The All-New Jesus Show
Older son’s at an age where he’s realised that some things aren’t real, but he doesn’t know which ones, or how to tell the difference. He’ll be watching TV and ask me if Mister Maker is actually real, and then I’ll have to explain that there’s a real man who really makes things, but he’s not really called Mister Maker, he doesn’t really live in a cardboard box, and no, he doesn’t live in the TV either, which then usually leads to a long discussion about how TVs work.
He can get confused by the strangest things – I once had to explain how I knew the Octonauts aren’t real:
Well, animals don’t talk, and they don’t wear clothes, do they? And they don’t live in huge motorised underwater mobile homes, and polar bears aren’t really the same size as cats and penguins, and there’s definitely no such thing as vegimals, and above all, it’s a cartoon.
It’s not that he’s stupid – in fact, he’s very bright. But he gets confused because things that are real are mixed up with things that aren’t. He knows that Octonauts teaches him about all sorts of really amazing sea creatures (and does it very well – you should hear him on the subject of Snapping Shrimps or Vampire Squid). So he expects everything else about the programme to be real as well, even the walking, talking vegetables.
And this is the boy we pack off to Sunday school to be told all sorts of implausible stories by real people out of a real book. How’s he meant to know what to do in a situation like that?
He isn’t, of course – that’s the point. He’s meant to accept that the stories are true, because they’re being told by a nice person he knows. And he knows that you learn true things at school, so Sunday school must be just the same, but on a different day. Deliberate or not, and regardless of whether Christians are right, this is indoctrination. He’s being taught “facts” which are highly questionable at best, at an age where he isn’t able to rationally assess them for himself. That makes me sad.
More than that, though, I feel guilty. I know this is going on, and I’m not doing anything about it. He enjoys Sunday school, there aren’t really any easy alternatives, and to be honest, I just don’t want to take on my whole family over this. I’ll keep trying to help him to think about things and not believing things just because someone he heard them from someone he trusts.
I just wish I didn’t have to face choices like this.