Sunday, May 17, 2009

 

Sunday Reflection: On explaining "The Archies" to a seven-year-old



Not long ago, I was listening to the radio in the car with a group of people that included an especially inquisitive seven-year-old. When the song "Sugar Sugar" came on (I was not in control of the radio), someone mentioned that the song was by "The Archies." At this point, the seven-year-old asked "who were The Archies?"

Everyone did their best to explain. "The Archies, uh, it was a comic book about this guy named Archie..."

"What is a comic book?" the seven-year-old asked.

We did our best to explain that, then went on to try to describe how Archie and Jughead and their girlfriends (and, I think, Reggie) formed a band and then made the song we were listening to.

"But, how did they do that if they are cartoon characters?"

Ugh. So, we then explained the fact that some actual musicians made the song and then they just said it was Archie and the others singing it.

"Why didn't they just say it was by the musicians who really made the song?"

At this point, we had to explain that probably people would rather think of it as written and sung by the comic book characters.

He seemed dubious about the whole thing.

I think that this seven-year-old made our conversation uncomfortable by refusing to have the faith that we count on in seven-year-olds. He just refused to buy that cartoon characters would sing a song. He knew that some actual humans must have written and sung the song, and that probably they weren't a bunch of high school chums in a jalopy.

Later, though, the conversation evolved. We started with truth-- that Archie came from a genuine part of American culture, and reflected a certain part of American life. The people who wrote the comic books and TV show told good stories that people related to. During that time, lots of kids started bands in their garage, so Archie and his friends did that. It was those people who wrote it, not the cartoon characters, but they meant to capture something true, and it was a catchy tune. When we talked about it this way, he seemed to accept it, even embrace it, and next time "Sugar Sugar" comes on the radio he probably will sing along.

Come to Christ like a child? Which one?

Comments:
And that was about the same time as the Monkees . . . of course, they were real people . . . and the Partridge Family, who were a band only for the purposes of the TV show, right?

And even the Sound of Music, before that--a family singing, in the movies . . .

So yes, there was all sorts of cultural context for the Archies. And yes, come to faith like that seven-year-old, questioning.
 
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