Homeschool Nation: “Homier Than Thou”?

I’ve never been a member of HSLDA since we began homeschooling, and I don’t have an earth-friendly organic lifestyle.  Our family eats “whatever is in the shambles” :), which means that we eat from the 4 basic food groups, and get some of our food from a wonderful Christian gleaning organization.  This same organization was ridiculed by someone in the homeschooling community that chooses organic living.  He mentioned he got his food fresh from a local organic co-op instead of from cans sitting in some warehouse.  Nice attitude, but faulty.  We frequently get organic produce at our Christian Gleaning Warehouse and more than just food supplies there.  (I wonder how he feels about the truck driver who transports potato chips and sundry supplies for a National Grocery Store Chain?)

The Gleaning organization I belong to is very unique and is frequently praised by governmental officials for it’s handling of funds and volunteerism.  It’s been such a blessing to our family, and I made even close Christian friends there where we pray together every week.  Sometimes they have great produce and day-old bread, along with the packaged paper goods (not often recycled, earth-friendly materials, but never-the-less, a blessing to our family), books, clothing, dairy, some canned goods (really, not too many), toiletries and wonderful giftables, but for some Christians in my area of the country it seems that’s not good enough for healthy, responsible godly living.

Organic living has become a source of separation to some degree even among Christian homeschoolers.  Now, I don’t begrudge families choosing certain health choices to affect their own family’s health, but it’s become a near “badge of honor” to wear in order to prove their (homeschool parents, especially moms) dedication to their families.

It isn’t just organic, sustainable living subjects that divide brethren.  It’s homeschooling vs. formal schooling; it’s spending ungodly amounts of money and outside activity toward the homeschool educating of our children (outside classes that add up to the same amount as private-schooling them, — because, after all; they’re worth it) vs. keeping it simple; courting vs. dating, apprenticing our “young men” in family-run businesses vs. allowing teens to work in fast-food or other venues for job experience; it’s home-birth vs. hospital birth; unrestricted family sizes vs. a couple’s decision to limit how many children they have by non-abortive means; it’s women’s equal participation in the priesthood of believers vs. husband as earthly high-priest of his family before Jesus; and the list goes on.

One of my recent observations has been that the homeschool “movement” will probably suffer a backlash in the future.  With all the conflicting “teaching” going on as far as what is “biblical” when raising a family and what is “of the world” I predicted the legalistic and elitist attitudes will actually become less of a reason to homeschool.  People will still find the quaint return to the “Olde Times” to be a pull on their hearts, but in reality, it’s just a focus on man’s opinions.

I was surprised to find where the original quote, “homier than thou” came from.  It came from a 1994 article written by Mike Farris of HSLDA here.

A quote from the article:

“There are a myriad of bragging points that can be filled in this blank: really quality home schoolers do unit study, or use a certain brand of curriculum, or belong to a certain national or local training program, or study classical literature, or bake their own bread, or do home births, or refuse vaccinations, or refuse Social Security numbers, or do not participate in church youth groups, or do not own a television, or do not use birth control, or … The potential list is endless.”

So, 14 years ago one of the “leaders” in the homeschool “movement” was predicting exactly where we seem to be at, at least in the Sustainable Christian Region of the Northwest.  You should see the look on people’s faces when I tell them my husband supervises a fast-food restaurant chain.  One example was a woman I met for the first time at church, and she immediately started in on how evil fast-food was toward our environment and our bodies, etc.  This was a well-respected and sought-after for advice woman in the congregation who was so obviously overweight.  I wondered why.   (Clarification:  I’m not judging her body weight; I don’t care about that.  I just felt that her words about healthy foods and the fact that she venerated Wholesome Foods as pertaining to godly, responsible living and her physical representation were at odds.  Like Forrest Gump once said, “That’s all ah have to say ’bout thayat”.)   Food seemed to be her obsession.  She didn’t bother to ask me how I felt about my husband being gainfully employed to support his family at a fast-food restaurant.  It’s probably good that she didn’t.

That same snobby attitude showed up recently in a Sunday sermon, and even a few years ago from another one of our church leaders’ sermons.  The recent sermon focused on how in this young man’s experience, restaurant management was a dark environment where sin abounds and he, by his association in it, was being taken away from the more important things in his life: his family, his ethics.  He found a better way by quitting his subsequent well-paying restaurant job to attend Bible School.  I suppose he could blame his lack of ethics on his work environment, but I think that it was his sin-nature, really.  The other man’s sermon mentioned when raising our sons, we shouldn’t be sending them off to work in fast-food, but be raising them up to be entrepreneurs or in the family business.  Nothing wrong with that, unless the implication was that working in the “world” was not training them up in the admonition of the Lord somehow.

Why did I bring up those examples?  Because it seems it’s Open Season on those who don’t hold more godly professions, such as Christian Book Writer, Conference Speaker, Home-Based Business Owner, Christian Naturopath, Christian Homeschool Specialty Instructor, or Nourishing Natural Food Teacher.  No, if you work for a Corporation, you are shirking your Christian Duty to build up a more godly nation.

And, don’t get me started on the Full-Quiver (What Color is Your Quiver?) movement.  My tied tubes are repenting in sackcloth and ashes.  What’s an insulin-dependent diabetic Christian married woman to do with this movement?  Incidentally, I had 4 children while in  “mainstream” christianity (Foursquare, Lutheran Brethren, Nondenominational) and got funny looks from people because I had my hands full with children.  You can’t please everybody.

Another quote from the article:

“There is an attitude which I see a little too often in the home-schooling movement which I call the “homier than thou” attitude. There used to be few enough home schoolers that the mere fact that you were home schooling gave you the opportunity for spiritual bragging rights. There are now enough home schoolers out there for some spiritual one-upmanship to begin to take place.”

Do you see that happening now in the homeschool environments?  I do.  There are enough books written now on the proper way to raise your family in the homeschool arena to make your head spin.  Everybody has a paradigm to push.  Just look at the “Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God” genre of teachings.  It is pre-suppositionally promoting gender-specific duties for wives to perform to stroke our husband’s egos so that they can lead us properly.  I’d just rather read my Bible. How about the many homeschool momblogs out there like “Biblical Womanhood”, that, if I’m not mistaken, is hosted by a European woman (nothing wrong with that, it’s just got a very Earth-Sustainable bent to it at times). 

This quote is right on:

“Unfortunately, the “homier than thou” attitude is growing inside of the home-schooling movement. We simply have to do our best to squelch it in our own lives as individuals”…. “I am not saying that we should refrain from ever expressing an opinion on a controversial subject. If anyone wants to ask me why I am fully committed to courtship rather than dating, I will gladly and enthusiastically explain it. But I hope I do it in a way that is absent of pride and ultimately merciful.” 

“Really spiritual home schoolers refrain from being “homier than thou.” Let’s be gracious people. — Mike Farris from this article here.

So, my challenge to myself is when I see such attitudes in others towards those of us who are just trying to physically survive and share the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus rescuing us from sin, I am to have grace towards them.  It’s difficult for me, because it puts me on the outside of certain christian circles frequently because of “outward appearances” and the judging of meats (remember, it’s not what goes into a man that makes him unclean … ). 

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8 Responses to “Homeschool Nation: “Homier Than Thou”?”

  1. choseninhim Says:

    I’m often reminded of the movie, “Elf” when Will Farrell’s character sums up the 4 main food groups for elves: “Candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup”.

  2. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Dynamite article, Kate… the trouble with these holier-than-thou types is that they are SPOILED — they have too much money.
    Plenty of people in this country would be glad to have the non-organic food at which these folks are turning up their SPF45/non-PABA/sunscreen-ed noses, as would the starving masses in other countries; and, the same goes for homeschooling — it’s “nice work if you can get it”, but there are people in other parts of the world who would be happy to get ANY sort of schooling for their children, be it home-based, parochial, or public.
    This is not to say that some ways of eating, living and learning aren’t more enjoyable or healthier that others, but it’s silly and wrong to turn income-and-circumstance-based ephemerals into some sort of measure of spirituality:
    Luk 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

  3. Sandyhills Momma Says:

    Today is the first time I “stumbled” upon your blog!! FANTASTIC POST!! Thank you for eloquently – not to mention POLITELY!! – saying what I have been feeling here lately! No matter where I turn it seems, someone is trying to shove their “opinion” of what I am doing WRONG down my throat!

    And you are SO right … why go out and buy all these “godly” woman books, when you have THE GOD book!! Open up that book and you will have all the direction you need to pursue a Christian life. Maybe that is why there is so much one upmanship and vanity – they are reading the wrong books!!!

    I’m not perfect in any form or fashion, however, I do the best I can. We are raising our little tribe (9 – his 2, my 1, our 6) the best way we know how! And speaking of tied tubes in sackcloth – I’ll, uh, one-up you on that one – I HAD to have a hysterectomy, tumors and oh just bleeding to death LITERALLY – I had one pious mom tell me that it was an abomination for me to have the hyster!! OY!!! Decisions decisions … save the plumbing or die … WOW … what a choice!!!

  4. choseninhim Says:

    You two are wonderfully, and fearfully made!! Thank you for your comments. I just couldn’t hold it in much longer. I actually had an earlier post that was much less polite, but WordPress ate it and I only had snippets to post (it’s the MYOB post I wrote a couple of days ago). I can’t tell you how frustrated I was to have lost my rant 🙂

    To be fair, our congregation has a mixed bag of people, but it’s the real dedicated ones to the Patriarchal movement that are turning the tide there. Then there are those who are just seeming to go along with whatever the latest “get-on-board-the-next-big-thing” people who want to promote some great thing that will benefit mostly young men. There are some very sweet young 20+ish couples who have had a few babies and I wonder what kind of homeschooling millieu they will be facing. Probably not as much like the one I started out in.

    I became familiar with homeschooling in 1987 when a pastor’s wife told me they were homeschooling their 6 children. It was casual and productive and it wasn’t very commercial. The materials were Saxon Math (which I thought was really expensive) but most of the materials were sort of “home-grown” and not marketing-rich.

    We didn’t start homeschooling until 1995-96 when my oldest was in 5th grade, right out of the public school. He was very bright, but couldn’t stay focused on anything at school and was basically failing. Our 4th child was very sick and hospitalized and our family’s decision to begin homeschooling was, in hindsight, God’s way of my family to bond during that time. Our other children got to spend so much more time getting to know their baby sister before she died. During that time, I started getting the CBD catalog and was overwhelmed with all the stuff in there. Now there were “experts” in the H.S. field and which one to choose? (There’s so much more even NOW in those catalogs).

    I’m so sorry that you were treated in such a horrible way, Sandyhills Momma! That is awful! I’d hate to be around that woman when God decides to sanctify her a little.

    “Maybe that is why there is so much one upmanship and vanity – they are reading the wrong books!!!”

    Yes, I agree. Recently, our some prominent women in our church have suggested an online book reading/commentary group for the women in the church (why not a get-together when the men can care for the kids? I dunno.) The book is, “The True Woman” by Susan Hunt. I’ve not read it, but I’m wondering just what kind of message it’s got in it.

    Cynthia, our family has been in the “working-class poor” for all my adult life. We aren’t on any gov’t. assistance, but when I was pregnant and raising toddlers, we were on the food stamp program while my husband worked full time in restaurant management while going to Bible school on a Pell grant and scholarships. Everything is a gift from God. So, you see, we’ve always had to work in the non-cushy world to survive, and even I tag-team worked part-time when the kids were young and my husband cared for them.

    My husband actually makes an okay salary now, and we finally have received health insurance a few years ago, and I praise God for where He’s put us when I see big companies downsizing (like Intel) in our area or the home-based business idealists who can’t make it sometimes and some of these “full-quiver” families that can’t meet their bills are receiving handouts from our church, or, gasp! they’re coming to the same gleaning organization I’ve been going to. (BTW, the gleaning group I’m with is so wonderful in it’s structure. It rivals the gov’t foodbank in it’s volunteers and when the gov’t foodbank is crying for more donations and funds — wayy above our organization’s budget — we get donations overflowing to the warehouse rafters!) We even donate to many other agencies. It’s run on a fee per family basis (less than $60 per month) with volunteerism the highest priority and many of the people there love the Lord.

    It just is comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels strongly about these things. Thanks for the encouragement. You don’t know how much I’ve needed it lately. 🙂

  5. choseninhim Says:

    Hey, folks — lurkers who know me — thanks for stopping by and I got the message March 17th. It’s nice to know you’ve been reading, though you never say “hi”, and make references to my post in public. 😉

  6. choseninhim Says:

    Oh, and “The Return of the Daughters” is the latest resource that certain people are now advocating each household to emulate. God help us.

  7. choseninhim Says:

    As I did a little reading on Michael Farris — attorney, founder/HSLDA, and Chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Virginia — I found that I dislike the way he runs things with people. He seems to have had a history of making very exclusive decisions, ticking people off, and not reasoning with people when given the opportunity to communicate. It seems his own rhetoric may have come back to bite him.

    I really don’t like the new Christian Identity Movement (Affinity Groups) involving homeschooling and embracing this uber male-role-father worship. Take a look at some of Farris’ fruit here:

    http://www.zmag.org/Zmag/articles/olddiamond.htm

    and here:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/mayweb-only/120-12.0.html

    Here’s a question to ponder: So, if Christian parents aren’t to send their children into the public schools, why would we send them to Washington D.C. and politics? Why would we encourage them to become lawyers, when so many lawyers are presumed to be corrupt? (for those of you who may be offended I picked on lawyers and politicians, this is a logics argument; I’m not picking on anyone because of their vocation).

    We always hear how evil the Public School system is, how it’s turning out terribly under-educated students (I don’t know; I had an excellent, well-rounded education in public school, and my grammar and spelling isn’t horrible 🙂 ) We also hear how “bad company corrupts good morals” yet, we have no problems sending our young people into politics (explain that one to me, please).

    Mike Farris goes on to state:

    “Farris continued his litany, all to the effect that moms and dads have rigidly different roles to play in parenting. Moms should be more influential with babies and young kids. Dads are the ones responsible for preparing children for careers, marriage, and political activism. Here things got interesting. Farris explained that children, even teenagers, should not be allowed any boy-girl relationships until they are mature enough to consider marriage. To let kids have seemingly harmless friendships with the opposite sex is to encourage teenage sexuality and all the heartbreak that follows. Farris allows no dating, only courtship. Courtship is non-frivolous male-female socializing where the primary goal is to find compatible marriage partners. Courtship must be strictly supervised by both sets of parents and allowed only between fellow believers who are also physically attractive to each other. Farris noted how quickly young men would pass through college or career training programs if they were not allowed to marry (or have sex) until they could support a wife financially.”

    David Barton is noted and quoted in the same article:

    “Barton selects quotes from people like William Penn to the effect that “only the godly shall rule.” For the Christian Coalition meeting, Barton elaborated to the effect that only Christians should occupy elected offices–and he got a standing ovation. “

    whoa.

    Somehow, I think I might be beginning to understand a little better what’s been going on. Didn’t Jesus say, “My Kingdom is not of this world?”

    John 18:36, the Geneva Study Bible:
    11} Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    (11) Christ affirms his spiritual kingdom, but rejects a worldly one.

    *This is an interesting commentary, coming from those who were leaving the persecution of a State Church to find the freedom to worship God.

    Finally, the author of that article, Sara Diamond, states:

    “Barton’s pseudo-history and laughable abuse of statistics ought to be an embarrassment to those Christian Right leaders now trying to claim a mainstream mantle. But Barton’s popularity should not be dismissed because it points to what motivates much of the movement’s following. Here we have a group of people who mix separatism with the belief that Christians–*narrowly defined –ought to have dominion over secular society. This is a movement that wants to have its cake and eat it, too.”

    *It seems that it may get more narrowly defined, now that the teachings of Vision Forum’s, FV patriarchy (a form of classism, hierarchy of spiritual talents/gifts/placements in Christ’s Body) has entered the “mainstream” of homeschooling over the past several years.

  8. Sharing my concerns « Kate’s Chosen Says:

    […] And another post describing more concerns: “Homeschool Nation: Homier Than Thou” Click here to read. […]

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