How Religion Poisons Everything — Christopher Hitchens’ New Book

9 05 2007

From Slate’s exclusive excerpts:

. . . here is the point, about myself and my co-thinkers. Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.

. . .How much vanity must be concealed—not too effectively at that—in order to pretend that one is the personal object of a divine plan? How much self-respect must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of one’s own sin? How many needless assumptions must be made, and how much contortion is required, to receive every new insight of science and manipulate it so as to “fit” with the revealed words of ancient man-made deities? How many saints and miracles and councils and conclaves are required in order first to be able to establish a dogma and then—after infinite pain and loss and absurdity and cruelty—to be forced to rescind one of those dogmas? Read the rest of this entry »

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Education is More Than School Because I Think So! — the Most Important Lesson Whatever We Call It

9 05 2007

Do you know parents struggling to balance education and schooling because their own children for whatever reasons, are cobbling together their learning environments between the two? Maybe you ARE one of those parents? Unschooled Favorite Daughter takes public college courses on campus now, but that’s nothing compared to the high-wire act some families perform in multiple show circus rings.

For just one example, I have a good friend IRL I hadn’t seen in years, until Monday. Her life has changed dramatically in the ten years I’ve known her. When first we met, she was a happy, secure, homeschooling SAHM with two beautiful and smart little girls, wanting to start their own home-education Brownie troop. We spent a lot of time together because Favorite Daughter was the same scouting-curious age, and as moms we had values in common, including independent thinking and libertarian leanings.

FavD and I soon lost interest in scouting but my friend continued as troop leader, field trip organizer and general supporter of other families learning without school. She added two little boys to her brood, and the last time I saw her in person was at the fire house field trip, with her fourth child in a big sling, not slowed one bit. The oldest was a joy in pigtails, helping not just her mom but all the smaller kids on the tour.
Until.
From that time to this, this settled and happy mom faced a difficult divorce and the need to find a family-sustaining career for herself, which meant getting different kinds of educational “support” than we typically dwell on in independent unschooling circles — child care and legal advice and putting the older kids in public school after custody challenges and even “going back to school” herself. I know there were times she agonized about her kids, but not whether they mastered the state learning standards and passed algebra — it was what they were learning about life!

Then day before yesterday, we ran into each other while I was out helping FavD buy some supplies for her parttime job.

Read the rest of this entry »