Want to teach your child literature? Then you have a problem! On one side you have a number of well-written books without God and without hope in the world. On the other, you can find cartloads of evangelical twaddle ("The Searing Story of Joseph and Potiphar's Wife! New Heights in Biblical Romance!") and wholesome sugarcoated junk (Pollyanna Meets the Bobbsey Twins).
Today parents who care about literature often feel as though they are being forced to choose between eating food prepared by a world-renowned chef who persists in poisoning the meals and a steady diet of Twinkies prepared by born-again factory workers.
Is there another option?
Homeschoolers excel in teaching children to read. Once they learn to read, they roar through all the good books in the house, and then a major problem then presents itself - What do we do now? Our kids are all dressed up with no place to go.
We'd all like to find a Perfect Book List, wouldn't we? To start, we need are books built on sturdy biblical principle. Of course, by "sturdy biblical principle" I do not mean a book in which everyone gets saved in the last chapter and the heroine marries the fellow who was so tall, dark, and godly. Sentimentalism is not exactly a sturdy basic principle. Sturdy biblical principles include such truths as "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, " and "Open rebuke is better than hidden love." Some books we might not think of as Christian proclaim these (and other) biblical truths quite clearly. The story may or may not have a happy ending - but does it have a just ending? Is faithfulness rewarded, hypocrisy unmasked, evil shown to be futile in the long run? Is there a note of ultimate hope, or nihilistic despair? Is evil glamorized, humorized, minimized, sympathized - the four wrong ways to treat it - or despised? Is evil presented as a psychological problem or a moral reality? Is good presented as insipid or strong? These are the questions we should be asking.
Second, biblical thinking and captivating writing should go together. The combination is, unfortunately, rare in our culture. This is a testimony to the retreatist mentality that has afflicted evangelical Christians since the general cultural apostasy of the last century. It's time to turn this around. As believing Christians, our desire should be to do everything we do to the glory of God. The "people of the Word" should be "people of fine words." This means we have no obligation to write, and certainly not to read, Christian fluff. Let the struggling writers of "Bible romances" and breathless inspirationals find more respectable occupations: selling used cars, for example.
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