If we are to have a fighting chance in the struggle of passing-on the faith to the next generation, we need to shift our beliefs about how true formation happens.
We need to believe and embrace that intuition beats intellection. When it comes to religious formation:
meaning our character,
the things that ultimately form the way we live,
Intuitive Development matters
far more than intellectual development.
In other words, you can be taught intellectually,
through formal educational methods:
lecture, books, etc.,
that most snakes are perfectly harmless.
But if you intuitively feel uneasy around snakes –
even little ones with little mouths –
then what you believe intuitively
will beat out what you’ve been taught intellectually.
Or you could hear from a teacher at church that
you should love people because Jesus loved people –
you might hear a story about Jesus loving people,
you might do a craft and
make a heart and
write a Bible verse on it “God so loved the world” and
give it to your mom for the refrigerator door…
but if what you experience in much of real life
is that loving people is risky,
if you don’t sense that those in your home
treat one another lovingly,
if you, intuitively, know that you’re not really
loved by those around you,
what is happening intuitivelybeats out what is happening intellectually.
John Westerhoff III writes this in his book Will Our Children Have Faith? “…I learned that there are two ways to think and know,
the intellectual and the intuitive. And it is the intuitive,
the pre-rational… that is foundational to religious life.”
We could say it this way:
all of life educates (not just “formal” education).
So here’s my question:
What did you teach your child today when you weren’t even trying to teach them?