In February I got an email from my kids’ school to be alert for “trends and hypes.” All parents were encouraged to give extra thought to the cartoon figures we let our children wear or bring to school, via bags and lunch boxes. My kids attend a school that identifies as Christian, so we knew, in addition to extra singing/music, bible stories and praying, there would be attention to avoiding really frightening stories, or stories of witchcraft, zombies, etc. But this email called out Elsa, Anna, and even Superman. Uh, What??
Suddenly all characters with powers were under fire– characters that daily demonstrate love and self-sacrifice (how many superheroes do you know who got married? Don’t most go the way of Spider-Man and spurn the ones they love to protect them?).
Is a passion to protect others such a bad trait to emulate?
I was mad.
Do we really want to teach our kids that “Christian” identity is in the clothes they wear? Do we want to activate yet another reason for kids to look at or judge others for? And where do we draw the line? Don’t we have enough division as it is?
I listened to other parents in the halls: “my daughter is devastated”, “are they really forbidding Batman?”, “we can’t get rid of everything, the closet is full of it”, “if they go through with this we’re leaving…” A meeting between some concerned parents and the school clarified that we were dealing with a request and not a ban.
But isn’t there a deeper issue?
What does it mean to be a “Christian”? What is Christian “identity”? Are we people looking for light or searching for darkness in every corner? Do we want kids to be afraid or even focused on cartoons? Do we even know what real darkness is and, if so, are we prepared to fight that?
I work with issues like child sexual abuse prevention and believe me, there’s infinitely greater battles on Earth than the clothes we wear. The kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking (and arguably our clothing), but of righteousness (think justice), peace (imagine a deep breath knowing not a single person is hurting) and joy (uh, Partay) (Romans 14:17)
If we’re supposed to “seek first the Kingdom,” a world where social justice and equality are Fact and all oppression, torture, poverty and servitude of fellow man, woman, child–even creature cease (why are there more people enslaved today than ever before in history?), then you’ll find me empowering my kids about standing up for others, especially those who cannot fight for themselves (Proverbs 31:8). I’ll teach them about the power of Protest–I come from a nation full of such blatant injustice, of old and today, that my kids need to understand that “the System” is not always right.
Picking a fight with a superhero trying to make things better for others is not on my agenda.
But I understand those for who it is, because I too was anti-comic and anti- many other things not blatantly God (in my limited view). In a family big into comics, I bumped heads frequently with a Grandpa who wanted to share his collection with his grandson, and a Grandma who wanted to sing about your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. But I was wrong– or, if I’m kind to myself (aka Grace), I just didn’t know.
If you contemplate the real horrors and darkness in this world, then worrying about kids playing with Ninjago may cease. On the flip side, we may realize there’s a force trying to steer our God-given fire to fight away from the real battles.
Yes, we should be alert to “trends and hypes” –diverse media claims money is pri 1 and sex or giving head to anyone is as normal as getting coffee. But when it comes to a movie like Frozen which can teach–if we activate it– about the destructive power of fear and the healing power of love, well, my girls will keep rocking their Elsa and Anna outfits.
Other posts of interest:
Social Justice or Sodomy: The Real reason Sodom Burned
Who Would You Rather Rule: Jesus or a Pharisee?