A generational look at God

By  Natalie Guadagnoli, The Catholic Register
  • June 22, 2007
{mosimage}Conversations with Poppi about God by Robert W. Jenson and Solveig Lucia Gold (Brazos Press, 160 pages).

American theologian Robert W. Jenson and his eight-year-old granddaughter, Solveig Lucia Gold, exchange questions about the Christian faith in their book Conversations with Poppi about God.

The tiny, 160-page book is filled with unscripted conversations about different aspects of the Christian faith between Jenson (Poppi) and Gold while Gold spends the weekend at Jenson’s home in Princeton, N.J.

The book is divided into 45 chapters, or conversations, with topics ranging from God and Lucifer to Adam and Eve and even Santa Claus and time machines. Jenson and Gold have created their own “Christianity 101” book with conversations that parents can read with their children to help them better understand the basics of the Christian faith.

{sa 1587432161}While Jenson is very serious and right to the point, Gold is very lively and even humourous. She admits that she likes going to Communion “because I get to stretch and walk around a little bit.” It’s the conversations where Gold is unconvinced by her grandfather that makes this book amusing and entertaining. She has her own opinions for everything and isn’t scared to voice them. For example their conversation about Santa Claus:

Solveig: “When people thought of Santa Claus — the idea of Santa Claus is very much like God....”

Poppi: “No. It’s not.”

Solveig: “Sort of. He’s just very jolly and very...”

Poppi: “He is a little bit like God.”

Solveig: “Very much like God...”

The two differ on certain points. Gold believes God should be referred to as “It” or “The” while Jenson disagrees. Yet they both feel that the Holy Trinity should be rearranged so that the Holy Spirit is between the Father and the Son. “When you see drawings of two people loving each other you see the heart between them,” said Gold. “That’s what the Holy Spirit is, the heart — love.”

“Why the Apple” is the second conversation between the two and the reader may notice that a simple conversation about the “apple” grows into a conversation about the first ancestor of the whole human race.

Simple questions often grow into long, in-depth conversations that sometimes throw them off topic. Gold asks a question about God and His children and then asks a question that is completely different. “Why do you think God is the same as dog spelled backwards?” Jenson responds, “By sheer accident,” and is eager to get back on topic. Jenson is usually able to steer Gold back on track to their main focus. Although Jenson concentrates on theology, he always responds to his granddaughter’s questions whether or not they relate to theology.

You can learn quite a lot from these fascinating conversations. You’re able to learn that theology relates to everyone and will be something meaningful in your life, whether you’re an eight- or 80-year-old theologian.

(Guadagnoli is a Grade 11 student at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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