February 26, 2014
A satirical New Yorker piece in which Cotton Mather reviews movies speaks to a creeping Puritanism among culturally engaged Christians.
Clever. It leaves me with one question, though: Do they really think Calvinists - or perhaps merely Puritans in particular - take pleasure in the eternal damnation of the unsaved? We've got to get a better PR campaign going!
Discernment and Nuance. These ideas have been on my mind a lot lately as I have participated in (or simply followed) conversations on various topics. I recognize and understand the responsibility we each have to practice these, even though it's not always easy. Even more difficult, for my wife and I, is practicing discernment and nuance when guiding the media-viewing of our young children.
We have a 10-year old son in 4th grade who has recently been coming home asking to listen to music and watch music videos and movies because his friends are talking about them. He is feeling left out at times due to not having listened to/watched the same music/movies his friends have. The most recent examples were requests to watch Miley's Wrecking Ball video, Michael Bay's Transformers, and Avatar. In all three cases, we felt that there was not sufficient maturity-appropriate benefit for him to gain, even if we had follow-up conversations with him, and did not allow any of them.
We have started talking to him about the things we look for in media - positive/negative themes (conflict, compassion, service of others, generosity, loyalty, revenge, hatred, good over evil, perseverance, sacrifice, etc.), aesthetic elements (visual and audio appeal, was story exciting, confusing, realistic, boring, funny, etc.), and content (language, violence, sex, etc.). We know this is start, but it's not easy to know if we're still being over-protective or pushing exposure to quickly.
The specific movie examples I mentioned earlier are both PG-13, but before I even looked that up (we're trying not to fixate on MPAA ratings), my gut said they weren't appropriate, yet, for the maturity-level of our 10-year boy. Any suggestions on how we can judge this on a case by case basis, and for the specific movies I mentioned? It's tough for our son to know how to interact with his buddies, even as he's starting to understand our rationale, though not always agree with it.
I really enjoy all following the varied topics being discussed by you and others at TC!
Great question, Kris, and a challenging one. It's hard enough practicing discernment for ourselves, let alone doing it on behalf of our kids. But you're right that this is part of our calling as parents. And you're also right that this comes down to much more than policing questionable content. It seems to me that having conversations with our kids, as you've done, is the best way to handle this (certainly better than simply banning things).
I probably flubbed this a bit myself earlier this week when we sat down to watch Ghostbusters with my daughters (11 and 8). Remembering some of the dialogue, we had a brief "conversation" beforehand about how watching movies with certain words/phrases doesn't mean we should use them the same way. But have I addressed the other elements they might be wondering about in retrospect, like the ancient religion at the center of its plot or the moment when an invisible ghost undid Dan Aykroyd's pants? Um, not yet...
As for Transformers, I wrote this piece earlier on TC explaining why it's particularly worthy of discussing with young viewers.
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