Dr. Al Mohler re-posted an old article he had written that I thought was relevant for us today. In the article titled “Nature-Deficit Disorder — Have Our Children Forgotten How to Play Outdoors?”, he reviews a book called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv in which Louv describes our current culture as one depriving children of time outside. Be it exploring the woods, playing in the yard, or even in the street he explains that “….the current generation of American children knows the Discovery Channel better than their own backyards — and that this loss of contact with nature leads to impoverished lives and stunted imagination.” Well, I don’t know if my own outdoor experiences are to avoid an “impoverished life,” but I can definitely understand this line of thinking, especially as it relates to children.
When I was growing up, I remember playing “cops and robbers” or “hide and seek” around the entire neighborhood. My friends and I would build “marble tracks” which were basically piles of mud that that we molded and shaped in to highways to roll marbles down — complete with loops. One time we even filled a huge hole in the ground with water and went for a swim! The only time we wanted to really be inside was when we were playing Legos, and that was only to build the Star Ship Enterprise which ultimately ended up outside, usually to find out if it could actually fly. Needless to say, we had a world outside that couldn’t be found inside, and I agree with Dr. Mohler when he writes that
“We have allowed our children to be so seduced by entertainment and information technologies that many believe that without electricity, experience is virtually impossible.”
I recently went on a camping trip (photos here) and I was reminded of this in my own life. As we were there, the only electricity that we had was in our flashlights, cameras, and air bed pumps (I know, I know…not exactly “roughing” it). Our cell phones didn’t have service, there were no hot showers, and we cooked food over a fire. It was actually nice to be disconnected from the world for a change. No computer to check email or Twitter, no phone to distract from the conversations I was having with my friends, and no TV to eat up my time with mildly entertaining programming. No, we were just outside experience God’s amazing creation and enjoying each others company. The lack of electrical outlets and devices didn’t take away from us enjoying ourselves and having a great time together, in fact…it helped.
I think we would do well to listen to Dr Mohler’s closing comments and counsel,
“We understand that nature is not an end to itself, and we affirm that the creation exists as the theater of God’s glory for the drama of redemption. All this should help Christians to remember that we honor God most faithfully when we receive His good gifts most gratefully.
Christians should take the lead in reconnecting with nature and disconnecting from machines. Taking the kids for a long walk in the woods would be a great start.”