Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Meditations Upon a Bookstore

God Jul!

Our family doesn't do gifts at Christmas. Some day I'll write about this excellent idea we've stolen called "GOTYA days" which allow us to celebrate our loved ones while freeing Christmas (somewhat) from the tyranny of things.

However, we do purchase some gifts for extended family. Since we love to give gifts that have, if possible, some eternal value, we often end up shopping in Christian bookstores. This year in particular, that has been deeply depressing.

What do you find in these stores? Second-rate, sentimentalist pseudo-Christian fiction, bracelets filled with uninterpretable acroyms (WWJD, FROG), jewelled fishies and crosses with real mustard seeds embedded in them, rewarmed worldly hip-hop PRAZES FOR JEEZUS FREEKS albums and the latest variation PURPOSE-DRIVEN(TM) DRIVEL(TM).

I guess I'm grumpy today. But let me share with you some of the "treasures" I found at the Treasure House in Barrie, but which could be found in most Christian book stores. Text in italics are taken from the advertising copy of the store.

Instructing your children:
Bob, Larry, and the whole VeggieTales team show you how to build a powerful relationship with God.
I used to like VeggieTales. Our kids used to watch them, until they were about 3 or 4 years old. We stopped following Bob and Larry after that dreadful version of Jonah's story. But as a family devotional? Never! Want to train your children to know God? Use this wonderful, child-friendly catechism instead!

Don't have time for meeting with God? Try:
HCSB Light Speed Bible
Now you can read and comprehend every word of the Bible in 24 hours! Includes a 4-step speed-reading technique at a seventh grade reading level.
Speed-reading the Bible? Comprehend every word? So, do you speed read the love letters your spouse sends you? Do you speed read the old letters written by departed loved ones? No. You bathe in them, meditate on them, mull them over, celebrate them. Why would we treat God's letter as less worthy of our attention and effort?

Find the Bible too complex? We have an answer for that too!
The Message: Vintage Remix and Numbered Edition
God's Word was meant to be read -- and understood. It was first written in the language of the people, and this Bible gets back to that.
Another confession: I liked "The Message." I enjoyed it as an extreme paraphrase, but one with some insightful commentary. But I never considered it to be Scripture! These recent printings have verse references added and come in large leather editions. I can only assume the idea is that some people use The Message as their regular Bibles, which is frightening.

prophecySigh. Also in the store were two or four bookcases labelled "self-help," though we as Christians should be most aware of the sheer folly of trying to help ourselves. The "prophecy" shelf had a lovely sampling of the most extreme madness offered to the Christian church, including lovely tomes by Prophets Joyner and Price.

Oh, and don't miss the anniversary of Wilkinson's Prayer of Jabez. After all, you don't want to miss a chance to "release God's favour, power and protection."

Ok, enough grumping. There are many wonderful books out there that glorify God, humble man and edify the saints. All for the cost of a little digging.

May God bless your Christmas with much of himself!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What's wrong with childcare?

Hmm, I never intended this to become a political blog. But I cannot pass by this battle of world views between the Conservatives and Liberals, since it is so relevant to this issue of raising children.

The Liberals are promising to pour $11 billion dollars into institutional child care, partly in response to the Conservative plan to enable parents to choose non-institutional child care options (for example, raising your own kids at home).

So, why am I so opposed to institutional child care? I do recognize that in some situations it may be a necessary evil. But I do believe that as Christian parents, we should be very hesitant to ever commit our kids to state-run preschools. (In fact, we should be hesitant to put them in state-run schools, but that is a topic for another post.)

State-run institutions do not teach a Christian world-view. In fact, they will actively exclude Christ. If you really believe that "the first five years last a lifetime," then surely this is not the place for our children.

Not only that, but there is considerable statistical evidence for the damaging effects of preschool. Here are extracts from several reports over the past few years:

LifeSite News, November 10, 2005:

Preschool Damages Children’s Social Skills and Emotional Development
Preschool has a negative effect on a child’s social and emotionaldevelopment, according to a study of 14,000 US preschool children.

On average, the report found that the earlier a child enters apreschool center, the slower his or her pace of social development.“Our results for the intensity of attending a center program – measuredin hours per week and months per year – are worrisome, while varyingacross different types of families and children,” the report stated.

News Release, National Institutes of Health (USA), July 16, 2003:

Child Care Linked To Assertive, Noncompliant, and Aggressive Behaviors -- Vast Majority of Children Within Normal Range
The more time children spent in child care from birth to age four-and-a-half, the more adults tended to rate them, both at age four-and-a-half and at kindergarten, as less likely to get along with others, as more assertive, as disobedient, and as aggressive, according to a study appearing in the July/August issue of Child Development.

The link between time in child care and problem behavior was greater than the link between infant temperament and problem behavior or maternal depression and problem behavior. This link between time in child care and problem behavior was also greater for children in center-based care than for children in other types of care.

The link between time in child care and problem behavior occurred across all family backgrounds and all types and quality of care.

CBC News, April 20, 2001:

The more time children spend in day care, the more likely they are to exhibit assertive, defiant and even mean behaviour by the time they get to kindergarten, says new research.

A study presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Minneapolis found that 4 1/2-year-old children who attended day care were rated by mothers, care-givers and kindergarten teachers as more aggressive than kids who stayed at home.

Given all these negative results, why are the Liberals pushing so hard for increased institutional care? Even parents don't want it. According to this February 16, 2005 article from LifeSiteNews.com a recent poll by the Vanier Institute of the Family showed:
  • Nine out of ten Canadians feel that in a two parent situation, ideally one parent should stay at home to raise the children
  • almost all employed mothers would work part-time if they could afford it
  • as would 84% of fathers
  • parents surveyed indicated that daycare would be their last choice for child care
So why are they doing it? The parents don't want it. The statistics don't support it. The only answer is ideology. The Liberals want to shape Canada into their desired image: secular humanism, radical feminism, and "tolerance" which tolerates everything except dissent.

Parents, raise your children to honour God! Don't abdicate to the state the responsibility given to you by God. Instead, ask God for what you need to discharge this solemn (and joyful) task!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

So, Mr. Harper, what about three for three?

In my last post, I mused about Stephen Harper reading my blog. Then I read this article:

Harper mulls income splitting among tax cuts as campaign enters Week 2

Well, in this post I had noted that when my family went from two incomes to one income, from no dependents to two dependents, the drop in our tax bill was less than $1000, even though our income had almost been cut in half.

I guess Stephen Harper really does read my blog. (Yes, I am kidding.)

I'm delighted with what I'm hearing from the Conservative Party. It has always bothered me that from an income tax vantage point, each wage earner is treated as a separate entity, instead of the family unit being seen as a single economic unit. This is quite unfair and unrealistic.

Looks like I'm voting Conservative this year. For the first time.

However, if you're still listening Mr. Harper, there is one evil in Canada which is far greater than redefining marriage, far greater than judicial activism, far greater than unfair tax laws.

Let's stop murdering babies. Let's work towards a complete ban on abortion. I know it will take time, but:

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

As James Lowell wrote to protest America's war with Mexico, so let the Conservative Party claim all of the Right and begin to end this wicked practice.

(Thanks to the CyberHymnal for the words to this song.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

A glimmer of hope

Does Stephen Harper read my blog? (Heh. Ok, I think I know the answer to that one.)

More likely (way more likely!) he listened to Advocates for Childcare Choice and other Canadians who wanted more parental input into the care their children receive.

Instead of simply pouring billions more into institutional childcare centres, the Tories are proposing a per-child subsidy of $100 per month that would be given directly to the families. This would be combined with an additional $250 million per year for institutional childcare.

Applause, applause!

For more information, see the CBC article.

Perhaps there is hope for our nation, after all. (There is always hope with a sovereign God!)