Parenting Beyond Belief Goes to the Movies

29 05 2007

Yes, yes, the book including the essay by Penn Jillette is out, and I have it on my list to read.

But did you know “Parenting Beyond Belief” is a blog for Thinking Parents, too? Both are from a writer dad named Dale McGowan, who apparently heads a (get this) critical thinking consultancy. 🙂

Today’s entry is “The Relaxed Parent Film Festival” and it’s my kind of Power of Story –movies with my family and all of it our free choice, for our own reasons. Although hmmm, I choose much the same movies he does, for similar reasons, so our memes might be kissin’ cousins. . .
Favorite Daughter happened to love the Disney princess movies growing up but not as forcefeeding or any restricted diet. She says Disney movies can shape a child’s self-image and beliefs about the world just like religious stories do–not at all what fundamentalists might BELIEVE they are teaching with the Disney-only movie diet!

From the book’s FAQ:

Religion has much to offer parents: an established community, a pre-defined set of values, rites of passage, a means of engendering wonder, comforting answers to the big questions, and consoling explanations to ease experiences of hardship and loss. Parenting Beyond Belief demonstrates the many ways in which these undeniable benefits can be had without the harmful effects of religion. It is also intended to show secular parents, who often feel isolated in their disbelief, that they are far from alone.

. . .Honest questioning is too often disallowed in religion, the word “values” turned on its head, and an “us-vs.-them” mentality reinforced. Many feel that fear—of God, sin, doubt, and difference—is more prevalent with religion than without, and that children often learn to obey authority rather than develop their own judgment.

. . .[but] Anything that helps parents to be better parents, regardless of their beliefs, is a good thing.

But you know me, I’m a sucker for power of story over a factual explanation. I like connected layers and levels of meaning and I like to laugh and cry at movies and in real life, so I preferred reading the essay excerpts to the FAQs :

Childhood, after all, is our first and best chance to revel in wonder. If parenting without religion meant parenting without wonder, I might just say to heck with reality.

Funny, though, how often I’ve experienced something that seemed an awful lot like wonder. It couldn’t have been actual wonder, I’m told, since real wonder is said to come only from contemplation of God and a knowledge that he created all that is.

Call me Ishmael, but that never did much for me. I always found the biblical version of wonder rather flat and hollow, even as a kid. It never moved me even as metaphor, rendered pale by its own vague hyperbole.

Now try these on for size:

* If you condense the history of the universe to a single year, humans would appear on December 31st at 10:30 pm. 99.98% of the history of the universe happened before humans even existed.
* We are star material that knows it exists.
* Through the wonder of DNA, you are literally half your mom and half your dad.
* The faster you go, the slower time moves.
* All life on Earth is directly related by descent. You are a cousin not just of apes, but of the sequoia and the amoeba, of mosses and butterflies and blue whales.

Now that, my friends, is wonder.



2 responses

29 05 2007

Parenting Beyond Belief sponsors discussion forums too, like NHEN’s — “On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion.”
Looks like about 160 registered users to date and a whole lotta posts already . . .I’ll leave you with his suggestion #3 for secular parents considering a private religious school:

3. Get a look at the science curriculum standards, and by all means, get your hands on the eighth grade science book. If the world is less than 10,000 years old, run screaming into the woods, build a survivalist shelter and homeschool your kids on Dawkins, Darwin, and Dennett.

5 09 2007
Nice-Guy Discernment Is What Moves Movements, Not Fighting « Cocking A Snook!

[…] this nifty “Parenting Beyond Belief” interview with the guy who wrote “I Sold My Soul on E-Bay” and see if you can argue. I […]

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