk about belief in God, spirituality, putting our faith into practice, and bringing our practice back into our faith.
But for now, we settle on playing four rounds of Apples to Apples Junior in a day, which is just fine for all of us!