Theological inquiry and its consequences abound in our household. My dear wife took great interest in Michael Jackson's death, partially as a remembrance of her youth, partially as a reflection on the meaning of music, image, celebrity and relationships. In the midst of this reflection in front of the television, our oldest daughter inquired, "is that Michael Jackson?"
"Is he cute?"
"I thought he was cute when I was a girl."
"Did he die on a cross?"
(Too bad there was not a camera present for the dumbfounded look of her parents.)
I knew this inquiry astutely represented the depictions of Jackson's images over the last several weeks, especially during his memorial service. I am reminded of how little control we have of the words and images we put out into the world. I am both proud and horrified by my daughter's observations. The depictions of Jackson are not lost on the among cultural critics or public theologians. How much intentionality was involved in the image of Jackson has a Christ-like figure? Regardless of intent, my daughter summarized modern ideas of image, theology, and relationships in a few questions. Though she has developmental challenges that inhibit the ability to articulate the question "why?" she has asked a deeper level of "why?" than I had considered with Michael Jackson up to that point and beyond.
Daughter number two is also her own theologian. What we learn and absorb in the mundane regularities of the day guide us in times of stress. Recently I have moved her away from a daily nap, mostly because her old practice of 2-3 hour daily naps keep her awake until around midnight. She may think this is one big party--I can't live in that manner. I have yet to maneuver the trial and error of sleep times to know what will work well, but I've noticed that without a nap, her world is filled with tragedy right before bed time. During those moments of tragedy and getting her ready for bed, she looks at me with tears in her eyes and calls out, "Daddy, I need Jesus Loves Me." I imagine that a two year old can have her world unsettled easily and finds comfort in the message I share with her on most nights at bed time. We also share the song at other times when we are at home, and on our way...she sang the song last evening as she sat on the swing with her mother at the park last night with a view of the Puget Sound.