Monday, March 5, 2018

PBT Question #4 to Ask about Any Secular Book

   
Does the book contain or encourage a spiritual practice? (Compassion, Generosity, Gratitude, Prayer, Praise, Hospitality, Peacemaking, Reconciliation…)

This PBT question is a little easier to grasp. Do keep an open mind about what defines a spiritual practice. These are not just spiritual disciplines, like praying or fasting, nor are they always specific behaviors such as peacemaking. A spiritual practice might be an orientation towards others as in the case of compassion. You may know someone who is very generous of spirit, but they have little money to give.

When approaching a picture book with this question, consider what in the picture book would please God. That question might help you focus on a spiritual practice. Then read the picture book to a group of children or adults and help them learn more about that practice in a context that is very real. Here’s an example:

Contemplation is a fuzzy word. Contemplative prayer is hard to define and impossible to perfect. Contemplating God’s amazing world is a spiritual practice that we often engage in spontaneously and momentarily without identifying it as a spiritual practice. Think of when you arrive at the beach or when you see a full moon. Just because you don’t express your joy with words doesn’t mean you aren’t moved and thankful.

Contemplation is beautifully abundant in the title character of The Incredible Peepers of Penelope BuddCheck out that PBT post [here.] 
In these two illustrations, Penelope is being especially observant. First she delights in a butterfly.
Then she contemplates her own image in a puddle of water.
Tie her orientation to delighting in God's creation and you have a model of a spiritual practice that even the youngest child can relate to. Add gratitude to God to such experiences and you have an integrated practice that can be theologically sustaining and grounding throughout a lifetime. 

Helping children and adults identify what spiritual practices look like will affirm their good inclinations and behaviors while offering rich information for potential spiritual growth. This spring I'll be offering a new series of posts connecting picture books to each of The Fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians. Each of those 9 Fruits are examples of spiritual practices. 


In a week or so I’ll be wrapping up my explanation of the 5th question you can ask about a secular picture book. May your spiritual practices delight God!