Shall We Despair of Us Ever Understanding Each Other?

2 03 2008

I sure don’t see how we are gonna get past the religious divide. . .

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33 responses

2 03 2008
JJ

Apparently faith fights aren’t even good for the church business!
“Most of the United States’ 25 largest churches either lost members or experienced no growth in the past year, according to a 2008 yearbook produced by the National Council of Churches.

The Episcopal Church, locked in a conflict over the Bible and homosexuality, suffered the steepest decline, reporting a more than four per cent drop . . .”

2 03 2008
Not June Cleaver

My mom’s Episcopal church (the one I grew up in) has become a “progressive” Christian church (see The Center for Progressive Christianity. I told her I didn’t understand why they call themselves Christian if they don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God.

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

What did she say?

Nance

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

JJ, is this because of the CA hsing case being discussed on the HSWatch list?

Nance

2 03 2008
JJ

Thanks for that link, Not JC, very interesting. . .

2 03 2008
JJ

Yes to Nance — I am so discouraged at how first the NHEN forums and now the HSWatch email list, have been destroyed as working collaborations for home education freedom advocacy, by the insidious, sly irrationality of religion uber alles.

Funny how “charter schooling” keeps cropping up as a cover for the real issue, which is a single-minded, literalist, evangelical fundamentalism (anti-evolution, anti-individual, anti-science, anti-reason, anti-intellectual, anti-materialism, anti-woman, anti-reality!) determined to subsume home education, privacy, social policy, schooling, government, and finally our very freedom to be in “their” Christofascist theocracy.

2 03 2008
JJ

Home education advocacy like any other political, legislative advocacy requires intellectual heft and nimble policy analysis [especially when you don’t have money to spread around instead!] — free from the Lynn Stuter-esque Delphi Technique isolationist wackos and their endless plots and Christian conspiracy theories and purposeful distortions and suppressions at World Net Daily, the Discovery Institute, HSLDA etc.

So Nance and I are playing with something that would be ruthlessly free of all that, leave word if you want info privately — we’re not opening it up to another round of exhausting pretense.

2 03 2008
JJ

If I sound DONE with helping to respect and defend religious extremist homeschooling while it continues to work against my education (and other family) freedoms in return, then I am communicating clearly.

2 03 2008
JJ

Btw NotJC, did you see this about single-sex schooling in today’s New York Times?

Notice that here the folks who want to control our kids’ minds and values (and shape the nation’s citizenry accordingly, to their own specifications and ends) are the liberal socialists, not the theocrats. I have had it with all of them!

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

For those who have no idea what we are talking about 🙂 there is a very good Yahoo list called HSWatch. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HSWatch/ It is a serious list for discussion of legislation and legal issues related to hsing.

The description: Homeschool Watch is a place where articles, incidents and current legislation impacting homeschoolers can be posted and practically discussed. The list purpose is to efficiently inform, network and support the efforts of homeschoolers across the nation to keep homeschooling free. This is intended to be a list for homeschoolers actively working on legislative issues and not a theoretical debate society.

The group is run by Kay Brooks, a hser and legislative watchdog in TN. Kay’s website: http://tnhomeed.com/

Kay is a Christian but generally succeeds in keeping religion out of the discussion of legal issues related to hsing.

Kay is also a survivor of the charter hsing wars on the NHEN Forums and takes a firm hand in moderating her list.

Unfortunately, lately there have been a couple of posters on her list who have insisted on twisting every possible post to fit their “power of story” — that Christianity is under attack, Christian hsers in particular, etc.

The current case under discussion does not specifically deal with any threat to religious choice but does involve hsers who happen to be Christian. The original post gave WorldNetDaily as the source for information which immediately set off alarm bells for many of us.

In the course of trying to sort out fact from fiction, the put-upon Christian posters brought up what seemed to me to be extraneous religious issues, as they do in every possible situation.

And now some of the other posters are wondering why this case was pressed in the first place. Was it used to deliberately start some sort of fight for religious exceptions to compulsory attendance/education laws in a state that doesn’t have such an animal?

Or is it all just a screen thrown up to distract from what is a basic child abuse case?

Nance

P.S. Kay may want to correct/clarify what I have posted here but, at the moment, she is engrossed with TN hsing legislation.

2 03 2008
JJ

It WAS a serious list.

But shockingly, now Kay seems to think that the ideological struggle to define America itself is just some “squabble” compared to her state scholarship testing bill, JJ snarls. . .

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

Yes, one of the problems with a couple of determined spoilers is that, even with strong moderation, any lapse in that moderation is an opening.

Their distractions and misdirections are tiresome and tiring.

I remember that well from the NHEN Forums. I think, in the end, part of what shut the NHEN Forums down was just weariness in having to deal with the same ridiculous arguments over and over again. All the while never having time to deal with more interesting and productive conversations.

Nance

2 03 2008
JJ

Hmmm. I don’t think they wanted to spoil the list, as much as take over as the prevailing “authority” for all the list members who came to learn more. Of course they would be Christian in all their interpretations and emphasis, because that really is how they see the world and what they think homeschooling is all about. And the (white males including the guy who literally wrote the book on why Jews are “wrong” and how to convert them from the error of their world view) dominionists can’t tolerate any other POV or analysis, especially from us uppity heathen women.

2 03 2008
Not June Cleaver

She didn’t really answer, Nance. When her church first started moving in this direction about 5 years ago, I think she really disagreed with it. I have seen her go through an amazing transformation over the last couple of years where she actually acknowledges the questions now. It is weird to witness. Well, not so weird really because I have done the same thing. I just never thought I’d see HER do it.

Thanks for the link, JJ. I haven’t read the story and will do so soon.

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

Well, good for both of you. Maybe you’ve been a good example. 🙂

Nance

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

Right, JJ. I don’t think any of these incidents are about the list or forum itself. It’s about having one opinion dominate, by hook or by crook. Any deception, misdirection, misuse of others’ resources, twisting of information and abuse of a list’s or forum’s “give them the benefit of the doubt” policy is OK. As long as it serves the larger goal.

Nance

2 03 2008
JJ Ross

It’s the preemptive attacks on my credibility that make it just not worth trying to share anything helpful. Instead of concentrating together on the legal, political or even factual issues at hand, they challenge me (e.g.) very personally, to discredit me altogether as someone committed to and working to protect homeschool freedom for all. After all I’ve been through insisting on the most inclusive protections and stronger political arguments in defense of ALL home education — even for parents who actually disturb me and make me wonder if their kids will be okay — it pisses me off royally to be attacked by “Christians” claiming I am against them. In fact, it’s starting to turn me against them!

2 03 2008
NanceConfer

See, they were right all along. 🙂

But I see the discrediting as just another strategy, just another underhanded disregard for the truth in order to push their “truth.”

It’s not personal. It’s just business.

And without a moderator to tell them to shut up, or remove them from the list, discussion falls apart or centers on some topic of their choosing — as planned.

Nance

2 03 2008
JJ

Yeah, you got me there. That’s the way it is, I agree.

No wonder I hang out with you, you’re so smart! 🙂

3 03 2008
JJ

And we all know it’s a lot bigger than an email list or a few dominionist blowhards and their wimminfolk. Bigger than a whole state or party, bigger than one nation even. We don’t just have a failure to communicate, or a failure to resolve “religious” differences. What we have is a failure to think for ourselves about how to help ourselves, in ways that get us what we want and need. THAT is what makes me crazy:

I think — although Sheehan herself doesn’t seem capable of such analysis — that the opening trick we can’t manage, is thinking well enough to understand what “saving” the system even means, in such complicated plot lines populated with infinitely interdependent characters, aka the Real World.

Making it do — what? Making it work — how? Making it serve — whom? Because we fail at that, we fail at everything we attempt after that. . .
public schools and party politics, religious wars, et cetera, and just can’t understand why we keep doing all the wrong things wronger, regressing rather than progressing :. . . infuriating regular, responsible people just trying to participate in the system in good faith, in their own private, statistically insignificant roles.

Necessity being the mother of invention, savvy front line folks experiencing the fallout have to cope somehow. They create practical workarounds at their own lowly level that seem to compensate the consumer reasonably well and thus protect the system from its own longterm self-inflicted wounds.

But that in turn makes the [reality-removed] analysts redouble insistence on THEIR strategies, further infuriating users and further hurting the system’s credibility, requiring even more creative counter-programming and loss of respect from the people caught up in it all. More and more regular people wise up to the system’s escalating adversarial shortcomings, thus making it all even worse.

Finally the system becomes neither workable nor fixable at any level . . Dörner’s Logic of Failure.
“Stuck in a quagmire . . .”
“Scant credbility. . .”
“People view [it] as not on the up-and-up”

. . . We don’t think about the implications and consequences of what we want, or want to do, with results that come back to haunt us.
. . . The world always has been very complex, but as the ambition and scale of our intentions has increased in modern times, the malevolent implications and consequences of our simple-mindedness becomes more and more frequent and compelling. . .
We are squandering our environmental capital and undermining our social capital because we are trying to do things, or avoid doing things, that cannot be sustained for very much longer. . .

Remember that Kansas town that got wiped off the map by a giant tornado? Its mayor just quit, said he would not lead the rebuilding effort, wasn’t temperamentally suited to that kind of system work with competing ideas about what to do and how to do it. The town council said oh, don’t quit, we’ll just consider that you’re on sabbatical to get your own family squared away and then maybe you’ll come back and lead us. We’ll just wait.

HUH? But he *is* leading you, by example!
He’s doing a couple of smart, real, practical things. He has his priorities in order (family first) and he knows that not everyone is equally good at every task, “entitled” to it by system formula or not. And he knows that politics and government do not constitute leadership; it’s service.

Maybe Sheehan is quitting for some of the same good reasons as the mayor of Greensburg, and maybe in quitting she will find some leadership success that eluded her in public roles to which she clearly was not well suited, and from which we resisted her anguished message.

. . .I know we have huge problems in the world; tornadic activity is tearing us apart all over the place. I am working toward finding ecologically sound human-serving solutions with the same fervor that I believe drives most activists. But it takes more than passion. Spinoza AND Descartes?

The random, flailing, guilt-ridden, self-destructive, bathos-wallowing Logic of Cindy Sheeham is no less acceptable as The Right Answer than most of the rest of what passes for political discourse and analysis, which continues to fail us all.

3 03 2008
JJ

It’s as if we’re trying to study and discuss the science of life, and people in all earnestness keep popping up with tabloid pictures of alien space ships, insisting it proves that Louis Farrakkan’s (or Tom Cruise’s) religion has the immutable answers to everything, and daring us to debunk them, AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN as if each one were new evidence, and the conclusions inescapably cumulative! — how long would actual thinking advocates (Christian or not) tolerate that?

Whatever the individual’s intentions, whether from gullibility or sly exploitation of same, the only immutable truth is that conservative Christians damage home education credibility and advocacy work every time they treat World Net Daily as “news” rather than denouncing (and rejecting!) it as source material. Take this WND-sourced post yesterday, for instance, from “The Full-Quiver Homeschool House: We are a large, conservative Christian, homeschooling family”:

“Planned Parenthood and Modern Day Eugenics”

Is there any point at all, in someone like me trying to respond to that with painstaking critical analysis, in good faith (ironic turn of phrase given the bad faith with which WND does its dirty work) — maybe once or twice. But no more.

UPDATE – Check out this homeschool-specific news post and the comments, to get a good sense of how useless it is to try to provide even the most relevant, reliable facts and views that completely alter a news report’s meaning for “homeschooling”, when the person introducing it for discussion can’t get her own untethered irrationality out of her own way (much less ours!)

UPDATE TWO – About the Planned parenthood set-up on “eugenics”, here’s a thoughtful Episcopalian youth minister and women’s studies professor (among other pretty interesting labels) illuminating why both Christofascist types and Feministing types ought to do more respecting of each other and less trashing, and stop manipulating reality to their own narrow and bent ends. It’s messy enough already! Read his whole post for a great example of how to be honest and progressive about that mess, instead of just gouging each other’s eyes out and/or walling ourselves into some ideological castle keep.

3 03 2008
JJ

Hmm, this in the Chronicle of Higher Education Review’s coverage of extremist animal rights activism called a “criminal act that threatens, intimidates, and stifles academic freedom”, which would apply to internecine home ed advocacy!

(From comments)
February 26, 2008
“Students Are Implicated in Attack on Animal Researcher’s Family”

“I challenge students and others who care about animals to become well-informed and use their creativity to improve knowledge and treatment of animals, rather than to adopt an ideological position based on ignorance and sources that seek to mislead you.
—Joe Erwin

3 03 2008
Nance Confer

So the alternative is not to get caught up in arguments like these. Although that is difficult.

But there is also a need to constantly remind anti-hsers that not all of us are of one kind or another.

Some of us are even godless atheists with only two children who would volunteer at Planned Parenthood if our local branch needed more volunteers. Which it doesn’t. I asked.

Nance

3 03 2008
JJ

Brother! So how do we “reject and denounce” the stereotype at the same time that we point out pervasive examples of it, trying to address and remedy their worst excesses?

3 03 2008
JJ

Being calm and not letting World Net Daily fan your fears is fine advice, and I guess they are trying to deal with panic already churned up, BUT this advice sure isn’t my idea of how to help homeschoolers everywhere learn to be independent Thinking Homeschool Advocates for our own families. . .if you didn’t know better, you’d suspect this is all a recruiting drive for HSLDA and NHELD, and CA’s big, apparently lawyer-staffed support groups.

If you are not a member of a homeschool organization – join one now. They help to protect your right to homeschool. Volunteer to help them in their endeavors. Then, relax, knowing help is on the way, and as one homeschool mom put it, “Go to park day and play.”

In Florida, that kind of patronizing was how Nance and I first met as upstart moms (back in the last century LOL) doing our own legislative and judicial legwork and mindwork, rather than doing as we were told and relying on FPEA and HSLDA lawyers who would fly in to make pronouncements and interpretations now and then about what was good for us, and issue scripts for what we should say to the legislative offices they would direct us to call.

3 03 2008
Nance Confer

JJ: Brother! So how do we “reject and denounce” the stereotype at the same time that we point out pervasive examples of it, trying to address and remedy their worst excesses?
************

The question of the day! 🙂

Do we attempt to address and remedy their worst excesses? Is that possible? Is it just another distraction? Which would only play into their hands?

Or do we look at an issue and try to see what the facts are and ignore input from certain fronts?

Or ???

Nance

3 03 2008
JJ

For some perverse reason, Bill Cosby comes to mind, think we could learn anything useful from him? 😉

4 03 2008
Nance Confer

Personally, I prefer the “pudding” Bill.

And I’m not seeing the connection here.

Nance

4 03 2008
JJ

I was thinking he is a legit member of his “group” and cares about freedoms, rights and responsibilities for all his group’s families, and he wants to help all parents help all their kids to all live better and do better. He’s personally experienced in family power of story shared with the public (like me) and also is a sort of intellectual, formally credentialed (doctorate in education, like me.) He obviously doesn’t fit any of the negative stereotypes for an African-American dad.

And so he tries to do both things we’re talking about, stand with his own story as a personal example against the social stereotype that hurts the whole group, and then also speak out within his group very strongly, when he sees mindset and behavior that unfortunately fits the harmful stereotype.

Cosby criticizes beliefs, behavior and politics that hurt his group’s kids directly (undermining family, keeping them poor, ignorant, in gangs and prison etc.) and also can hurt them indirectly even if they are middle-class, well-educated and hard-working, by feeding the stereotypes that feed the public’s unease with them as an labeled and lumped-together group, which feeds in turn all sorts of policy attempts to regulate, control, “socialize” and otherwise treat them not as individuals and families, but as a challenging demographic to be monitored and managed by the liberal elite.

Some members of his group really hate him for that, and some outside non-members probably do just take his words as confirmation that they were right about how bad the group is. But he can’t control any of that; all he can do is the best HE can do, in his own life and guided by his own beliefs and conscience. I think what he wants to do is stand up for the whole group as better than the stereotype, and also educate/persuade/offer alternatives within the group to actually lessen/change the direct harm of that stereotype. Help them not live it out in reality, trapped with no alternatives. His advocacy is meant to make things better for his group in two different ways, both of which have to do with standing against — help the public see his group isn’t really just stupid and poor, AND also work to help make sure his group isn’t in fact mostly stupid and poor!

I saw that as similar to the position I find myself in these days with a group I am clearly a legit member of (homeschooling families) suffering under a pervasive stereotype that does actually hurt some homeschooling kids directly, and hurts us all as “home education” whenever that stereotype is trotted out in public to reinforce the suspicion that homeschoolers by definition are ignorant and irrational drooling Bible thumpers oppressing women and beating children, teaching them this is a Christian nation to be taken back for God by infiltration or force if necessary, thus “homeschoolers” as a demographic must be investigated, regulated, controlled by the public, for the public’s protection from them (us.)

5 03 2008
Suze

“So Nance and I are playing with something that would be ruthlessly free of all that, leave word if you want info….”

I am interested in hearing about this.

5 03 2008
Nance Confer

It is his “just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and quit goofing off” approach that turns me off. But at least I see how this connected for you. 🙂

Nance

5 03 2008
JJ

LOL – is that how his approach comes across to you, no wonder you weren’t reading MY mind then?

I’ve never seen education or home education that way, quite the opposite.

Come to think of it though, I HAVE heard some hs advocacy come across very “let them eat cake” and it’s not pretty, hurts us all and helps no one but the smug, self-righteous and undeservedly advantaged. Sometimes it’s condemning other homeschoolers, maybe single moms or football star sons choosing some public program participation and still homeschooling, and more often it is OPC (other people’s children) generally. Writing off all the kids in public schools as if they deserve whatever they get, if they don’t homeschool.

5 03 2008
JJ

Hmmm, is Cosby known for any particular party politics? This tough-love bootstrap approach sounds very conservative Christian to me?

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