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Boys Who Will Never Grow Up — Part III






August 23, 2017

Picking up from my August 9 blog, I shall continue.

Our faithful blog readers will remember that, during the last seven years, I’ve returned several times to the plight of our boys.

Significantly, if they fail to fall in love with reading by the third grade, they are most likely to be bored by school and bail out of education, often before they even graduate from high school. As a result of such failure to persevere and achieve, statistically they set themselves up for the following: they are very likely to compensate for their minimum wage jobs by all kinds of substance abuse (alcohol, smoking, drugs, electronic gaming, pornography, indiscriminate sex, and other forms of escapism). Because all this induces feelings of low self-worth, they are more likely to commit suicide than their industrious peers.

Now let’s discuss the inner effects of wasting the nonrenewable time we may be given in life. More to the point, does it really matter much what you put in your minds?

Let’s turn first to Dr. Henry James (l1811-1882) renowned American philosopher and writer. In his famed Principles of Psychology:

The hell to be endured hereafter, which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar. The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson’s play, excuses himself for every fresh dereliction by saying, ‘I won’t count this time!’ Well, he may not count it, and a kind Heaven may not count it; but it is being counted none the less. Down among his nerve-cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering it and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out” (referenced in my book, Remote Controlled, Review and Herald, 1993).In the same book (the result of 30 years of television-related research), I also referenced Roland Hegsted’s powerful little book, Mind Manipulators:

“One of the most fascinating discoveries of scientists charting the human mind has been the discovery of neuron circuits related to memory in our temporal lobes…. Recently I spent several hours talking with Dr. Wilder Penfield, former director of the world-famous Montreal Neurological Institute [later, Penfield was Professor of Neurophysiology at McGill University]. It was studies by Dr. Penfield that revealed this file of memories reaching back to earliest childhood. By using a probe that delivered an electronic shock to the brain tissue, Dr. Penfield triggered vivid recall of long-forgotten events. It was, he said, ‘as though a strip of cinema film had been set in motion within the brain.’“Dr. Penfield told me of operating on a young woman suffering from epilepsy. When he stimulated a point on the surface of her cortex she heard an orchestra playing. In surprise she asked whether music was being piped into the operating room. When Dr. Penfield turned off the electric probe the music stopped. Every time the current was turned on, and he moved the needle to the same spot, the orchestra started up again, and the woman listened to it, at its original tempo, from verse to chorus, just as she had heard it years before. She even re-experienced the thrill of emotion she had felt while sitting in the theater. The whole performance had been indelibly inscribed on microscopic cells of her mind.

“The significant fact we should note here is that events of which we have no conscious recall are nevertheless printed—as if on a cinema film—within our mind. Every television program, every radio drama, every billboard message, every advertisement, every book and magazine read, every person scrutinized, every suspicion harbored, every word spoken—it’s all there. And those unconscious memories—the sum total of all that we have put into our mind—make up the kind of person we are today and will be tomorrow” (also referenced in Remote Controlled).

So much for blithe assumptions that what we put into our minds, singly, has no long-term impact. Which leads us to C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (August’s Dr. Joe’s Book of the Month selection): Note that Dr. James notes that each “small” thing we expose our mind to, leaves its scar. C. S. Lewis, on the other hand, labels it a “mark”:

“…Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. . . . [There is the] mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but which each of us will have to endure—or enjoy—forever.” Now let’s get back to last week’s subject:

It is indeed one of the wonders of God’s universe how this vast living library of videotape translates into day-to-day behavior. As babies we were, except for inherited tendencies, virtually unprogrammed. However, as the years pass, we become more and more the prisoners of our library. We find it increasingly difficult to deviate from what we are and have been in the past. As long as we live, breathe, and retain control, the opportunity to change will exist—but it is dependent on what new videos are being cataloged and wired into our mainframe each day, or, as C. S. Lewis would put it, on the marks that continue to be made on our souls.Since we are unaware of what other people, even family members, are opening their minds to, we may be shocked by actions they take that are so at variance with what we had perceived to be their values.

In conclusion, the next time you or one of your children pose the question: “How can one little R-rated movie hurt me?” Just think back to Henry James, Wilder Penfield, and C. S. Lewis, and the significant statements they made. C. S. Lewis warned us that each mark is significant because marks tend to cluster and become habits, habits cluster and become character, and character determines our eternal destiny.