18 March 2008

A caution for parents

Yesterday afternoon, before departing for the See City for the Chrism Mass, I visited with our second grade students and read a book to them, with necessary editing.

One of their teachers asked me to read Benjamin's Box: A Resurrection Story. In the story, Benjamin is given a wooden box, his "treasure box," that has only a few pieces of straw in it. His grandfather, a shepherd, took the straw from the stable in Bethlehem. Benjamin and his friend Eli are present in Jerusalem when Jesus makes his triumphant entry into the city and follow Jesus and the disciples, collecting various items which Benjamin places in his treasure box.

For the most part the story is fine, but there was a particular section where my attention was peaked; it concerned the Last Supper. The narrator tells us:

Soon Jesus arrived, and the supper began. If Benjamin listened carefully he could hear some of their words. But what did Jesus mean when he said the wine was like his blood and would be spilled, and the bread was to be broken like his body. It made no sense (11).
I'm not concerned because young Benjamin didn't understand what Jesus meant. I'm concerned because the narrator is lying to young children.

Jesus did not say the bread and wine were "like" his Body and Blood; he said the bread "is" his Body and the wine "is" his Blood.

The danger of stories such as these which employ the same or similar language is that they implant false teachings and ideas into the minds of young children. These ideas slowly take hold over time and then when someone tries to teach the truth to them some years later they will not believe it becuase, "that's not what they told me when I was a kid." How many times have I heard that phrase over the last three years?

Parents, beware of the wording of the stories that your children read.

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