Lose the Goose

by Joanna Pierce on May 02, 2018

National Mother Goose Day is celebrated annually on May 1. It commemorates an 8th century French noblewoman named Bertrada II of Laon. She was considered a patroness of children and known as Berte aux grand pied, or Bertha Greatfoot—Queen Goosefoot. She told charming tales to children and has been credited as building the bedrock of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

Why does this matter? Because the other day when I was watching a TED Talk regarding a research study on blind mice, all day I had the nursery song, “Three Blind Mice” stuck in my head. I have Queen Goosefoot (AKA Mother Goose) to thank for that one.

As I began to reflect on the rhyme lyrics, I remembered just how violent it was. Who wants to sing about blind mice, running for dear life, only to have their tails cut off by a farmer’s wife. Ewwwww. But, where do you think I learned this gem-of-a-rhyme? As a child no less, and it’s scarred me my entire life.

I’ve completed heavy research on nursery rhymes and have found disturbing roots and origins. Often, nursery rhymes disguised unpleasant historical events. In other cases, falsities were documented and told as truth through catchy pentameter, alternate rhyme, or limericks.

As an adult, I can vouch I’m quite troubled with all of this. I’m not a fan of reading or hearing about death, murder, poverty, torture, and other like elements. And, I would argue these are certainly themes children shouldn’t be hearing about—letting alone chanting about or singing in play.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty (II Peter 1:16, KJV).

The Greek word muthos references fables, myths, fanciful stories, and fabrications told to replace or subvert the truth. This has been a common practice throughout the ages, and when Jesus Christ showed up on the scene, the culture wasn’t any different. These fables were “cunningly devised,” crafted in such a way to make the hearer wiser in a so-called truth. In reality, the ambiguous fables confused and convinced the hearer to believe a lie.

In II Peter 1:16, I love how even in the face of fables and fairy tales, Jesus’ believers still decided to oppose the lies and speak His truth. They were eyewitnesses to His majesty!

At this point, I know I’m walking on shaky ground with most readers. If you’ve made it with me this far, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this…

If we’re given an example in Scripture of men and women who chose not to follow familiar verse of their day, and testify of Jesus’ greatness instead, shouldn’t we do the same? In every opportunity we’re given, shouldn’t we be speaking to the majesty of our King?

Unintentionally, we sing and teach the rhymes of Mother Goose to our children, and years later, find ourselves humming the melodies, never to escape them. We don’t normally think twice about choosing to proclaim the greatness of Jesus first—to children, young teens, or adults alike—instead of going with the flow or speaking something that has a cute jingle or rhyme. And, we’re unaware as to what these nursery rhymes are about. If we’re to think on the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, and virtuous things (Philippians 4:8), I’m not convinced nursery rhymes hit the mark…I’m just saying!

I think it’s time for us to pick up literature and song that celebrates our Lord and Savior. Let’s teach our children good, and wholesome Bible stories. I know some veggies who sing a few tales that might get a song-or-two stuck in your head as well, but it will be about Jesus Christ. And, there’s nothing bad about having Jesus on your mind.

Take a moment and think—what do you want to share with your children? What do you want to remember years down the road? Is it time we lose the goose and start wondering about the Word? You decide.