Tip of the Day: Religious Barbie!

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Okay, I'm not necessarily suggesting that Mattel come out with Buddhist Monk Barbie or Sikh Leader Ken, but religious Barbies would sure make religious literacy more fun for Barbie-obsessed little girls, wouldn't it? Catholic Nun Barbie could keep her long, beautiful hair hidden beneath a habit. Mormon Elder Ken would come with his own bike and, whenever you pressed the button on his back, would say "May I talk to you about the Book of Mormon?" (To which Nun Barbie would decline politely before shutting the abbey door.) Point is, religious literacy isn't nearly as daunting as people make it out to be. Simply saying religious words out loud and in context goes a long way: God. Gods. Bible. Heaven. Meditation. Baptism. Mosque. Sabbath. 10 Commandments...

My daughter is 7, and I'm realizing she is at an ideal age to drop these words. She's like a sponge, rejecting virtually nothing — absorbing it all. She's a captive audience, too. When we're in the car and she's literally strapped into her back seat. Or at bedtime, when she still adores been read to. Or at playtime, when she still invites me to share in her imaginative games. Slipping religious concepts her way is just so darn easy.  (And a little scary when you consider how easy it would be to abuse this natural openness.) Anyway, the point is, if you want to discuss religion with your kids in an easy-breezy manner, working it into honest play is a great way to do it. "Pray" is one word I want Maxine to understand, so this week, after we made a house of blocks for her Barbie family, I put the dad in a prayer posture and announced to Maxine, "He's religious!" She loved it. She laughed at first — because she had no idea he was religious! — but then she sort of studied his posture and helped me keep him balanced so I could take a picture for you guys.

I'm certainly not the first to have this idea. A few years ago, an Episcopal priest came out with Episcopal Priest doll, which is no longer being sold. There is also a rather huge market of Fulla dolls — Barbie-like fashion dolls for Muslim girls. And let us not forget the fleeting controversy over Barbies in full burkas being auctioned off for Mattel's 50th anniversary in 2009. (Whether or not you agree that Burka Barbie was a good idea, the last line of this Jezebel column says it all:

"At the end of the day," the column read, "all Barbies are going to end up in the same place — naked and spread-eagle on the floor."

How true.

BlogHer Spotlights Religious Charm Bracelet

BlogHer Spotlight featured one of my posts today — the one on religious charm bracelets, and they called the idea "brilliant." So, you know, I love them now. You can check out the BlogHer bit here, but this is what they wrote:

All Religions In One Charm Bracelet

Reflecting on her own childhood fascination with her mother's jangly charm bracelet, Wendy hatched a brilliant plan — create a sparkly, shiny charm bracelet featuring a variety of religious symbols as a teaching tool for her daughter:

"I’d like for Maxine to recognize religious symbols and have some sense of their back stories. It’s a challenge sometimes, though, to introduce the basic concept of religion without, you know, boring her to tears. I figured if Maxine had a bracelet with religious symbols in her jewelry box, she might drag it out every once in a while and look at it. If I got lucky, maybe she’d even ask a question or two."

Read more from All Religions In One Charm Bracelet at Relax, It's Just God

Special thanks to BlogHer's Heather Clisby, and to my mom — who inspired the post and whose birthday is tomorrow.