A Rabbi, a Pop-Icon and Kids

Honoring the Child Spirit is an unlikely book. The result of recorded conversations between Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Michael Jackson, the book is in interview form and carries the subtitle; “Inspiration and Learning from our Children.”

It took boldness for Shmuley to publish the book after Jackson’s death, especially given the accusations of child-molestation now commonly associated with the star. When I spotted this book on the shelf in the library, I had to overcome initial disgust to even pick it up. Jackson hardly seems like a safe, nurturing or wholesome perspective on the beauty of childhood. Yet in this book are many compelling truths. As we read we can clearly feel Jackson’s own inner wounds, his broken-heartedness, his personal losses and his overcompensations. We can hear in his “voice” his desperation both to be healed and to hurt no one. And perhaps we can sense the danger of such desperation. Yet we are comforted by the presence of the Rabbi, a voice of clarity and stability and a personal friend to Jackson. (The book explains that they spent many Shabbat dinners together as families.) And we read with some hope, the Rabbi’s clear statements that he can not imagine that the allegations against Jackson are true.

Regardless, the book contains much truth about the beauty of God seen uniquely in children. Jackson and Shmuley expound together on such topics as generosity, forgiveness, joy, hope, imagination, curiousity, love and vulnerability. Much we read reminds us both of the character of God and the longing of humans to live in a world less broken.

Jackson’s great dream was apparently to see a World Children’s Day before he died – a day when parents everywhere would spend an uninterrupted day with their kids. Shmuley and Jackson worked with officials at the UN and even with President Clinton to try to establish this but without any resolution. Instead, Shmuley was able to establish Friday Night into Family Night, a celebration of family that includes the Triple Two; two uninterrupted hours with two invited guests discussing two important topics.

This book was a reminder for me, to see beauty and truth in the unlikely places. To honor that which is good while letting go that which is not. It opened my eyes to see not where Satan had victory in Jackson’s life, but to see the amazing glory placed within him by His creator. So many times, our areas of greatest strength, greatest possibility, greatest impact; are where Satan strikes the hardest and the deepest. Jackson was clearly gifted with children and had a passion for their honor, their protection and their hearts. It got twisted into something warped, and strange and perhaps even dangerous. And yet good WILL win – and God is redeeming EVERYTHING.

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