Exciting and Relevant History

Another book has been read! I’m on a roll this year since I decided to dedicate two hours a day to reading. And I mean dedicate. It’s the first thing I do each day. I can read for about an hour and a half straight before I need a break now. That’s a marked improvement from a few years back when fifteen minutes was my limit before my mind started to wander. After that first hour and a half (with coffee) first thing in the morning, I do my yoga practice, meditate, and then make breakfast. Then I can usually sit and read for another hour and a half. And that’s just my morning reading! I usually pick up the book again for a few minutes at a time during the day, especially while my son is at the gym. No, I’m not going in there! This body is made for reading, not sweating in front of other people half my age.

A couple days ago I finished “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson. I got it after watching “Inherit the Wind” and wanting to know more. I think I’ve written about this before. Movies, to me, are appetizers. They show me glimpses of what’s out there to know. I typically look up a movie I like to see if it were based on a book. If it’s a movie about a real person, I look for their auto-biography or biography if they didn’t write their own. If it’s a movie about a historical event, I look to find books about it that might give me more insight, the older and closer to the event the better.

“Summer for the Gods” was written recently so I would have bypassed it for an older one, but this book was recommended on a website because it gave both sides a fair shake. It wasn’t written from a Fundamentalist Christian or Evolutionist point of view. I could feel a bit of a leaning toward science instead of religion, but it was acceptable and reasonable. I knew the movie was a tad sensational and one-sided, so I was looking for something to balance it out.

This book was great because it started at what led up to the trial, how it went down, what changed because of it, and how it is still affecting us today. And it wasn’t boring! It read more like a novel than a history book. As a Christian, homeschooler, and a libertarian, I had no idea that this trial had so much to do with how I see things now. I highly recommend it!

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Clarification

This is something I posted to a local Facebook group and my homeschool blog, but it is a subject so close to my heart and I want so badly to help people not be afraid, combative, or stressed about homeschooling, that I felt I’d like to share it here as well since I worked so hard at writing it. It was in response to our local group interacting with the school district over some changes to a charter school that caters to homeschoolers. Sometimes I think we could all benefit from changing how we look at things.
First of all, if you are enrolled in a charter school, you are in the public school system. There are only public and private schools in California, no “homeschoolers.” That’s actually a very good thing and something that advocates of secular and religious homeschooling in the 80’s and 90’s worked hard to keep that way. It’s a way of protecting us from the “tyranny of the majority,” giving ALL public and private schooled “homeschoolers” the same protections as those that enroll in the corner school or pay out of pocket for the church’s private school.
 
Second, I think it might help a lot of people to think of the local school district, the charter school, the church private school, and all the other “school” options as individual businesses trying to get you to buy their services. Walmart doesn’t lose money if you shop at Target, but they do want you to shop at their store and will do what they can to entice you to shop there first. And in meetings, they do say, “We’re losing money to that other company! What can we do to stop them?!” Businesses use all kinds of tactics to get you to buy their products, including advertising, sales, surveys, etc. And (unfortunately) since the government is now involved with more and more every day, they also have government ways to force you to shop there, from stopping other stores from coming in the area to lobbying government to change laws in their favor.
 
Schools are very similar. They want you to buy their product (enroll your child) and they will do what is available to get you do just that. The role of government in our schools has added a bit of fear to all of this because they have the use of force on their side. They made laws (long ago) that will put you in jail if you don’t enroll your child somewhere. Kind of a bit of a monopoly, I’d say.
 
That fear of the use of force is what we are all reacting to, but I’m refusing to do so. We don’t have to worry what the school district is up to. We don’t need to get them to see our side. We can just use other options, ignore what they are doing, and do what’s best for our families right now. I’ve found over the years, while working with the legislation and legal teams at CHN, that interacting directly with the school district as a community only creates stress and solves very little. Bureaucracy is an infuriating slug when your child is growing up so fast! They just want to find ways to “help” and like a vampire you’ve invited into the house, they’ve found a way to get into the homeschool community. Most of us don’t want their help. We just want to be left alone. I’m not saying anyone shouldn’t interact with them, I’m just saying you don’t have to. Sometimes the best way to fix something is to let it sit on its own, walk away, “opt out.”
 
That being said, to stay on top of legal issues, I’d recommend joining and following a statewide advocacy group. CHN, HSC, HSLDA, CHEA of CA, all have people watching the legislation that comes in and out and they warn us when we need to “do something.” I love advocacy groups of all kinds! It lightens my load of citizenship and lets me focus on my family.

Special Kind

I have a super long list of things I’d like to do and no idea how I will do these things.

I also like to throw curve balls at my plans like, “I’d love to help people with X…without ever really talking to anyone.” and “I’d like to put my ideas in writing in the hopes of changing hearts and minds…without ever hearing any criticism.” Life is rough for an inconsistent weirdo like me.

My sons summed it perfectly when they told me, “Mom, you’re a special kind of nuts. You’re a person who doesn’t like the uncertainty of change but gets bored too easily.”

What can you do with that?! I’ll be pondering on that today.

In His Image

I’m reading (yes, I know I start most of my posts with “I’m reading…”) “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson after watching the movie “Inherit the Wind” a few months ago. Watching the movie, I was intrigued and wanted to know more so I did some looking around and found this book to be recommended for its clarity and balance, not to mention readability. I’m loving it. Not only is it giving me details about the Scope’s Trial, it’s giving me some great insight into the era leading up to it. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

I had a thought while reading this morning and it was prompted by this line, “’In Comte’s construction of history,’ Marsden observed, ‘humans were rising from a religious stage in which questions were decided by authority, through a metaphysical stage in which philosophy ruled, to a positive stage in which empirical investigation would be accepted as the only reliable road to truth.’”

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re in that “positive stage” anymore, if we ever were. Our questions and answers are still decided by authority, it’s just that we have given that authority to man and government approved scientists instead of the church and its approved clergy.

The way I see it, “made in the image of God” means we have been created independent, reasoning, compassionate, and strong. God did not mean for us to accept what other humans say without using our own minds. He did not create us weak minded or cold. He created us to be in a relationship. A relationship is a back and forth, give and take thing. It is not authoritarian. If He had wanted blind followers He wouldn’t have given us the free will to choose our path.

I believe God wants us to explore the world and the universe. He wants us to ask questions, have doubts, create hypothesis, and debate reality. It’s what makes us different than animals after all. If a notion someone has challenges the existence of God, let’s talk about it, explore the idea, and see where it takes us. I don’t believe God can be defeated by an idea we create.

When we strike down an idea right out of hand as something not on the table to discuss, we shut down the very part of us that drives us, the part that makes us “in the image of God.”

Turn the other Cheek

There is so much fear, anger, disrespect, ignorance, etc. in this world. Most people I know would argue that they are combating it when all I see is the pendulum swing to one side or another.

I got a bit angry in my heart about it yesterday but was reminded this morning that I have no control over these things. I can only rule my own thinking and actions.

From “The Daily Stoic” –
“Say some stranger comes up and strikes you. You’re going to have a reaction. You might duck. You might throw your hands up. You might even impulsively strike them back. There will be very little thinking involved in any of it. Stoicism is not primarily concerned with those involuntary and immediate reactions. The decision to hate this attacker forever? Being afraid to go outside? Plotting some disproportionate revenge? Those are dangerous passions—passions that are in your control. That’s what Stoicism is about.”

Even knowing that is hard, I am disappointed when my gut reaction to another person’s words or behavior is anger. I tell myself, “This time I will not allow my passion to become out of my control.” That is my goal. That angry retort, the withdrawal, that cold shoulder or sarcastic remark will not escape my lips. I may write it down, but it will be destroyed.

And still I feel like when I try to show people the joy and peace of my own life, what a positive alternative to what our current culture calls “mainstream” can look like, they only reflect ugly misunderstanding and the rejection of my ideas. If I show joy, they reflect neglect. It’s like a distorted mirror.

Again I’m reminded of Jesus. Turn the other cheek. Their condemnation and violence is not a reflection of who I really am. God is ultimate. I have another, perfect life to lead ahead no matter what happens in this world.

Word to the Wise

While adding three more books to my Amazon wishlist, I looked back at the shelf behind me and stared at the pile of fifteen books that I already have. I always have the next book ready to read, so that I don’t have to waste time waiting for it to come in the mail. But that means I have to pick the next book sometimes several weeks before I am able to read it. Like going grocery shopping for the whole week ahead, coming to the plan for Tuesday, and just not being in the mood for tamale pie, sometimes I come to my stockpile of books and I’m just not in the mood for that subject. “Read one anyway!” you say. “Or at least don’t waste money buying books you never read!” The good news is this, books don’t go to waste like food. I won’t be throwing them into the trash heap to rot away and feed no one.

Buying a book you end up never reading is never a waste of money. The author got paid. The publisher got paid. The bookseller got paid. And I can always earn or accumulate more money. But reading a book I come to have no interest in is a sin, a waste of precious, never to be seen again, time.

Time is precious my friends. It can never be earned or saved. It can only be spent, once, and then it is gone forever. Don’t waste it on things you have no interest in, that do not bring you joy or do not get you closer to your goals!

Right now, I follow a few homeschool Facebook groups. I don’t follow as many as I used to because, honestly, it’s really just chatter and advertisements anyway. Last year I walked away from almost all Facebook groups because it didn’t feel like socializing anymore. It felt more like high school hell. People jumping all over each other, side conversations, and threats. Opinions fly everywhere as if they are truth…just couldn’t lose that much energy over something, so I left.

But then a friend asked me to come back and answer questions about the way we home educated (privately with little academics until WAY later), so I joined the local group and one bigger one. I have strict rules about how to keep myself from putting too much of my energy into them. The first of which is “Once a day, for thirty minutes.” I’m only checking Facebook once a day. That limits me as to what I can do and controls how much damage I can do. I post to my wall, mostly things about what’s going on here or what I like. You know, socializing kind of things. And then I post one thing to the group that I think might help home educators get started or feel more comfortable. And then I see any comments from the previous day and scroll through my feed. If I think of anyone specifically, I check their wall and see what they are up to. And then I turn it off for the rest of the day.

The other thing I did was “unlike” almost all products, companies, and services. I get newsletters by email for blogs and advocacy groups that I like. I don’t need constant updates in my feed. All it is is free advertising. I don’t watch M&M commercials on TV, why do I need them in my feed? And guess what happened? All my friend’s posts came back! I actually see what my cousin posts because I don’t see how McDonald’s feels about their new fries.

One last thing. I unfriended people I really don’t have a relationship with. People I met once, people I went to school with, people I used to work with, all gone, unless we have a current online relationship. The ones that interact with me, I keep. I like their things, they like mine, comments are shared, etc. Interaction is the key. If it isn’t there, I let them go. It’s not that I don’t like them. I’m just limiting my contact with online people to actual relationships, offline or on. I’m not a public figure. I don’t need an anonymous following.

This culling of my online activity has been amazing. Life is very different. The thing that really made it possible though, was taking social media of any kind off of my phone. You can still send me messages though and I’ll answer those all day. I do love to talk! I have so much more time now. I’m more focused on my list of to-do’s. I have time to sit and doodle. It’s pretty darn nice.