26 April 2010

Day 30: Enchanted Hunters

Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood by Maria Tatar.  ISBN: 9780393066012.

I'm sure this will show up again in my reading, but I want to address it now before I forget, and to be honest this was one of those "not overly inspired" reads.  The book focused a little too much on analysis for it to be appealing to a "casual" reader, meaning anyone who does not have an academic or professional interest in childhood reading.

Tatar titles one of her chapters Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Brushes with Death.  I don't know about you, but that prayer freaked me out when I was a kid.  I may have been particularly sensitive to it's insidiousness* due to my family's heathen ways. 
I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist so the whole "You're going to die and burn in Hell" thing always seemed way overblown and not very peace-loving if you ask me.  I'd like to think that a God who gave his only son so that we could have salvation might forgive us, or at least not send us to eternal pain and suffering, just because we have enough doubts not to be able to profess being Christian in good faithI like to tell people that I would rather risk leading a good and true life as a quiet, private-practicing Unitarian Universalist and hope that God will reserve a special place for us that isn't Hell than to lead my life as a loud, beat-people-over-the-head Christian who's going to Hell anyway because I don't really believe it in my heart.  That latter part applies to me alone and is not meant as a jab at anyone, so put the pitchforks down.

So why am I even familiar with this prayer?  There seem to be numerous versions of the prayer, but the one I'm familiar with is one of the more menacing ones.

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

My Southern Baptist grandmother forced me  to say this every night when I stayed in her home.  There is nothing like being faced with your own mortality every night before going to bed to make you wanna go over to Granny's.  And let's not talk about the potential nightmares.  I was familiar with the concept of death, but I don't think anyone likes it held over their heads.  I don't find this prayer particularly comforting or faith inspiring.  The very thought that God might take my soul, for no other reason than that he could does not sit well with me.  And this is probably one of the major reasons I have never been able to accept the idea of God with blind faith.

*Operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect.  Definition via dictionary.com

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