Jerome Berryman is an Episcopal priest who is a leader in the Godly Play movement in the United States. Godly Play is an adaptation of Montessori methods of education to religious education of children. Such a method invites children to respond to subject matter in a way congruent to their psychological, physical, and spiritual development. This book, more theoretical than others on the subject, reframes Christian education as spiritual guidance. Berryman argues that congregations and families serve children well when they provide them with a toolbox with which they can explore their spiritual experiences. The toolbox includes devices that have been with us for centuries; scripture, language, the senses, sacraments and much more. What makes this book unique is the degree to which Berryman argues that children need and deserve the freedom and safety to explore the spiritual mysteries of creation. The alternative is to practice religious education as a programmatic obligation; an alternative that will not support faith as a way of life. Berryman winsomely asserts that children are a means of grace. As such, they belong at the center of everyone’s faith development. This book is for the religious educator looking for new language to attach to ancient wisdom.
Reviewed by Tim Shapiro