So the holidays are (sort of) over, and my 12-year-old and I are the only ones up and around, clunking about, kicking around holiday debris, enjoying some quality(?) time together, here, on this Saturday morning, around 10-ish, after Christmas.
I’m losing a little bit of patience, however, because I kind of thought we were past the baby-talk stage. Never did I talk to my kids in baby talk. I wanted them to learn to actually say “bottle,” not “bah-bah,” so that’s what I would say to them.
Therefore, they learned to speak, not babble, except for my youngest, who persisted in calling her older sister “Bluh-luh” for the longest time – a sound which doesn’t remotely resemble her true name, which begins with a vowel. Still, it helped – and I felt far less like a fool as I chatted endlessly and hopefully at strollers with belted-in droolers. Yeah, I’m really not a baby person. I just had them, and as I tell them both, I like them better and better the older they get.
I take my duty seriously, though, to teach them. Them, at least – not the whole world. The rest of the world, I simply catalog as stupid, smart or somewhere in between, and I tolerate both with equanimity and relative good humor. The stupid make good fodder for this blog. The smart entertain and teach me – though as I often remind my kids, anyone, however stupid, can teach you something.
Today, however, I felt obligated to teach my 12-year-old.
“Mom, where does ‘I’m not my brother’s keeper’ come from?”
Aghast at my own failing to instill any kind of background in the study of religion, however comparative, I was momentarily speechless. Doesn’t EVERYONE know that? Doesn’t everyone somehow assimilate the story of Cain and Abel?
Having yanked the poor child out of religious education after she attempted to throw herself from a moving car, rather than endure the misery of Roman Catholic Confession, I realized my child was suffering from large gaps in her education.
“Honey, I’ll tell you what one of my favorite professors in college told me. No educated person has NOT read the entire Bible.”
“WHAT?” she gasped. “The whole THING?”
“Not at a single sitting, goof,” I laughed. “But fear not. It’s just a clump of small books, strung together. You don’t even have to read it in order.”
I turned stern. “It’s shorter than ‘Twilight.’ ” Then I softened. “Come on. I’ll read some to you.”
We read the story of Cain and Abel, and then, for background, we started on the Creation story, which led to some trouble before I even cracked the first “Let there be light.”
I began to mutter something about “Creationists” equaling “lunatics,” forgetting completely that I was talking to someone I’d indoctrinated to have tolerance for all beliefs.
My lack of kindness for folks who ignore the colossal body of fossil records and massive scientific evidence in favor of a version of an earth being created that has trees springing up “bing-bing-bing” in a day really pissed her off.
That is, until I started reading it.
“Wait, Mom – a dome? God created the sky as a dome? So, what is that saying about the earth?”
“That it’s FLAT, honey.”
“So, how big is it supposed to be? And what’s beyond the dome?”
I pointed to the first paragraph. “The abyss, honey.”
We went on.
“A basin? Wait, Mom – the sea is a basin? Like a big bowl?”
“Wait, Mom – sea monsters?”
“Wait, Mom – Adam named all the animals? What, in English?”
“Well, no, wait, I don’t know. Maybe Aramaic.”
“An ancient language.”
She did get excited when the geography part started – when the river in Eden is described, and the Tigris and Euphrates are named. (She’s good at geography.)
The temptation of Eve, however, was unsettling. You see, a lot of misconceptions abound regarding that little tale – but if you read the book, as we did this morning, you learn a lot about who the snake really is.
Sure, it’s Eve who does the talking with the serpent – but it says right there in the book, Adam is with her the whole time. Does he speak up? Say anything like: “Eve – babe – is this really the best idea? Didn’t God say cheese it on that tree?” Does Adam step in front of her and say, “No thanks, leave my wife alone?”
No. The wuss does nothing except grab the apple and munch when it’s his turn.
It gets worse. When God, like an angry dad, comes strolling through the garden, where Adam and Eve are hiding behind a plant (literally), and says: “Hey! You kids, get out here. Who told you that you were naked?”
(At which point my daughter inserted: “Our EYES.”)
Adam, the rat, the snitch, the stoolie, the coward, puts his weak-ass little hand on his wife’s back and shoves her right under the bus. “SHE did it. She ate the apple, and SHE gave it to ME.”
So the Old Testament God, who is, if you notice, a rather moody thing, short-tempered and VERY big on vengeance, doles out THIS punishment:
You: woman – childbirth is going to SUCK.
You: man – no more plucking from the trees. Now you have to sweat and farm.
You: serpent – crawl on your belly, and everyone is going to hate you.
And He locks up the garden of Eden – because there’s one tree left He wants to make sure NOBODY gets a hold of: the Tree of Life. Eat that, and you’ll live forever.
God puts a revolving fiery sword and a band of cherubim at the gate. Nice. Keep in mind, when you hear cherubim, don’t think sweet little cherubs. Every single time an angel appears in sacred texts, the first thing they say isn’t what you see on the Lifetime Channel: “Hey, let me solve your problems.”
It’s: “Be not afraid.”
You think Twilight vampires are scary, exciting reading? Try the Bible. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s a real page turner, that’s for sure.