Archives For Homeschool Notes

Correcting someone is no easy task. Correcting that someone who happens to be your own child, when they think they’ve ace’d a technique but haven’t, and the task can be downright painful.

When correcting a bad technique, it doesn’t matter how much planning is put into the delivery and tone, there is going to be drama because there’s no soft alternative to “you’re doing that the wrong way, here’s why.

Correcting a bad technique is nowhere as difficult as landing a jet on a short metal strip floating in the ocean, but I think the analogy works.

The plane is lined up with the runway, we have green lights flashing back at us, the approach looks good, flaps are down, and everyone’s happy. This is until the actual landing, when your approach doesn’t go as well as first imagined. The landing is sloppy, the plane slams down on the runway, but the hook grabs the cable and violently snaps everything safely into place. You walk away with bruises, mission complete.

Correction works in a similar way. It involves confrontation and conflict. Tears and frustration are an almost unavoidable part of the job. It’s better to be aware of this, and plan to counter the reaction by making room for tears and frustration, than getting caught in the wave of emotions that will leave you feeling like the worst parent in the world.

Correction held in balance with compassion, is a loving act. It’s better to address the incorrect technique now, than ignore it, and let our children think they’ve got it right. I’d prefer a little heat to come my way now, after I’ve corrected our homeschooling child’s musical technique, than stay silent out of fear of hurting their feelings and have to deal with their sense of betrayal later. Better a little frustration with me now, than betrayal and anger born out of embarrassment, when they go to perform using that musical skill, thinking it’s correct, only to be told by others it’s not.

What would be wrong is me not loving my children enough, to tell them where, and when they have gotten something wrong. It’s self-serving to stay silent; to act out of self-preservation for fear hurting their feelings or fear of entering into an uncomfortable conversation, because of the inevitable conflict attached.

Correcting my kids is one of the hardest parts of being a homeschool dad. I don’t like the task and loathe being the “bad cop”. However, by taking on Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:15 and speaking the truth in love, I’m saying to my kids that I refuse to abandon them to the world, their mistakes, or to a life of avoidable failure. I’m showing them that I am fighting for them, not against them; that I will fight for them, even if it means saying “no” to them.

Correction develops resilience and character in both of us. This application of speaking truth in love transforms an awkward job into a learning opportunity; through the tears and frustration, we find a path towards setting up our homeschoolers for success.

Not every confrontation can be planned ahead in advance, this doesn’t have to mean that we are doomed to crash and burn as parents or home educators.

Going back to the plane analogy, have the courage to land, even when fear compels us to avoid the subject. Have the best approach possible and keep in mind the axiom, that any landing you can walk away from is a good one.


Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Of all the console games released in the past year, ‘Subnautica’ is the only standout that, I can say with confidence, fits the homeschool friendly category.

Subnautica’ is best described as a science-fiction version of the ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ and ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. The game itself is structured around survival, and creativity. Struggling against the aquatic environment makes up a large part of the interactivity. This includes crafting, exploration, and making use of the alien, aquatic fauna and flora.

Subnautica’s’ free play style allows the player to stay as long as they want to on the planet. In my opinion, coming from a home education perspective, following the storyline is the better approach. I teamed up with my two youngest homeschoolers, taking turns at moving through each aspect of the game on survival mode. It took us about two weeks (14 evenings and one Saturday) of casual game time to complete.

My application of ‘Subnautica’ for homeschool involved teamwork, planning and an informal round-table application of ideas. We discussed our approach, thought through all the possible ways that would help us solve dilemmas. Most often these were dilemmas we’d caused for our character, by overlooking an important bulkhead, running too low on food, battery life; right down to being too far away from a water source.

Another major educational bonus is the technology available in the game. ‘Subnautica’ begins with a basic escape pod. Players build up from there to complete an underwater sea base (or bases, depending on how big or small you want to go), with Seamoth, Prawn Suit and the mighty, home-away-from-home submarine called the Cyclops – or as we affectionately called ours, The GSS Ned Land (GSS, Grateful Soldier’s Ship).

The underwater geological structures, flora and fauna ultimately make this game the complete package. Underwater plant life is luminous, and provides a range of applications. The sea life is just as varied. This includes a cuttlefish pet, which can be hatched from an egg later in the game.

Some of the downsides of ‘Subnautica’ included the absence of any weather mechanic. Apart from the day and night cycle, and a few clouds, the sun shines all the time. There are also glitches when diving into deeper parts of the ocean. These can be frustrating, but are easy to spot and just as easy to avoid. There aren’t as many clues, making the gamer more dependent on wiki forums than other games.

The storyline also rests on evolutionary dogma, without qualification, and has one very small questionable PDA voiceover that wasn’t necessary to the storyline. Due to the dark, unknown areas that have to be explored, and because these areas are populated by surprising predators, the storyline isn’t suited to kids under 9 years of age. This doesn’t mean that the game is unplayable for that demographic. Creative mode still has a lot to offer.

In the end, we triumphed in our struggle, launching back into space on the Neptune, leaving our marooned existence behind, and taking with us the data PDA’s of survivors, whose disappearance was as mysterious, and intriguing to investigate, as the planet itself. Overall, ‘Subnautica’ is an educational, and enjoyable underwater action adventure, well suited for parents who engage with their kids on all technological platforms.


[Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for this review of any kind].

Official Website

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Playboy’s reputation for providing intellectually engaging reading material doesn’t rank all that high in the list of influential mainstream media outlets. So it’s easy to not take any activism from the morally questionable publication all that seriously.

In early May, however, the publication touted an anti-homeschooling article from Christopher Stroop, a freelance writer who has contributed articles to Playboy and Salon.

Stroop seized on recent gun violence in the United States to fire a broadside at white evangelical Americans. In doing so he conflated Christian homeschoolers with domestic terrorism, accusing them of white supremacy, racism and radicalization.

Stroop, a self-proclaimed ex-evangelical, who is also a pro-LGBT anti-Christian schools activist, went on to disparage Christian homeschoolers, by appealing to researchers from the “survivors community”, who until recently, made up the now defunct internet group, Homeschoolers Anonymous; a group who describes themselves as “homeschool apostates” and/or ‘refugees.

Quoting fellow ex-evangelical, Kathryn Brightbill from Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling, Stroop claimed that proof of this radicalization was found in a ‘pattern of violent crimes’ which can (apparently) be connected to Christian homeschoolers, in particular, an obscure movement within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church called ‘Christian Reconstructionsim’, which (allegedly) promotes a ‘right-wing version of Calvinist theology –  “teaching that God’s plan for society is to implement Old Testament political law, including the stoning parts”.’

Without substantiating his claim with sources, or solid evidence, and leaning solely on unnamed “researchers” from within his own movement, Stroop rattled on, asserting that the so-called “pattern of violence”,

‘Raised the question about how homeschooling and white evangelical subculture may be contributing factors in the radicalization of young people.’

While loosely citing events in Austin and Tennessee, his primary evidence was the recent  synagogue shooting in Los Angeles, where teen, John T. Earnest (who was homeschooled for a time), killed one person and injured two others.

Though Stroop’s conclusion notes that Earnest was “radicalized” via the internet, what Stroop fails to mention is that Earnest’s manifesto clearly indicated that homeschooling had nothing to do with his radicalization and act of domestic terrorism.

According to 10 News San Diego, “[Earnest] added that he wasn’t taught this ideology [anti-Semitism] from his family; stating that he “had to learn [from 8chan] what [my parents] should have taught me from the beginning.”

Despite the fact that Stroop acknowledges Earnest was only partly homeschooled, and that the internet was the primary motivator in the synagogue attack. He insists that Earnest is a valid example of this “pattern of violence from Christian homeschoolers” and their radicalization of the young.

Stroop cites, Ryan Stollar, one of the founders of Homeschoolers Anonymous, who accuses Christian homeschoolers of covering up abuse, and of using a “persecution complex” to avoid “honest examination”.

Stroop, Stollar and Brightbill argue that this is reason enough to justify government intervention, because the “lack of government oversight creates a legal cover for abusive parents to indoctrinate and warp their children.”

This isn’t far removed from the now debunked theory of the Australian Greens Party, who demanded and chaired a political enquiry because of their firm belief that homeschooling equated to child abuse.

As with the Greens, nothing Stroop tries to provide by way of evidence substantiates his extreme accusations.

Dishonest reasoning isn’t the only problem with his article. As with a lot of fringe arguments against Homeschooling within America, his polemic fails to distinguish between education and parenting, Church and home education. In addition there is no mention of institutional schooling and the potential role it may play in decisions of all domestic terrorists.

Stroop conflates Christian homeschoolers with the domestic terrorist and blames them for his ideological radicalization. This recklessness and his deliberate use of loaded terms, turns Christian homeschoolers into a straw man, invoking images of Islamist terror camps, and children in jackboots wearing suicide belts, marching with AK-47’s, chanting “death to Israel”.

Stroop’s loose examples and bias reach their zenith when in quoting Brightball, he accuses popular homeschool curriculum, Abeka of “explicit and implicit white supremacist messaging.” Abeka’s crime? Their World history Curriculum is deemed to be “too white & too Christian.” It’s a typical move against anyone not willing to line up and fall into absolute alignment with Leftism.

In his rejection of American evangelicalism, Stroop fires a reckless broadside at Christian homeschooling, tarring and feathering every evangelical Christian, every Calvinist, moderate or five point believer, and the majority of Christian homeschoolers with the label white supremacist.

Though Stroop’s Playboy piece claims to provide proof of a pattern of violence which shows that Christian homeschoolers are producing domestic terrorists, all we end up finding is Stroop and his fellow “ex-evangelicals”, grinding an axe in order to further their own toxic form of victimhood and the Leftist socio-political cult that sees an easy profit in any form of anti-Christian rhetoric.

It would be naïve to dismiss the testimony of those who genuinely see themselves as victims of abuse. It would also be naïve to buy into the narrative Stroop has tried to construct by exploiting their apparent suffering.

Having talked at length with homeschooling friends from the United States, there is no doubt that a small portion of homeschooling families get it wrong, or abuse the privilege of home education by abdicating their parental duty of care in educating their child responsibly. However, as reflected in literature and movies like ‘Sister Act 2’, ‘Lean on Me’, ‘The Dead Poets Society’, and ‘Dangerous Minds’, parental abdication from participating in their child’s holistic education, isn’t a problem just experienced in the homeschooling community. It affects every educational platform.

Stroop’s sloppy article and his dishonesty illustrate just how far the Leftist cult of modern liberalism and its sycophants are willing to go. With little to no evidence, Biblical Christianity will be outlawed under the popular phrase ‘homophobic’.

This is another mutation of

‘the terrible abuse of language by the Nazis: where the group in charge of the actual killing in the gas chambers was called the General Welfare Foundation for Institutional Care…’ (Dean Stroud)[1]

This is the reality for Israel Folau. In a vile inversion of morality, Christianity will be deemed immoral. Anyone not aligned with Leftism will be treated as domestic terrorists, and as is the case with Christians in China, people will be forced by those already sold out to Leftism, into allegiance to the State.

This is, as Paul Joseph Watson so aptly described it, the mark of the beast: we will not be able to buy, sell, have a career, or earn a wage, without total intellectual castration and obedience to those on the Left who, even now, deceptively seek to place themselves as our overlords.


References:

[1] Dean Stroud, 2013 ‘Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance‘ Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing pp.132 & 136

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 23rd May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Under the title ‘God, Life and the World around us’, I create my own theology and biblical studies lesson plans. From time to time, however, I’ll go looking for some “plug-and-play” material that’ll sharpen our deep study of the Bible and its relevance.

Natasha Crain’s, ‘Talking with Your Kids about God’ met this criterion and then some.  The book pads theology and biblical studies subjects by furthering an understanding of the Bible’s relevance to S.T.E.M and H.S.I.E. (Human Society and its Environment).

Crain’s book is a recount and exposition of her own unexpected engagement with the world of skeptics and atheists. Her research is compiled into thirty questions. Each question makes up a chapter, and each chapter presents the skeptics question juxtaposed next to answers from Atheists and Christians.

One of the key benefits about the layout of Natasha’s book is that it saves time. The layout and contents means no time is lost scrolling, filtering and processing the contents of forums dedicated to the dogma of atheism and the echo chambers of skeptics. Crain has done the ground work already.

Despite the absence of an index, the painstakingly thorough academic approach Crain takes with this book, particularly with referencing and citations, makes it one of the smartest, and well-presented resources, in the apologetics category that I’ve come across.

In a bold, conversational tone, Crain confronts difficult questions and “gotcha” accusations that are often raised against God, Christians and the Bible.  These range from simple passive aggressive anti-Christian statements often seen on memes, the mockery of The Church of the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)’ and the more complex theory of Evolution.

Each chapter addresses the false dichotomy between faith and science.

Crain achieves this by sectioning the book up into five parts in order of importance:

Part 1: The Existence of God.

Part 2: Science & God.

Part 3: The Nature of God.

Part 4: Believing in God

Part 5: The Difference God Makes.

Following the theme of each section, each chapter ends with its own set of unique summary points and conversation guides, which open the chapter up for discussion and application.

Although Crain encourages just using the summary points, and the conversation guide to spark conversations about the topics raised, the book works best when the entire chapter is first read out loud.

I tried to follow the suggested teaching format, but found that noting key points and quotations on the whiteboard, as we went along, worked best. I then had these points and quotations copied down in our Homeschoolers HSIE workbooks. The result was that our discussion began long before beginning the conversation guide. My kids also found this to be the most helpful approach.

The only problem I wrestled with when teaching ‘Talking with Your Kids about God’ was natural theology. After the first and second chapter, I nearly ditched the book, because like any good student of Karl Barth, any hint of desperate reliance on natural theology, as proof of the existence of God, is verboten; a straight-up Nein[!].

Such reliance is built on religion (humanity’s quest to reach or be God – Man’s ‘Towers of Babel’), not faith (humanity’s response to the Word God has already spoken, in both Covenant and in Jesus Christ).

This said. I’m glad I stuck with it. My initial caution was corrected. With Crain, I’d hoped to pad my own homeschool theology lessons, as part of S.T.E.M and H.S.I.E, with age appropriate material. Now that we’ve completed the book, I’m impressed with the format, and how Crain handles the heavy topics therein. Her work is balanced, informative and engaging. In fact, I’m that impressed, I picked up her first book, to teach from in a similar way.

Karl Barth once said that we ought to, “read the bible in one hand, with the newspaper in the other.”

The idea of studying the Bible and the news alongside each other pertains to the continuing relevance of the Bible, and the need to see man’s world, and word, in contrast to God’s revealed Word, and the world He so lovingly saved through it.

Crains’ book is an essential resource for mums and dads who want to help their children to cherish the free pursuit of knowledge, and its close relationship to the free pursuit of God.


References:

Crain, N. 2017 Talking with Your Kids about God, Baker Books Publishing

[Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for this review of any kind].

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Peter Tabichi, a 36 year old Franciscan Monk from Kenya, has just won the Global Teaching prize, funded by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. This year the award was hosted by Hugh Jackman, and carries with it a $1 million prize for excellence in teaching.

Tabichi was selected from ‘over 10,000 applicants from around 179 countries’ and was one of ten finalists, which included U.K. teacher, Andrew Moffat, famous for gaining the ire of parents in Birmingham, for teaching LGBT ideology to kids, in a primary school with a large Muslim demographic.

Largely focusing on the fact that Tabichi “gives away 80 percent of his monthly income to the poor”; like most media outlets, SBS in Australia, stopped short of giving any direct mention of his Christian faith, or giving any credit to Christianity.

Maybe SBS thought, why state the obvious? This would be a legitimate excuse, had they shown a pattern of consistency with their headlines and reporting in the past.

Why single out SBS? It’s not a good look for a broadcaster whose charter claims to be the epitome of anti-racism, anti-phobias, intolerance and inclusion.

Google, “SBS Christian wins”. Then compare that with a search of, “SBS LGBT Wins”, or “SBS Muslim Wins”, and a pattern emerges.

For example (et.al):

Muslim Wins Veil Case, 22nd Aug, 2013

Muslim Woman Wins Handshake Discrimination Case, 16th Aug, 2018

Australian Muslim Challenging Mainstream Narrative, 7th Feb 2019

SBS is congratulated for not misidentifying those who self-identify as LGBT or Muslim, but their concern appears to end, when it comes to Christians, the Church or Christian theology making achievements beyond that break the negative stereotypes.

In an age where not using the correct 62+ gender specific pronoun, can land someone in prison, or see someone arrested, it’s not unfair to suggest that SBS (and others) need to do some soul searching.

If misgendering or misidentifying someone is a modern sin, why avoid a direct reference to someone being a Christian?

There aren’t too many answers to choose from:

Either, a) SBS doesn’t want to upset their viewer base, which would suggest that there’s a ton of bigotry against Christians among SBS’s viewer base; b) SBS is betraying its own anti-Christian prejudice through discriminating against Christians. c) SBS doesn’t care.

On balance, there are a few milder exceptions to the rule, The Guardian, noted that Peter was from the Franciscan Religious Order, but The Guardian avoided any direct reference to his Christian faith. In addition, The ABC didn’t do much better.

Had Peter been of the approved variety and/or minority, there’s no doubt that his Christian faith would have been mentioned, if not highlighted.

Still, given the work Peter is doing, and the difficult context he’s doing that work in, he deserves every pat on the back he gets.

According to the Varky Foundation, Peter ‘teaches Science at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley; and takes joy in seeing his learners grow in knowledge, skills and confidence.’

The same page also noted that his

‘Students come from a host of diverse cultures and religions learn in poorly equipped classrooms. 95% of pupils hail from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common. Turning lives around in a school with only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, is no easy task, not least when to reach the school, students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season.’

In January, Peter posted a short bio to his Facebook wall:

“I was raised up in a remote village, in a family of teachers. I lost my mother at the age of 11. We were brought up by our dad, who would look after everything, including preparing meals, educating us and most importantly instilling moral and Christian values in us. This tough experience taught me how to tackle various challenges of life. Growing up I saw first-hand the dedication that teachers bring to the community, and I have come to view the teacher’s role as enlightening others on how to tackle the challenges of life. I wanted to give teaching the honour it deserves. I joined the religious life because I wanted to be able to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to helping others. Your prayers and support have made everything possible. United, we can make this world a better place to live in. Thanks be to God and be blessed!”

Peter’s Christ-like example teaches us.

According to The ABC, ‘Peter plans to use the prize money to improve the school and feed the poor.’

Teachers Magazine also quoted Peter as saying,

“I’m immensely proud of my students. We lack facilities that many schools take for granted. As a teacher, I just want to have a positive impact, not only on my country but the whole of Africa. To be a great teacher, you have to be creative and use technology – you really have to promote those modern ways of teaching. You have to do more and talk less.”

Perhaps we would all benefit from Peter’s example, by acknowledging the source and motivation for it, instead of actively trying to suppress it.


References (not otherwise linked):

[i] Teachers Magazine also refused to mention Tabichi’s Christian faith.

Global Teacher Prize, Peter Tabichi

The Guardian, Teacher targeted over LGBT work shortlisted for $1m global award Sourced 25th March 2019

The Guardian, Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi wins $1m global award Sourced, 25th March 2019

Magdalene Wanja, Daily Nation (Kenya), 31st Dec. 2018 Award winning teacher raising hopes for poor students, sourced 25th March 2019

As promised, the latest film in the Transformers series delivers.  ‘Bumblebee’ is a prequel set on America’s West Coast, in 1987. The film moves along at an engaging pace, is quaint and unexpected. High action scenes interweave with a smart storyline which is matched with a well chosen cast. Although debate about whether ‘Bumblebee’ is a prequel or a spin off, continues, the little that is wrong with this film, is outweighed by what the creators get right.

In a small list of highlights, the biggest was how the film succeeds as a prequel. As a flashback, ‘Bumblebee’ offers a solid start. Without offering spoilers, it’s enough to say that the storyline is consistent with the five Michael Bay films which came before it.

This is bolstered by careful attention to detail, such as when the Decepticon, Soundwave, makes his appearance for the first time. As with the first Transformer movies which brought the return of Peter Cullen’s classic voice to Optimus Prime’s, “Autobots. Roll out!” Soundwave’s[1] one scene, signature robotic voice command “Decepticon’s. Attaaaack!”, brings Transformers back to its classic 1980s roots.

Although he only has one scene, Soundwave is the only old Decepticon to be reintroduced to the series, while two, new muscle car/combat aircraft Decepticon’s, fill the role of antagonist. In addition, talented new actors provided a welcome change of scenery. This adds to the distancing of ‘Bumblebee’ with the (big star saturated screen presence of the) film’s predecessors.

In a short list of significant letdowns, the biggest was the absence of Steve Jablonsky. Having created the soundtrack for all six Transformers movies, his absence felt odd and inconsistent.  Without Jablonsky colouring the background with his now trademark Transformers sound, parts of the film felt empty. The careful insertion of some classic 1980s songs did not fill the void.

Italian film composer, Dario Marianelli may have excelled in period films like ‘Pride & Prejudice (2005)’, but he was a poor choice for the ‘Bumblebee’ movie.  The absence of Jablonsky stood out like the size of Megatron’s ego. Marianelli had big shoes to fill. He was working outside of his genre and it showed. The Bumblebee soundtrack is a letdown and the absence of Jablonsky is a huge loss for an otherwise excellent film. In the end, not one song in Marianelli’s soundtrack succeeds in matching Jablonsky’s ‘Tessa’, ‘Autobots’, ‘No Sacrifice, No Victory,  ‘Arrival to Earth’ and the haunting witty flow of ‘Cogman Sings’.

In attempting to answer why Marianelli, and not Jablonsky, it’s anyone’s best guess. My own would be that a) it was contractual b) the makers of Bumblebee wanted to make a clean cut between ‘Bumblebee’ and its predecessors c) Jablonsky was too masculine for a movie with a lead female character.

If the Hollywood Reporter and Cinema Blend are right, ‘Bumblebee’ is as much a “soft spinoff” as it is a prequel. If Transformers goes the way the Star Wars franchise has, and its creative direction is ideologically liberated from its original cinematic creators, then all three options are probable reasons for why Jablonsky was not invited to the table.

Another somewhat minor letdown was John Cena’s character. His character’s role starts out strong, but by the end of the film, his character’s presence in many of the closing scenes is purposeless and comical. Not only does Cena’s character descend into a mockery of the strong masculine role, it could also be viewed as a further attempt to paint male authority as buffoonish. With the current political zeitgeist, it’s hard not to see this is a veiled (passive aggressive) upper cut thrown by Hollywood, in the direction of Donald Trump, and all white heterosexual men in general.

However, to ‘Bumblebee’s’ credit, this particular downside to the film is balanced by the admiration and affection that the film’s protagonist, Charlie Watson (played by Hailee Steinfeld), has for her late father. Watson’s father is portrayed as an attentive, engaged, strong and loving parent, who is deeply missed; something that Hailee Steinfeld communicates to the audience with heartfelt precision. In addition to this, because ‘Bumblebee’ stresses the importance of a child having a mother and a father, the film presents a strong message about grieving and the importance of family as being a built around male and female; dad, mum and children. The main point being that Watson’s father cannot be replaced.

Despite hidden prejudices that could be drawn out from the film, ‘Bumblebee’ is an unexpected, fun, inspirational family film. ‘Bumblebee’ delivers. If Hollywood Reporter’s speculation that the film is a spin off, then the story line is left wide open, not only for further films, but a multiverse conversion of Hasbro’s line of related 1980s heroes and villains[2]. Something aptly coined by Graeme McMillan as the ‘Hasbroverse’.

If freeing Transformers from its original cinematic creators, in the same way that Star Wars has been liberated, I’m not all that optimistic about where the franchise will go.  Overall, ‘Bumblebee’ is an unexpected, fun, family friendly film, with all the Transformer action. Other than the obvious absence of a Jablonsky soundtrack, and a few minor letdowns in the development, and consistency of some characters, ‘Bumblebee’ is not just a great start to something fresh, it’s an exciting filler, as we wait for the finale to Michael Bay’s cinematic Transformer interpretation.


References:

[1] Voiced by Frank Welker (Megatron, Dr.Claw)

[2] E.g.: G.I Joe, Action Man & Transformers

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Disclaimer: I did not receive and remuneration for this review of any kind.

Parents can tend to place their kids on a pedestal.

It’s not that children take the place of God nor that parents deify their children. The pedestal is more akin to that of an illusion; a fog of false security which assumes our children are perfect, and if not perfect, at least better than we are.

In sum: without sin.

Of course, parents know deep down that it’s naïve to think children are excluded from a sinful world.

We know by our own childhood and teenage years that they aren’t. Those years teach us that we shouldn’t be complacent in thinking that our children are not prone to the affects of sin, in the same way that we are, and once were.

The condition of the human heart, as described by Jeremiah 17:9, says that we can expect ‘the human heart [to be] deceitful above all things’. This goes right back to the retro-prophetic witness in Genesis, whereby the archetypal humans, together as male and female, through temptation, broke humanity and at the same time, broke fellowship with God.

In the beginning was God and relationship with God. This relationship was initiated by God and nurtured by boundaries. By breaching those boundaries, man and woman broke fellowship with God. Having already outlined the consequences, God brings humanity to account: “Where are you? Why are you hiding? What have you done?” (Gen.3:8-13).

In a great act of love, God punishes the serpent, makes clothes for the man and woman (Gen. 3:21), then removes them from the Garden. Where, if they were to remain and eat of the second tree (the fruit of the tree of life), as they had the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death – this break with God; its lifeless godlessness; the nothingness of the abyss[i] – would be forever.

The cherubim and flaming sword (Gen.324) are set in place to save humanity from the condition they now find themselves in. God doesn’t cut and run. He sees the consequences and redefines the relationship. He removes them from the Garden, but not from His fellowship. For ‘God does not flee to man for refuge – man flees to God and lives by God’s grace’ (Barth, p.187).

By removing man and woman from the Garden, God removes them from their own destruction. That God does this proves His love for His creature. He doesn’t separate the man from the woman. Any separation of male from female; man from woman, at God’s command, or any others, would bring about the same thing that God is protecting humanity from – its own absolute and final self-annihilation.

By choosing to help them, in the midst of God’s judgement, we see His wisdom and mercy. This decision helped humanity, it was never about depriving or hurting humanity.

God never stops being graceful, merciful or just. This is who He is. No where greater is this seen than in the constant care God shows towards His people, through His people, and with decisive finality, in His son. In Jesus Christ, the entire world sees His glory. Jesus Christ is God revealed; God in revolt against the disorder of the world. God, the light of the world, pushing back against eternal darkness; against the potential forever of lifeless godlessness, and the nothingness of the abyss.[1]

By choosing to help us, we see wisdom and mercy, in the midst of God’s judgement.

‘sin means that man [and woman] is lost to themselves, but not to their Creator’. That ‘true freedom is in the act of responsibility before God […] it is never the freedom to sin’ (Barth, pp.196-197)

Contrary to God’s parenting style, parents can tend to place their kids on a pedestal. One indication that we might have put ourselves, or our children, on a pedestal is thinking that “our kids can do now wrong”. This is dangerous because the pedestal is high. The inevitable falling-off can lead to a serious falling-out between mum, dad and children. One way that we can remove ourselves and our children from that pedestal, is by acknowledging human limitations.

It stands as a well established fact, that parents are limited in being able to protect their child from the consequences of their child’s rejection of parental advice or poor decisions. We cannot wrap children in cotton wool, nor completely protect them from the affects of a sinful world.

As much as parents may want it to be different, Children are not excluded from a sinful world. As much as parents fight for their kids; teach or desire to walk with them. Just as the archetypal humans did, children may choose to walk away. They will choose not to listen to advice. They will choose to run too fast on a slippery floor, deceive from time to time, and be reckless with a knife, boiling water or worse. When these things happen, the pedestal shatters and the child comes crashing down.

Parenting then is not about pedestals, but about recovery, joy and improvisation! Being there to nurture, correct, create with, love and empower those entrusted by God into our care. Giving a firm “yes” and loving “no”, and allowing wisdom and mercy to inform when to give them.

God has no grandchildren; just as we are children, our children are God’s children. Therefore, parents are caretakers (Gen.2:15). We are given a great gift, and entrusted with the ‘training up a child in the way he should go; [so] even when he is old he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6). .

Parenting is a gift. There can be no pedestal for us or for them. There can only be protest and petition. Protest for them against the disorder of the world [ii]; prayer for them, as they walk with God against it and all that sets out to destroy them.

Ultimately, parenting is receiving what God has to teach us. Learning what God has done for us. Learning from what God does and will have us do, then doing our best to walk in that; to help pick up the pieces of our children’s poor decisions, when they make them; to pray like breathing [iii], to ‘love justice, love mercy, [and together], walk humbly with our God’ (Micah 6:8).


References & Notes:

Barth, K. 1960. Church Dogmatics III/2 Hendrickson Publishers

[1] ‘With the creation of woman God expected man to confirm and maintain his true humanity by the exclusion of every other possibility [of a partner].’ (Karl Barth CD. 3:1, 1958 p.294) ; ‘Every supposed humanity which is not radically and from the very first fellow-humanity is inhumanity’ (CD. 3:2, p.228)

[i] As are the terms given to this breach by Karl Barth & Dietrich Bonhoeffer

[ii] I’m adopting Karl Barth’s phrase: ‘Prayer is a revolt against the disorder of the world’ from CD Fragments IV:4 

[ii] because to pray is to act. Prayer is action. Prayer is not stoic detachment.

‘far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray to you, and I will instruct you the good and the right way.’ (Samuel’s “Parenting Speech” 1 Samuel 12:20-25)

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Photo credit: Liane Metzler on Unsplash