Monday, April 9, 2012

Explaining Good Friday To My Six Year-Old

The Good News is that the story isn't real.
The Bad News is that people believe it.

"What is Good Friday?" Ali asked.

Ali is my six soon to be seven year-old, and she had asked that question several times in the last few days. Under normal circumstances I have no problem answering my children's questions immediately. The problem was, of course, was that she asked at the most inopportune times. We were vacationing in Florida at Disney World when she asked about Good Friday. I chose the prudent answer I'll tell you later versus taking the risk of potentially facing a mob of disgruntled Christians. Being the dutiful father I forgot about her question until she remembered it a relative's house who happened to be a casual believer. Though the relative in question is laid back in her faith, she is in her seventies and a survivor of pancreatic cancer as well as two small strokes. I certainly wasn't go to induce stroke #3 by informing Ali on the barbaric history of Good Friday in front of her. I simply gave her my previous answer that her question would be answered later.

This morning was later.

Most of the great philosophical discussions that occur in my family happen during breakfast. I sat down with pencil and paper and said, "I'm going to explain Good Friday right now." Will, who is nine and has had the myth explained before, cringed a bit. He knew what was about to happen: a journey into the irrational heart of darkness of our species.

When explaining complex ideas I like to draw pictures as a visual aid. No, my pictures are not good, but they do convey meaning. This is approximately what I drew.
"You see", I explained,"God is up there in heaven  -- that big cloud. God decided that Jesus, who was a man and God at the same time..."

She shot me the look. The look that I'm talking the crazy talk.

I wasn't going to go over the history of the intra-Christian conflict regarding the teaching of the Trinity (I just read the book AD 381 which focuses on this issue. Do you know why most Christians believe in the Trinity? Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the Trinitarians were willing to use the force against their subordinist (i.e. Jesus is not of the same substance as God the Father) colleagues. But I digress.)

"I know it doesn't make any *sense, Ali, but this is what people believe. OK, a woman gives birth to a boy named Jesus. He grows up into a man and then the Romans killed him," I made a quick decision which I now regret, "by nailing him to a cross."
Her little eyes opened wide.
"The nailed him?" she asked.
"Right, but you have to have to remember that this is just a story. It isn't true. It's just like the stories about Zeus or Top Cat..."
Hmmm, that was a logical question. In for a penny in for a pound, I thought. I drew another picture.
"Most people who believe this story," I continued, "think that every person was born with something called sin."
"What's sin?"
"It's something that makes you do bad things, like lie and cheat. Because of this sin God well send you to Hell and punish you after you die."

"For a little while?" Ali asked.
"Forever," Will piped in.
"Because Jesus died Christians believe that if they do what God tells them to do -- and once again God doesn't exist -- then they will go to Heaven after they die."
I took a breath.
"Look, there are many good people who believe in this. It doesn't make them bad people. It's just that they are wrong about this, and they will get upset if you tell them it's a made-up story," I said.
"That's why we don't tell them," she said.
This is simply Standard Operating Procedure...
in Purgatory.

*Even St Augustine stated that you had to believe in the Trinity first to make any sense of said Trinity. 


  1. That Friday during those years I was forced to participate was by far the worst of the 365 possible.

  2. It is funny how kids see right through the insanity of the Christ story isn't it? The only difference between you and a Christian dad is at the end. When you say this story is not true and the Christian dad has to say "this is what we believe happened" then probably gets asked a few more questions and has to explain the crazy notion of "faith". Your little girl is much better off...too bad my parents didn't do that with me 30 years ago...

  3. I've been wondering how to explain these concepts to my future children, should I ever get any. This sounds like a pretty reasonable route. I really wish my parents had done this with me, too. Alas my mom was a Christian and my dad...well...I think he'd have rather told me it was all bs. When I got here I think he was a nominal Christian and over the years his views changed quite a bit. He just didn't rock the boat too much.

    1. My father was a deacon and my mom was the organist at our church. I got to learn how not to parent from them.

  4. The hard part is...Is fishsticks OK to eat. Really...


  5. There will always be those who are perfectly content to not only eat religious shit but insist on feed it to their children and yours as well

    I too am a theocratic religious nut cake


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