Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Do These Two Men Have In Common?

Now, most of you should be able to identify the Person depicted in the second portrait as Jesus. But the first one? It's Thaddeus von Bellingshausen (a.k.a. Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen) who was one of the first men to circumnavigate the continent of Antarctica, but he is considered the first man to have spotted the mainland of Antarctica.

So, what do they have in common? Hold on to your seats, it's coming!

It was late Thursday night, we were driving out from town to my Mum's, which meant a 40 minute drive, and Ella was tired. So I decided to tell her a bedtime story, the story of Bellingshausen and the voyage of the Vostok. (Ah, there's nothing like sneaking in "school work" during "fun time!" We're doing a unit on Antarctica.)

I expected to be talking, tops, ten minutes, but for the next thirty minutes, despite yawns and lots of eye-rubbing, the little turkey stayed awake asking questions about Bellingshausen and the adventures he'd gone through until about 10 minutes before we arrived back at Mum's!

Despite having fallen asleep, Ella woke when Dad was carrying her into the house, and the first sleepy words out of her mouth were, "Can you tell me more of the story about Bellingshausen?" And, since she also said she had to go to the bathroom, I ended up not only partially re-telling the story, but sitting on the little stool in front of the toilet drawing a very poor picture of the Vostok, with Captain Bellingshausen at the helm, a couple of stick men to be his sailors, an iceberg, a whale, a couple penguins and fish, and the volcanic island that they explored where they were shocked at the warmth of the ground and at the stink of the place. (She was quite delighted and amused with the fact that they thought the stench came from the penguin poo, when it was actually caused by the sulfuric fumes of the volcano - plus she got a mini-lesson on what a volcano is, since it was a new concept for her).

So, you're still wondering what Bellingshausen and Jesus have in common? I'm getting there... really, really!

Fast forward one day. Mum and I are zonked out on the bed, recovering from a wild day of running around town trying to get the errands done, and what does Ella want? She wants us to play, play, play, play, play.

"Wake up, Mummy! Nanie, aren't you done your little rest yet?" And though I tried to explain that Mummy and Nanie are just old and decrepit, she still was trying to get us energized.

So, I did what every mother does, I closed my eyes and said, "Ella, will you tell me a story?" Since she's a creative, imaginative little girl, she was more than happy to tell Nanie and Mummy a story. It went something like this:

Thaddeus von Bellingshausen took his ship on a fishing trip on the Sea of Galilee and met Peter, James, and John. He joined the disciples (did you catch what she caught??? We've got Thaddeus the disciple in with the gang!) and in the midst of sailing adventures on the Sea of Galilee and some wild trips to Antarctica, where Jesus kept the Vostok from running into icebergs by calming the seas near the Mount of Transfiguration, which was a volcano, Bellingshausen proved to be more than just a ship's captain, but in a rage after the bad guys killed Jesus on the cross, Bellingshausen caught the bad guys and killed them in revenge, because Jesus is God and since they hurt Him, then He filled Bellingshausen with power to fight against the enemies of Israel, and then Bellingshausen took his sword and cut off their heads. But Jesus didn't stay dead, He rose again and the angel sat on the stone and said to Mary and Mary, "Why are you looking for him here?" So they ran back to Peter, James, John, and Bellingshausen to tell them that Jesus wasn't dead any more!

I thought that was a fascinating story! I didn't get to sleep, since I was laying there chuckling at her outrageous blending of the two narratives, and I noticed Mum's shoulders shaking too! One person I told Ella's story to was rather horrified, although I assured her that Ella understood the difference between the real stories and her "tend" story. (In fact, whenever she tells us anything, we usually automatically ask her, "Is this real, or pretend?" She's very good at clarifying, but if you don't ask her, you'd probably end up quite concerned!!!) And she knows most of the "typical" Bible stories very, very well, though she's not above offering a "tend" interpretation!

Speaking of children knowing their Bible, which I believe to be very important, it really does make you realise:

a) How violent the Bible really is - "I goin' to kill you! And den I will chop off your head!" Ella told her father not long ago. He was shocked and horrified, until she gave him a "sword" (one of her longer wooden instruments), and she showed him her "sling" (a long scarf), and told him, "You be Goliath and I will be David!"

b) How bloodthirsty children are - "Is he going to kill him?" or some variation of that question is now asked often. Also, "Did he die?" "Is he dead?" etc. If these things were asked with compassion and concern, that's one thing, but she asks with a level of excited relish that I find hard to account for! We're now doing more stories from the New Testament, which will hopefully offset her fascination with war, murders, death, plagues, and violence, but despite a few talks about the changes in faith that happened after Christ was born (for example, we no longer see sinners and think, "Evil sinners! I must kill him!"), but it makes her very mad that nobody bothered to kill the men who killed Jesus! Whenever we see a picture of the tomb with the stone rolled away, the angel sitting atop it, and the guards scattered around on the ground in dead faints, she always asks, "Are they dead?" And I tell her, no, they just fainted, like falling asleep except so fast that you fall down. She'll get that look on her face, the one of serious disapproval, and say, "The angel should have killed them, they hurt Jesus!"

Shall we say, "Original Sin???" (More on that in a later post!)

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