I’ve occasionally pondered a blog dedicated solely to the religious adventures of Daughter No. 3. For one, there’s definitely no lack of material. She’s the one who most recently expressed interest in looking into the church role of “crucifier” (rather than “crucifer,” the individual who carries the processional cross into and out of church at the beginning and end of mass).
But as much as I chortle at some of her misguided answers to basic Christian history, I often find even better her attempts to explain her lack of knowledge.
Last week, for some reason (perhaps simply because I decided it was time for a little levity), I asked Daughter No. 3 what term was used to refer to the men closest to Jesus.
“UH, UH, UH, I KNOW THIS! I KNOW THIS! – The Twelve Disciples!” she shouted, proud as a peacock.
“No, not quite,” I replied. “You got the number right, but you missed on the title.”
“What?!? 12 Disciples! It’s disciples, I know it’s disciples!”
“No, I’m sorry, it’s not,” I stated. Then, looking at her siblings, I asked, “Anyone else?”
In unison I heard, “The Twelve Apostles!”
Daughter No. 3 was less than impressed. “Disciples, apostles, what’s the difference?”
After explaining that any follower can be considered a disciple, but the 12 specific individuals who were Jesus’ closest followers were his apostles, she seemed less than convinced.
So I followed up with, “All right, how many of the Twelve Apostles can you name?”
This, of course, is where the fun began; Daughter No. 3 began racking her brain for biblical names.
“David … Jonah … Adam … Abraham; how about those?” she asks.
“Well, you seem to be on a decidedly Old Testament bent, sweetheart,” I told her. “Think New Testament.”
She paused, then blurted out, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!”
“I’ll give you credit for two,” I replied, figuring that then was not the time for a discourse on who the actual authors of the books of Matthew or John might have been, or that the authors of Mark and Luke are not known. “That means you’ve got four more to go to get to 12.”
She paused, then reverted back to the Old Testament: Daniel? … Noah? … Moses? …. Did I already say David?”
“Yes. You need one more.”
“Uh, Joseph,” she said.
“Which Joseph,” I asked. “There are several in the bible.
She stared blankly back at me in the rearview mirror. I tossed out a name: “How about Joseph, Jesus’ father?”
“Yeah, that’s a good one.”
I looked at her incredulously. “If your brother was, heaven help us, a religious figure of some stature, do you think he would want me as one of his apostles?”
That brought a round of laughs.
Still, she wasn’t budging from Joseph, the father of Jesus.
“Congratulations,” I said in my best game show host’s voice. “You just named two out of 12 of the apostles. And to think you completed a two-year confirmation course just two weeks ago.”
“They didn’t teach us anything,” she blurted out in semi-disgust.
“Oh, I have a feeling they taught you plenty, you just weren’t learning,” I told her.
With that, I got a wave of the hand and a laugh. She knows that since I teach in the same faith formation program, I have at least a slight idea what was going on in her class.
I did give her credit, though. For once she didn’t go to her safety answer for all bible questions. Typically, the first name blurted out, no matter what the question, is “Goliath.”
Progress is coming in very, very small baby steps, but it is progress nonetheless.
(Top: Leonardo’s Last Supper, showing Jesus and the Twelve Apostles.)