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Letting Children Confront Reality

The Bible teaches us that the human character is innately marred by sin and that the desire to do evil is a part of our nature. In Mark 7:21-23 Jesus says “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Since time immemorial this reality has challenged parents as they struggled to determine what to tell their children about the evil in this world. However, recent moves from the publishing house behind the books of beloved children’s author Roald Dahl have sought to condescendingly take that choice away from parents.

“Augustus Gloop is no longer fat, Mrs [sic] Twit is no longer fearfully ugly, and the Oompa-Loompas have gone gender-neutral in new editions of Roald Dahl’s beloved stories. [After consulting with sensitivity experts,] the publisher, Puffin, has made hundreds of changes to the original text, removing many of Dahl’s colourful descriptions and making his characters less grotesque.”[1]

After worldwide outrage, Puffin was forced to walk back its paternalistic attempt to pull the “classic”version of the book from production. [2] As one spokesperson said: “Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility. We also recognize the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print.”[3]

This kind of censorship does not do children, or their parents, any kind of service. Inclusive Minds, the sensitivity company behind the censorship of Dahl’s texts, is a product of a pampered society that tries to deny the reality of our fallen world. Its humanist project pretends that our world can be perfected. As Christians, we know better. Without God, there is no perfection. As Romans 3:10-11 famously asserts, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.”

Even if one thinks that there are difficulties in Dahl’s texts, this provides parents with an opportunity to teach their children about the unfairness and little cruelties of a fallen world. It also provides a moment for children to learn the complexities of the world since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the very texts that Puffin sought to censor as insensitive, was celebrated for its progressiveness in 2017 after his widow disclosed that he had originally written his 1964 book with a Black protagonist. [4]

Publishers must not rob parents of the ability to make their own choices about sharing the complexities of the world with their children. Such realities help to teach children about the fickleness of life and the complexity of imperfect human beings. They drive home the truth we know from James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


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