Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)
The Bible is crammed with generic nuggets of advice about child-rearing. Much of it is self-evident and straightforward – correct them, love them, nurture them (eg 1Thess 2:11f). Some of it is very specific, like not provoking your children to anger (Eph 6:4), or making sure you leave an inheritance to your grandchildren (Prov 12:22). And, in an age of child-centred orthodoxy and human rights, some of it has become contentious, like the use of corporal punishment (Prov 13:24). Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the Bible about what you do if your children are spending too much time playing ‘Call of Duty’ or more engaged with Facebook than their physics homework. But from several broad biblical principles has emerged some sound Judæo-Christian praxis about child-rearing. Basically, parents know what’s best for their children, and with the right instruction and discipline administered with consistency and love, they will become an asset to you, to their communities and to God. Continue reading →
In the midst of euro-economic turmoil, distracted by Leveson and the tedious texts and tweets of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Government is finalising its plans to monitor and log every website you visit and store every IM, tweet and text you send. The police already have draconian extra-judicial powers to intercept your email and telephone communications, but the surveillance state is an ever-encroaching beast of unquenchable omniscience, scattering all feeble libertarian squeaks in its wake.
In opposition, David Cameron categorically opposed Labour’s Big Brother agenda: he rejected national ID cards out of hand and objected to security requests for 90-detention without charge. Indeed, he said quite unequivocally: “If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.”
In office, however, he is proving to be as centralising and authoritarian as Tony Blair and New Labour ever were, all under the guise of needing to prevent acts of terrorism and smash paedophile rings. So, if you’re practising shooting zombies on ‘Left for Dead’ or knocking off a few vanity years on Facebook, beware: we are all now suspects; your every move is being monitored. Continue reading →
I wrote some time ago of Halima (not her real name) who was one of my delights to teach. I’d identified her as ‘Gifted & Talented’ after just one lesson when she came to me in Year 10. She loved philosophy and was captivated by politics and theology, especially issues relating to the Middle East. She also had a flair for public speaking and a charisma for debating which frequently left her peers floundering. I always remember intellects like hers, not least because they made getting out of bed in a morning so much more worthwhile. She told me at one point that she wanted to go into politics: I’d helped to nurture a little future Aung San Suu Kyi. Brilliant.
Then, one day, she arrived at my class wearing a hijab. Nothing wrong with that: hundreds of girls in the school wore one, and seemed very content to do so. But Halima was no longer arguing or debating; in fact, she was scarcely speaking. This went on for quite a few weeks; neither her form tutor nor head of year could elicit anything from her as to why her demeanour had changed so profoundly; why she was suddenly so sad and withdrawn. And neither could I, until one parents’ evening when her father and elder brother came to see. In front of Halima, they began to explain to me how this straight-A* student was such a disappointment to them: all she talked about was religion and politics – men’s things – and she showed no respect for them or interest in getting married and being a doctor – the imminent life they clearly had planned for her. I listened politely, trying very subtly to reason with them by drawing attention to Halima’s outstanding grades. She became visibly upset as I made the defence. Her father scolded her, told her she was a disgrace, and they moved on to their next appointment. Continue reading →