Sunday, September 30, 2012

First Religious Lesson - Religion is Open to Interpretation

Since my daughter is now attending public school, and no longer at a Catholic school, she is now enrolled in religious education once a week.  And since she brought home her CCD workbook, I thought, great, let's take a look together.  And it was very cool.  There was the "Here's the church and here's the steeple" finger play instructions, a place to color in a rainbow over Noah's Ark, and poems.  Let's read one now called "Hurt No Living Thing" by Christina Georgina Rossetti:

I am not alone in my crazed
quest.  I know exactly what this
stick figure is wielding in her
hands (it's a pheremone trap)
Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty... "Oh, dear"... wing,
Nor cricket chirping cheerily,
Nor grasshopper so light of leap,
Nor dancing gnat, nor beetle fat,
Nor harmless worms that creep.

The "oh, dear" was my interjection.  See, ever since we bought an infested package of dates from the Indian emporium Patel Brothers, I've been waging an intense moth-extermination regime.  I bought pheremone traps and moth balls, Oxo containers that cost $17.99 (!!) a pop, and any time I see a larva or moth I make a big production out of killing it.  My battles with the moths are legendary, and are very well known by my daughter.  So, how does one reconcile insane anti-moth mommy with the lovely poem above and its moral message?

This is war!
So, we learned about the interpretive nature of religion right off the bat.  See, what they mean not hurting moths is, don't hurt the ones minding their own business.  But, I'm sure the author doesn't want moths eating all of her oat bran and popcorn, right?  Also, surely the author eats meat, so she didn't mention pigs and cows in that little ditty, did she?  And, another thing: plants are living, too, so does she not eat vegetables nor trample on grass?  Does she let termites eat her deck and mosquitos feast on her juicy thighs and so on?  So, yes, I sucked the magic right out of that poem, but hopefully not out of her religious education.  There are so many difficult topics to explain to young children regarding religion; I know as a child I hated the ambiguity and the downright contradictory nature of it, and I gave my poor mother a lot of grief doing my CCD lessons.  Any readers have any suggestions for avoiding trouble on this topic?


  1. I think you handled it well. I think the open to interpretation is a brilliant way to go.
    We had moths eating all of our sweaters in our old house. That was a battle. I could lead a more peaceful life if it was moth free.



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