Have you ever seen the BBC production Planet Earth? It's stellar in just about every way. And there seems to be no political agenda, which makes it even better. I say "seems" because I don't know that for sure. We're only on disc two of four. But what we've seen so far is excellent, far and away some of the best, most breathtaking images we've ever seen. We occasionally let our children (ages three and five) watch an episode at night. They're always fascinated and have questions. Last night, they witnessed a wildebeest get captured and dragged into the water by an alligator. Our three year old son said "that's sad" and nothing more. It stuck with our oldest a little longer. She got up shortly after bedtime to inform us that she was thinking about alligators coming into their room.
We explained to her that alligators don't live around here, and that even if they did, they can't open the door because they can't stand up or reach the doorknob. And even if they could, the door was locked. She laughed. "Do they eat people?" she asked. Doug and I glanced at each other. Then, skating around the issue, Doug told her about the Crocodile Hunter, who wrestled crocodiles and stuff, complete with his best attempt at Steve Irwin's Australian accent. That got more laughs.
"Can I see him?" she asked.
"Yes. I'll find a video for you on youtube tomorrow after breakfast," I promised.
Cut to this morning. After a bit of hunting, I found some videos, screened them, and showed them to my daughter. Here's the dialogue after she saw several videos of Steve Irwin and a big team of men catching 16-foot crocs.
Daughter: Is he real?
Me: Yes, he was. He studied animals. He worked at a zoo in Australia. (notice my careful use of the past tense here)
Daughter: So he's alive?
Me (stalling): Well...no, he died a few years ago, but it didn't have anything to do with crocodiles (don't want to unearth that fear again).
A few minutes later:
Daughter: Mommy, did Steve Irwin believe in Jesus?
Me: I don't know.
Daugther: Because if he believed in Jesus, he went to heaven when he died.
Me: That's true.
I wish I was as fearless in my approach to spiritual issues as my daughter is. She might be afraid of alligators at bedtime, but she's not afraid to face the spiritual status of everyone she knows head-on.