A six-year-old girl writes a letter to God

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

And the Archbishop of Canterbury answers

There’s a charming article in today’s Times by Alex Renton, a non-believer who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school. Her teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?” The Rentons were taken aback: “We had no idea that a state primary affiliated with a church would do quite so much God,” says her father. He could have told Lulu that, in his opinion, there was no God; or he could have pretended that he was a believer. He chose to do neither, instead emailing her letter to the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer). For good measure, he also sent it to “the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace” – and this was the response:

Dear Lulu,

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. Lors of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan

I think this letter reveals a lot about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sort of theology – more, indeed, than many of his lectures or agonised Synod addresses. I’d be interested to know whether readers of this blog think he did a good job of answering Lulu’s question.

But what the letter also tells us is that the Archbishop took the trouble to write a really thoughtful message – unmistakably his work and not that of a secretary – to a little girl. “Well done, Rowan!” was the reaction of Alex Renton’s mother, and I agree.

Originally posted in the Telegraph blog by Damian Thompson.

A very impressive and thoughtful reply, and he took the trouble to reply.

God is
Where does religion come from?

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4 Responses to “A six-year-old girl writes a letter to God”

  1. peddiebill Says:

    I find this very encouraging – not so much for the wisdom of the reply – but rather that the Archbishop took time to give a young girl his best shot. This to me is an example of what Christianity ought to be about.

    • keithpp Says:

      I agree on both counts. A very thoughtful reply that captures the essense of what God is and his works, and that the Archbishop took the trouble to reply. As you say it is ‘what Christianity ought to be about’.

      Contrast the behaviour of the Archbishop with awful Evangelists who push Christianity in your face, display an appalling lack of grace, and give Christianity a bad name.

      https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/a-lack-of-grace/

  2. Deanne Says:

    This is a wonderful post I found through Paulo Coelho’s blog. What a pleasure to read this and know someone took the time to reply and give her the perfect answer. Lovely!

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