Thursday, June 30, 2011

Of Mice and Men

One of the more charming things about living in a rural area is the occasional visitation by the odd field mouse. We've had one roaming around the house for some time now. Our cat thought it was a toy to be played with rather than a rodent to be killed. Makes me wonder why we have a cat in the first place.

Anyway, it finally got to the point where we had to call in an exterminator. No sooner had he laid the traps under the kitchen sink did we catch a mouse. Whether it was the same one we had seen before is debatable. It's also not clear whether he is the only invader of our home. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

For some strange reason this all has me thinking of a Robert Burns poem.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Depravity and Young Adult Fiction

As a father of two teenage girls, I am very concerned about what books they read. Thankfully, neither of them like to read what's currently being offered in "young adult fiction" and for good reason. Look no further than Meghan Cox Gurdon's excellent essay in the Wall Street Journal:

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.
Ms. Cox Gurdon bravely exposes the dark underbelly that is young adult fiction and goes further to show that this recent advent in publishing has been an increasingly detrimental trend. Take time to read this excellent essay.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Facebook

This morning I did something I had been thinking about for quite a while. For many in our internet-connected culture it will seem a little counter-cultural and probably would leave some scratching their heads. I deactivated by Facebook account.

This was a decision brought on (in part) by recent events in the news involving a congressman's online extracurricular activities. But it was also something I had been thinking about because I was never really comfortable allowing others to connect to me.

Granted, while I was on Facebook I did connect to college friends as well as members of my extended family. I managed to reconnect with folks I hadn't spoken to in many years.

I rarely received an unwanted message and can count on one hand the number of times I received an invitation to be friends with someone I didn't know.

It was convenient to have the news feed from a lot of different blogs and websites I follow in one central place. But there are other applications that allow that function without connecting with strangers.

I only signed up in the beginning because my girls were curious about having their own account. I signed up because I wasn't familiar with it at the time and needed to see what it was all about before allowing my girls to get on it. Ultimately I decided they didn't need an account and they both agreed with my decision.

But I still couldn't help shake the nagging feeling that this was not a good thing to have. I've never been interested in having a Twitter account and don't bother following anyone. While I enjoyed being on Facebook, increasingly I didn't have time to keep up with it or find things to share.

My mind kept coming back to a book I read several years ago by Jerry Jenkins entitled Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It. It talks very frankly about sexual sin and how it can subtly enter into your marriage. In order to protect our marriages, we need to build "hedges" which are ground rules for interacting with the opposite sex that protect us from falling into the trap that sexual sin can put us in.

Increasingly what I realized was that with my Facebook account I was tearing a huge hole in the hedges that I had been placing around my marriage. Although I never had any issues while I was on Facebook I felt it was better to get out before a problem arose.

Social media can be a wonderful thing. But it also provides a wealth of danger. Recent news stories have shown that Facebook contributes to divorce. The bottom line is while it may seem innocent to reconnect with old friends it can present danger.

I know plenty of people that are on Facebook and have not run into any issues. I think whether to be involved in social media or not is a personal choice that each individual has to make. As I said before, I didn't have any problems with being on Facebook. But when I weigh everything together, it's better for me personally to not be out there allowing myself to be set up as a target for temptation. I don't want to do anything that puts my marriage and my family at risk. For me, the risks involved with being on Facebook outweigh the rewards.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

It Could Be Worse.....

I always tell my kids they are fortunate I don't do things that embarrass them (at least, not normally). I could have been like this guy.

At least his kid was a good sport about the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Great Quote on Writing A Book

I saw this quote today and thought of both my daughters who are both aspiring writers (thanks to this course):

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy, then an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then it becomes a tyrant and, in the last stage, just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."

—Winston Churchill, Grosvenor House, London, November 2, 1949. From Churchill By Himself, edited by Richard Langworth, p. 49.