Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trying to teach on death

Well this is a treat, Travis wrote this post after one of his interactions with our children, enjoy he is a great writer:

One thing we love to do with our kids is to push and pull through some of the phenomenally exciting stories of the OT.  For the ages of our brood, a hefty dose of Bible stories does much to ground them in the basics of theology and life.  I had never thought much, however, about how few times these stories reveal the Christian view of death in a fashion a youngster can understand.  Oh, there are abundant stories containing death (David's beheading of Goliath is a favorite of the Williams men) but few that I have used to rightly shape the minds of my children's concept of what happens when people die.  This is of course not the fault of the Scriptures, but instead one of many flaws in my attempts at fathering "through" the Bible.

My ineptitude in this area knocked me down like a six-foot Sarasota summer of 2010 storm wave recently when I was discussing with my kids the illness of their Great-Grandma and the possibility of her death(which I hope doesn't happen for another 20 years, shortly after Grandma Pinnie turns 109) .  Conversation proceeded as follows:

Me- "Grandma is very sick and we need to consider the possibility that she could die, though God may heal her yet."

Micah(my most morbid child)- "Dead like the other man we saw?"- referring to the viewing-of-friends of my good friend Tim's dad who recently went to see Jesus.

Me- "Yes.  Her body will be left behind but she will really go to Jesus"

Isaiah- "I don't get that."  Why should you, I thought.  I'm bombing this explanation!

Me-"Well, just part of her will go to God now and her body will meet God later.  The part that goes now will be her thoughts, and the part of her that makes her like ice cream and be happy when she sees you.  There's a lot to Grandma Pinnie you can't see."  I'm not sure that helped-waters still seem muddy- popsicle fleeted faces still knotted with heads tilted slightly.

Micah- "So the body we see is not real?" He sort of squalls this.

Me-"Her body is real but there is another real part you can't see.  Like your sadness and your hope that Mama will eat supper with us tonight."

Isaiah- "Oh, I think I see.  Grandma is kinda like that bad-guy from Superman (see Superman the Animated Series S1 E7 entitled, "The Way of All Flesh". The title is actually a reference to Joshua 23:14, where Joshua kinda gives his death speech).  The one that ripped off his human flesh and he really had a robot underneath.  The robot is who he really was."

At this point several thoughts circled my consciousness concentrically as hammer sharks.  First, that's not a bad illustration, for a second graders' mind.  Nice work boy! The teachers at that school we pay for you to go to must be fantablo! Second, I'm not sure Grandma would enjoy that comparison half as much as me.  Third, I would be a mad teacher/father if I had planned this as a twisted sort of Socratic irony- that is learning the Bible from Superman(whose writers I presume did not intend the cyborg villain Metallo to teach anything about the dual nature of man).

The discussion ended with my children still a tad short of a complete understanding of the doctrine of man and death(not unlike their Papa's understanding).  However, I did resolve to be more thoughtfully intentional in my Bible story readings with my kids.  Maybe pause a moment to insert a little more theology while David is slaying his 10 thousands.

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