Monday, 25 February 2008

New German Children's Book

One of the fist things you really notice when you give up religion/god is the hypocrisy of the religious mind. The denialism blog has a post featuring a new children's book from Germany called Wo bitte geht's zu Gott?, fragte das kleine Ferkel (Which is the way to God, please?, Little Piglet Asked).

The book tells the story of a piglet and a hedgehog, who discover a poster attached to their house that says: "If you do not know God, you are missing something!" This frightens them because they had never suspected at all that anything was missing in their lives. Thus they set out to look for "God." Along the way they encounter a rabbi, a bishop and a mufti...

An English translation of the book can be found here and the illustrations here, I have to say I thought it looked very nice. One of the commentator's on denialism left the following comment which I liked and will post here and hopefully neither denialism not the poster will mind.
I got the book yesterday and read it. So... is it evil atheistic garbage? I don't think so. As a matter of fact, I was positively surprised at the content. There is snark about religion, but it's not a lot of it. My favorite part is the last page where about a dozen people of all sizes, shapes and ethnicities are drawn naked, with only the Christian bishop, the rabbi and the mufti being ashamed of their nudity.

As to the rest of the book, here's a rundown of the criticism: The piglet is astonished that it's mother should have been Jewish for it to be Jewish, as well. It's sad about God killing all the people and animals in the Great Flood, and it asks the rabbi how, if humans can invent gods (as he claims), he knows that the God he prays to is not an invention.

With the Christian priest, the piglet is turned off by the idea of God sending his own son to be crucified in order to wash our sins away with blood ("icky blood"), as well as the Catholic idea of eating a part of Jesus's body during mass (it calls the Catholics »cannibals« then, leading to the authors being sued by a Catholic ministry).

Finally the piglet and its friend get to the mosque, where they're surprised by the idea of praying five times a day and having to wash beforehand every time. They inquire how the people know that Mohammed didn't make those rules up and are being chased out of the mosque for it.

Outside, on the temple hill (where all three "temples" stand), the three priests meet, try to catch the piglet and its friend, but get into a physical argument about which faith sports the worst kind of hell. In the meantime, the piglet goes home and enjoys life again, all the while having a laugh about those funny humans: »If there is a God, he's surely not living in those haunted castles«.

All in all, the book is open about criticism of the biblical faiths, but I wouldn't say it's overly dismissive, offensive or even hateful. It *is* literature designed to get children off their faith, or better even, literature designed for humanists, atheists or whatever to give to their kids. And in that, it's not only a book about the value of free minds, critical thinking or the like, but a book about strange or silly ideas in faith (with the above-mentioned examples).

A separate post in the comments section has some reaction to the book, I found this one to be particularly funny.
The perfidious and dangerous thing is that the very attractive graphical presentation is aimed at young children, which are defenceless against such anti-religious agitation

Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the "Central Council of Jews in Germany"
Of course there is no sense of irony in the above statement, but it does show religious leaders are aware of the malleability of young minds and how crucial it is to wrap them at an early stage.