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 ~


  1. We started keeping out little ones in church with us when #4 was a baby and I realized right away that I'd need to start training him to sit quietly on my lap for a long time at home in order for him to behave well in church.

    I was actually surprised at how easy it was for all of my children to learn to be reasonably still and quiet in church (even my very active 10yos who, I've been told, would be on ADHD meds if he were in a brick-and-mortar school). We'd always gone to churches where the children were in nursery or Children's Church until about 6th or 7th grade, so I guess I'd gotten into the habit of thinking it really wasn't appropriate for them to be in the service, which is very silly because when I was growing up we got to go to "Big Church" when we turned four.

    We've always sat as close to the front as we can, and I think that helps because then the little ones can see what's going on (and maybe can feel that they're being watched by the people behind them).

  2. Once everyone was *trained*, Kelly, we went back to our normal close-to-the-front pew/row where (you are correct) there is less distraction.

    Have you had a chance to enjoy this chapter?

    I just dont envision young mothers reading this book, even tho' it would be worth their while.

    I know from myself that I didnt always read up on an issue until I was right in the middle of it ;-)

  3. I've enjoyed all the chapters, but lately I just haven't felt like writing anything in particular that was blog-worthy, though I'm enjoying reading and commenting on everyone else's posts.

    When I was a young mom I was looking for this sort of thing, and for books that would help me know how to get it right from the beginning. Unfortunately, most of the books I came across focussed more on how to fix problems once they'd occurred, which I found very discouraging.

    I noticed a friend who just had her first baby added this book to her "To-read" shelf at Goodreads -- I suspect she's been following the conversations. But, like you've said before, I wonder how many "unconvinced" people are reading it and being convinced.

  4. I'm not thirty yet, do I count as young? :)

    We never put our children in nursery, but trained them from the beginning to sit (or sleep) through church. It's become easier each time, as the younger see the older and assume this is just normal behavior -- which it is. :)

    We like to sit in the middle, where our kids are surrounded by adults and older kids who sit well...not near the back where they see other kids moving around and being allowed to play on the floor. My parents had us sit in the very front except for the times there was a wee babe -- everyone could see us and knew if we were good or bad. :)

  5. Mystie, you are young ;-)

    So, perhaps I misspoke. I think I'm wondering about first time mothers, whatever their ages.

    If I remember correctly, you are a second generation homeschooler, and therefore, acclimated to homeschooling, e.g. you didnt need any convincing.

    How would this book give an experienced mother (parents) confidence to homeschool?

    Is that Esolen's goal even?

  6. Your discussion is great. We changed congregations three years ago, and my girls had some bad habits that I take responsibility for, and that were being reinforced by others with our consent.
    In our congregation we worship also as a family, our preacher is there, it is small. We do not have a different service, we do have a quiet room if needed be, and since then my girls have finally learned to sit, pray, sing, and listen. But though they are six and four, I am not young. I just turned forty, so I should know better! ha ha ha. I know some moms in their twenties who really understand this, at least for services.
    As for the giving them space to be at peace and that, we are working on it. In addition I also need to learn to listen much much much better.
    I am going to read your other entries on this chapter of the book you are reading.