Archives for posts with tag: children
Broken Glass Pieces  by Jes Reynolds (CC Licenced, Flickr)

Broken Glass Pieces
by Jes Reynolds
(CC Licenced, Flickr)

Every so often, Facebook posts arrive, claiming that life was better in the old times. Kids were far freer. Parents were less protective. Kids spoke to each other and were not constantly absorbed by video games or hooked into their iPods and iPhones.

While I am not necessarily disputing these claims – life has changed without doubt – I think there is a great risk of over-sentimentalising the past, particularly when it comes to child safety.

In decades gone, we as kids could roam the neighbourhood as we wished. We had no use for seatbelts in cars and we would often sit in the front passenger seat. There was less protection in field sports and if you got hit you wore it as a badge of honour. We all got measles and mumps and it didn’t do us any harm. Or parents and teachers slapped us for disobedience and that didn’t hurt us much either. We could run in the schoolyards and disputes were sorted out by fights at the back of the tennis courts.

That we survived such childhoods relatively unscathed is not an indication of things being better back then. These stories merely tell us that we were lucky. There are kids, largely unknown to us, who did get lost or injured on their adventures away from home. There were kids killed and maimed in bad car accidents (which, incidentally, were 4 times more frequent in the 1970s). The same went for sports injuries and fights. We have forgotten the children who suffered lifelong injuries and even death, from contracting the measles. Some kids suffered dreadfully from classroom and domestic violence. These kids were not as lucky as we were.

Our much derided health and safety culture has made life much safer for our kids. Many of the safety measures we deride as “health and safety gone mad” had real life tragedies underlying them – tragedies that could have been prevented, given a little foresight. Life really wasn’t as safe for us back then. Just because we didn’t die or receive grave injuries is no excuse for action. We can’t use our own fortunate happenstance as an argument that things were better. The wider picture tells a different story.

I rediscovered this gem on YouTube tonight. The original recordings date back from the 1960’s and many years later they were turned into a series of short animations by Brown Bag Films. ¬†This particular one gained an Academy Award nomination in 2001. All the films have recently been uploaded to YouTube in their entirety.

It harks back to a very different time in Ireland. More certainty, fewer questions, perhaps. Whatever the case, the twists the kids put on the stories were delightful. Note the strong Dublin accents! 

Is it me, or does John the Baptist look very like Chris de Burgh?

A local evangelical minister slipped a message in the door today, announcing that there would be a kiddies’ show in the green by the house next week, while I’m out at work. Games, fun and bible stories for all the family. This kind of stuff makes my blood boil.

I’m not easily upset by many things, so I’m trying to understand why this stuff is such an affront to me.

1) It feels dishonest that people would dress up good ol’ bible-bashing with games and parties. Really what they want to do is to convert kids to their thinking when they are young and impressionable, so the whole fun and games thing is merely a device – a cloak – to enable them to reach out to children. To me, that’s just grubby.

2) There is a respect problem here. Surely parents should decide what is acceptable for their children, and what beliefs their children should have? This is a naked attempt to gain influence when none is invited.

3) There seems to be a pushiness about evangelicalism that requires them to go out and convert others to their ways. This only puts people’s back up, not because “Satan” is trying to lead us in another direction, but because we are entitled to our own personal views being considered and appreciated. Maybe “we” are right and “they” are wrong, but it’s not something that seems to be considered by them. They give the impression of talking, but not listening.

4) Evangelicanism feeds on human frailties and vulnerabilities. The tactic seems to be to catch people at a low ebb in their life, or to catch people who are too trusting for their own good. To me, this just feels wrong. Similar tactics have been used in other parts of the world by other ideologies, with sometimes devastating results. It’s so much about emotion, and less so about logic and reason.

Finally, (and possibly most importantly)…

5) Anyone with a modicum of scientific understanding of the world would realise that Evangelicalism is based on utterly false premises. Something is very wrong with a world-view that repudiates evolution and believes in a 6,000 year old Earth, the creation of the world in literally 6 days, the absolute inerrancy of the bible, the division of humanity into sinners and saved, and this utopian idea that all will be well if we follow the Bible. It’s a view that belongs in the Dark Ages, and yet it’s a view that is gaining currency in the supposedly enlightened developed world. It deserves to be lumped into the same bucket as astrology, crystals, faith-healing and soothsaying should be.

I guess those are the main reasons I feel annoyed about this. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe I’m off base in some of my criticisms, but I do genuinely feel, given the complexities of this world and the challenges that we face, that all we need are people throwing religion into our face and telling us that all will be ok if we submit to the Law of Jesus Christ.

Please, blog to your heart’s content on the Internet, minister as you wish to your congregations, do good things for charity, pray to your god in whatever way you wish. But keep our kids out of it.

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