open shelves and open minds

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Dale (Parenting Beyond Belief) McGowan has a great post about kids, books, and knowledge that perfectly illustrates the open-mindedness of the secular humanist attitude:

Though there are certainly books in our collection we'll never get to, ours do get a workout. One message our kids are getting, I suppose, is that books are for reading, not for wallpaper. But I wanted to be sure they knew that they were part of the mix as well. So one day, shortly after my mother-in-law's story, I was taking a book down from a shelf and saw Connor, then about eight, reading one of his own books nearby.

"Hey Con, come here a sec." He did. I indicated the books on the bookshelves in our living room and asked whose books they were.

"Yours," he said. "And Mom's."

I told him they were actually for our whole family, and that if he was ever curious about any of them, he could take any book off any shelf anytime he wanted and look at it. I showed him which books were old and showed him how to open those carefully, supporting the spine, never flattening the pages. For a couple of days he played along, then lost interest, which was fine. The idea was the thing: he knew that there was in principle no prohibited knowledge.


update (1/25 @ 9:11am):
The following sentiment seems especially appropriate:

If I were rich I would have many books, and I would pamper myself with bindings bright to the eye and soft to the touch, paper generously opaque, and type such as men designed when printing was very young. I would dress my gods in leather and gold, and burn candles of worship before them at night, and string their names like beads on a rosary. I would have my library spacious and dark and cool, safe from alien sights and sounds, with slender casements opening on quiet fields, voluptuous chairs inviting communion and reverie, shaded lamps illuminating sanctuaries here and there, and every inch of the walls concealed with the mental heritage of our race. And there at any hour my hand or spirit would welcome my friends, if their souls were hungry and their hands were clean.

(Will Durant, The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, p. 64)

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Just dropped by from The Meming of Life blog. Truly loved the Will Durant description of his ideal library. I had a little giggle at the "...and their hands were clean." line.
Thanks for pointing out that great quote.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 24, 2008 11:15 AM.

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