The talking snake

Photo by Patrick Boucher

My daughter got her first storybook Bible for Christmas...

We’ve been hesitant to get her one up until now because we’re particular about the kind of thing she learns about (yes, we’re those parents). We’d rather God not be a depicted beyond reason as a patriarchal, caucasian, lightning-wielding bearded dude (nothing personal against this archetype, but that’s actually Zeus — and Zeus is different).

Our pastor finally handed one down to us that we liked, so I’ve been excited to start reading these stories to Rory before bed (and am learning a ton myself, to be honest). The other night, I read her the one about Adam, Eve, the apple, snake, and tree — you probably know the one. After reading it, we had an interesting little conversation about it…

Her: Dad, the part about the talking snake isn’t real, right?

She’s five, so I could’ve totally gone the old-school route. I could’ve told her that everything in this book is literal fact and that if she doesn’t believe 100% of these stories, she’ll risk eternal damnation.

I mean, really, I hesitated when she asked her question. Like, why is she putting me in this position?? But I answered in the most truthful way I could think of, going against generations of cultural Biblical conditioning (I felt the weight of my deviation down deep — it was crazy)…

Me: Well, no… I mean, not really. See, these stories were written a long time ago. They’re stories, poems, and letters about what people thought about God at the time. But just because they maybe didn’t actually ‘happen’ doesn’t mean they’re not ‘true’. They meant very true things to the people who told them.

Her: Yeah… That makes sense. Okay, next...

Me (to myself): Really?…

I don’t know. Maybe I’m setting her soul up for eternal damnation, but I sure hope not.

My prayer is that she grows up with a much looser and more awe-inspiring notion of the divine than a lot of us did.

Not Santa Claus. 
Not Zeus. 
Not a textbook or an encyclopedia.

But the everlasting poetical mystery of God.

We’ll see where this takes us.


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