All of this makes me stop to think: why is Little House on the Prairie so popular among Christians today?
I can think of several reasons. First, it is a portrayal of a family that is taking its faith seriously. Christianity is at the very heart of the Ingalls family. Second, the world of the story is real but positive. While the situations can be difficult, the Ingalls family perseveres. Third, we admire the values upheld in the series. Love, faith, hope, hard work, reconciliation, and forgiveness are just a few of the principles displayed. Fourth, we are intrigued by the time in which they lived, by the difficulties they faced as well as the advantages they had. Technology has brought us a long way from Plum Creek. We have gained a lot of improvements and conveniences since that era, but we have also collected negative consequences which come with technological innovation. There is the loss of family and community, the loss of simplicity and rest, etc. Neil Postman wrote of these kind of changes in his works (including Amusing Ourselves to Death, demonstrating that technology has both its positive and negative sides. Little House on the Prairie shows them to us.
At the same time, there are also potential dangers in enjoying Little House on the Prairie. We can begin to think of it as an idyllic time that we yearn to go back to—"The Glory Years." Unfortunately, this yearning denies the providence and sovereignty of God. He did not place us in the late 19th century. He has determined we will live in the 21st century, and our purpose is to glorify Him in the time He has given us here. Another problem with desiring the past is a misunderstanding of the world in which we live. The problem is not fundamentally out there (in the media, in the government, in our unsaved neighbors). The problem is inside of us—the sin in our hearts. As a result, the atmosphere of an earlier period would not make things better for us. What needs to change is not external; it is internal. The Ingalls family continues as a testimony to us because of their devotion to Christ, not because of when or where they lived. Therefore, we must not escape to the past, but embrace the present while respecting and appreciating history.
It is in this sense that my family has begun to enjoy and appreciate Little House on the Prairie. In many ways, the Ingalls continue to be a model for us today. With such an example, my family will continue to enjoy this classic series.