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Jessica Hagy sums it up well:
Thomas Paine: Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
Nice try, but I don’t think that much of Aesop actually counts as scary tales, does it? Maybe the boy who called wolf does, but the tortoise and the hare seems pretty innocuous; ditto the fox and the grapes.
I agree with her premise but weren’t the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm told among the peasants as a means of entertainment and not specifically for children.
Aesop is kind of cynical, I’ve always thought the values it contains are kind of awful. Leviticus, well, yeah, but it sort of lacks narrative structure, though it certainly has lots to appeal to the more morbid side of children. I never remember anyone reading it to me when I was a child. Grimm is wonderful, as is Hans Christian Andersen.
By the way, Dawkins really should hav taken the bother to read Leviticus for himself and not relied on John Hartung’s rather foetid paper about its substance. John Hartung has got cred problems due to his playing both sides of the street in the Kevin MacDonald scandal.
I wonder if children would find it more comforting to be told that they are nothing but the expression of genes without free will and, in fact, are nothing more than robots made of meat. I’m not going to tell a kid that to find out, though. First, it might scare them, second, I don’t think it’s true.
My kids were lucky. I never did read leviticus to them. Come to think of it, I never did read any Bible stories to them, except the birth of Jesus a couple times. Now their grandmother read Joseph and the coat of many colours to them and my younger son was just fascinated by it. My older son read the Bible through once or twice and now he’s a Buddhist who wants nothing to do with it. Amazing how that works. Freethinkers’ Parenting 101: Don’t like reading the Bible, then don’t read it to your children. They might read it later, but more than likely they won’t end up X-ian. Oh that’s bad.
To olvlzl: You find the values in Aesop’s fables “kind of awful”, and Grimm’s “wonderful”? The Aesop I’ve read has quite a few stories about the value of friendship, cooperation, and honesty. Which fables do you find awful?
And the less than wonderful Grimm story that sticks in my mind is Snow White. The real ending of which has the evil queen invited to the wedding of Snow White and her prince, whereupon her royal wickedness is put into a pair of red hot shoes so that she may entertain the wedding party by dancing until she falls down dead. Lovely stuff, if you’re teaching your kids revenge and torture. Maybe you were thinking of the sanitized Disney version?
Steelman, I assure you I wouldn’t subject a child to a Disney product, Walt Disney was the Anti-Christ of cartooning, putting the wonderful Fleischer’s out of business. I can’t, offhand, recall who did the English translation I have and am not about to go rummaging through my attic to find it now. It was a complete edition with the stories usually left out. I’ve read a number of them in the original too. You don’t read the really scary ones to young children, you wait for them to read those themselves when they develop a taste for the lurid and sensational.
I don’t think anyone reads Leviticus to children, at least not since the eclipse of hard line Calvinism. That would be just sick. But I do remember the thrill I got at about age eight reading the story of Judith and Holfernes in the apocrypha, complete with picture of her with the head. And I didn’t even understand what she was doing in his tent. Sheltered upbringing.
I find the general message of Aesop is that people are basically out for themselves and that you can’t expect much in the way of kindness in the world. Which ones do you find messages of friendship in? I’m looking down the index of my copy and nothing jumps out at me.
I read the OT through as a rather young kid, well before my teens. I think it fucked me up for life. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but only a little one. The ideas it conveyed about people being butchered for no reason other than Jehova’s fatwa against them, little children getting slaughtered with the old, babies getting eaten or smashed against the rocks, first born children getting killed by a DEATH-angel… Holy Fucking CRAP! Literally!
But, you know what’s even worse? That my sunday school teachers were honky-dorey with this and other xians acted like there was something wrong with ME for thinking these things were atrocious. You have no idea how this screwed up my morality and even my self-image at that age. I was so scared of ending up on god’s shit-list that I didn’t dare leave the faith even though I thought he was a Prick. Later, I learned to love him for the NT and compartmentalized away the OT. And still later, realized it was all make-believe. I wish I had started off knowing that.
Anyway, all that’s to say: Don’t give young kids the OT to read.
I was raised secular (I’m from the Soviet Union) and was given a children’s Bible at the age of 6 1/2. I read it cover to cover but considered it nothing more than a nicely illustrated storybook and enjoyed it as such — I guess the nasty bits had been taken out. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that there was anything more to the book.
olvlzl said: I find the general message of Aesop is that people are basically out for themselves and that you can’t expect much in the way of kindness in the world. Which ones do you find messages of friendship in?
The ones I’m thinking of are often about the kind of friends you shouldn’t have. Aesop’s fables come across as cynical because they are cautionary tales about the traps in life that are set either by others’ desires or our own. He mostly communicates from the negative position; what we ought not to do. After letting Aesop have his say, I reinforce the positive position by asking my kids what choices the characters could have made better. I’d rather have them concentrating more on how they should act than how they shouldn’t.
Old Aesop is just one implement in my moral education toolbox.
Steelman, I assure you I wouldn’t subject a child to a Disney product, Walt Disney was the Anti-Christ of cartooning, putting the wonderful Fleischer’s out of business.
Well, I’m (not) sorry to tell you I’ve been soiling my TV screen with the live-action “filth” of the Evil One lately. Not a lot of kid safe movies that aren’t just pushing product or political correctness out there these days, so family movie night has recently seen the likes of Herbie the Love Bug, Toby Tyler, Swiss Family Robinson, and Old Yeller. I watch with my kids, and discuss the plot during and afterward.
I don’t have much sympathy for your aversion to Disney if it’s all about cartoon industry capitalism rather than content. I loved those classic Disney cartoons growing up, and I can share them with my kids thanks to Netflix. As for Max Fleischer, I’m not sure how much Walt hurt him; I watched just as much Popeye as Mickey Mouse when I was a kid (and hey, my wife even has Betty Boop pajamas!).
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