Giles Coren on fathers (him) and sons (Sam, aged five). This month: for the love of Christ
His latest sermon from the lectern of fatherhood cogitates on Jesus Christ as superhero
at almost exactly the same time, a few weeks before Christmas last year, Sam got into Jesus and Kitty, quite by chance, got into the Romans. You know, the way that kids get into things. I had long worried about where my children were going to get their notion of God from. I was brought up in a Jewish family but without religion, Sam and Kitty attend a school with agnosticism at the very heart of its ethos and my wife thinks mostly about dresses and shoes. But I think God is important, whether you believe in him or not, and that it is best for kids to start off with some sort of faith as a basis for their developing moral code, which they can later retain or reject as they see fit, according to the process of reason.
So I was delighted that Sam kept demanding to be read the Nativity story at bedtime. And when we had finished that, I pushed on through the New Testament (Usborne children’s version), by which he was completely gripped, especially by the feeding of the 5,000. Sam has an appetite on him, so he does, and there is no idea on earth as compelling to him as the idea of a bottomless plate of food. He has filed the loaves and fishes away in his mind, I am pretty sure, alongside The Magic Porridge Pot and the giant’s lunch in Mr Greedy. Eventually, of course, we came to the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. On the basis of which, Sam decided that he hated the Romans.
“Well, I love the Romans,” said Kitty, looking up from one of her many ancient history books (at seven, she is the intellectual of the family and gives us all hell, every minute of the day, for anything she regards as lazy thinking). “The Romans built roads and bridges and loos and invented books and medicine and atlases and the letters we write with. Without the Romans, we would all still be cavemen.” “They killed Jesus!” said Sam.
“Well, they probably had a good reason. They invented the law too.”
“He was the Son of God!”