Tuesday, September 1, 2009

CHILDREN'S PERCEPTION OF THE DIVINE

Newsweek Article: 'What do children understand about God?'

by Ashley Merryman

Jean Piaget – the Swiss early pioneer of child development – concluded that children were incapable of having a true concept of God; they just thought of Him as a supersized, magical version of their parents. But more recent research is suggesting that Piaget was underestimating kids.

Children as young as four understand that a prayer is qualitatively different than a wish – that it's a special kind of conversation between them and God.

It's around that same age that kids show some appreciation of divine omnipotence and omniscience. They can explain to you that a person made a car or a pizza, but it was God who made the mountains.

By five or six, they understand that, even though Mommies are very smart, God knows things that Mommies can't know. And they have a fluent enough mastery of that principle, that they can predict God's superior knowledge in novel circumstances.

You can find the whole article here.


Regarding this very topic, a thought provoking book I was lucky enough to be given as a present is named 'Oscar And The Lady In Pink' by Eric- Emmanuel Schmitt. This is its summary provided on Schmitt's official site:
These are the letters of a boy of ten addressed to God. They are found by 'Mamie Rose', the Lady in Pink of the title, who visits him in hospital in the pink uniform worn by nurses on the children's ward. The letters describe twelve days in the life of Oscar and are filled with funny, moving characters. These twelve days may be his last, but thanks to Mamie Rose, who forms a close and affectionate bond with Oscar, they are to become legendary.

In a few words, it is a concise book vividly depicting the wisdom of a dying child who is forced to grow up in several days. This boy, Oscar, strangely experiences all stages of life with the help of a resourceful elderly woman, all these serious events never lacking a spicy dose of humour in their description. In the process, Oscar discovers and develops his own concept of God, which enables him to attribute a new meaning to the way his life evolves. As Ann Miller describes it on her online account of the way she used this story in class,
The idea of God in Oscar can and should be construed in the broadest sense as representing the spiritual and transcendent part of oneself.

Undoubtedly, it is a book well worth reading. It is also of a great interest to take a glance at how Schmitt came up with the idea of writing this book on this page of his site. Finally, there is the Greek translation of the story available online.

2 comments:

  1. well this might be a very interesting book to read and i think I'll read it soon.I find it completely logical for a kid to form their own unique picture of God. I think parents play a vital role on what their offsprings think of God.At least for their first years in life-later on they create their own idea and opinion of Him.Of course nobody can tell or explain to their child how God is,however,they can speak of His importance and role to our lives.
    ~princess-pro-not yet queen;)~

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  2. This book is one of the best I've ever read.It is something about it that makes it different.Personally I found it really moving and although there isn't a happy ending like in fairytales it passes an ambitious message.We should all lve our lives the way we want and also learn how to forgive others.
    Children's perception of the divine is a really puzzling topic.It is surely quiet difficult for a child to understand it completely and even parents don't know as Nassia said how to explain to them.
    ev@ki....

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