Every night t I tell my son a bedtime story. Usually he wants me to make one up. So for a while I would make up nature stories; about squirrels flying in airplanes, or beavers making friends with a deer family, etc. After the nature stories, I started telling him stories from my past. I had a good time telling him about some of the silly, fun, ridiculous, and even dangerous events of my life. After that I moved to some of the standard fairy tales. Then one night I was having a tough time thinking of a story. I was tired, my creativity was low, and I felt like I had exhausted every genre of bedtime story. Then I thought of bible stories. I always liked bible stories growing up. But I was trying to raise my son without religion. Should I even tell him a bible story? I quickly reasoned that most of the stories in the bible were probably fictitious anyway. Telling him a bible story would be like telling him a fairy tale. And it would probably be good for him to hear a bible story in that light. Besides, it is inevitable that he will be exposed to religion, and I might as well be the first to expose him to it.
One of my favorite stories in the bible is the story of Joseph, so I settled with that story. I told Taylor about Jacob’s 12 sons, the rainbow coat, Joseph’s dreams, his trip to Egypt, the dreams of Pharaoh, the seven years of plenty, the years of famine, the whole gamut. Taylor laid there absolutely rivetted by the story. It really is a pretty nice tale. I then tucked him in to bed and turned out the lights.
The next night Taylor asked me to tell him another story from “that same book.” He wanted another bible story. I racked my brain trying to find another bible story that would be good for him. I thought of the old testament. I thought of the new testament. And I kept on thinking. Then it came to me: I literally couldn’t think of another story that I felt was appropriate for a six year old. What was I supposed to tell him? The story of Lazarus? My son does not believe in magic, and the story is kind of creepy. The story of a bear killing 40 children because they made fun of Elisha? How about the story of God killing Uzzah for steadying the ark? I found myself at a loss. Finally I told him the story of Jonah, but edited it a bit to make God not look like a total jerk. The next night Taylor wanted another bible story. Finally I just told him that god was something or somebody who was not real, who was in the sky, and who wasn’t very nice. I told him he was like Santa Claus except he wasn’t as nice as Santa. He seemed to understand that. And by the way my son doesn’t believe in Santa Clause either. I told him I didn’t want to tell him any more bible stories because they were all about god being mean to people. He seamed OK with that. I know he will probably learn more of the bible stories as he gets older, but I want him to wait until he is more mature. Kind of like a parent waits to show their child a PG-13 movie.
I find it sad that children all over this country are introduced to a fictitious character in the sky whose temper kills millions of people in the bible, and whose temper will turn on them with the hottest of flames if they don’t have a relationship with a ghost. This was the world I was raised in. These are the stories that traumatized me, and these are the stories I’m not going tell my son during his formative years.
The next night I told him a story about a gopher family who made friends with a blue jay. He liked it. I liked it. And it was wholesome. We’re going to keep it that way for a while.