If you are a Christian mom in Japan and struggle with whether or not you should be including any Japanese folk tales because of blatant paganism and mysticism, know that you are not alone; however, I do think many folk tales are an incredible way to teach children virtues. Many of you might recall The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett released in ’93, which is filled with such stories. I still remember vividly the lessons learned from reading these stories as a child.
I do not think all folk tales belong on your bookshelf, especially the ones that glorify the magic arts (otherwise known as fairy tales). The Bible explicitly warns us against sorcery:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8, Emphasis added)
If you are paying attention, you have surely realized that most of today’s entertainment offerings for children is massively infused with sorcery. We should not be teaching children to rely on their own power for deliverance; we should always be looking to our Lord and Savior , Jesus Christ, as the center of our lives.
…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
For a great discussion on this topic, I would advise you to take a look at this incredible article by Vigen Guroian. It’s a bit long-winded (I tend to be as well), but the author makes some very good points about how so many children today lack character and virtue. We have become so caught up in the religious dogma that we forget the human condition: sin.
“It hardly requires emphasis at this moment in our history” Bettelheim wrote, that children need “a moral education… (that teaches] not through abstract ethical concepts but through that which seems tangibly right and therefore meaningful….
The great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber tells the story of how he fell into “the fatal mistake of giving instruction in ethics” by presenting ethics as formal rules and principles. Buber discovered that very little of this kind of education gets “transformed into character-building substance.”