Should children be seen and not heard? I remember I was once riding on a train in Umbria, and some local urchins were screaming up and down the aisle like the flames of Hell were licking at their ankles. I quoted the remark about their being seen and not heard to the priest sitting across from me. We struck up a conversation, and he introduced himself as Monsignor Tommaso Stenico. Soon we were talking as if we were old friends!
“Vecchio cazzo,” he said after a pause in the conversation, apparently having trouble with my Anglophone surname, “I was wondering whether you could help me with some research I am planning to carry out with some of the younger priests in my parish?”
It dawned on me that the Monsignor had mistaken me for another type of person entirely! I am aware that, behind my back, some of you have called me “denominationally challenged,” but I must point out that at that time in my life I was certainly not a Papist. So the Monsignor’s overture, while not unwelcome to the ears of a supporter of the general importance of research, was misdirected. Nevertheless, there was something about his question that rang alarm bells, and since at the time I was covertly gathering information on the secret lives of the Papists, I decided to play along.
A few hours later we were at the Archdiocese, listening to Ethel Merman records and roasting marshmallows in his Toshiba microwave (I realized that Tommaso also knew all the lyrics to “Anything Goes”!) From there, we spent several weeks on the Lido with a Corsican student priest named Tadzio. It was not until the following Summer that we realized both of us were operating undercover, I doing research on the rites of the Papists, and he gathering information on those who damage the image of the Church with homosexual activity! What an absurd misunderstanding! We were disappointed, but also relieved to know that none of what happened between us was genuine. Still, it was not wasted effort, since I learned how to give excellent pedicures – a skill that has helped me out of more than one sticky Theological quandary!
Today’s reading is also about children, and the recent accusations that the Bible uses children in an inappropriate way. Specifically, the liberal media has complained about the treatment of Isaac in Genesis 22, arguing that Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son on God’s command, only to be reprieved at the last minute, is using children in a cynical and exploitative manner. Ninja-like as ever, I will wield my keen Theological acumen to eviscerate these objections.
It is true that God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac, but I believe the Bible tells us that Isaac was not exploited, and furthermore there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances.
• In Genesis 22:7-8 God instructs Abraham: And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Now, I realize that it might seem like Isaac is clearly too stupid to live. But remember that this was a long time ago, before it was trendy to be skeptical about one’s parents’ motives. Today, any child would wonder: “I wonder if I am the lamb?” But those were simpler times. Isaac was probably thinking to himself something naïve and innocent, like “I wonder if they still sell chorizos on the top of the Temple Mount?”
• Later, in Genesis 22:9-10, we find no direct statement that Isaac realizes that his father is about to sacrifice him: They came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Boys love campfires! Isaac, who is clearly familiar with sacrificial pyres, probably had longed to see the flames from the altar’s perspective. Sure, it must have seemed creepy to see his father about to gut him like a fish, but the situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under the old “no surprises” Abraham. Plus, today he didn’t have to go to school. It must have been a good experience: Isaac eventually lived to be over 137 years old!
And yet the Liberal Media condemns the Bible’s use of the near death of a child as a teaching tool. Indeed, they have tried to smear both Abraham and Isaac, claiming that the whole event was a publicity stunt intended to divert attention from the perception that Abraham was “weak on sin” after trying to save the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. They also note that Isaac later claimed his wife Rebekah was his sister in Genesis 26, claiming this makes Isaac an “incest fetishist.”
Noted Civil Rights activist Michelle Malkin defends such slander: “If you don’t want questions, don’t foist these children onto the public stage.” Knee-jerk liberal Mark Steyn whines: “If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man’s job, then the boy is fair game.” Militant Atheist Rush Limbaugh says this is par for the Bible as a whole: “‘Fiction’ is their byword. Make it up. Make sure people cry about it. Have a lot of emotion attached to the fiction, and have no guilt about it.”
This is typical liberal claptrap. God wasn’t exploiting Isaac, God was taking him on a crazy adventure, introducing him to new experiences that he would never have had at home. I remember once when Monsignor Stenico told me that Tadzio, the student priest I spoke of earlier, said the same thing about his experiences in the cabana!
In conclusion, I don’t want to hear any of you using the name “Isaac” and the term “child abuse” in the same sentence! Such balderdash debases the whole notion of binding and threatening to kill children!
Labels: Sunday Sermon