I’m working on a pretty complicated entry for later this week — you’ll see what I mean — so here’s a quickie to fill the gap.
My daughters (5 and 9) are currently eating up Greek myths as bedtime stories. Friday was Dedalus and Icarus, yesterday Pegasus and Bellerophon. Tonight I told the story of Danaë and Perseus, completely forgetting that I’d used it as an example in PBB. “Buy a good volume of classical myths for kids,” I suggested on p. 37, “and buy a volume of bible stories for kids.”
I’ll sheepishly admit here that I don’t quite follow my own advice. I find that published bible stories do an incredible disservice to the tales they tell. They are either crushingly dull or sickly sweet or both, so my kids’ exposure to Judeo-Christian stories has come from (1) their Lutheran preschooling, (2) Jesus Christ Superstar, which I highly recommend as a naturalistic intro to the Jesus story (see PBB p. 70 for reasons), (3) conversations with their Episcopo-Baptistic granny, with their undeclared mom, and with atheo-secular-humanistic me.
I went on in PBB to say:
Begin interweaving Christian and Jewish mythologies, matched if you can with their classical parallels. Read the story of Danaë and Perseus, in which a god impregnates a woman, who gives birth to a great hero, then read the divine insemination of Mary and birth of Christ story. Read the story of the infant boy who is abandoned in the wilderness to spare him from death, only to be found by a servant of the king who brings him to the palace to be raised as the king’s child. It’s the story of Moses – and the story of Oedipus. No denigration of the Jewish or Christian stories is necessary; kids will simply see that myth is myth.
Turns out in the case of my nine-year-old that I didn’t have to be anywhere near that intentional.
So again, tonight was Danaë and Perseus. Danaë is the daughter of King Acrisius. The king hears from an oracle that Danaë will bear a son who will grow up to kill him. Unable to bring himself to kill his daughter outright (isn’t that sweet?), Acrisius instead imprisons her in an underground house of bronze with only a small opening to the sky. One night, a golden rain comes swirling in through this opening and around the chamber. A short time later, it is revealed to Danaë in a vision that she is carrying the child of the god Zeus.
“WAIT A MINUTE!” said Erin, leaning forward in bed, eyes wide. “Oh my gosh! There’s another story like this!!”
I smiled and waited patiently as she thumped her forehead, trying to remember. At last, she blurted out:
“Life of Brian?”