Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Uses Of Biography

Bruno Bettelheim wrote a lengthy book on the "uses of enchantment". I just want to say a few words about the uses of biography.

The importance of biography is clearly emphasized in the book of Hebrews. The climax comes in chapters 11 and 12. The "great cloud of witnesses" should inspire us to steadfastness. But long before he reaches chapter 12 he is referring to various good, and bad, examples to help us see how we should live. The Apostle Paul does something similar in passages like 1 Corinthians 10 and in shorter references like 1 Corinthians 16:15-18.

Rules can be hard to remember; laws may be hard to apply; but principles which we learn from examples we usually learn thoroughly. That goes a long way toward explaining what is wrong with our world. Our approach to teaching good morals is to sit the children down and give them a lecture. When the lecture ends they plop down in front of the TV and are taught (by example rather than by lecture) to live contrary to morals given in the lecture. Many of the books they have to read are nothing like the books we had to read as children. In some cases even books that have titles similar to the titles we read as children are now used to promote evil rather than good.

Good biography teaches good morals. That is one use of biography. But there is another use that may be equally important.

Good biography inspires us to keep trying, even when our effort seems to be in vain. On my recent vacation I read two biographies (of John Calvin and of Jack P. Lewis). I found that both of these men, who I thought to have been so successful, often felt that they had failed. They struggled. They made serious errors. Their work often seemed in vain. I needed that lesson, and I suspect that others might need it as well.

The best biographies are in the Bible, of course. Several Old Testament books contain significant amounts of biographical material. The New Testament is roughly half biographical (Matt-Acts). But if you want something additional check with a good Christian bookstore.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Comment Does Not Make You Visible

Occasionally I get a comment posted to this blog that is not really a comment on the blog but an attempt by an old friend to get in touch with me. That can be frustrating, because making a comment here does not make you visible to me. I am told that you made a comment, but I am not given your e-mail address or any information about you. That is a nice protection for those who want to comment on the blog, but who might not want me to send them a message in reply. But it is not so nice when and old friend writes and assumes that I now have a way to connect with them.

So, comment away, you have nothing to fear.

Forgive me, old friends who have tried to connect with me through this blog, but I have no way to reply to your message (except the very public means of replying through this blog). I do not get your contact information when you send in a comment.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Who Bears The Responsiblity For Children?

by Brad Harrub, reprinted by permission of Focus Press www.focuspress.org

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth." (Psalm 127:3-4)

In this five-verse Psalm, Solomon puts forth God's perspective on children and shows the value we should place on them. God entrusts families with children so that the parents may raise those children unto Him, warriors prepared for spiritual battle. So, it should follow that Christian parents put a high value on the minds and souls of their children.

So, when President Obama introduced his plan to expand preschool enrollment last week, it should have caused us to at least perk our ears up a little to pay attention to what's going on. Not only does the government want to have preschool access for all four year olds, they want to have the ability to influence children "from birth." The temptation will be there for parents to take advantage of it, as it provides ease and less stress. However, God gives children to their parents, not the government. The government will not teach His commands to your children "in your house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up" - nor should that be expected of them.

We must make sure that our view of the family is in line with God's and not the government's. It's not just about preschool, it's about a battle for hearts and minds that we must win if there is to be a next generation of faithfulness in America.