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Jonah and the Whale - Comments

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 1 by QuestioningKat

I find that picture books with brief text to be really good at teaching social skills. You can read it together and discuss it and then he can read it on his own ( or within the next year when his reading improves.)

Try - Just like Heaven by Patrick McDonnell, lots to discuss in this little book. I recall the Aurthur series to be pretty good too. I'll see if I can think of some more.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 11:58:32 UTC | #885687

dandelion fluff's Avatar Comment 2 by dandelion fluff

I think the "forgiveness" part comes in with regard to the people Jonah was sent to preach to (Ninevites? I can't be arsed to look it up.) God was going to smite them unless Jonah went to preach to them and they changed their ways.

Though I don't know why God couldn't just talk to them himself, instead of going through a third party and tormenting Jonah that way. It's got that twisted logic that runs all through the bible.

As far as "covering topics" like forgiveness, best just to read good books to him. Books that "cover topics" usually aren't so much.

Here are a couple that might serve, and are really good books anyway:

The Unnameables (Ellen Booraem)

Small Persons With Wings (Ellen Booraem)

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:03:30 UTC | #885691

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 3 by Mr DArcy

I don't know about "fogiveness", but the tale of Jonah seems to be more about survival than anything else! How did he breathe? How come he wasn't crushed? How come the "great fish's" digestive juices didn't do him in?

(Yes, I do know there is no sensible answer!)

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:17:18 UTC | #885704

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 4 by Schrodinger's Cat

Whale #1 : " Hi Fred....where have you been for the last 3 days ?"

Whale #2 : " Oh, I went fishing for humans. I caught one......( spreads out flippers )......it was THAT big ! "

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 14:16:00 UTC | #885721

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 5 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator - sockpuppet of banned user

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 15:45:52 UTC | #885740

Zelig's Avatar Comment 6 by Zelig

Don't look for rational underpinnings. It's all allegorical: God is love and the priest is his mouthpiece. Ergo the priest has power. The end.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 16:34:41 UTC | #885761

AnthropicConstance's Avatar Comment 7 by AnthropicConstance

I've just read the original in my late Mum's King James. All 4 chapters seem to me a joke on Jonah.

"The Lord" wanted Jonah to do some war-mongering on the city of Ninevah to which Jonah refused. "The Lord" here seems to be factions of popular opinion against which he was a conscientious objector. Hence he suffered great inconveniences until he relented and prophesied Ninevah's destruction in 40 days. Then apparently Ninevah repented, man & beast & herd & flock with fasting & sackcloth & ashes: "...turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands." (Whose hands?)

But how can a prophet make a living if his prophecies don"t come true? It's Jonah's turn to be pissed. His career in ruins he gives the usual lip-service to the alpha male tribal tyrant/god and sits outside the city, to await it's destruction or his own death, for which he prays. Here the story ends abruptly--censorship in antiquity I think, because either way it ends it'll disappoint someone.

It's fun to read between the lines of such a story. What I understand is that certain military factions may have gotten their way with certain political factions in the city's ruling class avoiding the promised bloodbath. Jonah just seems to be a pawn in the game.

But if it has anything at all to do with God's capacity for love & forgiveness the moral is you'll always be on the short end of God's stick.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 22:06:32 UTC | #885832

Spawny Rosary's Avatar Comment 8 by Spawny Rosary

Comment 5 by T4 :

Thanks for this, my bad re school ages. Also great advice re just treating it as a story etc (I might say a yarn!). As he hadn't come home with any idea of an implied deeper meaning, this is an ideal approach, and one I will apply unless and until he indicates otherwise.

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 23:09:11 UTC | #885843

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

Comment 4 by Schrodinger's Cat

Whale #1 : " Hi Fred....where have you been for the last 3 days ?"

Whale #2 : " Oh, I went fishing for humans. I caught one......( spreads out flippers )......it was THAT big ! "

Whale #1 : Go on! You're pulling my evolutionary leg! They don't grow that big!

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 23:35:10 UTC | #885847

IDLERACER's Avatar Comment 10 by IDLERACER

When I was a kid I kept getting Jonah confused with Pinocchio. Now I'm an adult, and I'm still not quite sure of the difference

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 04:05:41 UTC | #885869

RDfan's Avatar Comment 11 by RDfan

                                   The True Tale of Jonah the Leaf

Jonah the Leaf was green and round. He was very strong. And he had many Leaf-Friends. But his best Leaf-Friend was called Orlando.

Leaves liked to play. They ran under the sun on sunny days. They bathed in the rain on rainy days. They sailed on the wind on windy days. And they danced in the shade on cloudy days. So the life of a Leaf was fun, fun, fun.

But Leaves became scared sometimes. They were mostly scared of Leaf-Eaters.

The scariest Leaf-Eaters were caterpillars. Among caterpillars, Gonzo the Caterpillar was the scariest of all.

Gonzo the Caterpillar had a big, green head. He had wide, red eyes. He had long, black hairs. He had sharp, black teeth. And he moved from tree to tree, eating Leaves.

One day, Gonzo the Caterpillar attacked Jonah the Leaf.

“Gwwrrrr!” shouted Gonzo the Caterpillar.

“Crunch! Crunch!” Gonzo the Caterpillar bit into Jonah the Leaf.

“Wiii, waaahhhh! It’s Gonzo the Caterpillar! Run,” the Leaves screamed at each other and ran away.

But Jonah the Leaf didn’t run away. He was made of synthetic fber. And caterpillars can’t eat such fibers. So Jonah the Leaf wasn’t scared of Gonzo the Caterpillar.

“Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!”

“This is a strange Leaf”, said Gonzo the Caterpillar. “I want to eat him, but I can’t bite into him. And why is he not scared of me?”

“Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!” Gonzo the Caterpillar bit again, and again, and again.

“Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!”

Soon, Gonzo the Caterpillar became very tired of biting Jonah the Leaf. So Gonzo the Caterpillar went back home tired, frustrated and hungry.

The Leaves were trembling with fear in the wind. So they held each other. They were really scared by Gonzo the Caterpillar.

But the Leaves became scared of Jonah the Leaf, too. They called him “Jonah the Freak!” and “Jonah the Strange!” And all the Leaves stopped speaking to him. His best Leaf-Friend, Orlando, stopped speaking to him too.

Jonah the Leaf became sad after this affair. Like a leaf that is heavy with rain drops, his shoulder drooped towards the ground.

One sunny morning, Orlando finally plucked up some sunlight of courage and spoke to Jonah the Leaf. He said, “Jonah, you are my best friend. But I stopped speaking to you. I’m sorry! Please forgive me,” he cried.

“It’s OK, Orlando,” said Jonah the Leaf. “You are still my best Leaf-Friend. But, I have not been the best friend to you. You see, I didn’t tell you my secret. I’m sorry too”, said Jonah. A tear run down the length of him and in it a rainbow could be seen. Then Jonah the Leaf told his secret to his best Leaf-Friend, Orlando.

That evening, Jonah the Leaf and his best Leaf-Friend Orlando went to speak to the other Leaves.

Jonah the Leaf said, “Dear Leaves, I’m sorry. I have a secret that I have to tell you. I am a Plastic Leaf. That's why Gonzo the Caterpillar could not eat me. But I want you to be my Leaf-Friends. I’m sorry that I scared you. Please don’t be scared of me.”

Then, Orlando said, “Jonah is a special Leaf, my friends. But, look around you, there are many other special Leaves among us. There are round Leaves, fat Leaves, small, red, green, orange, or purple Leaves. But a Leaf is a Leaf. And all Leaves should be friends.”

The Leaves listened carefully. Then they said, “Jonah, we are sorry too. We called you “Jonah the Freak” and “Jonah the Strange”. But, when we think about it, you saved us from Gonzo the Caterpillar. The least we can do is thank you. So, thank you, Jonah, our friend.” Some Leaves cried.

The next day, Jonah the Leaf, Orlando and their Leaf-Friends played together in the sun. They bathed in the rain. They sailed in the wind. And they danced in the shade. And Gonzo the Caterpillar was nowhere to be seen.

The End

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 08:42:20 UTC | #885890

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 12 by susanlatimer

Comment 11 by RDfan

That is a MUCH better story for children (and adults) than the Jonah of the Abrahamic religions who "was brought back to life by Elijah and hence, shares many of his characteristics (particularly his desire for 'strict judgement')."

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 08:57:46 UTC | #885891

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 13 by Zeuglodon

I know Jonah and the Whale has been covered in some threads in the past, but I wonder, can anybody recommend a children's book to explain forgiveness and similar themes in more modern and believable settings?

There must be many children's books that cover topics like forgiveness in a more straightforward way.

I don't know any obviously didactic books, but while we're talking fiction why not get him started on something like Northern Lights/The Golden Compass, or if that's too adventurous then perhaps Harry Potter or A Series Of Unfortunate Events? You could talk to your kid about some of the morally dubious characters and whether you would forgive them or not. Case-based learning seems important for teaching kids about things like forgiveness. I can't really think of any fiction focussed on forgiveness that isn't adult, like Atonement.

Comment 11 by RDfan

That was a very good story. Did you create it?

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 10:49:55 UTC | #885912

jimbobjim's Avatar Comment 14 by jimbobjim

In answer to some of the above: 1. Jonah is seen my many Christians (and Jews) as allegory. So questions about the fish etc may be interesting to discuss but may also be irrelevant and miss the poit of the story. 2. The story teaches a number of things including:

      - God's sovereignty as God is protrayed as the one in control (God sends the fish, God forives the Ninevites, God loves people including the ones we (or Jonah) don't.
     - God uses Jonah (rather then just doing it himself) to teach that people should be concerned with the fate of others, even those we regard as being evil.
     - God can turn negative situations (Jonah running away) into something good (the sailors turn to God, Jonah gets a second chance, and the Ninevite and their animals stop doing evil things)

The story is a great story and perhaps would still be interesting if you took God out of it.

  1. The big theme of Jonah is God's love and Mercy...which needs to be balance with the thread about William Lane Craig.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 10:58:31 UTC | #885915

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 15 by Tyler Durden

Comment 14 by jimbobjim :

In answer to some of the above: 1. Jonah is seen my many Christians (and Jews) as allegory.

And some Christians (and Jews) see it as literal. Just as they do the "Adam and Eve" fable.

The question rational thinking people would ask is: how do you know when to read your Great Big Book of Ancient Jewish Fairy Tales as allegorical or literal?

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:04:54 UTC | #885924

Chica1's Avatar Comment 16 by Chica1

How about aesops fables? I always loved those when I was at primary school. They're really obviously just stories and no-one can try to convince children they're real so they're not confusing.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:05:54 UTC | #885926

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 17 by Zeuglodon

Comment 14 by jimbobjim

Jonah is seen my many Christians (and Jews) as allegory. So questions about the fish etc may be interesting to discuss but may also be irrelevant and miss the poit of the story.

Yes, that is true.

What is it an allegory of? And how do you decide? And while we shouldn't get distracted by the issue of the whale, there is such a thing as presentation. Being locked inside a giant sea creature for three days stretches credibility unless you accept the story as fantastical fiction from the beginning.

people should be concerned with the fate of others, even those we regard as being evil.

But then you get evangelism, as the message can be distorted to mean that believers should be concerned when their neighbours aren't praying to the same deity or practising their religion. I admit I'm deliberately twisting it towards the negative aspect, since I do largely agree with the idea that we should be concerned about what other people do, but remember this is a religion where simply saying "I do not believe in God" was throughout history often regarded as the nadir of moral depravity, and this lesson could be interpreted as a call to conversion.

God can turn negative situations (Jonah running away) into something good (the sailors turn to God, Jonah gets a second chance, and the Ninevite and their animals stop doing evil things)

But this relies on you accepting that he is there. To the rest of us, it comes across as "it doesn't matter what you do, because it will all turn out OK in the end". Ceaseless optimism is not to be encouraged if it leads to carelessness and unrealistic predictions.

Of course, nothing in your posts indicates that you thought these implications were great lessons to take away, and you regard the story as great minus the God aspect. The story doesn't interest me personally, as I'd prefer something like Moby Dick, which does reference Jonah, but also has other allusions and is a good story.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:29:03 UTC | #885933

RDfan's Avatar Comment 18 by RDfan

@Zeuglodon:

The story is all my work, mwahaha, but inspired by my 6 year old niece - who can make up such stories on a whim - and an old story I read once called The Fall of Freddie the Leaf (a rather sad but beautiful story about life and death).

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:44:07 UTC | #885939

jimbobjim's Avatar Comment 19 by jimbobjim

Comment 15 by Tyler Durden :

Comment 14 by jimbobjim :

In answer to some of the above: 1. Jonah is seen my many Christians (and Jews) as allegory.

And some Christians (and Jews) see it as literal. Just as they do the "Adam and Eve" fable.

The question rational thinking people would ask is: how do you know when to read your Great Big Book of Ancient Jewish Fairy Tales as allegorical or literal?

I guess the simple answer (and I am an Evangelical Christian) is the I believe "ALL Scrioture" is inspired by God. The more complicated answer would be the meaning of INSIRED...the generaly (UK) evangelical view is that inspired means that God "inspired" the writers to write the things they did (in the way tha someone might see something and be inspired to write a song), the Fundamentalist view would be that INSPIRED means dictated. The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:50:45 UTC | #885944

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 20 by Zeuglodon

Comment 18 by RDfan

Do you do creative writing in your spare time, by any chance? Perhaps you should write another short story and send it to a competition, or get it published in a local newspaper or a magazine. I thought that story you posted was really good.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:53:48 UTC | #885945

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 21 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 19 by jimbobjim

I guess the simple answer (and I am an Evangelical Christian) is the I believe "ALL Scrioture" is inspired by God. The more complicated answer would be the meaning of INSIRED...the generaly (UK) evangelical view is that inspired means that God "inspired" the writers to write the things they did (in the way tha someone might see something and be inspired to write a song), the Fundamentalist view would be that INSPIRED means dictated. The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.

I've been inspired by the Flying Spaghetti Monster ( peace be upon his noodly appendages ) to state that Jonah is a fake and the one true story is James And The Giant Peach.....a literal account of what happened to James. This is essential belief for anyone who wishes to spend eternity feasting on Belgian rum truffles in the great heavenly chocolate factory.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:33:30 UTC | #885954

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 22 by Tyler Durden

Comment 19 by jimbobjim :

The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.

Can you please give me an example of something that is clearly literal, and how exactly you know.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 13:55:07 UTC | #885959

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 23 by Tyler Durden

Comment 21 by Schrodinger's Cat :

I've been inspired by the Flying Spaghetti Monster ( peace be upon his noodly appendages ) to state that Jonah is a fake and the one true story is James And The Giant Peach.....a literal account of what happened to James. This is essential belief for anyone who wishes to spend eternity feasting on Belgian rum truffles in the great heavenly chocolate factory.

Sacrilege.

The one true story is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - a literal account of Charlie. This is essential belief for anyone who wishes to spend eternity feasting on chocolate treats in the great heavenly chocolate factory.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:04:47 UTC | #885964

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 24 by justinesaracen

Jimbobjim

The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.<

In other words, you don't know. You just pick out what you like.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 15:50:22 UTC | #885988

jimbobjim's Avatar Comment 25 by jimbobjim

Comment 22 by Tyler Durden :

Comment 19 by jimbobjim :

The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.

Can you please give me an example of something that is clearly literal, and how exactly you know.

"literal" is probably a bad word to use, as I guess the Bible has many Genres. "Historical" probably a better tern. The answer to your question would generally be the context and use of language. For example at the end of Jonah, God says there are "120,000 people who don't know their right hand from their left"...literally that would be 120,000 "stupid people" but the expression is a Hebrewism for either Children or people who don't know right from wrong (both fit the context). an example of literal/historical (Genre) is Luke 1:5 and can be tested historically.

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 17:16:12 UTC | #886027

jimbobjim's Avatar Comment 26 by jimbobjim

Comment 24 by esuther :

Jimbobjim

The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.>

In other words, you don't know. You just pick out what you like.

No there are pieces that are clearly written as allegory/pictureque langauge etc and others that are written as history (you may want to challenge trhe reliability of the history but the bit were clearly written as history)

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 17:18:42 UTC | #886028

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 27 by Zeuglodon

Comment 19 by jimbobjim

I guess the simple answer (and I am an Evangelical Christian) is the I believe "ALL Scrioture" is inspired by God.

We don't, and not for arbitrary reasons. We don't because of:

  • its inconsistencies and its lack of evidence-based reasoning in arguing that it is divinely inspired. Just saying that it is, and just talking about said deity as if to take its existence for granted, does not count as evidence-based reasoning.
  • its distinctively human parochialism, especially regarding the depicted tribalistic and exclusivist behaviour of followers to non-followers.
  • its near-similarity with other allegedly divinely inspired texts (like the Mahabharata, which is also alleged to have been divinely inspired, in this case by Ganesha).
  • its obscure origins. The earliest extant text is a papyrus copy estimated to have been written about 125.c.e.
  • its questionable historical accuracy, especially since it contains accounts of miracles and no other non-biblical texts of the time, such as Tacticus', confirm this.
  • its flagrant ignorance of scientific ideas that have been tested and proven in recent centuries, such as the incorrect ordering of when certain kinds of life arose, the depiction of talking snakes, and the suggestion, not supported by genetic evidence, that all humanity can trace its origins back to just two people who lived at the same time, one of whom was potentially a clone of the other.
  • .

    This is before we mention the problem of firstly proving that such a deity even exists, let alone has the interventionist characteristics ascribed to it, and it is hard to see what justifies this claim of divine inspiration at all. It would be easier to claim that all Scripture is irrelevant to understanding any academic discipline outside of literature, biblical studies and theology.

    The honest answer, is that some things are clearly literal, some allegory etc and we need to work at it and probably get it wrong sometimes.

    Why need we work at it, beyond appreciating its value as historically important (and in the King James bible, poetically graceful) literature?

    Tue, 01 Nov 2011 17:25:10 UTC | #886030

    Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 28 by Ignorant Amos

    Comment 25 by jimbobjim

    an example of literal/historical (Genre) is Luke 1:5 and can be tested historically.

    Behave yerself there jimbobjim.........

    The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was conceived when Elizabeth was about six months pregnant, and when her cousin Mary came to tell her about her news, Elizabeth's unborn child "jumped for joy" in her womb. There is no mention of a family relationship between John and Jesus in the other Gospels, and the scholar Raymond E. Brown has described it as "of dubious historicity". Géza Vermes has called it "artificial and undoubtedly Luke's creation". On the basis of the account in Luke, the Catholic calendar placed the feast of John the Baptist on June 24, six months before Christmas.

    and

    The many similarities between the accounts of the birth of John and that of Samuel in the Old Testament have led scholars to suggest that the Gospel of Luke story of the birth of John and of the annunciation and birth of Jesus are modeled on that of Samuel.

    Tue, 01 Nov 2011 17:33:09 UTC | #886034

    Valerie_'s Avatar Comment 29 by Valerie_

    Comment 25 by jimbobjim :

    Comment 22 by Tyler Durden :

    Can you please give me an example of something that is clearly literal, and how exactly you know.

    "literal" is probably a bad word to use, as I guess the Bible has many Genres. "Historical" probably a better tern. The answer to your question would generally be the context and use of language. For example at the end of Jonah, God says there are "120,000 people who don't know their right hand from their left"...literally that would be 120,000 "stupid people" but the expression is a Hebrewism for either Children or people who don't know right from wrong (both fit the context). an example of literal/historical (Genre) is Luke 1:5 and can be tested historically.

    Sorry dude, but this response makes no sense to me. Tyler asked for a clear example, but what you wrote --- to me at least --- is as clear as mud.

  • What do you mean by "the answer would generally be the context and use of language?" The bible is all language (no diagrams in the original texts as far as I know, and certainly no photos), so of course the answer would "be language." I don't see what you mean at all. Unless you're saying that it's all context-specific, which means it's open to interpretation, which means that nothing can be taken literally.

  • As far as the 120,000 people example you gave, I don't follow you at all. What do you mean? Again, if you're saying that you can contextualize anything to mean whatever you want it to, who's to say that your interpretation is right?

  • As a really good example of "Who's right?" about bible stories, there's a controversy over whether Matthew meant that Mary was a virgin or just a young maiden when he called her an "almah." This chart in the Wikipedia has a long list of different interpretations of the word "almah" in the same verse by different bibles. Which one do you believe? Mary's miraculous virgin birth is central to many religious beliefs. How can something be so central and so settled in some people's minds if Matthew's meaning is unclear because he used the wrong word when quoting Isaiah?

    I guess this idea is at the core of what drives non-believers nuts sometimes. We're scared by this ability to accept things --- which is seen as a virtue! --- when there's really no reason to accept them. Religious people even fight with each other and persecute others over stuff that's open to interpretation and can't be proven! To people like me, this is very scary.

    We see this stuff and think, "Wow, someone is manipulating you, and this is awful" not "faith is a virtue."

    If you were on a jury and the prosecutor said that you had to have faith that the defendant was guilty, even though he couldn't prove it, would you vote to convict anyway? If not, why?

    If your religious leaders told you that people who don't believe in god in just the right way should be destroyed and then told you that you had to accept their evil because he said so, without proof, would you join up and work to destroy them?

    Tue, 01 Nov 2011 18:08:21 UTC | #886043

    jimbobjim's Avatar Comment 30 by jimbobjim

    Comment 28 by Ignorant Amos :

    Comment 25 by jimbobjim

    an example of literal/historical (Genre) is Luke 1:5 and can be tested historically.

    Behave yerself there jimbobjim.........

    The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was conceived when Elizabeth was about six months pregnant, and when her cousin Mary came to tell her about her news, Elizabeth's unborn child "jumped for joy" in her womb. There is no mention of a family relationship between John and Jesus in the other Gospels, and the scholar Raymond E. Brown has described it as "of dubious historicity". Géza Vermes has called it "artificial and undoubtedly Luke's creation". On the basis of the account in Luke, the Catholic calendar placed the feast of John the Baptist on June 24, six months before Christmas. and

    The many similarities between the accounts of the birth of John and that of Samuel in the Old Testament have led scholars to suggest that the Gospel of Luke story of the birth of John and of the annunciation and birth of Jesus are modeled on that of Samuel.

    You totally missed my point. I was pointing out that the verse is written (in terms of Genre) as factual history (the reliability of the history is a different debate) - secondly, I was specifically talking about that verse...none of what you say is in that verse.

    Tue, 01 Nov 2011 18:10:02 UTC | #886045