“Dad, where does the soul come from?”
Dan paused with his fork of mashed potatoes half way to his mouth. He looked at his fifteen year old daughter, Georgia.. At first he thought that she must be joking but the earnest expression behind the black mascara convinced him that this was a genuine query.
“What brings up this question?” he asked, continuing the fork’s ascent. Chewing gave him something to do while he thought of an answer.
“We were talking about reincarnation today in history class, we’re studying Asia.”
“Mmm, hmm,” Dan answered around his potatoes. “Well, what do you think?”
Georgia squirmed in her seat, her gaze darted around the room from her mother, who looked curious, to her little brother, Justin, who looked bored. Finally looking at her plate she said, “God.”
Ok, well then. .” Dan began to respond when Georgia interrupted.
“But, some of that other stuff really gets me, about being part of a great whole, being connected, trying to make up for our sins, getting another chance to be a better person. Why don’t Christians believe any of that stuff? It makes a lot more sense then someone dying for my sins two thousand years ago.” She had begun passionately enough but when she arrived at the end of her outburst her voice drifted off as if she had come to an unpleasant conclusion.
Dan chewed hard on a piece of pork chop. This was a tough one. He glanced at his daughter to see the agony lurking in her tense face. He knew he should have an answer. He stalled. “What do you think, honey?” he said to his wife, Cheryl. She just smiled and got up from the table. “I’m getting dessert, let me know what you come up with,” she replied, disappearing into the kitchen. Dan glanced at Justin, no help there.
“Well, sweetie,” he began. “The soul comes from somewhere. We believe that God breathed into Adam and he became alive, physically and spiritually. I think the big difference is that we believe our souls are ours alone, not burdened or borrowed from someone else. This is our only life and we have to make the most of it but we also answer for what we do. That’s what is so great about Jesus. He makes all our mistakes go away. I think that’s a lot better than waking up one day and realizing all the bad stuff that happens to you was because you were a bad person a while back and there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
Georgia was shoving her broccoli around on her plate while listening to Dan’s explanation. “So basically, we have to get it right the first time or we’re cooked. I don’t know, Dad, I think the other way has a lot more going for it.” She glanced at him cautiously, looking for signs of anger or dismay. Dan was carefully masking those, he wanted to win Georgia over, not berate her into agreeing with him.
“Let’s play a game,” he said, gesturing with his fork. “I’ll give you two choices and you tell me which one you prefer.”
Georgia frowned at him but agreed.
“Ok, here we go. Would you rather be infinitely valuable or completely replaceable?”
“Valuable,” she answered.
“Would you want your life to have purpose or no purpose?”
“Do you want to be responsible for your actions or be at the mercy of someone else’s decisions?”
“Definitely do my own thing,” she said firmly.
“Do you want eternity to be about love or about nothing?”
Georgia looked confused, “About love, of course.”
Dan smiled wide, “Well, then, you want to be a Christian.”
Georgia scowled. “You tricked me,” she said.
“No I didn’t, “Dan smiled again. “ All the other traits that make eastern religions attractive, like balance, meditation, the sacredness of nature, they can all be found in Christ too. The key to the whole thing is the soul and what it is created for. Is it for eternal love or to toil forever until it reaches nothingness?”
Georgia looked thoughtful but didn’t say anything. Cheryl emerged out of the kitchen with bowls of ice cream and strawberries.
“Mom, this looks great!” “Yeah, thanks!”
Later, in bed, discussing what had happened at dinner Dan accused Cheryl of using the strawberries as a delay tactic. She grinned at him. “Of course, how else was I going to make sure you answered the question?”
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