21 November 2006

The Christ in the Picture

I'm not one to engage in criticism of religious beliefs in the personal level (not anymore); I do breach the subject when it comes to religion intruding in my private life or in public policy, for example. I'm sincerely baffled about this, though, so that's why. It's about the story of my co-worker and her lovely granddaughter. My co-worker (let's call her Ms. A) is convinced that her 15-month-old granddaughter (I'll call her Little N) has come to know Jesus instinctively and in spite of her parents' lack of belief. As far as I can tell, her father (Ms. A's son) is not very religious, and her mother is agnostic.

Little N has developed a fixation with a picture of Jesus. During a visit, grandma saw the poor thing's eyes intently fixed on the image, and she told Little N who that man was, and taught her a children's prayer. Little N can barely say "Jesus" but she does stare happily at the picture, and she waves and smiles at it whenever she toddles past it. So far, so good, a little religious indoctrination. Only now Ms. A is convinced that her granddaughter really sees something in the picture, that she recognizes Jesus. My other co-workers, women in their 50s mostly, agree that Little N must be seeing something we spoiled adults cannot see. The girl's parents decided not to baptize her, so this must be Little N's way of "asking for baptism". It's "really incredible, but then children know". One of these women, speaking from a fairly typical, incoherently sincretic view, opines that the baby "doesn't see that picture (of Jesus) as we do, but she sees the energy". They also believe that Little N "might bridge the separation between their parents and God".

They kept on this line of discussion, turning then into the individual stories of their children's loss of religious practice. Most people in Argentina are Catholics that have never practiced; many of us attend church only as long as our parents take us, or when forced for some other reason, until we become teenagers or a bit longer. Then, it's only weddings, First Communions, baptisms, and even more rarely, on Easter Sunday and the like. Will this be the future of Little N? Will she turn into a skeptic at an early age? Will she become a prophet of the Christ in the Picture?

I didn't open my mouth during the discussion and definitely closed my ears to the last part I've just revisited, since time and experience have taught me that nothing good comes from discussing religion. I've been an atheist and a skeptic since 21; I lost years of my life coping with the progressive loss of the hollow faith I was raised in, and revisiting my arguments for people who've never bothered to examine their own beliefs would be a waste of time. I only wish Little N is given the space and the education that she will need to think about it and to reach her own conclussions in time.


  1. Anonymous18:11

    OMG!! Why does this sound so familiar - our 5 yr old nephew tells biblical stories to friends at his jardin and the audience grew and grew...He is, therefore, a prophet!

    I, a non-practising Roman catholic, find catholicism particularly interesting in the Argentine context because while a lot of people make a cross when they pass a church and speak of God frequently there is little evidence of the real catholic spirit in people's conduct.

    Miss Cupcake
    (changed your posting feature? I couldn't post like I normally did)

  2. Hola soy de Rosario y tratando de contribuir a un mundo mejor, acabo de lanzar una propuesta sobre donación de guardapolvos y quiesiera tener apoyo para publicitar esa campaña. Mírala y si te parece bien, publicá algo al respecto.
    La dirección es esta:

    Desde ya, muchas gracias!
    Saludos DrGEN


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