There is seemingly no limit to the lows Christians will go to, to indoctrinate children into believing in their imaginary friend. Look at this book title, currently a NYT bestseller :
This is based on another book telling the same story, “Heaven is for real”. The story goes like this : Little Colton Burpo develops appendicitis, complicated by perforation, he gets very sick, has some kind of NDE, gets saved by science, medicine, doctors and nurses, and then gets told by his parents that it must be god who saved him, and that he indeed went to heaven and came back.
“It is a simple and pure message from the experience of a four year old child: ‘Jesus really loves children. And He loves You!’ ” says Laura Minchew, senior vice president of speciality publishing at Thomas Nelson.
“What a delight to see this message resonating with so many families.”
Colton’s experience of Heaven is brought to life through illustrations Wilson Ong to give children a taste of what he saw and know too that Jesus really, really loves children.
Sorry folks, but this is child abuse. A 4 year old is told his NDE was him going to heaven and then coming back, that’s lying, and not in a harmless “Santa exists” way. That kid would have been traumatised by his severe illness, and to survive just for his parents to brainwash him into the Christian cult is beyond contempt. It does not follow from one child surviving peritonitis that there is a god who loves children. Rather, what follows is that there is no god, and if there were to be a god, it is either a god who doesn’t care, or is unable to intervene when kids get sick, i.e. it’s a useless god.
I have nothing but contempt for believers who use the illness of a child as an excuse and an opportunity to proselytize. It’s disgusting. And to do it in the disguise of a children’s book is even more contemptible.
Hey look, it’s Tim Minchin day somehow ! Ah well, I guess it could be worse. I just saw this fine article by the man in the New Statesman, and in it, Minchin talks about something I have been wondering myself. And that is of course, should we tell our children that Santa isn’t real, and that no corpulent man in a robe will deliver the prezzies riding a reindeer-driven sleigh, thereby undoubtedly breaking several animal rights laws ?
I’ll give you my answer before I talk about what Minchin had to say.
I think we should not tell the kids that there is a Santa in the first place. It’s not required for their development that they are lied to by their parents about imaginary beings. That’s the theory. But of course, you can’t escape the whole Santa machine anywhere around Xmas time. Santa is everywhere, on every street corner, on TV, in every school and kindergarden. So in practice, every single kid will know about Santa. Should we tell them it’s all a lie and that he isn’t real ? Well, I think it doesn’t hurt a child to have a harmless false belief for a little while, it’s not that Claus has a religion named after him and 2 billion followers who believe in talking snakes and picket female reproductive health clinics.
This one is really hard, because on the one hand the rationalist in me wants to take my son by the hand and explain to him that Santa is not real, on the other hand I don’t want to spoil the fun for him, and as I said above, I think as far as false beliefs go, the Claus Delusion is pretty harmless.
But now to what Tim Minchin had to say :
And so I face a dilemma: I had sold her the myth of Father Christmas in the spirit of allowing a child a sense of wonderment, but I felt that lying to her face when she’d asked me point blank about the veracity of my claims was a step too far.
I fumbled around a bit before opting for: “Father Christmas is real . . . in the imaginary world.”
This didn’t really satisfy her, nor should it have. Like so much language in theology, philosophy and parenting, that sentence has the odour of wisdom, but is a load of old bollocks. Quite nice as a phrase, but pure sophistry, like a lot of the stuff I say on stage and like nearly everything your preacher has ever said. It is the stuff of obfuscation – words to divert, like the passive hand of the magician – not the clarification Vi was seeking.
But I suppose my answer served a function. She subsequently went along with the story and I reckon she will again this year.
“Real in the imaginary world”. I’m not convinced that a 5-year old can do much with that statement, but the idea behind it really isn’t bad.
What do my readers think ? How did you break the news to your kids, or how would you ? We have 48 hours left to figure it out !