10 September 2006

Warning Label for The Lamb of God

I thought I'd share a little warning about one of the Church's videos, The Lamb of God.

The Background
My daughter A*, 5, loves this video. She watches it just about every Sunday and has for the last couple years. My 2-yr old often joins her.

The Setup
A* has a friend, S*, whose family is not religious, and as far as we know has had no exposure to Christianity. A* and S* play together often. S* came over to play last Sunday, and A* asked, "Do you want to watch Lamb of God?"

The Joy
Oh, what proud parents we were! "There's our little missionary," we thought, as we overheard an occasional word. A* was explaning all the various parts of the story: "...and after we die we will live with him and be happy and never be sick." My wife and I went about preparing dinner, half-listening the way parents do when nothing is the matter.

The Alarm
Something started to prick my attention. I thought, "What is it? No sounds of trouble—just the girls watching the video. The video...what was it about that video...?" It had been some time since I watched the video, but I remembered loving it. It was very emotional. "Yes," my brain warned, "it was very emotional."

The Tragedy
I went into the livingroom just as the story was depicting Jesus being raised on the cross. This is, as most readers will know, just after he has been flogged, slapped, spat upon, mocked, and nailed to the cross. S* was wide-eyed but expressionless on the couch, saying nothing. In other words, she looked petrified. (A*, of course, looked as content as ever.)

I shut off the television, at which point S* looked up at me and began to cry. Then wail. Then cry out with fear.‡

The Catastrophe
I tried to comfort S*, letting her know that she would not be hurt and Jesus was okay in the end and—! A* tried to explain more to her friend, only to get things mixed up in her excitement and—! I tried to get A* to leave S* and me alone, so I could explain things slowly, calmy, but—! A* felt like she had done something wrong and also started to cry.

The Clean-up
I took S* home, still sobbing, and tried to explain to her mother what had happened. Her mother was familiar enough with the story of Jesus to understand what her daughter had seen. "Was it animated?" she asked, then added reluctantly, "or was it...?"

"Not animated," I replied, disheartened. "Film." Her mother's face went a little pale.

The Aftermath
Her mother was very understanding, S* and A* still play together each day, and S*'s family has not brought it up. A* watched The Lamb of God today and didn't even mention last week.

The Lesson
No harm no foul, right? Maybe, but I worry that there was some harm. For one, how will S* respond emotionally the next time she hears the "good news" of the Christian message?

I also learned to think about our stories a little differently. A* grew up hearing about the cross. She saw paintings and cartoons and talked and sang songs about it before she ever saw the movie version. But what a terrifying, brutal, awful story it is if you don't know what to expect!

‡minor edits since first published


Ryan said...

whoops. I felt awkward just reading it.

I doubt there will be any emotional scarring that would affect a potential conversion when the time is right for S*. I saw that freaky robot woman in one of the Superman movies when I was little but i don't fear robots (although I am a bit skittish around freaky women so you may be on to something here.)

Aaron said...

I find it unfortunate that for us who are familiar to the story it is not shocking any more. Maybe that is the more worrisome part of your story.

BrianJ said...

Ryan, thanks for stopping by. I deleted just a few lines after you posted--not because of what you said, but I was bothered by that part of it after I posted. It doesn't create any substantial change in the story, but I think it's more appropriate now.

Aaron, that may be true. I don't know. There's certainly something valuable to learn from how horrific it was, but hopefully that doesn't occupy all of one's attention or one would miss some other important points.
Good to hear from you!