Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Club: Imagination Method #10

Esolen's essay Deny the Transcendent or Fix Above the Heads of Men the Lowest Ceiling of All hammers the final nail into the coffin of the child's imagination.

It explains how denying the existence of God will surely bring about suffocation.

In the first section, Esolen describes his relationship with the Family Bible.  He comes away inspired.

In the second, he describes man's relationship with art, those visible works which allow the heart to seek something beyond self and suggest worship.

In the third part of the essay, Esolen is sure that billboards line the road to Avernus and challenges the reader to ignore the sirens of the enemy.

Overall, Esolen is right.

He speaks from a position of authority:  a college English professor who comes into contact with a large number of young adults.  I think he has a pretty good grip on how well modern-day parents have prepared their offspring for the responsiblities of 21st-century adulthood.

We should heed his warnings, apply his methods, and share his message.

But Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is an unusual parenting manual.

Would you give it as gift to new parents?

How will you apply Esolen's solutions?

What will you do with this book?

If nothing else, consider reading all of Cindy's commentaries.  She hosted the online book club for this title and always included practical applications of Esolen's high brow references.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Club:  Imagination #9

Nearing the end of Anthony Esolen's parenting manual, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, I have not tired of his exhortations, but I continue to wonder about his audience.

Distract the Child with the Shallow and Unreal or The Kingdom of Noise subtitle speaks volumes, but I learned about these vices from my parents, not from reading books or poetry.  I tried to model and teach the counter habits to my children in an effort to combat the ill effects of a life lacking discipline.

What are they?

Learning to be quiet.
Learning to to sit still.
Developing right relationships.
Exercising self control with TV, radio, etc.

My favorite quote from this chapter has many applications.
Television doesn't merely spend the time, it spoils the time it doesn't spend.
Just insert a different media (or person/celebrity) for the word *television* and you can cover the gamut of popular electronic devices (and riff raff) that comprise the Kingdom of Noise.

But that's not new.

Here's a link to a poem written in 1948 by Phyllis McGinley who decries the demise of the dinner hour ~

a perfect segue another pet peeve:  hopping up and down from the dinner table.

If a youngster cant sit still for a 30-minute family meal, then I take note.  But I doubt that anyone reading my blog has that problem, since all y'all's offspring sit still for church, circle time, and car rides.

But can s/he be quiet and listen? 

My mother continues to have occasion to remind me of these good habits.  I admit to being a poor listener and do try and withhold my opinions and hear what the other people has to say first.  But it continues to be an effort.  I have created more problems for myself by forgetting that God gave me two ears and one mouth..... for a reason!

When my children were very young, just going to church provided an opportunity to practice what I was preaching at home.  Our congregation favors family worship, encouraging us to keep our babies, toddlers, and young with parents during the service, albeit on the back row - close to the door ;-)   So, in that space of time, we practiced silence, hands folded in lap, keeping still, using our ears, and facing forward.  Thankfully, our church is small enough that the preacher is not projected onto a screen, imitating television.  The habits there formed have translated well as our children matured.

Finally, the habit of developing right relationships continues to be an area where we can advise our children.  It covers a lifetime and I truly approve of Esolen's perspective here.  Family connections trump social associations on many fronts, and certainly long term. Here's a link to the first article I ever read by Esolen:  Dozens of Cousins.  Family reunions are high on my list of important events.  These people are mysterious portals.  Don't be afraid to walk through.

Lastly, I leave you with a challenge.

Here's a link to Anthony Esolen's contact information.

His birthday is Friday, March 18th.

He'll be 52.

Make a connection.

Bonus Link to DD#1's recent voice recital ~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fashion on Friday

Color is popping up all over the gray landscape now that we're just days before the official start of Spring ~

Pantone's Palette comes to mind as I see

yellow forsythia

coral quince

pink magnolias

and that luscious

honey-colored beeswax

home to our friendly pollinators.

But it is still cold.

And wet.

So, I'm dressing warmly in light-colored turtlenecks wrapped with this sheer, multi-colored cotton scarf compliments of Spartina 449.

The blue rain coat is 30 years old and perfect for this time of year.

100% nylon made by Tote, this knee-length poncho washes well, takes up next to no room in the closet, and never goes out of style.

It will always remind me of Charleston, SC where I bought it in 1981.

The heavy coats and dark jackets are put away despite the lingering chill.

Be gone winter doldrums!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Book Club:  Imagination Method #8

Despite the two dimensional nature of this popular story-book character, Flat Stanley seems to be able to enjoy an adventurous and happy life.

He has lots of friends whom he visits via snail mail ;-)

Does this protaganist stimulate the imaginations of his readers or insulate them from the wonders of the world?

How does reading literature replete with personalities large and small contribute to the healthy development of the human mind?

That is the big question being answered by Professor Anthony Esolen in his ever insightful indictment of modern educational and parenting styles, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Albeit with books more high-brow than the Flat Stanley series.

Ten weeks into Cindy's Online Book Club discussion we readers are well-versed in Esolen's methodology of comparing and contrasting old-fashioned values with new-fangled ones, hoping to be encouraged by his vision.

Method #8 essay, Level Distinctions between Man and Woman or Spay and Geld, is no different.  Esolen quotes poetry (Milton and Frost), reminisces about his own childhood/schooling (catholic/parochial), and cites historical examples (Michaelangelo and guilds) to undergird his position for maintaining distinctions, especially between boys and girls.

In French, that would be vive la difference!

Paraphrased in English, I'd say that Esolen is in favor of discrimination.

Which is a good thing.

How does that translate into your schooling and everyday living?

Bonus Link:  Read my review of The Norton Book of Friendship

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Book Club:  Imagination Method #7

Basically, I couldnt agree more with Anthony Esolen in this chapter, Reduce All Talk of Love to Narcissism and S*x or Insert Tab A into Slot B.

While I dont have any poetry or book selections to bolster the position,

I do think the following quote from our second president is noteworthy, even crucial to effective parenting;

and it applies to the third section of this week's book club assignment, Brave New Family.

In his autobiography, John Adams stated that the strength of a nation rests to a large extent on the morality of its women.  He said that men are likely to be lax in morals and women must set the moral tone of society*:

From all that I had read of History of Government, of human life and manners, I had drawn this Conclusion, that the manners of Women were the most infallible Barometer, to ascertain the degree of Morality and Virtue in a Nation.

All that I have since read and all the observations I have made in different Nations, have confirmed me in this opinion.

The Manners of Women, are the surest Criterion by which to determine whether a Republican Government is practicable, in a Nation or not.

The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Swiss, the Dutch, all lost their public Spirit, their Republican Principles and habits, and their Republican Forms of Government, when they lost the Modesty and Domestic Virtues of their Women.

The foundations of national Morality must be laid in private Families.

In vain are Schools Academies and universities instituted, if loose Principles and licentious habits are impressed upon Children in their earliest years.

The Mothers are the earliest and most important Instructors of youth....

The Vices and Examples of the Parents cannot be concealed from the Children.

How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn that their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers.

So, fellow book clubbers, this is the reason that we should care whether our young people retain a sense of modesty (or regard for dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress), such as they might feel in the presence of something mysterious or holy. (Esolen pg, 177)

It's called *decorum*

Added later ~
I did think of a book that relates to this chapter.... in an imaginative sort of way  ;-)
Here's the link to If Everybody Did.

*John Adams
as quoted in Christianity and the Constitution
by John Eidsmoe
Baker Book House, 1987, p. 272,
which source is Diary and Autobiography of John Adams
ed. L.H.Butterfield, Belknap/Harvard, 1962, IV:123