books homeschooling

A Lesson in Writing from CS Lewis

The Kilns,cs-lewis-writing
Headington Quarry,
26 June 1956

Dear Joan–

Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same. His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except the thing itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.

What really matters is:–

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keepthem.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Thanks for the photos. You and Aslan both look v. well. I hope you’ll like your new home.

With love
C.S. Lewis

From the collection of C.S. Lewis’ response letters to children: Letters to Children

Hat tip:


Questioning what you don’t know …

One of the many blessings of children is their fresh perspective on all things.  Being around children and getting down to their level quickly re-introduces the novelty, beauty and amazement of the world around us.  Emblematic of the child’s wide eyes to the world is the stream of continual questions that pour forth from the mouths of children as they explore the wonders of creation.

At some point, we as adults stop asking questions as a general rule.  Do we stop seeing the novelty and wonder all around us?  I wonder whether we feel that being “grown up” means knowing “the” answers.  Sometimes asking a questions almost feels like an admission that we’re not smart enough to know the answers.  Perhaps we get to fixated on our “problems” or are too distracted by what we know. Maybe now there isn’t much of a need to ask questions – just “Google” it!

In any event, a few years ago, my family and I had a race to see who could be the first to write down 100 questions – real questions to which the author didn’t know the answer.  We never finished that competition.  Why?  I don’t know!  Recently, I ran across my list.  I removed those that I now knew the answer, didn’t “Google” any of the answers, added a few new ones and publish it below.  It’s a fun game to play. I’d enjoy hearing some of your questions also.

  1. Where do pimentos come from?
  2. What exactly is a quark?
  3. How long were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the fall?
  4. What’s gravity?
  5. Why do we only sometimes bight our own lips?
  6. Who discovered Pi?
  7. Who discovered apple pie?
  8. How is asphalt made?
  9. How does hair detangler work?
  10. If a light bulb, or a star, moves away from you at or above the speed of light, would you ever see its light, if you remained stationary
  11. Why can heart problems cause fluids to build up in the lungs?
  12. How does a digital clock keep time?
  13. How is sunlight “converted” into energy or food for plants?
  14. What’s the difference between an extern and an intern?
  15. Would Jesus like spicy food?
  16. What is the difference between “orthodox” and “heterodox”?
  17. What is the difference between “scenic” and “picturesque”?
  18. Did Jesus laugh often?
  19. How do vocal chords articulate words?
  20. How do you navigate a boat by only stars and the sun?
  21. How does cancer kill you?
  22. Where do we “see” – it feels like my eyes, but am I visualizing deep inside my head?
  23. How do circuit breakers work?
  24. If God is infinite and all-powerful, has he likely created an infinite number of realities?
  25. Why was Socrates put to death?
  26. Will there be shadows in heaven?
  27. How do you steer a ship by trimming sail when you lose a rudder?
  28. How are multi-layered ice cream cakes mass-produced?
  29. Do stick bugs hear?  Do they make sounds?  If so, what do they sound like?
  30. Will the dollar collapse within the several years?
  31. If the dollar collapses, will the United States stay united?
  32. What are the requirements for fog?
  33. How does the mechanism within a bedroom window shade work?
  34. What “is” the “substance” of gravitational force? Electro-magnetic force?
  35. What is the “dell” in “the farmer and the dell”?
  36. From where/what did the name “Wales” derive?  Anything to do w/ whale fishing?  Did the ports in Wales support whalers?
  37. From where/what did the name “Rome” derive?
  38. How does a computer “read” code?
  39. What is thought?
  40. How do harmonic scales “work,” such as the “C” scale?  Who “invented”/discovered the scales and why is there no such “thing” as an F-flat?
  41. Why does the ocean “draw out” prior to the arrival of a tidal wave or tsunami?
  42. Is a clam self-conscious?
  43. What causes a vapor lock, and how does it occur, if at all, in a residential HVAC system?
  44. How did people use horse hair or cow hoofs 100 or 200 years ago?
  45. How is it determined which Sunday is Easter?
  46. Why does carbonated water “fizz” and how is the carbonation created?
  47. Why does “shaking” carbonated beverages increase the rate of “fizzing”, and does tapping the top retard this effect, and if so, why?
  48. Why do bubbles form in a glass of water left out for several hours?
  49. With what to hummingbirds line their nests?
  50. Are we there yet?
biz, legal, and professionalism homeschooling marriage and family

Dr Nanny State Knows Best … or not.

I just learned of Michael Farris’ ongoing lawsuit defending the rights of a homeschool family to make difficult medical decisions on behalf of their children.  This story involves some of my favorite issues: push back against the Nanny State, “experts” who upon examination prove to be more arrogant than informed, excellent lawyering, and Grand Rapids, MI.  In his own words:

Who Makes the Really Tough Decisions: Parents? Or Doctors?

by Michael Farris
HSLDA Chairman

Who should make very difficult decisions for children? Parents or doctors?

In March of this year, 8-year-old Jacob Stieler was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a dangerous bone cancer. His parents took him to a highly-rated children’s oncology center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Jacob had surgery to remove the tumor, which was followed by several rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment was incredibly difficult, and Jacob’s mom, Erin, told me that when she looked her son in the eyes, she knew in her heart that he simply could not survive many more rounds of these drugs.

Erin and Ken, Jacob’s mom and dad, joined by hundreds of others, prayed for Jacob and his complete recovery.

After all of these rounds of chemotherapy were completed, there was a PET scan done to check on the status of the cancer. There was no evidence of cancer detected in Jacob’s body. Jacob’s family and friends rejoiced in his healing—praising God for this wonderful outcome.

But the doctors wanted to give Jacob several more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, despite the clean PET scan. When asked why they wanted to keep giving Jacob these incredibly dangerous drugs, the doctors replied that this was “the standard of care” for his illness.

Jacob’s parents begged the doctors to make an individual diagnosis, rather than simply following unbending standards. But the doctors were steadfast. All children with this cancer needed multiple rounds of these drugs—regardless of PET scan results, the doctors contended.

Jacob’s parents did extensive study of the side effects of the five different chemotherapy drugs that the doctor wanted to administer. And they believed that the risk of the drugs was far greater than the risk of recurrent cancer, since Jacob had a clean PET scan. They said no to the doctors. No more chemotherapy treatment for now.

But the doctors would not take no for an answer. They called child protective services in Jacob’s county and asked the agency to file charges against the family for medical neglect.

After looking into the matter, both the local CPS agency and the local prosecuting attorney refused to file charges. They believed that the parents were making reasonable decisions for Jacob.

The doctors still would not take no for an answer. They called higher authorities in the state level CPS agency. The doctors had to make several calls before they finally found someone who would agree with them.

As a result of all of these calls, the local CPS agency was pressured into filing medical neglect charges against the parents.

The local prosecutor still refused to take a case against the family, so the state level CPS officials hired an independent private lawyer to serve as the prosecutor against Ken and Erin Stieler.

 A jury trial is scheduled for early January to determine if the doctors will be given the authority to take over the medical decision-making for Jacob.

When I heard about this case—and checked out the facts—I knew that I could not sit on the sidelines and watch this family be overrun and parental rights be trashed by well-meaning but overzealous doctors.

 I recently flew to Michigan and took the depositions of all three doctors who were scheduled to testify against the family.

 Jacob’s treating physician is the key.

I prepared for the depositions by obtaining copies of the official “package inserts” that the FDA requires all drug companies to give to physicians and patients. Undoubtedly, you have seen these inserts when you have picked up prescriptions for your children.

The inserts tell you several things:

homeschooling marriage and family

Homeschool Blindspots

This is an important article for all parents and is not specifically related to homeschooling.  I highlighted some of the important points below:

Having self-centered dreams:

It is only natural for parents to have high hopes and dreams for their children. However, when we begin to see our children as a reflection or validation of us, we become the center of our dreams, and the children become our source of significance. When that happens in our home it affects the way we relate with our children, and subtly breaks down relationship.

Raising the family as an idol:

When we allow the success of our family to determine our security or sense of wellbeing we are seeking from it something God intends us to receive from Him. I am describing idolatry.

Tending to judge:

When pride is working its work in us, we sincerely believe our personal opinions reflect God’s utmost priorities and standards.

Over-reliance upon sheltering:

Sheltering is a critical part of parenting, but if parents keep it their primary focus, the children will grow up ill equipped to handle the temptations in the world.A child isolated from disease may appear to be of the greatest health to his parents, but the health of the human body is only proven by how it withstands an attack. A weak constitution succumbs to every germ and virus – a strong one fights them off. Our spiritual and moral health is developed and proved in the same way.


I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children. Fruitful interaction is not about what you do to your young people, but who you are with them. It’s about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person–not about methods and self-working principles. God intends that the side-effect of loving Jesus and enjoying the grace of the gospel will be that all people–including our children–will be touched by the Savior in us.

I encourage you all to read the entire article here.

Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. homeschooling


Activists continue to use the worn-out phrase “separation of church and state” to eject religious expression from the public square.  But the Establishment Clause cuts both ways, prohibiting government hostility toward religion as well as the open endorsement that ruffles unbelieving feathers.

Advocates for Faith and Freedom is a fine Christian organization in Southern California that has been litigating Farnan v. Capistrano Unified School District.  (See  The plaintiff is Chad Farnan, a courageous Christian high school student who brought a case against his Advanced Placement European History teacher.  The teacher repeatedly ridiculed Chad’s faith: “When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”  A federal district judge issued a favorable ruling, finding an Establishment Clause violation when the teacher expressed “an unequivocal belief that creationism is ‘superstitious nonsense.'”  Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit decided to skirt the constitutional issue.  The Court admitted that a teacher’s hostile comments about religion might cross the line, but granted immunity to the teacher because they could “not conclude that a reasonable teacher standing in [the teacher’s] shoes would have been on notice that his actions might be unconstitutional.”

Advocates for Faith and Freedom summed it up well:  “Just as public school teachers are not allowed to promote one religion in the classroom, they should not be able to use their classrooms as a platform to attack religion because the pendulum swings both ways.”  A.F.F. will seek further review in the Ninth Circuit, then petition the U.S. Supreme Court if that is unsuccessful.  Let’s pray that one of these courts gets it right.  The pendulum swings both ways—no endorsement, no hostility.

Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. culture entertainment homeschooling


Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that violent video games enjoy First Amendment protection—even when sold to our youth.  Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 113 S.Ct. 2729 (2011).  The Court struck down a California law that prohibited the sale or rental of these games to children under 18.  At first glance this might sound like a victory for those who want to poison our young people.

Not so fast!  Decisions like this cut both ways.  The First Amendment protects a lot of speech that we as Christians find highly offensive.  But it also protects our right to
preach the gospel—to people of all ages
.  I used to live in California, where I participated in volunteer ministry to children.  I volunteered for Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization that directs its efforts to children at state fairs and other public places.  On Sunday mornings, I accompanied other volunteers from Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries to a county facility for children removed from their homes for neglect and abuse.  We held chapel and Sunday School for those children.  I was also part of a large chaplaincy program at Olive Crest, a private nonprofit that operates group homes for abused children.  If atheists in America had their way, there would be laws prohibiting this type of religious evangelism to minors.  Look at what the Supreme Court just said in the Brown decision:

And what is good for First Amendment rights of speech must be good for First Amendment rights of religion as well: It could be made criminal to admit a person under 18 to church, or to give a person under 18 a religious tract, without his parents’ prior consent.

Modern atheism has taken on an “evangelistic” fervor.  Atheists do not merely reject religion for themselves—they insist that religion is dangerous.  Authors like
Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins, and Samuel Harris are on a rampage to stamp out religion.  In the legal arena, atheists have removed prayer and Bible reading from our public schools and filed a multitude of lawsuits to eject religious expression from the public square.  Meanwhile, anti-Christian materials corrupt school curriculum—evolution, sex education, homosexuality.  Parental complaints fall on deaf ears in the courts of “Christian America.”

Parents have the constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children in their homes and schools.  They should be able to opt out of objectionable programs and actively participate in decisions about what the schools are teaching their children.  Government ought to support them—not cram corrupted teachings down the throats of our families.   The recent Brown decision affirms this, observing that

…the state has the power to enforce parental prohibitions — to require, for example, that the promoters of a rock concert exclude those minors whose parents have advised the promoters that their children are forbidden to attend. But it does not follow that the state has the power to prevent children from hearing or saying anything without their parents’ prior consent.

If the government starts making it illegal to present certain material to minors on the basis of content or viewpoint – the results won’t necessarily be what Christians would want, especially in today’s secular climate.  Christian parents must be vigilant.  If they don’t want their children playing violent video games, they need to supervise them—bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  It isn’t the government’s job to do that for them.

books homeschooling

Slavery & Empire – Thank you My Father’s World!

… he suddenly realised what liberty really meant: freedom to bow to the dictates of love and to give yourself to its voluntary slavery.  Apart from the discipline of love, freedom was a dreary wilderness without compass or direction, a desert full of mirages, promising everything but yielding nothing.  Patricia St. John, Twice Freed

For years, our family has used the My Father’s World (“MFW”) curriculum to homeschool our children.   I have MFW to thank for some of my most enjoyable moments this year.

For us, MFW provides the best blend of Charlotte Mason, Classical and Unit Study methods consistent with what my wife and I believe.  The authors (the Hazell family) started the curriculum while raising their children while serving as missionaries in Siberia.  We were also initially attracted by how the Hazell’s gave a lot of thought to engaging preschoolers while teaching multiple grade schoolers.  Later, we’ve come to appreciate the Hazell’s moderation, flexibly ramping up quantity and substance consistent with the developmental stage of a child’s mind.  In any event, MFW is a good fit for us.

Consistent with many homeschoolers, I love books.  So do the Hazells.  They’re thoroughly Charlotte Mason when it comes to learning through quality literature.The Hazells promote Book Baskets (weekly lists of books that correspond to lessons, where the books are kept in baskets each week for the children to read at their leisure), assign family read alouds and offer suggested reading lists (age specific chapter books).  MFW is a giant apple for the book-worm.  Thanks to them, we circulate hundreds of library books through our house every year.

The recent pleasure, for which I owe the Hazell’s a special “thank you,” originated from several of MFW’s family read aloud books and a suggested corresponding movie.  Specifically, our children’s MFW curriculum called for us to read aloud Twice Freed by Patricia St. John and The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare.  MFW suggested that we also watch Ben Hur around the same time.

I hadn’t previously read the books.  Truth be told, I hadn’t heard of either.  What a pleasure and blessing it was to read each to our family.  Great books.  Moving.  Well written.  Thoughtful and they brought to life the history our family was learning.  Ben Hur fit with the readings perfectly as well.  Regardless of whether you homeschool or use MFW, these are great books to read and enjoy with your family.  Thank you Marie and David!

culture homeschooling

Public Education Failure

Nearly half the citizens of Detroit are functionally illiterate. See here. The City itself had a population of over 700,000 in 2010, with over 4 million people in the metropolitan area.  The metropolitan areas are slightly less-worse:  34 percent in Pontiac and 24 percent in Southfield reported as functionally illiterate.  Note from the linked article, Detroit’s functional illiteracy rate is only slightly higher than Washington DC and Cleveland.  In 2008, DC was spending over $25,000 per child for education.  These cities have been hardcore Democrat party controlled areas for over a century.  The teacher unions run the school systems unchecked.  More proof that the public school system as designed, run, and funded by the left does not work. 

The government does a few things well but not, however, running schools or businesses (or planning economies). Education is best done by families and/or private enterprise with close parental involvement.  The best thing most parents can do for their children’s primary education is to get the government out of their school room, get themselves involved, and put God back in the curriculum.


Great Help for Compromisers

If you’re going to call a well known someone an unspiritual sinner and permanently ban that someone and his ministry because they impolitely called out false doctrine at your event, please be so kind as to not continue marketing and promoting using the banned person’s brand to promote your own services.

As of today, the Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. (“GHC”) is still promoting Answers in Genesis as part of GHC’s conference packages on their blog home page.  At first you would think it to be an oversight, however GHC disabled the purchasing links on the ad itself. They’ve removed the ability to purchase, but continue to use the AiG brand to promote the GHC conferences, even after banning the ministry in perpetuity from their future conferences.  GHC is still publishing the following on their blogsite promoting their conferences:

Fantastic Savings from Answers in Genesis & the Creation Museum

Posted July 11th 2010 at 6:07 am by bdean

We love the incredible work being done by our friends at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum! If you’ve not yet had the chance to visit the Creation Museum, you are missing out on an incredible experience. This 70,000 square foot facility is really state-of-the-art, and it truly brings the pages of the Bible to life!

As we are such fans of the work of Answers in Genesis, you might imagine our enthusiasm when they approached us with an SPECIAL PACKAGE OFFER for our convention attendees that reflects a savings of 75%!! And so, we’re quite happy not only to provide you with this information, but to also recommend it sincerely.

See here and here. It’s difficult impossible to reconcile GHC’s marketing statements with their cursory treatment of Mr. Ham and the AiG ministry and GHC’s subsequent refusal to talk. “Friends” don’t fire friends via midnight emails out of the blue, particularly when the “friend” was doing what the friend has been doing for years: calling out and condemning false doctrine and attacks on scriptural authority.

GHC made a bad decision and then displayed institutional hubris in carying it out. Mr. Dean at GHC should call Mr. Ham directly, as a friend, and try to work this out with love.

UPDATE: someone pointed out to me that on the day GHC “expelled” AiG and said they were too busy to discuss it by phone, they called Dr. Bauer to inform her of their decision to ban AiG.  Interesting that GHC had the time to call her and felt the need to as well.  See Dr. Bauer’s statement re call here.

Additional posts on the topic:

False Piety by GHC, Inc.

A Time to Keep Silent, and a Time to Speak by Henry Morris III, D.Min.

Free Love Christians by Nathan Ham

Related: The Inerrancy of Scripture: The Fifty Years’ War . . . and Counting by Albert Mohler (reviewing Enns);  Creation vs. Evolution — The New Shape of the Debate by Albert Mohler

culture homeschooling

False Piety by Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc.

Suppose a company, representing itself as Christian, hosted a homeschool convention featuring prominent Christian speakers and as is typically done, set up a large venue for vendors to present and sell their homeschool curriculum and wares.  Suppose further that one of the speakers and vendors teaches apostasy and sells homeschool materials propagating the false teachings.  Another Christian speaker and vendor talks on the topic of the increasing problem of compromise and false doctrine within the church and cites to the apostate vendor and his curriculum.  In short, one speaker criticizes another vendor for teaching and selling false doctrine.

What if anything would you expect the convention host to do? 

Would your answer change if the host had a policy against filtering the viewpoints of vendors and speakers?

I would not expect the host to ban the critic and continue hosting the apostate.  Of course, I would be and was mistaken.  In this case, the critic was Ken Ham who criticized the teachings and curriculum of Peter Enns and BioLogos.  The convention host is Brennan Dean, Great Homeschool Conventions.  In the real life story, it was not enough for Mr. Dean to ban Mr. Ham from further speaking engagements.  Instead, he permanently banned the entire Answers in Genesis ministry from appearing as a vendor at any future conventions hosted by Mr. Dean’s company.  Fire the critic, ban his ministry, and protect against criticism (and depressed sales) of the false doctrine.  You can’t make this stuff up.  See detailed article, to include Mr. Dean’s midnight email to AiG announcing his edict here

Dr. Enns is Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies for The BioLogos Foundation, which views Christ and scripture as follows:

If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.

See here.  Dr. Enns openly teaches that the Old Testament does not provide a reliable or accurate account of origins.  He explains,

When it comes to the science/faith discussion, the presence of the cosmic battle motif in the Old Testament should send us a strong signal: don’t expect the Old Testament to inform, let alone guide the scientific investigation of origins. If we approach the Old Testament expecting from it a “literal,” “historical,” “accurate” account of creation, we will (1) misrepresent reality in the name of faith, and (2) miss the theology that the biblical authors were so intent on putting there.

See here.  Dr. Enns teaches that the Creation account in Genesis is simply a metaphor and that Adam did not exist; Adam is a metaphor for the nation of Israel. See links to Enns’ BioLogos teachings here.  Dr. Enns’ homeschool curriculum reportedly dissuades parents from teaching their children about sin, grace, or the Old Testament.  See here.

For years, Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis have defended the integrity, reliability, and relevance of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.  I agree with this and serve the AiG ministry. Many families homeschool precisely because they also believe this and the public schools are prone to undermine such a worldview.  When it was announced that Mr. Dean and his company GHC were banning Mr. Ham and AiG, there was an outpouring of protest.  In hours, hundreds of people posted gracious words of support and encouragement on Mr. Ham’s FaceBook page and criticized GHC on their FB page.  This morning as hundreds of posts turned to thousands, GHC disabled and deleted all comments on their FB page and posted an “explanation” on their website.  They claimed that actually, they agreed with Mr. Ham’s “position,” but disagreed with his “spirit.”  See here

There are a few problems with Mr. Dean’s attempt to justify his suppression of Mr. Ham and AiG.  Foremost, neither Mr. Dean nor anyone else at any point during the prior convention or thereafter approached Mr. Ham or any of the leadership (or anyone lese) at AiG to discuss this “spiritual” problem. In his midnight email, Mr. Dean accused Mr. Ham of divisiveness and of defaming the convention and “other speakers.”  See here. It smacks of post-hoc rationalization.  Does the Bible support addressing a “spiritual” problem via a midnight email and then refuse to return calls to discuss the allegations? Is that “spiritual”?  Second, Mr. Dean provides nothing to substantiate his accusation and public defamation of Mr. Ham.  Third, even if Mr. Dean’s slander were true, how would that justify permanently banning the entire AiG ministry as a vendor.  Are AiG’s books, movies and curriculum “unspiritual”?  Hardly.  Mr. Dean’s explanation lacks content and merit.

What is nearly certain is that Mr. Ham’s criticism of Dr. Enns adversely affects sales of Dr. Enns’ new homeschool curriculum.  Dr. Enns’ curriculum is published by Peace Hill Press, the publishing arm of The Well-Trained Mind.  Peace Hill Press is owned and operated by Dr. Susan Wise Bauer and her family.  Ms. Bauer is the corporate Vice President.  Mr. Ham’s criticism is not good business for a major homeschool vendor and a prominent speaker within the homeschool community.  It appears to me that Mr. Dean made a decision to protect vendor sales at his conventions. Ken heavily criticized many compromisers of Scripture. Mr. Dean’s midnight email explanation only took issue with Ken’s criticism aimed at other vendors though. It’s Mr. Dean’s right to make this decision to protect his sales forum and vendors.  He should not, however, dress this decision up in “spirituality.” 

Mr. Dean attributes his decision to his “board of directors.”  Yet, neither his midnight email nor the subsequent public accusation this morning against Mr. Ham identify these individuals.  If Mr. Dean is going to invoke the decision and judgment of others, they should step out of the shadows and acknowledge their role.  

I think Mr. Dean made a business decision to ban Ken Ham and AiG.  The market should respond accordingly, to both the banning of Ham/AiG by Mr. Dean’s GHC and to the decision by Peace Hill Press and Dr. Bauer to publish Dr. Enns’ homeschool curriculum.  In the end, we should remember to pray for each other – to include for Mr. Dean, Dr. Enns and the folks at PHP – and do our best to honor Christ while defending and debating the centrality and reliability of Scripture.

Related: Great Help for Compromisers 

UPDATE June 10, 2011: Answers in Genesis Board of Directors’ Statement on Allegations by Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc.

homeschooling marriage and family politics, economy, etc. Uncategorized

Parental Rights True/False Quiz

Are your rights as a parent free from governmental interference?

Do you believe that the government will only involve itself in cases of abuse and/or neglect?

The following ten questions are designed to test your knowledge of events that have affected the parent-child relationship in the United States. The last 5 questions pertain, specifically, to a treaty that has been ratified by many U.N. countries around the world.


  1. Child protective services forcibly removed a 13 year old boy from his parents after he complained to a school counselor that they took him to church too often (twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday).
  2. You have a legal right to know if your teenage children will receive or have received medical treatment through the public schools.
  3. In most states parents are held liable for public library fines issued to their children, but, they are denied access to information about the titles of the books.
  4. A 13 year old girl was ‘liberated from her parents’ after she complained of being grounded for smoking marijuana and having sex with her boyfriend.
  5. A mother in Illinois was twice refused her request to opt her daughter out of sexual education lectures that she found objectionable.
  6. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), which would allow the government to determine the “best interest of the child” (even in cases where there has been no parental neglect or abuse) and supersede all parental power, has been signed by the United States.
  7. If the UN CRC is ratified, religious schools would no longer be allowed to teach that Christianity is the only true religion and would be forced to teach “alternative worldviews.”
  8. Under the UN CRC, a child’s “right to be heard” would allow them to seek governmental review of any parental decision with which the child disagreed.
  9. Parents would still have the right to “opt out” their children from sex education.
  10. Proponents of the treaty are on the move and claim to be near victory.


  1. TRUE. The child was placed in foster care until the parents agreed to a Superior Court Judge’s demands that the child be taken to church no more than one time per week.
  2. FALSE. Schools are not required to notify, request permission, or inform the parents of any medical treatment their children receive. In some states, this includes abortion procedures.
  3. TRUE. Many states have laws that protect the “right to privacy” in children 9 years old and older, so parents cannot see materials that their children have checked out.
  4. TRUE. In the early 1980s, 13-year-old Sheila Marie Sumey, whose parents grounded her, went to her school counselors complaining about her parent’s actions. She was advised that she could be liberated from her parents because there was “conflict between parent and child.” Listening to the advice she had received, Sheila notified Child Protective Services (CPS) about her situation. She was subsequently removed from her home and placed in foster care. Even though the judge found that Sheila’s parents had enforced reasonable rules in a proper manner, the state law nevertheless gave CPS the authority to split apart the Sumey family and take Sheila away. (In Re: Sumey, 94 Wn. 2d 757, 621 P. 2d 108 (1980))
  5. TRUE. 35 states require sexual education as part of the curriculum. Of these, only three states require parental consent and 11 states do not permit opting out of the course at all.
  6. TRUE. President Clinton signed the UN CRC in 1995, however, the Senate has not voted on ratification. If ratified, it would supersede all current family law on the books and a committee of 18 U.N. ‘experts’ from other nations would have the authority to issue official interpretations of the treaty which would be entitled to binding weight in American courts.
  7. TRUE. Religious schools that teach that theirs is the only true religion “fly in the face of article 29” of the treaty according to the American Bar Association.
  8. TRUE. The treaty specifically outlaws all corporal punishment and has been interpreted (in Sweden) to disallow any punishment without the consent of the child (including “time out”).
  9. FALSE. The notion of “opting out” has been held to be out of compliance with the treaty. Today, even in states where “opting out” is allowed for sex education, parents have no right to oppose specific parts of a curriculum. In Parker v. Hurley, 514 F. 3d 87 (2008), a federal appeals court found that parents who opposed a part of a school curriculum related to homosexual rights and practices did not have the right to opt their kindergarten child out or be informed in advance of the curriculum content.
  10. TRUE. A meeting was held at the White House recently to discuss ratification, and the Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child claim they are near the 67 Senate votes needed for ratification.

Current law on parental rights tells parents that they have no say over their children once they enter the door of a public school.

In Fields v. Palmdale School District, 427 F. 3d 1197 (2005), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “affirm[ed] that the [fundamental parental] right does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.” Numerous school boards have determined that parents do not even have a constitutional right to be present on the school grounds where their child attends. See

What can we do?

Senate Resolution 99 is currently being considered as a statement against the ratification of the UN CRC Treaty. There are 31 co-sponsors to date. If 34 sign the resolution, the chance of ratification during this congress decreases significantly.

The Parental Rights Amendment has been submitted as an amendment to the Constitution to grant parents the fundamental right to the upbringing and education of their children. This would prevent treaties from superseding, modifying or interpreting these rights.

Learn more at


View the Documentary

“The Child”


Cary Alliance Church (Room 115)

March 28, 2011

7:00 pm

homeschooling video World etc.
homeschooling World etc.

The nanny state marches on … Dominic Johannson

It’s been 16 months since Swedish “authorities” state-napped Dominic Johannson as he and his family were preparing to leave Sweden.  Swedish authorities forcibly removed Dominic from his family and placed the child in state-controlled foster care because his parents had been homeschooling the 7-year-old.  Authorities denied visitation rights but have relented to allow brief, supervised visits every five weeks or so. The parents raised an international protest, and Swedish social services have dug in and refuse to reunite the child with the family. 

Apparently, the legal authority Sweden cites to justify its exercising state parental rights over the authority of the actual parents is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  This convention is a very bad piece of public policy that should not be implemented in the US.  The state should not be given the authority to ensure that children are raised and educated as “the state” deems appropriate. 

See latest report from WND as well as links to prior reports here.  Kudoas to ADF and HSLDA for continuing the legal fight for Dominic and his family.

entertainment food & stuff homeschooling marriage and family

Easy ‘Square Foot Gardening’ for Homeschoolers (Background)

For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations. – Isaiah 61:11

This is Part 1 in a series detailing our family’s journey into Square Foot Gardening, how we applied it to homeschooling, and how we are using the experience to train our children to love and honor God.

Our gardening saga started a couple of years ago when a family friend overheard my wife and I bantering back and forth about the topic of gardening.  My wife was “encouraging” me to plant a garden.  In response, I was reminiscing about my childhood experiences in gardening with her.  The conversation went something along the lines of this:

Beautiful Wife:  “Why don’t we plant a garden this year?  It would be great to have fresh vegetables and the kids would have fun seeing things grow.”

Supportive Husband (Me):  “That’s great!  I hope that when you say “we” you are referring to yourself and a mouse you have in your pocket.  However, if by “we” you mean that I get to clear, till, plant, weed, mulch, water and maintain while the kids watch, I think we might have a problem.  I’ve helped in a few gardens over the years and I know how much work it is.  I would, however, be happy to show you where the garden tools are kept.”

It was at this point that our friend uttered the words that would lead us on a garden saga that would have been unimaginable to me a few years ago. 


Cool websites

Some interesting websites, particularly for learning.

Edheads is an interactive site where you can conduct brain surgery, design a cell phone, replace a knee, and more … very cool interactive site with some real (and gross) surgery graphics.

If you have any interest in birds, Cornell has a great website All About Birds that is filled with information, pictures and birds.  If you ever wonder what a Belted Kingfisher sounds and looks like, this place is for you.

NASA’s web gallery is a great place to see the universe … or at least small portions of it.


The USDA is making continual efforts to popularize its new food pyramid.  The MyPyramid website has a lot of content, some of it geared for kids and most of it intended for family consumption … While the website isn’t stellar, the issue of nutrition is worth widespread attention and support given the epidemic of obesity and particularly the ever-increasing rate of childhood obesity.

Cornell also operates the best website for legal research, the Legal Information Institute.

books culture homeschooling marriage and family

Work at home moms

My wife and I recently took a well needed, long weekend vacation – without kids .  It had been many years since we took time off together.  I’ve heard of people who do this kinda stuff regularly, but don’t think I’ve actually met anyone.  The trip was instigated by a kind friend who has repeatedly encouraged us to give effort toward not growing apart.  Wise and hard-earned advise.  Without our kids, the first several hours “alone” almost seemed awkward.  It occurred to me that typically so much of our time is talking about what the kids have done, are doing, or are going to do.  We’ve done a “night out” on occasions, however, those nights are typically taken up with whatever urgent matters filled the day and talking about the kids.  Having several days alone together was really a nice change of pace and opportunity to reconnect.  We didn’t even have to use the “conversation cards” that our friend gave us.

During the course of our vacation, we both also did a lot of reading, at least compared to the snippets we typically sneak in while on family vacations.  I started reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.  He brings to life the intrigues of royal court (in a fantasy genre).  He’s an excellent story-teller and developer of characters.  (It’s by no means a homeschooling book nor appropriate for family reading as the narrative is occasionally course and explicit.)  The story places a heavy emphasis on royal families and their maneuverings.  The women of the families play key roles, particularly the queens.  Affairs of family and of state largely overlap.

At some point, not too far into the novel, it occurred to me how at all levels of the story, from the peasant to the noble, the family was the basic operating or building block of the society, which is essentially the agrarian, pre-modern society.  Family came first and nearly everything orbited around the family.  How odd in comparison to our times, where families are fractured and spread across miles and even states.  Families don’t work together very often and it’s quite atypical for a mother to actually work for her own family.  To the contrary, to the liberalized western eye, it is sometimes used as a term of condescension to refer to someone as a “house wife,” ie someone whose business is the affairs of her family.  Although it’s contrary to thousands of years of societal history, we are quite often proud when we send our wives and mothers to work for someone else, to help another person profit.  Strange times. 

This historical oddity of sending our wives and mothers to work for others is the direct result of “liberation.”  Since woman may and can compete evenly with men in commerce, we conclude that they ought to value working for others more highly than working for their own families.  That reminds me of another questionable fruit of gender liberalization – abortion and how we view birth control.  While abortion is an ongoing moral tragedy, birth control is a mixed bag.  I heard Doug Phillips say some time ago that the Bible teaches children are a blessing from the Lord and that debt is a curse to be avoided.  In our modern culture, we work to prevent such blessings while we apply for the curses!  In any event, while woman have certainly made huge advances over the past half-century in the West for the right to equal treatment under the law, we have gone further and lost at least some of what was once such a valued and proud part of womanhood — being the foundation of the family.  We should not now be surprised at the pathologies that now plague the modern family.

homeschooling politics, economy, etc.

“Free” Government Education

Every time I get a property tax bill, I’m shocked to see how much of our taxes are used to fund public education.  These, of course, do not include the “education lottery”*, bonds, and other ways that our schools are funded.  This is particularly galling considering the quality of the education and the amount of indoctrination that is being done.  However, as is true with many things involving the government, it is actually quite a bit worse than most of us would have imagined.  The Cato Institute has just finished a study on the actual cost per student in various school districts across the country.  The exemplary school system in Washington, D.C., as an example, spends approximately $28,000 per student per year.

Here’s a link to a short video about their research.  There’s a hyperlink in the video to the entire written report.  This will give you a little something to think about the next time you see a politician on TV bemoaning the fact that kids are having bake sales and car washes to help pay for books.

With all of their experience in keeping education costs down, there’s no reason to think our public servants won’ t be able to do the same for health care.

*Does any one else find the premise of a lottery to pay for education strange?  It would seem that as the kids become more educated less people will be playing the lottery.  If lottery receipts go down (knowing that the state is already in the liquor and gambling business) I suppose they will  just start a numbers racket and a brothel?  “But it’s for the children!”  Indeed.

homeschooling politics, economy, etc.

The Start of the End of Real Education in Schools

For those of you who have not heard of John Dewey, there is an excellent summary of his role in shaping the modern view of public education in this country at American Thinker today.  It can be found here.

I’ve seen other writers complain that Christians often place too much blame on Dewey for the removal of religion in schools.  While that may be the case, I think the most telling Dewey quote is one that is not included in the linked article.  In Roland Nash’s book “The Closing of the American Heart: What’s Really Wrong with America’s Schools”, he quotes Dewey as follows:

“…faith in the prayer-hearing God is an unproved and outmoded faith.  There is no God and there is no soul.  Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion.  With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried.  There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes.”

homeschooling politics, economy, etc.

“complete subjugation and compliance with the system”

The socialist nanny state: totalitarianism with a smiley face.  See here, here and here for examples. 

Update: Nanny will monitor your trash as well.  Even George didn’t predict that.