Thursday, June 12, 2014

mine eyes have seen the gory of the nailing of the Lord

Just a follow-up to the last post, with reference to the 1970s Bible-stories book in particular - you might say, well, as long as you set up the context correctly, i.e. it's just some old stories and not actually true, where's the harm?

As it happens the book I've got - which a quick look at the front page reveals was given to Hazel for her christening in April 1978 - has some illustrations which reveal the child-friendliness of these charming old stories.

Here's the Great Flood - Noah and his family are all fine (animal poo build-up problems aside), sailing off over the horizon in their great big ark, but everyone else is completely fucked:


And then there's the first Passover - those who were foolish enough not to smear their front door with a sufficient amount of goat guts having their first-born arbitrarily killed:


Here's old Moses reading out the ten commandments - just to make the point that this is NOT A JOKE and God is REALLY SERIOUS about this shit, he's doing it in front of a blood-smeared altar upon which there are some pots with all manner of unspeakable animal remains in them:


Here's where this shit really gets real: Salome carting around the head of John the Baptist (looking a bit surprised, as I imagine you would be) on a plate:


And finally, from the otherwise more mellow and cuddly New Testament, here's that nice Jesus chap being nailed to a tree:


The point is that far from being a collection of cosy harmless morality tales, this is an unmitigated series of Bronze Age horrors with no redeeming moral message whatsoever, unless of course you actually believe your kids need to be traumatised into obedience lest they meet a fate far worse than any of those illustrated in unnecessarily lavish detail above, i.e. burning in hell for all eternity. Since that's all utter nonsense the best thing is probably to keep this well out of the reach of children.

By contrast, let me once again commend to you the work of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, partly because they're just terrific stories, but also for the subtle messages of equality and tolerance that get unobtrusively slipped into the books. Here's Tabby McTat's new owners, Prunella and Pat - it's never deemed worthy of special mention that they are a pair of middle-aged lesbians - why would it be, after all?


And the knights-rescuing-princesses thing is nicely subverted in Zog when Princess Pearl announces that Zog and the knight can just ruddy well cut out all that nonsense about fighting for her honour, as she doesn't need saving, thank you very much, and she's going to go off and be a doctor.


Try any of that stuff in the Bible, and they'll probably stone you to death. It's even worse than saying Jehovah.

2 comments:

D MackD said...

Didn't do Hazel any harm though eh?

Or me. I was subjected to much worse ( by my elder siblings ) more often than not.

kveet. Kveet. Frisnet. *twitch*

electrichalibut said...

I suppose the way to look at it is: if you were showing your kids Driller Killer and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre of an evening instead of Peppa Pig, social services would be having a word, and rightly so, and the argument that some kids would manage not to be scarred for life by it wouldn't cut much ice. All I'm saying is is doesn't magically become not abusive by attaching the word "religion" to it.