Fathers and the Funnies

by Andy Wood on September 30, 2009

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Legacy

Joel and me 2Took a look at the funnies the other day.  To be honest, I read them for the laughter.  But I noticed something else in the process.  Call me sensitive, or call me curious, but I was intrigued at the ways dads are presented.  If it’s true that art imitates life, we may have some big problems.  With fathers.  With God.  With ourselves.

Who is Father?  According to the comics, he is Dagwood, the family calamity.  He lives to sleep, or to eat, or to deal with the occasional salesman.  He’s loveable, but always a little bit late, and about one brick shy of a load.

Who is Father?  He is Hagaar the Horrible, the warrior who goes outside the home to conquer the world, and only appears at home long enough to eat, drink, snort, and be a slob.  He can conquer the Gauls, but Helga rules the household.

Cassie & MeWho is Father?  He is the non-existent absentee found in Peanuts.  He never appears, and he never speaks, except in sounds that resemble a muted trombone.  He is less involved with the children than the family dog, and his children never bother even to speak his name.

Who is Father?  He is the intelligent-looking, caring, but hapless provider of Dennis the Menace.  We’re sure he is smart, and gets along well enough with his wife.  But he never seems bright enough to keep up with his mischievous kid.

As a 25-year veteran of fatherhood, I can identify with them all.  I know what it means to be Dad, the Family Shepherd, the Family Priest, and the Family Coach.  I also know what it feels to be Dad, the Family Buffoon, the Family Slob, and the Family Absentee.  I am forever humbled by the fact that my children’s first impressions of God were the God they see in me.  And even in their adulthood, if the only images I show them of God are the ones found in cartoon folklore, they have real problems, and so do I.

Carrie and MeMany of us relate to our own fathers – living or dead – like the figures in the funnies.  We see them in terms of their roles, their weaknesses, or their caricatures.  But we never see them as real people.  We never get to know them, really talk to them, listen to them, understand them.  Maybe that’s our fathers’ fault.  Maybe it’s ours.  Thankfully, whatever other limitations my life may have had, I have had a dad who was present and transparent… and always a teacher and relationship initiator.

Saddest of all, we often relate to God that way.  When you pray, “Our Father…,” who are you talking to?  A bumbling Dagwood who is always running late?  A Horrible Hagaar, too grumpy or too busy conquering the enemy to care about you?  A Celestial Alien, who never appears, never speaks?  An otherwise intelligent Heavenly Parent, able to provide for you, but too dumb to figure you out?

Jesus said, if you want to be intimate with God, start by learning to say, “Our Father….”  Let’s learn what that really means. 

And for those of us who still turn when we hear the word, “Daddy,” for God’s sake, let’s show the world and our children something better than a cartoon.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alex Green September 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I’ve been struggling with this as of late. Because my father brought up that he wasn’t a representation of God the Father when I was growing up. So now my understanding of what God might be trying to show me, or how he feels about me is all starting to change. It’s good. But I need to stop worrying so much about me, and be curious about who He is.
.-= Alex Green´s last blog ..I’m curious… =-.

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