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Telling Secrets

faith, fatherhood, and culture

Kill the Christians!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

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My wife and I have been fairly strict about Malachi's exposure to weaponry and the concept of death. The latter is of course more difficult to hide. Death introduced itself to Malachi through the quick and untimely demise of Sammy the Fish, a goldfish of course, which had a half-life of 30 seconds. We buried it under a tree and for a couple of weeks Malachi asked repeatedly to go see it. Finally I told him that Sammy the Fish was dead and that his body became dirt, but that since we buried him under a tree, Sammy the Fish's dirt became part of the tree. Now we will always know where Sammy the Fish is. Beautiful, right? When I related this story to Angela, she balked. I think her exact words were "Holy crap!" My mom bought Malachi a new fish, a hearty fish, a fish you hardly have to clean or feed, a Betta. Malachi named him Sammy the Fish.

About this time, Malachi started preschool. It wasn't long before he picked up a stick, pointed it at me, and said, "Pew pew!"
"What is that, Mo'?"
"It's my Pewing Thing," he said proudly. "Pew pew!"
"Oh, those are dangerous. They kill things. That means their dead."
"Dead?"
"Yeah. Like the first Sammy the Fish."
"Sammy the Fish is in the tree, Daddy."
"Yeah, well, he's also dead. He's not alive anymore."
"I can go see him whenever I want."
"Hmmm. Well just don't point that thing at people, ok?"
"Ok, daddy. Pew pew!"

I finally had mercy on the poor kid and gave him the language he needed to talk about these things--guns, bullets, destruction, Armageddon, the wrath of God. At the family ranch, I found a BB gun and gave him a little lesson in gun safety and then proceeded to shoot the crap out of a Coke can. Turns out I'm a crack sharpshooter. Then I had him practice my safety lessons with the Buck Roger's ray gun he found buried in the toy closet.

Months pass and Malachi still has yet to see The Incredibles, Spider-Man, Batman, Transformers and other adult shit marketed to our kiddies. We capitulated in our weaponry rule a little though by buying him a knight costume complete with sword. He and Micah (the boy of the family we live with) run around slaying dragons and monsters, the roles of whom their sisters often play. Another game they enjoy involves Micah, dressed in one of his papa's oversized T-shirts, playing Jesus and Malachi invariably is God. Most of the time, the sword and battle axe are missing from this game.

One set of movies that we have let him watch is an animated series produced by Focus on the Family called the Story Keepers. It's about the early Christians who met secretly under Nero's rule and told each other stories about Jesus and his teachings. Nero is portrayed as this evil, spoiled brat--a thin, temper-tantrum throwing wimp with hordes of burly Roman soldiers at his command who chase the Christians around, burn down the Christian ghetto, throw them to the lions and gladiators, etc. Nothing shouts Kids Show! more than flaming human torches at parties and walls made of twisted naked people. Malachi sies enraptured by these videos, though his sisters now refer to them as "Maochi's Scary Show." We don't let them watch anymore.

One night, Malachi was in his armor chasing the other kids around yelling, "Kill the Christians! Kill the Christians!" I didn't know whether to cheer him on or take the opportunity to give another object lesson. So I tried to ignore it. Then things got quiet. A few minutes later I heard him tell Angela, "I killed Jesus."
"OH?"
"Yeah, he's died. But don't worry, mommy, he will be alive again in 3 days."

I'm not sure whether he was God or a Roman soldier at the time, but apparently Malachi knows the Gospel story quite well--the facts of it anyway. Even though he doesn't quite understand love as the back story, he has the Gospel message down about as well as many people I know. But a half-story is really a whole...whatever, and as far as I can tell, from what I hear, you either have sin and judgment and salvation from those or Jesus and love and roses. But, put them together and you have...um...

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