Monday, March 28, 2005

Kids Say the Damnedest Things

For over a year now, I've been commuting from Osan City to Korea University, a four-hour-long round trip, but we're moving to Seoul this coming Friday. My wife tells me that we'll be living near a subway stop that will get me on a train arriving at the university in only 15 minutes.

Two weeks ago, we informed people at our Songtan church, so they bade us good-bye at yesterday's Easter service. In a semi-formal ceremony, we stood before the congregation and took our leave with a few carefully chosen words of parting.

I thanked the church for giving me the opportunity of teaching a Sunday School class to adults and for giving our children a friendly place that they looked forward to visiting every Sunday.

My wife then spoke about the church holding a special place among her memories because she was baptized there. She also thanked the church for helping with our children and recalled that En-Uk had been only a baby in the nursery when we arrived but was now so big that he was beginning to speak about the things that he was learning in Sunday School.

Suddenly, our daughter wanted the microphone, so my wife announced, "Sa-Rah has a few words to say."

Sa-Rah took the mike and said, "I want to talk about En-Uk."

We all looked at this little girl of merely 8 years, wondering what she would say about her 5-year-old brother. We didn't have to wait long:

"En-Uk says that God does not exist," she announced.

An audible gasp arose from the congregation. I saw the visiting minister gape in astonishment.

Undaunted, she continued, "He says that God exists only in stories."

Everyone stared silently, shocked at this revelation.

"En-Uk comes to church every Sunday," she observed, "but what I want to know is . . . why does he come to church if he doesn't believe in God?"

Everyone glanced at little En-Uk, who seemed mildly amused and vaguely embarassed by the attention.

Sa-Rah, having had her say, relinquished the microphone. I accepted it, wondering if En-Uk had some similarly dark secret to reveal about his sister, but he seemed content to bask in his newfound notariety.

"Uh," I said, "I think I'd better explain." The whole church seemed agreed upon that.

"A couple of weeks ago," I began, "En-Uk said to me, 'God does not exist.' I asked him, 'What do you mean?' and he told me, 'God exists only in stories.' I thought about this, then asked him, 'Do you believe that monsters exist?' He said 'No.' So, I said, 'But you're scared of monsters, right?' He said, 'Yes.' So, I asked him, 'Are monsters real?' He said, 'Yes.' So, I asked, 'Then, you believe that God is also real?' He said, 'Yes.' So," I triumphantly concluded, "En-Uk believes that God, like monsters, exists only in stories but that He is real."

I watched the entire congregation chewing on that . . . . Did Jeff just compare God to a monster? And what was that distinction between God not existing but being real? What has he been telling his kids? And what the devil has he been teaching in adult Sunday School class?

Realizing too late that discretion truly is the better part of valor, I leaned on the microphone's false staff, smiled bravely, shrugged, and explained, "Uh . . . well, you know . . . "

And I must have looked so ridiculous standing there in my awkward position that the entire congregation laughed, releasing all of the gathered tension.

The visiting minister's Easter sermon: "Not Just a Story: The Resurrection Really Happened."

I hope that En-Uk was listening . . .

2 Comments:

At 1:47 AM, Blogger wooj said...

(got here through the Big Ho)

Nice post! So I assume En-Uk doesn't believe in Santa Claus either? So precocious, them young-un's these days...

 
At 4:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Wooj. En-Uk believes in everything. Some things exist in "this world," and other things exist "only in stories," but all things are "real." Or so he says.

By the way, your post reminded me that the tooth fairy is supposed to pay En-Uk a little visit tonight.

 

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