THE GOSPELS AND A FAIRY TALE?
By LORETTA FULTON
You just THINK you know the story of “Little Red Riding Hood.”
Listening to Dr. Christopher Hutson, associate dean of the College of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University, will convince you that you don’t know as much as you think you do.
Hutson started a two-part program Oct. 3 at First Central Presbyterian Church as part of the church’s Wednesday night programming. Title of his presentations is “The Gospel According to Little Red Riding Hood.” The program concludes at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10. The public is invited to the free presentation. (To read the conclusion, click here).
Hutson teaches the same program to his students at ACU as a way of showing why the four gospels aren’t exactly alike. They were compiled from oral traditions, which don’t always agree in details.
Hutson shared various versions of the Little Red Riding Hood story, including the two best known versions by Charles Perrault (Mother Goose story) and the Brothers Grimm. He also played a couple of rock and roll tunes based on the story, one by J.P. Richardson, better known at the Big Bopper, and Sam the Sham and the Pharoes.
The Grimm verson has Little Red Riding Hood taking her ailing grandmother a bottle of wine and a piece of cake.
“It’s kinda, sorta, not exactly the way you remember it,” Hutson said.
It was easy to see why Hutson was selected Mentor of the Year for Arts & Humanities at ACU in 2016 as he humously read various versions, complete with different voices and sound effects. As entertaining as the presentation was, it had a serious point.
The various versions all told basically the same story, with a few details changed and with a different audience in mind. Was it a huntsman or woodsman who saved the day? Did he cut open the wolf with a knife or scissors? The goodies in the basket varied by culture. And, the moral of the story changed depending on who the story was written for.
“Some details are changed deliberately,” Hutson said, “to reach a certain audience.”
Two especially humorous versions were written by James Thurber and by James Finn Garner, who penned “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” in 1994. In that version the woodsman, axeman becomes the “woodchopper person.”
Thurber, one of America’s greatest wits who created short stories and cartoons for the New Yorker magazine, wrote a hilarious version, mimicking the film noir genre with its succinct storyline and ending.
“So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead,” Thurber concluded, adding, “Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.”
Hutson will wrap up the series Oct. 10 with the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.