I just received two eagerly anticipated volumes on children’s spirituality that kick off some research in a new field. My exploration is triggered by a couple simple but not simplistic questions – as a theologian, pastor, and parent, “What does it look like to think well theologically about childhood and parenting?” and, “How can the Church best serve the perennial needs of parents, families, and children?” I will write more on these titles in the next few months.
Nurturing Children’s Spirituality: Christian Perspectives and Best Practices is a book of collected essays from the 2006 Children’s Spirituality Conference edited by Dr. Holly Catterton Allen. Some of the main themes for this conference included the concept of children and the kingdom of God, views of children in Genesis and the New Testament, and the spiritual needs of children around the world. The essays are divided into three broad categories that explore historical and theological issues, promote best practices for nurturing children’s spiritual development, and look toward future challenges.
The second book, Let the Children Come: Reimagining Childhood from a Christian Perspective by feminist theologian Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, is more of a constructive theological exploration of childhood and parenting that draws specifically from Christian, psychological, and feminist resources. She explains the purpose of the book as follows:
This book…is about that convulsing ground on which children and caring adults stand: the images that are failing us; the battle over new ways to understand children; the distortions toward which many people, including myself, are tempted; and the attempt to assert healthier, richer moral and religious visions. Reimagining children, I am convinced, will lead to a renewed conception of the care of children as a religious practice (xxvi).
Considering she advances this contention along a “feminist maternal theology” I am quite intrigued to see where this leads her.
Does anyone have suggestions for other helpful resources on the subject (not parenting books but theological works on children)?