I have been reading Margaret Miles’ book, Practicing Christianity, in which she argues that our Christian practices must be examined in light of our current contexts in order for us to deem whether or not they are appropriate for the contemporary world. For example, practices that set up a Platonic dualism between the material and spiritual worlds are not appropriate for today, because the material world is in such disarray and is so vulnerable that we must not deem it a less valuable than the spiritual world. Setting the two against each other allows us to focus on the spiritual realm while neglective, or even exploiting, the material realm.
I have been reading this book at the same time as I have been reading about practices and theologies of children within the world’s religious traditions. I have been wondering: What practices from other religions can be useful to Christian ministries with children? How can Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu practices encourage spiritual formation in Christian children? Now that I have read the wisdom of Margaret Miles, I must also ask: Which of these practices are most appropriate for spiritual formation within our local, national, and global contexts? Practices that encourage children to work for peace and justice, help them to love their neighbors and subvert individualism and materialism, and allow them to care for the earth are those that I believe to be most appropriate for today’s world.