Saturday, October 9, 2010

Noah's Ark

I'm sure everyone has heard the story of Noah's Ark at least once.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Noah. Noah only did good things, never bad things, and God liked him quite a bit. Everyone else on Earth at the time was a bit of a tosser, so God decided some water would sort them out. He told Noah to build a bloody great big ark, and Noah did. In fact, it was the best ark ever (Ever hear anyone talking about an Ark other than Noah's? Steve's Ark? Johnson's Ark?) All the animals came aboard with Noah and his family for forty days and forty nights. When it was all over, Noah and his family exited the ark with all the animals under a shiny promise rainbow and began the messy work of cleaning up a few million waterlogged bodies.

Later there were some things about Noah making wine and his sons seeing his nakedness. It was a complicated time for everyone.

What few people know is that the story of Noah's Ark is about as new to Christian children as the fact that Spongebob is yellow. However, the challenge of teachers everywhere is to make the world of facts come alive, to make each student personally experience the subject. As a fledgling Sunday school teacher, I keep these lofty ideals close to my heart, like armor.

When my group of four little girls learned we were doing Noah's Ark - which they did by lifting up some blue felt, revealing a boat, and groaning - one little girl loudly complained, "But we've heard this one a hundred times!" Acting on pure instinct, I replied, "Well, now you're going to hear it a hundred and one times."

So began our adventure into the wonder of the Old Testament, and the dissolution of my teacher's creed.

We made it ten minutes into the lesson before a little girl asked if there were dinosaurs on the Ark. "I don't know," I said, unprepared for such a question. "I don't think so," I further conjectured, basing my statement on years of coursework in evolutionary biology and geology, as well as numerous experiences in the field. 

(That's all lies. My answer was based on the deeply held belief that any vessel that contains at least one [1] raptor will be full of murder.)

school picture day is bad for raptors too

"What about sea monsters?" the sister of the first girl asked.

"What about sea monsters?" I replied, hoping my clever repurposing of her own phrase would stun her into silence.

"What if sea monsters attacked the Ark?" she clarified.

"Noah didn't have enough to deal with with all the rain and the animals, you think he had sea monsters chasing him too?"

She giggled. For not the first time I wondered if the kids were secretly keeping score of how often they could get me off subject.

The rest of the story went well enough, and I think my wavy "rain" fingers had them ensorcelled. Once we were finished with the story, I read from the Bible and we went into Christian arts and crafts, also known as creative reflection time. Out came the paper and the crayons, and all heads were down and focused in artistic endeavors. With my limited drawing ability, I tried to depict an Ark on rough waves. When I was done, I asked everyone to see their pictures.

The little girl that was so concerned about the sea monster had drawn said sea monster chasing the Ark.

"See my sea monster?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, "it's very nice. I like his teeth."

"His name is Toot Toot."

Knowing what came next, but unable to help myself, I asked, "Why is his name Toot Toot?"

"Because he ate all the beans in the world and he farts at the Ark while he chases it. Toot toot!"

This started a round of them  singing the "beans beans / the magical fruit" song, which I listened to in disbelief and a bit of fear. This was not "Father I Adore You"; what if another adult happened by? Would I be removed from the Sunday school rotation? Would I be excommunicated?

I soldiered on in fear, and back to the drawing table I went. Literally.

While I was contemplating Ark.2,one of the students looked up from her drawing and said, apropos of nothing, "Did you know we're not really little girls, but robots? We just wear little girl skin. Every night we charge up instead of sleeping. We're powered by bugs, and we have a beetle instead of a brain."

Horrified, I asked, " bugs run in little treadmills?"

"No," she explained, as if I was the off task child and she the teacher, "the worms stretch from my fingers down to my foot, and from my other hand down to my other foot." Sensing my uncomprehension, she said, "Here, I'll draw it for you."

Take a look:

I think Lovecraft called it a Shoggoth. When I showed a version of it to a friend he said, "Wasn't that in Doom? I've definitely seen that in a first person shooter."

The rest of children's church passed by very quickly, and soon we were reunited with the rest of the congregation. I took the opportunity to pray for myself, for the children, and for the giant worms that powered their tiny little bodies.


  1. okay so
    point 1)the poster of release the kraken was actually my first thought after the sea monsters, and was pleased and somewhat confused that my thought had been prestolen by the poster thing.

    point2) raptors were probably part of the labor crew that built the ark, who else was smart enough to do the electrical wiring. they probably were commanded to make their own lesser known murder ark so that noah and his family would survive. you didn' hear of the murder ark because the raptors went extinct after murdering the remaining life on day 1 then starving to death after all their food was gone

  2. Re: "getting fired from Sunday School teaching" -

    Don't worry too much, man. One notorious Easter Sunday, Jess and I filled in for the nursery. Just as the service was winding down, and I was deeply engrossed in finding out which haunted toy kept screaming "BUILD THINGS!", Father's youngest decided to embrace her Celtic heritage. The kid's young being sans woad, she instead colored the entirety of both arms with a blue Crayola marker. So it could be worse than kids singing about faltus - although, now that I think on it, Father hasn't invited us to watch the nursery since...

    Also - as a trained demonologist I can definitely report that that is, without any shadow of a doubt, a shoggoth.

  3. James - I like to imagine a raptor union electrician haggling with Noah about the wiring. "Yeah, it's gonna cost you double to insulate all this. You might want to look at SCREEEEE" and then it jumped on him, trying to disembowel him with its sickle shaped hind claw.

    Lee - That's as reassuring as it isn't, although I am keeping her away from all the markers now. Also, please work up an exorcism ritual for the shoggoth; I can't focus on teaching with all the extradimensional horrors about.

  4. and Noah was like "Clever Girl" and smacked it with a giant plank of gopher wood. "Get back to work, or I'll have you declawed and neutered."