Yes, I mean it. You need to read this book. Not only that, you need to read it in a particular way, which is, out loud and to your children—or grandchildren or nieces and nephews or babysitting kids or whatever children you have within earshot. If you are so old and crotchety that you cannot find any children around to read to, which is a dangerous place to be, you at least need to read it out loud to yourself. If you want to be a conservative, you really need to do this.
And not only Winnie-the-Pooh. You need to keep reading books like it. The Little House series, The Wind in the Willows, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, Corduroy, Frog and Toad Are Friends, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Engine that Could, The Biggest Bear, Heidi, Old Yeller, and hundreds more.
The simple reason for this kind of reading in this kind of way is to learn to love. Your imagination and your affections need to be tuned to pick up the music of God’s love that blows through God’s creation despite our sin. You will begin to sense what matters most where it matters most, real people in a real place, seen with new eyes and experienced with a depth of joy that cannot be faked.
Sadly, most people in our day have had their imaginations weaned on pop music and their affections molded through movies. Their intellects have been taught to trust in science. Scientism and sensuality have drugged their souls into a self-centered stupor. They have difficulty appreciating the normal and how utterly otherworldly it is. God’s beauty passes unnoticed. Such people can never be conservative because they have never bound their hearts to anything in love. They have nothing to conserve beyond themselves.
But a biblical kind of conservatism, the kind that fleshes out the second greatest commandment, will delight in the world of children, a world which may often be more real than the world of adults. Good children’s tales will delight the pure in heart of any age, and through imagination they will help you to see what is worthy of love. They unite the permanent things with the day-to-day experiences of life.
The reason I suggest reading these books to children is to help your heart remember to wonder. If you watch your children’s eyes while you read you will see souls on fire with life. Life is amazing. Who knows what might happen next? This childlike attitude is essential to our worship.
Furthermore, I suggest reading these books to children in order to share adventures of the imagination together. This binds hearts with ties of common affections. Communities are built off of stories, and if conservatives want to pass on the sweet land of the soul that they know to the generations after them, they must share stories. Beyond anything else, of course, that means the stories given us in Holy Scripture, but that story itself is what legitimizes and makes meaningful all the good stories we give and receive.
Returning to Pooh bear, I close with this bit of wisdom uniting the universal and the particular.
“Later on, when they had all said ‘Good-bye’ and ‘Thank-you’ to Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent.
‘When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.”