Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why should I trust anything the Rev. Giles Fraser says about the Bible when he can’t even understand the text of Winnie-the-Pooh? 

Christopher Robin is not one of those evil bottom-thwacking evangelicals who thinks that prayer is about asking God for favours. He practices the kind of prayer which Fraser approves of: taking a few silent moments to contemplate the events of the day (”oh, wasn’t it fun in the bath tonight!”); to think non-specifically warm thoughts about the people close to you (”God bless mummy, God bless Daddy") and even to become more aware of the things around you (”it’s a beautiful blue but it hasn’t a hood”.) One might even think that the idea of shutting my eyes and curling up small (”so nobody knows I am there at all”) is a juvenile attempt at mindfulness. 

The real-life Christopher Milne didn’t believe in God (although he did believe in The Force). His Nanny was called Olive rather than Alice, which doesn’t rhyme with so many things, but her dressing gown really was blue. As a grown up, he correctly spotted that Vespers is not a mawkish poem about a good little boy saying his prayers, but a rather cynical poem about a naughty little boy not saying his prayers. The grown up thinks he looks cute and pious but he’s actually thinking about everything except God. A.A Milne felt that was what went on during most so-called prayer.

Fraser may be right that the true Christian view of prayer is that it’s “just a jolly good excuse to shut up for a while and think.” Some people have run away with the idea that it makes some kind of difference. I couldn’t say where this idea comes from; but I really don’t think we ought to blame Christopher Robin. 

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