Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ok, Maybe Not That Icky

Update: Broken link fixed.

Well, after that post I did about the need to read the Icky Bible stories (not just the pleasant Bible stories), we've decided that we've reached the limit of our Ick tolerance.

The story?

Sodom and Gomorrah, 'natch.

Not the whole story, of course; the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is certainly one that every Bible student needs to learn, even the young ones. However, we've pretty well decided to leave out the parts that describe the wickedness of the two cities--specifically, the events that happened when the two messengers from God arrived at Lot's house.

Now, it's not so much the Ick factor here. Rather, it's that we'd have to explain a whole lot of interesting facts-of-life stuff to our five-year-old before she could even understand what's going on in this story--what it was that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were actually telling Lot to do, for instance. (Not to mention the really icky response that supposedly-righteous Lot gave them.)

Fact is, even though my oldest daughter is only five, my wife and I have been tossing around ideas about how and when to do the "facts-of-life" discussions with her--when she reaches an appropriate age and developmental level.

Presenting these ideas first in the context of a discussion of Sodom and Gomorrah? Let's just say that this is not the "how", and now is not the "when."

Incidentally, we've decided to hold off on the bit about Lot's daughters for much the same reasons.


As a side note, I've noticed something ironic about the translation that we're using. The New International Reader's Version, in trying to put things in such a way that a third-grade-level reader can understand them, is actually a bit more explicit in its language than those hoary old translations with the high-sounding language. Where the King James Version (some of the other old translations) use terms like "Lay with" or "knew" (as in, "He knew his wife, and she begat a son..."), the NIrV just comes out and says things like "have sex with" or "make love to."

This seems a little ironic to my mind, actually; the language of the KJV and other old translations obscures the meaning to the point that the Icky stuff doesn't sound quite so Icky. You can't actually understand what it's saying, but it sure sounds good....

Whereas the NIrV, aiming at beginning readers, puts the stuff in terms that anyone can understand (so long as they've already had the whole facts-of-life thing explained), and that Ick just sits out there--blatant, unavoidable, and festering. These stories just sound more disgusting in a translation intended for young readers, than they do in the translation that exists as a cornerstone in the Canon of English literature. Go figure.


Of course, it's not just the Bible. The Pillowfight Fairy has been learning about Ancient Egypt as part of her history and literature studies as well, and part of this involves regular reading of some of the Egyptian myths. Tonya decided to ixnay the next story on the list.

Basically, the story involved all the Egyptian gods getting angry with each other and nearly getting in a fight--which almost provoked the sun-god and chief of all gods, Ra, to blow his stack and wipe out the lot of them. But his daughter Hathor, who normally was known as The Destroyer (and who was so dangerous that even the other gods all feared her tremendously), decided to do something to get them to calm down. So she went out in their midst and did the ancient Egyptian version of the Dance of the Seven Veils. This made all the other gods quite happy. Even Ra (Hathor's father) poked his head out to see what all the cheering was about, and saw his daughter, Hathor The Destroyer, dancing naked; which gave even him a bit of a chuckle.

Yeah, now that story is a good idea. Let's read to our little girl about how dancing naked makes everyone--including your Daddy--really, really happy!


(Incidentally, Arby's got a very good story along these lines here).


Ok, so I realize that these decisions totally contradict much of what we decided in that earlier post. Oh, well.

But you know, I suspect this is just part of what it means to be a parent. There are times when X makes sense; there are times when X would be utterly foolhardy; and there is no hard and fast rule that can tell you which is the right thing to do right now. Kids can't be raised as though they were robots; and robots aren't capable of raising kids either. There are very few set rules in parenting, except among those parents who haven't been parents very long.

So, we'll keep flipping forward through these books. We'll save the gratuitous nudity until they're a little older, and in the meantime we'll flip forward to those stories that have somewhat more child-friendly topics.

Like Beheadings.


By the way: coming up soon in my daughter's readings of Genesis?

The Covenant of Circumcisison.

Hoo boy.


Heather said...

OH BOY! We just discussed Circ' with our son - hubby and I were talking about a no circ board I belong to on The Babywearer and our son was in the room. He has/ HAD no idea what circ' was - THE LOOK on his face when we explained it...poor kid - he was so relived when we explained it's done as a baby - but we hadn't done it to him anyway because we are free of the law.

And THANKS for the head nup about the NIrV - I was going to pick one up for my 7 year old.. but DANG.

Timothy Power said...

Regarding the NIrV--note that I don't necessarily intend what I said to be a recommendation against it. The fact is, the underlying story is itself icky. The thing about the NIrV is that, since it uses simple language, it can't hide the Ick behind mellifluous Orwellian circumlocutions. The whole point of the translation is that it's intended to be understood by third-graders, so it explains the Ick in terms that a third-grader can understand.

I'd recommend finding a copy in a bookstore somewhere, and reading the story of Sodom & Gomorrah and/or Leviticus 15 for yourself to see if your kid is capable of handling it.

And even if he isn't, that doesn't mean the translation is wrong for you--it may just mean that you hold off reading about Lot's daughters until he's a little older, that's all.

Arby said...

So, for some odd reason I am unable to access the link to whatever it was that I wrote that you enjoyed so much that you linked it on your blog. I'm happy that you enjoyed it. The thing is, I have absolutely no idea what it is your are linking to. And I wrote it. Hmm....

Timothy Power said...

Arby: I am duly embarrassed. The link is now fixed.

The story is the one about "Nakee Girl!!!!" and the fire pole. ;-)

Rose said...

Shortly after reading your original post about Drunk Noah, we found ourselves gathered together while my husband stumbled through David meeting up with Bathsheba.
Oh dear.