One seemingly ordinary Monday morning, we began school singing the hymn, "All Creatures of Our God and King." As we finished I impulsively asked my eight-year-old son to look outside and tell me if the sunshine really had "golden beams" from the line in the first verse: "Thou burning sun with golden beam". After a week of drizzle, he was glad to report that it did indeed. We went on to our Bible lesson and I was reviewing the big picture in Genesis and asked the boys what the "once upon a time" of our story was in the Bible. After a moment's consideration, my older son said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth".
Before I could continue, his younger brother burst out, "Oh Mom, it's just like King Midas! Everything God touches turns to gold!" My heart skipped a beat. He'd made an unexpected connection from a mythological story to the Bible.
Many Christians are fearful of allowing their children to read mythology. Why should we teach them about pagan religion? Won't the study of gods and goddesses disturb them, confuse them, and plant seeds of doubt?
Bible stories, nursery rhymes, fairytales, folk tales and mythology used to be considered standard fare for young children. My friend, Jan Bloom, calls these genres "The Foundational Five." A child brought up on a rich supply of these has been initiated into the oldest stories of western civilization and will encounter allusions to characters, images, and ideas from them throughout the rest of his life-long reading of literature. These stories are the ingredients that give children a rich feast of truths and whet his appetite for more, not to mention having the pure pleasure of a thousand doors flung open to imagination.
I had a little taste of it that Monday morning, how the knowledge of Greek mythology enhanced his understanding of God. Though my son may be unaware of it, he's discovered one of the grandest truths of all, there's only one story. Who would have ever thought old King Midas would point his greedy little finger to the Almighty Creator?