Friday, May 6, 2016

Christian Mythology for Kids...and Adults

atheist parent

I received my copy of Christian Mythology for Kids: A Secular Family's Guide to Modern Christianity by Chrystine Trooien in the mail yesterday (yay) and started reading it right away and I can give you a few preliminary observations. It was $19.99, free shipping with Amazon Prime, comparably priced to most books of this size. 

It is a satisfyingly-sized book, hardback, just the right size for the perfect book to read to kids. The illustrations by Christopher Zakrzewski are gorgeous and generous. The colors of the stylized images are truly beautiful. Here's one illustration to whet your whistle:

Author Chrystine Trooien is a wonderful atheist mother who was raised in a fundamental Christian home and who is now mindful of the Kool-aid© out there offered to the minds of our that way Trooien is much like myself and most of my friends and readers here on My Own Mind blog. This collection of Christian stories will allow your child to be informed in the cultural references so prevalent in our culture that come from the Christian tradition while not being indoctrinated or lulled by the saccharine found is so many other renditions of the folk stories.

After all, what other reason would there possibly be to read this collection of notably unremarkable stories if not for the cultural awareness?

As a kid not raised in the church (although we fanatically embraced it in my early teens) I was frequently confused by the references to the various gardens that seemed to be prevalent in the Middle East so many years ago, by the various ghosts and supernatural beings who were unclear to me, by thirty pieces of gold, and by the many murders ordered by the Lord on High, I would have been better served by a book like this one by Trooien than by the Big Book of Children's Bible Stories with the gold binding on the pages that someone gave me for Christmas one year...because I believed all of that crap. Because the grown ups all believed it. 

I have to mention that the stories aren't written for a child to read by themselves, that early reader kind of style. They are written at an estimable reading age of 10+, best guess. But I'm sure the stories would make interesting bedtime stories when followed by discussion. The author has made a point to not include frightening or alarming stories in this volume of myths. But, you know, if you think about it, so many of the mythology stories from the Christian Bible are real yawners if you are not a believer.

When my kids were little 'uns I would frequently read myth stories that we picked up from the library. Fun little volumes about Baba Yaga (kind of scary to one of my kids), creation myths from all over the world, Ganesh, Greek and Roman myths (of course), Native American myths, Anansi, and so so so many more folk stories from around the world. While reading these many stories we would also read the Christian myth stories right along with the other stories...and they didn't stand out in any way as any more true or remarkable. As silly, maybe.

John and three cousins
holding up the world.
We often talked about how so many of these stories were written by people who were trying to explain phenomenon, understandably unscientific stories, before our people finally began to have a better understanding of how the world worked. We enjoyed these stories tremendously and the kids enjoyed exploring the various beliefs and thinking about what it would be like to believe stories such as these under a wide open sky. It was all very non-threatening, open, fun, and highly influential in helping my kids to understand why such stories became so powerful in the various cultures that they represented.

In short, I recommend Christian Mythology for Kids.

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