It is incredible how a children’s book can change lives in unexpected ways. Don’t believe me? It’s a 4-minute read.
Life-Changing Little Golden Book
We don’t realize how reading can significantly impact our lives. It all starts when we are young, it’s when we set the foundation for our thinking. It turns out a short 10-page children’s book entitled “dinosaurs” became a life-changing book of some essential life lessons. If you read things that expand your thinking, you set the groundwork to become a freethinker.
I grew up in Denver, Colorado. My parents were not religious, even though my father came from a strict Catholic home. My mother’s family was Lutheran. However, we spent very little time at church, perhaps 3 or 4 times a year, dividing our time between two churches. One was a protestant church about three blocks away. We also went to a Lutheran Church about eight blocks away.
I didn’t understand why we spent little time at my father’s grandparent’s home. Later I found out they excommunicated my father from the family for marrying a Luthern. Go figure.
I realize now that I was lucky, and I did not undergo any religious indoctrination. I could seek answers on my own. I am not sure if nurturing a freethinker mindset was intentional. Maybe they just never got around to it. Or perhaps they saw the problems that religious ideology causes. I find it interesting that a simple children’s book changed my life in such a significant way.
We spent a lot of time in Sunday School. The protestant church recruited my brother and me to play on their softball team. So, our Sunday School was softball practice and softball games. We played against teams from other churches. We won most of the time. The only time we were beat was by the all-girl team sponsored by Loretta Heights.
We lived close to my mother’s parents. So, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s home. There wasn’t any talk about religion. I learned to read at my grandparent’s house. One of my first books was a Little Golden Book entitled Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs fascinated me, and I played with plastic dinosaurs almost every day. This book changed my life in significant ways. But I didn’t know this until I started school.
Pillar of Fire Parochial School
When I was eight years old, my parents sent me to a Methodist parochial school. The teachers dressed like Catholic nuns with black habits and cowls. I am not sure why they chose this school. Perhaps because it was Christian but neither Catholic nor Luthern.
On my first day of school, the teachers gathered all the new students in a sunny room overlooking a garden area. However, The mood of the room was anything but cheerful. The nuns began asking questions. I was not that familiar with the subject. They asked about people I had only heard of in passing from my brief visits to church.
Then, they finally asked a question I thought I could answer. A nun asked who was the first on the Earth. I raised my hand. I guess I had not taken part before; they called on me. My answer was “Dinosaurs”! And I added that I knew the names of several.
However, I could tell from her face that “dinosaurs” was not the correct response she was seeking. The nun ignored my answer and called on another student who said, Adam and Eve, this was the solution they wanted.
After this meeting, one of the nuns took me aside. She questioned me more about my Sunday school attendance. She wanted to know how much time I spent in church and what I learned. She was most interested in our Sunday School curriculum. I told her it was baseball practice. But I offered to bring in the Little Golden Book on Dinosaurs. The nun told me not to bring any of my books to school. So, this book changed my life, and it set me apart from the other students.
After that, if I wanted to answer questions, I was to talk to one of the nuns first. I could not speak in front of the class unless they knew what I would say. So, I only spoke in front of the class about math problems or when asked to read. Most of the curriculum was skill-based around reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The exception to our skill-based courses was one hour a day on religious studies. These lessons were from books by the church leader, Alama White which contained poems and short stories with an underlying moral message.
One of my teacher’s favorites was the self-boy, who wants to pick a beautiful rose. When he tried, bees stung him. Another favorite story was about a little girl who learned that modern cities are like Sodom and Gemora. They are all just waiting for an atomic bomb to explode. It was in the early 1960s, and people were afraid of an atomic bomb attack.
We had six different grades in our room—Kindergarten through 5th grade. My seat was up at the front of the classroom with three other students. I could tell we were the ones that didn’t fit in. We had different mindsets, and the nuns kept a close watch on us.
The other students caught on to the fact that we were unwelcome, “persona non grata.” They followed the encouragement of the nuns. Our group was ostracized and isolated. We ate lunch at a table separate from the other students. The nuns also monitored playtime. They separated us when they saw us in conversation, telling us to “go play.”
How A Little Golden Book Changed My Life
Foremost, my time at this school taught me to question anything from religion. This experience helped me to understand how religious indoctrination works. They use fear and isolation to control and social pressure to mandate compliance.
My first day at school was a religious litmus test. The questioning was a purposeful interrogation. They wanted to find out which students had undergone religious indoctrination. That way, they could isolate those that may be problematic.
Thankfully, I transferred to a public school the following year. That is how a Little Golden Book changed my life. It taught me about religious bias and prejudice. It changed the course of the story of my life.
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