Monday, December 10, 2007

cultivating a taste for truth and beauty

Great post about parenting over at World on the Web about the challenge of cultivating a taste for truth and beauty in our children. It sure is a lot more work than just protecting them from dangerous and filthy media. Most of the time we aim too low .

Here's a snippet . . .

While many consider scrutiny of children’s media, rightly, a matter of protecting them from filth, I think there’s a deeper imperative, which is the importance of cultivating their taste. I know families who do this well; their children are literate and literary, and they play musical instruments. These parents could give their children credit cards and uninhibited access to, and remain highly confident that the resulting purchases would violate neither their high standards of decency nor intelligence. They don’t do so, however, because young minds still need guidance. But those young minds are being trained in the right direction, toward thinking lives. They are being equipped to seek truth and beauty, and therefore to abhor falsehood and ugliness, whether guised as pornography, or bad philosophy.

If we think our job is simply to vet media for sex, drugs, and profanity, we are not building anything. At best, we are keeping a clean slate, at least until our children have left us. Absent an ability to appreciate truth and beauty, however, they are consigned to battling flesh without the pleasure — created, I believe, by the ultimate author of truth and beauty — of art. The soft-porn magazine Maxim, in other words, becomes less interesting when one is capable of enjoying The Atlantic. Handel (for you classical buffs) or Sufjan Stevens (for indie fans) probably hold more appeal, likewise, for the musically-trained than does BeyoncĂ©. Those who can appreciate Chekhov can’t help but laugh out loud when they consider Danielle Steele.


Josh Mock said...

This is an area that I've spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing with others recently. Pastor Steve and I talked about exactly this a few months ago during a long car ride.

While it may be easier to create rules for what we consume based on ratings or "explicit content" labels, we are not only trusting someone else to discern for us, but we are not learning about ourselves (and our children, but I'm not a parent) and growing in discernment about what is healthy or unhealthy. Certainly the ratings help give an idea of questionable content, but it's only the beginning.

Aside from that, sheltering is, as they say, only "keeping a clean slate." If instead we learn to discern, and teach our children how to discern, not only will they be able to learn to avoid that which they know will cause them to stumble, but it will also potentially open them up to entire realms of art that God has given us that may cause some to stumble, but not them.

I've grown more in my faith thanks to "secular" music and movies than I ever could have had I been restricted to only that which was perfectly "clean" by the standards created by Christian and western culture.

"As evangelical Christians, we have tended to relegate art to the very fringe of life. The rest of human life we feel is more important. Despite our constant talk about the Lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the Lordship of Christ over the whole of man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives, and for our culture."
~Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible

Jacquelyn said...

Great article! very timely, since our little heathens are such convincing liers.