Archive for Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Healthy fear

January 13, 2009


To the editor:

A few weeks ago in Wes Crenshaw’s column he asserted that it was not good to teach children about hell as it scares them. The basic assumption is that if something scares a child it should not be taught. Yet we think that we must teach children about strangers, cars speeding by on roads, and even about climate change. If Al Gore is listened to, then children would be frightened.

It would appear, then, that the real issue is over what we consider important enough to warn children about. It might even be over what we consider to be real or something that a child is in danger of. If we teach children about the danger of strangers, we admit this is a real danger and that children must be taught in order to protect them even if it scares them. We want children to have a healthy fear of crossing roads that cars speed by on so we can protect them.

The deduction, then, is that if we do not teach children about hell we don’t consider it important or perhaps real. Let us not hide from ourselves and others the truth that we don’t believe in it or that we are at the least trying to minimize it. If hell is real, we should teach children about it. It is something to be feared far more than climate change. Some believe we can control the climate, but we certainly cannot control God.

Richard Smith,


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 10 months ago

"If hell is real, we should teach children about it."Given that hell's existence is wholly unverifiable, Mr. Smith appears to be coming down on the side of not teaching children about it.Of course, there are plenty of hells on earth-- Is Mr. Smith teaching his kids about that?

mom_of_three 8 years, 10 months ago

I didn't read Wes Crenshaw's article, but teaching about hell is a little different than teaching about stranger danger and looking when crossing the street. We know strangers, speeding cars and other evils exist, because we see them and hear about them everyday. I don't know if hell exists, but perhaps instead of telling kids if they are bad, that they may go there, teach them that if they are good, they get to go to heaven.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 10 months ago

Great point, Mr. Smith. Unfortunately, we live in a society that teaches few absolutes, so we shouldn't be surprised at Dr. Wes' advice.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 10 months ago

Keep the Santa Jesus crap to yourself. We should be teaching our children about the dangers that are real to them, not danger out of a fantasy book.

Kryptenx 8 years, 10 months ago

You mean "Fictional Fire Land" right? Your logic is flawed in so many ways I do not even know where to begin. If the climate can be controlled, why would you ignore it in favor of teaching your kids about something that in your own words, can not be controlled?Give them the tools to make moral decisions and protect themselves from actual danger, don't scare them into thinking that any wrong decisions could trap them in fictional fire land forever.

jonas_opines 8 years, 10 months ago

"It is something to be feared far more than climate change. Some believe we can control the climate, but we certainly cannot control God."Richard SmithThat's awesome.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 10 months ago

Three topics sure to cause lively discussion:1) politics2) religion3) calling someones baby ugly

Confrontation 8 years, 10 months ago

It's always good to have a bit of comedy in the paper.

labmonkey 8 years, 10 months ago

hey xbusguy-I bet you had (or will have) a very ugly baby. I mean I bet it will look like a little monkey.

denak 8 years, 10 months ago

I didn't read the original coloumn so I have no idea what Wes Crenshaw really said and in what context.However, I think whether or not one teaches one's child about hell, should depend on the age of the child. A child under the age of 7ish doesn't have the cognitive ability to know fantasy from reality. They are not able to think abstractly. It is concievable that you could really scare a child under that age if you tell them there is a hell and if you do such and such, they will go to this horrible place where they burn for all enternity.Many religions recognize this and do not hold child accountable for their sins until around this age. In my religion, (Catholicism) a child does not take thier First Communion or go to Penance before this age because a child under 7 does not really have the ability to understand right and wrong. Thier understanding of right and wrong and therefore consequences comes from what Mom or Dad says, not some innate understanding.So, I am with Wes on this one if a child is under that age.However, begining at 7 or 8, a child starts to be able to think abstractly. They begin to understand "why" something is wrong and how if something is wrong, how it effects other people and how it will effect them. So, if you belief system teaches that there is a Hell, then teach it when they are over this age, if it is really important to you. As the child gets older they will understand that the consequense to sinning is possibly eternal damination. However, personally, I think it is wrong to teach the concept of Hell if it is used as a scare tactic to force obedience. Using scare tactics with children, regardless of age, usually backfires. Telling a child that if they do this or that, they will go to Hell really isn't going to teach them anything because at their age, dying is what old people do, not young people. They can't even imagine being 40, let alone 80 and dying.So, I think it is counterproductive.I think it is better to teach the child to do what is right and to live in a godly manner as oppose to telling them they will go to Hell if they don't.Dena

Left_handed 8 years, 10 months ago

Jesus spoke about Hell more than He spoke about heaven. If you reject Jesus you are at liberty to reject the concept of Hell, but it's problematic if you believe that there was any merit to what He said.

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