Thursday, April 19, 2012

In Defense of Innocence

Today's top news story is about a mother being gunned down in a pediatrician's parking lot and her three day old newborn being stolen away by the murderer. I keep thinking about this awfulness and wondering what the heck is going on out there.

I checked the bestsellers' list the other day to see what book might be worth reading next and discovered that the number one fiction book out there right now is a racy (read: seriously sketch town) novel that women are apparently passing around like candy. It's a Harlequin novel for the modern woman who has pretty much been desensitized to the usual romance novel steaminess. It bothers me that this is the crap topping the bestsellers' list.

I like to know what's going on in the world, but it feels like the news is just one incredibly sad, horrific, amoral story after another and sometimes I find myself considering starting a comfy commune, sans television, phones, internet or Wal-Mart. It sounds increasingly appealing to shut myself off from this crazy, mad world we live in.

Obviously, I don't really have any immediate plans to actually make a run for it, but I am pondering how to keep an innocent heart in this world we live in. It feels pretty close to impossible these days. And how do I protect my child's heart from all the darkness that's running rampant?

I'm reading a book called The Wilder Life about a woman whose obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder prompts her to follow in Laura's footsteps. She and her boyfriend go to all the places the Ingalls family lived, visit family gravesites, buy Laura memorabilia and read cookbooks about the pioneer food that Ma Ingalls made. This woman even orders a butter churn on eBay and churns her own butter out of whipping cream while watching Little House on the Prairie episodes. She makes her own bread yeast and bakes bread just like they made it on the wild prairie. It's a curious thing, this thirty-something woman trying very, very hard to enter into the world of a girl who lived over a hundred years ago.

I can't help feeling that this woman, having lived out her childhood in the early days of MTV and 80's sitcoms and having become an adult in a painfully modern world, wants to enter into what she calls "Laura World" so badly because of the appeal of the simple innocence that Laura represents.

I know this feeling. I want to live there, too.

What exactly does it mean to be innocent and can you be innocent without being naive or ignorant or out of touch? I think so.

I want this for Sam. I want him to have a childhood that is truly a childhood, where he can imagine and pretend and create without the weight of adult things bearing down on him.

It's a hard thing to know how to make this possible. I feel the encroaching presence of the television and the internet and advertisements on billboards and displays at the mall and magazine covers at the grocery store. All of these things threaten the innocence that I want to preserve in my little one's heart.

I want this for my own heart as well. I don't want a reclusive commune ( I was kidding about that. Sort of) or a naivete that leaves me ignorant of a hurting world, but I do want a heart that loves what is good and hates what is evil.

I realize this may require some things of me that might feel like tiny sacrifices of my personal freedom. Maybe it means I don't watch the Today Show in the morning anymore (I'm still hoping there isn't an image of Nicki Minaj's dominaitrix-inspired outfit in Sam's brain. Why would one wear that to be interviewed by Matt Lauer? Seriously, Nicki?). Maybe it means I use my time when Sam's at nursery school to shop at the grocery store instead of reading the book I want to read so that he doesn't end up viewing Cosmopolitan's cover this month "How to Dress Like a Call Girl" in the checkout line.

And, someday, when he's graduated from Thomas the Train, I plan on reading him stories about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and the Wind in the Willows and The House at Pooh Corner. And, maybe, if he's up for it, we'll read Little House on the Prairie.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Do you have any suggestions for preserving a child's innocence in an internet/iPhone/reality tv world? I could use some ideas.


  1. well Jess & I use Roku for TV since we can control both the programs and even choose the kind of commercials that run. Its great.

  2. Gosh this has been on my mind too. All of it. I even considered putting that verse above our TV as well as joining a group of gypsies and raising our future children in a field somewhere. I wonder if our parents felt the same way when we were kids? I already told Jason that the cure for not having Justin Bieber obsessed 4 year olds is to turn off the tv and hide them under a rock. You think I'm kidding.

  3. A good book I read is called "Simplicity Parenting." They might have it at the library. I didn't agree with 100%, but definitely food for thought, especially on these issues. There's a blog, too...

  4. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, too. It's SCARY out there...James and I recently cancelled our cable tv for the move to Savannah, and we're thinking that we won't get it again when we get down there.

  5. for thought. It can be scary, but God tells us not to fear. I say this, not in self-righteousness, but because it is MY BIGGEST STRUGGLE and I have to remind myself of it daily. I agree that we should closely monitor what we allow in our homes, what we allow to be a part of our lives as well as our children's. But... I think it is impossible to shield them from these things (without actually living in a field). Perhaps talking about the things we see with our children is the only option; this will, of course, be more reasonable when they're not toddlers, but even now all we can do is try. Maybe the dialog will, if nothing else, ease us into talking; help us, as parents, to become comfortable with being open and honest about difficult subjects. I hope to do this with my girls; ask them how they feel, what they think about what they're seeing and then hopefully explain to them what God thinks about it. I can only pray that God's approach will become theirs too, as He draws them near and they become women of faith. In the meantime, let's try not to be afraid, for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind. We must be among the sick to minister to them and our children will benefit greatly from seeing that. Whew, hard stuff to put into practice, yeah?

  6. We don't let our kids watch stuff other than what we select, and it's almost never anything with commercials (netflix). I don't have glamour magazines in my house, ever. If they see pictures of unrealistic women somewhere, I will comment that it's not pretty, that she doesn't look healthy. I talk a lot about strength and health, never words like skinny/pretty, etc. I shelter them basically at this point and for girls body image is so important to get right. Now one thing to consider: I don't agree with running away and hiding. I think we will have to teach them and ourselves to be lights in the world.

  7. Pray...not as a last resort but take up the offense against evil by praying.

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  9. Hey DL! Just wanted to weigh in on this. I'm not a parent (duh) but this was something my parents were VERY concerned about, to the extent that we didn't watch tv, go to school, or go out in public much, and literally lived in the woods. The results were that I had a lovely childhood that was innocent and free (largely) but that I got to college and BAM! The world hit me and I didn't have the tools to deal with it and I didn't think my parents could really help me because it was so outside their comfort zone of conversation. Sheltering is possible, but not always the healthiest thing. The most balanced adults I know were those who were gradually exposed to culture as they got older, but had parents or mentors who were able to help them wisely process it.



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