Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Bible in a year with a four year old.

I found a children's Bible called "Day by Day Kid's Bible" In the byline it says, "read the Bible in 1 year 7 min. a day!" But honestly, even in the sanitized kids version God is a little scary. I am backing off of my plan for awhile. Here is why:

Day 1: Day one goes quite well. The world is created, Adam and Eve are created and still don't wear clothes.

Day 2: They sin, God kicks them out of the Garden of Eden, tells Eve that children will be painful. And He sends angels with swords of fire (this part really got my son's imagination going.) Also, there's fratricide. Abel dies.

Day 3: The flood. Which is a popular nursery theme, but to all of the people who died during the flood, it wasn't a happy time. I keep thinking of those who died during Hurricane Katrina, or that last scene in The Perfect Storm.

Day 4: Except for God's punishment upon an entire nation because Abram and Sarai lied, things go relatively well on Day 4.

Day 5: Sarai gives Hagar to Abram so that they can have a son.

Day 6: God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah and everyone except Lot and his daughters die. (Actually, Gomorrah is left out of this version of the Bible. I guess saying Sodom AND Gomorrah put us over the seven minutes). Lot's wife looks behind her and turns into a "post made of salt." Thankfully, the following incest episode is left out of the kids version.

Day 7: Abraham throws Hagar and Ishmael (who is young enough to be carried by Hagar to a tree where she leaves him to die) out of his house. God approves.

So this is the first week. I am emotionally spent. Also, Caleb has had lately, a morbid fascination with death. Today, while driving to the gym I was trying to brace Caleb for the possibility that he might not be that tall. He keeps asking, "Mom, when I'm five will I be taller than (insert friends name here). I told him David wasn't that tall, but God used him to kill Goliath and Goliath was a giant. Then he asked where they were. And the rest of the conversation went something like this.

"Caleb, they lived a long time ago. They are dead now."
"How did they die"
"Well, David killed Goliath and David died because he got old." To make it sound better I added, "He went to heaven."
Nice pause, I listened to Maroon 5 sing a song about sleeping in on Sunday. That sounded so appealing.
"Is Goliath in Heaven?"

Okay, we haven't really discussed Hell alot with Caleb, and I was about to drop him off at fitness center childcare. Do I really want the last discussion we have to be about Hell, a place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? Especially since there are sometimes obvious parallels between hell and free-for-all childcare. Of course that is probably more my perspective than his.

"I don't think Goliath is in heaven. I don't think he will fit. Is he bigger than Heaven? Mom, is he bigger?”
"No, Caleb, He isn't."
"Well, I think he is. How do you KNOW heaven is bigger?" This is an annoying question coming from a four year old.
"Moms just know these things."
"Well, Goliath will shake Heaven. He will walk around and heaven will shake if he is there. He will stomp, stomp, stomp and heaven will shake. Are bad guys in Heaven? Mom, are bad guys in heaven? Bad guys have guns. They aren't in heaven. They will shoot the roof off." Then he finished off his little mental riff with, "You can't have guns in heaven." That last sentence spoken in the same tone of voice he uses when handing down rules to Elise.

This made me think about the warning sign that is posted at my church, "No concealed handguns allowed on the premises." And I thought how this is one small way we are doing on Earth as it is done in heaven.

Okay, where was I, oh yeah, Caleb's preoccupation with death. He really fixates on one part of the story and usually it is the part where someone dies. I'm not sure reading the Bible through is the right thing to do at this point. A lot of people die in the Bible, especially in Genesis and Exodus.

Which brings me to a larger point: The Bible isn't a kid’s book. I was raised on Sunday school Bible stories and so they tend to have a fairy tale feel to them at times. But the Bible is far more than a true version of Aesop's fables with simple morals at the end. I've heard it called a love letter from God. I'm not sure that is the message Caleb is getting. No, the message he is receiving is "If you don't obey God, He will "smush" you.

I have the same uneasiness as when I taught To Kill a Mockingbird to my eighth graders. Even though it is my favorite book, and I am one of many that hold up Atticus Finch as one of the great heroes in American Literature, my students were just too young, or at least should be too young, to deal with a book involving incest. And to teach it while glossing over major portions of the book showed a lack of reverence and perhaps a flippant attitude towards the central theme of the book. Looking back, I hope eighth grade literature wasn't their only stab at it.

I guess I have some of those same issues with teaching the Bible to Caleb. Not that I should hold off or wait, but the Bible deserves reverence and its message deserves care. The Bible is a vehicle to loving and knowing God. More about loving him.

Well, now he is up from nap. I promised I would help him build his Lego castle and then act out Daniel in the Lions’ den (which he just learned in Sunday school) with the little Lego guys. It ends with King Darius having the evil men thrown into the lions den along with their wives and kids. They are eaten by the lions before they hit the floor.

No comments: