From the Mind of an 8-year-old: ‘Who Made Up God?’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 18, 2014

My daughter is on her rope swing, looking out into the blue sky just beyond the fence line of our front yard. She is thinking quietly. And deeply, as it turns out. “Who made up God?” she asks. “What?” I say. Because I am inside and can barely hear her. “Who made up God?” she asks again. I walk to the open door, pondering the question. It sounds as though she might expect me to name someone — an actual person responsible for the creation of this great character that she’s heard so much about. “Quentin Tarantino,” […] Read more – ‘From the Mind of an 8-year-old: ‘Who Made Up God?’’.

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“Mommy, What’s Satan?”

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 10, 2014

Of all the religious concepts that I’ve discussed with my 8-year-old daughter, Satan has been one of the toughest — partly because it seems awkward to speak of something so nasty and awful in a matter-of-fact way. But that’s precisely what makes it a great addition to “Mommy, What’s That?” a new series I launched last week, where you can find simple, straightforward and age-appropriate language to explain religious ideas to children in a non-religious way. So here goes. Satan: The short answer: Satan is the “bad guy” in the Bible. The long answer: In […] Read more – ‘“Mommy, What’s Satan?”’.

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“Mommy, What’s an Angel?”

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 3, 2014

Shortly before Christmas, I got a text from a friend: “What’s an angel?” she wrote. How do I explain this to a 3yo from an agnostic POV? I told him I had to get back to him! In mixed-faith and non-faith families, the simplest questions can jam up our thinking. Even the most straightforward answers can cause massive confusion. “According to the dictionary, honey, angels are spiritual beings believed to act as a messengers of God, conventionally represented in human form with wings, a halo and long robes.” Um, like, no. At the same time, […] Read more – ‘“Mommy, What’s an Angel?”’.

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Talking About Belief With Kids: When Logic Threatens to Overshadow Kindness

By Wendy Thomas Russell | January 27, 2014

My daughter, Maxine, is 8 years old and really getting the hang of logic these days. If A is true, then B must be true. If you believe A, you must believe B. If A doesn’t exist… You get the drift. Anyway, Maxine’s little cousin Jack  (4) is very into the movie Frozen right now, particularly the character of Elsa, the snow queen. Recently, when chatting about beliefs, he told his mom, “I believe in Elsa” — which is so cute it makes my heart hurt. But when I told Maxine about Jack’s statement, she immediately […] Read more – ‘Talking About Belief With Kids: When Logic Threatens to Overshadow Kindness’.

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Four Poignant Minutes from ‘This American Life’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | January 20, 2014

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, do yourself a favor and listen to the following four-minute clip from This American Life, Episode #188. The entire episode, which centers on children using “perfectly logical arguments and arriving and perfectly wrong conclusions,” is titled Kid Logic. It originally aired in June 2001 and has been making its rounds ever since because it’s just. that. good. If you haven’t heard it, and hopefully you already have, be prepared. It might may you cry. It will definitely make you think. (Among Kid Logic’s other highlights is the hilarious and adorable story of […] Read more – ‘Four Poignant Minutes from ‘This American Life’’.

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Everything You Need to Know About Islam to Get Your Kids Up to Speed (Okay, Maybe Not EVERYTHING)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | January 13, 2014

You know what my life is missing? A Muslim kid. There’s no doubt that if I had Muslim friends with a Muslim child, I would be telling my 8-year-old a lot more about Islam than I do — not just because I would want her understand her friends’ beliefs, but because it would naturally just “come up” more often. Having a living, breathing religious person in our midst really is the perfect invitation for religious literacy I’ve ever found. And vice versa! That’s part of the reason I’m glad some of my friend’s children know about […] Read more – ‘Everything You Need to Know About Islam to Get Your Kids Up to Speed (Okay, Maybe Not EVERYTHING)’.

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Are Mormons Christian? Here’s the Simple Answer

By Wendy Thomas Russell | January 6, 2014

This weekend I was sitting in the living room with my daughter, listening to music on my iSomething-or-Other, when a song from the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon came on. The song was “Hello,” the musical’s perfectly executed opening number (and the one featured at the 2012 Tony Awards, below.) Maxine was fascinated by the song. She loved all the doorbell-ringing, and the goofy voices, and the part when Elder Grant asks, “Are these your kids?” She must have replayed the song four or five times before moving on to something else. But, all the while, […] Read more – ‘Are Mormons Christian? Here’s the Simple Answer’.

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4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Heading into a Confrontation

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 30, 2013

Confrontation: (n.) a face-to-face meeting; the clashing of forces or ideas; a situation in which people fight, oppose,or challenge each other in an angry way. Like most people, I have sort of a love-hate relationship with confrontation. I’m drawn to it and repelled by it in almost equal measure. On the one hand, confrontation is a necessary byproduct of honesty, integrity and self-worth. To be capable and willing to confront that which we find offensive, unacceptable or harmful is the mark of a strong character, is it not? Those who shrink from confrontation may well […] Read more – ‘4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Heading into a Confrontation’.

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Dynasty defenders: Religion no excuse for bigotry

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 23, 2013

Last Christmas, it seemed like everyone in my family and my husband’s family was talking about Duck Dynasty. We are all from the Midwest, which may be why the hunting, back-woods feel of the show held a certain charm. And there really were some funny parts. It seemed like mere mention of the show incited laughter from one corner or another. This Christmas, the families are still talking about Duck Dynasty. But this time no one is laughing. In case you’ve been in a coma for the last week, here’s a brief recap: Phil Robertson, […] Read more – ‘Dynasty defenders: Religion no excuse for bigotry’.

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A Book American Kids Aren’t Reading — But Should

By Wendy Thomas Russell | December 17, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed British philosopher and author Julian Baggini, who wrote a fantastic book for kids called Really, Really, Big Questions about God, Faith and Religion (2011, Kingfisher). While I found it at my public library, it’s not one you’re likely to run across in major book stores. While very well-received in Britain, the book has flown largely under the radar here in the U.S. And that’s too bad for us — because it’s a great starting point for kids ready to explore religious issues. Each section of the book seeks to answer […] Read more – ‘A Book American Kids Aren’t Reading — But Should’.

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Relax, It’s Just God

A Blog for Secular Parents
For parents who aren’t religious, the task of talking to children about religion can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the entire subject often gets glossed over or ignored completely. Relax, It’s Just God is a blog (and soon a book) intended to help parents break their silence without breaking a sweat.
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