Much has been made of Satanists wanting equal time in elementary schools to present what appears to be – given their devilish logo – a rather diabolical alternative to evangelical gatherings of children.
TFP (Tradition, Family, Property) has, at last count, 11,573 signatures on a petition to stop the Satan Club from its December kickoff at a Tacoma school. CitizenGo has begun yet another drive to dead-end the Satanists before they get started.
Like Ralphie (“A Christmas Story”) and his glorious scheme to get a Red Ryder air Rifle without subsequently shooting his eye out, The Satanic Temple has made bullseyes of schools where children attend Good News Clubs.
This December 14, eleven days before Santa is scheduled to arrive at chimneys around the world, Satan and friends will upstage the jolly red-suited fellow in making an appearance of their own at Pt. Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, the first after-school Satan Club in Washington.
Lilith Starr, who heads the Satan Temple’s Seattle chapter, claimed the clubs provide “education about scientific rationalism, critical thinking and self-determination.”
If for no other reason than allowing our little ones to believe in Santa and flying reindeer, some think Starr and the Satanists should go back to the pit they came from.
Imagine what giving kids the ability to think critically would do to our credibility as parents.
Think of all the magical, mystical moments this hap-hap-happiest season of all affords us, regaling our babes at bedtime with tales of elves and dancing snowmen. All would be gone in the wink of an eye should Satanists succeed in supposedly teaching our kids how to think through what they’re told, even by parents.
Seriously though, what’s there to be afraid of?
If what Good News Clubs advocate is true, then it is defensible, is it not?
So let it snow. Let the Satanists come. Let the debate begin.
And let it begin here: see if any three members of the Satanists present are smarter than a fifth grader. Give each a six-inch ruler and ask them to draw a six-inch square. Instruct them to carefully measure twice and cut once, along the lines, and then compare. None will be the same. Whose square is correct? They won’t know. Likely they will want to try again. The result will be the same.
Finally, someone, ‘thinking critically’ – Satanist or otherwise – may ask for a ‘real’ ruler. Sure enough, all the distributed rulers will be wrong when compared to the real thing. That’s because, unknown to the participants, they were purposefully lied to: the paper rulers were altered, changed in length almost imperceptibly, by as little as three-eighths of an inch.
That small, almost insignificant fraction, alone, appears initially inconsequential. But three-eighths of an inch missing from every six inches means that at the end of 24 feet someone possessing a ‘real’ ruler will be a whopping two feet further down the road than those using the fake rulers.
Consider the implications of this common fallacy to life.
Kevin Noble Maillard, given he’s a law professor at Syracuse University and therefore ought to know, offers his view as to how to navigate life’s cultural morass. Maillard says “family values” – one man, one woman, one marriage for example – have gone the way of “winged horses and caped crusaders.”
Then there’s Janel Benson, assistant professor of sociology at Colgate University who declares that what we really need to measure in this country, what families mostly require and the way in which America can primarily benefit lies down the road of economics and education. Thus the current debate over same-sex couples – in Benson’s long-view – is “a distraction”, an annoyance, a minuscule, minor, hardly-worth mentioning – much less measuring – fraction of the yard-stick that ultimately serves only to fragment and fracture the family-unit.
And now there are the Satanists.
Who’s right? How do we know?
Whatever the majority thinks? Whatever popular opinion is espoused by politicians, pop-culture icons, or even preachers or parents?
Here’s the lesson – taught by Josh McDowell – that the ‘real’ ruler underscores: if whatever opinion that is promulgated as truth is lacking the three characteristics that make a ‘real’ ruler real, trustworthy and reliable, then the result is just that: an opinion.
But a world view which takes as its source, reference, beginning that which is (1) objective, (2) universal and (3) constant – this alone will enable critical thinking skills by which confident decisions can be made and purpose and meaning and significance acquired. That which is objective, universal and constant – the three non-negotiables that comprise an absolute truth – is, like a ‘real’ ruler, the necessary tool by which alone a life can be built with any assured confidence at all, even as a ‘real’ ruler with those dependable characteristics alone serves to construct absolutely anything at all.
Three-eighths of an inch, as it turns out, is not miniscule after all. It’s a big deal. ‘Gi-hugic’ in fact.
How far down the path must our world – let alone our children – travel before discovering that something really big has gone badly wrong, that ‘little’ things do matter, that ‘sweating the small stuff’ is important given such attention to detail has everything to do in determining where we end up?
In this Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was prescient:
“It is a characteristic of any decaying civilization that the great masses of the people are unaware of the tragedy. Humanity in a crisis is generally insensitive to the gravity of the times in which it lives. Men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because they have no standard outside of themselves by which to measure their times. If there is no fixed concept of justice, how shall men know it is violated? Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.”
Only one of the three little pigs whistling ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ was confidently assured of the outcome and adequately equipped with the wherewithal to withstand the wickedness of the world he would face, evidenced by the tools with which he left home, and the materials with which he built his house.
As parents, that’s our job.