It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Anthony Ensolen, a Catholic professor at Providence College, has written an excellent cultural critique called “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child”. It is a witty, sarcastic look at modern parenting techniques, and how these parenting habits affect our children and our culture. Written in “Screwtape Letter” style, he gives 10 ways we should, or rather ways our society is destroying the imagination of our children. So here are the 10 ways:
1. Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible
2. Never Leave Your Children to Themselves
3. Keep Children Away From Machines and Machinists
4. Replace the Fairy Tale with Political clichés and Fads
5. Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic
6. Cut All Heroes Down to Size
7. Reduce All Talk of Love to Narcissism and Sex
8. Level Distinctions Between Man and Woman
9. Distract Child with the Shallow and Unreal
10.Deny the Transcendent
Sometimes cultural critique books can leave me discouraged. This books encouraged me to continue on with the good I’ve done as a parent and exposed areas I have overlooked. The primary reason I liked this book is that the subject is so critical to the health of our culture.
It is impossible to be truly educated without an active imagination. It is foundational for logical thought. In order to think logically, one must first gather all the facts. In order to do that a person must ask the right questions; for that, one must imagine what questions ought to be asked.
I have often seen this lack of imagination evident in political debates. How many Christians have been called “homophobes”? Are there no other reasons to be opposed to gay marriage than a deep, irrational fear of change? No one asks for other reasons; they do not have enough imagination to think of questions to ask. They base their conclusions on a vague hypothesis, without gathering any data. Then there’s abortion. Pro-lifers are told they do not uphold women’s rights. If pro-choice advocates had an imagination they would begin asking questions. What are rights? Where do they come from? Is a woman truly helped by abortion? Are there statistics? What is a baby? What does a baby feel like when aborted? (Imagination is also foundational to empathy.)
Although Agnostics excel at this type of thinking, Christians fall into it too. The man, for example, who shoves his Bible at an Atheist in attempt to show him his sin, or the sign waver screaming at the insecure gay paraders. An imagination helps us to be open-minded, not as a relativist, but in all the right ways.
Politics are not the only arena where imagination in needful. It is needed for life in general. This book is a guide for developing your child’s imagination so they can grow into logical, empathetic adults.
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
– Albert Einstein