Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Um... about that Advent calendar...

We opened the first door on Sunday, talked about St. Andrew the Apostle and the bible verse referenced on the inside of the door. Lovely. Yesterday, the kids were so excited. We gathered around the cathedral decorated structure and after several tries, opened the door marked December 1st to reveal... Rosa Parks. Huh? Well, um...OK. The Biblical passage referenced Isaiah 1:17 (Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.) and the caption mentioned that in 1955, Rosa Parks kept her bus seat in Alabama. It provided us with an interesting discussion about how biblical passages apply to modern day situations; that the Word of God is for all of us, not just one group of people or one particular moment in time. But I have to admit, it was strange.

Maybe we were just caught off guard. So, in an attempt to be better prepared, I looked ahead. Boy, am I glad I did!!! Although there were only two more "modern day examples" I was glad that I discovered the little surprise that was waiting on Christmas Eve. I'd take a picture of it to show you, but this is a G rated blog and I'd like to keep it that way. The picture represents Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise standing next to a tree with an apple yet to be plucked and the serpent hanging out below. But that's not all that's hangin' out!!!

The figures of Adam and Eve are completely naked and drawn with enough detail that NASA might have considered using them in the Pioneer program. Completely inappropriate if you ask me and my kids would have been horrified to see that kind of immodesty on their Advent calendar. We have always taught them that in the Garden, before the fall, Adam and Eve had no need for clothes because they were clothed in God's grace. Hence the realization of their nakedness after the Fall and the quick stitching of fig leaves. Some stickers are correcting the problem right now but I might actually print a more appropriate picture on vellum and replace the offending one. What bothers me even more is that on the smaller version of this calendar, they are covered. Everything is a choice!

Now regarding the other secular references... there are only three that I can see. I looked on the inside instead of opening all the doors, but I think I caught them all; Rosa Parks, 4 women murdered in El Salvador and the Massacre at Wounded Knee. While I know that I could explain these to my children in a way that would make sense to them without getting into the nitty gritty, I still don't think they have any business being on my Advent calendar. If St. Andrew, St. Nicholas and St. Lucy fill the other windows, then why not St. Edmund Campion and St. Bibiana?

Anyway, sorry for the rant but I felt like I should warn you since I linked to them yesterday so that you don't get the same surprise I did.


  1. Oh dear! I clicked on the link and almost ordered a few for myself and others in our Catholic homeschool group. Then in wondering how long it would take them to get here, I changed my mind. Perhaps a good thing?

    It sure is beautiful, though.

  2. Bummer Charlotte! I ordered one (haven't gotten it yet though) as it is so pretty ... but if I can amend them a bit, that makes it better. THANKS for the headsup....


  3. Thanks Charlotte for the update!

    We ordered one last night and the Lenten one. Now, I`m wondering if the Lenten one has the same problems.

    I do think that showing the kids modern saints is a novel idea. But, I wouldn`t expect it on my Advent calendar. And, definately not nudity. Sheesh. My two year old would probably be scared for life ;P

    Why do they do stuff like that?

  4. What craziness! Maybe your supplier doesn't even know -- might be worth a note.

  5. I do still think that there are enough beautiful reasons to justify buying it. Like I said...only four out of approx. 50 windows is not a bad ratio. But like Mary asked... WHY? I am going to compose a letter to the company to let them know my feelings, but they are the ones who printed it (not just distributed it) so I don't think this will be a surprise to them.

  6. I am so thankful for the heads up. I ordered this a week or so ago in hopes that my girls could use it while we were in China.

    I needed the warning as I would have given it to them and NOT been here to monitor.

    Thank you!

  7. Good catch! My girls would have been scandalized too! We are using a Playmobil advent calendar this year along with our Jesse Tree, so no nudity fears there! ha ha

  8. Well, when I looked behind the windows of my kids' Advent calendar, all I found was chocolate.

    I made sure to eat all the offensive ones.

  9. Wow, I have to say...I would find that offensive and I'm not an overly protective person by any means.
    I think I would have to contact the company in regards to posting on the packaging that frontal nudity would be involved...as it is in magazines, tv shows, movies, etc. Are Advent calendars above those standards? It almost sounds like a sneaky attempt to sabotage the event....
    That's just sort of over what most people would consider acceptable in my mind.

  10. We have the Lenten one too and it looks like they just used pictures of animals with biblical passages referencing the animals.

  11. My husband and I noticed the artist that illustrated the Advent Calendar is Br. "Steve" Erspamer who has also worked with Oregon Catholic Press. Erspamer was removed from the Marianist Order in the archdiocese of St. Louis under Bishop Burke. A recent documentary, "Rape of the Soul," highlights his "work." One blog noted that, "[Erspamer] is a specialist who has steadily supplied the world with over 1500 blasphemous works of sexual, satanic and occult art, which were always readily showcased by Catholic publishers." I would definitely contact the supplier.

  12. YIKES! Super sneaky of that "Steve" guy. Kind of gives me the willies.

  13. Melissa,
    Sorry my response has been delayed but I took a look at the information you referred to and here is what I found:

    Br. Martin Erspamer, OSB, professed his solemn vows as a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in a ceremony on August 15, 2008, in the Archabbey Church at St. Meinrad, IN.

    He entered the novitiate at Saint Meinrad in 2005 and the following year received the name Br. Martin as part of his transfer process from the Society of Mary (Marianists) in St. Louis, MO. In professing solemn vows of obedience, fidelity to the monastic way of life and stability in the community at Saint Meinrad, he becomes a full and permanent member of the Benedictine community..

    And here is some information from an article printed in the NCR in 2003:

    He studied liturgical design at the Catholic Theological Union and began educating parishes about the rich symbolism lost with Vatican II. “We started replacing statues with potted plants, and like any revolution, the cleansing went a little too far. There was a break in the ability to decipher symbolic language, and now there’s a whole generation that has no idea what anything means. They don’t look at art as a springboard for meditation, they look at it as pretty wallpaper. I keep telling parishes, ‘This art is supposed to speak to your soul. Every time you see this, it should invite you to come back and pray and discover.’ ”

    I read some of the information from the producer of Rape of the Soul which is all about his perception of embedded sexual images in religious art. He even makes a case for the fact that the San Damiano cross was a Satanic image used to distract St. Francis from his directive to build the church spiritually and that the embedded images made St. Francis focus on rebuilding the Church physically. His language was incredibly uncharitable and even crossed into calumny by ascribing motives of pedophilia to Br. Martin's desire to join a Benedictine Community. I really didn't feel like these were the rational arguments of a concerned member of the Catholic community.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!