I grew up in a conservative Baptist church. We loved to say "in the world but not of it". Which basically meant...we were growing up in the ghetto of evangelical Christianity. We cloistered ourselves with Christian music, a list of movies not to see, the evils of alcohol among other things. While we were being fed a good dose of the Bible what we weren't being fed was a good dose of how to engage with the world we were "in" but not "of".
That left some of us with a rather narrow view of the world and a bit of a shock when we entered it and found not everyone believed as we did...after all...we were right and they were going to hell.
20-some-odd years later we still have Christian's getting up in arms about boycotting movies, theme parks and whatnot. "We must protect our children!" is the battle cry. Hey, as a parent of two teenagers, I'm all for protecting my children. But I'm also for making sure my children can function in the world they are going into someday. Which means they need to know how to think for themselves.
I'd never heard of "The Golden Compass" or "His Dark Materials" or of Pullman. My son read the book in school last year and, because of his upbringing, wasn't immediately swayed to the Dark Side! He enjoyed it for what it was; a fantasy book but scoffed at the idea that kids could kill god. He even wants to see the movie. (Might not be a good idea as the last book turned into movie he saw as "eragon" and he was very disappointed with the movie.)
Rich Copely writes about "The Golden Compass" makes this observation...
But the whole episode, which has included some schools pulling the books from their shelves and proposed boycotts of the movie, has me humming a tune by contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Derek Webb. He’s a provocative artist in Christian circles, and one of his songs, A New Law, addresses people who don’t want to think for themselves. He sings: “Don’t teach me about/ Truth and beauty/ Just label my music.”
Or ban books, or run movies out of town.
Here’s another idea: Why don’t we raise critical thinkers?
Now, I’m not saying Pullman or anyone else controversial comes out any better this way. In fact, they could come out worse. Growing up an evangelical Christian kid in the 1980s, I had friends whose parents shielded them from the world and ones who didn’t. In general, it seemed most of the kids who were cloistered through high school were shocked when they entered adulthood and weren’t really sure how to engage with a culture that didn’t fit their narrow perceptions.
Entering my fifth decade, one of my firmest beliefs is the strongest faith is one that’s been challenged.
(HT to BHT)
Critical thinkers. I had to train myself to become more of a critical thinker in my late 20-early 30's. It has helped me from having knee-jerk, evangellyfish reactions to some of the lame-brained things my fellow brothers in the Lord do. I am raising my kids to be strong in what they believe. But I'm also hoping they will not just take my word for it. That they'll incorporate other thinking into their own beliefs. They have a good, strong foundation in the Lord that is serving them well into their early teens. But like all of us, their beliefs will be challenged and their view of life, the universe and everything will go through a major remodeling during this time of their life. It's the way of things. My prayer is that when they come out on the other end they will see that what Mom and Dad said wasn't all that far off. What the preacher-man said at church was pretty much right on. What they read in the Bible was pertinent and relevant to those who wrote it and to them in their day and age.
That they will be strong enough to stand for what they believe and gracious enough in their disagreements!