The Color of Water

by James McBride

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While reading The Color of Water, were you curious about how Ruth McBride Jordan's remarkable faith had translated into the adult lives of her children? Do you think faith that is instilled too strongly in children can cause them to turn away from it?

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It is clearly true that children often turn away from the faith that was instilled in them by their parents when they reach adulthood. It is perhaps more accurate to say that this generally happens because the faith in question carries painful associations than because it has been instilled "too strongly." This was the case with Ruth McBride herself, who associated Judaism with her abusive father and unhappy childhood and was eager to embrace Christianity instead.

In The Color of Water, however, Ruth McBride's Christian faith does not seem to have had such a negative impact on her children. In particular, Christianity provides a link between her and James when he has reached adulthood and connects both of them to the memory of Dennis through the New Brown Memorial Church. In the lives of Ruth's children, and particularly James, both Judaism and Christianity are positive forces of human connection. This human aspect of religion seems to be more important than theology, although the universal, all-loving nature of God is also an important theme in the book.

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