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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Friday, May 23, 2003

Raising them in the Way

My wife always seems to find some very unique Christian resources regarding child rearing. Trouble is, sometimes such resources are all too exemplary of those peculiarities that initially drove me away from the protestant faith.

Case and point being a reference manual meant to help parents raise “righteous” kids. Basically it contains a cornucopia of categorized scripture references regarding different sins and virtues. Seems innocuous enough, right?

Well, sure it is, but the portions of the book that left me shaking my head were found in the introduction. Here the author lets it all hang out with statements that may have once rung as Gospel truth to me, but now raise the hairs on the back of my neck..

the Bible contains everything we need to know about child training…
the Bible…guidebook for my life…source of all wisdom…our how-to book…
we must acknowledge His word as the final authority in all areas of life.

Now, of course, everyone who knows me, knows that I adamantly deny the concept of Sola Scriptura. But I also know a lot of folks who do affirm this innovative doctrine (hehehe…come on guys, lighten up!) and yet would still be apprehensive about some of the statements in the introduction to this book. No mention is made, whatsoever, in regards to hermeneutics: how do we understand this “how-to book”? As far as this author is concerned, the Bible was written in the form of a life manual, and the author’s book is little more than a sort child-rearing index to the Bible. However, thumbing through it, I could find no reference to the Old Testament warrant for having rebellious children stoned.

That aside, the author does have a number of wonderfully fascinating things to say regarding certain “tools” that will assist us in teaching our children about sins and virtues. Two of which particularly struck me.

The Study of History, by which we may learn from “the experiences of men in the past.” When I read this, you can imagine my ears really perking up! And though I was more than a little let down by the fact that the author jumps from the glories of biblical history to “God’s providential” history of the United States with a single seemingly compulsory sentence mentioning the potential benefits of studying the rest of the world’s history, it was none-the-less encouraging to see honor and potency given to the past.

Then, we’re told that we ought to make use of Memorials and Celebrations, and the author – coincidently enough – uses our upcoming Memorial Day as an example. A wonderful opportunity to teach our children valuable lessons centered around the reasoning for the celebration…though I was somewhat taken aback by how the author described their family’s Memorial Day celebration: in part, their children dress up in camouflage and play army in the living room. I think, we’ll pass on the camouflage.

I sat down with my wife and we discussed the book. The conclusion we reached was simply this: we are already doing all of this and more, simply by be active in our Orthodox Faith. Think about it: we not only study history, we live it. We hold in our guarded possession, a way of life handed down from generation to generation and each and everyday my children hear and say prayers that have been heard and said for centuries – even millennia! We do more that give the past an assenting and friendly nod – we invite their very presence into our lives. Furthermore, whereas the vast majority of the Memorials and Celebrations the author listed were secular civic holidays (the only exceptions being Christmas, Easter, and…ummm…gag, urgh…communion???), we have memorials and celebrations EVERY single day in our Faith! Truly we are a religion that feeds on memorials and celebrations! The lives of the saints are perpetually held out before us, and our children, as examples of virtues to be emulated.

I think the author is absolutely right about the value of the tools she listed, but there is nothing knew about this. The Church, in Her wisdom, has known this since the beginning. And for my wife and I to implement the use of such tools in teaching our children, we need only enter more fully into the life of the Church.


...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:26 AM [+]
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