Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jumping in on a discussion a planned to avoid...

I had been attempting to avoid this topic, and succeeded until I went onto the Well Trained Mind message board today and found that my only oasis from this topic had finally been tainted by it, and I realized, for my own sake, I had to say something... then I will let it go.

For those of you who may not be familiar, there has been a controversy for years over two parenting books: To Train Up a Child and On Becoming Babywise. The first discusses discipline issues and the second breastfeeding issues. The issue came to a head recently when a couple applied a discipline proceedure not mentioned in the TCUAC book and killed thier son. Later, the couple mentioned TCUAC as thier primary resource on discipline (techniques which they took too far), so the book got labelled as the manual of child abusers.

So that I am being upfront and honest with everyone, I happen to own both books in question (actually I lent one to someone and never got it back, but that's irrelevant.) I read both many times, lent them to people, applied some of the principles of both books, and ignored some princilples in both books.

I very rarely agree with everything in every book I read, and there are many that I don't agree with much at all. If I own it and don't want it any more, I may donate it to the library, freecyle it, give it to a friend, toss it or burn it in the burn barrel depending on the book (keeping in mind content and condition). I do not view any book (with the exception of the Scriptures because I am a Chirstian) as sacred. If you are a private citizen and want to burn your copy of a book, go ahead. I tend to be environmentally concious, so that comes to play in my decision on what to do with a book I no longer want. I am amazed at the calls for the mass banning and burning of these books and anyone who has any association with them (including Homeschol Blogger because the magazine the site's owners publish has advertized the books.)

I don't expect everyone to agree with every author's recommendations in books (like the ones I mentioned above or any other book). Some people take things too far in their applications and some people don't go far enough. Some people have mis-applied Scripture, abused the Constitution, and used kitchen knives to murder people rather than to butter their bread, but I do not think these things need to be banned or burned for censorship's sake. Should we have the right to get rid of books (or anything else) in our possession that we do not find edifying and supportive of our mission to "glorify God and enjoy Hin forever?" Yes. As Americans we have the right to do that and more, but I don't beleive that this is the true issue here. The true issues here are the lack of recognition of sin and the abuse of autonomy that causes people to think of themselves as better than others.

Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. We will never get rid of abuse, neglect, murder, and hatefulness. Should we strive to overcome these things? Yes. But we must also trust God, have good-faith in our neighbors, and invest ourselves in each others lives so that when someone wants to go too far in their application of something (like beating their child to death with plumbing supplies) we can step up before (with love and familiarity) and say "No!" rather than wait until afterwards to feed our self-rightousness (I include myself in this) and say "I would never do that!" and try to find blame. The real crime here is one of selfishness and laziness on the part of those of us just outside these situations.

We need to regain the desire and ability to talk to our neighbors and friends openly and intimately about topics that are controversial, get our opinions out there, and trust that others can use their brains as well as we use our own and make their decisions thoughtfully. It is just as much my fault as anyone's that it happened because I didn't love my neighbor enough to stop them before-hand because it was politically incorrect to do so. When my parents were little, it was common that if a neghbor saw them doing something wrong, the neighbor would go out and stop them then go talk to thier parents. That rarely happens any more... with children or adults. We have taken independence and autonomy too far. We silently recognize this fact and attempt to reconcile it by having the government do the dirty work for us. See a child with a dirty face or a bruise? We call Child Protective Services annonymously. We would feel too "weird" doing it ourselves. Have we stopped to think that we should feel weird? We feel awkward because deep down we know that we are just as sinful and in need of rebuke. We know that "there but by the Grace of God go I." We ask ourselves, "Who am I to confront them about their sin? I'm not perfect either." Of course you aren't. No one is. But we are afraid that if we point it out in someone else they might point it out in us, and we will shatter the visage that we have worked so hard to create.

We have to confront sin, in ourselves and others, not because we are perfect but because God is. We have to acknowledge that our world is perverted. Man was not meant to live in a world pervaded by sin and death. We were created for Eden and to be in intimate fellowship with God. Will pointing out our own and others' sin return us to Eden? No. But we can't get to where we were intended to be if we don't first acknowledge that we are lost.

Now, I will let it go.

(By the way, I am leaving this open for comments, as I do all my posts, under the assumption that you will comment civily and respectfully. I will delete or edit comments that do not meet this criteria. Thank you.)

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