This week’s column (published on Saturday) takes a stroll into the Hundred Acre Wood with Winnie-the-Pooh and friends. Reading a biography of A.A. Milne who wrote those beloved stories, I was impressed by his freethinking perspectives on religion that sneak into his children’s books.
Here’s a preview of the column. . .
A House of Sticks in the Hundred Acre Wood
“In their household, Alan and his brothers read religious books like Pilgrim’s Progress on Sundays, but their favorite, secular books such as Treasure Island, The Swiss Family Robinson and Oliver Twist the rest of the week. One of his early teachers was H.G. Wells who, when offered a job teaching science and scripture, refused to teach the bible—he didn’t believe it.
Alan’s freethinking came from his early years “full of affection, freedom, independence and individuality. Much later these would be the wellsprings of his own books for children.” Writing a poem with his brother Ken, one line read: “Fettered by Nature’s miraculous laws.” Alan and Ken agreed nature was not miraculous, so they changed the word to “inscrutable.” As his biographer states: “Milne had no time at all for orthodox Christianity.” In 1928, Milne wrote a pamphlet presenting his religious beliefs. “It is in the presence of Beauty that we feel ourselves to be in the presence of God … I cannot say what my God is, for it seems to me that one’s God cannot be reduced to thought … He is not the God which man has made … .” Later in life he identified “God” with “the Creative Spirit” or “First Cause.”