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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

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I have had occasion lately to think about the natures of compassion, belief and engagement. Serendipitously, our eldest’s graduation from high school was celebrated thoughtfully with mention of Robert Fulghum’s 1986 statement that “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” Our eldest was not even a twinkle let alone born in 1986 and it seemed entirely appropriate to revisit Mr. Fulghum’s credo and consider its applications in the world of supposed grown-ups.

he chronicles of American Christianity are littered with pronouncements of the shallowness of evangelicalism—set-ups for testimonies of leaving the faith entirely, or (far better) departing for greener pastures within Christendom. But the Lincoln Park Zoo best exemplifies my experience. I have, admittedly, supplemented my evangelical diet with a hearty dose of high church Anglicanism. Nevertheless, as I’ve pursued the study of ancient Orthodox and medieval Catholic Christianity, I’ve been consistently surprised to discover the same things I learned as an evangelical convert. Decades ago someone wrote a bestseller entitled “All I really need to Know I learned in Kindergarten” (including, I presume, how to work the anti-intellectual American book market). Nevertheless, I’m tempted to say that all I really need to know about Christian life I learned in the evangelical culture that I so desperately tried to escape.

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ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned: