Sugar or Brimstone?

We enjoyed a day in London yesterday… using buses as all underground stations were closed… visiting the British Museum… and watching the excellent Mary Poppins. The stage show is much better than the film!

One of its main themes is how children should be brought up… how they relate to adults – especially their parents (similar to The Sound Of Music).

Miss Andrew proposes that ‘Brimstone and Treacle’ should be administered to children. There should be strict discipline with punishments fitting the crime:

I won’t stand for simpering, whingeing and whimpering
Sucking of thumbs is absurd
Observe every letter
For children are better
When they can be seen and not heard.

Mary Poppins’ approach is that children respond better to fun, enjoyment, games. She promotes the benefits of the ‘Spoonful of Sugar’:

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap, the job’s a game
And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree, it’s very clear to see

These alternatives have been debated throughout my life…

…In school… Teachers discussing the nature of discipline in the classroom, the enjoyment of lessons… Adults remembering their school days – strict teachers, inspiring teachers, fun lessons, failure lessons… Sugar or Brimstone?

…In the home… Parents discussing parenting skills, household rules, tough love, appropriate sanctions… Children reflecting on the way their parents treated them, positive and negative lessons, parent-child relationships… Sugar or Brimstone?

…In the church… Leaders discussing the place of ‘discipline’ and ‘fun’ in Christian faith… theologians considering the Old Testament God of wrath and the New Testament God of love… Both those inside and outside the church expressing views on appropriate behaviour for ‘Christians’… Sugar or Brimstone?

Musing… I return to St Paul’s advice: ‘Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.’

Sugar or Brimstone? That sounds to me more like sugar…

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