"Little Jack Horner sat in a corner reading his Bible each day": The joylessness of The Christian Mother Goose
Each Monday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets around Los Angeles.
The Christian Mother Goose Book
Author/Illustrator: Marjorie Ainsborough Decker
Publisher: Decker Press
Discovered at: Good Will, Western & Venice
"Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Thanking Jesus for curds and whey"
Poor Jesus! After almost two millennia of inspiring Sistine Chapels and miscellaneous Madonna with Childs, the dude these days gets credited mostly with the dregs: needle points and Narnia sequels, stunt candidacies and endtimes fan fiction.
That's a tricky situation for a messiah: how good can it look when everyone you inspire is so deeply un-inspired?
To help their Lord out, some believers have endeavored to convert great secular art - usually believers incapable of great art themselves. That's how we wind up with dross like The Christian Mother Goose, wherein Marjorie Ainsborough Decker slices away everything memorable or engaging about the west's most enduring nursery rhymes. The result is diet caffeine-free Mother Goose.
In Decker's treatment, faith leads familiar characters triumph where they once suffered.
Miss Muffet still encounters our subconscious fears in arachnid form, but armed with her faith she couldn't ever be scared off. As she says grace over curds and whey,
"There came a big spider
And sat down beside her,
To listen to Miss Muffet pray."
Remember that, kids, the next time a brown recluse ambles up.
In Decker's fairyland, nobody has anything to worry about, ever.
Humpty Dumpty, Christian Scientist. (Also, note that this is John Boehner's health-care plan.)
Jack and Jill still venture uphill in order to tote away some potable. At the top, though, neither suffers their traditional, mysterious fall. Instead, they learn the pointlessness of their mission:
"A man there said,
'If you drink this,
You'll still be thirsty after.
But there is water Jesus gives,
So won't you ask him first,
To give you of the LIVING WATER
So that you will never thirst.'"
So, with this lesson learned, the kids dehydrate and die because of metaphors.
From basic sustenance to livestock maintenance, Decker teaches that God will handle all of your problems.
YES, JESUS HAS NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN TO WAG THE TAILS OF THE SHEEP YOU KEEP MISPLACING.
It's not for me to say whether Decker's goofy art glorifies her savior. But I can say that it glorifies the kinkiness of wearing a skirt on a teeter-totter.
The Goodwill at Western & Venice is my favorite Mid-City thrift shop. The clothes aren't too picked-over, rare glories stud the $1.99 CD section, and on my last visit I beheld the following:
Seriously, all you need to make this Cabbage Patch Fetus painting into a masterpiece is just a couple more gallons of urine-paint.
Steroids not included . . . but I'm sure there's advice on how to scissor strips out of your T-shirts for maximum tear-ability.
Other familiar, bowdlerized rhymes from Decker:
"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" ("God has placed you where you are")
"Three Kind Mice" ("They brought some food to the church mice")
"Little Boy Blue" ("Come blow your horn/ the sheep's in the stable where the Savior is born")
"Hickory Dickory Dock" ("The clock struck ten/The mouse said 'Amen.'")
"Tweedledum and Tweedledee" ("Said Tweedledee to Tweedledum/'I'm very, very sorry.'")
Once in a while, Decker's expurgations don't go far enough.
Based on the evidence in The Christian Mother Goose, I expect that Jesus would rather you ride a cock-horse than a see-saw.
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