– Why we should be exposing our children to fairy tales and stories. God is only truly believable through the imagination. And so then are his statutes only obtainable through parable, story, and fable.
This is an amazing article on the moral imagination. I hadn’t hear that term before reading this post some years ago.
I specifically was inspired while reading the section about Beauty and the Beast: most children these days are only exposed to children’s TV programming. While we all have known this is not healthy for children – my eyes were opened to “why” we are seeing such moral depravity in younger generations: they were not exposed at early ages to morally imaginative stories. They are always silly, or community-citizen animation, but not moral and virtuous stories of old.
If children are only exposed to what is silly, not only are they deprived of learning a correct definition of humor – which is not bodily functions or back-side bearing – but also they are missing the formation and inspiration of virtue, character, and morality. I wish I had read more to my children when they were younger than I did! I am glad we turned off the TV, especially children’s shows years ago. But I have not taken special care to ensure the reading of fairy tales. Redeem the time, Lord Jesus!!
Another inspired insight from this article concerns the prophet Nathan. He had to confront David about his manifest transgression against the house of Uriah and against God. When he came to the court of the king, he used a story. He had to capture the heart of the shepherd in order to rouse the conscience of the king. When we try to “teach” ethics and morality we only rouse the conscience of the king. Children are made in the image of God – they are royal heirs and they don’t take kindly to condescension.
Don’t we each feel some sense of dignity that needs defending when people are about to accuse us of sin or injustice? We metaphorically cut off their heads – we distance ourselves, or fight back. But often we do not repent.
So, our hearts must be got at another way. Is there something or someone ELSE we care for deeply, that we would never want to see hurt – an animal, a child, a lady in distress? Well we would never want to be the cause of pain or penalty for that fair one. And so the moral is embedded in the heart more assuredly than if we tried to forcibly erect it in the conscience. Perhaps the heart is more of a garden than the conscience. And so it is that by time and tending and cultivating this moral imagination, a great plant produces fruit in the conscience that is ready during a time of crisis to be consumed.