Saturday, December 15, 2012

Esther: The Sunday School Version

I never understood the story. I thought it was weird when I first heard it in Sunday school, and I still do. I was right about most things then, except guacamole—while it may be green and gross looking, that stuff is delicious.

Esther is a story that doesn’t make easy sense. The heroes aren’t obvious. Everyone is a victim or a villain. The story doesn’t make sense, but it sticks with you like peanut butter on a dog’s tongue. The villain sets a trap for the apparent hero, and then the trap is turned on him. One mass murder is traded for another, because of one woman doing what her uncle told her to. And God takes a breather through the whole story, comes back in the next book, Job—which another weird one.

But these stories are in bible, so we have to preach about them, we have to extract morals, we have to reduce them to three-point propositional statements that don’t lead to more questions—there’s too much ambiguity and questions in our lives already, we don’t come to Church for more complications. So ignore the blood bath at the end, and the less-than consensual sex—make Esther a children’s story where Esther the Hebrew Barbie and her wise uncle Mordecai save the Jews from ancient Hitler. Simple. Easy. Moral. And this helps us Sunday school kids understand and cope with the world we find ourselves in.