It’s called The Seed Who Was Afraid to be Planted and is, by some crazy random happenstance, authored by Anthony DeStefano (Frank Pavone’s right hand man at Priests for Life) and published by Sophia Institute Press (which gave the world the fear-mongering conspiracy theories of Taylor Marshall’s nutty Infiltration). It’s endorsed by a bunch of Trumpian types who have spent years cheering for and defending the infliction of traumatic horrors on children at the border and in poor homes, so they are really staying on message:
This sounds sick as hell to me:
This story places childhood abuse and neglect in the center of its theme. A small defenseless being is repeatedly traumatized by seeing loved ones ‘disappeared’ “…and no one would see that seed anymore.” Then the following stanzas speak of anticipatory trauma that he too will be taken away.
The fearful day comes, he can’t escape, and the man’s hand clasped around him. No matter how the seed cried and yelled, he was taken from a secure and loving environment to one of “horror”, “pain”, and “agony.”
The man that took him away was silent and unresponsive to the pleading seed, buried him alive, and left him abandoned.
That’s a lot for a young child to process, and nearly impossible for one—of any age—that is abused.
The pictures are dramatic and gripping, and the dark subject matter contrasts weirdly with the cartoonish faces and font:Here is the seed, weeping after being abruptly buried alive:
The seed does, of course, come out well in the end, and it becomes a home for birds and animals; children play around it, and it bears much (confusingly diverse) fruit while overlooking a prosperous paradisal landscape with “millions of mansions.”
But this happy ending doesn’t do the job it imagines it does. Realy points out that, while the story attempts to show that the seed’s fears were unfounded and it would be better if he had trusted the farmer, it doesn’t show any of that in progress. Realy said:
Unfortunately I find the story’s transitioning through fear of the unknown into transformation by Grace, weak. The ‘seed’ began to change without any indication of the Creator’s hand, and his terrified soul was not comforted or encouraged by human or Holy.
Instead, it simply shows him transforming “all at once, in the blink of an eye”
This might have been a good place to point out that a seed grows when it’s nourished by a farmer, and to illustrate what appropriate care and concern actually look like. The Old and New Testament are absolutely loaded with references to God’s tenderness, kindness, mercy, love, care, pity, and even affection; but this book includes none of that, and instead skips seamlessly from terror and abandonment to prosperous new life.
It explicitly portrays God (or his nearest representative in a child’s life) as huge, terrifying, silent, and insensible and unresponsive to terror and agony — and also inexplicably worthy of unquestioning trust.
Realy points out:
Research indicates that up to 25% of children in the United States are abused, and of that 80% of those children are five and under (Childhelp: Child Abuse Statistics Facts. Accessed December 2019). This is based on only reported cases.
That’s a lot of kids.
Imagine a child who has been taken from a place of comfort, happiness, and companionship and is thrust into darkness and isolation by a looming, all-powerful figure who silently ignores their terror and buries them alive.
Now imagine what this book tells that child to think about himself, and what it tells him to think about God. Imagine how useful this book would be to someone who wants to continue to abuse, and who wants his victim to believe that what is happening to him is normal and healthy and will bear fruit.
It is ghastly.
I am reminded of my Evangelical days, when there was an urban legend, circulated as fact by people who got their knowledge of Scripture from urban legends, that “Shepherds in the Middle East break the legs of straying lambs and carry them home to teach them not to stray. It’s how God shows us his tender love.” There is no basis for this legend other than a pretty creepy need for control and domination in the subculture. Now, as we discussed recently in this space, that culture has thoroughly leeched into American conservative Catholicism, giving us this abomination with the full approval of the real Magisterium that subculture heeds: some Republican talking heads, some Evangelical folk heros (often the same people) and the voice of the National Catholic Register.