It is incredible how a little golden book can change lives in unexpected ways. Don’t believe me? See how this book changed everything. It’s a 4-minute read.
We don’t realize how a simple book can make such a significant impact in our lives, for me, it was a short 10-page book entitled Dinosaurs. It turns out you can read things at an early age, which set the stage for you to become a rebel freethinker and non-conformist. That’s me alright. It became the catalyst for a life changing moment.
A Little Golden Book Changed My Life
So here’s the story, I grew up in Denver, Colorado, my father came from a strict Catholic home and mother’s side of the family was Lutheran. However, my parents were not religious. We spent very little time in church services, perhaps a half a dozen 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.
We spent a lot of time in Sunday School or rather on the softball field, the protestant church pastor 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 local churches and we won most of the time thanks to our practice regiment. The only time we were beat consistently was by the all-girl team sponsored by Loretta Heights. They were good.
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 did not realize how lucky I was when I was growing up; I was not subject to religious indoctrination. I could seek answers on my own. I am not sure if nurturing a freethinker mindset was intentional. I often wondered if they couldn’t decide which religion to choose, or perhaps or if they just never got around to it. Or perhaps they saw the problems religious ideology causes. We didn’t talk about it. I wish I had asked more questions. Anyway, I find it interesting that a simple children’s book changed my life in such a significant way.
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. My grandmother taught me to read, and one of my favorite books was a Little Golden Book entitled Dinosaurs.
I was fascinated by dinosaurs and thought their existence was an accepted truth. It seemed reasonable to me that they lived long before man.
This book changed my life in significant ways. But I didn’t know this until I started school. It set the stage for a life changing moment.
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 Lutheran.
How This Book Changed Everything
On my first day of school, the teachers brought all the new students in a sunny room overlooking a garden area. The mood of the room was anything but cheerful. The nuns began asking students questions about the Bible. I was not familiar with this subject matter.
Then, they finally asked a question which sounded like something I could answer. A nun asked who was the first to live on Earth. I raised my hand enthusiastically, and they called on me. My answer, Dinosaurs were to live on the Earth!
Oops. I could tell from her face that dinosaurs was not the correct response. The nun ignored my answer and called on another student who said, Adam and Eve, evidently this was the answer they were looking for, not dinosaurs.
After this meeting, the nuns took me aside. I was questioned me more about my Church and Sunday school attendance. They wanted to know how much time I spent in church and were most interested in our Sunday School curriculum. I told them it was softball practice for the Chuch team. I did offer to bring in the book on Dinosaurs so they could see for themselves how interesting it was. The nuns told me not to bring any of my books to school.
So, this book changed my life, a little golden book changed how others perceived me. I didn’t know reading it would be a life changing moment. I understood what religious prejudice looked like.
After that, if I wanted to speak up in class, 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 curriculum was one hour a day on religious studies. These lessons were taught from books by the church leader, Alma White, which contained poems and short stories with an underlying moral messages.
One of my teacher’s favorites was The Selfish Boy, who wants to pick a beautiful rose. When he tried, bees stung him. She loved to act out his reaction. 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. In the early 1960s, people were afraid of an atomic bomb attack. She seemed to relish in the horror of people’s pain, no wonder she chose a career teaching children.
We had six different grades in our room—Kindergarten through 5th grade. I was seated at the front of the classroom with three other students. I could tell we were the ones that didn’t fit in, we didn’t have the religious knowledge of other kids. 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 Mind
Foremost, my time at this school taught me to question anything from religion. This book changed my thinking about the influence the Church has and helped me to understand how powerful religious indoctrination still is. They use fear and isolation to control and social pressure to mandate compliance. You learn the message they teach, or else.
I realized the first day of school was a religious litmus test and the questions were a purposeful interrogation. They wanted to find out which students had undergone religious indoctrination and which had not. That way, they could isolate those like myself 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.