Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Thousand Miles Away

I am going through some old books and in one book of poems by a Perry Tanksley I came across this poem entitled “A Thousand Miles Away.” It is a negative counterpart to my “Bedtime with My Boys” and a good reminder of the value of reading to and talking with our children.

My boys would burst into my room
And find me in my chair,
And they would ask advice or tell
One of their exploits rare.
But I would wave them on and say,
Whenever they inquired,
“Perhaps you ought to run along;
Tonight I’m very tired.”
And I’d go right on reading news
As they would beg to stay,
But I ignored them like they were
A thousand miles away.
Ah! Things are different now and I
Would give my all in fact
To have them burst into my room
And see them trooping back.
Ala it’s not to be because
My sons grew strong and tall
And moved a thousand miles away-
So far they seldom call.
And it’s not that I want them here
If they are called elsewhere,
Nor is it that I doubt their love.
I’m sure they really care.
But I can’t help but wonder what
The outcome might have been
If I had laid the paper down
And talked to them back then.
Of course, I can’t take these things back
But for my sons I pray
That they’ll each take time with their boys
Before they move away.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Teach Children the Gospel

I have just read on Tom Ascol’s blog about a publisher of children’s Sunday School curriculum who decided that the cross is too violent for pre-schoolers and as a result they would skip the cross and resurrection in their Easter curriculum! You can see a letter of explanation and defense of their position here.

This is mind boggling. I would be hard pressed to do business with such a publisher again.

This sort of dumbing-down, anesthetizing approach to Scripture is what originally led me to searching out solid children’s material and eventually to starting this blog as a small way of passing on recommendations to others. Children can handle much more than what people today think and by giving them sturdy truths we will rescue them from the spiritual and moral anemia and spinelessness so prevalent today.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Virile Literature

Old books are fun. You never know what gem you might find in what appears to be the most unlikely candidate. So it is always worthwhile taking a look. For example, I recently found a 1917 volume titled, Public School Methods, vol. 4. The title did not sound very promising, but I discovered that the volume is fascinating. About half of the book is taken up with a discussion of the value and importance of reading. It is very interesting to see how vastly different ideas were 90 years ago.
One section was titled “Virile Literature,” and I thought it was excellent. Here is the bulk of it:
“There is a tendency among boys and some grown people to look upon literature, especially upon poetry, as sentimental, and upon a love for it as effeminate. There is no possibility of such a feeling in the mind of a person who has been properly trained. … There is plenty of manliness in literature and abundant examples for reading which will require all the force of a trained intellect to comprehend. We must do nothing to destroy the virility of reading, but must make it not only the instrument of study but also a means of culture. The wise teacher sees that her classes have a great variety of matter and often leads them into selections that stir the young blood of the manliest boys among her pupils. While there may be fine phrases and elegant structure in such pieces, she encourages the reader to feel the glow of heroism or to warm their souls in the fire of patriotism.”
Indeed. Well put! That is what we aspire to.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Scottish Highland Adventures

Scottish Highland Adventures, by Catherine Mackenzie
(Christian Focus, 2007), pb., 91 pp.
Ages 6+

This book is part of a series of children’s books about adventures in various areas. We were interested in this one because of our years of living in Scotland. Each chapter deals with a specific area or characteristic of Scotland and then uses some aspect to connect to biblical truths. The biblical truths were well handled and provides good intro to discussion of these truths. However, the discussion of Scotland itself was a bit dull. My boys said the word adventures in the title was a bit misleading. It is not a very adventurous book.

If you are considering a trip to Scotland this could be a nice book to read with your kids to get a very basic feel of the area and address biblical truths. I don’t think it is one that will readily and quickly connect with young boys though.