It was a long time ago. Every kid I knew seemed to have a Picture Bible. For those of you who’ve never seen a Picture Bible, it’s a comic book version of the Bible, telling many of the stories, but skipping everything not narrative. Someone thought this was a great idea. I’d like to kick that someone. I’d like to kick them very hard… in both shins… and maybe the groin. Not a very Christian-like response, eh? It’s true… Still, I can’t seem to forgive the person or persons responsible for making my life this difficult. Something about Jesus, Paul, and Moses as cartoons managed to steal just a little bit of the realism from the stories… Go figure. The more I think about it, the more horrible an idea the Picture Bible seems. It’s hard enough to understand a foreign culture. It’s even harder to understand a culture 2,000 – 4,000 years ago. But take that and turn it into a comic book, and you have plenty of reasons why a child growing into adulthood should have a problem or two comprehending the heroes of the faith. Seriously, how does one ever take the Apostle Paul seriously when the story of his blinding light encounter with Jesus sparks imagery of a pink colored man touched by crayon yellow rays? What about Jesus healing the cartoon boy? Children learn to enjoy cartoons as entertainment, and often take away morals from the story if they be present. But the Bible was intended to be far more than an extended fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. I’ve heard some people voice the opinion that it’s often easier to be a Christian if you were not taught Christian principles as a child. Apparently, you get to avoid quite a bit of the hypocrisy we pick up on by mimicking what we don’t understand. At the same time you gain hypocrisy, your tiny developing mind learns to associate the unreal with stories of the real, making true faith that much more difficult. Some parents (especially hard right wingers who homeschool their kids) will react angrily, saying that I have just criticized the best method they have of teaching their children. To which I would reply that I have no viable solution to that dilemma. How do you teach a child the way in which he or she should go? Some children will literally love those cartoon Bible stories. But I ask you this: at what future cost? Somehow, we must learn to disentangle ourselves from the false in order to approach the real.
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