Monday, October 4, 2010

the Bible, censored

Tucked in the back of my son's closet are some newly-forbidden books, hidden from sight, begging to know what destiny awaits them.

And I have no answer for these books, except that they stay hidden.

For now.

I don't feel right chucking them; I could be okay giving them away.

These aren't Katy-Perry-dances-around-with-Elmo kind of books; they don't teach evolution or get into why-Ella-has-two-mommies;

they're Bible stories.

Three Bible stories.

Months ago, I could flip through the pages, rewriting the text, moving quickly past the pictures of sinister-looking men. Now, my son is too smart for that.

Let's take Joseph's story.

It starts with an illustration of a kind, old man putting a rainbow-colored coat on his son.

I skip the part that says, "Of all his sons, he loved Joseph the most." With a brother on the way, no concept of favoritism needs to be introduced.

The next picture is of Joseph, happily trotting down the road, older brothers in the background, with arms crossed and scowling faces. We ignore the text that speaks of their anger and jealousy. 

There are more scowling faces until we reach the page where Joseph's brothers throw him in a pit, his perfectly-animated face displaying some contortion of horror.

Here's where I transition from paraphrasing

to skipping over

to lying.

Joseph fell in a pit, I tell Carter.

And then he went on a journey to see the pyramids and Joseph's daddy is crying because he thought Joseph was hurt and let's please try to ignore those awful, sinister, evil faces of Joseph's brothers one more time.

Then Carter will ask for Daniel's story. Another classic.

The very.


starting scene.

shows a picture of a boy playing with his toys. And then some soldiers appear on the opposite page, one with an arrow drawn and the other, reaching over a wall, snatching the boy's toys away. We're told, "One day, a great army came and captured all of the people there and took Daniel to a strange land."


So, next time you're innocently playing with your toys, son, you should be aware that soldiers just might come and take you away, too.

The story moves on, giving us a brief respite from having to paraphrase. skip over. and lie. until we reach those sinister men.

And once again, I'm brought to a very familiar place--lying about how our hero came to find himself in a pit.

Daniel fell into a pit with lions. 

The king was worried, God made the lions "be nice" to Daniel,

and one would think we could end the children's version of this Bible story right here.

Of course not.

Let's mention that the bad men had to be thrown in the pit with lions and, for kicks, let's include a colorful illustration of the lions lunging at the frightened (sinister) men.

Don't even get me started on Noah.

While I have less paraphrasing, skipping over and (no) lying to do with this story, I can't help but wonder why the makers of everything-Baby have chosen this story to be their mascot.

The one time God is so fed up with the world and disgusted by the violence of men that he chooses to wipe out the entire population, sparing only Noah and his family, is immortalized in pastel colors plastered on nursery walls and baby bedding around the world. I guess if the story of Sodom and Gomorrah had a few cute token animals and a rainbow, we'd be churning out artistic renderings of it as well.

So, I'm in a quandary.

I don't want Mickey to be the only character capturing my son's imagination.

I also don't intend to lead him to believe that the world is a perfectly safe place, protecting him from the inevitable truths of bad people, conflict and pain.

But seriously.

He's only two and a half.

I think (I hope) I'm right in thinking that these themes of betrayal, war and the horror of this fallen world can wait...

just a little longer.

We're only innocent for so long, anyway.


  1. I had to laugh because I am going through the exact same thing with Ethan. I have all of the old bible story books my parents read to me when I was little. I actually have very happy memories of reading them with my brothers and sister every week at family bible study.

    The other week I pulled them out to start reading to Ethan... Daniel, Baby Moses, David and Goliath, Noah... every one of them talked about someone being killed. I didn't know what to do while I was reading them to Ethan, just tried to explain they were bad men and hoped he wouldn't think that it's okay to kill bad people.

    Couldn't figure out why I looked forward to reading these stories every week growing up.


  2. I totally hear you, Leah. I know that there's a time and a place to talk about the deliverance, safety and provision that God provides his people--but those stories are all within the context of danger, evil and injustice--concepts that Carter isn't familiar with yet. I don't want to have to teach him what injustice is in order to get him to value the justice of God. Not yet. For now, I'd be happy with Bible-based stories on sharing, being kind to your friends and obeying your parents! So, if you find those books, let me know!