God's Book Is Not for Kids
Is the Bible too scary for children to read?
David and Heather Kopp write regularly--sometimes individually, sometimes jointly--on spiritual parenting. This column is by David.
It is a very fine day for Doubting Tommy. In the second graders' Sunday school room, which smells of graham crackers and Playdoh, Mrs. Prindle is warming to her story. On her flannelgraph board, green parrots, gawky giraffes, butterflies, aardvarks, lizards, and more line up under a blue sky. A nice Christian family-Mr. and Mrs. Noah and their offspring-are helping the happy menagerie walk up the long bridge to the door of the ark. Tommy is crunching on a cracker.
"Why is it called an ark instead of a boat?" asks Tommy.
"Ark is a Bible word for a very big boat," says Mrs. Prindle. "When everyone is inside, Mr. Noah shuts the door." Mrs. Prindle seems anxious to get on with the story. "Then it begins to rain."
"What about wats?" asks Tommy. "I have a pet wat."
"Sure, there were rats on the boat, too," says the teacher.
"The ark, you mean."
"Yes. And it kept on raining for days and weeks."
"What about fleas?"
"Sure, fleas, too...I guess. Probably on the rats." She attempts to beam. "And it kept on raining until the whole earth was covered in water."
"What about the Noah's fwends?" Tommy looks peeved.
"The water covered them, too, because they weren't on the ark."
"And what about the kids across the street?"
"Them, too, Tommy. Honey, would you raise your hand if you want to talk? And then one day..."
But Tommy won't be stopped. "What about their gwamas and gwampas?"
"And the people in other countries? Millions and millions. And their kids and their pet wats?
"God dwowned them a-a-all? Glub, glub?" Tommy, all alarm and triumph and cracker crumbs, is staring wide-eyed around the ring of bored kids.
"Tommy," Mrs. Prindle says. She's not beaming. "God was upset about sin. He..." She straightens her hair. "Sweetie, may I just finish the story about the ark with all the animals inside?" She reaches into her lap for the flannelgraph rainbow...