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God and My Father by Clarence Day: I Love This a Weird Amount

You know how when you're a kid, you love things uncritically, and when you're an adult, it's hard to walk back that love, or sometimes even understand it? 'Why do I want to punch someone who insults Fievel Goes West?' you might ask yourself. Or, in this particular case, 'How the hell did I grow to love Life With Father so much?'




Yes, Life With Father, the 1947 turn-of-the-century film about a harsh father, his silly wife and their four red-haired sons, based on a series of books by Clarence Day. The film centers around the discovery that Father has never been baptized. HOOKED YET?




I know I watched it a ridiculous number of times as a child, and I have no idea why. Did I find it on YouTube and do I still think it's funny? YES, obviously. But could that be seven-year-old Alice still reacting to the hilarity that is Oldest Teenage Son having issues with dating a young Elizabeth Taylor because they go to different Protestant denominational churches?


SHE'S A METHODIST

Anyway. So. The actual book.

THE ACTUAL BOOK IS GREAT. There's another book by Clarence Day actually called Life With Father, but God and My Father is the one that focuses on the baptizing issue. I got an awesome 1932 copy from the Newberry Library sale for $1. It's 83 pages long, so it is not what you would call a "challenging" text. 

I love the book, I love the narration, I love all the characters, it's an adorable book. Essentially: Father's a straightforward businessman who doesn't want to be baptized, and his wife is horrified that he hasn't been. That's the entire conflict.


It was useless to try to make him see that being baptized was a rite, and that it involved something holy and essential. He said it was a mere technicality. As to obeying the Bible, there were a lot of damn things in the Bible.


Clarence Day is entirely charming as a writer, and I have just been bummed out by a quick skim of his Wikipedia page, which not only reveals that Life with Father was published only a couple of years after this in 1935, but that Day also died that year at the age of 61, AND that "Day was a vocal proponent of giving women the right to vote, and contributed satirical cartoons for U.S. suffrage publications in the 1910s."

ALSO check this out: 
Day achieved lasting fame in literary circles for his comment, "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."


SIR, your book is as fresh as the day it was written, still telling people's hearts of the hearts of those decades gone. Thanks for being awesome.

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