Question With Boldness

Thomas JeffersonThough most people nowadays can conceive of no better poster child for agnosticism (or, at the very least, deism), Jefferson himself may have had a bone to pick with such people.

In a letter to his nephew, on the topic of forming his own views on religion (a topic which he labeled “important”), Thomas Jefferson wrote the following, now reasonably well-known words:

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

(Somewhat of an aside: My favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography regarding his own faith, “…I am a REAL CHRISTIAN…”. Well that about says it.) 🙂

There are (many) times when I think my being appropriately labeled a “Christian” might be questioned by those who determine such things. I believe I’ve written about my borderline-heretical thinking at least once or twice.

In fact, just the other day I was reading through the Old Testament book of Ezekiel and wondering things like, “Wow, this voice of God does not seem to be the same as even the book of Jeremiah, one book before—and he seemed pretty peeved in that book, too! I wonder if some of the books in what we call the Bible are even supposed to be in there? Who says that council got it right?”

Now, proceed with caution here. I am NOT SAYING that I unequivocally, irrevocably believe and hold to be fact that such questions even might be “true” (in the black-and-white sense of “true”) …

But perhaps my reason for such an emphasized statement above is that, in dealing with things of God, it’s sometimes considered heresy merely to question.

And, folks, that is plain wrong. Really, really wrong.

So, I may be a heretic, but I’m going to keep questioning.

Turns out, by the end of Ezekiel there was some really neat stuff in there kinda flipping the “rules and regulations” voice of God (being interpreted through Ezekiel) on its head. Chapter forty-seven has a really neat image of God abiding in a temple from which living water flows, giving life to everything it touches, including dead things. Hmm… the Living Water… giving Life… where have I heard those things before…?

I believe Thomas Jefferson had it right when he urged his nephew to throw away all bias and personal opinion and really dig into the facts, evidences, truths, and his own reason. Think. Don’t be afraid of the truth (or that it might not be the truth). Find, and know what is true. This is important! To know and understand the Creator is much more important than anything else.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. —John 10:10

I am the way, the truth, and the life. —John 14:6

And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. —John 17:3

We believe in education in this home. Not school, or curriculum—although those can have their place.

Real education. Seek out original sources; find people who are not only knowledgeable but passionate about a subject and learn from them (whether in person, or through recorded words); then, find someone else and hear other voices. Putting all of these pieces together, along with your God-given intellect (reason), and asking the Spirit to guide the entire process. (He is the one who teaches us, after all.)

Question with boldness, even the very existence of God.

And the world—starting with you—will be better for it.

If you wondered about that “I am a REAL CHRISTIAN” quote from Thomas Jefferson, here’s the full text of his introduction to what some call the “Jefferson Bible” (but he titled otherwise). It should give an even more convincing context to that quote!

I have made a wee little book from the Gospels which I call the Philosophy of Jesus. It is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a REAL CHRISTIAN, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call ME the infidel and THEMSELVES Christians and preachers of the Gospel, while they draw all of their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature. (Thomas Jefferson: In His Own Words, Maureen Harrison & Steve Gilbert, editors. ©1993 Excellent Books, New York, NY.)

What Elections Mean

I Voted stickersAnd so it ends. Or, begins? Continues?

The elections are over, and the American people have chosen. Whether state representative, Senator, Mayor, local judge, or President of the United States—we have chosen.

If your guy (or gal) won, you’re elated. Your confidence in the American people is restored or confirmed, and you’re glad that the majority of your neighbors are “thinking straight”.

If your guy (or gal) lost? Well, we’re in for it. We’ll get what’s coming to us. We have made our bed and now we get to lay in it. We can try again in a year or two or four, if there’s still a country left!

No matter which way the elections turned out, this is how the day after would have been. One group or the other celebrating or complaining, depending upon the results.

A Quick Lesson from History

What I have said for so long (here on this blog site, and in many conversations) is that elections are not where changes are made. They aren’t. Elections reveal where we already are. And what I see is that we are a very divided, and even confused nation.

In one way, that’s what we’re supposed to be. In what we call the Federalist Papers, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison laid out the reasoning behind the Constitution, so that everyone in every state could understand the idea of the Union that was being proposed. (There already was a Union, but it was so loose that it really almost wasn’t a Union.) One of their arguments for stability in such a diverse group of people—yes, even when we were only thirteen states, we were very diverse—was that there would be enough “factions” that no one majority group would dominate any minority groups. The more diverse the opinions and “passions” of the group (or faction, as Madison called them) the greater the likelihood of there being compromise; working together for their common good.

Listen to these words from Federalist 10:

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

Doesn’t that sound like us today? Intriguing.

I’m getting slightly off track here. Please click through to Federalist 10, though, and read the rest. (And 9, too, since 10 is “part two”.) Better yet, read all of the Federalist Papers. It’s a great way to understand where we came from, who we are supposed to be (as a nation) and just republican/representative government in general. We recommend The Original Argument, a collection of these papers, “Adapted for the 21st Century” (says the publisher). We read it together with our 13- and 10-year-old sons. Very interesting history/civics lessons!

Back to my point: Elections reveal who we are, they don’t change who we are.

This is very important. Elections are in place because, one, we are a free people who have chosen to elect our representatives/leaders from amongst ourselves, and two, they occur “at regular intervals” to ensure that we remain a free people, and no one elected leader (or group of them) can usurp and retain that power indefinitely.

Elections are definitely important, but it’s not really where (true) change comes from.

Legislating Morality

Do you believe that too many people are being overlooked and forgotten by the systems in place, having to go without good food or medical care because those with money are not doing their fair share to correct this injustice? Do you know that what God cares about most is that we care for those who need it the most? Do you also feel that so many people are just blind to this!? “Why can’t they see how wrong they are!?”

Do you believe that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? Do you feel that economy, commerce, and thus, communities will thrive if only they are free of heavy—and unnecessary—government intervention, regulation, restrictions, and especially taxing. (AND, do you feel that the money being collected for taxes is not only exorbitant, but equally wastefully spent or more so?) Then, with these truths being so obvious to you, do you feel incredulous that so many people are just blind to this!? “Why can’t they see how wrong they are!?”

So, do you truly believe that “those people”—either side—will change if you or someone who agrees with you is given a place of power that would allow them to force—by law—the actions that you wish them to take? Will that actually foster the change you desire?

You can NOT legislate morality. (But… we should stop people from killing each other. It’s rather difficult to co-exist when murder is an acceptable response to a grievance.)

It is right to want to help people, especially the ones who can’t help themselves.
It is right to hate greed, and to stop any actions that are a result of it.
It is right to love freedom.
It is right to encourage personal responsibility and education, and an active love for our neighbors.

But you can’t make that happen by electing someone, or passing a law.

I Think We’ve Been Here Before…

There is a post I’ve not yet finished called “The Tytler Cycle” (the attribution of the “cycle” to Alexander Tytler is questioned, but the veracity of the words are not in doubt, proven by history again and again.)

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to selfishness;
  • From selfishness to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage.

OK, so, different folks will place us (the United States) at various places on that cycle, but most will place us somewhere in the lower part of that list. Where would you say we are?

Regardless, it does seem to be a cycle that we (human beings) can not break out of. It happened many times in the Bible—just read the book of Judges. Every time I read that book I can’t help but think, WHAT are they thinking?? It has happened through history, and it will keep happening.

I do believe we are somewhere on the lower part of the list, but not to the bottom. And I think we, as a society, keep wanting to go further towards bondage. We don’t WANT liberty. We want to be told what to do, what to think… and we want to have everything we need (or want), without the cost or effort it should take to get it.

I believe that was revealed by our elections. We voted for other people to take care of stuff for us: “the rich”, the federal government. I think that is our mindset, worldview, paradigm. (Not all of us, but a majority of us.) It was evidenced by not only the choice for president, but many other elections as well, including various proposals (legalization of marijuana, gay marriage, etc.) albeit in somewhat different applications.

I’ll say it once more: Elections reveal who we are (and what’s important to us), they do not change who we are.

Education, education, education.

A free society, who chooses their own leaders—and also their own laws and codes of conduct, which are based on some commonly understood and agreed upon moral foundation—must be educated. We have public education, higher education, lower education? There’s no shortage of talk about education. But the “short” of it is that we are not educated.

(This—history of education, current state of education—is an enormous subject that I will not attempt to cover here. There are many books… and I have brought it up from time to time already. Browse this tag and this tag, if you’d like.)

The only way real change comes is through generations and generations of education and choices/action. Slavery was outlawed in the U.S. on January 1st, 1808—following generation after horrible generation of a reality that never should have been—but it took until 1865 to officially set all of the slaves free. And then it took another one hundred years to allow equal rights to the descendants of those who had been slaves.

Today we think it’s a “choice” to end a life begun in a woman’s womb. Certainly it is, as much as slavery was a “choice”. We think it’s a choice to marry someone of your same gender (well, some would say it’s not a choice…) and of course that is true, too.

We are all given choice. Free will. We can do whatever we’d like, really. The issue is the consequences, and the previously agreed upon “standards” that will govern a society, and our interaction with our neighbors. Clearly there are different thoughts, opinions, and “passions” regarding that currently in our society, and I think there will continue to be. (Partly I think we’re becoming less diverse because of the way we are educating our younger generations: teaching them what to think, rather than how to think.)

In the end we get to decide, and then we get to live with those choices. Nothing will change regarding abortion no matter which candidate we select. And if you believe that we as a society should mandate caring for the poor (or the not-wealthy) by taxing “the rich”, you’re not going to win over those who disagree simply by electing a candidate who will enact such policies.

Ultimately you can only “win” (read: enact true change) by educating people to the strengths of what you believe. People are smart, and can be trusted when given the facts. We are all endowed by our Creator with freedom to know and to choose. Whether we won or lost an election, nothing changed because of that. The only real change happens inside someone’s heart, and mind, and then spreads outward from there. (In their home/family, to their community, and beyond.)

(Note: I’m not sure that we want to make it our goal to change other people’s thinking. But, that is my inner libertarian coming out…)

We will not transform America (one way or another) by an election. Any election, with any result. But, God willing, we Americans will return to the One whom so many of the Founders knew and trusted, and repeatedly credited with the formation of this Great Experiment called the United States of America. I don’t see the majority of us being founded in our trust of Him. We are still a free people choosing and being our own government, though, not by force or lineage. That is unique in history, and was greatly celebrated when we accomplished it just two hundred thirty-six years ago.

It still should be today. Elections are wonderful. But don’t put too much stock in them for “accomplishing your mission”. They’re a good barometer of who we are, and what we think.

And there’s another one coming soon.

Last Words

Finally, for those who follow Jesus, I leave you with these two thoughts:

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority. —Romans 13:1-7

And, most importantly…

…the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. —Micah 6:8

Rick Boyer on Government Schools

Take Back The Land - Rick BoyerI am currently reading a book along with my son, Ian, called Take Back The Land, by Rick Boyer. Mr. Boyer is a home schooling superstar. If you home school, chances are you are already familiar with him. (If you’re not familiar with the book, I highly recommend it—and I’m only a few chapters in!)

The Boyers have 14 kids, they were home schooling when it was definitely only questionably “legal”, and they have spent 30 years not only educating their own family, but helping thousands of other families do the same.

(By the way… can you believe there was a time in the United States of America when it was potentially illegal to choose to educate your own kids rather than put them into the government education system?)

The book is aimed at young people (primarily home schooled young people 12-ish to 20-ish) and is a longer version of a speech he gave to a “graduating class” at a home school conference not long ago. His basic premise/challenge to the young reader: Grow up! Our culture has been steadily expecting less and less from young people, and so they play video games and don’t really do much of anything until much later in life than they could. He’s spot on so far in nearly everything he’s saying (and Ian thinks so, too).

I look forward to finishing the book (hopefully today) and probably discussing it more here, but for today, there was a section about Government Schools I wanted to highlight. I’ve offered my thoughts on this site a time or two. Mr. Boyer also described these institutions well:

One reason I believe home education is the key to revival in our culture is that it is a rejection of the system that I blame in large part for our present apostasy, the “public” school system. That’s a misnomer, of course. The schools are government schools. They’re not public at all, except in the sense that the public pays the taxes that support them and suffers the consequence of their existence. The government controls what is taught in those schools, and the parents who are rearing the students and paying the taxes for the schools have almost no input. Their values are not respected and in fact are often undermined.

The quote continues, but I just wanted to stop there and point out that this is really true… it’s not like a public library, or a public park where you can go and use it at any time you’d like, in any way that suits you. In many (most? all?) ways you’re either all in, or not in at all. And regarding taxes … do you remember this post?

Let’s keep going with the quote. This is the good part:

There was a time, early on in our history, when everybody would have laughed at the idea of compulsory school attendance. In the first place, it wasn’t needed. There was homeschooling, tutoring, and lots of affordable private schools. Literacy was much higher at the time of the American Revolution than it is now (see John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down). [editor’s note: Gatto’s books on education are on my to-read list…] Schooling wasn’t worshipped as the answer to all problems because people had been educating themselves for generations with little time spent in school.

Sorry for the long quote. I felt it was a necessary context for this:

More importantly, the compulsory nature of today’s schooling would have seemed both weird and offensive. In the early days, when Americans could remember the struggle to become a free country, the idea of a law confining innocent people to government institutions for most of each day, five days a week, nine months of the year would not have been tolerated. It would have been seen for what it is: imprisonment of the innocent. Promoters of compulsory attendance pointed to the very small percentage of American children who were not being educated and used them as an argument for their agenda. Once again, the needs of a very few were used as leverage to infringe on the freedom of all.

Emphasis mine. Almost done. (This one is not fully quoted… just a few key phrases):

Once compulsory attendance had become the law of the land (around the early 1900s), the public school system gave the government and those who had influence in government the opportunity to effectively brainwash a large percentage of the population. That’s partly why public attitudes toward moral, economic, and political issues changed so radically over the last hundred years.

…I blame government education for a lot of the problems we have today, especially the erosion of our freedom. Our public schools provide just the kind of young people one would expect a government to want: passive, uncritical thinkers who are unlikely to start any revolutions; conditioned by long practice to do what they’re told, moving in groups, with weak family loyalties and strong peer dependency.

There are many reasons we home school. He listed some of them. We can’t really imagine not home schooling our children. Again, for all of the reasons he mentions here. We want our kids to be fully who they are. To learn about the world in whole, not the world with God—who planned, and made, and holds it all together—wholly removed from the picture.

There really is a lot more, but… you might want to just buy the book. 🙂

Now, time to stop writing, and get back to reading!


Starting Early :)

I’ve had education on my mind again recently. There are certainly many ideas that word conjures up… some good, some bad. But I think we might have a skewed—or even wrong—understanding of it.

As you may have read in yesterday’s post (and noticed from the time of day of today’s post), I am focusing on some other stuff at the moment, which is limiting my writing time. That doesn’t mean that the mental gears are not still cranking. They are. But, unfortunately, I can not develop “on paper” the thoughts which seem to continue to churn out, despite the need for focus elsewhere. (Many “elsewheres”, actually…)

So for now, have a look with me at an article I wrote way back in 2009. It’s titled Different View of Education. Here’s a snippet from that post:

Academic learning is great, and has a place. But it is not education. I still feel that is the bonus. Get the other stuff right, and then the academic stuff is icing on the cake. Build character and integrity into your kids, and even just the confidence of knowing they are loved and accepted, and the rest of the stuff will come as it needs to. And, ultimately, we don’t want our kids to just learn facts and details they can parrot back to us, we want them to learn how to learn. That will serve them much better.

There are lots of ways to see it, and none are necessarily right, or wrong. (Though they are almost certainly all incomplete.) I’m definitely not locked into one way of helping our kids get an education, nor my own, for that matter. But I definitely am convinced that education is much more than academic learning. So much is much more important than that, it seems.

More thoughts to come on all this, but for now, please read (and respond to, if you are so inclined) Different View of Education.

American Values

At the ReValue America lecture we hosted last weekend, one of the themes was of course, “Values”.

During the presentation, the speaker—Dr. Shanon Brooks—took a moment to ask everyone there what some “American values” were. Various words were quickly offered: Honor. Courage. Bravery. Love. Friendship. Hard work/work ethic. Faith. Charity/Generosity. Probably about 20 or 30 were mentioned within a 30 second span. It was a fairly easy exercise for the 130 or so in attendance.

After a good number had been spoken, Dr. Brooks said, “Those are all great, and I think we’re all in agreement that those are all values that we hold as Americans. But—and this never fails, anywhere I ask this—there were a few that we did not mention. Why didn’t anyone mention mathematics, or grammar, or physics, or anything like that? We focus so much of our attention in our education systems to such things, but they aren’t mentioned as our core values?”

It was a fantastic illustration (in my opinion) of our educational focus being quite askew. We have an enormous system in place to train up generations of Americans in the “fundamentals”, but we are not passing along our values. Values are, well, what we value. So according to our education system, we value skills rather than the things we say are our “values” (as above).

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think the public education system really can pass along values very well, so I don’t think we should all of a sudden change to a more character-based education system in the government schools. It won’t work. (Simply because of the setting, the environment.) Character and values should be passed along to children by their parents. Clearly there are problems with that in our society as there are so many homes without parents in the plural … it gets very confused and confusing.

I guess that’s why Dr. Brooks feels we really need to “ReValue” America.

At the very least, we need to figure out what it means to get an education, and what sort of education we want. Do we just want to learn skills (that we don’t even consider American values) or do we want a more well-rounded, full education, including the “why” of what we learn. And what to do with what we’ve learned. Based on our values.

Which is it?

That was one of the questions/challenges presented in the ReValue America lecture … if you can get out to any of the remaining ones here in NY State this week, please do. It will be well worth your time. If not, visit their website for information on other opportunities across the US.

God Of Wonders (DVD)

God of Wonders DVDWe are fans of God’s creations here. There is no end to the amazing complexity and brilliant design all around you. The boys and I have been reading many books about our solar system (and the universe beyond) and the kids and Jen just joined a science club where they were learning about the incredible world of the cell. It really is marvelously fantastic. (There aren’t enough superlatives.)

Recently we borrowed a DVD from some friends of ours, then we subsequently lent that DVD to other friends, and upon retrieval of the much-lent movie, we all watched it again this week—and it was just as good as the first time!

That DVD is God of Wonders from Eternal Productions, made by our friends at LaBarge Media. It’s got some incredible video footage and it’s an hour and half of learning about God’s amazing creation. We highly recommend.

You can click the DVD cover above and purchase directly from LaBarge Media’s store (, but at the moment they are transitioning that site, so you might be better off purchasing from Amazon. (See link above.)

Or, you could just borrow from a friend 😉

Either way, we recommend.


Have you noticed how compartmentalized we tend to view life? While there certainly is truth to the “time and a place for everything” there is also the truth to “in everything moderation.” But for whatever reason (honestly, I would like to investigate this further and discover the root cause or causes) there is a very strong tendency to separate, categorize, and otherwise segment our lives.

Think about it. The “separation of church and state” immediately comes to mind. It is proclaimed frequently as the bedrock of our society in political circles, the two shall never cross. (It’s really misinterpreted as well, but that’s for another day.)

As a home schooling family, we’ve seen many families who adhere to a more strict schooling schedule: a certain time of day, certain days of the week, and certain months of the year, like the public school system.

We also keep our spiritual life nicely bottled up for our more spiritual moments. Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, small groups, youth groups, mens groups, ladies groups, personal devotion times, and all sorts of “spiritual times.” (Check out this super-old post for more thoughts on this.)

What I’m noticing lately is that when we do compartmentalize and segment our lives so, we tend to imagine that we are somehow able to be different things at different times. That when we are in a spiritual place or time, then we are a spiritual being. When it is time for school, then we are learning.

To a degree, that is most certainly understandable. We do have different roles within our day. Just by our birth, we have different relationships with some people. But does that translate well to other times? When I am with my wife, I am married. When I am with my kids, I am a dad. Not really. We wouldn’t ever say those relationships cease when we are not in a physical time and space where they are evident. We may focus our energy at times on something else (for instance, a job) but we are still a spouse, and a parent, and a child of God.

Life with God is not about a time and place. I’ve said that for so many years here, so I won’t expound there. (If you want to read more, get my book … it’s a good read.) 😉 In our segmented way of thinking, there is a danger of compartmentalizing God that way; putting him in a box.

Same goes with parenting. Whether I am actively caring for and leading my children, or not, I am still a parent. And really, everything I do is part of that. When I am working, I am helping earn money to keep us under a roof and fed. When I am reading or writing, I am thinking about life and processing those thoughts and attempting to understand more of life that I can later pass along to them.

This can also be better applied to our education. As mentioned previously, we’ve been thinking about education a lot lately. One thing that I have always felt that we home schoolers miss out on is the complete integration of our education with our whole lives. Most of us get it on some level, but I’d say not many really live it out. Rather than setting aside a time for “school” there can be such freedom—and perhaps even more learning?—in seeing all of the opportunities to learn (and teach) in the course of “everyday life.” Everywhere we go, everything we do often has teachable moments, whether merely practical (preparing meals, maintaining a home, etc) or moral lessons stemming from interaction with siblings, parents, and friends.

The “lessons” also integrate with what a more structured school might categorize as math, science, english, or any of the other subjects. We use all of those things every day in so many ways, when we are thinking about it, and looking for teachable moments, they are easy to spot and pass along. And in the regular course of life, they are very readily accepted. Then, when there is a spark in the mind and eyes of your child for some particular topic, delve further into it. The library is your friend!

It’s fun to learn. All the time. From waking up, to bedding down. There is so much to learn, and I think from the moment we are born we are keen to it. It’s fun to see our 9-month-old learning about his world. He is so curious about everything! It’s just in us. We want to know more, and yet, when we’re forced to sit and learn at a specific time… it often forces the love of learning right out of us.

How sad.

So we here at the world headquarters are trying to live a more integrated life. We never turn anything “off” (except, I suppose I do intentionally take breaks from my work … though somewhat difficult being the owner of (at least) two businesses…) instead we are always learning, loving, and listening. We don’t limit our life in God to spiritual events and times. We don’t limit our learning and education to “school” times. We are all of who we are at all times in all ways.

Said that way, it seems a monumental task. But there is such freedom in just being. Give it a try, if you are able… Just be.

Are You Feeling Apathetic?

One thing I’ve been thinking about quite a lot lately is our current posture as a nation, as a people. From studying forms of education, and specifically researching the lives of the founders of this country by reading from their own writings, I’ve just been challenged by their devotion to learning and their fascinating courage of convictions. And in contrast, been saddened by what appears to me as not only a lack of courage (or even perhaps, a lack of convictions altogether) but really a palpable apathy.

But I could really be wrong.

What I mean is this: Many of us go about our daily lives, really just trying to get by. We go to our jobs to “pay the rent,” we probably have some TV shows we like to watch, maybe some music we like to listen to (though it seems I have fewer conversations about good music than I remember having in the past…), and there are all sorts of video games that keep us entertained (read: busy), but then that’s it. Several of us, if we’re not students or parents of students, belong to some sort of group (maybe Scouts, community sports, a church, even perhaps a political group). But, at the end of the day (literally) we are not very motivated to (1) know what is going on with our neighbors, and in our community, and (2) even less likely to know what’s going on in our country and in our world.

Is that true? Do you notice that, too? Am I just surrounded by incredibly unmotivated people???

Of course, that’s unfair to say. In fact, I know many people who are very motivated to first better themselves, then their kids, then to be actively involved in the lives of their neighbors and friends, and even on a wider scale as a citizen of their state and country. However, they sure seem like the exception.

Why is that? What has bred this sense of apathy into our nation? Apathy about the deterioration of our marriages and families. Apathy about us “settling for less” in so many arenas of life (in our jobs, in the marketplace in general, in politics, in our churches, even in our own life with God)… to me, it seems we just don’t care to fix it.

If you are, what is your motivation? What spurs you on to better yourself and to “love your neighbor as yourself?” I think that’s what we’re doing when we “get involved” in our neighborhoods and communities. It’s the “Golden Rule” in action. If you’re living that, why do you? Why are you not content to just play video games and watch TV and go to your job when you have to?

My sense is that our culture is much more defined by the latter than the former. What I’m hoping to instill in our kids is a strong foundation of being loved by God (just as they are loved by Mom & Dad, but better), being people of character and integrity (knowing what is right, and doing it even at their own personal expense), and being actively involved in loving people as they have been loved (equally without favorites, unconditionally, and selflessly). That’s what we (Jen & I) are doing with every ounce of energy that we have on every day. At least, that’s what we’re trying to do.

But some continue to slovenly linger in apathy.

Is that you? Why? Is that someone you know? Ask them why they don’t care to better themselves, if you’re so bold. (If you do, please do so with a humble, non-judgmental attitude. None of us is inherently better than another, some are just perhaps more self-aware and aware of others, in a good way.)

I’m very intrigued by the character of the people who founded our country. Some may argue, “But they had slaves!” Well, if you read history, there were many who flat out wanted it ended, and others (including George Washington) who “owned” slaves, but never bought any slaves, nor treat them as property, and made sure they were freemen when he died. Slavery is certainly an ugly blemish on our nation’s history, but as with all things there are many “sides” to the story. (Of course I don’t ever condone anyone owning any other person. However, it is also true that there are always more “sides” to the story.)

The courage these guys showed in the face of insurmountable odds. The integrity they displayed in standing up for what they knew to be right, despite the fact that it likely meant losing everything they had, including their lives. And to do it, not just for themselves or their families, but for their fellow countrymen.

I don’t think we have people like that today. At least, I’m not sure I’ve met them.

(No offense to any of my friends who may be reading this.) 😉

I’m not sure I’m them.

So, how do we get past the generations of ingrained apathy? Something like 9-11 perhaps? Maybe. That did seem to draw us all together, and perk up our ears to the current events of the day. We were all one people then, rather than a country divided by “left” and “right” leanings. I would hope that wouldn’t be necessary, but I’m not sure how we lift that (apparent) heavy blanket of apathy, and motivate and inspire each other to betterment of ourselves, our marriages, our families, and our communities. Do you?

More questions than answers here today, but it’s the stuff that is currently ruminating in Greg’s Head. Thanks for reading along, and do add your thoughts to the stew, if you’re so inclined.