God has a beard that would do a biker proud.
At least that appears to be the conclusion of many of the children who answered IN Life’s call for Easter drawings or paintings of a supreme being.
Beyond that and the belief that God smiles bigtime, there wasn’t a great deal of consensus.
(Well, if you don’t count the fact that virtually all chose traditional male, Caucasian images.)
Some had God wearing a crown. A few drew a figure with arms outstretched. One kid theorized that God resembled a lemur or something.
But fourth-grader Maureen Mukai just got out a pencil and wrote down a description: “I think God has brown hair, eyes, beard and mustache. God wears golden sandals and carries a golden staff. I believe God sits on a golden throne by Jesus and Mary on a big white cloud in Heaven.”
Two other little girls gently scolded the newspaper for seeming to ignore the biblical admonition against graven images and what have you. But most simply went about the task of trying to show what they think a deity might look like.
And the parents we spoke with understood why we had posed the question. We asked, “What does God look like?” because that’s a question countless children ask.
Today’s IN Life displays some of their answers.
But how would you respond if a child asked what God looks like?
You can’t be abstract, said the Rev. John Thatcher, a retired Jesuit priest whose special love is children’s religious education.
“It takes a long time for a person to get a philosophical notion of God,” he cautioned. “In dealing with young children, you have to offer something concrete.”
He suggested talking in terms of Jesus being kind to people and animals. Or describing a fatherlike protector.
Of course, non-Christians and atheists might have a different response.
Still, religious leaders of many stripes stress that God’s reality can be found in spiritual relationships with each individual. To many children, that sounds like something or someone you should be able to see.
The Rev. Howard Jones, pastor at United Methodist Church in Coeur d’Alene, acknowledged that children frequently do ask about God’s appearance. But it’s really the wrong question, he said.
“There are more helpful ways to approach the whole topic,” he said. “How God looks is not nearly as important as how God acts.”
And as far as that’s concerned, most Christians believe that they have plenty to go on.
Said Jones: “What does the wind look like? Well, I don’t know, but I can tell you how it feels. What does love look like? Well, I can tell you how it behaves.”
Take a close look at some of the artwork. You might see that some of the kids did, in fact, try to show God in action.
We were able to print only a small number of the dozens and dozens of drawings and paintings submitted. But thanks to all who responded.