As I recall, we wended our way down the path this way: we were talking about presidents, and I mentioned that John F. Kennedy was our youngest president, and then I mentioned that he died while he was in office. Of course, Young Son wanted to know how, and (not having thought this topic through sufficiently) I had to explain the circumstances. Much affected, YS said that he would be so angry he would want to kill someone who killed a president.
While sincerely hoping we are not incubating a future trench-coated murderer, I suggested that maybe God should be the one who decides who lives and who dies … not people.
“But he’s dead,” said my son.
“Uh …” I fumbled. “Not really …”
Thus far in Young Son’s religious education, he has attended a Jewish preschool (where he learned to sing the blessing before meals), and his parents (non-observant-Jew father and non-observant-Gentile mother) celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. We lean in the direction of Judaism for our kid.
So I said to him, in that God-made-the-world-and-everything-in-it kind of perspective, “Well, God’s not really dead …”
“Didn’t he get eaten by a whale?”
“Oh! That’s Jonah. That’s a story from the Bible. That’s a book that … um, never mind.”
“Skyler told me God died a long time ago.”
“Oh! Maybe he’s talking about Jesus.”
“Well …” I said, stifling a laugh and weighing my vaguely Gentile words, “Most people think he was the son of God.”
That’s the good stuff.
This child has NEVER failed to fascinate me.