My mom often says, "Song lyrics are my theology." What she means, obviously, is that when theology is expressed poetically and set to music, something magical happens. As you roll that lyric over and over in your mind and on your tongue, your inner truth cat sits up and you get all swirly and emotional because it is at once SO TRUE and SO BEAUTIFUL. That lyric sums up decades' worth of thoughts and experiences. It communicates your deepest truth so succinctly that you can only describe it as perfect. You think, "THIS. This is what I believe."
I think that children's literature is my theology.
I cried reading a Pete the Cat book last week.
I don't mean that I "was touched" or I "welled up." I mean that I had to stop reading, and shed actual tears, and my children became very concerned about me.
I've also cried reading the following:
- Little Blue Truck - Just Plain Fancy - The Empty Pot - Horton Hears a Who - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (OH MY GOSH, C.S. LEWIS, JUST KILL ME DEAD.) - And every blame time I read The Jesus Storybook Bible
I can't even handle children's literature. My inner truth cat goes into a catnip-paper-bag-frenzied-joy-romp. I cry at least 50% of the time.
I like children's literature because it's simple.
You don't have to impress children; they are filled with natural wonder. You don't have to persuade children; they are filled with innocent trust.
Children's literature doesn't contain logical fallacies or one million prepositional phrases or an excess of adjectives. Children's literature just drops truth bombs in perfect, poetic ways and lets the truth stand on its own two feet.
Albert Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
I believe that. I believe that little hearts and young minds can understand deep truths. Understand all of it? Of course not. Do any of us? But I believe that the biggest, most important truths aren't that hard to understand; they're just hard to live.
I am going to work on this kind of truth-telling. Precise and simple. Like poetry, like songs, like children's literature.
Like Pete the Cat on materialism and contentment and living with open hands:
"I guess it only goes to show, that stuff will come and stuff will go. Do we worry? Goodness no."
Yes, children of mine. Stuff will come and stuff will go. Do we worry? Goodness no. Yes, HEART OF MINE. Stuff will come and stuff will go. Do we worry? Goodness no.
Do you have a favorite piece of children's literature? Please share it! We'll make a library trip this weekend to pick up some new theology.