Saint Augustine opens his Confessions by asking whether we pray in order to know God or whether we must know God in order to pray. How could we pray to a God we don’t know? But how could we know God unless we’ve prayed?i
It’s a paradox.
The head and heart are mysteriously united—a hypostatic union that’s unclear where one begins and the other ends. Does your heart shape your thinking? Or, does your thinking shape your heart? Somehow they must work together. For example, I know that this pork sandwich isn’t doing my cholesterol any favors, but I have no heart to change this dirty habit. Neither gets the job done alone. Unfortunately, even if I had the knowledge and the will to change, I’d also need a pork eaters anonymous support group.
There’s a wedding between our heads and our hearts throughout Scripture. “What’s the greatest commandment?” the Pharisees asked Jesus. “Love God,” Jesus said. That’s not an original thought. Moses said this when he gave the word of God to the people: “Love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength.” Jesus quotes this verse to the Pharisees, but adds a fourth component to make sure we don’t constrain love: “Love God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind.” In other words, love with your whole person because otherwise love isn't possible.
Lent is notorious as the season where Christians try to redirect our hearts to God by not eating chocolate and drinking booze. The theory is that if you can find a way to fix the heart, then the rest will take care of itself. And most Lenten disciplines get there through the stomach. Sometimes this works. But faith isn’t just practiced; it’s also learned. It sounds obvious, but we meditate on Jesus to become more like Jesus. Turns out that we should also get to the heart by going through the head.
Historically, Lent was a time of catechesis to teach new converts the faith, which included spiritual discipline and theological formation. The early Christians fasted, but they also gathered under the instruction of their bishops and dwelled on the mystery of Christ’s two-natures, divine and human. Finally, these new Christians woke up as the sun rose on Easter morning and took off their clothes (how much more liberated can you get?) and their old lives to be drowned and raised with Christ--a death and resurrection of heads and hearts.
I should mention, by the way, that this is repentance. Repentance is a buzz word during Lent, as it should be, both slightly embarrassing and crucial to our faith. But if we reclaim the Greek ‘metanoia,’ we remember that repentance is a simple and practical word that means to ‘change your mind.’ Repentance means that we’ve been walking in the wrong direction, but then something changed our minds and we’ve decided to walk a new path. I’ve already repented of this essay a number of times—changed the direction, deleted great sentences, and started a new trail by putting one word in front of the other. We're all better for it.
How will you change your mind this Lent?
Today’s church has done a great job shaping hearts during Lent, but we’d do well to set aside time to love God with our minds. Most of us come to faith through words, many of them written down. My hunch is that many Christians are spiritual, but illiterate. Or, if we’re not illiterate, then we’re stuck in the same theologies we learned in Vacation Bible School. This is about as unhealthy as believing that food hasn’t progressed since the birth of McDonalds. We should always question our theological inheritance. I often hear parishioners boast that they’ve not read a book in thirty years and I learn something about our discipleship. In the Land of Oz, we'd be the scarecrows with hearts, but no brains.
Maybe we’re still retreating from the Enlightenment—afraid to ask difficult questions because they might destroy our finely sculpted piety. You mean to tell me that the earth is four and a half billion years old? Then again, maybe we’ve wrongly assumed that Christianity is absorbed via oxygen in our country. Conversely, it’s possible that the administration of good catechesis has declined because of the pitiful number of adult baptisms. There’s an even better chance that we’re just lazy followers of Jesus. And we’re failing to love God with our whole selves.
There’s a case to be made that we're all called to be life-long theologians, because we love God by thinking about God. Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll be paid for it, but that’s no excuse not tinker with new ideas (after all, most of us are not dentists and we still brush our teeth). Don't you long to know more about your beloved? I love my wife and kids with all my heart and so I hope to learn something new about them every day—still, the mystery has not been fully plumbed. When Socrates said, ‘The more I know, the more I realize I know nothing,’ he could have been talking about women. Or, children. And also, God.
God is greater than that which can be conceived. Whenever we say ‘God,’ we’ve already misspoken. And so we speak of God with great care, admitting that we’re just children scrambling for words and looking for better ones. It doesn’t matter how great our intelligence or I.Q, because we can love God with our minds and still not graduate from pre-k. After all, we have the hardest curriculum. Class is never dismissed. You have permission to monitor my continuing education allowance—if I’m not buying and reading new books, tell my bishop that I’m not following Jesus.
For example, the doctrine of the Trinity reminds us that we’d have a better chance of reaching the end of the universe than arriving at God. God is not like us. Rather, God is a mystery to be savored, not a question that can be answered. Those of us who worship God with the mind rise eternally ‘through ever higher regions towards the Transcendent.’ii
That’s beautiful. Wait, now my heart is kicking into gear.
Here’s the point: loving with our minds is not a means to an end. Nor, is it an academic pursuit or about getting the right definition of God. Rather, it’s about being pulled into God’s arms. Dwelling on what’s beautiful. Loving words because they deliver us to the feet of the eternal Word and then, unite us with God. Many days I learn something new and I don’t even have the opportunity to use it! That's ok. Loving with the mind is an end in itself—worship.
One last thing: the word Lent is partly derived from the Anglo Saxon word Lenten, which means ‘Spring,” but also forms the root for our word ‘lengthen.’ Lent begins when the days begin to lengthen and the darkness wanes. Coincidentally, Christians lengthen their spiritual lives by stretching their brains and stomachs. The sun casts light on a people who dwell in night—the darkness of the heart and mind.
I wonder how you will lengthen your mind. How would you describe the Apostle’s Creed? What makes a Methodist different than a Baptist (other than the amount of water used)? Here’s a list of great Lenten disciplines: read Scripture and tradition, listen to someone who believes differently, have lunch with a Muslim. These practices will challenge and deepen your own convictions. It will help to shape your heart—dreams, goals, purposes, and being. And in turn, you will have worshiped.
This Lent, I made a commitment to study Scripture and challenge myself with new thinkers. It’s an alternate means of repentance—an acknowledgement that I don’t have all the truth. I'm not God. By the end of the season, I hope I’ll have changed my mind. Walked a new path. I still won’t understand resurrection on Easter morning, but I’ll relish in the mystery with my head and heart.
Even better, I’ll have spent forty days loving God.
i. Augustine Confessions Book I.I
ii.Gregory of Nyssa Sermon 8; On the Song of Songs
In college, I was assigned a three day detox fast as an assignment for my yoga course. Don’t judge me; I had tight hamstrings and a lot of stress. Detoxing is something spiritual people to do get rid of harmful toxins in the body. I still don't know what a toxin is, except that it must ultimately cause cancer and premature death. We had two options for this detox: three days of water mixed with apple cider vinegar, lemon, and cayenne pepper. Or, three days of ingesting fruit. I went to Piggly Wiggly and cleared out the fruit aisle. I ate mounds of fruit—baked apples for appetizers and frozen bananas for desert. The detox worked, well, because of fiber. Fruit has a lot of fiber.
I’ve not detoxed since because I was miserable without pork and ice-cream. I craved bread—sourdough with a thick crust and tangy chew. And I went to straight to Panera when the clock struck the seventy-second hour. Fasting is difficult because desire arises from abstinence. Prohibition creates longing, which is psychology 101 and the reason why I want Chick-Fil-A on Sunday.
Why would anyone fast? Why would anyone voluntarily suffer? It goes against every impulse in my body. I love food. I plan my days around when I’m going to eat. Fasting is best placed in between meals.
We are an anti-fasting people living in a culture of fast food and Google and Amazon Prime. John Ortberg calls it the Cookie Monster philosophy: “See cookie. Want cookie. Eat cookie.” We also live in a culture of overconsumption. On the Fourth of July, no one holds a fasting competition. We have hot dog eating competitions because nothing screams, “America” like fifty hot dogs. When there’s a crisis in my life, or in the church, I overindulge.
It never works.
This is why Lent is so necessary, and also difficult and rewarding. For forty days we become like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for forty years waiting on their daily deliverance of manna before they finally arrived at the land of milk and honey. Lent helps us realize that we become healthier by becoming dependent, vulnerable, and needy. It's a deeply un-American season.
Christians typically begin the season by remembering that Jesus was hurled into the wilderness to fast at the start of his ministry by the Spirit (not Satan). If I’m going to fast, then the Spirit better hurl me into the wilderness, too.
In the larger narrative, Jesus was just baptized. Now, he’s in the desert. It’s not punishment; it’s preparation. Water and wilderness go together. Think of the Israelites passing through the Red Sea into the desert or Noah wading on the waves of the wilderness. God often uses scarcity to prepare, or reform, or educate his people. The point is that Jesus is in the wilderness, like Israel before him, and God is shaping his heart for something important.
Satan, which means the Enemy or the Adversary, is there waiting in the wilderness with temptations. Satan is easy to caricature: red suit, pitchfork, horns. But evil doesn’t look like that. The Adversary is the nagging the voice of reason inside your head: “Hey, you’re hungry; that’s a good thing. Turn the stone into bread. No one will ever know.” He’s got a good point. There’s nothing wrong with food; we have five or six taste buds that prove it. Let me get another piece of that sourdough.
Self-deception is so easy.
I’ve heard it said that Jesus’ first temptation isn’t about eating. The real temptation is to be full, or to never lack. It’s the temptation to be a slave to our appetites and to have every desire met. Think of the voice that tells you that you’re entitled to whatever you want: happiness, another five dollar coffee, a better job because you've been working so hard. Everything exists for your pleasure—especially the five dollar coffee.
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is meant to sound like Eden. Remember Adam and Eve? They are in the garden with everything they need. Then, this conniving serpent says, “You know what? You can actually have more. There is one thing that God is hiding from you. Go for it. Take a bite.” You know what? He's right. A little more won’t hurt. Until it does. When you’re always fully satisfied, you may fool yourself into thinking you can actually save yourself. You will never die. You can be a god. Then again, good luck digging yourself out of a grave.
Jesus knows this and so he cites Scripture, “The human being is not nourished by bread only, but by every word that comes out of God’s mouth.” The truth is that we’ll never be full, unless God becomes our bread. Buying new clothes secretes endorphins in our brains, but it doesn’t satiate our souls. Jesus realizes that if he had bread, he’d be hungry the next day. If he had a beer, he’d be thirsty again. But learning to be satiated with the word of God, learning to feed on the bread of heaven, means he’ll never be hungry again. Jesus’ fasting foreshadows something that he will say later in John’s Gospel: “I am the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
Here’s the point: “After fasting forty days and forty nights, [Jesus] was hungry” (Matthew 4:2).
If the point of fasting is hunger, then what are we hungry for?
Are we hungry for Jesus?
In college, that fruit fast was meant as a detox, to clear me out. Spiritual fasting operates the same way—it clears us out and reveals the things that control us. We are more than a collection of appetites to be satisfied and our desires have to be disciplined or they become our gods. Saint Augustine put it like this: “God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.”i
I faithfully participate in some fast for 40 days ever Lent. One year I swore off coffee. Know that smell of freshly ground beans? It’s the smell of Satan. Other times I’ve given up Facebook or social media. I’ve fasted from food on Fridays with the Catholics and become a vegetarian for forty days. I've never enjoyed it. Not once. But here’s the silver lining: when I’m done with the fast, I come out different. Stronger. Prayerful. A better heart. Others have said that we fast to feast on God.
Jesus tells his people this in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Your Father who sees [your fasting] in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-18)
When you fast you might drop a size in your jeans and more importantly, become holy. Each time your stomach rumbles, your heart rumbles, too. Self-denial draws us out of ourselves into God and others. Think of the others who are forced to fast, simply because there is not enough food. Why do we have so much, after all? If you give up Instagram, then you might notice that your worth is not based upon the number of people who ‘like’ a photograph. Rather, your worth is that you are Beloved, created in God’s image.
Fasting is not meaningless suffering or martyrdom. The reward is a transformed heart. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is not only worried about your actions, what you do, but he’s also concerned about your inner life. The heart is the center of your being. What comes out of you proceeds from the heart—all of your actions and intentions. Change the rhythm of your heart and you will also change your life.
One Jewish manual says that fasting works because it makes our bodies slow down so that our synapses will not click and our brains will not process quite as quickly.ii We physically force ourselves to move slower and to draw our eyes inward to the things that truly nourish. Notice what controls you. Be more mindful of God’s presence. Pay attention to those who are hungry and be grateful for God’s provision.
In other words, become hungry for God.
i.Augustine City of God
ii. Lauren Winner Mudhouse Sabbath
It’s good to escape. It’s better to live in the place where others go to escape. Still, there are times when I wish for nothing but to escape from the place where the southeast goes to escape. Life is difficult and denominations implode. There’s simply too much to keep in the air and something is bound to drop—it’s usually the second child. And if life's not difficult, then it’s monotonous. Here's another day that will feel just like yesterday and if this toddler yells, “Get me a drink!” one more time, then I’m getting a second mortgage at the Motel 8.
I get away, if only to a coffee shop or for a run through the forest, to regain clarity about what I should be doing and then, summon the energy to do it. I search for transcendent moments beyond the routine of cooking and writing, temper tantrums and e-mailing, evening news and social media. I escape because I know that there is more—depth, an interruption to the hum drum, salvation. And if I can’t find salvation here, then I’d better go find where it’s hiding.
Jesus and the disciples needed to get away from time to time. Death was imminent in this particular moment. Jesus had recently taught them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering ‘at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day.’ At best, Jesus turned out to be lousy Messiah. At worst, he’s a liar and a fraud.
Peter loses his temper and says, “God, forbid it.”
Jesus rebukes him.
It’s time to get away.
Six days later, Matthew writes, James, John, and Peter are walking up this mountain in sweat-saturated robes. Their feet are pounding the ground, knees wobbling. It’s the perfect time for a walk. If the disciples can summit this mountain, then they might also summit whatever waits for them at the bottom.
Mountain trails are sympathetic metaphors for our lives. The trail’s curves are as treacherous as our own winding and meandering. Unforeseen obstacles appear and require improvisation. There is breathlessness from either exhaustion or beauty. Maybe both. The summit is visible, but there’s always another switchback. The pain is therapeutic. One day we must see the promised land, so we keep putting one foot in front of the other.
At the top of Mount Tabor things get weird, which is polite for trippy. The disciples have either foraged some bad mushrooms or God’s presence is revealed. There is a dazzling light. Garments are as white as snow. The veil between heaven and earth is pulled back. Time stops. There is silence. Moses and Elijah appear next to Jesus. Is this hallucination? Most dream dictionaries concur that Moses is standing in for the Jewish law and Elijah is representing the prophets. And Jesus fulfills both.
“It’s good to be here,” says Peter who has since been named ‘Captain Obvious.’ “Let’s put up some shacks. This moment doesn’t have to end. We can stay here.”
Have you ever tried to capture a moment? It’s futile. Moments can’t be contained any more than a picture can capture your mother’s smell and presence. That piece of frozen cake in your freezer will not capture your wedding day. Or, the vile full of water from the Jordan River will not give you back the moment when your feet sunk into the mud at the riverbank. All moments, especially the holiest ones, will eventually come to an end.
A cloud rolls in with a thunder before Peter even finishes his sentence. A voice booms from the heavens saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” The dazzling clouds rolled out as quickly as they rolled in and they were left in darkness and fear. Listen to him—even the parts about the suffering.
The church’s word for what happened to Moses and Jesus is not tripping. It’s transfiguration, or metamorphosis in Greek, which means to change into something more beautiful. The caterpillar was actually a butterfly, but no one could make it out. In other words, the disciples saw what was there all along, but was obscured by fear and ignorance and busyness.
Now, many of us have experienced something like this—well, maybe not dazzling light, ghosts, and voices from heaven. But we’ve had moments become transfigured and time becomes different, other-worldly, even. Time’s relentless marching stops for a cigarette break. And something becomes holy.
“Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with lights in it. I saw a backyard cedar transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the the grass with lights in it, utterly focused. It was less like seeing then being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. ….I have since only very rarely seen the tree with lights in it. The vision comes and goes, but I live for it, for the moment where the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.”—Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
There’s a key to interpret this story, one that’s so well-hidden that it’s hardly noticed. Matthew’s first verse: “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” All of this took place on the seventh day. Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor on the Sabbath day. And when Peter says, “It’s good,” he very well could be talking about the seventh day of creation, Sabbath, a day that’s not only good, but it’s so good that it’s holy.
In the creation story, God brings light, hangs the stars in the sky, the creeping things are creeping, the flying things are flying. God picks up dirt and blows into it to form humankind. It’s this beautiful poem. Finally, God rests on the seventh day. Not because God is tired, but because God’s intention is enchantment.
Humans are so self-absorbed that we think we’re climax of God’s creation, when God turns to us and says, ‘All I have is yours.’ But the final brushstroke of creation wasn’t Adam and Eve; it was God’s rest on Sabbath. Creation isn’t about us. It’s about Sabbath--resting, delighting, enjoying, being.
If heaven is to come to earth, then it will start with Sabbath. This is the day when time and eternity touch; a mystical moment where time changes. Time is not running out, nor is it standing still. It’s different. It’s transfigured—infused with eternity. The past, present, and future are simultaneously wrapped inside of one another. The ‘eternal now’ is tangible. The beauty underneath all things peeks out of the rubble.
We make a mistake when we say that Sabbath is about escape. Sabbath is about freedom. It’s learning to submerge yourself in life—deeply. All of it. God didn’t create Sabbath to escape creation. But God created Sabbath to dwell with it—the pain and the glory. Transcendence and difficulty. Suffering and ecstasy. To see the reality of the world and not run away, but embrace it for the sake of truth and justice.
Sabbath is God's slow transfiguration of the world.
Do you think you can live in the world a little differently? At least for a day, or until it becomes the rhythm of your life?
The disciples longed to escape from the pressures of life, the difficulties of following a Rabbi who was walking the road to the cross. Who wouldn’t? It’s good to get away. Vacations are great. But the problem with escaping is that it can be misused as an opiate. It dulls the symptoms, but won’t cure the disease.
The same world was waiting for the disciples at the bottom of the mountain. There, at the foot of the mountain, a grieving father was looking for healing for his deeply ill child. And that father is waiting to see a transfiguration of his child. Further down the road, there was a cross and a tomb.
Is God present there, too? Can there be transfiguration?
Jesus didn’t give the disciples escape. Jesus gave them Sabbath, which is another way of saying 'intentional living.' Jesus was teaching them to see the world as it is—both hard and beautiful. God is transfigured on the highest mountains, but God will also emptied into the world’s worst hells. And the disciples were about to discover that the same Jesus they saw on the mountain shining in glory, will be the same Jesus on the cross.
And here’s even more surprising news: even the crucified Christ can be transfigured.
I wonder what beauty surrounds you. I wonder what pain surrounds you. I wonder if God is transfiguring both. Now, if someone is causing you consistent pain and suffering, then you should get away. This isn’t about martyrdom. Don’t misunderstand me. But generally speaking, Christians are not a people who run away from another’s pain. We’re a people of Sabbath, who believe that there is light everywhere and in everyone waiting to be revealed, if we just hang in there.
The world was broken, but God didn’t leave. God put on skin. And so we empty ourselves into the world, as Christ was emptied into us, because we believe that there is no pain that is beyond transfiguration.
Can we look deeply into the face of a screaming child and see that he’s not possessed, but hungry—for attention, rest, food? Can we look at the disfigured hands in the nursing home and not run away, but remain present in her pain and beauty? Can we look at the divisiveness that threatens to tear apart a denomination and stand alongside God’s people until there is transfiguration? Can we walk with others toward the cross and experience humanity’s worst evils, and wait for a God who doesn't let death become the end of the sentence?
Will we fight together for transfiguration? Or, do we just escape?
If you've ever wondered how little you know about God, then you should talk about God to a group of ten-year old boys. Describe the infinitely complex God with an acronym. Explain salvation with a word search. Give them free reign to ask questions. Children are great sparring partners. You don't know as much as you think, I promise.
Over the last four weeks, I sat around a table with a group of cub scouts who have put aside their pinewood derby to hear something about God. Here's what I've been reminded: Christians aren't born; they're made. Christianity is as strange as it is comfortable. It's irrational and commonsensical. It describes, prescribes, and upends. God lies just beneath the surface of everything and everyone, but we don't realize it until we've been given eyes to see.
I've also learned that children are terrible theologians, contrary to popular belief. To be fair, they'd also make terrible surgeons and lawyers. We’re mistaken when we assume that knowledge of God comes completely naturally. Theological wisdom is earned alongside wrinkles from restless nights of wrestling with God and community. Now, that's not to say that kids don't occasional surprise us with tidbits of profundity and delight us with even greater cuteness. Take this for instance: we were reading the Lord's Prayer when one of the boys lifted his head from the Bible to exclaim that he 'hallowed' out a pumpkin on Halloween. Not exactly. Though, it's a great pun. I told him that he made the pumpkin 'hole-y,' not ‘holy.’
Language is a terrible, confusing method for communication. It informs as much as it misinforms. But it's the best we've got.
Now, how do I explain holiness to a boy who hasn't learned fractions or read about the Israelites exodus from Egypt?
Some theologians have suggested that becoming Christian is like learning to speak a new language. Christianity shouldn't come naturally and it's unintelligible unless you've learned the lingo. Part of what it means to be holy, after all, is to be set apart. Do we know the language? I’d estimate that most Christians are semi-fluent at best and often illiterate. The problem is that many Christians have forgotten the language of faith. Worse, we’ve traded the language of Christianity for a distorted language that's shaped by culture and country instead of Scripture and tradition.
Christians cavalierly toss around a whole host of churchy words that sound familiar, but are as foreign as Greek (because they kind of are). Here's a working list: salvation, reconciliation, sin, justice, righteousness, born-again. All of these words sound like the kind of thing Christians should say, and often say, despite having any idea what these words actually mean.
We're saved without knowing what we’re saved from (or for). Or, suppose the congregation is lowering a body into the ground and someone hugs you and says, "peace" (and not 'God's got another angel in his choir'). That word is meaningless unless you’ve been trained to know that Christ has created peace between everything on heaven and on earth. Or, imagine someone says to you, "I don't believe in God." Who is God? It's significant to understand which God you believe in and which one they don't. It’s likely that you don’t believe in their god, either.
Words have the power to create, to bring the dead to life, but are meaningless if they're not used and understood within a community. How can we speak and understand without a shared vocabulary? We can't. And if you can't explain your vocabulary to a ten-year old, then you don't know the language.
I spent one of the sessions with my scouting disciples learning how to pray (which is Christian-speak for 'talking to God') through the Lord’s Prayer. One of the boys asked me about the word 'kingdom.' I told him to think about Lord of the Rings. What were the kingdoms like in that story? Now, consider this kind of kingdom: a boy tells his father he hates him, runs away from home, and takes everything his father owns. He wastes it all on riches (or a Nintendo Switch) and good food (or pizza). He's broke and homeless when he finally wanders back to his father. His father runs out to meet him on the road and embraces him with a hug and a kiss.
God's kingdom is like that.
Though, I still catch myself thinking that the kingdom of God will be inaugurated by William Wallace riding in on a white stallion. God's kingdom is only sensible in relation to a particular story, a larger narrative, and a rich tradition. We need to spend a lot of time reading Scripture, worshiping, and conversing with more fluent Christians for our language to become second-nature.
Does this make the church a members only club, excluding others with their esoteric language? Not necessarily. It's a statement about the way that language actually functions. When I was in high school everyone told me, 'Sniders talk the same.' We have the same cadence, mannerisms, and sarcastic flair. Here's what's even stranger: words have nuance and a variance in their meanings. The word 'maybe' actually means 'no.' ‘Good job’ can also mean ‘I love you.’ And the word 'sure' is closer to 'I'd love to!' I was never surprised by our linguistic similarities. After all, we lived together. If you spend enough time with the Sniders, you might start talking like one, too.
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever master the language, anyway. And this why we should become like children. Part of what it means to be a child is to admit that we don't know how to talk. Luckily, children pick up new languages pretty quickly. They are imaginative, willing to be wrong, and gracious enough to laugh at their folly. In other words, they're usually teachable, which is not often true of adults.
Here’s the point: language helps construct a reality. Our entire lives will change when we learn to speak like Christians. There's a grammar to the faith that's been developed throughout years of study and proclamation, misspeak and correction. In the Christian syntax God is always the subject and we are but a letter in a word. Grace can be an adverb that modifies every movement in the sentence. And there are plenty of commas for us to pause in silence before another phrase is written. If we are lucky to be a part of a phrase, it will placed in the company of millions of others all over the world.
One last thing:
"Open your Bibles to the very center," I told the group of smiling boys.
"To the book of 'Plasma'?" one kid asked.
It's actually called the book of Psalms. Be careful with those poems. If you read them enough, your life might become one of them.