Odyssey Takes Unbiased Look at Religion


Some challenging issues of religion are given the kid-glove
treatment in Angels in theMaking: Nurturing Our Children's Spirituality,
a special due on The Odyssey Channel as part of cable's "Tune In to Kids and
Family Week" campaign.

The show advocates ways to guide children into finding
their own definitions -- their own paths to righteousness, as it were. Parents in the show
stress that they want their children to embrace faith, but not necessarily to
unquestioningly accept the "burden" of their parents' religion. The special
snatches vignettes from the home lives of different believers, and it is definitely for
the liberal of mind.

There are some charming interviews with children that form
the basis for the concept of the special. Ask 10 different children what God is, and you
get anything from a literal description ("He has brown, shoulder-length hair, blue
eyes and no shoes") to an ephemeral impression ("I've sort of thought of
him as a big tornado with eyes.") Given that starting place, not all children follow
the same linear progression of reasoning regarding their places in the world.

By far the most interesting profile focuses on a mixed
couple: He's Jewish, and she's a Christian minister. The couple agreed early on
that their children would not be half-anything, but rather, educated equally on Judaism
and Christianity. Sunday School would be the order of the day as young children, but as
they reached maturity, they would train for their bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. Although the
children appear to embrace the symbolism and grace of each religion, the minister
confesses that as she watched her son study the Torah, "I felt like I was losing my

Other stories emphasize the positive role of music in the
church as a magnet for children until they mature enough to understand the messages of the
Bible; the challenges of Muslims in America, who must fend off negative images of their
culture due to events like the World Trade Center bombing; and the positive power of a
demanding congregation, such as one that assigns mission work to young children.

The program does not judge nor anoint any one way of
believing, and it serves as a good jumping-off point for discussions between kids and
their parents.

Angels in the Making debuts June 10 at 9:30 p.m. (EST)
on Odyssey.