Saturday, November 19, 2005

Jephthah's Children

In Judges 11, Jephthah, a somewhat misguided judge of Israel, buys into the heathen culture around him. He allows his mishmash of faith to lead him into a rash and tragic vow to the Lord...the end of the story is the sacrifice of his daughter.

Are we similarly sacrificing our children to a mixture of Biblical faith and 21st century culture? If the fact that we now exist in a largely visual (post-literate?) world doesn't worry you, it should. If you're not worried enough, read Christine Rosen's article The Image Culture from The New Atlantis. (Thank you to the Deputy Headmistress for pointing this story out.) Don't just scan the screen on this one: print it out and read the words.

About 20 years ago Susan Schaeffer MacAulay wrote a book that many homeschoolers have read, For the Children's Sake. She mentioned that a college classmate of her daughter's was mystified by the idea that their family read together every evening--their whole family. This was twenty years ago and the idea of a family reading together was quaint then. Now it's even more unlikely, with the increase in "personal technologies" and the general decrease in literacy. The schools will deny it, but the fact is there: people do read less, they can read less, they have no reason to go back to what, to them, is a difficult and time-consuming way of getting information, somewhere back there with the steam engine. We live in a culture that's been raised on visual images and is, as this article by J. Peder Zane points out, is also very much missing any real sense of curiosity.

"The world is certainly not going to perish for lack of wonders,
rather for lack of wonder." -- G.K. Chesterton

For lack of questions.

And for lack of words to ask them with.

I have children and I worry about them. I worry that the post-modern, post-written-word culture will eat so far away at all of us that we won't even realize how much we've already sacrificed them to it.

To pick up a book these days...a word book, a book without illustrations or graphics or countercultural. What was quaint twenty years ago can be difficult or impossible today. There's a lot to compete with.

But before you add the fourth video wall to your living room (Fahrenheit 451), remember Jephthah's daughter.

1 comment:

tootlepip said...

Isn't that scary, the fact that we can't read a book without pictures etc. I am currently reading "Reading Between the Lines" and Mr Veith talks about how media has made it so we don't read as much.


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