The Need for Fairytale
August 1, 2010
My children asked me about what happens when we die. It’s easy to just say, “We go to heaven.” and be done with it, but even in orthodox Christianity, that’s a simplification that practically rises to the point of being a lie.
I tried to unpack what death means to my children, how the body is alive at one point, and then it is not, and how our consciousness continues to live. They didn’t like what they heard. I could tell by the kinds of follow up questions they ask afterwards, “Will I still be me?” and “Will we all still be together?” that their minds were opened to greater and greater horror as they examined the end of life. It became an act of unkindness to bluntly speak of something so unpleasant as death, especially to children. Besides, their questions about death were really questions about life, meaning, man’s purpose and God’s reward or punishment for the good and evil He allows.
My four kids were aged six and under so though they were intelligent enough to ask these kinds of questions, they weren’t prepared to grasp the end of life answers. I know some adults who are the same way. Like all truths, the ones that are good enough for kids are usually good enough for adults, too. Stories forgotten or left unlearned by children don’t go away, they still need to be learned at some point, by someone, no matter what age. I have friends who lost their children to death in their early years, so it’s not as if it’s not a topic some kids will never have to deal with.
In some parts of the world and even at times in our recent past, it was commonplace for kids to deal with death in youth. I respect the innocence of my children, but I don’t shelter them from the truth. There’s a difference, and often the ones who preach the most about secularizing our youth in the name of not sheltering them, hide the hardest truest truths one can grasp. Thus, condoms in schools with no Bibles. Your average secularist knows not only how dangerous some fairy-tales are but also know how maturing the repercussions of one’s youthful sexual appetites can be. They long to shelter children from the normal life teaching of both.
When I think about how to raise my children, I don’t consult modern parenting authors, and I rarely consult Baby Boomers for answers. Those are great sources for what not to do. Instead, I go to the past. There’s this rule I coined, called “The 5,000 Years of Parenting Rule”. It’s where I ask what kinds of solutions would work for a father in 300BC and I learn from it. For surely God intended good fathers to be able to be a good parent without the benefit of a parenting pop-self-help author in the year 2010.
I took one of those birthing classes where the father learns how to help the mother breathe during birth. Perhaps the stupidest thing any chump ever came up with. Fathers are truly worthless in the birthing room, and while I did all of the things my wife asked me to do, we all knew I contributed exactly zero to the birthing process by encouraging her breathing. Come on, folks, I’m telling her how to breathe! You know what makes a lot more sense? When Fred Flintstone sat in the Dad’s waiting room smoking cigarettes with Barney. That’s where a father belongs, outside of the birthing cave. Mom just needs to know that if a saber-tooth tiger decides to attack during birth, that father is waiting at the mouth of the cave with a spear to skewer the great cat, ritually eat its still-beating heart, then string his fangs over his son’s crib as a mobile.
Fathers of the past were great story tellers. They passed on tribal stories, morality tales and parables. In recent history, came the Fairytale, which helped guide the wisest generations we’ve known. Shakespeare wasn’t raised on academic parenting techniques, he was raised on the wisdom of the ages. You don’t get a Dante from Dr. Spock’s parenting books… you get the generation that invented MTV.
It was this need for fairy tail that began my story telling about the afterlife. My three oldest kids read the book and were exposed to the ideas of death, regrets in life, heroism and destiny using a language they can understand. It is also told in what is defiantly not Modernist, or Post Modernist style. For Modernism kills the fairy while Post Modernism makes the fairy a God.
I’ll get into more of this later, but I’m announcing it now. We could use a little more fairytale these days.