Sunday, December 20, 2009

Do I Choose Bovine Silliness or Wise Humbleness?

This blog is young, and it is already taking turns I was not expecting. Today’s post will be one of those turns. Part of my nightly routine is that I always tuck my son into bed. Our routine is reading a story or a chapter if the book is longer. Then it is lights out, which is the official signal to start wrestling. More than just wrestling, this is wrestling mixed with tickling and laughter. When the wrestling is done, we settle down by ending our day with prayer. This is always a great silly and serious time of bonding between a father and son. It is an important part of each day for both of us.

Most of the books we read come from the children’s section of our local library. He goes through phases of different well known characters: Berenstain Bears, Curious George, and the Peanuts Gang. Lately he has been into a series of books based on two cows, named Minnie and Moo, who sit under a tree. Moo reads, thinks, and has a runaway imagination. Minnie drinks espresso and worries about what idea Moo will have next.

To a kindergartener, the first couple of books we read were funny. Over all, they were pretty innocuous. Written for younger children, who would still be learning to read, the parent would most likely be reading it to them. An alert adult would still be involved in the details to which the child was being exposed. One episode, Minnie and Moo attempted to save the farm by going to the bank and just asking for money. The only problem is they went dressed in trench coats, one carrying a violin case, and handed the cashier a note with a request for the money. You can imagine how that turned out. In the next book, they dressed up as two chickens to sneak into the hen house. They were looking for a jelly donut thief, who they had rationalized could be a blue chicken. When a wolf shows up, the rooster attempts to convince him that he should go for the two bigger chickens as they would make a better meal.

About a week ago, we started reading a longer Minnie and Moo story: Minnie & Moo and the Seven Wonders of the World by Denys Cazet. It states on the inside of the cover: Ages 7-10. So, it was written for children who would be reading it on their own. The Summary states:

Two cows try to save their farm by creating seven wonders and asking the other animals for donations to see them, but there is a wondrous and frightening creature in the woods that could foil the plan.

Seemed harmless enough, right? As this was a longer book, we were only reading one chapter a night. We made it through the first three chapters without as much as a hint of trouble. Then it happened, Dad’s internal alarm started going off. Why does the picture at the front of tonight’s chapter show one cow wearing “a turban with a red plastic jewel in the center of her head?” In front of the cow, setting on a table, she was holding a bowling ball with both hands. There were many other farm animals standing around her, looking on in curiosity. Taped to the front of the table were two signs, “Save Our Farm” and “Presidential Bunion” (a free lead-in to the Seven Wonders). On the table was one more sign, but the writing on it was not legible. We started reading, and on the next page finally discovered the content of the illegible sign, which also provided clarity about the jeweled turban and bowling ball. It read:

Madame Minnie
Mistress of the Presidential Bunion
Teller of Fortunes

When I saw that, I stopped reading out loud and started scanning ahead. My son of course was wondering why I had stopped, and wanted to know what I was doing. As I scanned ahead, I read other phrases that were bringing me to full alert.

“The mystery of the bunion. What magic lies within? What other presidential faces might appear to those with the vision to see Mother Nature’s magic?”

“I saw Mother Nature’s magic.”

“Madame Minnie will gaze into her crystal ball and tell you what you will see!”

That was all I needed to see; I closed the book. Is it really acceptable to the world to expose 7-10 year old children to the occult? Apparently, it is; as it states “A Junior Library Guild Selection” inside the front cover. Inside the back cover, it states: “Denys Cazet first introduced his lovable cows in a series of books for beginning readers. Here is more bovine silliness for children reading on their own.” I guess it is acceptable to the world, depending on whether the word “bovine” above is interpreted as a noun or an adjective. If it is a noun, then we are just talking about two silly cows. But defined as an adjective, it is bovine silliness to introduce children to the occult “on their own”. Used as an adjective, bovine can be defined as: crass, coarse, insensitive, Philistine, rude, and vulgar.

I informed my son that we would not be able to finish the book. He, of course, was curious as to why not. I went into our bedroom to let my wife know why we couldn’t finish the book. She agreed with me that it was inappropriate and not acceptable material for our young son.

Perhaps you are reading this and wondering, “What’s the big deal?” Allow me to explain. We are to judge things according to a standard. That standard must be higher than us. The Bible, God’s Word was intended to be that standard for all of mankind. God’s Word is pretty clear on the topic of fortune-telling and witchcraft. He spelled it out to the Hebrew people when they were preparing to enter the Promised Land:

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you are about to displace consult sorcerers and fortune-tellers, but the Lord your God forbids you to do such things.” – Deuteronomy 18:9-14

And despite this clear warning, later we see the consequences when the Israelites rejected God’s Law:

“They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land. But even the people of Judah refused to obey the commands of the Lord their God, for they followed the evil practices that Israel had introduced.” – 2 Kings 17:17-19

Just in case you are thinking, “Those are Old Testament references, they no longer apply to today’s teaching,” allow me to put a finer point on it. The New Testament clearly defines the foundation from which the sin of fortune-telling is established:

“One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.” – Acts 16:16

You might still say, “What is the problem? It’s just a story. It doesn’t mean your child will turn to that.” I would answer, “Why introduce my child to the sin of fortune-telling which is built on the foundation of demon-possession?” In doing that, I would be assisting the devil in digging a hole in my child’s heart for that foundation of sin to be established. If I read it to him and pretend it is no big deal, then I have in effect told my child that it is acceptable. He has no reason to question it; he trusts his father. He doesn’t yet understand that God finds it detestable. If I abide in God and God finds it unacceptable, then I must find it unacceptable. It is no small coincidence that a few days later I noticed a young teenager at McDonald’s with what appeared to be a pentagram hanging on a chain around their neck. Both decisive action and indecisive non-action have consequences.

God’s Word says He will make fools of fortune-tellers, who predict only lies. I do not want to be associated with fools and liars, nor do I want my son to be associated with them. As a loving father, why would I hesitate in putting up a tenacious fight to protect my son from demon-possession? The best way to protect him is to ensure he isn’t exposed to that path at such a young age, before he understands the consequences. As a father, I have a mission to properly warn my children of the dangers along the path of sin. If I failed to act now and he were to take that path, then I also run the risk of contributing grief to his mother, my wife:

“The proverbs of Solomon: A wise child brings joy to a father; a foolish child brings grief to a mother.” – Proverbs 10:1

I want to experience joy. I want my wife to experience joy. I want my children to experience joy. To further that experience, I will choose to remain constantly vigilant, bold in my convictions, and not concede ground on my watch. According to the world, perhaps I am just being silly or arrogant; according to God I am being wise and humble.

Given the importance of raising children, what will you choose to do? How tenacious will you fight for an outcome which provides God's joy as the consequences for your children's choices?

For more of God’s Wisdom with regards to the fallacy of the occult, read: Leviticus 19:26; Isaiah 3:1-3; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8-9; Ezekiel 21:29; Daniel 2:27-28; Micah 3:6-8; Micah 5:11-13; Zechariah 10:2-3


Tom said...

It's nice that you are doing all you can to protect your son from evil. But, its a real world out there. If you teach him the properway, and he becomes "exposed" to something that is considered evil or away from your teachings, and you have prepared him for this exposure, then he will follow in your footsteps. If not, he may sway away from your teachings.

There is an old adage, know your enemy. A sheltered person knows no enemy.

timC said...

Good move Wes. The enemy would have us think he comes through the front door roaring and with flames shooting from his nostrils all the while he creeps in through the back, quietly and deliberately subverting us. Your family is blessed by your diligence. We should all follow your example.

KabulArchitect said...

Here is a verse that your essay brought to my mind,

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

Wesley Sargent said...

Tom - I agree with you, thanks for your feedback. My point wasn't about never exposing my son to reality; or attempting to shelter him for life. It was about the attempt by the enemy to expose him prematurely, after lulling parents into an acceptance of this book series and author. At his age, I am his full-time protector. Metaphorically, he is still in the 'crawl' stage while learning the ways of the world. He will reach the 'walk' & 'run' stages soon enough. Too many parents, through lack of responsibility, allow their children to be exposed too early, and then do not know what to do when it is too late.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6

Wesley Sargent said...

timC - hope and prayer is that all would follow the Bible's example. My examples aren't always right, but perhaps this story will encourage other parents to ensure their approach falls within the bounds of God's standard. Exposure to the occult can be subtle and tempting; attempts to break away can prove more difficult with repeated occurrences. Adapting the strategy of the War on Terror: "The enemy only has to win once, we must be diligent every time."

Jennifer said...

The devil loves complacency and it's followers. They are easy prey. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament...not abolish it. We forget that point and too often forget the same "Old Testament" God is the same God we serve today. Too many people also try to make God into our image and forget that God made us into His instead. Great post Wes!