When I was six years old, my mother sent me to Bible School. Whether this was an attempt to convert me or to fulfill the notion that she was obligated to submit her offspring to some sort of Christian institution, I am not entirely sure. I’m inclined to believe she just wanted some other argument besides “you’re baptised” when I grew and began insisting to her that I was not, in fact, Catholic. Usually I ignore this rather believable option because it kind of freaks me out that my mother could ever have that kind of insight (is she psychic? Why would I not be surprised if she were? Good Gad).
The counselors were the kind of fresh you expect in caffeinated kindergartners. They taught us to pray with our palms stuck together, as opposed to having the fingers interlaced (I was, and am, thoroughly puzzled by this distinction), to refrain from gluing orange pom-poms and googly eyes to a plastic figurine of John the Baptist at craft time (why not? WHY NOT?), to snap and bob our heads in time with gospel music and Joan Osborne’s One of Us. My report cards had remarks like: “does not know the Lord’s prayer – practice at home” and “pays particular attention to story time”.
One of the volunteers would often sit in the middle of a group of ten or fifteen of us, reciting the Parable of the Good Samaritan or reading a selection of picture books which portrayed Christ as a balding middle-aged man, a blue-eyed youth, a dark-haired elder. I was so confused that when everyone chorused “our Father” I could only picture mine.