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a little boy's cry for help

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 16, 2009

Yesterday brought the news that an 8-year-old boy in Taunton, Massachusetts, had been sent home from school because he drew a picture of Christ on the cross. Today the Boston Globe reassures readers that really, the incident was nothing to worry about.

“The report is totally inaccurate,’’ Julie Hackett, superintendent of the Taunton public schools, said in an interview in her office yesterday.

Totally inaccurate? That's good. So the boy wasn’t sent home? Except that actually he was. Still, he wasn’t suspended—only required to undergo psychiatric testing. And it wasn’t because he drew a picture of Jesus.

She said the drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, on the cross, which prompted the teacher to alert the school’s principal and staff psychologist.

Ah. But the boy’s father has a different perspective:

Johnson acknowledged that his son identified himself on the cross, but he said it was only after he told school officials that his picture represented Jesus

So if the boy was loosing a “cry for help,” maybe he just wanted help coping with the unwanted attention from the school’s administrators. The psychiatrist reportedly gave him a clean bill of health, but do you suppose this child is looking forward to tomorrow’s art class?

Moreover, what if this little boy, who had recently visited a local Catholic shrine, really did identify with Christ on the cross? Is that a sign of admirable piety or emotional instability? The Taunton schools apparently leapt to the latter conclusion.

From a distance the case of this poor little boy looks like a metaphor for the condition of committed believers in a secular society. It’s OK to have a religious faith, but not to let others see it. It’s OK to cite religious teachings about peace and brotherhood, provided you keep quiet about self-discipline and suffering. It’s OK to identify yourself as a Christian as long as you don’t identify yourself with Christ.   

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  • Posted by: New Sister - Dec. 17, 2009 2:50 PM ET USA

    I pray a good apologist infiltrates into their midst-- beaming with joy as he explains about man's union with our Lord on the Holy Cross - an honor reserved for saints and martyrs! How spiritually mature and wise children must be to see this - the boy should try poetry!

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