Keep the Bear’s advice in mind this weekend.
If your goal is to destroy your children’s imaginations, the below list is a good place to begin. I would probably put television and video games higher on the list. Christian parents are especially tempted to use quality programs as baby-sitters. But even if the content of certain programs is moral or Christian, it still does the child’s thinking for him or her. So I would add to the list of ways to destroy your child’s imagination:
- Buy an I-pad immediately. Never require your child to sit anywhere without access to it.
- Buy all the Christian videos possible. You can have your child watch them while feeling good about yourself as a parent.
- Put either a television or a computer (ideally both) in your child’s room.
- Do not read Marie Winn’s book, The Plug-In Drug. She will remind you that the most insidious sort of drug is the one you give to someone else for your own benefit.
Per Justin Taylor, here is Trevor Cairney’s summary of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child:
1. Begin by rearing children almost exclusively indoors – give in to the threats of the outdoors, don’t risk allowing them to have unbridled experiences out of our observable space. Lock them up in classes and organized instruction and avoid giving them opportunities to run free.
2. Never allow children to organize their own worlds of exploration of that which is interesting or challenging—replace the spontaneous and child initiated and replace it with 7 days of structured activities controlled by others and a timetable that leaves no scope for exploration, time wasting, and contemplation.
3. Don’t risk allowing children to explore machines or encounter those who know and use them—privilege safety above all things, cut craftsmen from the child’s world, despise practical and craft knowledge, forget about the challenge and fascination of maps, diagrams and the like.
4. Replace fairy tales with cliches and fads—water down stories to remove the evil and violent, look for tales that ‘flatten’ and homogenize, replace fundamental truths with cliches and ideological manifestos.
5. Denigrate or discard the heroic and patriotic—remove fathers who are heroes, men who are warriors, lose sight of the ‘piety’ of a place like the Welsh uplands and coal mines of Richard Llewellyn’s ‘How Green was My Valley.’ Ignore the dignity of simple people and their ways.
6. Cut down all heroes to size—don’t allow a sentimental admiration of a hero, dismiss courage, beat from our boys any hint of hero worship. Instead grow men ‘without chests’ who spend hours on violent video games but never rumble in the back yard.
7. Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex – replace the music and tenderness of love in the Odyssey, or the poetry of Stephen Foster for a lost love, with a reduction of love to the mechanics of sex, “reduce eros to the itch of lust or vanity.” Replace the first pangs of curiosity of a boy for a girl, or a girl for a boy, with a bombardment of images of what love isn’t.
8. Level all distinctions between man and woman—just as individual personalities are washed from our classrooms, so too, reduce all differences of gender, and convince children that boys and girls are just the same.
9. Distract the child with the shallow or unreal—fail to encourage the child to hear and sharpen the senses before creating, abolish solitude and silence, fill the child’s life with the ‘noise’ of television, video games and other forms of banality. Don’t just give decibels of noise but rather, more importantly, mental and spiritual interference. Separate the child from the relationship of family, neighbours and friends and place them in after school care, preschools etc.
10. Deny the transcendent—deny the idea of God, ignore the mystery of faith and religion, ensure that unlike the ancients in the caves of Lascaux there is little opportunity to contemplate and create a veritable cathedral born of their imaginings. Do everything possible to erase any opportunity for your child to search out the inscriptions of praise on each human heart.
David Briggs: The Final Four, Travel Teams and Empty Pews: Who Is Winning the Competition Between Sports and Religion?
David Briggs considers the growing tension between church and sports:
The Rev. Stephen Fichter understood just how dominant a role sports has assumed in the culture when a family told him they would be out of town Good Friday to Easter Sunday to attend their child’s volleyball tournament.
“It’s truly sports that has become like the religion” for many people, said Fichter, a researcher and the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Haworth, N.J.
From youth travel teams to big-time national festivals such as the Final Four, sports have been making increasing inroads in the busy lives of many Americans. Some scholars even trace the evolution of sports from pastime to a form of civil religion to now having become almost a folk religion.
And it is having an impact on religious groups, which report increasing difficulty convincing families that are willing to spend half a day traveling to a 9-year-old’s softball or soccer game to make time for worship services.
Read the rest here.
HT: David Murray
Andy Naselli quotes Carson and Lloyd-Jones to encourage young mothers:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of . . .
Read the whole thing here.
One of the areas we talk about often at the Red Brick Church is retaining our youth.
Marc at 5 Solas recently shared why he believes we are losing our youth. The post begins:
We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then… they graduate from High School and they leave church. What happened?
It seems to happen so often that I wanted to do some digging; To talk to these kids and get some honest answers. I work in a major college town with a large number of 20-somethings. Nearly all of them were raised in very typical evangelical churches. Nearly all of them have left the church with no intention of returning. I spend a lot of time with them and it takes very little to get them to vent, and I’m happy to listen. So, after lots of hours spent in coffee shops and after buying a few lunches, here are the most common thoughts taken from dozens of conversations. I hope some of them make you angry. Not at the message, but at the failure of our pragmatic replacement of the gospel of the cross with an Americanized gospel of glory. This isn’t a negative “beat up on the church” post. I love the church, and I want to see American evangelicalism return to the gospel of repentance and faith in christ for the forgiveness of sins; not just as something on our “what we believe” page on our website, but as the core of what we preach from our pulpits to our children, our youth, and our adults.
The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.
Let that sink in.
It continues with a top 10 list:
10. The Church is “Relevant.”
9. They never attended church to begin with.
8. They get smart.
7. You sent them out unarmed.
6. You gave them hand-me-downs.
4. They found better feelings.
3. They got tired of pretending.
2. They know the truth.
1. They don’t need it.
Read the whole thing including explanations here.
RSS readers will need to click through to watch my answer to this question.*
*I have previously posted this video.
D.A. Carson responds to a question which is of interest to every Christian parent.
TT: What is the best way for parents to prepare their children for the attacks on their faith they may face in college?
DC: There is no formulaic answer and no guarantee. For a start, our children themselves are extraordinarily diverse. Many will be tempted by postmodern assumptions. Others will feel far greater threats from biologists, cosmologists, or psychologists who operate under the assumptions of raw atheism or, worse, functional atheism. All I can do is enumerate some values and practices in the home that seem to me to be wise, biblically faithful, and useful in mitigating the dangers. These are exemplary, not exhaustive.
First, the home should encourage vigorous Christian understanding. The most dangerous seedbed for intellectual rebellion is a home where faith is sentimental and even anti-intellectual, and where opponents are painted as ignorant knaves, because eventually our children discover that there are some really nice people who are atheists and agnostics, and they can present arguments in sophisticated, gentle, and persuasive fashion.
Similarly, the local church with young people who are heading off to college should be doing what it can to prepare them—first with a solid grasp of Christian essentials, and second with the rudiments of responsible apologetics.
At the same time, both the home and the church should be living out a Christian faith that is more than intellectually rigorous. It should be striving for biblically-faithful authenticity across the board: genuine love for God and neighbor, living with eternity in view, quickness to confess sin and seek reconciliation, a concern for the lost and the broken, faithfulness in praise and intercessory prayer, a transparent delight in holiness, and a contagious joy in God. Even if our children are sucked into intellectual nihilism for a while, over the long haul it is important that they remember what biblically-faithful Christianity looks like in the home and in the church.
Fourth, wisdom in shaping our kids demands more structure when they are young; more discussion, carefully monitored controls, and a safety net as they grow older; and a willingness, in most instances, to wait to be asked for advice when they have genuinely left the nest and are no longer dependent on our roof or our wallets.
Finally, pray for them. Pray for them especially diligently when you recognize, as you repeatedly will, that unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor do so in vain.
HT: Justin Taylor
Currently, we are playing chess at our house. It makes me smile when I realize we have spent an evening without the television on or a computer in our laps. But there are other ideas for playing with your children.
My friend Jordan who played catch with his dad right into adulthood, suggested the below Trevin Wax offers several ideas for playing with your children:
5 Ways to Play With Your Kids This Christmas
I’m sure I’m just one of the many parents who hugged their kids a little closer on Friday night after hearing about the horror at an elementary school in Connecticut. Perhaps this horrible tragedy will serve as a reminder to cherish the time we have with our children.
During the holiday season, we’re tempted to spend too much time on our iPhones, on the computer, or watching television. Following our example, our kids isolate themselves too. We’re together physically, but no one is having fun. No wonder by New Year’s everyone is ready to get back into the normal routine.
Can I challenge you, parents? Don’t let this holiday season go by without spending time just having fun with your kids. No agenda. Just fun.
My friend, Zach Nielsen, sees in a parent playing with their kids a picture of the gospel. He writes:
I am continually reminded how much our kids need our undivided attention, on their terms, and not ours. This communicates volumes in terms of humble service which is the essence of the Gospel.
You want your kids to understand the Gospel? Get on the floor and play with them. Then when you speak of God coming down and condescending to our weakness they’ll have a picture of loving service to equate it to.
Likewise, Michael Kelley writes about the surprising side effect of playing with your kids:
Who would have ever thought that the main way to mortify my flesh today was playing with my kids?
I play with my kids, and hopefully then have a small notion of the great willingness and desire of God to be with His people. And as for me, playing with them – really playing with them – is another means by which God uses to pry my white-knuckled fingers off my idol of self.
So, dads, can I encourage you with this today? Play with your kids – not only for their sake, but also for yours.
Here are some creative options for playing with your kids this holiday season:
1. Instead of watching a movie . . .
Read the rest here.
Don’t get me wrong. We want our daughter to go to college. We’re proud of her for working so hard to receive scholarships. We are so excited for her opportunity for a liberal arts education. We know there are many parents who have lost children one way or another who would give anything to go through the pain of a college good-bye.
But wow is it hard! I looked up last night at the door to her room at a time when it normally would have been closed and the door was open and her room is empty. It hurt.
I vividly remember that when Jamie was expecting Allison, one of our friends said, “It won’t be long before your meals are interrupted by a crying baby.”
She should have told me, “It won’t be long before your baby goes to college.”
A few days ago when we left to take Allison to college, our nine year old walked out of the dedication service crying each step of the way. She was holding her older sister’s hand with tears running down her cheeks. It is how we all feel.
So I have been commiserating with other hurting parents, and reading the thoughts of wise people who have also seen their children off to college. Thankfully, there are some excellent links.
My favorite link thus far has been a profound article by Jen Willkin, The Truth About Child Bearing. EVERY mother should read it. Here is one excerpt:
As the years unfold we begin to understand that we have been introduced to the great truth of pain in childbearing, a pain we naively believed would be confined to labor and delivery, but that visits us at every transition we nurture our children toward: the measured inhale, the steady exhale, the mighty push. And separation. Preschool. Kindergarten. Middle school. High school. College. Career. Marriage. With a familiar aching euphoria, we push them out—from safety and provision to separation and uncertainty. It feels like they would be safer just staying with us, as if safety were the greatest gift we could give them.
Read the whole thing here.
I’m with Barry York who wrote:
Though I have been through it before, and it’s coming was as sure as the seasons changing, I still was not able to fend off the sadness it brings.
I’m carrying around this strange grief because my bright, bouncy, beautiful daughter is no longer here, having been transported off to college last week. We’ve come again to that stage that all Christian parenting is inevitably heading toward. The child whose birth you witnessed, whose birthmarks you know, whose birthdays you celebrated, has moved out and will never live the same way under your roof again.
I know all the comforts that will be offered and even jokes that will be made, so do not bother writing them in the comment section. I’m a little touchy right now. . .
Changing Rythms offers more insights to which Jamie and I can relate:
Yesterday, it occurred to me that in two weeks’ time, my youngest child will be off to university. Every now and then over the past few weeks, he has has provided me with reminders of this eventual day, count down style: ”Mom, did you know that it’s only 20 days and I will be gone?”
I am not a mom who counts down the days to when her kids leave home for school. At least not at this point, anyway. With my kids off to school, a new rhythm has begun, the “come and go” rhythm.
When our kids were small, we had routine and rhythm.
And while it does hurt — it is also sweet for my pretty wife and I to go to the place where Allison will be studying.