Sophfronia Scott came to Christian faith as a child, having read a religious tract and praying the prayer at the end. Her family wasn’t regular churchgoers, though her father listened to eight-track tapes of Reverend C. L. Franklin and movies like The Ten Commandments, King of Kings and the Greatest Story Ever Told. When she was in college, at Harvard University, she reacted to a Christian friend’s harsh judgmentalism towards athiests and this increased her wariness of church. She had thought about getting baptized, even spoke to Rev. Peter Gomes about it, but Gomes’s requirement for baptism was being committed to a Christian community, and she wasn’t about to join a church.
she came to church and a more significant faith as an adult. Her young son, Tain Gregory, heard Where is Your Hairbrush? on satellite radio in the car. This led to the discovery of other Veggie Tale Silly Songs and the Veggie Tale cartoon. As Tain learned about the Bible from vegetables, he began to show an interest in faith, God and spiritual things. One day he
said he wanted to go to church. So Sophfronia, her husband Darryl and Tain decided to start attending church together. They settled on Trinity Episcopal Church, the church that Tain’s preschool had been in.
I knew before reading This Child of Faith, that Sophfronia had a son who was a third grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman entered the school. The events of that day entered the national consciousness. It was the fourth largest, single shooter massacre in U.S. history. I figured, given the significance and severity of that event, this would be a difficult read, knowing that any Sandy Hook story would be intense.
And it was. Tain lost a close friend (a godbrother) and other people he cared about. Sophfronia struggled with the best way to help Tain process the trauma. But despite the way that day impacted their family and community, this memoir is not really the story of the Sandy Hook shooting. Rather, this is a story of a mother and son, each growing in their Christian faith and the resource their faith was to them.
Sophfronia tells us of Tain’s faith and childlike wonder, the way he saw God everywhere, his gregarious and generous spirit, and the things this called up in her. She also describes what she did to help nurture Tain in the faith, her lesson planning for children’s worship (which she was conscripted to occasionally lead), and the day she and Tain were baptized together. She talks about how their pastor walked with them through difficult stuff, such as the death of a friend’s husband and Sophfronia’s sister. The school shooting happens near the end of the book. It is Sophfronia and Tain’s faith journey that would give each the resources to process that painful event. Their family worshipped together at Trinity church, they were fed by sacraments, oriented by liturgy and the liturgical calendar, and bolstered by devotional practice and prayer, surrounded by the community of faith.
Sophfronia lists Tain as her co-author. She wrote the book but includes occasional memories and reflections from Tain. With an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College, this is a well-written memoir. And despite its graphic and heart-rending conclusion, this signals hope. Their faith carries them through trauma and loss. I highly recommend this. Five stars! – ★★★★★
Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review.