Children's Spirituality: Christian Perspectives, Research and Applications Paperback – 31 Jul 2004
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By Clifford WardSpecial to the Tribune
2:42 p.m. CST, February 25, 2014
A former Wheaton College professor was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for possession of child pornography.
"I am a fallen man," Donald Ratcliff told a DuPage County judge. "I was given great opportunities and I squandered them."
Ratcliff, 62, was arrested in February 2012 when police searched his Carol Stream home and found hundreds of images and videos of child pornography on his computers. Police said they were drawn to Ratcliff after noting that he had downloaded the images from an Internet site that offered child pornography.
A Carol Stream police detective testified that he interviewed Ratcliff on the day of the raid. The child development professor confessed that he was "curious" about child pornography, and began downloading the images, the detective said
Ratcliff eventually pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography in exchange for prosecutors dropping six other counts.
Although Ratcliff had no prior arrests and a psychologist called him a good candidate for treatment, Judge John Kinsella said prison time was the appropriate response.
Prosecutors played an 11-minute video for the judge that police say Ratcliff had downloaded. Kinsella, who described it as essentially a videotape of a child rape, called it "as bad as you can imagine."
Ratcliff attorney Brian Telander asked the judge impose a probation sentence that would require continued counseling and other measures to ensure Ratcliff does not break the law. His client, Telander said, has already lost his job and become estranged from his children and wife, who filed for divorce.
"He has suffered great consequences already as a result of the sick compulsion he has, which is caused by a mental disorder," Telander said.
Prosecutors argued that the seriousness of the crime called for a prison sentence.
"When you look at the defendant, you would be completely justified in asking how someone like him ended up here," Assistant State’s Attorney Louisa Nuckolls said. "Apparently, very few people knew the real Donald Ratcliff."
Ratcliff had taught at Wheaton College since 2006 and was the author of several books on child development and spirituality.
--Dr. Robert Coles, Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities at Harvard Medical School, and the author of The Spiritual life of Children.
This extraordinary book is a must read for all who teach and practice religious education. It gathers, with breadth and depth, the best current research from an exploding renewal in the study of the spirituality and religious development of children. Teachers, students and scholars dedicated to understanding and nurturing our children's growth in faith will find this rich volume indispensable.
--James W. Fowler, author of Stages of Faith and C. H. Candler Professor of Theology and Human Development Director, The Center for Ethics, Emory University.
Written in the best of the Evangelical tradition, Children's Spirituality is a must read for all those interested in children, the spiritual life and Christian formation. Descriptive phrases include well conceived and edited, clearly written and well documented, thorough and all-encompassing, academically sound and popular, combining research and practical application.
--The Rev. Dr. John Westerhoff, formerly Professor of Theology and Christian Nurture at Duke University, he is Theologian-in-Residence at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia
This pace-setting text considers a wide variety of topics related to the spiritual development and spiritual experiences of children. The chapters grew out of presentations at the first major conference to consider these important topics from a distinctly Christian perspective. The first section considers the important question of defining spirituality and summarizes some of the history of the spirituality of children, as reflected in theology and the Bible. Social influences on children's spirituality are considered, as well as how brain activity relates to spiritual experiences. The second major section highlights children's spirituality in the Christian home, both in history and at the current time. Here the development of the concept of God is considered, as well as how parents and children work together to construct understandings of spirituality. A third section reflects upon the spirituality of children in the church, including alternative perspectives of how spiritual growth and experience are best encouraged in that setting. The distinctive aspects of African American and Latino children's spirituality are given careful attention. Schools and other settings are examined in the fourth section of the book, with an emphasis upon moral learning, encouraging faith development with preschoolers, how spirituality helps children cope with serious medical conditions and the stresses related to being children of missionaries, and best practices in reaching inner city children. The book concludes with a chapter that examines how Christian's views of children's spirituality are changing, and anticipates a follow up conference in the near future.
CHAPTER TITLES AND AUTHORS:
1. Identifying Children's Spirituality, Walter Wangerin's Perspectives, and an Overview of this Book by Donald Ratcliff with Scottie May
2. Children and Mature Spirituality by Jerome Berryman
3. Historical Perspectives on Children in the Church: Resources for Spiritual Formation and a Theology of Childhood Today by Marcia Bunge
4. Biblical Perspectives on Developmental Grace for Nurturing Children's Spirituality by Klaus Issler
5. Unless You Become as One of These: Biblical Perspectives on Children's Spirituality by Shelley Campagnola
6. Christian Perspectives on Children's Spirituality: Social Science Contributions? by Rebecca Nye
7. A Sociocultural Perspective on Children's Spiritual Development by Wendy Haight
8. Exploring Scientific and Theological Perspectives on Children's Spirituality by Eugene Roehlkepartain
9. Children in Wesleyan Thought by Catherine Stonehouse
10. Children's Spiritual Experiences and the Brain by Scottie May and Donald Ratcliff
11. How Shall We Study Children's Spirituality? by Chris J. Boyatzis and Babette T. Newman
12. The Co-construction of Spiritual Meaning in Parent-Child Communication by Chris J. Boyatzis
13. The Child's Concept of God by Joyce E. Bellous, Simone de Roos, and William Summey
14. From Doctrine to Practice: The Influence of the Doctrine of Original Sin on Puritan Child-Rearing by Timothy Sisemore
15. Six Children Seeking God: Exploring Childhood Spiritual Development in Context by Dana Hood
16. Children in Congregations: Congregations as Contexts for Children's Spiritual Growth by Joyce Ann Mercer, Deborah L. Matthews, and Scott Walz
17. Nurturing Children's Spirituality in Intergenerational Christian Settings by Holly Catterton Allen
18. A Narrative of Children's Spirituality: African American and Latino Theological Perspectives by Karen Crozier and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier
19. Narrative and the Moral Education of the Christian Child by Victoria Ford and Esther Wong
20. The Ecology and Social Dynamics of Childhood Spirituality by James Estep and Lillian Breckenridge
21. Using Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Faith-Based Early Childhood Settings by Joyce Ruppell
22. Spiritual Influences in Helping Children to Cope with Life Stressors by Sara Pendleton, Ethan Benore, Katherine Jonas, Wendy Norwood, and Carol Herrmann
23. Ministering to Unchurched, Urban, At-risk Children by Gary Newton
24. Looking Back, Looking Forward: Reflections on the Conference and Anticipation of the Future by Kevin E. Lawson
Appendix 1: Children's Ministry Models by Scottie May and others
Appendix 2: Theological Life of the California Child by Earl Barnes with Miss Ora Boring (published 1892)
I highly recommend that someone read this book who is interested in learning about spiritual development instead of just trends and fads in children's ministry.