UnSchool Gospel for Christian Dads

31 10 2006

At his invitation, I’ve been offering a little “unschooling” perspective to Scott Somerville’s new mission to creatively engage Christian dads in home education. My teen daughter is a comparative religion un-scholar. She read Bart Ehrman’s “Lost Scriptures” last spring and was so intrigued to learn of the early Infancy Gospel of Thomas that I’ve been seriously thinking of broaching it with Scott for “dad education.”

Sort of “Patrician, teach thyself?”

(That’s a pun, poor but sincere.)

My offbeat idea is that Christian dads could enlighten themselves with this material to offset the rigid left-brain control tendency of paternalism (in all religious dogma), the scary-absolute definitions about what “should” and shouldn’t happen, what children “should” be, do, and believe, what they should be taught, about sin and punishment, always failing each other and falling short of Christ’s perfection, and the meanings of Christ’s example for marriage and family and rearing of children.

This Infancy Gospel describes the early learning of the human Jesus as a boy in terms that sound more like a spontaneous, singular journey of self-discovery than daily school lessons delivering a canned curriculum built on a set of absolute and measurable standards, codes, high-stakes tests and trials by fire. His devoted parents and teachers are unable to deliver what he ultimately must discover for himself through imperfect childish experimentation, even some spectacular boyish mischief.

I’m not suggesting the message is that boys will be boys! 🙂

These parables offer more than that, by integrating Magic School Bus with Divine Miracle — humans take chances, get messy, and make mistakes traveling toward enlightenment.

So I’m suggesting this as a useful frame that might mean something to these particular dads — the Infancy Gospel of Thomas sounds like Unschooling for Schooled and Churched Dads, valuable perspective that could really help evangelical dads who do accept ancient teachings as divine rules for their own family life today, dads who obediently struggle every day in every way to make their children conform to the image of Jesus and thereby save their souls.

If from authority that they already accept and believe, they discover their own children between the ages of 5 and 12 are uncannily like the boy Jesus portrayed in these ancient stories, then they could understand unschooling as Christ-like, a sanctioned part of learning absolutely integral to human maturing. It might even help convict Christian dads that their children are perfectly on track to eventual godly goals in the very act of not accepting authority and school lessons dutifully?
The Whole Bible:
“. . . the young Christ displays all the precociousness, cleverness, and even destructiveness of the child-gods in pagan mythology. In the early passages of the story, Jesus shows a disturbing tendency to kill off his playmates when they displease him. He eventually learns to channel his divine abilities in more constructive ways and realizes his calling . . .”

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