Nature Deficit Disorder, California Book Banning, Looking for the Helpers, and Remembering Robert Penn Warren

Weekly Review

Nature-Deficit Disorder. One measure of how much the world has changed since our grandparents were children is to check how much time children spend outside. According to a recent article in “Macleans,” a British publication, “Today, the average British child spends less time outdoors than the average maximum-security inmate who, by law, must spend at least 30 minutes outside every day.” The growth of “free-range parenting” is an attempt to counter that trend. However, parents who give their children a bit more latitude often find themselves under scrutiny, sometimes even from legal authorities. I commend the “Macleans” article to you. Though it is not written from an explicitly Christian perspective, it does raise some important questions about what it means to be a good parent, and how to raise healthy children, in a 21st century world. While we’re at it, I also recommend one of the most important books on the subject of “nature-deficit disorder,” by Richard Louv. His book The Last Child In The Woods coined that phrase and set off a movement. Again, though the book is not written from an explicitly Christian perspective, it nonetheless has much to offer Christian parents.

Banning Books in California? The California Assembly has passed a bill that, according to David French at “National Review” is a dramatic assault on free speech. Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.” The bill is aimed at so-called “conversion therapy,” therapy designed to help people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. However, French believes that could eventually make material that promotes a Christian worldview illegal as well. Even if all it accomplishes is its stated goal, it is a dangerous bill. Christian groups in the state are mobilizing to fight it.

Look for the Helpers. By now you’ve heard the tragic story of the Southwest Airlines accident that left an Albuquerque wife and mother dead. I hope you also paid attention the story of the heroic pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, who brought that crippled plane down to a safe landing.  She is both highly skilled and an outspoken Christian, and her efforts prevented this situation from becoming one of the worst airplane accidents in modern history. You also likely heard about the shooting at the Waffle House in Nashville. Again, a heroic individual, James Shaw, Jr., stepped into harm’s way, grabbed the barrel of the shooter’s gun, and wrestled it from him. He was grazed by a bullet and burned his hands on the rifle’s hot barrel. Both stories are terrible and we all wish such incidents never happen again. However, when I heard these stories – and these heroic interventions — I could not help but remember the powerful words of Fred Rogers. On his television program “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” he would comfort children after tragedies. He was fond of saying to children who might be scared when they heard such news, “Look for the helpers.”  The helpers bring hope. Mr. Rogers’ advice to children is good advice to us all in a world addicted to bad news.

Milestones. One of the 20th century’s great poets and novelists, Robert Penn Warren, was born on this date in 1905. If you’re not familiar with his work, I recommend starting with All The King’s Men, which I think is the greatest novel about politics ever written, one of the great novels on the doctrine of original sin, and one on many lists of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century.


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