Jesus: Apostles needed; Goliath need not apply

the last supper

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.

Goliath, who didn't make Daughter No. 3's list as one of the Twelve Apostles.

Goliath, center left, who didn’t make Daughter No. 3’s list as one of the Twelve Apostles.

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.)

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14 thoughts on “Jesus: Apostles needed; Goliath need not apply

    • No, I’m open to critical analysis of the bible and religion in general. Much of western literature has its basis in Judeo-Christian culture so I believe it’s important my children understand the basics.

      My son, who is 20, believes in none of the church’s teachings, but I’ve told him that as long as his respectful in his disagreements, that’s fine. In other words, don’t openly mock those you disagree with or the tenets of their faith.

      Ultimately, my girls will have to make their own decisions on what to believe or not believe. And ultimately, the example I lead in my life as a whole will have much more influence on what path they choose, not what is written in a 2,000-year-old book.

  1. Seeing that this post concerned Daughter no. 3 I made myself a cup of tea and sat back to enjoy at leisure!
    I was not disappointed, either!

    The visions it conjured up…

    Goliath in the lions’ den
    Goliath in the belly of the whale
    The four horsemen of Goliath

    I wonder what will replace him…

    • Yes, now that Goliath is no longer the fallback answer it will be interesting to see who the flavor of the day becomes. Jonah and Noah seem to be early contenders, particularly since the two are, for Daughter No. 3, practically interchangeable. Hence, we have Jonah’s Ark, a favorite response when I ask her if she knows any bible stories.

      • It’s as well that there could not be a meeting between Daughter no.3 and my old headmistress, a strict Presbyterian intent on imparting knowledge of the Bible. It would sadden her old girls to see her explode…

      • Oh, what I would give to see all my girls spend a week with the likes of your old headmistress. Their heads would spin.

        I spent two years in a Catholic school and while I was anything but a model student, let’s just say those nuns didn’t do a whole to spread the love of God. Fire and brimstone, along with heavy doses of corporal punishment? Yes; Understanding and compassion? No.

      • My husband suffered at the hands – or belts – of the Christian Brothers at one point….they brooked no exam failures and took no prisoners.

        Miss Dickie was a disciplinarian – one of those who could be relied on to appear just when you hoped she wouldn’t…
        She took Religious Instruction (NOT education) throughout the school with a great deal of vim and vigour: one of my abiding memories is of her catching a girl checking the time on the clock on the wall in one of her classes…the closest to Armageddon that I hope that I come…the windows shook and so did we.

      • Not to sound like an old codger, but a small dose of the likes of Miss Dickie would either shape up most of today’s kids or convince them that child labor might not have been so bad.

      • The thing about her was that she was a genuine scholar with a love of learning…
        I’m just contemplating the choices for the hypothetical modern child….Miss Dickie or the salt mines…

  2. Hilarious responses! She’s definitely heard more Old Testament stories, or they registered with her more. The narratives are more developed about each individual, as opposed to the New Testament. Great post, as usual, Cotton. 🙂

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