Yup, that’s what we talked about at dinner tonight. All because our 11-year-old was convinced that I was guilty of deicide. She didn’t use that word, but she sure meant it. So how did she come to make such an accuastion? Simple: She has Asperger syndrome. And that means that she fixates on small details and makes huge conclusions from them. It means that she can’t see the forest for these off-kilter trees. It means that she makes connections that most people don’t make–creative, occasionally dark connections that only an aspie brain would come up with. Here’s what happened:
Yesterday, we went to our church’s Good Friday service, where we all read from the Passion according to St. John. One characteristic about John’s retelling of Jesus’ death is his use of the shorthand “the Jews” when he talks about Jesus’ enemies. It was “the Jews” who arrested him in the garden. It was “the Jews” who cried out, “Crucify him!” And it was “the Jews” who told Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar.”
So instead of getting the big picture of why Jesus died and the promise of his resurrection, my daughter fixated on John’s use of “the Jews.” She spent the rest of the service slumped over, with a grim scowl on her face. I let it go, knowing from bitter experience that if I tried to ask what was wrong, I would be risking more drama than would be wise at the moment.
Afterward, as we were walking to our car, she voiced the same theology that folks like St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine held: All Jews are bad because they killed Jesus. Only now it was personal. You see, one of her best friends is Jewish. So she was convinced that she had to scold her friend and get her to apologize, if not convert and become a Catholic like us so she could go to confession.
I assured her that her friend had nothing to do with Jesus’ death and that she surely wouldn’t have been shouting for Jesus’ crucifixion if she were there. I promised that God doesn’t hate the Jews, either. In fact, he loves her friend and her whole family.
I thought all was well–until she brought it up at dinner again tonight. The same question. The same implication of her friend. The same thoughts about the Jews. She just couldn’t get it out of her mind. Katie tried to deflect the issue by telling her that it was the Romans who put Jesus to death, not the Jews.
So what did my girl conclude? That Italians were to blame.
And who’s Italian? I am.
And what does that make her? Half-Italian.
So she slapped herself in the forehead a few times. Then she picked up a pizza box (we had carry-out for dinner) and began punching the overdone picture of an Italian chef on it. Then she pointed an accusing finger at me. “You!” she shouted angrily. “You killed Jesus!”
“Daddy didn’t kill Jesus,” Katie said, back pedaling as fast as she could. “And neither did you. And neither did your friend. But if you really want to go there, then think about this: In a sense, we all killed Jesus. It was our sin that put him on the cross. But you know what? He let it happen because he loves us. He let them crucify him so that he could forgive us and open heaven for us. So don’t feel bad. And don’t blame anyone. Just thank him for what he did, and be glad that he did it for you.” My girl just rolled her eyes. “If you say so,” she said, unconvinced.
I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this. I’m sure it will spring up again, unannounced and unexpected. That, too, is what an aspie brain does. Its fixations come and go, but they never quite disappear. But at least for now, the crisis have been averted, and I’m off the hook.
Happy Easter, everyone!