Sunday, February 25, 2007

Thoughts on scripture, religious books, and toddler training!

Last week, my kids and I were in Waldenbooks looking around, killing time during Sam and Gabe's piano lesson. Up in the kid's section I noticed a huge rack of literature study guides! I had never seen these before. They weren't cliff notes but a "study guide" for works like Moby-Dick, Jane Eyre , Wuthering Heights , etc. Out of curiosity I picked one up and was very pleased. These little guides gave information about the life and times of the author. They explained some of the historical things that were occurring during the time the book was written. They also took different phrases and figures of speech that the 21st century reader might not be familiar with because we lack the context for the culture and climate in which the book was written. I made a mental note to come back and check these out and perhaps buy a few when I get more heavily into classical literature with Sam.

Later that evening I thought about what a tremendous gift these guides could be to a reader trying to understand and enjoy these classics as fully as possible. These little tools could give a richness and better understanding to each book.

The bible is a collection of "classic" books as well, much much older than any of these pieces of classical literature represented by these study guides. The Catholic scholars I have admired, particularly Professor Scott Hahn and the late great Bishop Fulton Sheen, weren't afraid to dig deeper to understand the life and times of the different bible authors, to study their culture, their lifestyle and even dig into the authentic biblical language of the authors. Their understanding from these other sources did not take away from reading the scriptures, but helped to bring a fullness and deeper understanding of the very passages. It occurs to me as odd then that many of the lay Christians I have debated, read and discussed the bible with, are recalcitrant to look at anything outside of the bible to help explain the bible! It seems to me that if the 21st century reader of a a 19th century novel could use use some help in understanding the subtle nuances, that would be even more true in reading ancient scripture!

On another note, today at mass there was a sale for religious books in the vestibule. They had a number of good things like the catechism and a few bibles. But there were a few books there that were unfamiliar to me. I didn't know the authors and I had never seen the titles and I felt wary of them. In my early reversion to the Catholic church, I read a number of books that said that they were Catholic, but then said things that conflicted with what I was learning about the faith, particularly in the area of faith and morals! I eventually learned that just because an author proclaims himself to be Catholic, he might not be true to Catholic Church teachings, and that can be confusing and dangerous for Catholics who are not well-formed in their faith. I know our pastor is a big fan of American Magazine. In my opinion, that magazine is not always 100% Catholic in its ideology. With that in mind I kept away from the book table.

While I was standing in the back of the vestibule I was holding my little Rosie. The child is well over 20 pounds now and has it in her mind that she wants to run around during mass. Part of that is my fault. When she was a baby I played with the music group and Mr. Pete sang in the same group. It was up to our oldest children to hold her during mass. That was fine until a few months ago when she decided she did not want to be held down during mass. She wanted to be wild and free!!! So, they took her to the back and let her run around. Today I decided to nip that in the bud. I held her in my arms the entire time. She wiggled, she fought, she squirmed, she cried out. But I held her firmly and told her no. Finally by communion time she had no fight left in her. My arms were sore, but I had won. She sat quietly with me during the entire mass.

I think that during lent, instead of playing with the group, I am going to make this the season of training my toddler to sit for mass. If I can accomplish this, it will have been a good Lent.
Rosie- the consummate toddler!

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