No Good Deed Part Deux

wooden boy readingSo I’m volunteering again on the last day of the library Book Sale. Same deal: a dollar a bag, get a second bag free. This time, pickings were really down to the dregs: Nora Roberts paperback romances and movies on VHS.

In walks a Mom – late 20-something with a row of ear piercings and her generation’s version of a Metacilla black t-shirt. With her is a six-year-old child with hair as short and face as round as Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon. Plus two post earrings. Boy? Girl? You tell me…

Almost immediately, the child is itchy to leave. What starts as alotta “What’s this?” questions, soon turns to “When are we going?” By the voice, I’m thinking a boy. (Later, when I bait him with a Barbie DVD, he balks.) “Soon,” is the mom’s innocuous reply.

Even when she pawns off the best of the worse remaining children’s picture books on her kid, she keeps wandering the aisles. Frustrated, she takes her child by the arm, pushes him up onto an office chair, tells him to “look at your book,” and continues her browsing. I can bear it no longer. I take a pregnant pause and a deep breath and ask the child, who has now been identified as Ripley, if he would like for me to read his book to him.

Turns out the book is entitled Finding the Titanic published in 1993. I tell Ripley about how the ship was considered “unsinkable,” but on its first trip, “Guess what happened? IT SUNK!” The kid looks amazed. I equate the unseen iceberg to ice cubes in his soda glass. He insists he sees a skull in some of the black-and-white photos of the wreckage.

I’m figuring when I finish reading to Ripley, his mother will take the hint and finish her shopping. But no such luck. What in God’s Green Earth could be taking her soooo long? So I get her six-year-old to help me pack up paperbacks. But by about the fourth cardboard box, we both had had it. He went back to bugging his mother and I didn’t try to stop him. Finally, after a few sincere “Thanks,” they give me a dollar and go.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can ignore my kid with the best of them. But for an hour-and-a-half, all that poor little boy wanted was his mother to pay attention to him. And all that meant was stopping what you’re doing, looking your kid in the eyes and fuckin’ listening to what he has to say. Several times, Ripley had asked his mom when was he gonna learn to read. Given his mother’s pat answer “Soon”, let’s hope he’s NOT homeschooled.

Where Did the Dinosaurs Sit?

dinosaur toys cropThe recent unveiling of the 4.4 million year old hominid fossils, “Ardi,” reminded me of the first time I heard a Creationist homeschooler make a comment about “that evolution thing.” In my 50+ years, I’ve met many people of many faiths, beliefs, crazy notions or no notion at all. But it wasn’t until that afternoon in the gym’s waiting area, where parents chit-chatted and breast-fed, that I encountered a scientific (not religious) concept so far afield from my own.

I guess Morgan was nine or 10. About a half-dozen moms were waiting for the Homeschoolers’ Gymnastic class to finish. A conversation had started about field trips, specifically Nature Centers. I can’t remember the location, but one woman commented that her family had really enjoyed its woodland walk. And she was especially thankful that the naturalist hadn’t gotten into “that evolution thing.” It was the friendly, nodding responses that caused me to excuse myself to hide in a stall in the Ladies’ Room to talk myself down.

I know alotta Christians who believe in evolution. Granted, they might not be able to explain how Darwinism actually meshes with the Holy Bible’s version. But when I went to Methodist Sunday School, I don’t remember any mention of dinosaurs being on Noah’s Ark. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Not a problem for Young Earth Creationists who totally buy into the literal interpretation of Creation by God’s clock. Meaning T. Rex, Adam, Eve and all their kin appeared on that sixth day, about 6,000 years ago, in happy coexistence. Which, to me, sounds ludicrous, given what science has shown. But that’s the thing – some of us have faith in Genesis, others in carbon dating.

The great irony is, you know, if I were a Christian, I’d be a Creationist. I’m so black-and-white, if I’m gonna believe, I’d have to swallow it all—hook, line and sinker. “Because the Bible tells me so.” This, of course, is why I’m not a Christian.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

42-16022395So I’m volunteering on the last day of the library Book Sale. A dollar a bag, get a second bag free. That kinda Bargain Basement price brings out the frugal, the geeks, the hoarders and me.

In walks a Mom, a little girl, a tween boy, and the oldest child – a taller-than-me, lanky, kinda jumpy teen boy. I can tell by the intensity of the teen’s circling, he’s looking for something. So I ask. He wants some fiction “like The Hardy Boys.”

A few years ago, Morgan read some of the NEW Hardy Boys series and enjoyed them enough that he/we created a board game patterned after Clue but based on Frank and Joe’s adventures. I apologized, knowing there were no Hardy Boys left. But I tell him the series is available for checkout back in the library. He smiles, thanks me and wanders over to the audio table.

Now I can hear the brothers talking as they flip through the CD and DVDs. The teen says, “I’m not allowed to listen to The Beastie Boys.” (Remember You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party! circa 1986?) Ooops. If this kid’s not allowed to listen to old punk rock, maybe the NEW Hardy Boys recommendation needed to be rescinded. You see, these guys are not your mother’s Hardy Boys. More violence, more murder, and even worse, the whole girlfriend/boyfriend thing.

So at checkout, I mention those aspects of the books to the kid’s mother, since given her son’s listening limitations, she’d want a heads-up. I would. Truth is, however, if I’d really looked at the woman BEFORE opening my big mouth, I woulda just taken their dollar, thanked them and let the Hardy Boys books fall where they may. Come on, it’s the Hardy, not the Mitchell, brothers.

The mom, with all her plain, sweet, 30-something smallness, also had those watery eyes and peaceful half-smile of polygamists, Hare Krishnas and Stepford wives. She sincerely appreciated my caveat. I felt better. Unfortunately, it initiated her witnessing to being born-again and she was gonna tell me all about it– no matter what I said– including the fact that I was not. That just spurred her on. Luckily her children pried her, still trying to save me, out the door. Thank you, Jesus!

I Swear to God: Resurrection Cookies

Jesus CookiesListen, I love baking cookies with my kid. It’s yummy science. And even as an atheist, I can appreciate the value of using that process with learning Scripture. I remember the Easter Story. It’s got its sad parts, but at least it’s got a happy ending. If you believe in that kinda stuff.

Sure, this recipe does end with sweets all around. But the route to getting there sure seems like it would scare the bejesus outta any kid.

Resurrection Cookies

We recommend baking these cookies on the Saturday night before Easter. But before you start, read the full recipe and collect all the materials and ingredients needed. As you make the cookies with your child, read aloud the Scripture story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection where inserted in the recipe.


1 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 egg whites (room temperature for best results)
pinch of salt
1-cup sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F degrees. Place the pecans in a plastic freezer bag. Let your child break the pecans into small pieces by beating them with a wooden spoon.
  2. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, Roman soldiers beat him.Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him whipped. The soldiers twisted thorns together to make a crown. They put it on Jesus’ head. Then they put a purple robe on Him. They went up to Him again and again. They kept saying, “We honor you, king of the Jews!” And they hit Him in the face. John 19:1-3 Now, ask your chi

Jeez Louise Camp

campfireI want to tell myself (and you, dear reader) the reason I found the documentary Jesus Camp so unsettling ISN’T because it’s about Evangelical Christians. I want to believe that if the film was about Tupperware saleswomen or European soccer fanatics, I’d find their behavior as disconcerting. But I’m not so sure.

My spiritual belief system aside, it’s the power of Faith that I find so fascinating, yet so frightening. Whether that devotion is lavished on Jesus, plastic tumblers or the World Cup, I just don’t get it. Wish I did. Looks like a good buzz.

The film stated that 75-percent of homeschooled children are Evangelical Christians. Maybe not in my neck of the woods, but nationwide, I can believe it. And it was a homeschooling mother’s logic as she and her young preacher man son discussed Evolution vs. Creationism that I found befuddling. It’s the Leap I can’t make. She’d call it a Leap of Faith. I call it Failed Logic.

I could easily relate to the mother when she questioned, “Why would I send them [her children] somewhere else for eight hours a day?” My sentiments exactly, Hon. And I share her conviction that, as home educators (not to mention parents), we have the right to teach whatever we want to our children. But we part ways over what we teach our children.

I’ll concede she’s correct when she says that unlike the iffy science of evolution, Creationism provides all the answers. But that rationale only works because God said so. So unless you’re willing to accept that premise as gospel (excuse the pun), Creationism won’t hold water. But to argue the point is pointless.

When the film ran again later that night, I couldn’t watch it. And I can usually suffer through anything at least twice. Funny, I recorded the PBS documentary, Tupperware! because I just could not get enough of Brownie Wise. Talk about cult of personality…

Look, I’m not interested in saving my soul. But saving my fresh vegetables, now that’s something to believe in.