Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blog Tour: Interview with Dr. James Spiegel

I posted my review of Gum, Geckos and God yesterday. Today I get to interview its author....

Jeanne: Jim, obviously you have done a great job of encouraging your kids to ask spiritual questions. How did you do it? What would you do with a kid that doesn't think deeply past his next meal or her next playdate?

Jim: I have found that my kids naturally pose theological questions, as they process the stuff they learn at church or from my wife and me at home, as we teach them the Bible or talk about the life of faith. Kids are naturally inquisitive, so whatever they are being exposed to will be fodder for their thought. Its mainly a matter of making sure they are learning about God and the gospel. As for kids who are less thoughtful, I think that a parent needs to show patience and keep teaching them Scripture. Eventually the questions and rich dialogue will come.

Jeanne: Your kids, like most kids, have raised questions that adults have trouble getting their minds around. With your background in philosophy and theology, you've been able to provide profound yet simple answers to these questions that seemed to satisfy and instruct your children. But--short of memorizing your book--what would you say to parents, who are not philosophers or theologians by training, that would encourage them to tackle the tough ones?

Jim: There are many good, readable, even entertaining Christian apologists whose books are ideal for learning the basics in this area. I am thinking of books by folks like Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, and R.C. Sproul.

Jeanne: Just for fun, I quoted one of your statements to my five-year-old daughter--about how if God stopped thinking about her, she would cease to exist--and she's now a little worried that she might disappear at any time. It does seem that parents also have to trust the Holy Spirit to inspire the metaphors that will make sense to their child!

Jeanne: I really appreciated your chapters on "How Can God Fix Us?" (about original sin) and "Why Is It Hard to Be Good?" (on sanctification). What would you say to a discouraged child (or adult) about the ongoing struggle with sin, especially when it seems like little transformation is happening?

Jim: This is a tough one. Any parent who has more than one child knows just how much siblings can differ from one another in terms of temperament and spiritual sensitivity. Some need to be pushed more than others, and some become discouraged more easily.

For the child who is actually discouraged about her/his progress, it is important to emphasize the grace and patience of God. This is important for the discouraged adult to remember as well, though adults can take more responsibility for pursuing the tools of spiritual formation--spiritual disciplines such as fasting, which is so effective in building self-control and moral strength.

And for both children and adults, it is essential to keep in mind ways in which we can avoid being tempted into our pet sins. As parents, we need to do this for our kids by being attentive to their daily schedules, their playmates, the sleeping and eating habits, etc. All sorts of factors can figure into a child's being chronically disobedient in a particular area.

Jeanne: Those are such helpful insights. Thank you, Jim!

The schedule for the rest of Jim's blog tour is posted on the Zondervan website.

You can purchase Gum, Geckos and God through the Amazon portal in my sidebar :) ...or from a Christian bookstore near you--hot off the presses!

And be sure to pay a visit to Jim and his wife Amy's brand-new blog, Wisdom and Folly.

No comments: