Few readers or writers will deny that the world in which we live is frenzied; and the age in which we live, mad. To keep as much of this foolishness out of our own lives as we can and to insulate our children to the utmost of our abilities requires both faith and wisdom. Knowledge of God and faith in his promises supply the house in which to dwell; wisdom is the use we make of these.
Insulation is a protection. We protect ourselves from the bitter cold of winter by insulating our houses to keep as much heat within as possible; in summer, just the other way, the insulation keeps us cool within—a protection from the withering blast of a sun too near for comfort. To be uninsulated is to become of like nature as that of the force against which one seeks protection.
Lewis Carroll illustrates this succinctly in part of the conversation Alice (in Wonderland) has with the Cheshire Cat:
Alice: “What sort of people live about here?”
Cat: “In that direction” (waving its right paw) “lives a Hatter: and in that direction” (waving the other paw) “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
Alice: “But I don’t want to go among mad people.”
Cat: “Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
Alice: “How do you know I’m mad?”
Cat: “You must be or you wouldn’t have come here.”
The mad world is, of course, all around us and what we blissfully accept as not being offensive, or over-indulgent, or slothful, or just plain wrong on the grounds that “everybody’s doing it” shows up very clearly in the fine arts—contemporary literature, music, paintings, sculpture, and others. Here one finds a crystal-clear picture of the world of today, the sensate dominant pattern in which man is reflecting himself in contrast to the 16th century to 18th century culture when the dominant pattern was God-directed.
We may protest to Society that it is responsible for these perversions of education, literature, and the arts; our protest does not protect us or our children. The great safeguard for ourselves lies in prayer and in practising the Christian virtues, with all of the implications for a deeper study of these virtues; the great safeguard for our children lies in our prayers for them and with them and in the exposure we give them by our example in Christian living.
Exposure to good literature in abundance will help us to evaluate poor writing and cheap writing as worthless and even dangerous because too much exposure to this latter kind will insulate us against that which is good and we may to our great harm come to prefer it. Too much exposure to mediocre and tawdry television shows and commercials has the same desensitizing effect.
When we pit prayer and Christian example against prolonged exposure to bosomy harlotry and the lingerie skywriting of the television screen and of popular-brand magazines, are we insulating or working at cross purposes? When the gunsmoke has cleared away does the echo of “Thou shalt not kill” persist in the conscience? After hours of vicarious enjoyment of know-the-answer wizards and the Egyptian-fleshpot queens of a day, who could be you or who could be I, do we return refreshed and sensitive to the Bible’s w gent plea to work for the night is coming?
L. Nelson Bell, father-in-law of Billy Graham and author of “A Layman and His Faith,” Christianity Today, writes in a letter:
“Where family worship is a natural part of home life, there is erected for and about our children a certain divine insulation which can never he measured in worldly terms. Where God’s Word is read, pondered, and memorized, children find themselves in an atmosphere from which they go out into the world prepared to evaluate the true from the false; the glitter of this world from the gold of eternity.”
What atmosphere or insulation are we giving in our homes to strengthen our children, faced as they are by temptations, momentous decisions, and worldly enticements? How much of this “glitter” has entered our homes? Do we point it out as the fake that it is or do we admire it as a pearl of great price?