And then one day the unthinkable happened. Our pastor was called as a missionary to South Africa, which meant that his two children – my friends – would be moving to a land where there actually were crocodiles. This led to two things: 1) excitement that they would be able to send me a postcard of a crocodile from South Africa (which they duly did), and 2) the great fear that my friends could possibly be eaten by a crocodile (a fear which, however, was not great enough to cancel out the importance of the postcard request).
At that age I had no real concept of violence and suffering. Yet, I did have a real concept of something else, something which made my being-eaten-by-a-crocodile fear very important for me. And what was this? It was the resurrection of the dead. For you see this was my crocodile fear: if you got eaten by a crocodile, how would you get out of the crocodile at the resurrection. (As I’ve said, I was very young, so the intervening death of the crocodile, never mind any other unpleasant consequences of being eaten, didn’t feature at all in my thinking: for me it was all a question of how you would get out of the crocodile’s tummy.) So perturbed was I about the possible fate of my friends – missing out on the resurrection because of getting eaten by a crocodile – that I had no other choice but to ask my father about this dilemma.