Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Father God, Creator God

I was sitting on the couch reading my book when my son Adam (the first man, the archetypical man) crawled up to me and tugged on my sweater. "Dog," he said, or perhaps asked. "Dog, dog, dog, dog... dog."

"Dog" is one of the few words that he knows. To him it applies not to all dogs or to the Platonic form "dog," but rather to our dog, whom we call "Pepper" and he calls "dog."

"Dog," Pepper is one of his favorite friends. As he quizzically repeated "dog" his eyes, after catching mine, scanned the living room from corner to corner, looking for the dog. Finding no dog, he looked up at me, as though I were supposed to do something about this.

Now might be a good time to get into the psychology and mythology of childhood. I could here tell you that little children idealize their parents, building them up into near deities who can accomplish would-be-impossible things and do no wrong. If I were feeling particularly Freudian I could even speculate that we don't really lose our desire to have someone above us to whom we can turn like we turned to our parents until they proved to us beyond all possibility of doubt that they too are human, they too are mortal, they too are imperfect and impermanent.

But you know all of that already, and you know that it is all speculative nonsense.

Adam turned to me to produce a dog, and so I did. I called out "Pepper," in a warm, welcoming, affirming voice (and the dog knows my voice is not always like that when I call out his name) and then whistled. Magically, the dog appeared.

I wonder what that moment was like for my son. I wonder if he thought that I, like God, called the dog into being, creating him ex nihlo. Or perhaps he saw me call the dog in from the Void, the Abyss. Perhaps while he was gone the dog had fallen into Sheol, and I raised him.

Or perhaps I simply solved my son's small problem, and he thought no more of it than that.

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