Archive for August, 2017

The Homeschool Community

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Never in the history of a people, has there been such opportunity for a cultural demographic: the homeschool community, to affect, laudably, culture. Homeschooled students in increasing numbers are being admitted to college and awarded scholarships. To God be the glory!

College graduates assume most of the leadership roles of this country. They make most of the decisions, write most of the literature, and adjudicate most of the court cases. In short, college graduates make most high culture! Christian college graduates can be world-changers for Christ!

The term “high culture” was introduced into English largely by Matthew Arnold in Culture and Anarchy (1869). Around the same time, German scholars wrote of Kultur, meaning that there is a mystical spirit permeating society, something that is more profound than Western civilization itself. Indeed!

High culture creates the best that has been said and thought in the world. It is a force for moral and political good. It promotes and creates the way of life that a civilization enjoys—the art that it views, the movies it enjoys, the books it reads. I am not talking about fads and froth but about the things that determine how we think, govern, and worship. The term is contrasted with popular culture, as well as with traditional cultures. I want you to create a wholesome, godly high culture, something more profound and ubiquitous than anything in Western culture.

To reach this goal, young people need to be the best they can be for our God. Join the high-culture creation epicenters of education, government, entertainment, health, law, and religion; go to those spheres, and make a difference.

The SAT Prep for the Thoughtful Christian will prepare you for college and therefore to be world-changers for Christ, to create a new high culture.
Here are a few nuances of the SAT:

1. No penalty for wrong answers. You and your fellow students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers while taking the new SAT.
2. Revamped essay. Instead of composing a personal essay for the writing section, you will read a passage and then analyze how the author persuades the readers. Although content passages will change, the essay question itself will be the same on all tests.
3. Evidence-focused reading. Just like the essay section, the reading section will also be more focused on content evidence. You will be asked a question about the text and then need to give evidence best supporting your answer. If you get the first question wrong, it could be difficult to answer the second and third questions correctly.
4. Context-based vocabulary. The new SAT will ask you to define a word based on how it is used in context. Sample questions show familiar words that can have various meanings. More than ever, learning Greek and Latin roots trumps vocabulary memorization every time.
5. More graphs and charts. The new test will have an increased emphasis on questions that make students gather information from graphs and charts.
6. More emphasis on grammar, syntax, and dictions. You will also be asked to revise sentences in order to make them consistent with standard English practices.
7. Primary-source texts. The new SAT reading section will include excerpts from U.S. founding documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. You will not be expected to be familiar with the documents beforehand, but that would not hurt!
8. Stress reduction. Scripture memorization will calm your fears and help you focus!

I am excited! “Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour, and caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping” (Rupert Brooke, who died in World War I, in 1915)

Grievance Mentality

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

When conflicts occur, sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning observe in an insightful new scholarly paper, aggrieved parties can respond in any number of ways. In honor cultures like the Wild West or the street gangs of West Side Story, they might engage in a duel or gun fight. In dignity cultures, like the ones that prevailed in Western countries during the 19th and 20th Centuries, “insults might provoke offense, but they no longer have the same importance as a way of establishing or destroying a reputation for bravery,” they write. “When intolerable conflicts do arise, dignity cultures prescribe direct but non-violent actions.”

These affronts, offenses, are called grievances and they develop into grievance mentalities or identities. A grievance is a wrong considered as grounds for complaint, or something believed to cause distress. A grievance becomes a mentality when a person, a culture, or a society begins to function out of that perceived grievance. In the history of Civil Rights, the politics of difference (African-American scholar Shelby Steele’s term) led to an establishment of “grievance identities.” By the 1980s the African-American community gained identity according to grievances committed by the dominant group. They sought to document the grievances of their group, testifying to its abiding alienation. African-American and whites alike were punished for not recognizing and accepting this litany of grievances. They lost their way.

Christians have been taking offenses and participating in grievance mentalities for centuries. Peter, in Acts 10, is threatened by the notion that alien Gentiles, in wholesale fashion, would be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. Peter reached for his Teddy Bear and looked for a safe place in law driven, exclusive Judaism. It would not happen. Paul reminded his friend Peter that all were outcasts, all were saved by grace through faith. Peter would be wise to get onboard.

And so should we, homeschoolers. We live in a threatening, debilitating culture that is opposed to what we believe and know to be true. We celebrate the life of an unborn child; our nation murders him/her. We embrace biblical marriage; our nation legislates that biblical marriage is only one choice. And so forth. In 2017 we are in danger of embracing a grievance mentality.

To do that will subvert the movement. If Peter’s views would have been adopted, the Church would have become a declining sect, disappearing in one generation. The African-American reform movement, after such a propitious start, to a large degree, has become a petty, parochial, ignoble reflection of existential liberalism.

Homeschoolers we do not have to become like the pagan to share Christ with the pagan—we merely need to remain true to ourselves, to our core values, to our God. Peter had nothing to fear from the Gentiles. God had everything under control. We have nothing to fear from secular America or the secular university. We serve an awesome, powerful God!

I understand and I celebrate the veritable stampede of capable evangelical homeschoolers into the 10-20 most competitive universities in the USA. Never in the history of academia has a cultural group—Christian homeschoolers—been so vigorously recruited and lavishly rewarded. God’s favor is truly on this homeschooled generation of youth.

So what do we fear? Whom do we fear? Only God and we reverence and love Him because He loved us first and sent his only Begotten Son to be our savior.

Finally, in the 40 years since I matriculated out of Harvard University I have watched my classmates assume the most powerful positions in the world. This I have learned: failure and success is not measured by accumulated wealth or human accolades—no what really matters is what God thinks. The most grievous indictment of my generation was that we learned much knowledge and we applied it to our life situations. Somewhere along the line, however, we lost our passion. We forgot who we were and Who He is. We need to raise this generation to be madly in love with Christ. We need to get them to take their eyes off the problems and look to the solution to these problems! You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).