Developing Little Minds
I’ve always said that the individual is the basic unit of knowing value. It's possible for something to be good to one person but bad to the other billions of people in the world. But it doesn't make sense for a person to have contradicting views of what is good at any one time. Then something interesting happened. My wife gave birth to the same person twice last year. I had identical twins! They're so cute. I can't wait to see how the little differences in the same environment will cause the same DNA to grow into two distinct individuals. Having kids kind of limits the time available to read the boring droning of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the Bible. (Reddit limits the available time too, because it's infinitely more relevant, interesting, and informative.) So I'm going to take a break from the Bible and write about some children's book that were gifted to us.
The first book I found in my kids' room is called Let's Share! by Larry Burkett. It stars a kid named Joey. Joey doesn't want to share his toys. His mom does want him to share. So far so good! Then Joey says that God gave him the toy and he doesn't want to share. Uh oh. I had hoped that his mom would say, “I gave you the toy. I actually own everything you possess. If you don't let your guests play with your toys, you will be labelled as uncooperative and have difficulty in future social situations.” Instead the mother asks Joey what he thinks God wants him to do. She tells him that God owns the world, shares it with him, and wants him to share as well. So Joey does, and everyone is happy because he obeyed. How did this trash get inside my house? I want to raise my children with causality, not mysticism. With causality, you get somewhat predictable results that are usually good to you. If Joey shares with others and others share with him, everyone will have a more optimal availability of toys. With mysticism, you get whatever you are told. God could have told Joey to murder his guests and take their stuff. On what basis would Joey have had to disagree? There were no critical thinking skills in the book, just obedience. And I don't want to hear someone argue something like “God is good, of course he would tell Joey good things!” Joey is lucky he wasn't a Midianite boy in the time of Moses, because the only thing God would have shared was a sword through his little chest.
The back cover of the book actually had better content than the main story. See this:
Sight: Help your children look for pictures of kids sharing and kids who are alone. Ask your children, “Who looks like they're having more fun? Why?” Tell your children that learning to share makes life more enjoyable for everyone—and pleases God!
Sound: Encourage your children to use their imagination to answer the questions, “What are the sounds of children sharing with each other?” (e.g. laughing, talking, singing). “What are the sounds of children not sharing?” (e.g. yelling, crying, complaining).”
It instructs the kids to use their senses to associate behavior with positive and negative results. Yes! This is better than commandments! It's getting input from reality and seeing cause and effect!
Then I found a book called Webster the Scaredy Spider by Max Lucado. It's about an easily-frightened spider named Webster. Webster gets scared simply by meeting the other characters in the book. A worm tells Webster not to be afraid because God is with him. Sigh. God is literally a disembodied voice in this book. God confirms that he is indeed protecting Webster. For the climax of the story, Webster rescues baby ladybugs from a waterfall thanks to his newfound bravery from God, who again literally speaks aloud as a disembodied voice. Wow, there are so many angles to hate this book. First, maybe Webster should be afraid. Is God going to protect him from predators? Do the insects that Webster eat get the same protection? Why not? Second, would God have let the baby ladybugs die if Webster did not act to save them? If yes, why were they not protected? If not, does, Webster's actions matter? Does Webster have free will? Third, the story would have been much more uplifting if Webster had found the bravery within himself without a voice giving vague guarantees about his safety. Fourth, real children do not get to hear God call out to them out loud, so this book is not very relatable in my opinion. Fifth, wouldn't it have been better for Webster to let the baby ladybugs die and go to Heaven?
Am I being petty by criticizing children's books? Probably. But it doesn’t even matter if young children would think about or understand the problems that I saw. The problems are there regardless. It weakens the mind to build your reality on top of mysticism. Why should Joey share? God wants him to. Why should Webster be brave? God wants him to. Why should Ezra’s people abandon their families? God wants them to. Ahhhhhhh! I don’t want my children to think like that! I might as well give them a lobotomy. As long as I’m alive, they will have a solid foundation of causality and reality to build their thoughts upon. When they ignore stupid fictional miracles, there’s no limit to the actual miracles that they can accomplish.