Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bookclub: Imagination Method #2

Idyllic is one way of describing the child's life being promoted by Anthony Esolen in his parenting manual, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

By juxtaposing a variety of typical childhood experiences, the author demonstrates a superior method for rearing our charges and developing their imaginations, those valuable vaults of images, sensations, and concepts.

As I read through the details of uninterrupted play, spontaneous neighborhood baseball games, and nightime river exploration, I wanted to think that I could point to similar experiences.  I wanted to believe that my children could recall such times as well.

Unfortunately, we all know that growing up is not usually that charming.

I also found myself relating to Tormentaria, that planet populated with specimens ready and awaiting to be molded by The Visionaries, because more often my schedule resembled the structured over the looser one.

Unfortunately, I keep feeling a void in Esolen's premise, which I suspect he addresses in Method 10, the Transcendence.  Why does he wait so long to bring up this vital aspect?

I mean how do the boys in the baseball game know about forgiveness?

Or how do the river boys know to make a compact or the importance of sealing it with blood?

Or as in my case, how did we girls know how to structure our families when we played house?

We didnt just *make.them.up*

Some committee informed us.

It's called the Trinity.

That awesome threesome who authored the penultimate parenting how-to volume.

Make sure that downspout (gargoyle) is pouring out life-giving water over your child's head day in and day out.

Like Deuteronomy 6:7 ~

Impress them (commands, decress, laws) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (three translations)

casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; (American Standard Version)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (New International Version)

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (New American Standard)

As well as these wise words from a modern-day Godly ruler, Abraham Kuyper ~
"Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"

Read more about it at our online bookclub.

Bonus Bits ~

Consider reading the chapter entitled Creativity in George Roche's excellent book, Education in America.  His information adds substance to Esolen's and is available free online.

Funny, pertinent story about committees at this link.

Photo Credit:
Gargoyle by Ed O'Keefe

Artwork Credit:
Stamp issued by gov't
of Liberia


  1. Love the pictures you put on your post. :o)

    I will check out that link of Roche's book. Glad to know it's online.

  2. Dana,
    I wish I had time to read the chapter and book you suggested. Maybe next week will slow down. Saturday I am giving a baby shower for my dil. I wish you could come.

    I understand what you are saying about transcendence because ideas can transcend even the worst of situations and Christ does redeem people from the ghetto's of human existence. And I am sure your own children had a rich childhood because they had a rich family life and a deeply structured extended family which has got to be one aspect of fueling the imagination.

    But all that aside, even in the last 5 years things have changed drastically in our public schools and the structure of our society and I believe it is good to examine that.

    And what did you think about all that hooey about China in the SOTU?

  3. @Cindy ~ Destroying the Imagination is the kind of book that I like to read because it gases me up (fuels) me for the long haul.

    I needed about one book like this about every five years to keep me oriented and disciplined.

    What I'm doing now is preparing me for grandchildren :-)

    Re SOTU: Birds of a feather flock together and I dont trust the red ones.

    That said remember BO's buzzwords:


    Sounds a lot like Mark Zuckerberg's journey, imo

  4. I read the chapter and thank you again, Dana, for the link.

    Great stuff there about standardization, "adjustment," and "creativity on command." And this: "When societies have chosen to penalize such "maladjustment" and have demanded conformity, they often have destroyed the creative impulses which gave them viability." There is much in this chapter that adds to our study.

    I think one of our problems is that we don't give 'permission' (in the sense that we penalize) to be imaginative/creative.

    I liked this little ditty too:

    From the tip of San Diego,
    to the top of Berkeley's hills
    We have built a mighty factory,
    to impart our social skills.
    Social engineering triumph,
    mangers of every kind
    Let us all with drills and homework
    manufacture human minds!

    Song to Beethoven's Ninth, no less.

    But I got that from dipping into the previous chapter. :-)

  5. Dana, Thank you for continuing to drive home the need for an informed imagination. I agree that he ought to have identified that earlier.

    I read more Scripture aloud in our home now that I did when my oldest was tiny. At that time, I thought that Story was the most important thing for children. I forgot that Scripture is the Greatest Story Ever Told!

    Anyhow, I have noticed lately that my girls act out entire passages of Scripture. They are obsessed with Mary and Joseph, for instance. It is amazing. I found myself wondering what it is like to be them! I can't remember where I was reading the idea that children deserve to read Scripture during this early imaginative stage, to enjoy it as the story it is, and let it populate their imaginations. I am seeing the power of this, the power of the stories in Scripture to captivate and inspire.

    I think I always wondered why so many old paintings were of Bible stories. These days we paint flowers and trees and cottages (or, even worse: our feelings), right? I don't think I ever had the Bible quite capture my imagination the way it has with my girls.

    Okay, that was a lot. Sorry!

    Thank you for the encouragement.

  6. @Brandy - I think Cindy's warning about *moralism* in her post highlighting books which fuel the imagination is valid.

    But as I read more about the imagination, I am discovering that there are three different ones: the *moral*, the *idyllic*, and the *diabolic*.

    See, I dont think of myself as *imaginative*. That's why Esolen's book is of such interest.

    Tonight I'm reading a fable by R. L. Stevenson The Four Reformers

    hoping that will help :-)

  7. @Gail - glad you followed the link and read more than one chapter. My copied is heavily underlined.

  8. There is a difference between the moral imagination and moralism. We use literature because we want moral individuals which is the very same reason we do not use moralism.

  9. Because Cindy's point is so valid, I am adding this reference to support our position ~

    Literature exists to form the normative consciousnesss - that is to teach human beings their true nature, their dignity, and their place in the scheme of things.

    In other words, the man of letters, knowing that direct moral instruction can generate resistance, aspires instead to the imagination and teaches the norms of our existence throught allegory, analogy, and holding up the mirror to nature.

    Russell Kirk in his book,
    Decadence and Renewal in Higher Learning.

  10. "Literature exists to form the normative consciousnesss..."

    Love it -- thanks, Dana.

  11. Thanks, Kelly. I keep searching for this comment over at Cindy's blog.

    Here's a link to a short article that references the quote and is good to have, especially if one doesnt own the book.


  12. Thanks, Dana -- I've printed off the article to read.

  13. As you can see I cribbed your Kirk quote for my Circe article. Thank-you.