Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finding My Way Home

I remember the first day of Zach's kindergarten year. I dropped him off (with the most wonderful teacher in the world) and drove away. But the look on his face, I will never forget. Wide, anxious eyes.  A chewed lip. And as I drove away, I thought, "What in the world are we doing? This can't be right."


We then discovered the joys of homeschooling...
And we have never looked back.
That was fifteen years ago.

Somewhere across all these years, though, I lost my way. I started out being cozy and hands on. Between transcripts and that silly 'classical' craze, I lost both. I got very focused on grades and rigor and the proper way to do science. I started raising intellectuals instead of disciples.

Make sure they make three cycles through history.
Make sure they have four lab sciences.
Make sure they take the practice SAT eighty-five times.
Drill that vocabulary.
Memorize the Westminster Confession.
In Latin.
By the time they're six.
Blah, blah, blah.


And all this time, the ghost of Charlotte Mason has been whispering my name.
What happened to curling up on the couch with a good book?
What happened to hands on?
And making memories?
And feeding, rather than killing, their appetite for learning?

I've spent considerable time researching this summer.
I have many little ones left who need cozy. And I am determined to give it to them.
These are the precious years of discipleship. And I am determined not to fritter them away on textbooks.
I'm finding my way back home.

Helen, my kindergartner, threw me for a loop when she learned to read about a year ago. Kindergarten in our house has always only been about learning to read. But Miss Smarty-Pants has forced me to change things up. Turns out that was a godsend. I discovered Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography.
That Ann Voskamp.
I can smell the coffee as we curl up to study God's earth and become missions-minded in the process.
Mmmm. Cozy, cozy, cozy.

We'll also be doing science as a group this year, and everyone will be studying sea creatures. While my high school junior studies marine biology, Grace (8th) and Jake (6th) will go along for that ride. The younger children (4th, 2nd, and K) will read Swimming Creatures. It's going to be a journey of wonder through God's oceans. I can't wait.

Latin gets a rest this year. Grace and Jake finished their second year, simultaneously learning the Greek alphabet/phonics. So (and this will be the only place I will forfeit cozy for rigor), they will be doing  Greek, just for some good exposure. Shoot, they and Claire (4th) can now read Greek phonetically now. Might as well throw and grow. Throw in some grammar. Grow some vocabulary. We'll take our sweet time going through Classical Academic Press's Greek for Children.

But history is my big find this year. I did a lot of research this year and finally landed on Diana Waring's History Alive. With its four week cycle in every unit focusing on books and hands on, this one had my name written all over it. And, using the reading lists from Ambleside Online, Simply Charlotte Mason, and Higher Up and Further In, I've got books everywhere.

On my desk.
In the kitchen.
On top of the piano.
Double deep on the shelves.
This is a bibliophile's messy paradise.

Grace, my budding artist and eighth-grader, gets Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain all to herself. This is one I bought specifically with her in mind. I enjoy seeing the kids blossom in their individual talents. (And heaven knows I can't help her here at all.)

In my home, homeschooling in high school is the pay-off. It's that time when my child is bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood...
when their thinking starts to become mature and fascinating, and they start to have opinions and views that are slightly different from my own...
when they begin to cross over from being my child to being my friend.

High school is the best homeschooling season of all.

Worldview is still the name of the game. Eliza will be tackling her second year of World Views of the Western World. She had a good experience with the first year, and we had great conversations. She's going to be reading gobs of good books, in terms of literature, philosophy, and politics.

Add in an economics course (Austrian, of course), marine biology, a sweet French curriculum I found, and Professor E. McSquared's Intergalactic Guide to the Galaxy (that's pre-cal to you and me), and she'll have her hands full.

As for extra-curriculars, these are the things that can war against cozy. So we'll keep those to a minimum, especially the things that require my own attendance.
There will be football (in the fall) and boy scouts.
Teen Court and speech/debate.
I will continue to coach extemp in our speech club.
But that's it.
If you're thinking of asking me to contribute to or lead something...
get behind me, Satan.
The answer is no.

A sweet-smelling fragrance.
An atmosphere of wonders in all of us at the magnificence of God's world.
That is my goal this year.

Raising intellectuals is good.
But raising disciples is better.
I have found my way home.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Of Bodyguards, Bullies, and the Glory of God

I think when people say the term "Christian nation," we should at least define our terms...
at which point I find that I have serious differences of opinion with big names of the Religious Right
(a group, by the way, that I have strongly identified with in the past--but am finding it harder to do, the more Biblically I think and the more I try to reform my life around the Scriptures. Odd? Yes.)

Christian: Literally meaning little Christ. One who accepts Jesus as Savior and obeys Him as Lord. One whose worldview is defined as loving what God loves and hating what God hates.
Nation: a collection of people united under one ruler.
Christian Nation (therefore): a collection of those who accept Jesus as Savior, obey Him as Lord, and unite in covenant with Him under his government as King.

Now...I ask you...why, oh why, do we keep calling the United States a Christian nation??? Does this--or has this ever--accurately described this country we live in?
When was this country ever a body of believers? Hmm?
Thomas Jefferson (who denied the divinity of Jesus).
Ben Franklin (who was sexually immoral).
George Washington (who was a freemason).
Political geniuses? Yes.
Brilliant thinkers, speakers, writers? A thousand times, yes.
Christians? Uh, no.

Examine our founding documents and tell me where we, as this nation called the United States,  entered into covenant with the Almighty.
You can't.
Because we didn't.
Know covenant. Know Peace.

No covenant. No Peace.

It's not that I don't think we're a Christian nation because my definition is so permissive.
It's that I don't think we're a Christian nation because my definition is so precise.

Did the Judeo-Christian view of government and law have an impact on the founders and the Constitution they gave us? Of course it did.
Does that make us a Christian nation?
Our republic and our justice system is lifted from the ancient Romans.
Does that make us a Roman nation?

The Church.
The gospel's glory isn't that the Prince marries the beautiful but endangered princess, but that He marries, and beautifies, the evil hag. (RC Sproul, Jr.)
Sproul is right. The Church is the former evil hag.
And she is still, at times, fickle and fearful.
She is also the Missus. So it would make sense that she relies solely on her Mister.
I wish.
Nope. When the American Church gets threatened, She relies on the State.

The State was never intended to do the Church's bidding.
The State was charged with punishing the evil-doer and rewarding good.
The State bears a sword. It's supposed to. That's how it metes out justice.
But is the State supposed to be the morality police?
I'll appeal to the logic of the Ten Commandments for my position.
Every breach of the Ten Commandments came with a prescribed punishment...
except commandment ten: coveting.  I'll bet it was because policing coveting was an impossibility. It was a matter of the heart. It also had no victim.
Was coveting punished? Yes. By God. Not by the State.

Was there some Israelite out there roaming among the tents with his boxers in a bunch because someone somewhere was coveting? and he couldn't do a blessed thing about it?
Well, if the heart of man is the same...
and if I take my cue from today's Church...
I'm going to assume there were as many bunched boxers then as there are now.
And there are Christians out there roaming among their fellow Americans, in a positive tizzy over the fact that someone somewhere is smoking pot or fornicating or acting homosexually or...

Do let's be honest. The indignation is not because we care about these fornicating, homosexual druggies. Make me laugh. I've seen it in your eyes. It's because it annoys you.

So we march our angry little wadded-up panties over to the State and demand that It do something--the sooner the better--about all those dirty little sinners out there. And, by golly, use guns and jails if you need to, Darlin'.
The Church has turned the State into Her personal bodyguard.
That bodyguard is big.
That bodyguard is strong.
That bodyguard is well-funded and well-oiled.
And we should admit we like having the Bodyguard State at our backs.
We like zoning laws that keep out the riff-raff.
We like having marriage licenses and pastors with 'State-vested' power.
We like tax laws that incentivize the married relationship.

Yet in the blink of an eye, that bodyguard turns into a bully.
That bully is still big.
That bully is still strong.
That bully is still well-funded and well-oiled.
And suddenly those zoning laws (which are evil, as they infringe on Constitutionally guaranteed property rights--pursuit of happiness and whatnot) are keeping Christians from having church in their homes.
We would love to prevent a mosque at Ground Zero.
But don't tell me where I can and can't put a church!!!
Ahem. Uh, what did you expect would happen?
And suddenly those tax incentives for being married (which are evil as they are the result of the State regulating covenants. Covenants!)...well, other people would like those civil rights, too. People of a homosexual persuasion.
Ahem. What did you expect would happen?
We made the very bad, very unwise move of letting the State--rather than the Church--regulate the covenant of marriage...and now everyone wants a piece of that action.

Well, duh.

This is not the Old Testament. The United States is not a covenantal Christian nation; it never was. We are a pluralistic nation; we always were. And the law of this land must provide for the liberty of all of its citizens, not just its Christian citizens. American Christians should be (they're not, but they should be) fighting for a limited government whose job is restricted to protecting the Constitution, guarding our rights to life, liberty, and property, punishing the evil-doer, and rewarding good.

The Church is the only Christian nation there ever was.
She is a nation which spans geopolitical boundaries and has members of every nation, tribe, and tongue.
The Church should jealously protect Her mandate to preach the Gospel of salvation and to make disciples of all nations.
And the Church should stop demanding that the State preach a false gospel of moralism by punishing sin without preaching a Savior.

A false gospel.
That's one result of the Church using the State for its own ends.
Citizens begin to believe they are 'good' if they will just refrain from smoking pot or having homosexual sex...because that's what the State--at the Church's behest--tells us.
But surely we all understand that no one is going to be able to stand at the Judgment Seat and declare, "But, Lord, you have to let me into Heaven. I was a law-abiding citizen."

Could it be that God's law is for God's covenant people? that it was never intended for people without the mind of the Spirit?

See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)

Could it possibly be that God's law was given...for God's glory? that the peoples of the earth would look at God's people, marvel at their wisdom and understanding...and glorify God in Heaven? Could it possibly be that holding non-covenantal people accountable to God's law distracts from God's glory?


We've turned the State into a para-church organization.
And we've muddied the glory of God in the sight of the peoples.
Shame on us.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Born That Way

I've given birth ten times. And every time, people begin to ask the same question. Who does s/he look like? My nose? His lips?

The observations continue over an entire lifetime because, as the children grow, we begin to see that they inherit so much more than curly hair or fair skin or light eyes. Their personalities begin to come through, their giftings and their tendencies. Who taught my fourteen year old to draw? She certainly doesn't get it from me! I watch her draw, and I am mesmerized. What is coming out of her fingertips is pure magic. And it comes directly from her father's side of the family. Who taught my sixteen year old to debate? or speak? or be fearless in front of an audience? That does not come from my mild-mannered, unassuming husband. No. She is me, made over.

Hair and eyes and skin.
Personalities and talents.
They are all inherited traits, pre-programmed, as it were, into the DNA code in each of them.
There are just some things that are out of their control, due to the wonder that is genetics.
They are born that way.

But there is bad news about this thing called inheritance.
And it's called original sin.
For from the moment Eve sunk her teeth into the fruit, the DNA of this good creature called 'man' was permanently re-written. Sin became part of the code.
It is the other part of our inheritance that is beyond our control.
We can't help it.
We are born that way.

One dark night in Jerusalem, Jesus addressed precisely this issue when Nicodemus came, stealthily, quietly, to find the Truth. "You must be born again" might as well have been Jesus' way of saying, "Your DNA, your inheritance, your genetic code...It is fatally flawed. It is terminal. It will kill you. If you want to live, you must be born again."

It's like being tested for, and finding out, you have the 'cancer' gene.
So people who get that bad news, they take more precaution than the rest of us because their DNA shows a predisposition to something fatal.

That's kind of what Jesus was saying.
Nicodemus, you have the cancer gene.
And it's going to kill you.

So Jesus nails the problem.
But He also has the cure.
Be born again.
What would that do?
Well, being born of the Spirit changes your parentage.
And a different Father passes on a different genetic code.

Social scientists today insist that they will one day find a gay gene. And then, they smugly assert, then all you homophobes will see. It's genetic. Like your race or your freckles.
Yeah. You'll see.

And you know what? I think they're right.
I think they will find a gay gene.
But it won't prove the tolerance movement right.
It won't let any of us off the hook with God.
It will prove the Bible right.
It will prove that sin is genetic, imprinted on the very building blocks that make us who we are.
Born that way?
Corrupt? Depraved? Perverted?
You bet. Born that way.
But they miss the point entirely.

Being born that way does not justify us in the eyes of God.
No. Being born that way simply proves we need a Savior who will bring us new birth.
Being born that way should make us take precaution because our genetic predisposition is terminal.
But, instead of doing something about our terminal condition...we celebrate it.
We create 'tolerance' movements
and 'coexist' movements.

It is as ridiculous as throwing ourselves a cancer party.

Mr. Cathy over Chick-Fil-A did the right thing.
He simply confirmed what God already said:
Sin is depravity, not diversity.

And we're all born that way.

But, Church, get this right.
No one is going to hell because they are gay.
They are going to hell because they are lost.
Being gay is just one possible symptom of being lost.
So is pride.
Or selfishness.
Or hatred.
We don't go to Heaven or hell because of what we do;
We go to Heaven or hell because of who we are.

I stand with Chick-Fil-A.
I stand against the double standards of the 'tolerance' and 'coexist' movements.
But I have to wonder if the Church has contributed to this with double standards of Her own...

More to come...