One of the marks of a teacher who really understands their subject is that they can explain it in simple, straightforward language to a lay person in the field. Thanks to a facebook friend, I came across this report from Damian Thompson of an article in the Times.
Apparently, the father of Lulu Renton, a six-year Scottish girl, sent a letter she had written to God to a number of influential church people. The letter asked, “To God, who invented you?” There was no reply from the Scottish Episcopal church or the Presbyterians and a rather complex reply from the Scottish Catholics.
However, the copy sent to “the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace.” This drew the following reply from the Archbishop of Canterbury:
Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –
‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.
Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.
But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’
And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.
I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.
This has obviously been written by Rowan himself – you can almost hear him speaking it as you read. I think he has done a commendable job in addressing the question in terms that a six -year-old might understand and without any condescension. He takes the enquiry seriously, admits it is a difficult question and then gives a good personal answer with great warmth.
It makes me feel very proud of my Archbishop.