A while ago I posted about the fact that as an unschooler I try to support and enable my child in learning what she wants to learn. One of the most difficult bits of this has been religion. My daughter has a faith and wants to go to church and learn more and I am enabling that. My faith is not as strong but I have found a parish that I am comfortable with and am learning along with her, with the support of the clergy and others in the parish.
It is advent. So I picked up some advent resources at church and we’ve been using them. The christian education coordinator did say that there would be aspects of some of them that I wouldn’t be comfortable with but she thought that we could just discuss it and it would be fine. What I am about to write about has been dealt with between Tigger and I in that fashion and she was right.
But I still want to vent about it because it is one of those things that really makes me wonder what some Christians are thinking and what their motivation for their faith is. A few years ago I explored some resources like the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society and found their views excessively rational. But some things make me see why folks would dismiss religion as irrational superstition.
One resource we picked up was a an activity book called Prayers and Promises (from Creative Communication for the Parish though I can’t see it in their current catalogue). It has a poster with a story that you put stickers into every day and a little booklet with readings, puzzles, etc. It starts with the story of Adam and Eve, goes through Noah, Abraham, etc etc through to the birth of Jesus. Overall, it is kind of a nice approach.
But on the second and third days, where the Adam and Eve story is told, there is something really disturbing. In the first day where they tell about the garden we find this in a section where the child is asked to imagine themself in the garden ” … but no mosquitoes bite their noses, no bees sting their toes. A wolf and a lamb are having dinner together (not each other!), a lion and a deer are playing tag.” Even more worrying the next day, when we deal with the snake (who is explicitly stated to be the form Satan takes) we find “Now the lion roared at the lamb, and thorns and thistles suddenly appeared. The sun’s heat burnt their skin, and sickness and death became a part of life.”
What is going on here?! Lions and wolves are carnivores. To imagine a lion that does not eat the deer loses something essential to its lion-ness. When did mosquitoes, bees, thorns, and thistles become evil?! Do people seriously believe this?! Because it is patently absurd.
Interestingly, in the scripture passage at the beginning of this day 3 lesson, we find “Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the Lord God had made…” How does that get turned around to attribute all the stuff we don’t like to Satan in the explanatory passage below?! Seriously, the explanatory passage makes it sound like thistles, snakes, etc. are not part of God’s creation. Why is it so difficult to have a more complex understanding of God’s creation? And what damage are we doing by pretending to children that a world in which lions do not eat other animals is possible and even desirable. That really is irrational superstition.
I am reminded of a conversation Tigger and I had in Blockbuster one day. I suggested that we rent Two Brothers because I thought she’d like it. She noticed that it was rated PG and I pointed out that it said that was because of violence. I said that from the description it sounds like maybe that is mostly tiger violence and I thought it would be all right. She looked at me, incredulous, and said “But mommy, tiger violence isn’t real violence. Tigers can’t be vegetarians.” Maybe I shouldn’t have allowed my (then) vegetarian child to watch Big Cat Diary while eating her dinner when she was younger.