Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Protecting vs. Attracting

Kristine loaned me a book the other day called Gospel Powered Parenting by William P. Farley. With so many parenting books out there, I'm not one to get overly excited about the latest greatest, but with a title like that and a recommendation from a very well read friend like Kristine, I knew I had to read it.

I'm only just into the second chapter of the book, but something Farley wrote about in the first chapter has already had my mind going. Comparing a parent's mind set to that of a football team who either plays offensively or defensively (defensively apparently being deadly in football) he says:

Either we can prepare our children to enter the world and conquer it, or we can concentrate on protecting our children from the world. A defensive mind-set worries about the evil influences of Halloween, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or non-Christians on the Little League team. {gulp} Although parenting always involves some protection, this should not be the main focus for biblical parents.

What mother hasn't had their heart skip a beat as someone or something just shed light on a topic with your child you just weren't ready for them to learn yet?

Farley goes on to say...

Thomas Chalmers (1780 - 1847), a Scotch Presbyterian, wrote a famous essay entitled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. In it Chalmers proposes that the best way to overcome the world is not with morality or self-discipline. Christians overcome the world by seeing the beauty and excellence of Christ. They overcome the world by seeing something more attractive than the world: Christ, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). A man who owns an Acura is not interested in a Geo Metro. In the same way, Christian parents try to make Christ and his kingdom glorious. Their children conquer the lusts of this world with a higher passion: the moral beauty of Christ.

The idea of that has struck me completely.

Yes, protect my children, but more than that, show them how truly glorious it is to live in Christ! Show them the beauty, the truth, the complete and utter brilliance that nothing else can ever replace. And, (we may part in agreement here) on the flip side, as they grow older and are more ready for it, show them the ugliness of sin. Show them where it leads. How else can they truly understand how good the light is?

And beyond that, in some ways, isn't that what a CM education does?

Aren't we showing our children just how alive and interesting and masterful a piece of art is that has been viewed for centuries in contrast to the dull, thoughtless scribble offered to children today? Aren't we reading rich classics from literature to them so they will know what is thoughtful, clever, expressed so fantastically well with just the right words to attract them to substance, instead of twaddle? Don't we place them in the midst of a history so rich and full of real human experience that causes love, war, passion, life and death rather than offer up shallow bits of dates and events devoid of life - don't we do this in order to captivate them to a more genuine, complex view of humanity and their place in it rather than leave them to the mere self-absorption so highly promoted in society today?

Isn't this why we acquaint our children with Nature in all her beauty and form; to delight them with perfect harmony, intricacy, transformation, miracles and wonder rather than put them in front of a flashing TV everyday?

Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life. We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things. ~Charlotte Mason, Vol 1, II, p.61

CM talks about living a 'full life', not in the sense of always being busy, but the opposite of dull; a mind full of interest in life and living. I think this is what we are attracting our children to isn't it? And oh, how attractive it really is. Compare the average person you know who is dull and bored will life, finding nothing of interest, nothing of value, nothing of purpose. And contrast that with another, who finds joy in nature, art, literature, people... (fill in the blank here). It really isn't a hard sell, is it? Having gone from the former to the latter myself since starting CM homeschooling, I certainly don't think it is.

Farley goes on to say:

...defensive parents have little confidence in the attractiveness of the gospel. They think the world is more powerful. Fundamentally, they are not confident in the gospel's power to transform their children from the inside out. They do not believe Jesus' words, "Take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). They have little confidence in the world conquering power of new birth.

I really, really like this view. Because in reality, I can't keep my kids from every bad word, every TV commercial, every billboard, every pop song, every punk kid. I can, on the other hand, show them something better, something true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, admirable. I can show them what is excellent and worthy of praise and trust that ultimately, the Lord will lead them to choose it for themselves.


  1. oh, naomi... this is so, so beautifully written. thank you for sharing such nuggets of wisdom and for opening your heart to us. i am encouraged.

  2. wow, i'm so glad i stumbled upon your blog! because i absolutely loved reading this! it is something that i think about often even though i do not have kids yet. this is a great perspective to have. i'm going to have to pick up the book. thanks! :)

  3. Really good stuff. Really good. I just love what you wrote at the end. It is so true. We have to trust God that His light will be more attractive to them than the darkness.
    Thanks for sharing.

    On a side note, and probably something you can't answer here, this perspective seems very different than the Pearls who you talked about in the previous post. I am just wondering how the 2 work together or reconcile. Like I said, probably can't answer here. Maybe the next meeting? :)

  4. Thanks Greta :)
    How do you see it as different from the Pearls?