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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not-So-Hidden Agendas

Lately, I've been reading a bunch of books on my bookshelf as part of a cleaning project I've planned for the summer. My personal bookshelf is stuffed full of juvenile fiction books that my parents bought for me years ago from a cheap library book sale in my area. At these book sales, many local library branches, school libraries, and private donors sell off thousands of cast-offs for perhaps a quarter or so each as part of a library fundraiser. With prices like these, my parents used to go and indiscriminately pick up boxes of old used books to feed my and my sister's reading habits.

Well, now I've decided I'm a bit old for some of these books, and I'd like to make room for new ones. However, the frugal nature I've inherited from my parents dictates that I have to read each book before I can get rid of it. Now that I am, I'm seeing a disturbing trend in children's books that I never noticed before I went to college and learned so much about literary theory and cultural trends. To try to put it into words, this trend attempts to undermine and rewrite all authority and knowledge being passed on to children. And, well, that has me all stirred up.

Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Agendas

I know that all writers have an agenda behind every word they write. Even I have one for this blog, which I've tried to state outright through such things as the image banner at the top of the page. I want to show wicked, sneaky people for what they are before they have a chance to do damage to my fellow Christians. I'm all for the equipping of the saints, and I think that means they must be armed with knowledge, as well as faith.

However, those who want their philosophies to rule the world--that is, those who seek to gain personal power over others through the propitiation of their philosophies--are just as adamant about disarming people as I am about arming them. You see, when a person realizes that a certain popular philosophy is a lie, he or she becomes the chief enemy of anyone who stands to gain power over others through the use of that lie. For an unreasonable or deceitful philosophy to last, knowledge to the contrary must be destroyed or suppressed.

What kind of power am I talking about? I'm seeing that the biggest kind of power a philosophy brings is socio-political power. If a philosophy gets popular enough, it's chief proponents gain military, financial, and eventually educational dominance over others. Together with this governmental control, the support of at least a majority of citizens ensures that the enemies of their philosophy are kept silent.

How does a group gain popular support and therefore control? It teaches its philosophy to the children. Children, unlike their parents, are less able to recognize a lie and discard it. In theory, anyway, if you teach children a lie early enough, and work hard to suppress any attempts the children make to discredit the idea later, you will end up with an army of adults who have never been able to successfully disagree with you. This is the kind of social programming that made the Hitler Youth so essential to the success and survival of the Third Reich--a point Hitler and his chiefs made frequently. While the government of the Third Reich fell, I am fairly certain that the antisemitism and even the militarism and evolution-based racial superiority lives on in the hearts of many German citizens. The future of a philosophy, including an evil one, is first bound up in the defenseless minds of children until it can be carried into action in the hearts and mouths and hands of adults.

Therefore, it is essential that parents know what their children are being taught in schools, and in their reading and listening materials, and in the television shows they are watching. If an evil group of people take control of all such things, an entire generation of children can essentially be programmed to believe evil things. Unfortunately, if their parents have likewise been programmed with these same beliefs, the children will not be rescued from what they have been taught. That's when the rest of us are in for a real power struggle.

Social Programming In Action

So, to get back to what I was talking about at the beginning of this post, I've been reading all of those old children's books, and I've been noticing a trend toward social programming that is atheistic, anti-Christian, anti-absolutes, anti-authority. I think it has the potential to undermine law and order in America, and definitely rewrite the code of morality that we have so far claimed to have. These children's authors have no such morality, and I think we are beginning to see the fruits of their labor coming up in the gardens of Capitol Hill and behind the podiums in classrooms, to name a few places.

Here are some of the books I've read, their publication dates, some pertinent background on them, and what they were about. I doubt if you've heard of some of these, but that doesn't matter. They were once (and in some places, may still be) available to children and young adults through libraries across America and probably the rest of the English-speaking world. I'd really like to hear what you think about them.
  • The Mummy Walks Among Us (1971)--A cheap compendium of mummy-oriented short stories. Some of the stories were fun and didn't claim any historical or scientific backing, but some of them taught incantations and spells, Egyptian religious practices, a disbelief in a moral God who is active in human affairs (agnosticism), situational (relative) morality, et cetera.
  • Julie (1984)--Catherine Marshall loosely based this story on her own life, whereas Christy was about her mother's life. My biggest objection is that the characters believe in a social-works kind of Christianity, which teaches that we must feed and clothe the poor, but can't offend them by telling them that they are sinners who cannot enter Heaven without Jesus. I had other problems with the book attempting to explore the boundaries between good and evil to find how far we can go without sinning outright, and also an almost pantheistic or agnostic understanding of who God is.
  • Dicey's Song (1982)--The 1983 Newberry Medal winner for American children's literature, by Cynthia Voigt. This book attempted to blur the difference between male and female to such an extent that I finally realized it was legitimizing lesbianism. It also pushed a humanistic philosophy that says there is no God or absolute moral principles, and that life is a journey with oblivion or even pantheism at the end of it. Unlike the prequel (which I also read), the child narrator does less adult philosophizing in this book, and therefore appears to actually be a child narrating. The prequel is called Homecoming and features a reality and good-and-evil blurring philosophy that is far too intellectual to be done by a real child of such a young age.
  • That Was Then, This Is Now (1971)--Written by S. E. Hinton, who also wrote The Outsiders, this was a smash hit in the young adult fiction category when it was published. It's about two cursing, drinking, gambling, porn-viewing, law-breaking teenage boys who turn against each other when one begins to sort-of grow a conscience when he sees how their rough lifestyle kills and maims people he cares about. I objected to it because the moral turnaround is very situational and self-justifying, and law and punishment is portrayed almost as making matters worse, rather than supporting public order and deterring immorality.
  • Island of the Strangers (1983)--From a weekly reader series, by Catherine Sefton. This book features children in Ireland engaging in a sort of primitive gang warfare against another group of school children. Readers are taught to be sympathetic and overlook our differences from others, even if they are skinheads (one of the main characters is, and she is featured in a non-critical way cursing and giving the finger to others). In the end, the children are told to stay away from the older boy who instigated the gang violence, but in the spirit of tolerance, the main character defies parental orders and continues to accept him as if he is a victim of intolerance himself.
I could keep going, but I think you get the idea. Have you read what your children are reading, lately? How much do you understand about the agendas your children are taught to believe in?

What is the most worrisome to me is the fact that these books were more likely to have been a part of modern parents' childhoods than they are of the current generation. In other words, many parents may not be able to see what is wrong about all of these books, and in turn cannot teach their children what is objectionable about these philosophies.

If you fear you may be a little less-educated about what is wrong with these teachings, know that you aren't alone. You should also know that you can easily educate yourself against these things. Though it takes a college degree to learn the names and principles of all of these philosophies (and I only have a Bachelor's degree!), even a below-average reader can read the Bible and see how it stands up against them. You don't have to know the name of a lie to see that it is not truth--but first, you have to know the truth.

I'll leave you with a passage I read from my Bible right before bed, last night. I think it fits perfectly with what I have to say.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4: 17-24 NIV; Read the whole chapter here)
I encourage you, my friends and readers, to empower yourself and resist lies, which will destroy you and your children, and your children's children. The opposition may be fierce, and their support may be numerous and powerful, but their lies will crumble because they have no foundation or spine. You, on the other hand, if you have the truth, have support from God, who is stronger than any enemy. Your cause is right, even if it is not popularly accepted. Don't be afraid to disagree with the crowd if the crowd is wrong.