Dying girl chooses heaven over hospital

Seriously, can we get a BoingBoing IRC setup? I’d love to chatter in realtime with some of us here. It can get close to realtime in PM, I’ve struck up a long-running convo with one of our regulars, but IRC or chat would be nice. If only to troll the bots that try to come in.


All of what you say is true. and the more I’m reading about this, the more I see the student’s complaint is a complete fabrication and the teacher really was doing nothing. But they’ll find a way to skewer this poor teacher too. Imagine wanting to help people grow and think, for about 35k a year, and your career goes down the tubes because some asshole kid complains about you to the news…

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For The Science of the Discworld Cohen and Stewart coined this as Lies-To-Children, not meant malicious but as understandable explanation leading to the more accurate one.

The article Lying to Your Kids by Marissa Cohen (no idea if related to the aforementioned Jack Cohen) covers a similar topic.

One of my aunts committed suicide when I was 10 - my siblings (all younger) and I were informed, something along the line “she wasn’t happy in her life and saw suicide as only solution. we’re incredibly sad and will do everything to give you better future prospects”. I think this was fine: It was not kept secret, it was not claimed that she’s now better off in heaven and we kids were not flooded with emotions and “technical” explanations (debts and drugs).


Here is the followup I was reading:

The school district wrote a 17 question FAQ!

I think your family took the exactly right approach. I will look into the other two refs when I’m more awake. I just got up and my god needs tending to: COFFEE.


I can still remember the response of my youngest child, who went to a family friend’s son’s Episcopal confirmation (age 7, maybe?) at the age of 8 or 9. She was weirded out at the nearly naked man on a torture device, and kept asking me about it. If you don’t grow up with the imagery, it’s bizarre stuff. Seeing religious iconography in museums puts it in more of a artistic context; seeing people you know using it in everyday life is a very different experience.

Once my kids got to be teenagers, I would tell them about the stories that they will see referenced in literary works – because they need to know the references – and we’d talk about the many subjective (and linguistically ignorant) translations, oral history, etc. By that time, they were studying Gilgamesh and similar works in school, so that was helpful.

There have been small pet deaths in their childhood, and AFAICT their reactions had to do with 1) missing their pet and 2) worried/mad that they or I had done something to cause the death, but “we don’t know what happens when people die, but it happens to every living thing, and at least they’re no longer suffering” seemed to be an acceptable explanation. It also sufficed once family members and friends started dying.

I’m certainly glad that when they had to go through my stage 3 cancer diagnosis and treatment, they hadn’t been primed to worry that their mother might go to hell.


From the FOX “article”:

The assignment asked students to say whether something was factual, a commonplace assertion or an opinion. The district said in a statement that it was intended to encourage critical thinking skills, not question any student’s religious beliefs.

The student then goes on to claim that the teacher – in TEXAS, mind you – had some sort of diatribe about how they would get points off if they listed God and then said “fact” or “opinion” instead of “myth”. In Texas.

Does not pass the smell test.


But the school’s comment in awjt’s follow-up link (teacher’s classroom activity is misguided and wrong) is totally believable: Teach the Controversy is only for one side of the political spectrum a valid argument ; )


And what’s more, the school then conducted private debriefings of the other students in the class. They did it on the spot without parental involvement or knowledge, and who knows what kind of information would be gleaned with fair or unfair questioning, in private, in the principal’s office, and how was that information collected and put together? And if the parents were involved, what would have happened? And now that parents know they were actively disinvolved and their children questioned by the school, what will now happen? What a fucking mess. These people are completely nuts here in Texas.

Religious freedom == impunity. That’s the long and short of it. They must be stopped.


Thanks! Yes, I think they do.

BUT that is not too different from the gist of what I told my kid. The difference is that I gave actual background information about how and why they shouldn’t worry about it. It seems kind of horrible, but it really is the best system we have. The biological examples I gave are all fairly recent science - so I can only imagine what examples I would have had to think of 100 or even 50 years ago.

It’s not my bag, but I don’t find the religious explanations innately offensive. Suppose we substitute “the world” for “god”. Is the world a rotten place because it doesn’t care what you want, or keep you around indefinitely? I’d argue that that’s not the case. That’s the mistake of talking about a real big and awesome thing as if it had the same petty concerns that I do. And why I think that the most naive thing about religion generally is trying to make the universe “relateable” as simply being a giant nebulous person. The world-at-large really is pretty much all-powerful and inscrutable! But that doesn’t make it Santa Claus!


I agree that there doesn’t seem to be any alternative. But I am not really comfortable letting a 5 year old making the choice, isn’t that what parents are for?

Yes, that I think is the discussion. I felt the same way but then reading the article, it seems like pretty much everyone is on the same page with this one - the nurse, the parents, the kid. But I do wonder how much the child is really choosing for herself and how much the parents are bending their explanation to walk her down that road.

My sister also freaked out at around that age. My mother tried the natural life/death approach, and explained it all as best she could. Sister would have none of it, and only calmed down when my mother finally admitted that yeah, she was kind of freaked out, too.


How did the kiddo take this explanation of life/death? Did it help, or freak them out more? I think high lighting the naturalness of death is hugely important, but it can be hard to wrap your head around for many (not just kids, but all of us).

I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. I think people are still figuring things out well into their 20s (and sometimes even later). Although 12 year olds are somewhat settled at this point, their families are still their primary source of identity at that point (despite what they may say).

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It definitely helped. My kid is, not unlike me, a bit autistic. So providing a lot of detail is considered a good thing.

The only other input they had was from a grandparent who mostly offered “you see god, and god loves you”, which I think they found more unsettling. The kid has been exposed to religious ideas a bit, but not raised with them. I think that they were a bit creeped out to need answers to a big problem and got a response which sounded evasive. I had to explain also how many in this culture hide death away and have weird attitudes about it.


Right on. Sounds like you’ve got a great kiddo on your hands!


I was typing fast this morning… I meant that the teacher risked losing everything. Not that people past age 12 can’t change their thinking…


Ah! My bad, then! thanks for clarification on what you meant! :wink:

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I should have taken more time to mansplain!!! But I was busy mansplaining to someone else :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: