Giles Coren

Giles Coren on fa­thers (him) and sons (Sam, aged five). This month: for the love of Christ

Esquire (UK) - - Contents -

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!”

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