Catechism: Good-Natured

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Q9. What is creation?

Creation is God’s making everything out of nothing by His powerful word in six days — and all very good.

Exposing kids to nature is a trendy topic in education and child-rearing these days, perhaps as a reaction to our technologically-dominated environment. Yet nature has always had much to teach us. About the power of the God who created all of it from nothing. About His intelligence and care. About the fragility and resilience of complex, interdependent systems. About our heavy role as stewards. About the fruits of intense study. About the still blessed abundance of beauty, surprise, and pleasure in a fallen and savage world. About the simultaneous big-ness and tiny-ness of it all. About faith in things unseen. About the grace to witness marvels.

It is not enough to read and read about and listen to and even converse with a great artist, no matter how articulate or self-reflective they might be. You must see the art. You may study the biography and investigate the context and parse through all the erudition, but you lack for something until you see the art, even if it is marred by time and circumstance. There is some connection, some sensory understanding, that is irreplaceable without confronting the thing made.

I’ve started watching on Netflix the documentary Fannie’s Last Supper, where Chris Kimball and a crew picked off from America’s Test Kitchen attempt to meticulously re-create a 12-course Victorian dinner. He argues that going through the trouble of actually making this food and then tasting it unravels constant insights about the period, and about Farmer herself.

I think that’s why we have this impulse to create, to invent, to make. We learn so much when we engineer a solution or express an inchoate internal state. But we also risk congratulating ourselves and looking not up to He who made us but only down to the worlds we have made. Reflecting in nature helps take us out of that.

So I encourage you to take the kids outside, wander through a park, crouch down to see some bugs, test some tree branches, spot an animal, and consider what’s so very good about it.

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