Fear No Idea


My husband often tells our children that they should fear no idea.  He wants them to read widely, to ask difficult questions and to listen to opinions which are different from our own. He wants them to understand God well, and to understand the world well.  Once they have a broad understanding of the character of the God who created the universe, and how that God has worked through history, they will have a perfect vantage point and perspective for understanding any ideas men can invent.

I recently was in the company of Christian parents who would not permit their children to read books written by non-Christian writers.  Their desire to protect their children is admirable, but it may leave their kids unprepared for real life.  Our kids need to learn to take an idea, an argument, a piece of literature or philosophy apart and really try to digest and understand it, to appreciate its beauty and identify its errors.  I want them  to see that even the most enormous human ideas are swallowed up by the truth of God.  And how glorious is that!

If they reach adulthood having never understood these things they will be lacking  the tools they need to navigate their culture.  And when we cannot navigate, we are more likely to live in fear.  And fear is like a yoke of slavery.  And Galatians 5:1 says  “1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

My wish for my kids is that they will go out into the world knowing that as children of God they are hosts and hostesses of the earth.  I want them to fear no idea, and to be able to stand up confidently and answer, graciously, any one who challenges their beliefs.

Once in a while, Christians question the books that I and my children read….the ones listed on our book list pages here.  I have been told that we should stick to Christian authors only.  But really, knowing that there is much to be gained from Christian authors, I believe that to read them exclusively would put us in a kind of literary monastery ….isolated from so many great ideas and basing our academic choices on fear.   Of course  there are books we don’t bother reading, but not because we fear them….

And with these thoughts in mind, I was pretty tickled to read some good words at The Christian Reader this afternoon…..the entire post can be found at the link there under the title of “No’ Scottish”, but here is a little taste of that good article.

“The world thinks we’re buffoons and morons who only hold to religion because we’re too dumb to think for ourselves. Never do they dream that they are standing in an epistemological quagmire as they laugh at us who are standing on solid ground. They don’t realize that an abyss is yawning underneath them, and the only reason they get their next breath is because of the grace of God. Unfortunately, most of us don’t seem to realize it either. Many of us can therefore neither offer them any help, nor honor the Lord with a stout and ready defense. I’ve heard some of the dumbest things come out of Christian mouths, and it makes me want to cringe. Our minds ought to be as clean and sharp and efficient as a well-oiled machine. C.S. Lewis once said:

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way round. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself.

It’s only cowardice and laziness that keeps us from being what we are supposed to be in this area, and that’s simply no’ Scottish at all.”

Honey For a Child’s Heart

“You may have tangible wealth untold
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold,
Richer than I you can never be,
For I had parents who read to me.”
S. Gililand

This little gem can be found in the introduction of Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. This is a wonderful little book for parents who are looking for some good suggestions for books to read to and with younger children.
There are so many many books for kids, but when I wander among the shelves at the library or Chapters or Barnes and Noble, sometimes I find that there’s a mountain of books there that are obviously junk and then there’s another truck load of books that I have never heard of by authors I have never seen before.  There are too many choices, and for me, it’s  helpful to have a hand navigating that vast ocean of books.  So Gladys Hunt did the research for us, and it’s here in her book.

She has a good section in the early chapters in which she writes about the benefits of reading to your children, and the role good prose and poetry play in a child’s developing mind.  She talks about how we can learn to understand God better through good books.  And she’s got some things to say about  the memories your family will build as you share the experiences of reading many books together.   And she’s right on the mark when she says that reading books aloud with your kids will build intimacy for your family, and give you rich shared experience.
One of the greatest pleasures we have as a family is when Jon reads aloud to all of us every evening after dinner.  He’s done this faithfully for 15 years, and the shared experience we have as a family of enjoying more than one hundred books together has given us  unexpectedly delightful memories and jokes which, probably,  only a Ween would understand.  They have given us our own family culture in a certain sense, and that might explain a whole lot for some of you who spend time with us.

Mrs Hunt also includes loads of great suggestions for high quality reading for every level  from birth to age 14.  And she offers recommendations for  quite  a variety of interests including animal lovers, poetry, historical novels, and books to nourish their spiritual life.

I found this book 15 years ago at the first homeschool convention I ever attended.  I don’t know if it’s as popular now as it was then, but it really should be.  We have taken quite a number of her recommendations with enthusiastic satisfaction all around.

I want very much for this blog to be a site where reading, and especially challenging reading, can be caught and passed on like a contagious blessing.   But if we don’t get the kids ready to read excellent stuff from the youngest age, we won’t have a chance of catching them up when they are older.  Teach them to appreciate and seek out  quality early!