“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV).
The apostle James’s warning carries at least one obvious implication: teachers influence their listeners. This is especially true if the listeners are children, who of all humans are most malleable, most easily shaped (for good or evil) and whose potential still lies mostly before them.
In fact, Jesus himself has a warning for message abuse directed toward children: “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NIV).
All that to raise a question: Who is influencing our children? Who are their teachers? Whose stories are they hearing?
In an earlier day, teachers were respected community leaders. They used stories (as Jesus did) to transmit beliefs, to teach virtues, to build character. Stories are effective platforms to propagate truth. And lies.
To a great extent, our childrens’ story tellers today are entertainers, celebrities. For that matter, anyone with a video camera and an internet connection. Their ubiquitous messages via electronic screens wash over our society with words and images to lure and deceive.
Dr. David Walsh spells out some of the issues in the video below.
- 68% of kids in the US have a TV in their bedroom (including 25% of kids under two).
- The typical school-age child spends 44 hours every week in front of a screen (up from 28 hours just 15 years ago).
- “Whoever tells the stories defines the culture.”
- “The power of story hasn’t changed. What’s changed is who the story tellers are.”
– Gary Brumbelow
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