Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, together with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England. His literary works greatly influenced both English and American literature in the beginning of the 19th century.
The son of the well-respected Rev. John Coleridge, Samuel became known in the Victorian period as one of the most important apologists for the liberal Anglican point of view. Although Coleridge himself struggled with his faith throughout his life, he deemed religious heritage a crucial part of a child’s upbringing.
A story is told about Coleridge’s encounter with a man who argued that children should not be given any religious training, but rather, should be brought up free to choose their own faith. Instead of arguing against his friend’s point of view, Coleridge decided to express his opinion with a powerful visual.
He invited the man for a stroll around his garden.
As the men walked together, Coleridge’s friend was astonished with the garden’s poor condition. It was obvious the poet’s gardening skills did not match his literary genius.
“Do you call this a garden?” the visitor asked. “There are nothing but weeds here!”
“Well, you see,” Coleridge replied, “I did not wish to infringe upon the liberty of the garden in any way. I was just giving the garden a chance to express itself.”
I pondered about this thought-provoking story during a conversation with my friend Sandra Onal, as she shared the passion behind her upcoming concert “Generations” on Nov. 5 in Buford.
Sandra is a talented gospel singer and worship leader, who has been brought up in the Christian faith. As an adult, Sandra has chosen to remain in the faith of her grandparents and parents, not because of legalistic decrees or family coercion, but rather, because what she was taught as a young girl has become reality in her life as a believer. She wishes to share the importance of passing on these family and faith values to the next generation.
I could not agree with her more.
At a time where family and faith have been increasingly under attack in our society, I think we, parents and grandparents, should reflect on how we are raising the next generation. Could it be that we, in the name of religious or social tolerance, often silence our voices and compromise our values?Could it be that we, in the name of religious or social tolerance, often silence our voices and compromise our values? Click To Tweet
I believe this is a worthy reflection.
Not long ago, I had a conversation with our teenager about her faith. Because I was not raised in a Christian home, but rather, sought God for many years in different places, I have a great concern regarding our children’s faith walk.
And the concern is this: I want my daughters to believe, not because “mom and dad said so,” but because they have proven their God to be true.
I am fully aware that there may be a time when they choose to walk away from the faith we shared with them, but that should not be because we chose to remain silent and not share our beliefs at home.
While living at home, my daughters will hear me proclaim his grace and mercies with my words, while doing my best to live out my faith with actions.
What I will not do is remain silent.
Not proclaiming what I believe to the next generation is like leaving a garden to fend for itself. Because one thing is certain: There will be seasons of drought and distress, and unless we choose to care for our garden, the weeds will take over and the roots will die. Therefore, I unashamedly join my friend Sandra and the other singers and performers’ voices as they proclaim on Nov. 5: “We cannot be silent. We must proclaim our faith and values to the next generation.”
You can find out more about “Generations” the concert at www.sandraonal.com.
This article was published in Patricia’s column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Faith & Value Section on Saturday, October 29