This morning our 5 year old and I walked Daddy to the car when he left for work. Everyone else was still sleeping. As we walked inside, he asked me to sit on the porch while he played in the back yard. We have had an enjoyable hour and a half to ourselves. (!)
I brought my phone and the Book of Virtues with me. I was intending to get my Bible reading in and skim the Book of Virtues for a literature idea I am working on. I can’t say that I accomplished either completely, but I did get some thinking in.
On the page following the introduction to the Book of Virtues, William Bennett shared a portion from Plato’s Republic. Since I have been working to focus more on developing character through our schoolwork, Plato’s words really grabbed my attention.
“Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up? We cannot….Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable, and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts…”
As I think about his writing and particularly what the Bible says about our thinking in Philippians 4:8, I see a 2 part determination that must be present in our reading choices and literature classes for our families.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
We must determine 2 things.
1. We must not present our children favorable examples of bad character in our reading choices. (or viewing choices!)
It is for this reason, when my oldest children were young we decided not to watch particular programs (even on PBS!), because the producers made the parent(s) look like idiots or because a bratty child was not corrected and disciplined. It is for this reason that I do not offer reading choices which include profanity, witchcraft, or anti-God themes.
2. We MUST also teach our children to choose to read (and think) on things that pass the Philippians 4:8 test. You will notice the verse does not say “don’t think on bad things.” It says, “think on these things.”
Is this honest?
Is this just?
Is this pure?
Is this lovely
Is this a good report?
Is this a virtue we should model?
Is this praiseworthy?
For me, this means I am not offering my children literature such as Harry Potter. It means we don’t watch Caillou and Arthur. (There are other books and videos that are ruled out, but those are the ones that came to mind just now.)
For us, this is why we love to read biographies of great people in history and virtuous literature. This is why my kids love to watch “Friends and Heroes” and read the Jesus Storybook Bible.
How would you apply this to your reading and tv viewing choices? What woud you leave out? What will you pursue?