Earlier today I was sitting at my desk attempting to work on some Hebrew translations and my two older sons came in to give me a reason to procrastinate. In an attempt to keep the conversation light, my oldest son asked, "Dad, what do you believe in that you cannot see?" As I prepared to answer he jumped in and said, "I believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, air (because you can't see it), and Santa Claus. I smiled and told him that those are good things to believe in and he agreed but did say that grown-ups don't believe in Santa but he wants to this year.
Then tonight my wife showed me a letter that he wrote to Santa and it basically explains that he once believed and then didn't, then did, and then he stopped believing, but now he wants to believe because he has two requests for gifts. The point of this post isn't that my son wants to believe in Santa this year, it is really just to share one line from the letter that I loved. In his explanation that he wanted to believe in Santa again he said, "(now that I believe in you [Santa]), I believe in something that Jewish people, Muslims, and parents do not believe in".
I love the small lessons that we gain from the mouths of children. Here is my son living in a country dominated by Jews and Muslims, (and parents) and he acknowledges that he has to make a choice to believe. It reminds me of the passage in the book, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" when the children are talking with the professor about the story the youngest sister, Lucy, told them about a magical world hidden in the wardrobe. When the older children tell him that the possibility of another world is too crazy to believe, he responds by questioning the quality of their education.
It seems that the ability to believe in the unseen is a trait we too often overlook. Even now I am doing research into Biblical texts and their literary environment and most of the scholarship begins with the assumption that religious texts are too incredible to believe. I agree with the professor that there must be something wrong with the educational system that does not allow belief. I side with Chesterton who once said that the incredibility of the story of Christ is the thing that convinces him it must be real. As the church father Tertullian said, "I believe because it is absurd".
For my son, belief in the unseen is perfectly acceptable even if Jews, Muslims, and parents do not agree. I personally side with my sons.