The Bible in the News
When considering a topic for this column, I often wonder if I am striking the right balance between sayings that originate in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and those that come from the New Testament. Every so often, I am lucky: The phrase is found in both places. So it is with “out of the mouths of babes.” I suspect that most readers know this expression from Matthew 21:16 (in the now-classic wording of the King James Version), where Jesus says, “Yea; have ye never read: Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings…” But of course, Jesus’ hearers would, or at least could, have read these words, since they come from Psalm 8:2.
So, what is it, according to today’s major newspapers, that comes out of the mouths of babes? A lot! And these nuggets of wisdom generally involve family members. Thus, a female correspondent for the Western Mail recalls: “They say that the truth comes out of the mouth of babes. I took my seven-year-old daughter shopping, and just when we were parked up and ready to go, she said from the back seat … ‘Your parking is rubbish!’ ” Hardly more reassuring is another mother-child exchange (as recorded in the Daily Record of Scotland), with the title “Out of the Mouth of Babes …”: “And the quote of the week once again comes from my six-year-old paragon of optimism, who still believes he may one day win an argument with his mother. After yet another plea for a TV in his bedroom, I used an historical reference to reinforce my resistance. ‘When I was your age, I didn’t have a TV in my room.’ ” To which he replied, “ ‘But that’s because you didn’t have electricity then.’ ”
There does seem to be something about the United Kingdom and babes, doesn’t there? Two Birmingham newspapers provide further evidence, if it is needed. Both feature the expression “out of the mouths of babes” and the Conservative Party Leader David Cameron. In one account (in The Evening Mail), he visits a school, soliciting from youngsters the identity of the individual who, in their opinion, “was the most powerful man in the country.” Not satisfied with “The President” as a response, he was told by another student, “The Queen.” But Cameron should not feel too bad. According to the other story (in The Post), he “is the only politician to make a list of best-known people, according to a survey by the sponsors of National Kids’ Day.” How much comfort can the right honorable gentleman take in such a listing when, among other findings, we learn that “The Queen and Harry Potter are more famous than God, and Simon Cowell is better regarded than Jesus”?
Elsewhere in the Gospel of Matthew (15:11) Jesus advises: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Thus, it is probably appropriate that the popular press records far fewer instances of what goes into the mouths of babes. But I did locate two stories, both of which originated in The Boston Globe, that contain information about new entries (and entrées) in the world of baby food. One speaks of “the practice of tricking kids into eating healthy food by hiding broccoli purée in chicken nuggets or white beans in chocolate chip cookies.” The other article offers the opinion that “if you’ve ever tasted baby food, you know it’s bland with a horrid texture.” Well, we’ve raised two daughters (and are hoping, in due time, for grandchildren), but I don’t recall ever tricking them into eating or joining them in a tasting.
Who, then, can we turn to for the final word on this topic? As is my practice, I’ll provide the data, and readers can take their choice. Should we go with The Globe and Mail of Canada, which featured a report titled, “Out of the Mouths of Babes …: A Spiritual Child Is a Happy Child, According to a New Study”? Or do we give credence to a different category of “ babes,” as suggested by The Toronto Star: “Out of the mouths of babes. In this case, three Playboy Playmates put their Bunny ears together to compile the definitive lifestyle primer”? Those who might be in doubt as to my stance can breathe easy: I have taken seriously the warnings of Proverbs 7 and know whose house I shall be visiting in Proverbs 9!
When considering a topic for this column, I often wonder if I am striking the right balance between sayings that originate in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and those that come from the New Testament. Every so often, I am lucky: The phrase is found in both places. So it is with “out of the mouths of babes.” I suspect that most readers know this expression from Matthew 21:16 (in the now-classic wording of the King James Version), where Jesus says, “Yea; have ye never read: Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings…” But of course, Jesus’ hearers would, […]