Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don’t let your kids read this post!

I received a forwarded email this week, warning parents of a book supposedly pushed by Oprah, marketed through Scholastic Book Club, and otherwise targeted at kids. The book supposedly had been condemned by at least one well-known and well-respected Christian pastor. The book is written as a friendly dialogue between an inquisitive soul and God Himself, with God giving very politically-correct (and unbiblical) answers to questions on such topics as sin, homosexuality, marriage, etc.

I had seen this particular email a few years ago – and yet it still claimed to be new and urgent. One fault of emailed rumors is there is frequently no "timestamp" - something said to have occurred "last week" might have been years (or even decades) in the past. I have occasionally seen emailed requests to contact my congressmen about a petition to ban all religious programming on television and radio, a petition that was taken out of context – and that was turned down in 1975!

But that’s not the point of my post today. I am not surprised that such a book would be written, and that it might be promoted by the media. I am not surprised that someone such as James Dobson and Focus on the Family might speak against such a book. And I am not surprised by recirculated Internet warnings that are out of context and dated.

Warning parents not to let their kids read this book is not the answer though. We live in a fallen world with a very convoluted worldview. Our kids (grown-ups too) hear lies and twisted perspectives from their peers, from their school teachers, from television and radio, in their music, in movies. Trying to shield them from one lie doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

The answer is to teach our kids truth, so they recognize lies. Giving them a standard to measure things by is much more effective than trying to shield them from lies. I tell my Sunday School students over and over again to weigh what I teach them against what the Bible says. Don’t take my word on a topic. I do my best to teach accurately and Biblically, but I am human, I am fallible. I would be thrilled (if humbled) to have one of them call me out and correct me (with scriptural basis, of course). I tell them the same thing about Brother Jerry’s preaching – I challenge them to not listen passively, but to keep him honest. I am a big fan of Awana because it teaches young kids scripture – scripture they may remember in the future when they face difficult decisions and temptations, and when they are told things that sound pleasing but are off the mark.

What do you think?

Do you have something to add? A question you'd like answered? Think I'm out of my mind? Join the conversation below, reach out by email at david (at), or hit me up on Twitter at @dnlongen

Whois David?

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I have spent the better part of two decades in information technology and security, with roots in application developer support, system administration, and network security. My specialty is cyber threat intelligence - software vulnerabilities and patching, malware, social networking risks, etc. In particular, I strive to write about complex cyber topics in a way that can be understood by those outside the infosec industry.

Why do I do this? A common comment I get from friends and family is that complex security topics give them headaches. They want to know in simple terms how to stay safe in a connected world. Folks like me and my peers have chosen to make a profession out of hacking and defending. I've been doing this for the better part of two decades, and so have a high degree of knowledge in the field. Others have chosen different paths - paths where I would be lost. This is my effort to share my knowledge with those that are experts in something else.

When not in front of a digital screen, I spend my time raising five rambunctious teens and pre-teens - including two sets of twins. Our family enjoys archery, raising show and meat rabbits, and simply enjoying life in the Texas hill country.

For a decade I served as either Commander or a division leader for the Awana Club in Dripping Springs, Texas; while I have retired from that role I continue to have a passion for children's ministry. At the moment I teach 1st through 3rd grade Sunday School. Follow FBC Dripping Springs Kids to see what is going on in our children's ministries.