Creation Magazine: Giving young people career choices

This edition of  Creation Magazine has an editorial titled Giving Young People Career Choices. It starts by recounting the tale of a young boy who was crazy about dinosaurs, wanted to become a scientist to study dinosaurs properly, but was told by his church youth group leader that studying science would harm his Christian faith. The article continues:

It’s a common idea that science harms the Bible, but it’s the total opposite of the truth. In fact, science itself came from a biblical world view that teaches a divine Lawmaker…cultures without this world view could not develop real science. Most brances of modern science were founded by creationists.

Notice the clause there, “real science”. It’s preparing the ground for a no true Scotsman defence to anyone who may take issue with that statement.

Notice also another classic thing creationists do ALL THE TIME – they make a statement which is true on the face of it, but doesn’t mean what they imply. It’s totally true that most branches of science were founded by creationists, because the entire world was creationist until relatively recently in history. There is also the small matter of dissent with the creationist view at a time being a life-threatening point of view to hold. The quoted statement is like saying someone jumped off a pier and committed suicide when in actual fact someone else held a gun to their head and said: “Jump or get shot.” You’re not lying, but you’re certainly not telling the truth, either.

In particular, rather than causing harm, learning the truth about dinosaurs actually strengthens our Christian faith… Fortunately, a friend gave this young man books and DVDs that explained how he could understand dinosaurs from the history of the Bible.

You may find this statement astonishing, supportive of creationism, until you understand that “the truth about dinosaurs” means “our official point of view on dinosaurs”. That’s like the official newspaper of North Korea saying: “Rather than causing harm, learning the truth about Kim Jong Il’s wisdom and leadership ability actually strengthens our faith in him. Fortunately,  a colleague in the office of the Party gave a doubting young man books and DVDs that explained how he could understand the sublime genius of Our Glorious Leader’s foreign relations strategy.”

It gets better:

That was the experience of another young man who grew up on a diet of creation information, and thus understood how to look at the world from a biblical perspective…when young people know how to think biblically, they are free to follow their passion for science…

In other words, he was brainwashed from birth and was conditioned well enough to twist any new information he was exposed to, to fit into the creationist box. When young people are conditioned and trained to keep their thoughts within a predefined cage, you can let them go out into the world, knowing they’ll carry their prison with them in their minds.

This sentence, however, sums up the way creationism and other cults keep their followers brainwashed:

Many young people are drawn to science, and Creation magazine gives them solid ground to stand on, and a wall of protection.

That wall is not for protection.

‘Nuff said.

How not to evangelise to an atheist: Secularism is Atheism part one

If you haven’t yet, read this first, or you won’t understand what this is all about.

The title of the editorial is already problematic: Secularism is Atheism. From my perspective, that’s just silly at best, unintelligent at worst. Secular means not concerned with religion. Atheism means being convinced of the non-existence of gods. The writer uses an entire article, though, to justify the statement, but I’m afraid it doesn’t get better after the title. Continue reading

On the good ship Your Life

Raising kids is like training someone to captain a very big boat. There’s a lot of theory to learn, as well as a lot of practical skills to master.

If you give the trainee too much control too soon, the experience will be terrifying. Insecurity abounds, manifesting in various ways depending on the personality of the trainee. At the same time you have to start letting the trainee participate in the steering of the ship in very small ways. My dad, a fount of wisdom who in addition to his dad experience also happens to hold a PhD in Education, always said to me when my own were small: no long explanations, you lose the kid after a few words. No abundance of choices, two or three at the most: too many choices make even adults unhappy. Above all, the child must know that they know that they know that you are in control. If you feel in your heart that ultimately you are not in control, they will know it, they’ll feel it, and this will not lead to a happy home.

Next the trainee must be given more and more responsibility and control as they become ready for it. Withholding control of the good ship from its rightful captain when the captain is ready for it, will result in mutiny. Understanding and communication is so vital in this stage. The rule is extremely simple and must be applied consistently: show responsibility and you’ll earn trust, the currency of freedom. This rule works both ways: the trainee must understand that to earn freedom, they must first earn trust. Trust is hard work to gather, and even harder work to regain if it is lost. The trainer at the same time must understand that they, too, earn trust, and are able to lose it. The trainee must be able to trust you to let go when they are able to take over.

Finally, while in the early years a child’s life and choices must be controlled, this control must be seen as a necessary but temporary arrangement. You must always understand that this is not your life. The control in the early years is crucial, it must be firm but flexible (and certainly not too flexible), but it is equally crucial that this control relaxes and disappears as soon as possible. Like training wheels on a bicycle, it must be there for the child’s own wellbeing at first, but it will become a liability if left on the bicycle when it is no longer needed. Once the trainee can steer the ship, the trainer becomes an advisor, who can caution, who can counsel, but who must never take control of the wheel again. Even if the captain chooses to steer the ship into waters you know will be disastrous, you may not wrest the wheel from their hands and try to steer the ship where you think it should go. The captain will never, never simply give the wheel to you, they will always fight for control, resulting in a mess of a course.

Much better to let them know you have no desire to touch the wheel, to earn that trust we spoke of so they’ll listen to your advice and value your guidance. The whole parenting relationship is, in fact, a balancing act of trust between the parent and the child, when you dig to the foundation. And if you look at the bedrock that trust rests on, you’ll find it is called respect.

How to get rid of unwanted toys

Most of us are familiar with this problem: your kids’ toy boxes or even their whole bedrooms overflow with toys. Junior has outgrown a lot of these, but any effort to get rid of the excess is met with absolute horror. You’ve tried to convince Junior that other little ones need and would love those toys, but Junior is still too small to understand, or sets aside too few for giving away. What to do? Try a magic box.

When my friend Heather had this problem, I made a story for her children, which you can find below. You’re free to use these images, though in all honesty I slapped them together on Inkscape in record speed, so they’re not great, but they did the job for Heather’s little ones. In addition, I got a document box, though any box will do. I painted the box with some African-ish patterns, because I am South African and thought it would be nice to give the story an African flavour. The African aspect is also sufficiently mysterious to add to the excitement.

Heather then read the story to her kids, and lo and behold, there was the very magic box they’d read about. They filled it with toys they were prepared to give up – you need to make sure they understand these toys will not come back, so there’s no drama later – and because of the excitement of the box, they put much more into it than they would have otherwise. The youngsters went to bed, of course Heather emptied the box and replaced all the old toys with two brand new, small toys. She had time while the kids were asleep to decide which toys to donate to charity, and which to store. The point is, their toy boxes were much less stuffed, with zero drama.

I hope this will help someone out there!

PS – The text should be written in Century Gothic, as it is the closest to the “nursery school script” which children are exposed to first when they start reading. Also, you can colour in the pictures, or if they’re older, they can do that themselves.

PPS – The images have no background colour, sorry about that. I put them into a Word document, which of course has a white background by default. Hope it works for you. Continue reading

Dungarees: I has them!

If you’re looking for directions on how to draw a dungarees pattern and sew your own, go here.

Back in South Africa, I lived my life in denim dungarees.  I had long ones for winter, and short ones for summer.  I wore them so regularly that I remember how weird it would feel to have pressure on my waist when I wore normal trousers.  Dungarees are obviously held up by the shoulder straps, and I wore them so much that anything else was strange.

They were too heavy to pack for Ireland, so I gave them all away.  “New country,” I thought, “new dress style.”  That was five years ago, and I’ve been struggling with clothes ever since.

Nothing felt right.  I kept buying this, and trying that, and not feeling really comfortable and natural in anything.  Recently I’ve started wearing the odd skirt and a few dresses again.  Yes, it’s been nice, it feels feminine and flirty to don a shortish skirt and stockings.  However, it still felt as if I was wearing someone else’s clothes.

I realised at a stage that I missed my dungarees, realised what a big mistake I’d made to leave them behind.  I started looking for dungarees here, but no luck.  I could have ordered them online, but with me sometimes wearing a 12, sometimes a 14, I was wary of doing so.  The other thing is that I believe fashion has veered toward tighter fitting clothes.  Even if I checked exact measurements for hips, chest etc. and ordered accordingly, my idea of a comfortable fit might be nothing like someone else’s.

Yesterday, all my problems were solved.  I got a sewing machine.  His name is Harold, and he’s gay*.

Continue reading