When Poor Parenting
Gets Its Own Holiday
By all accounts, he could’ve lived his life as the son of a king, away from this mad world and having the whole universe as his playing pen. Instead, and for little reason, he was stripped of all privileges and sent to do his dad’s bidding in a hostile place where he got killed.
Sunday, 1.7 billion followers will celebrate Jesus’ life, in what looks, but no one admits it, like spite to his dad. But blatant lack of parenting skills is not a God’s monopoly, however. It just follows a long, ancient line of cruelty and child abuse powerful fathers have adopted to advance their own agenda for the world.
Not to pile up on God in such an important week, but doing it anyway, when his son called out for him, while being tortured and about to agonize to death, he was too busy to help. What father wouldn’t take his son’s phone calls in a time of need? Actually, don’t answer that.
Anyway, Jesus wasn’t even the only ‘son’ God had a problem with; remember Abraham? Leaving his own dad to serve the almighty was not good enough: to really prove his absolutely devotion, he had to get rid of his only son, Isaac. And the thing is, Abe almost did it.
There wouldn’t be a Bible today if he’d gone through it. Was God concerned about that when he stopped Abe from committing such an ignominious act? Nah. And despite claiming to love his first born, at the countdown, Abe was ready to plunge that shiny blade into his heart.
For god forbid to disappoint God. When suddenly he changed his mind, he didn’t bother telling the would-be murder; he sent an angel and a lamb to do his bidding. See the pattern? The angel broke the news, while the lamb, well, no lamb ever survived a biblical tale.
SETTING TRAPS ON JUNIOR’S WAY
Some fathers slave through life so to spare their children the misery, but see their legacy treated like an old shoe. Others, either by example or tyranny, turn their kids into duplicates. And the rich and famous are known for spawning spoiled brats, good only to suck up resources.
A few hide what and who they were, to allow their children a chance to find a path of their own. Often after kicking them out, or walking away themselves. These are but a sample of the myriad of experiences for bringing up a child into this world, father and son division.
And yet humankind usually takes their cue from particularly nasty progenitors, who enjoyed throwing son against son, took multiple wives, and demanded total dedication. Pity those closest to them, made to feel less important than the flock at large, easily swayed by arresting sermons and principled lectures.
This is not about dissing out your old man, which surely did the best he could to protect your hide. Most fathers go out of their way to assure their kids’ survival, not because they want to raise a clone, but because they see in them the fragile, vulnerable little boy they once were.
A TEMPLATE FOR MOST RELIGIONS
And yet, it seems almost inevitable that parents will crush their children’s spirit, prevent them for being what they really are, and make sure they’ll remain frightened and emotionally crippled as adults. It’s really a miracle anyone would survive what passes for parenthood.
God loved the world so much that he sent his one and only as a gift to it, said St. John, with misguided awe. Yeah, right. As if this valley of bloody tears was a garden of delights. For if he loved it so much, why couldn’t he come over himself? Or make it a lot better to begin with?
There are many altruistic stories about fathers and sons, tales of heroism, life-affirming accounts of benevolence and love. Myths that sourced most religions, however, are not about them. But given billions of believers, it’s undeniable that something about them clicks.
The myth of Christianity, for instance, from the humble birth to a virgin, in the manger, to becoming a living god, to martyrdom and resurrection, is not even original. There are several accounts of divinities that predated Jesus, born in the same circumstances, and even day of the year.
THE BOY THAT COULDN’T LIVE
Which means originality is overrated; the same idea had been tried before, apparently to public acclaim. Henry and John, another father and son account, seems to have much less takers. The fact that it appeals to us may explain why it’s a good thing we didn’t get into the business of founding a religion: no one would follow it.
In 1606, while searching for the Northwest passage, British navigator Henry Hudson discovered Manhattan, ‘the island at the center of the world‘ that birthed New York. To accompany him, he brought one of his sons, John, and left behind brothers Richard and Oliver.
It was a fateful decision that may’ve caused a ruckus among the boys, and followed the same pattern referred to above. Parents do play favorites, and no platitudes about fairness prevail when it comes down to it. And it did come down. Badly.
The discovery is celebrated as pivotal to the Enlightenment Era and all that came after. But it was the end to Henry and John. (more)
* Invisible Beings
* The 2000-Year Old
* Founding Fathers
A vicious mutiny cast them and others adrift in the frigid waters of James Bay. Henry, and the boy chosen to follow his father’s dream, were never seen again.
LISTENING TO WHAT THE MAN SAY
Unwittingly, John experienced that biblical predicament: his father’s sins being visited upon him. And guess to whom we owe such harsh predicament: your lord, truly and naturally. There are likely equivalent expressions conveying the same mean content in all other religions.
Ultimately, that is the damning visited upon every boy while becoming a man. From worshiping at his father’s pedestal, to throwing the old wretch over a cliff, there’s always a moment in the life of every male to grieve over the impossibility of ever getting rid of his inner father.
In life, he’ll always be cast adrift before even knowing how to float. He’ll learn, eventually, but is cursed to be consumed through his remaining years, with the task of understanding someone, long gone, who still has the power to berate and chastise his every move.
The fact some worship a son-god who’s merely part of a triad, but the only one who had to be washed up on his own blood and died a horrible death, speaks more of our naturally bias towards gory and carnage then a supposed longing for redemption. Thus, we beat the hell out of Jesus every day of our lives. And love every minute of it.
THE OWNER OF HIS NARRATIVE
‘Look at me, I am old but I’m happy. I was once like you are now, (…) you’ll still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.’ In Father and Son, Yusuf Islam, the songwriter formerly known as Cat Stevens, smartly compressed into a 60s pop song the old paradigm of the insurmountable generational gap.
Wars are still declared by the old and fought by the young. Despite all advice to the contrary, we do send our boys to do a man’s job anytime it’s convenient to us. In no part of the Bible is mentioned that Jesus was young and full of potential, while his dad, as far as anyone knew, was already past his prime.
Regardless if he did come back or not, he was the son unable to create his own epic, doomed instead to play out his dad’s eternal good versus evil battle. We wonder if it’s consolation the fact that he, and John Hudson, didn’t have to listen to a disembodied dad within themselves.
Why have you forsaken me? Jesus cried out at the Golgotha. In the gelid, inhospitable shores of the Arctic Circle, we hope that John went beyond that, and lashed out at the foolishness of his old man. But even as they both disappeared, the father came back to history; the young buck never stood a chance.