By Christina Baehr, Contributing Writer
What if I told you that Hollywood wants to ‘catechize’ your children?
Many of you would probably ask, “What’s that? It doesn’t sound good!”
Catechize comes from a Greek word meaning to “make hear”. It means to teach someone with a catechism, which is “a body of fundamental principles or beliefs, or a manual giving basic instruction in a subject.”
It doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? Then again, perhaps it depends on what principles and beliefs our children are being instructed in.
Movies have power to “make hear”. They can make us hear the rightness of risking our own lives to protect the innocent (“The Hiding Place”, “Hotel Rwanda”). But, they can also make us hear and internalize messages we would never accept if they weren’t wrapped in stories (“Brokeback Mountain”, “Maleficent”).
Since Hollywood and the mass media are using all of their skill to impart principles and beliefs to your children, you should use that to your advantage. For example, MOVIEGUIDE(r)’s reviews can help you choose movies for your children that extol self-sacrifice, courage, goodness, and beauty, instead of selfishness, cowardice, envy, and ugliness.
Good stories beautifully told reinforce good theology; but take note, the good theology must be there in the first place. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov 9:10)
Many of us, even as mature Christians, are still coming across values we hold that are not Biblical. “Follow your heart” is a cliché as old as the Hollywood hills, but the Bible has something very different to say about hearts, and it’s not our hearts, but the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13-14).
As Tim Keller puts it,
“The more the culture around us becomes post- and anti-Christian the more we discover church members in our midst, sitting under sound preaching, yet nonetheless holding half-pagan views of God, truth and human nature…
This is not the first time the church in the West has lived in such a deeply non-Christian cultural environment. In the first several centuries, the church had to form and build new believers from the ground up, teaching them comprehensive new ways to think, feel and live in every aspect of life. They did this not simply through preaching and lectures, but also through catechesis. Catechesis was not only for children, but also for adult converts and even for leaders.”
For too long, catechesis has been a rusting tool in the Christian armory. This is a weapon you can’t afford to leave your children without.
If you want to equip your children this way, I have good news for you: the Dirksen family of Portland, Oregon, have made your job a whole lot easier, and more fun.
Dana Dirksen is mother to 6 and a brilliant composer and singer, with a warm, jazzy voice that children adore. The Dirksens’ ministry, Songs for Saplings (songsforsaplings.com), has a set of 6 albums available as CDs or as digital downloads called “Questions with Answers”. The series starts with basic questions, like Who is God? Has God ever had a beginning? Are there more gods than one? And then, progresses to the more complex, such as What is meant by Atonement? What is Justification?
Before I had 5 daughters in 5 years, I was a full-time musician. As a musician, I cringe when I hear music that is poorly written and produced. As a mother and a lifelong student of the Bible, I cringe when I hear shallow theology with a sugary pop coating.
A catchy tune, a clever riff, a heart-catching chord progression, they have the power to lodge in your mind forever. Dana uses all of these tools to transmit robust, meaty, Biblical theology to children, and their parents.
One thing I love about the way these particular albums communicate the catechism is that every song includes scripture to back up the answer that is given. Each song is woven together in such an artistic way that not only will you find it easy to answer your curious child when he asks you something like “Where is God?”, but you’ll also be able to remember and pinpoint at least one key verse that informed your answer.
Keep these albums in your car, your computer, your mobile, or play them after dinner to your children like we do. You will soon find yourself calling out to your children, “Why did God make you?” and hear them call back without skipping a beat, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”
Give them a sound doctrinal foundation, and you’ll find your children responding to a deeper catechism than Hollywood’s.
Editor’s note: Christina Baehr was whisked away from her life as an international harpist by the extraordinary Peirce Baehr (and is thereby daughter-in-law to Dr. Ted Baehr). They live in Tasmania with five imaginative daughters under 7 and run an evangelistic ministry to travelers called Pilgrim Hill. www.pilgrimhill.org. Christina blogs about books at www.baehrlyreading.blogspot.com. For information about Songs for Saplings, please go to: www.songsforsaplings.com