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Short Stories: Grandpa, Can I Play with The Boat?

noahs ark

My partner, Polly’s late father, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, was handy with his hands — roofing houses, remodeling homes, building knick-knacks, constructing baby cradles, and making toys for his grandchildren. Lee’s favorite thing to make was a wooden version of Noah and the Ark, complete with animals. We still own one of the Arks, one Dad made for our youngest son Josiah, thirty years ago. This Ark has been beat-up, misused, and abused, but it is the type of toy that is virtually indestructible.

Fast forward to today. Our youngest daughter and her three children were over last weekend to visit. . .

Ezra (who is six): Grandpa?

Grandpa: Yes?

Ezra: Can I play with the boat?

Grandpa (puzzled): The boat?

Ezra: The one with the animals.

Grandpa (Still puzzled)

Ezra’s mother starts laughing

Laura: He’s talking about Noah’s Ark and the animals.

Grandpa (laughing): Sure.

As I later pondered this short exchange with my grandson, I was pleased with how far we have come as a family. Ezra doesn’t attend church. He’s never been indoctrinated or fed a steady dose of fictional Bible stories passed off as historical fact. Ezra had never heard of Noah’s Ark before. All he knew about was the wooden boat with animals in the closet upstairs.

This is progress. The curse has been broken.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    The story of Noah’s Ark ( minus the genocide) can be a cute story. The land flooded, and a good family decided to save the animals. Hopefully, it will move into the ranks of Grimms fairy tails.
    I still enjoy certain Bible stories and songs. They can be a fun part of cultural history when they are not taken seriously.

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      My graduate (MS) adviser taught upper-division and graduate sedimentology but a lower-div general science class called “Prehistoric Life” that introduced the evolutionary history of various lineages. He ended up wrangling with a few creationist students every semester. So I laughed when he put a cartoon on the pinboard outside his office door. It showed two dinosaurs sitting on shore, watching an ark sail past. One is saying to the other, “Hey, was that supposed to be today?”

  2. Avatar

    Aw that’s really sweet that little Ezra wanted to play with the boat with all the animals!

    I didn’t realize until I was an adult how awful the story of God’s First Genocide was. Telling kids that the world is do awful that almost all the humans, animals, plants, had to be destroyed in a flood. Yikes. And that it was all somehow from a deity of love……no wonder evangelicals get so messed up.

  3. Avatar

    We come and go from the face of this Earth leaving little or nothing behind. Whatever else they may represent, the ark and animals are folk art creations, affectionately made for children by their creator. As such they are sentimental treasures with unique value to his descendants. I wish I had even the smallest relic like that, hand made by an ancestor. One of my Grandfathers was the resident barrel maker for the local brewery. If i had a chance to get one of the barrels he made, I’d be tempted to impoverish myself to possess it. I’d keep the ark and animals in a fireproof safe, only taking them out for the Grand kids to play with.

  4. Avatar

    When I was learning to play chess, parents and older siblings were explaining the pieces. “The bishop comes from a time when the church still played a strong role in government” Is how I’d paraphrase how the piece was explained to me. Yes! We can still play with the toys of the past long after their original meaning has been relegated to the dustbin.

    Not only that the Noah’s ark story has an even older provenance where the world flooded because the gods thought the humans were too noisy! Ultimately Tiamat the dragon was slain by Marduk and land was formed from Tiamat’s body. Great stories, but they are only stories.

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