Nasty, Brutish & Short

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Question for the Catholics*

August 24, 2007 10:33 AM

From NBS's sister (also a perpetually irked Episcopalian), who was dropping her son off for his first day of kindergarten at Catholic school.  During the big first-day-of-school-drop-off, this little episode occurred in the parking lot.  It involves my two-year old niece:

...This part of the parking lot included a small rock garden with a statue of Mary.  Mary had been decorated with a wilted and ancient daisy chain and gold pipe cleaner wreath.  After redirecting Gracie from the construction trailer, she and I were discussing the merits of putting the shiny white rocks carefully down on the ground rather than practicing her forearm when she spotted Mary.  Mary and Gracie were pretty much eyeball to eyeball, and Gracie wanted that beautiful crown.

When Gracie realized that Mary was neither going to hand it over nor attempt to stop her, Gracie grabbed for the crown.  Then Gracie started either hugging Mary or tugging her up out of the ground so that she could carry the big dolly.  (You can make your own assumptions about Gracie's plans).  All this seemed like fairly normal behaviour, but deferring to unknown Catholic sensibilities I ran interference.

So does it offend Catholics for toddlers to play with/manhandle/attempt to carry around Mary or is it more offensive to hear a hot, tired, cranky mother saying "Stop that"?

Readers, what say you?  It is okay to maul Mary?

*By which of course I mean Roman Catholics.  As Anglicans, we are, of course, catholic.

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Comments

I have no problem with it...

Mary has a special place in the hearts of Catholics, but I wouldn't think this would be all that big a deal so long as it didn't become a "regular thing"... Personally, I'm not in to the whole idolatry thing at any rate.

Other Catholics may have a differing view on this one as I consider myself to be a "recovering" Catholic...

Matt Hurley   ·  August 24, 2007 11:45 AM

Sometimes Mary will have a bunch of little tea lights scattered around by her feet. You are not supposed to take them.

Anonymous   ·  August 24, 2007 12:19 PM

As a churchgoing Catholic, I can say that this is hardly offense. The child should be gently reminded of the eighth commandment (on which both religious traditions agree, after all), and the statue should be lowered back into the grotto. The way I see it, if we're going to make a big fuss over the representational articles of faith, we should hardly be surprised if those who are younger than the age of reason get a little mixed up here and there.

There's a short story about a guy who has some sort of terrible calamity happen in his life, a death of some kind, and ends up arguing with a statue of Mary in the rain, and finally smashing a birthday cake in her face. I forget the author. Sort of a poignant, slightly absurdist take on the mysteries of trying to be Christian in the face of difficult events, etc.

Reminds me of that.

Brendan   ·  August 24, 2007 12:54 PM

Although currently registered Episcopalian I am at heart Independent (born and bred more Presbyterian than anything else).

I think the question as posed is religion-neutral.

Small children need (underscore "need") to be taught to leave other people's toys alone until and unless invited to play with them.

It is as simple as that.

Larry Sheldon   ·  August 24, 2007 02:02 PM

It sounds like Larry has not raised a two year old

Marion the Librarian   ·  August 24, 2007 03:12 PM

Larry is right - every child should be taught to respect other's belongings, and not to touch unless invited. Perhaps a walk-around at the school and some age-appropriate explanation would be useful.

Regarding Matt's reference to idolatry: that is not part of the Catholic faith, but veneration is. Very important difference, that.

Cheryl   ·  August 24, 2007 07:20 PM

Larry helped raise three, who on occasion say "Nobody had to put up with me doing that, why do I have to put up with it?" (Oldest is a New York lawyer, middlest drives a big Truck, youngest is currrently "between engagements".)

Larry Sheldon   ·  August 24, 2007 07:54 PM

Larry might have also pointed out that he was heavily involved in softball, soccer, field trips (including overnight field trips) marching-band tours and other activities all involving youngsters, most of whom knew how to behave or got sent home if they didn't.

Larry Sheldon   ·  August 24, 2007 07:58 PM

I'm not buying the idea that the Mary statute is someone else's "property." The issue is that it is Mary, and it is on the grounds of a Catholic Church. If it had been a statue of a puppy or something, and a two-year old grabbed a daisy chain wreath off it's head, this wouldn't be an issue. No one would care. This is a religion issue.

And, by the way, I am definitely in the camp that requires proper behavior for children, or at least a parent TEACHING proper behavior when they act up (not just standing there, like so many do these days). It is enough for me to see that proper corrective action is taken, especially at that age.

Not that this matters in this particular instance, though. Because (1) corrective action was taken and (2) this is not issue of proper childhood behavior. This is a religion issue, and the question was whether Catholics would think the corrective action was over the top BECAUSE IT WAS MARY. There's something about Mary!

Nasty, Brutish and Short   ·  August 24, 2007 10:15 PM

Thought about this some overnight.

A religious issue? I think not. The setting is probably a "shrine" not a "rock garden". The owners of the shrine probably do have behavior prescriptions and proscriptions and the parent by NOT controlling the child probably violated some of all of them.

But the child is too young to be held to account for that.

The child is NOT too young to have been trained to stay out of and off of other people's property until invited.

I see no evidence that timely corrective action was taken. What did I miss?

Larry Sheldon   ·  August 25, 2007 09:52 AM

"...but deferring to unknown Catholic sensibilities I ran interference."

That is the evidence corrective action was taken.

Nasty, Brutish and Short   ·  August 25, 2007 03:40 PM

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