Finishing up my book, ‘And This Is Why We Homeschool,’ at the very end of 2020, important to me was that I leave readers with an encouragement to not homeschool children for the purpose of keeping them ignorant of certain things, as though ignorance and innocence are synonymous.
As I saw it then, and still see it today, the line between these two is blurry for some people, but we don’t want to be those people, nor do we want our children to be.
So I talk with our kids about the social and political issues of our day, as well as what the Word tells us about how life is to be found in trusting ourselves to the goodness, faithfulness, and grace of God in Christ Jesus for every area of life.
Only in this way can we live in light of eternity, and present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord. So I’m not a fan of avoiding certain topics or issues because we don’t want to get into the messy work of unpacking them.
Do Talk About Everything
Consequently, we’ve talked about Critical Race Theory, and Black Lives Matter, for instance, and the angry accusation that America is and always has been a systemically racist country. I’ve explained what the claims are, and where they come from.
Another thing we talk about is the public and political campaign to normalize every manner of sexual or gender expression, especially homosexuality and transgenderism, as well as the caustic charge that Christians are bigoted hypocrites for opposing the redefinition of marriage or maleness and femaleness, how it is said we are in no place to judge what is or is not normal, healthy, or godly as pertains to these matters, so we should just keep it to ourself and get with the times.
Along similar lines, and for the same reasons, we talk about many other questions and topics. But in all of our discussions, the common goal is to teach these sons and daughters to look to God to define for us what is true and good. We believe this is infinitely preferable to deferring to any number of people, who don’t know or follow the Lord, even as they seek to dictate to us what we should believe, say, and do next to placate them.
And this, quite frankly, is why we homeschool, to seek the Lord’s pleasure first and foremost, not to please or cater to men. Therefore, my wife and I endeavor to be good stewards of the privilege, honor, joy, and blessing it is to have gotten these children from the Lord.
Because of this, we want to encourage others to do likewise. But now I must return again to a brief discussion of the inverse, and what our reasons are not, and cannot be, for homeschooling in a distinctly Christian way, for distinctly Christian reasons.
To this end, our family has for several years now used as the core of our curriculum a certain free resource called AmblesideOnline. But we haven’t only used it, of course.
Our math, for one, is a computer-based series called Teaching Textbooks. For another thing, we loop in STEM activities, like computer science, programming, and studying electronics, facilitated by My Tech High.
But where AO has been our go-to for reading lists, we’ve enjoyed it very much, encouraging others to similarly utilize it as a result.
We have recently decided to go a different route in the coming school year, however, and I want to briefly explain our reasons why, since they are entirely due to recent announcements that AO administrators are taking the curriculum in what we regard as a new direction.
Briefly, this change includes plenty of routine updates, like removing a few recommended books which are no longer deemed to be the best fit. And, of course, we find no fault with standard updates, or tweaks designed to give students and families a better experience. Rather, we appreciate and are grateful for them.
However, two particular changes do not fall into this category, in our view, but mirror a more fundamental shift which is occurring elsewhere in broader society, which we can neither endorse nor go along with in good faith.
First, works by Joshua Harris and Ravi Zacharias have been removed due to concerns of scandal and apostasy surrounding those two men. Yet a work by Jackie Hill Perry has been added, along with the assurance that the work is internally sound where doctrine is concerned.
Second, This Country of Ours, by H.E. Marshall, has been revised and updated to remove language in the originally published a century ago, which some now deem offensive.
First, let’s consider the removal of two authors from the lineup.
In recent years, Joshua Harris left his family, the pastorate, and the Christian faith itself. The author of ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye,’ has now kissed everything else he was known for goodbye as well. Not recommending his books to young Christian boys and girls makes a tremendous amount of sense, then, and I have no objection.
Similarly, it came to light after the passing of Ravi Zacharias that this world-famous Christian apologist had been credibly accused of sexual impropriety with a long list of female massage therapists for years prior to his death. Thus, at best, though only God truly knows what happened, a giant question mark hangs above his legacy, and the removal of his works from the reading list therefore stands to reason as a prudent choice.
But then we come to the inclusion of Gay Girl, Good God author, spoken word poet, and preacher, Jackie Hill Perry in the line-up. Famous for several years now for being promoted by The Gospel Coalition and other outlets as a former lesbian who came to faith in Christ, married a man, and now has several beautiful children with him, she has also caused quite a stir for comments affirming CRT and being too clever by half with what the Apostle Paul writes in the New Testament about women not being allowed to teach or have authority over men.
Our big question, then, is whether there isn’t a double standard at work for books by Harris and Zacharias relative Jackie Hill Perry, where apparent doctrinal soundness within the book itself is all that matters in the latter case, but statements and choices outside of books is factored in the former case.
Besides this, and considered in juxtaposition with it, we come to the editorializing with H.E. Marshall’s 1917 This Country of Ours.
As with the general annual AO updates, many of the announced alterations to this work sound helpful and good. Adding footnotes and links, for instance, is not at all objectionable to us. Unpacking certain concepts further in a sidebar can go a long way when certain concepts and facts are less familiar in our time than they were a hundred years ago.
But then we come to the decision to take out references to “the red man,” or some unspecified term for a Native American women.
I can only assume this latter bit is in reference to “squaw,” which Wikipedia tells me is now widely regarded to be an ethnic and sexual slur, because it somehow fetishizes or makes exotic indigenous women when some people say it, despite the fact that many tribal languages used the same word to teach the white man what to call the female of our species in their tongue.
But then what are we coming to? Take these things together, and what kind of composite picture takes shape?
Are we going to modify the words of some long-past authors so we can keep recommending and reading their works, without being cancelled by the Left, even as we are removing the works of other authors because they are objectionable now, even as we are including the works of other authors, despite their being objectionable to conservatives, because it has been recently decided by more progressive Christians that these are the voices of diversity the Church needs today?
I don’t mean to accuse, only to explain, that the question hangs in my mind whether we should be reading the fine print here.
I appreciate that each household must decide what to do with these kinds of developments. As I wrote in another place in my 2020 work, among the best things about homeschooling is that it is what we choose to make of it.
Provided, then, others have a good conscience before God to keep on using this or that resource, I do not presume to chide or judge them. Rather, I state our reasons here to caution all about the broader trends in our day with regards to the revising of old books and lists along lines favorable to progressive ideology.
What has been happening to every beloved story in recent years? Old movie franchises have been reshot, or had sequels and prequels made, which spin the original narratives and morals in decidedly Woke directions. The books of Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, and Ian Fleming have been revised by their publishers to accommodate the folks who need trigger warnings for trigger warnings.
An effort has been made as well to delist classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind, since they’re similarly charged as the word ‘squaw’ with problematic words and portrayals of non-white people.
If you ask me, this is the literary equivalent of tearing down statues of historical figures if they owned slaves; it’s of a piece with renaming schools and colleges called ‘Washington’ and ‘Jefferson;’ but it’s also little better than the folks who wanted to deface U.S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln just because they were old white men who were probably racist, because America is systemically racist.
Thus, these moves are also of a piece in my mind with the Queen James Bible, and have more in common with that work than with Eugene Peterson’s ‘The Message.’
As I say, these are our convictions. Our conclusions might be debatable. But then I have nevertheless just made my argument known for why we are coming to our decision.
Each household that follows after Christ must make their own choice.
As Exodus 35:4-5 says,
“Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution…”
So also, Paul tells us in the second epistle to the church at Corinth, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Yet we should cheerfully give according to knowledge and wisdom, and the wise will thank those who in correcting them help them to become still wiser.
Thus I point to the fact that the same folks on the Left who object to “squaw” and “red man” and To Kill a Mockingbird will never be satisfied with a few seemingly innocent tweaks to This Country of Ours, nor will they be content for Jackie Hill Perry to be included among others.
We must know that the world we live in today, and which our children are expected to inhabit, is one in which even the Bible will be edited to cater to the sin and sensitivities of the godless.
I Warn Everyone
In summary, I will leave you with the warning in Revelation 22:18-19.
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
For a surety, however great and good any of our beloved works of literature may be, they are not God’s Word. Nevertheless, insofar as we are made in God’s image, I think at least an echo of the kind of reverence we should have for the Bible because we fear God should be found in a decent respect for our fellow man and what he or she writes or says, particularly if deceased many years ago, and unavailable now for comment or consent to revise works published long ago with the utmost of intention and care.
Add footnotes for clarity and context all you like. We do that both with the Bible and other works, and it’s a fine thing when we do.
To edit the work of another, however, without either their permission or knowledge, is quite another thing, and ought not to be done, in my opinion, for most any reason. But even if there were good reasons presented, to try to avoid offending those who insist on being offended by everything until all their demands are met could never be among them.
Were we to affirm the contrary, or say nothing about it, such would invalidate our reason for homeschooling in the first place. And this is why I submit these concerns for your consideration here.
This Episode’s Links:
- About Us, AmblesideOnline
- Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall – Wikipedia
- Squaw – Wikipedia
- Roald Dahl – Wikipedia
- Agatha Christie Books Get Woke Makeover, Join Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming – Robby Soave, Reason
- ‘Goosebumps’ author R.L. Stine says publisher made ‘woke’ edits behind his back – Lee Brown, New York Post
- The Failed Campaign To Kill To Kill a Mockingbird – Jason Russell, Reason
- The Message (Bible) – Wikipedia
- The Queen James Bible – Wikipedia
- Jackie Hill Perry – Wikipedia
- My Life As A Stud – Wikipedia
- Mr. Morale: A Rap (All The Smoke) – @jackiehillperry, Instagram
- A Conversation About Race – The Gospel Coalition, YouTube
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