SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

The Next Billy Graham
By Dave Kiffer


March 09, 2007
Friday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - Like most six year olds, Liam appreciates a bit of a schedule.

Oh, he complains a bit when we cut off his morning cartoon in order to pile him into the car for school, but he appreciates the fact that there is a morning routine.

On school days, we drag him out of bed (like his father he prefers to sleep until noon), feed him and let him watch a little bit of "PBS Kids" before school. Because of his schedule, he always watches a bit of "Curious George" before heading off to the land of knowledge.

So it came as a bit of a shock last week, when he loudly announced after breakfast: "I don't want to watch Curious George."

It wasn't a case of him "outgrowing" the show as he seems to have outgrown "Teletubbies," "The Wiggles" and "Sesame Street."

No, there was something entirely different at work.

"I can't watch 'Curious George' for 40 days," he explained.


"Mrs. Mertz (his kindergarten teacher) says I have to give something up for 40 days. I'm not going to watch 'Curious George.' "

A dim light-bulb started to flicker in my dusty cranium. It was Lent and my little Catholic School child was doing his part, after a fashion.

"So, no cartoons in the morning, eh?" I responded.

"No, no, no," he said, looking horrified. "I just can't watch 'Curious George.' I'll watch Jimmy Neutron!"

As a child, I had several friends who went to Holy Name and I remember having discussions with them about Lent and giving stuff up.

"Why don't you give up school for 40 days," I remember asking my friend David.

"Tried that," he said. "It's got to be something that you don't want to give up. I told my parents I was giving up broccoli. They said I was giving up ice cream."

So, for Liam, the obvious answer was his favorite cartoon.

This was right on top of another odd school related interaction between Liam and his well meaning, if somewhat doddering Dad a few weeks before.

In the middle of January, he was all agog over his school lessons regarding "Martin Luther" for several days, he kept talking to me about Martin Luther and asking if I knew about Martin Luther. He was very exited to be learning about "Martin Luther" in school.

Naturally, this got my attention. "Martin Luther" lessons in a Catholic school? That's pretty progressive by any yardstick. Wasn't he the guy that did that whole religious schism thing that led created Protestantism and
led - eventually - to Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion?

Finally after a couple of days, I asked him.

"Liam, what are they saying about Martin Luther?"

He rolled his eyes. It's not easy having a doofus for a Dad.

"You know," he said patiently. "They couldn't eat at the same restaurants. They had to drink separate water."

Oh, Martin Luther King!


Since neither Liam's mother, nor I, are overtly religious, it is always interesting to see what comes home with Liam in addition to his spelling and math homework.

For example, if Liam has been good and we tell him he's the "best little boy in the world" he usually corrects us.

"No, Daddy, Jesus is."

Fair enough.

He frequently starts some interesting discussions along the lines of "Daddy, is God stronger than Superman" or "Daddy, does God have brown hair?"

The most interesting one that popped out recently was "Daddy, did Jesus litter when he was a little boy?"

The Bible is distinctly unclear on that point. Later in life, it seems, he "littered" the temple with the debris of the moneychangers, but that's probably not what Liam meant.

Short of being circumcised at eight days, fleeing with his parents to Egypt until he was three or four and hanging out at the temple in Jerusalem for three days when he was 12, the Bible is pretty thin on Jesus' early years

We can only surmise as to Jesus: The Years of Youthful Rebellion. I doubt it involved littering, but I digress.

At least twice, Liam has come home and announced that he "saw" God.

The first time, a few years ago in pre-school, he meant Father Pat, whom he then referred to as "Pat God."

The second time, he meant, well, I'm not really sure what exactly he meant. It had something to with a bunch of clouds and some sunbeams high in the sky. Liam did say that God did not speak to him, so at least we don't have one of those Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell situations here.

Then there was that interesting little diversion a couple of years ago when - during a concert at the church, Liam lay on the floor perfectly mimicking the Jesus on the cross over the altar. Hall Anderson took a picture that ended up winning national feature photo awards and appearing in newspapers all over the country.

I'm still not sure what to make of that. But leave it to Liam to already be taking his "faith" to a bigger stage.

Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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