Posted by KidSpirit Online on August 11, 2017

By Eleanor Goetz in the KidSpirit Power issue.

Three hundred forty-five years ago Roger Williams declared, “forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”

Williams was a 17th-century English Protestant theologian and a proponent of religious freedom. He pioneered the separation of church and state, a crucial social innovation in 1640 that now poses a unique challenge to modern parochial schools. Schooling is mandatory for every child in the nation, but prayer is not. Yet parochial schools must somehow coerce students into praying. This would be an achievable goal if every student agreed that prayer is critical and there was a school-wide consensus on how to pray, but that often isn’t the case. Schools are faced with the impossible task of imparting the value of praying, specifically the importance of daily prayer. In this situation schools often fall into a survival mode, using their administrative power to force students and teachers to show up in a room and recite words without facing the question of meaning head on. This allows students to passively disengage and choose powerlessness regarding the shortcomings of their prayer services without getting involved or feeling personally responsible to make a change.

I attend a pluralistic Jewish day school . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on July 20, 2017

By Eleanor Goetz in the KidSpirit The God Issue issue.

The idea of God is different for everyone and is possibly many things even to one person. We all have different ideas of what and who God is.

Some people do not believe in God at all, while others believe in many gods. Others believe that God infinitely shapes their lives and their afterlives. Others look to themselves to be shaped. There are a variety of different religions, and as many as 22 major religions in the world today.

Christians, as well as other monotheistic religions, such as Judaism and Islam, view God as an all-knowing ruler. The followers of these religions study religious texts, such as the Bible, to guide their lives. They also believe that God is the creator of everything. Polytheistic religions have many gods, such as a god of water, that rule over part of the world. Buddhists do not believe in a god but search for a way to end suffering by ending all self-desires. Through the teachings of these religions many ideas of God materialize. How we view God privately is personal and varied. Our personal concept of God is ever-changing because we change and the world we live in changes.

The belief in a higher power became possible . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on July 6, 2017

By Swastika Jajoo in the KidSpirit Discovery and Progress issue.

Interfaith Connections is a column for teens to dialogue about how their faith or wisdom tradition influences their view of life’s big questions. In each issue, three teens from different backgrounds respond to a question posed by the Editorial Board, based on the theme. This quarter the Ed Board asks:

How does your faith or wisdom tradition view the idea of human progress?

John F. Kennedy famously said, “The best road to progress is freedom’s road.”

The idea of human progress has long been a topic for discussion and introspection. From scientists to philosophers, technicians to housewives, human progress has been an area studied and contemplated. Human progress can be classified into two categories: individual and social. The social notion of progress is a culmination of individual viewpoints, which vary across countries, cultures, and traditions. Both individual and social progress are beautifully intertwined.

I am Indian and belong to a Hindu family. . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on June 22, 2017

By Daniel Goetz in the KidSpirit Mysteries of the Universe issue.

It was day ten of my month at Camp Pathfinder. It was day four of my first trip into the wilderness of Algonquin Provincial Park.

I had wanted to go to this camp my entire life; my friend had talked about how fun it was for years. I expected it to be awesome, but I had no idea the kind of awesome I would experience.

However, at that moment, paddling in the rain, all I wanted to do was go home. We had been canoeing across lakes and carrying our gear across land for four days. My arms felt like they were going to fall off. That day we were paddling on the largest lake in the park, and it was pouring rain. Even though I had my jacket on, rain was trickling down my neck, making my clothes wet. I was kneeling in a puddle that covered the bottom of the canoe.

The wind blew so hard . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on June 8, 2017

By Gracie Griffin in the KidSpirit Simplicity and Complexity issue.

Prayer is the limbo between the serenity of accepting the world’s chaos around you and the challenge of pursuing stillness in your heart. I am a Quaker and so I pray.

But I am a person, too, and that in itself leads to prayer. We all pray, whether religiously based or not. Our wishes, our reflections, our thoughts that are larger than ourselves, our issues of morality—all these and more are forms of prayer. And yet wars have been fought, countries have been formed, relationships have been built and broken, and whole eras of history have been dedicated to this one thing.

Prayer, the mission for a personal sense of rejuvenation and reflection, is both the most complex and the most simple action for humans. We are drawn to it, it becomes the home of our soul, no matter what spiritual practice we subscribe to. And yet I believe that it will never be solidified or defined, because I see prayer as a living, breathing entity of its own creation, which makes it so appealing to us mere mortals with harsh, vivid lives who need the hope of some higher power or concept to survive. It is truly liberating to be able to send my emotions out and believe that they are ending up somewhere instead of just being lost in the ether. So I see no sense in continuing to argue over the right way to pray. Maybe it's my background as a Quaker with a mission for peace that makes me want to end this age-old conflict, but I truly believe that we all have an individualized guidebook to God within ourselves.

A mere conversation is not enough . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on May 25, 2017

By Husnaa Hashim in the KidSpirit Human Dignity issue.

I don't want learning, or dignity, or respectability. I want this music, and this dawn, and the warmth of your cheek against mine.

— Jalaluddin Rumi, “A Thirsty Fish”

The Rumi quote above suggests a longing to live in the present moment, love your fellow human beings, and appreciate the beauty of today rather than worrying about the mystery of tomorrow. Upon walking into Temple Rodeph Shalom one particularly crisp autumn afternoon, I feel welcome to appreciate the beauty of today. The windows of this sanctuary are stained glass, allowing the slightest distillation of light to shine through. I do not know exactly why I am here, but I do know that we are placed where we are meant to be, at the time we are meant to be in that place.

Proceeding to the basement of the synagogue, the large group of high school students and mentors of various religious backgrounds and traditions form a circle. I take my place. During this particular session we go on to learn about food insecurity, de-poverty, and reformed Judaism. We make challah bread, my brown hands dipping into white flour and braiding a strand that will be baked and shared with the other students.

Little did I know this introduction . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on May 10, 2017

By Sharon Lin in the KidSpirit The Word issue.

I knelt on the silken scarf laid across the hardwood floor, my head bent in silent prayer to the spirits of my ancestors. I heard muffled sounds of chanting monks through the old music player at the side of the decaying red shrine.

There was no silence on Saturday morning for me. A little after the crack of dawn, my grandmother would rise and kowtow to our ancestors and pray for a better life for our family. It wasn’t that we didn’t already have a good life, but the promise of a better life was reserved for those who could make the effort to sacrifice an hour of their sleep. Only then could we acknowledge and appreciate the work of our predecessors who brought us into this world.

My grandmother spoke in her native Fujianese . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on April 20, 2017

By Anna Zimmer in the KidSpirit Climate Change issue.

I was not raised in a family where religion played a big role.

I have always known that both my parents were Christians at one point in their lives, but they drifted away and by the time I was born, they were both atheists, happy to have their Sunday mornings free of commitments. When I was in elementary school, my mom started going to a church in my town.

I didn’t find out what kind of church it was . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on April 5, 2017

By Fareeha Shah in the KidSpirit The Nature of Truth Issue

Religion is truth.

Imagine standing at the precipice of a cliff, hearing a voice telling you to dive headfirst into the abyss before you. It is an abyss of uncertainty. It is an abyss fraught with the unknown; all the horrors and fears and perverse aspects within the crevices of the human imagination lie within it. The voice compels you to jump against your will. Then you see a light. You do not know where this light is coming from, nor do you know if you can trust it. You know none of these things. What was once darkness is now illuminated, flooded with brilliance. All at once you can see. All the happiness and delight and delirium and pain and heartache and misery stand before you. Suddenly, you are no longer afraid to jump.

Life is about searching for truth . . .

Posted by KidSpirit Online on March 20, 2017

By Chris Woods in the KidSpirit Happiness Issue

I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. Shortly after I was born, my family moved and we became parishioners at a Byzantine Catholic Church — Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic to be precise. Ever since I have been brought up in that tradition, and my views of the world have been deeply influenced by it.

Very few people even know of the beautiful tradition I grew up in, so here is its history: A few centuries after the founding of the Christian Church, two different traditions developed in the East and in the West. These traditions gradually grew further and further apart until they separated from each other completely around the 11th century. Though long foreseen, the split occurred when the West added to the Creed that the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son (added portion in italics) without consulting the East.

A few more centuries passed . . .


About This Blog

Young people are brimming with vision and prophetic wisdom. This blog features 11- to 17-year-olds in deep and often surprising explorations of spiritual life. Their original writing and artwork was first published in KidSpirit, the sole spiritual magazine by and for global youth. Their words call us to approach eternal questions with wonder. More