Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Vacation Bible school’

For a short time, I worked as a vacation bible school teacher in our area when I was 18. I was totally unprepared for the amount of questions the kids asked me…

For starters, we were reading the Nativity scene.

One of the kids ask me: How was Jesus born?

Me: Jesus was born in a manger. He was a really sweet baby and all the angels came to sing after he was born….

Kid stops me with: But how did he become God’s son? Did God adopt him

Me: No! No! God didn’t adopt him. He’s God’s son.

Kid: (Silent…in deep thought…finally exclaims) So Mary is God’s wife!

Me: (Feeling trapped) No! Well….. Mary is Joseph‘s wife. But the Holy Spirit visited her and told he she would become pregnant…And Jesus was born

Another kid: Out of an aeroplane? My mother says babies are dropped out of aeroplanes.

First kid: Don’t be stupid! They didn’t have aeroplanes then

Another kid: You are only stupid! You said Mary was God’s wife. Ha Ha

(More words! A fight breaks out. I untangle the two little, fighting furies and send them off to wash their face and drink a glass of water. I pretend nothing has happened and continue with the lesson)

Me: So Jesus was born in a manager with goats and cows, because they had no place to stay…

Another bright kid #3: How bad! Cows stink, they keep on shitting….We have a manger near our place

Kid #4: They don’t stink. We have cows. They are nice

Me: No talking in class.

(I proceed with the class, ignoring all interruptions. My bad luck, our pastor came to see how my class was faring and so did the two little warring heroes)

Pastor: So how is everybody today? What did you learn?

Kid #4: Jesus was very poor. His mother had no money to go to a hospital. So she went to a hotel. The hotel told her to go away. So she went to a cow stall and had a baby. Joseph helped her. Angels then sang “Happy Birthday.”

(I blushed red at this highly-coloured version of the Nativity scene. The pastor turned to the next boy)

Pastor: So why do we celebrate Christmas

Kid #5: Because its Santa’s birthday

(Severely embarrassed, I cringe)

Pastor: (In a patient tone) Christmas is celebrated because Christ was born on that day. That is why everyone celebrates Christmas……

From the next year, no one invited me to teach at the Vacation Bible School, and I have a strong feeling that this pastor was involved in the decision

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Coming from an ultra-Christian family, I found my views would often come into direct conflict with everyone I interacted.

Even now as an atheist, I still have to rethink my attitude, prejudices and discontent that 21 years of religion taught me (I’m now 23). A religion, that I once believed….A religion I tried hard to follow, as I was brought up in the faith that one day I would have to become a Christian missionary.

When I was a kid, I remember reading the Bible and asking “How Cain got his wife? How did Noah keep his ark clean, if he didn’t open doors when there were animals that shit? How did Balaam’s ass speak? Can Achu (my dog) speak?”

You can be sure, I didn’t get answers which satisfied me.

Being a dog-lover, my bitterest moment came when my grandmother told me, “Animals don’t go to heaven.” Since my church pastors also felt that way, I was inconsolable.

My first reading of the sexual act did not come from the TV or magazines, but from the Bible. The short accounts of rape, incest and violence was in a way an eye-opener.

And also as a kid, I was taught in school that there were no caste; Everyone is equal. Even my mother taught me Mahakavi Bharathiar’s songs and instilled in me the belief that all human beings are equal. The same person and a host of other relatives, however, opposed my decision to love a Hindu 10 years later. If discriminating against a Dalit Christian is bad, How come discriminating against a person (my hubby’s also an atheist) just because he was born a Hindu is ok?

As a kid, the Bible was the gospel truth to me. So I was shocked when I read in the Bible that the punishment for a slave was death, while the punishment for a free man was an “eye for an eye; and a tooth for a tooth.” First and foremost I was shocked because the slavery system was being upheld in the Bible and secondly because there was discrimination even when it came to punishments.

I used to wonder at the preaching that non-Christians go to hell. I couldn’t believe that my best friends and the larger population of India was going to hell. And secondly many Christian pastors preach that Hindu gods are demons. Now some Hindu mythological stories are not exemplary, but there were other really nice ones I read in Tamil literature. I used to like Karnan a lot, from the accounts I read of him in Bharathiar’s Panchali Sapatham.

I used to ask, “If you say the stone idols have no life as they are created by human hands, when did devils and demons take possession of them?”

When I asked questions in school and college, I was encouraged to do so. Science was in many ways a comfort as facts were facts. They were not going to change because a different pastor took over in church. I used to score high marks in Maths and badly in religious studies only because of this…Questions were discouraged in Sunday school, Vacation Bible school and in church.

Many Christians support Israel in the Israel-Palestine war. They feel they have to support the atrocities of Israel, because the Jews are God’s chosen people and because Jerusalem should belong to Jews or Christians not Muslims (I’m not anti-semitism, but anti-war and anti-religious hegemony). I felt as most secular Indians do

  • that Palestine should belong to the Palestinians and not to Israel, backed by the imperialist US
  • that the US’s motives were purely mercenary in getting the Jews to occupy their native land after more than 2000 years through military aggression
  • that India’s condemnation of the US and Israel militant tactics in this issue was correct
  • that Palestinians were the underdogs not the Israelites

I also found myself in strong opposition to the church’s stand when it came to the Iraq war. I felt betrayed that no one in the Church was condemning the US. Instead many wholeheartedly supported George.W.Bush, because he claimed he was a Christian, because he was anti-abortion, anti-homosexuals, anti-gay rights and pro-war.

After the Gujarat pogroms, I expected Christians to come out in support of Muslims and condemn the state sponsored genocide in Gujarat. But No! The Christians in Tamil Nadu were more interested in protesting against the anti-conversion law. I felt they should not demand for justice, when they didn’t want justice for all minorities in India.

I have heard many Christians say horrible things like “All Muslims are terrorists.” How are they different from the RSS, Sangh Parivar and Bajrang Dal, whom they oppose?

With regard to women also, the Bible fares poorly. I found the verses “wives should submit to their husbands, women are the weaker vessel, they must be protected, women should obey their husbands, women must not speak in church,” in direct contradiction to what my secular school taught me; “that women were equal to men, women can work in all profession, women are not weak; there are trained women commandos, women army cadets, women doctors, women astronauts and women writers.”

It was the Iraq war, which came as the lat straw. I was around 16 at that time and I got fed up of the church and its hypocrisies. But it took me five more years to completely get out of the lies that religion taught me.

Read Full Post »