Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dem Bones!

Returning to the illustrations of Lagos Segner; when I was a child, I loved this image of Daniel in the lion's den. What made it potent was the bones in the background. The bones proved that Daniel had been part of something miraculous -- if God hadn't protected him, he'd have ended up just like that unfortunate skeleton.

Like many children, I was fascinated by the symbols of death -- especially the pirate's skull and crossbones. Somehow taking on the power of the symbols, made me -- as a relatively powerless child -- more powerful in my imagination.

While I would have wanted to wear skull and crossbones duds as a child, I don't think I could bring myself to dress an infant in such imagery; but if you Google skull and crossbones baby clothes, you'll find thousands of images... and some are pretty cute.

Perhaps we're using the death images on baby clothes as talismans against death.

As a child, wearing such images felt like flirting with danger, as well as owning power over death by not fearing it. Of course, what I really wanted was protection danger -- that's what I saw in the Daniel story. The bones showed the danger was real, but Daniel's presence among them proved that God's salvation was just as real.

When I drew the story of St. Prisca being thrown the lions, I was liberal with sprinkling bones around the arena.

I hope that children reading about Prisca will find her tale all the more compelling, because the bones in the arena signal the expected outcome -- sans miracle. Prisca, like Daniel, so clearly survives because of God's intervention. The bones are also intended to add enough edge to induce pleasurable goosebumps in a small child.

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