This is a story I’ve told my son Nicholas many times. It’s entertaining for him, but it’s also a story that really gets him thinking about right and wrong, temptation and resistance, punishment and forgiveness, what those kids who get into trouble all the time might be thinking, and many other interesting issues. It’s inspired some great discussions!
I’ve been thinking for a long time about writing some “storytelling” style posts like this, to share some of my better anecdotes from my visit to Earth. Please comment below or contact me if you would like to read more stories like this!
I was a mostly well-behaved child. I liked to learn rules and follow them. I liked to do things that made adults approve of me. Sometimes I was disobedient or obnoxious at home or in other familiar places with familiar people, but because I was very shy my behavior in public situations like school was calibrated to attract as little attention as possible. It was very rare for me to “get in trouble” in school even enough to have a teacher take me aside to speak to me, and I certainly never got sent to the principal or anything like that.
This was true also in Sunday school, which I attended at a church so large that there was a separate class for each grade, which might have as many as 50 names on the attendance sheet and 20-30 kids present on any given day. Our classrooms were much like those in a school, with a big chalkboard at the front and small bulletin boards alongside it. Each grade had a different curriculum theme, but they varied widely–some were vague, so the teachers scrambled to put together random activities to keep the kids busy and maybe sort of relate to the theme; other years had structured activities and worksheets for every week.
Fifth grade spent the entire year pondering the question, “Why Do Bad Things Happen?” This was a Unitarian church, so each week we studied the perspective of a different religion or culture. One of the first ideas presented was that bad things happen to bad people who deserve them. That idea was quickly refuted by kids thinking of examples of good people who’d had bad things happen to them, and vice versa. But there was also a tangential discussion of whether people who do bad things are always bad people and whether there really is any such thing as a bad person, or we’re all just people who sometimes do bad things and sometimes do good things. Many of the kids talked about believing that they were basically good people, or at least medium people, but once in a while “something comes over me” such that a bad thing just had to be done and they were powerless to resist. When a later lesson brought up the idea of evil spirits that possess people and force them to behave badly, most of the class agreed that even if this weren’t literally true, it was a good description of what the urge to misbehave is like.
I didn’t argue aloud, but I was skeptical. I was a good girl, and badness was not tempting. Read more of this post