I was sitting in the car in the fire zone at the supermarket waiting for one of the kids to come out with a few groceries, when a car pulled in front of us. It was a minivan equipped with one of those rear seat "entertainment" packages. I could clearly see a child's cartoon through the windshield, and tried to figure out what was on. An Indian man got out of the driver's seat, and I suddenly realized that the show was an episode from Hindu mythology.
Most of us are familiar to some extent with the Greek and Norse gods, but the stories of the Hindu gods are often unfamiliar to westerners. Like the western myths, these are stories of love and wonders, wars and atrocities. The gods themselves are often beautiful, gentle, fierce and hideous at the same time. Many of us think of blue skinned four armed Kali, goddess of destruction, when we think of Hindu gods. Her image, often decked with the heads or skulls of those she has killed, is enough to frighten anyone. Even comical and good-natured Ganesh, the god with the elephant head, has a horror story behind his creation, though it is also a story of love and sacrifice.
So as I am watching this cartoon, wherein some great battle occurs, and multi-armed deities wield weapons to defeat hoards of mighty foes, I wonder who could possible think this was an appropriate story for little children.
Then I thought of the crucifixion.
I am no expert on Hindu culture, and I do not know if modern practitioners of that religion believe that these stories are true. But I do know that Christ, God, was crucified, here, on earth, by humans not too long ago. Really. Is there any horror in any mythology that can match that? And no mythology, anywhere, any time, can beat this truth for love and sacrifice.
And we tell this true story to our children, again and again.
Last week I enjoyed listening to a lecture series on C. S. Lewis by Professor Timothy Shutt. This secular account of the works of Lewis was quite good, and worth a listen (it is available via Audible). During the discussion of The Last Battle, Shutt wonders, since he did not read it as a child, just how children react to this story of the destruction of a beloved world. I was thrown back to my own childhood; I read the book as an 8 year old, and I must say, that though it was sad, I never lost hope that Everything Was Going to Be Fine. As we head into the Triduum, I think the same thing. The horrible truth will resolve into glory, and all things shall be made new.
Updated: Be sure to read: Should I let my Children Watch the Passion?