Although I SHOULD take it easy today, do my work, and go lay down or something, I find myself inclined to write. It was prompted by something over at Websnark, a discussion of Chick tracts and religious writing for kids, and whatnot, and I found myself remembering perhaps my first moment of literary criticism, as a kid at Grace Community Church. (Talk about nonstop service to pain...well, anyway.) At Sunday school, twice a month they handed out a little kid's newsletter, six or eight pages, front and back, that always included as the main bulk of the letter, an illustrated tale of a child with a Moral Dilemna who goes astray, but eventually finds their way through bible readings or something. The quality was pretty hit or miss. (Apologies if I've told this take before--I may have. My memory's not wht it used to be.)
The one that sticks in my mind was the sordid tale of a kid who wants a basketball. And Christmas comes around, and he gets the money for a basketball. Oh frabjous day! But wait! He should tithe ten percent of the money to the church, and then he won't be able to afford the basketball. Horrors!
We could do a few minutes on the not-particularly-subtle attempts to indoctrinate 'em young into financially supporting religious institutions, but at the time, that somewhat sinister motive went right past me. Mostly what I thought was "You have GOT to be kidding me. No kid in the history of the WORLD has ever thought like this."*
Anyway, the story tracked his sleepless nights worrying about tithing, until finally he snaps, donates the money to the church, and then Jesus gives him a discount basketball or something. (That part is fuzzy.)
Whenever I think about writing for children, I think of this story of basketballs and realize that I am probably not cut out for it. Because the great irony is that I recall enough of being a kid to realize that I don't recall being a kid. I don't mean just the blatantly obvious bits, like how kids are barbarians and adults romanticize childhood out of proportion. We probably all know that already (or should.)
What I have forgotten, I think, is the complexity. It's like...oh...trigonometry. I recall something vaguely about sines and cosines and logarithms and various keys punched on my graphic calculator, I recall months in a dusty room with fabric covered walls, when all those numbers made a kind of sense** but I no longer know what that sense was. I know that there was this vast, complicated world, with its own language and landscape, and I know I've lost the keys.
I dunno if this is going anywhere, mind you. Were this an essay, I should have a conclusion right about here, perhaps with a nice restatement of my thesis sentence (which seems to be "Nonstop service to pain!" and thus has little bearing on the matter.) but I don't. But such is my contemplation as the Vicodin wears off this fine morning.
*With the wisdom and maturity of another two decades tacked on, I realize now that probably there are some poor children who sweat and twitch and lose sleep over how much of their allowance to donate to the Church, which is the sort of thing that sways me towards Richard Dawkins's belief that teaching religion to young children is a form of abuse, and such instruction should be saved until they're old enough to actually understand what goes into a religion and choose it deliberately, instead of being convinced that hell awaits the child who does not give up his dimes. But I still think it's gotta be a rarity. Also, I digress.
**Only kind of, mind you. There's a reason I went into the social sciences.