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  • Writer's pictureCharity Hill

Spirituality vs. Morality: Further Reading Suggestions

Listening to the podcast Family Spirituality and Fiction caused me to think anew about its themes. I wonder if it raised questions in you? Would it be helpful to clarify what spirituality is? (It's hard to pin down!) As we understand it, spirituality is different than morality. One has to do with behavior and choices that are informed by a concept of the good---that's morality. Morality is about the goodness or evil of actions. Spirituality is a personalized sense that more is real than sensory data, that reality is deeper than "mere" biology, and one can connect with this deeper, cosmic reality. You could say that the personalized relationship with or connection to this "deeper reality" is spirituality. Out of this "personal connection" can flow many things--creative works, charitable or volunteer efforts, visual arts, exercise. So, spirituality certainly affects behavior, making it look a lot like morality, though they're not exactly the same thing.

I asked a very thoughtful and generous Bright Wings listener what her thoughts were regarding Episode 11. Because of her feedback I wanted to clarify (if one can!) what spirituality is as well as offer some of the good books she reads to her children at home. She granted me permission to share with you her thoughts and literary suggestions. I hope her suggestions help you facilitate your child's connection to what is really Real.


Hi Charity!

After I listened to your podcast Family Spirituality and Fiction, I tried to think of books that would fit that bill for my family--books for children which show how we pray and relate with God, books that are shaping how we treat each other AND might be available at libraries and aren't hagiographies or out of print. It was hard to find books to fulfill these categories! Below are what came to mind this evening:

The Monk Who Grew Prayer This one you probably wouldn't find in a library but it came highly recommended! It opens up space for children to be quiet and ponder and wonder; in fact, the book allows children to undergo something of the monk's mysterious deep life. There is so much to look at in the illustrations that help you think about how he lives and spends his life. It also helps foster the perception of the "invisible" depth at the heart of each mundane task.

Angela and the Baby Jesus (aka Angela's Christmas) The story might seem a smidge irreverent at times but I see it as a beautiful story of self-gift among siblings. Angela steals the Baby Jesus out of the creche at church, in order to keep Him warm. Spoiler: Towards the very end you realize the family's Father is deceased. Her older brother earnestly begs to go to jail in little Angela's place and makes the priest and constable who had been teasing about throwing her in jail for stealing, as well as her mother, all choke up and lessen their severity. Nobody ends up in jail and the family bond is strengthened.

That's all that's coming to mind right now for our young kids (3 and nearly 5) that's fiction. We have shelves and shelves of religious books meant to impart knowledge (and even love!) of our beliefs, some of which are very beloved (this one and this one and this one), some of which have helped shaped our attitudes (this one for self control or this one for helping the hungry or this one which we quote from a lot "Will you *please* make a gift of yourself?"). Some books help them draw connections with the Bible pericopes at the liturgy such as the lovely illustrated books by Maite Roche. Some books we have deepen their understanding of the mysteries we celebrate at Christmas and Epiphany and Triduum and so on.


Thank you, for your contribution to the Bright Wings community! You've given us so many choices to help us facilitate our children's relationship with what is real!

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1 comentário

24 de out. de 2022

Hi Charity, you probably know these two books by Rumer Godden, The Kitchen Madonna and An Episode of Sparrows. They come to mind on this topic. I think An Episode of Sparrows to be a nearly perfect book, with a profoundly sacramental sense of reality. This is a beautiful work you are doing. Thanks for sharing the fruits of your labors.

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