May 24, 2017

In a previous post about our girl, I once described how difficult it could be to try to talk to her logically about things: “We have conversations where I think I’m doing a bang-up job of leading her logically from point A to point B, only to look over at her and see her bouncing around from point A to point Q to points 7 and 3 and XYZ and Banana.” That was a couple years ago, but these days she has only gotten better at bouncing from point A to Q to 7 and 3 and XYZ and Banana. She stayed with us last week, and while the time with her was actually quite delightful, it also yielded plenty of conversations of meandering and dubious sense, such as the one that follows…

Due to the uncharacteristically cool and breezy weather that afternoon, we had all of the windows open and all of the fans on and we were enjoying the serenity of the soft and pleasant air floating through the house when our girl came out from her room and announced that there was a ghost in there.

“It keeps closing the door,” she stated. Not frightened. Not excited. Just a fact.

My boys informed her about the breeze situation. They pointed out that there was a rather large window open in her room and that air was regularly gusting through it, so no doubt it was the wind and not a ghost closing her door.

“No,” she returned confidently. “You see, I know what it’s like when the wind closes a door. And this is a ghost.”

“Ghosts aren’t real,” the boys pointed out.

“Yes,” she said, “they are.”

At this point I considered dismissing the conversation and telling her to just make sure she was nice to the ghost so it wouldn’t haunt her when she went to bed (kidding!), but instead the “I’m a good mom and I love to look for learning opportunities” light bulb went on over my head and I decided it was a great time to have a “how do we learn to think about things clearly” discussion. So I sat up straight, leaned towards her, and beckoned smilingly.

“Come here, sweetness,” I said to her. She approached. “Honey, the boys are right. It’s a very breezy day and all the windows are open, which is why your door keeps closing. And ghosts aren’t real.”

“No no no,” she said, laughing bemusedly at my ignorance. “They are.”

“They aren’t,” I brilliantly retaliated.

She smiled and shook her head. “Well, I’ve seen these shows that have actual ghosts, so I know they’re real,” she said. And she began to walk back to her haunted room.

I called her back and tried to explain that those shows have clever and elaborate ways of attempting to convince their viewers that they’re seeing real ghosts, but it’s all tricks…and not real. She said that they are real because she’s seen those shows, and they’re definitely real. Also, her mom believes they’re real, so they’re real. I told her that lots of people believe that they’re real because those shows spend lots of time and money ensuring that they appear believable…but they’re still not real.

“Well, I just believe ghosts are real, so there. It’s okay to believe anything I want.”

I told her that she can believe anything she wants, but believing something doesn’t make it true. I told her that I could believe the sky is made of scrambled eggs but that wouldn’t make it so.

“But that would be silly,” she said.

“Yes,” I responded. “It would.” And I looked meaningfully at her, hoping she would take the point.

She clearly thought the existence of ghosts was in a different category than scrambled egg skies, and went on. “Anyway, ghosts are real because they’re in heaven. You know, all the people who’ve died.”

So then I tried to explain that heaven isn’t populated with ghosts but with people who loved Jesus and are finally as they ought to be: whole and healthy, living joyfully in the presence of God, and they are not leaving heaven to visit earth and close doors.

“Yeah, but anything is possible,” she countered.

“No,” I said. “Some things are not possible.”

So far she had discounted physical science, preferring to attribute the random closing of doors to ghosts instead of wind; she’d placed unconditional trust in TV shows to direct her beliefs about the supernatural; she’d asserted her own experience as exceeding my own; she’d appealed to relativism; and she’d stirred some bad theology into the mix for good measure. But now she cocked her head, smiled knowingly, and brought out the big guns, her coup de grace, point banana.

“Anything is possible with God,” she reminded me. Ah yes. A point I was unlikely to contradict.

“Well….yes,” I replied, hesitating. “It’s true that anything is possible with God, but–”

“That’s all I meant,” she interrupted.

And with that she skipped away to her room and the ghost God must have put there.

And the moral of the story is…there’s a ghost in our house. But all he does is close doors. On breezy days when the windows are open. #igiveup #youwin #theomnipotenceparadox #pointbanana



In Which I Lose An Argument About Ghosts #pointbanana

  1. Pat Kiefer says:

    This is so great. Loved it. Read it aloud with my husband. Loved the illustration too!

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