A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


It wasn’t a big lie.  Just a little one.  A lie about – of all things – Sunday School.

“And what did you learn about today in Sunday School?” Mom asked.

I had to think quickly.  My mother would not be pleased to know that George and I had skipped Sunday School to check out the new swings at the elementary school next door.  In fact, she would be downright angry – so angry that she might have a heart attack or something.  So actually, I figured I was doing Mom a favor by protecting her from the painful truth.

“We learned about David and Goliath,” I fibbed.

“And what did you learn about David and Goliath?” Mom asked.

I knew I couldn’t afford to pause or stammer, so I forged ahead anxiously.

“We learned that Goliath was big,” I said.  “Really big.  Bigger than Dad.  Bigger than Wilt Chamberlain.  Bigger than just about anyone who ever lived.  Bigger than . . .”

“We get the idea,” Mom said, as everyone around the Sunday dinner table looked up from the roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy to giggle.  “What else did you learn?”

I started to squirm a little, trying desperately not to let my discomfort show.

“Well, we learned that David was . . . um . . . you know . . . smaller.  Not like an ant or a bug or a rabbit or anything like that.  Not that small.  Just . . . you know . . . like a little kid.  Small like that.  Smaller than Goliath.”

“Uh-huh,” my mother nodded.  “So Goliath was big and David was small.  Go on.”

This was getting serious.  I had about exhausted my supply of David and Goliath trivia.

“Well . . . uh . . . see, David had this slingshot . . . and . . . you know . . . he got a rock and hit Goliath . . . and . . . well . . . Goliath died . . . and . . . well, that’s what happened.”

I was feeling pretty good about my lie until Mom asked one more question: “Why?”


“Why?” she repeated.  “Why did he kill Goliath?  That’s an important part of the story.”


“Yes – why?”

“Yeah, tell us, Joey,” my big sister Kathy taunted.  “Why did David kill Go-Lieth.

I was so distraught I missed the pun.  I even forgot to slug Kathy for calling me “Joey.”

“Well . . . um . . . it was because . . . uh . . . you know . . . David had . . . I mean, Goliath had . . . sort of . . . um . . . stolen the king’s . . . you know . . . singing harp . . . ”

“Nice try,” Mom said as laughter erupted around the dinner table.  “You’re thinking of Jack and the Beanstalk.  Different giant.”

I was getting desperate.  “Um, I don’t think Sister Hayes told us why he had to kill him.”

“That’s the first thing you’ve said that I believe,” Mom said.  “Sister Hayes didn’t tell you that because she wasn’t there.  And guess who was the substitute teacher in your class?  I’ll give you a hint: it’s the same person who knows that today’s lesson was on Queen Esther.”

A sick feeling began to swell in the pit of my stomach.  Looking at all the smiles bursting around the kitchen table, I knew the answer.

“I don’t know what bothers me most,” Mom said sadly before sending me to my room without Sunday dinner.  “That you didn’t go to Sunday School, or that you lied to me about it.”

I would like to be able to tell you that this experience was so painful and traumatic that I never told another lie – big or little.  Unfortunately, that would be . . . you know . . . lying.  But I think that was the last time I ever lied about going to Sunday School.

That’s saying something, isn’t it?

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— © Joseph Walker

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