Admittedly, religion has been a huge influence on my life. Being raised in a strictly religious household with very strong rules and a constant focus on god is one of the big reasons I’m the way I am today. It’s why I don’t force religion on my children. I give it to them in bits and pieces and let them sort it out for themselves. We don’t go to church, but if our children want to go at some point we will let them — because it’s a decision that should be made individually, so it has meaning, instead of being made for you and you rail against it.
But anyway, Lexi has often asked me about religion, why it’s still such a big part of her grandmother’s life, and about why we don’t go to church when several of her friends go with their parents. We have worked hard to make sure she knows we have nothing against religion, that it’s just not for us, and that she needs to decide for herself. So far she has said she’s not interested, but we’ll see where her mind is in the future. Yesterday we had a little talk about what it means to be religious…
Lexi: Daddy, how come there are so many churches around?
Me: Because there are so many different religions around.
Lexi: How come there isn’t just one where everybody goes?
Me: Because it’s like all the ponies out there. Each one is different. You know how your favorite is Fluttershy?
Lexi: Yeah, Fluttershy’s the best.
Me: But not everyone loves Fluttershy like you do. Some people prefer Twilight Sparkle or Rainbow Dash.
Lexi: So churches are like that? People have their favorites?
Me: Exactly. Either because they were raised in a particular church, or they just started going there.
Lexi: So that big one on Main Street is the most popular one?
Me: Well, maybe the people who go there have more money, or there just happened to be more of them, so they needed a bigger building. I don’t know. I’ve never been there.
Lexi: Yeah, you grew up in Philadelphia. Do they have a bunch of churches there like they do here?
Me: [laughing] Well, yeah, they have tons more churches in Philadelphia because it’s a lot bigger than here.
Lexi: But people go to those churches the same way, like each one is from a different religion?
Me: Well, some religions are so big that they have many different church buildings in a certain area. Like the Catholic Church, there are 30 Catholic churches in Philadelphia. Or something like that.
Lexi: Wow. Those Catholic people must be really famous.
Me: Well, the head of the Catholic Church is really famous. They call him the Pope.
Lexi: How come they call him the Pope?
Me: Because that’s the title they gave a long time ago to him. Like how we have a President.
Lexi: Is the Pope better than the President?
Me: Well, both of them are elected, but the President is elected by a lot more people. He’s not seen as a religious leader though. So neither one is better. They’re just different.
Lexi: I wish we had one big religion for the whole world, and then all the churches could be the same.
Me: But then we don’t have any real individuality.
Lexi: But people like you could still not go to any church and it’s still all good, but people who want to go can have the same experience anywhere they choose to go.
Me: That makes sense, but there are many different churches for a reason.
Lexi: What’s the reason?
Me: Well, they don’t all believe in the same things.
Lexi: That’s too bad. They could let go of their differences, though, like Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash. You know, in the episode where Rainbow Dash is so full of herself and all the other ponies don’t like her, especially Fluttershy. But then Twilight talked to them both and they figured out that they could be nice to each other even if they were really different. It’s like the same thing.
Me: Um, well, not exactly, but that’s a good analogy.
Lexi: What’s an analogy?
Me: Think about how I used the word.
Lexi: Daaaaaad! My brain hurts from all this religion stuff. Don’t make me figure out words too!
Me: It means a comparison, Lex. A comparison.
Lexi: [sighing loudly] Well, just say comparison then.
Me: Comparison then. My point is that a lot of the differences religions have are really huge and they can’t just shake hands and be friends.
Lexi: But isn’t God supposed to be the same everywhere?
Me: That’s a whole other discussion for a whole other time.
Lexi: Well, it seems pretty simple to me.
To me too, Lexi. To me too. If only the religions of the world would see things through the eyes of a child. Or at least through the eyes of Twilight Sparkle.