Sunday, September 20, 2009

Answering Questions -- by Clint



It seems like one of the most common responsibilities of a parent is to answer the plethora of questions that one’s children ask. You know what I mean. Questions like:

“What do leaves taste like?”

“Why are you so fat?”

Stuff like that.

Normally, it isn’t all that difficult to answer those questions.

“It depends upon what type of leaves you are talking about.”

“Because I eat too much and I don’t exercise enough – but don’t ask that again, because it is rude.”

See, it is easy.

When I served as a protestant minister, it even seemed like it was fairly easy to answer the questions of a religious nature. I mean, I was “the preacher.” I could always cobble together some type of intelligible answer. Since I tended to know more than anyone else around, even if I was not entirely clear, I could usually do better than most folks.

Then came the conversion to Orthodoxy. I am no longer “the expert.” Often my kids will ask questions that I simply have no idea how to answer. And I really mean that I can’t even cobble together some semblance of an answer.

“How does the Jesus Prayer help?”

“When did Nestorius start to go bad?”

OK, they really haven’t asked either of those questions, but I hope you get my point. In many ways, I am on the same level as my kids. I am a neophyte. It is humbling and I suppose that is good.

My wife recently said that every new Orthodox family should be assigned their own personal “little Babushka” to answer all those types of questions. Honestly, I don’t know if it is really practical to give us all a little old woman who can handle those questions, but it might be something to consider.

Really, I think that perhaps that is one way that those of us who are parents can struggle with those questions, and then pass along what we learn to our children. In any event, my status as “all knowing” has taken a hit with my kids. I may not like that, but it was inevitable anyway.

8 comments:

elizabeth said...

Yeah. This is a very normal experience for converts. I once thought I was really good too, but now, well, I know better. It's hard when we have been in a leadership position and suddenly we are no longer. This too can be good for us and we can learn a lot during this time. Converting also has a lot of 'getting used to' things... so much is new. Time, patience and the Saints prayers are needed...

Mrs. Darcy said...

We are feeling really blessed to have one of your little Babushkas up here at St Maximus, Ms. Isabelle Stone. As a new orthodox family, we are always happy for the guidance of our elders.

s-p said...

Yeah, after being "the answer man" for almost 30 years as a protestant it was REALLY humbling to enter Orthodoxy and realize I knew next to nothing. Better to take your "hits" from your kids, but then kids ask better questions than most adults. :)

charlene said...

Clint,
Personally, I harass my Godparents with endless questions. It gives them a chance to be gratefull all their other Godchildren are schoolage or under.
I have not taken a chance yet to tell you how lucky and blessed we al are that you will be studying at St. Stephens. I can easily see you as a priest or a deacon, but if you are not called in that way, you can certainly become St. Joseph's own resident "babushke". (Babushke: Male form of "babushka". Head scarf optional.) Well okay, you would have to age quite a bit, or be the youngest babushke on record.
charlene

d.burns said...

Unfortunately, I've found that many cradles turn to the converts for answers because they were never taught the faith growing up. That was my experience coming into the church. Now most of my "Why" questions are aimed at Fr. M. I pray he never ties of my search for sometimes trivial information.

Mimi said...

I am continually amazed at the queststions that get lobbed at me by the kids, and this post made me laugh out loud, Father, thank you!

Isabel said...

...and a blessed St Juvenaly day to you, Clint

Fr. James Early said...

Mrs. Darcy,

We really miss the Babushka that you mentioned. Can we have her back?