Nance to another unschooler and thinking parent this week:
“Trying to make a tough decision? You get to use your brain! Think about what is best for you and yours and go for it. Unencumbered by having to mumble the right religious phrases and justifications.”
I think homeschool families have particular reason to pay attention here, because “home education” as a regulated minority suffers one way or another from our all culture’s confusions and conceits, controls and misguided compassions. I don’t claim to have figured it all out but I can claim my own golden circle of free will and free thinking remains unbroken and I’ve got a lot more thinking to do, especially about the church, school and family stories we tell each other and ourselves.
Principled Discovery is hosting comments about a tornado killing a homeschooled boy scout in a shelter when the stone fireplace fell on him. Parents so far have reacted to this tragedy by :
a) running through a checklist of what could have been done differently,
b) empathizing with the family’s loss, and
c) murmuring it was God’s will that things happen just as they do.
A little girl was killed by lightning in a state park here in north Florida Sunday, heard it on the local news late that night. She was with her grandparents and siblings in a camper as a thunderstorm was passing. They came out of the camper as lightning struck a big tree and traveled down the roots across a dozen feet of open ground, and into (only) her body, while the rest of her family stood helpless.
Did somebody’s god single her out to die that day that way, and if so, do we really believe it likely to have been HER god, protecting her with some perfect plan? And she may or may not have been a homeschooled child but really, what possible difference does that make to her family or to society, in thinking about real life and death?
Daryl in NC blogs criminal news of four-year-old “homeschooled” Sean Paddock’s death, in which wicked mind-controlling patriarchy from the child-beating “ministry” of Michael and Debi Pearl isn’t newsworthy, but the tragic lack of homeschool inspections is the Big Problem. The Long family child protection case in California wasn’t about homeschooling freedom or intervening to save kids who were behind a grade level in school.
It was about our tragic failure to protect those specific children from real abuse at any level from the home right on up through the system, and our collective inability to think about THAT instead of dithering about our own “freedom” and choices and parent rights — never mind what hell on earth our delusions of our own importance damn unprotected children to, as a result.
Yeah, I agree whatever we do or how we do it, there’s no perfect protection plan for our kids. OTOH, I find monstrous the belief that God has perfect plans to kill them and will get them no matter what I do. If I *did* try to accept that in my own mind, I think it would drive me literally insane, make me unable and unwilling to function, even suicidal and homicidal as terrorists’ divinity delusions seem to do.
I’ve studied CS Lewis’ Problem of Pain etc. Intellectually and emotionally I get the intent of saying god’s will be done as comforting power of story. I just want to point out that religious homeschoolers assuring each other that child victims are somehow part of God’s plan doesn’t translate to the secular public that way. It can sound seriously frightening in fact, heard as the wrong kind of “strength and faith.”
The idea of any god willing, planning and executing the horrible deaths of individual children anywhere in the world, has been twisted (even by famous preachers) about tragic mass misery and murders like Katrina, AIDS and 9-11. It played as shocking apathy from a devout but simplistic president. Monstrous whatever the source of the error and the rhetorical refuge of the scoundrel spouting it as truth.
By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. . . Once you reach that place with [a roomfull of like-minded folks] you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons.
. . .All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no “anything else.” All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this “our thing,” a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that’s all.
At Parenting Beyond Belief, Dale McGowan describes the thinking error called “confirmation bias” and how those of us who think best, think most about it and are leery of it in our own thinking. Those of us who think worst, think least about it, and then only to deny its existence.
That’s as monstrous a delusion I think, as a modern culture so impotent and morally messed up — even as it thunders personal faith in god from capitol rooftops and forecasts divine world-ending vengeance as “good news” — that its reply to a child’s tragic death is to discuss who’s behind grade level in school.