Anne Glenn is a wife, parent, and graduate student working on an MA in Religious Studies with a focus on children’s spirituality at Bryn Athyn College in the US. This article was a paper she wrote for one of her psychology courses highlighting the importance of children’s spiritual development from a psychological perspective, with particular focus on Swedenborg’s high regard for children’s spiritual development in his writings.
The field of Children’s Spirituality is a relatively young one, both from psychological and theological approaches, with the vast majority of research being done in the last 20 years. Children have historically been neglected or minimized by both psychologists and theologians, but slowly over the last century both religious and secular scholars have turned their attention to children and childhood. In recent years the research has begun to shift from studying children and their spiritual capacity only in terms of their potential future as adults to seeing children as complete spiritual beings as they are, and focusing on nurturing their spiritual development for their own sake.
This paper is an investigation into the significance of the field of children’s spirituality, including summary of the history of the field, the interactions between theology and psychology in this field and the implications of research into children’s spirituality on religious communities, particularly in the New Church.
Continue reading An Overview of the Field of Children’s Spirituality
Two years ago I was the Children’s Ministries Coordinator at New Church Westville, and in April of 2016 we began to run a Godly Play program as our Sunday School. The programs continued on after I left, and now seeds of Godly Play seem to be sprouting in Bryn Athyn. I initially wrote the bulk of this piece two years ago before the launch at New Church Westville, and going over it again has renewed me with a sense of awe and wonder for this beautiful process for nurturing children’s spiritual development. I’m currently a student in the Masters of Arts in Religious Studies program at Bryn Athyn College and my focus is on children’s spirituality. I’d love to share with you a bit about Godly Play and why I’m so passionate about it.
Godly Play is two things: a philosophy of children’s spiritual development and a program designed to nurture that growth and development. It was developed by pastor, author and teacher Rev. Dr. Jerome W. Berryman over decades of training, research and practice. It is Montessori-based and invites children to learn to “do for themselves” with regards to their spiritual life, providing children with the space, language and tools to develop their relationships with God and theological learning in a way that is internally driven rather than externally directed.
Continue reading Godly Play: An Invitation to Wonder
Over the past year I’ve been reflecting on my search for peace and how I have found it in the tension between two truths. In the spring I wrote about the tension of how every moment matters and yet it is all about the big picture. In the summer I wrote about the tension between God’s sovereignty and human free will. As the leaves change and fall and the autumn weather turns colder, I’m writing my final piece this year on the tension between God’s will for good and His permission of evil, and how I can get in the way of God’s good.
Six days after I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, my husband Coleman preached a sermon on the story of Joseph. He titled it “God Meant It for Good”.
In the immediate aftermath of the diagnosis, of learning we’d need to leave our home and community in South Africa, in all the chaos of tests and doctors appointments, and the fear as we realized just how sick I was, I had peace. Incredible peace. I truly believe it was a gift of God that I knew soul-deep peace in those days. In the following months as we moved, met new doctors, made a plan, as I underwent surgery, and faced complication after complication, I still knew peace. I knew God’s good didn’t want my suffering and believed He would bring good out of it.
But somewhere in the months that followed, as we moved from the sprint of the crisis to the marathon of recovery, I lost my peace. Days of pain turned into weeks of pain. Weeks of antibiotics turned into months of antibiotics. Months of recovery turned into a year with some measurable improvement but also significant ongoing challenges. As the hard stretched on, my focus turned to earthly things and I found myself struggling with discontentment, dissatisfaction, restlessness, and a notable absence of peace. I found myself getting in the way of God’s good.
Continue reading Peace in Tension: Getting in the way of God’s good
This year, I’ve been meditating on how peace is often found in the tension between two extremes. In March I wrote about finding peace in the tension of perspective, between the truths that every moment matters and it’s all about the big picture. This tension is one I felt particularly keenly in my role as a parent.
This month, I’m writing about another two simultaneously true extremes, and my search to find peace in the tension between the two: God’s sovereignty vs our free will.
For me, the tension of these two extremes is felt most keenly in the reality of suffering.
Continue reading Peace in Tension: Suffering