A little bedtime culture and theology. Tonight Noah requested we read the book “Thomas Breaks a Promise”. In this short kids tale, Thomas the Tank Engine doesn’t complete the job he volunteered for, but tells Sir Topham Hatt that he did it. Danger ensues for Percy and Thomas has to face the hard lesson of dishonesty. I find this little book interesting because it was originally published with the title “Thomas Tells a Lie”. The script is basically the same, except for the language of lying has all been replaced with the language of breaking a promise.
Let’s lay aside the difficult question of the moral capacity of steam trains and save that for another post. Instead, my question is, what does it mean that the publisher’s feel they should shift language like that? Is there are moral difference between lying and breaking a promise? Was a book about lying not selling like a book about promise breaking? Is judging Thomas as one who lies too harsh? Is it kinder to call him a promise-breaker? I mean, who are we to make such a black and white moral call?