Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Slice paper wrists

The young philosopher

Wow, this has been harder than I expected. Seriously. Any Lenten discipline is hard, I know, but it’s a tall order to be completely honest about my faith every day. So hard that I’m not even doing it, even though I’ve had a remarkable quantity of positive feedback. Why is it so hard? Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to push two magnets together at their opposite poles, trying to force them to stick, just to ask myself these questions, just to look at what I believe full in the face.

When I was in Chicago, Sophia decided to watch Spiderman, her favorite movie, on the computer before she went to bed. Spiderman is her favorite character to pretend to be, and she’s seen the second and third movies, but not the first one. Erica and I were chatting, talking, and completely forgetting how scary the Green Goblin character is. She eventually crept into the living room, slowly, and said, “it’s scary.” We felt immense qualms, and I went in with her to watch the rest of the movie with her, and we discussed it all in depth--how it wasn’t the Green Goblin who was bad, just his costume, why he went to try to hurt Aunt Em, why Spiderman had to kill him in the end.

I could see her processing all of this information, and maybe some people would say that’s too young for a superhero movie, but Erica and I have a firm belief that what’s withheld from people when they’re young become forbidden fruit, forever irresistible. I didn’t have any television available to me until after I graduated from college, and to this day I have to hold myself distant from it or I glut myself. It’s an ongoing war. Besides, we had it brought about a great philosophical conversation. What made her feel afraid at first eventually made her feel safe, as we discussed all of the people capable of defeating the Green Goblin.

“You know who’s stronger than the Green Goblin?” she said.

“Who?” I said.

“Baby Iris. You know who’s better than Baby Iris?”

“No, who?”

“Daddy. You know who’s better than Baby Iris?”

“Me.” Etc.

When he died, she said simply, “He went to be with Jesus.” No qualms, no questions. He wasn’t judged because he was a bad guy, because he hurt Aunt Em, because he was Spiderman’s enemy. He was forgiven.

There’s a reason Jesus himself tells us to have the faith of a child. If I have to say one thing about my faith today, that’s what I can say. I want to have that humble, simple faith, and if I spend the rest of my life returning to it, it won’t be long enough.

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