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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."
"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."
"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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  1. Blogger Petronia said:

    this is hilarious :) What I like about your explanation of Sammy's death is that it emphasizes his "passing on" without a grim (and false) sense of finality. You sure are raising a sweet boy!

  1. Blogger caleb j seeling said:

    hmm, good observations! mo' really does lack the grim, final view of death. hadn't thought of it that way before.

    and it's Sammy THE FISH--like A Tribe Called Quest, you say the whole thing. mo' used to be VERY insistent about that! he has relaxed his standards lately though. i just don't want you to get in trouble.

  1. Blogger Petronia said:

    lol. Now that you mention it, I remember that being very important...like Grandpa with the Jeep. :)

  1. Blogger Dale Sadler said:

    Great post. I wonder if you've read James Dobson's, Bringing Up Boys or John Eldredge's Wild At Heart. Both of these talk about how boys crave adventure, danger, and excitement. I can see it in your boy. Mine is slowly getting there as he loves to wield his foam sword, but is scared senseless of Sid in the movie Toy Story.

  1. Blogger Mark Adair said:

    Hi Caleb. I'm a Northern California, suspense writer who follows Rachelle Gardner's blog (among several others), and occasionally corresponds with her. I noticed that you've joined the Wordserve ranks - congratulations.

    In between your Sammy the Fish blog entry and your profile mention of Run Lola Run, I can't help but like you.

    At the request of some friends, I just recently started a serialzed novel entitled ZAP that I'm blogging at markadairzap.blogspot.com. I'd be interested in your feedback. (I hope that wasn't inappropriate)

    I trust everything will work out great for you in your new venture.



  1. Blogger shanpop said:

    My son had a fish named Goldfish, who (that?) was extremely resilient. He even survived for two weeks on a shelf in our storage closet. We put him back there because our visiting friends said that their son often tried to give fish new habitats.

    After years of extreme close encounters, Goldfish committed suicide. We found her lying crispy on the floor, probably within a few days of when she jumped.

    My son was horrified and full of grief. We had a funeral, complete with a gravestone and visiting relatives. My husband read Scripture and said that Goldfish was now swimming in the River of Life. (He had just read Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven.)

    Maybe Sammy and Goldfish are swapping fish tales, too. :)


  1. Blogger Truth4thejourney said:

    This was a post I could relate to. I have one son (and five daughters) who is all boy. Even before we bought him ammo, he was turning his pretzels and leggo's into weapons. I think it's just something in their genes. I look at it as a God thing. After all, men are the protectors.

    Enjoyed your blog.

    Sonya Lee

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