The only time I ever studied geography, as the devoted subject of a formal class, was in 8th grade. Memorization was easy and the class was boring. In my vast maturity at the time, that meant breezing through tests and not doing a lick of homework, skating by with just enough of a grade to get credits for high school. That said, it was a grand waste of time. The fault for that waste lies at my feet, for wasting it, my father’s feet, for not whupping my rear into a better course of action, and the teacher’s feet, for making the subject boring.
Yes, I want my sons to study geography. No, it shouldn’t be boring. Those who present geography in a boring manner are guilty of lying.
Why study the subject? What’s so glorious about it?
Growing up, my dad didn’t build many things. The one thing I do remember him building was a basketball hoop in our backyard. As his son, I was obviously impressed with my dad’s creative abilities. He dug a hole, filled it with concrete in which a tall 4×4 post got firmly sunk, and bolted a gray plastic backboard to the top of it. The only downside of the hoop was that its shortness failed to give me an accurate perspective of my own shortcomings. The whole thing was simple, but I loved looking it over, getting to knows its details, because my dad made it. He was dad, so his handiwork fascinated me; it said something good about him, and I wanted to hear the words.
We are sons of God, and our Father has made everything, including the globe. Every ocean, continent, ridge, valley, desert, forest, and quicksand bed is his handiwork. He made it all, and all of it is surpassingly more splendid than a basketball hoop. So of course we would want to study and examine and explore and come to know the geographic works of his hands. They all declare his glory, and the words are sweet to hear. He is our Father. We are his sons. We love looking at and listening to what our Father has made. Doing so is fundamental to us growing up to be like him.
When I was in first grade, my dad bought a plot of land in Timberville, Virginia. As a kid, it felt like multiple acres. But it was probably just about one acre. My dad bought it; it was the land of his dominion (ignoring the fact that everyone actually just rents from the government because of property taxation). Bearing my dad’s name, I explored every square inch of his domain, the barn that threatened collapse with every breeze, the rock quarry that he called our driveway, every gopher hole in what was my football field, and all the trees and paths in our miniature Sherwood Forest. I delighted to know the smells and textures, even the poison ivy, of dad’s domain.
Christ is our elder brother. We bear his name. And he sits on the throne of heaven with the whole earth as his realm. It’s this planet that he promises to cover with the knowledge of his glory as the water covers the sea. It’s this planet that he is sending us throughout to teach the peoples obedience. It is the land of his conquest. Shouldn’t our children, especially our boys, love to explore the land of our Lord’s conquest? If we’re teaching them Bible, it would seem impossible to try to keep them from studying geography.
So, teach your sons geography. Start with the geography of your own property and move out to your local community and state. Know the place and love it. Then study the world. And if class is boring, slap yourself.