Posted by: Andrew G | March 19, 2010

Christianity – Love it or Eat it?

Aaah, Christianity! The arguably immaculate offspring of Judaism.

I’m not going to summarize the faith and its many branches in a blog article. It would be unfair to the differences people hold so dear and would likely just make me look silly.

Instead, I thought I would talk about how I was introduced to the religion — Arch Books from Concordia Publishing House.

Ok, now my copies have copyrights from 1964, so we’re talkin’ old school illustrations. The modern version (there are over 100 of these little books in a complete set!) have a more updated style, but for me old school is the only school.

I picked these two particular stories because they were the ones I liked the most when I was a kid, and they really capture the essence of Christianity, for me at least.  They are both from parables told by Jesus (Luke 15: 11 and Luke 10:25 for the original sources and context).

Horribly short summaries:

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Prodigal son — a boy takes his inheritance early so that he can have a good time with fast liquor and strong women. When the money’s gone he takes a job as a pig-herder, then decides it’s maybe time to back and see Dad. Dad welcomes him with open arms because his son has returned and there is still love between them.

.

.

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Good Samaritan – a merchant takes a trip only to get mugged by thugs and left to die by the side of the road. A priest walks by and does not want to touch him. A temple assistant comes along and does not want to touch him. An outsider comes along and realizes the merchant needs some mercy, and so helps him and pays for a night’s lodgings.

.

(I especially like how the illustrator, Sally Mathews, made the Samaritan’s legs all wobbly when first seeing the merchant by the road.)

IF I were still a thorough and steadfast Christian and someone came to me with curiosity about the faith, I would probably start with these two books. Yea, they are kid-books, but the whole point of a short parable is to get the point across, right? And good kid-books have always known how to get the point across.

I certainly wouldn’t start with the Bible, and I wouldn’t start with Jesus even. Too much baggage. I would start with stories.

Check out the vultures waiting

Sometimes I’m the son. Sometimes I’m the father. Sometimes I’m the merchant. Sometimes I’m the priest or the temple assistant. Sometimes I’m the outsider. I can see myself in these stories. I’ve played all these roles.

And regardless of how strongly I believe, or how much I poke fun at belief, or even what I don’t believe in at all, I can see pretty clearly the best way to play these roles. And I can tell what’s the best way to play.

What’s your favourite story? And what have you learned from it?

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Responses

  1. I liked Jesus scattering those in the temple. Upsetting the hypocrites.

    • Hey again S,

      Yea, that is a real good one. Especially since it’s still so relevant today (we still use the cliche, after all!)

      One issue I do have with it though is that it is a story ‘about’ Jesus, rather than just a story to tell. Eventually someone might ask if it really happened, if it is a true story, etc.

      (Fearing the repercussions here, I might venture to say that Christianity is better off the more it leaves ‘Christ’ [and God for that matter] out of it.)

      hey, mind if I add you to my roll? (just starting out, haven’t really organized it yet)

      • Hey,
        Please do add me you your roll ! I shall add you to my “Friends Tab”.

  2. The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan are surely pretty basic illustrations of where Christianity starts and ends.We all can get so caught up in the quest for adventure and fullness of life that we can easily loose our sense of where life might be found. And yet at some time we have to make the venture and do the learning that goes with it, if we really want to know ourselves and where we want to go. Returning to the father who awaits us is like returning to the source of life in God, the creator.
    The Good Samaritan, now thats a greater challenge and responsibility.Becoming responsible for the neighbour at all times but particularly when they are in great need.And in the context of wabbly legs and danger and cost to oneself. We have in this story the greater challenge of Christian Stewardship – in the caring for others and all it’s ramifications.
    Wow! Powerful stuff, to think about and act upon!

    • Hey Dad,

      Lo and behold, but I actually chose these two stories because neither of them are too dependent on Jesus or God. But I like the journey idea, because we are all certainly in the middle of our own quests (and the path can easily fill up with distractions and messes and dangers)

      [so much for my own agenda, 🙂 )


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