Raising Boys for the Titanic

Visit to Titanic Exhibit at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Visit to Titanic Exhibit at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Nick’s voracious appetite for learning all he can about the Titanic has lead us to read many great books, watch one documentary on dvd, and take one field trip to the Titanic exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Science.

There are no shortage of stories about the tragic event of that night on April 15, 1912. The night the “grandest palace on the sea” struck an iceberg and found the term “unsinkable” was a descriptive word that should never be used to depict any floating vessel – ever.

Because as we all know, the Titanic did indeed sink. She sank in just over two hours.

Nick's drawings of Titanic

Nick’s drawings of Titanic

All of the stories teach us tremendous lessons which can be directly applied to life today. We have learned about people – the ones who survived and the ones who did not, the countless heroes and the cowards, the warnings and the irresponsible and ultimately fatal choices, the classes and social statuses that separated and the circumstances of life and death which revealed their commonness. We learned about “women and children first” and my husband and I questioned whether widespread chivalry exists today.

And when Nick asked the definition of chivalry of course I made him research the word. He discovered that the term chivalry originated during the middle ages and was a term used to describe the system of values, such as loyalty and honor, that knights were expected to follow…”the code of chivalry“. He also learned it is an honorable and polite way of behaving – especially toward women.

And as he continued reading about the knights and their code, we learn that it represented men of valor, virtue and courage – all the things I want my son to grow up to be.

Nick's drawing of the rescue ship "Carpathia" who steamed over 60 miles and risked their own lives through the icebergs to save people on the "Titanic" while the men aboard the "Californian" sat 10 miles away watched and heard but did not respond to countless calls for help via morse lamp, rockets and wireless telegraph.

The brave men aboard the “Carpathia”risked their own lives by steaming over 60 miles through the icebergs to save the survivors of “Titanic”. Meanwhile, the “Californian”sat 10 miles away and watched and heard calls for help via morse map, rocket flares and wireless telegraph and did nothing.

And I realized that the “duties of knighthood” are a great guide for raising up boys.

The Knights Code of Chivalry described in the Song of Roland and an excellent representation of the Knights Codes of Chivalry are as follows: 

“To fear God and maintain His Church

To serve the liege lord in valour and faith

To protect the weak and defenceless

To give succour to widows and orphans

To refrain from the wanton giving of offence

To live by honour and for glory

To despise pecuniary reward

To fight for the welfare of all

To obey those placed in authority

To guard the honour of fellow knights

To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit

To keep faith

At all times to speak the truth

To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun

To respect the honour of women

Never to refuse a challenge from an equal

Never to turn the back upon a foe”

This code, while established long ago, is still very applicable today. This behavior – this “Code of Chivalry” – reflects that of valor and strength, but it also reflects the heart of a servant, which we see in the life of Jesus Christ.

  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and tookupon him the form of a servant, and wasmade in the likeness of men.”~ Philippians 2:5-7

As we raise up our next generation of men, let us remember and apply all that the Bible teaches us. We must teach our boys to not only respect themselves but to respect women and children as God would have them to do. I pray we will let scripture be our guide in raising these little men, and let us not forget the important role of servant-hood when teaching them virtue.

Our boys are watching all that we (mothers and fathers) do and they are learning how to be men. They are especially learning from dad and the way he treats mom. They are learning also from the books we encourage them to read and from the ones we read with them. They are learning from the video games they play and from the television and movies they watch and they are learning from other men in their lives.

Will our boys be ready to be men when the “Titanic” appears in their lives? The Titanic for them is unlikely to be an actual sinking ship – but make no mistake – they will have a “Titanic event” in their lives at some point. Will they be ready?

What kind of men are we teaching our boys to be?

Our boys braved the "Titanic"in our lives together...

Our boys braved the “Titanic”in our lives together…

Nick reads about the Titanic with a resident at Lake Shore Commons Senior Living Center.

Nick reads about the Titanic with a resident at Lake Shore Commons Senior Living Center.

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Nick, at a local senior living home, chats with a resident about the Titanic.

Nick, at a local senior living home, chats with a resident about the Titanic.

We are what we read? A lesson on Fairy Tales…

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” – G.K. Chesterton (one of my favorite authors)

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Nick was busy building something with  Legos as I read aloud. He stopped, however, and leaned in toward me when I got to the part about the bloody shoe. His eyes grew big as he blurted out “why would she cut her own toe off? That’s just dumb!”

I pause reading for a moment to tell him that sometimes people do really dumb things to get what they want and sometimes they get so greedy they make decisions which make absolutely no logical sense. He agreed.

I continued reading. Next, we learned of a sister cutting off a chunk of her own heel. “What is wrong with these people?” he demanded to know. “They are crazy to cut off pieces of their feet!”

At this point, he abandoned his lego building and excitedly plopped down on the sofa next to me and anxiously awaited what would happen next.

And when the same two girls have their eyes pecked out by pigeons at the end of the story, he blurted out “They shouldn’t have been so mean to her!”

Punishment for evil?  In this culture of political correctness, tolerance, acceptance and excuses for every kind of behavior and (yikes) teaching not to judge, I think of all we read in our original version of “Cinderella” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

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I took an informal survey on my Facebook page about fairy tales. I got some public comments and many personal messages and found it very curious the number of people who avoid fairy tales because of the “scary” content.  Someone even said they didn’t want to read stories that talked about death.  I can understand the desire to protect our children from death but death is reality for all of us – including our children.  Many of these same responders mentioned that they allow their children to watch television. I think television shows, news and movies are more scary than fairy tales and real life is even scarier.

Last week, I attended many wonderful learning sessions taught by philosphers, ministers, professional educators and subject experts at the “Great Homeschool Convention” in Greenville S.C.

” Fairy tales and the Moral  Imagination“, presented by  Andrew Putewa (founder and director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing), was one of my favorite sessions.

In his session, we learned about the four story types we need to know in order to select stories for our students and children that will nurture and grow a  moral imagination.

He explained the “whole” story where good is good and bad is bad, and good wins in a victorious, triumphant way. In a “healing story”,  good is good and bad is bad, and good still wins, but in an unexpected way.  Fairy tales fall into this category and they are wonderful lesson teachers…

“Kings can be good.”
“Evil is bad, and must be destroyed.”
“Good triumphs over evil.”
“It is possible to live happily ever after.”
“True love exists.”
“Thinking about death is okay; it reminds us of why we’re alive.”
(Andrew Pudewa)

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He went on to talk about two other types of stories. In a “broken story”, good is good and bad is bad, but bad wins in the end.  These types of stories are best saved for when your child becomes a mature reader and you can both read it with profitable reflection, discussion and guidance. (think high school).

In the “twisted story”, the line is either so blurred between good and evil so they they are indistinguishable from each other, or evil is glorified and traditional archetypes are reversed.  These are books that we obviously want to avoid with our students and children.  And in today’s culture these books are everywhere and then they make movies about them.

He reminded us that “What goes into the mind and soul impacts – especially adolescents.”

In reading Cinderella with Nick, I found myself looking at the true theme of the story. The real message of the story is that justice will prevail, even when it appears the unrighteous are prospering from their evil deeds. The theme is a Christian theme. God has said that the wicked will not always prosper.

“Books are the windows through which the soul looks out.” – Henry Ward Beecher

It is not enough to just give your child any old book and think you have done your part in cultivating their moral imagination. We must be discerning teachers and parents and recognize these four types of stories and give only the best to their children.

If you would like to hear more, you can purchase the audio download of Andrew Pudewa’s “Fairy tales and the Moral Imagination” at
http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/ftm-e

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

Award winning physicist, the man who came up with E=mc² – recommend reading fairy-tales? Was he joking? All the evidence suggests he was deadly serious. We all know he believed “imagination is more important than knowledge”  and he also said, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

Meanwhile, find the joy in the moments of today and read a fairy tale (or two) with your child. And no matter how great they read independently – keep reading aloud.

Nick can’t wait to see what happens to the Big Bad Wolf today (in the original version)…

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A String in the Fiery Furnace

A plain piece of string dangles gently – unsuspecting of the journey ahead.

The children giggle as they patiently wait in line for their turn.

And the first dip in the hot wax causes the string to stiffen slightly.photo (39)

And the fiery trial begins for the string.

“Don’t be surprised at the fiery trails you are

going through as if something strange were

happening to you” 1 Peter 4:1213

Each subsequent dip continues a transformation of the string.photo (40)photo (41)

Nick and his friends excitedly show us the changing string after each trip into the fiery furnace  – noting the new shape it was starting to take.photo (42)

“A faith that leaves us unprepared for suffering is a false faith that deserves to be lost.” ~Randy Alcorn

And after more than fifteen trips into the fiery furnace, the string has been transformed completely.

And what began as a simple piece of string has now become a beacon of light that will shine for all to see.photo (44)

All because of a journey through the fiery trials.

Truth: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV).

We will all walk through fiery trials in this life. But as believers, we have the promise that we are never alone. Jesus is right there with us all the way.

And it is during those trials that our faith will be truly tested.

And the testing of our faith, I think, can possibly become our finest hour in glorifying God.

Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of. ~Charles Spurgeon

And what we learn and become through our trials can transform us a beacon of light that will shine for all to see.

And we can all become beacons of light by using our trials and suffering to reach out and help others going through trials.

And perhaps we can find some purpose, and maybe even a little beauty, in our own trials by loving someone else during their own trials – a moment at a time…

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Luminary lit by sweet children who prayed for Zack on his 12th birthday…

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Luminaries lit by sweet children who prayed for Zack on his 12th birthday…

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Luminaries lit by sweet children who prayed for Zack on his 12th birthday…

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Luminary lit by sweet children who prayed for Zack on his 12th birthday…