Suffer the Little Children

And God said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”
Somehow, I am not convinced He was referring to mine.
My family’s forays into religious instruction have met with disaster. It is not surprising when one set of grandparents are Mormon, the other Anglican, your Dad is an atheist and your mother a sort of a Pagan.
Let me place this perspective. It was Christmas Eve, the tree was shining, the gifts were wrapped and my sons gathered around their father’s knee.
“Boys,” he said, “Your little sister still believes in Santa, so don’t ruin it for her. Okay?”
Ah, how sweet, or it would have been, if I hadn’t had a conversation a few nights later with the little sister concerned.
“Mummy, Daddy has told me the facts. There is no God.” stated my tiny daughter.
“How. Could. You?” I roared at my spouse.
“Hmm? How could I what?” he asked in mild bemusement.
“Santa Claus!” I spluttered, “The Truth!”
At his point he wisely decided to shut up and wait for the tsunami to pass.
“How is it okay for her to believe in Santa, but not in God?”
Small boy aged 7 came home perturbed by our eating habits.
“Mom. All animals are God’s creatures, so we can’t eat meat anymore.”
“Sure thing,” I said, “But then you have to eat vegetables.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to Father Ian. I am sure God will make an exception.”
It is not as though I haven’t tried to engage my children in religious thought. I took them all off to the family service at my mother’s church. It did not go well.
I should have known from the start, when after two weeks of readings from the Gospel of St Luke, my son James hooked up with another James and the two of them staged a revolt.
The priest stood and droned, “And the reading today is from the gospel of St Luke.”
The ritual silence was broken, “No!” said the two James’s standing up on the pews. “You read from Luke last week and the week before. This week, you read from James.”
In the face of their combined fury he was floored. He read from James.
Then we had to face communion. We knelt in supplication. The priest made his solemn rounds of “The body of Christ. The blood of Christ.” And then he got to me. My son watched intently and then burst out in horror, “No, Mum! You’re not going to drink the blood of dead guy are you? That’s disgusting!”
My mother is still furious that I performed what she refers to as a cop-out and I like to think of a quick two-step to the right. I delegated responsibility for explaining the sacraments to the priest.After all I wasn’t sure if he subscribed to transubstantiation. Then I bowed my head and wept in laughter.
Since my son pointed out the rather vampiric quality of the communion ceremony to me I’ve not felt the same about it. Anyway my mother then suggested we take a break from church.
It must be genetic, because she was almost ousted from a prayer group for daring to challenge the origins of Easter – the pagan Goddess Eostre and the bunny and egg as symbols of fertility did not go down well with the church group. Funny that.

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