What's with the Cartoons? Is This for Kids?

Jun 10, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Marc Olson


When handed a magazine-sized booklet about God that’s dressed like a children’s coloring book, it’s pretty easy to assume it’s not for you. Manna and Mercy’s round shapes and slim figure suggest a simplicity that might turn off those of us who believe we’re beyond such things. If that includes you, I get it. But before you relegate this book to the bulletin insert pile or the Sunday School shelf, hear me out. Like the Bible it serves and sits beside, Manna and Mercy is built with love and depth and humor and heart, and it’s more subtle and sophisticated than most people expect.

And the short answer to the question that prompts today’s blog post is YES.

Of course this is for kids.

It’s also for adults. And tweens. And twentysomethings. And fifty-year-old divorcees. And people with disabilities. And those with PhDs in theology or history or science. And it’s for those who can no longer read words, or understand them as they once did. In this way, Manna and Mercy exemplifies the deep welcome that its author practiced and taught in his ministry as a pastor who challenged the church he served and loved to expand its imagination about community hospitality and respond seriously and creatively to the Apostle Paul’s vision of what it means to be members of one another and members of the Body of Christ. In this way, this booklet attempts what the liturgy of worship offers: a multisensory engagement with the active and living Word of God. The book opens to include everybody; the form itself is a way of welcome.

One recurring theme in the Gospel of John is the invitation to “come and see.” The simple line drawings that reveal and revel in the story of God’s unfolding promise to mend the entire universe echo and embody this invitation. Each picture, as the old saying suggests, is worth a thousand words of commentary. Dan's art interacts with and interprets the words he writes in ways that meet readers and viewers at whatever level of sophistication they bring, welcoming them to see themselves reflected in the faces and places that occupy the pages of his books. And in the open spaces between illustrations, the artist invites those of us who might not yet recognize ourselves reflected in these pages to imagine ourselves in the picture.

Just like the Bible. Just like Jesus. Just like all the promises God offers, Manna and Mercy is for you.

Topics: Daniel Erlander

Marc Olson

Written by Marc Olson

Marc Olson lives and works in St. Paul, MN, where he is an editor, author, and catechist. Marc has written alongside Daniel Erlander's work in the Lutheran Welcomes series of booklets, and is the author of the adult session leader guide in the recently published Manna and Mercy Leader Sourcebook. Marc is also the author of The World Jesus Knew: A Curious Kid's Guide to Life in the First Century, The World of the Old Testament: A Curious Kid's Guide to the Bible's Most Ancient Stories, and The World of the First Christians: A Curious Kid's Guide to the Early Church.

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