I told Declan the story of the Passover and Easter. Again. I do this every year. This year I tried a little bit harder. Declan usually demands candy when I say “Easter.” This year he upped his game.
“Mom was Jesus a zombie?”
“No,” I said. “Jesus was not a zombie. He’s God. And don’t say that to Grandma.” When I was little, we had to go to CCD. This is what happens when a kid doesn’t go to religious classes.
“He can’t be God. God is God. You don’t need two Gods.” What started out as me feeling like a bad parent was threatening to turn into a deep theological conversation.
“Funny,” I said, “Many of my friends of other faiths say the same thing…Everybody believes different things about God, but the important thing is God is God. God wants you to be good.”
Whether you see God in a flower, or God in the face of another human being, God is still God.
Maybe my son has been learning all along.
“Let’s talk about candy.” Declan said. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on shepherding the boy he goes back to the land of farts, boogers, and food, “Easter’s about candy.”
“No. Easter’s about God.” I tell him the story once again.
“My friend doesn’t believe in God,” he says.
I tell him there are lots of people who don’t believe in God. And lots more who believe in God differently. And that’s okay.
“Yeah, but it’s all stupid because God didn’t need help.” When you’re eight, everything is stupid. Declan’s still trying to get a handle on what Jesus could possibly do for God.
I tell him no religion is stupid. I explain one more time with lightening speed before his brain moves on.
“Christians believe God sent Jesus, his son. People needed someone who looked like them so he could tell them to be good. Jews believe God’s going to send someone to save everyone but Jesus wasn’t the one–but he was a really good guy. Muslims believe God is God, and God can’t die, so he couldn’t possibly rise from the dead. And that God doesn’t need a son or helper, because he’s God….” I say.
“Everybody thinks about God little differently, but everybody’s religion says to be nice to people, to be good, and to love.” There. That’s the best I can do. Doesn’t get simpler than that.
“What about candy?” That’s the bottom line here, like it is every year. Candy.
The religion with the most candy wins when you’re eight.
I want to tell Declan the story of the Romans, conquest, and cultural genocide. I want to explain how the local people’s religion got incorporated into Christianity which was used as an excuse to take over and abuse power, and how people all over the world are still fighting and killing in the name of God… not being nice like God said.
He doesn’t want to hear any of this. “When do we get to the candy?” If the ending of the Passover story isn’t “And God spared the children of Israel, leaving them a ton of candy,” and the resurrection of Christ isn’t, “And Jesus rolled back the stone… and behold, there was a room full of candy,” he’s not interested.
I tell the stories again. Quicker. “God saved the children of Israel from people who were making them slaves and Jesus came to save people from sins.” One breath. Nearly a tweet. Best I can do.
“What about the zombie stuff? ” That’s not going away.
Fail. I do what any 21st century parent must do. Search Google.
Turns out this Jesus-is-zombie conspiracy is a real thing. I find charts, graphs, and pictures–overwhelming evidence the Son of God was the Walking Dead. If I’d assigned research on this at school, I’d get two hundred Google approved papers showing Declan was right all along.
Finally, I find an article that shows otherwise. “Why Jesus Isn’t a Zombie.” In it, BustedHalo.com’s Louis Sullivan uses evidence to show Jesus is not, in fact, a zombie.
Declan’s not ready to listen so I clip it in Evernote for next year’s talk.
“You know, if Jesus was a zombie he could eat the brains of people who weren’t good… then God wouldn’t have to tell people to be good.”
This year’s talk’s going nowhere, at the speed of light.
“Hungry?” I ask.
“Yeah. Can I have some candy?”
I give in. Candy in hand, we save the religion talk for later.
[Photo Credit: BustedHalo.com]