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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

Guest post by A. Lampard.

“The Man in the Iron Mask,” by Alexandre Dumas, is a continuation of Dumas’ classic, “The Three Musketeers.” The story takes place in France, where the three musketeers have retired, and d’Artagnon remains in his majesty’s service. Unknown to d’artagnon, his two friends, Aramis and Porthos, seek to remove the current king of France, Louis XIV, and put his twin brother, Philip, on the throne. While the plot is underway, d’Artagnon must decide where his loyalty lies: with his most trusted friends or his King. Dumas’ use of heartbreak, loyalty and conflict in “The Man in the Iron Mask” creates a narrative that fascinates the reader, but ultimately leaves them hanging.

The “The Man in the Iron Mask,” has gaps in its storyline. The first gap consists in Raoul’s (Monsieur de Bragelonne and son of Athos) heartbreak.[i] Raoul’s fiancée, Mademoiselle de La Valliere, appears to have fallen in love with Louis XIV, and him with her. Raoul’s lover seems to have then left him for the corrupt king, leaving the young man drowning in depression and heartache. The result of this action causes Raoul to long for death, however his overall role in the narrative is unclear and mostly unresolved.

The second gap, concerns the futures of Monsieur Fouquet and (particularly) the prisoner, Philip. Fouquet’s role is mentioned once in the epilogue long after his being captured. However, his role is not spoken of again. Philip is not mentioned or acknowledged in the book after his arrest. His future seems to imply that he will continue to be mistreated and left to rot in prison. Unfortunately, a drastic plot twist causes him to be arrested, which dulls down the intrigue of the story. The outcome of their fates is anything but complete, as information concerning their futures is left out, and the story ends.

Porthos’ death was the worst part of the book. One of the most painful experiences in “The Man in the Iron Mask” is his death. Porthos’ death removes a boisterous cheerfulness that brightened the story.  Good Porthos’ kind heart and humor banished the dark atmosphere of the book. After “the Death of a Titan”[ii] (as Dumas put it) the story seems overly burdened by its incessant despair and gloom.

“The Man in the Iron Mask” is not as much a swashbuckling narrative as “The Three Musketeers.”  The themes constantly present in the story are despair and sadness, which contrast deeply with its predecessor. “The Three Musketeers” is an incredible story full of danger, intrigue, and drama, leaving the reader enchanted. The same cannot be said of “The Man in the Iron Mask.” The plot of this story isn’t nearly as adventurous or mysterious as one would hope, leaving the reader to wonder about the ending.

The lack of swashbuckling heroism and adventure, which was constantly present throughout “The Three Musketeers,” was disappointing. Despite this, “The Man in the Iron Mask” did have some good parts. For example, when two hundred men heard they were fighting two of the legendary, four musketeers,  and were struck with both terror and enthusiasm. The dull story-line isn’t affected by this though, which still leaves the reader in confusion about how Dumas ends his story.

In conclusion, “The Man in the Iron Mask” is often tedious, dull, and leaves the reader hanging. Unnecessary changes throughout it slow down the story. There are frustrating gaps in the story-line, such as: Philip and Fouquet’s futures, and what Raoul’s overall role in the story was. In addition to these gaps, there is the death of Porthos, which causes all humour to disappear from the book. Dumas seems to have lost his flair for the adventure and boisterous, in “The Man in the Iron Mask” he isn’t at his best.

 


Notes:

[i]  Please note that I have only read ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘The Man in the Iron Mask.’

[ii] “The Man in the Iron Mask,” Chapter 50 (‘The Death of a Titan’) – Dumas calls Porthos a ‘Titan.’

(Disclaimer: no remuneration of any kind was received for this review.)

Windmills & Giants!

June 19, 2018 — 1 Comment

As a father, who happens to homeschool his five kids, I also have the distinct honour of managing the general household paradigm.  Here’s a retelling of an event involving one of those responsibilities.

 

 

Chores are not like a small kitten’s purr,

No. Chores are torture.

Run the linen up the flag poles,

Stoke the spinning bucket with garments,

And it’s still hungry.

Such is this monster, which I have,

    daily, gallantly met.

It makes me Don Quixote against

Windmills and giants!

With the same checklist,

 gusto and loyalty,

  as that of D’Artagnan’s servant, Planchet.

Into the chilling wind I stride,

Weighty basket in hand,

Like an explorer in wet clothes, traversing unexplored Antarctic land.

The south winds blow in from hills covered in Australian snow,

My uncovered hands are no match for the cold.

My destination is only ten steps from the back door,

but the wind is like a frozen invisible wall.

My climb against it has become a solitary fight

Like the one faced by an imprisoned, Edmond Dantès

stuck inside a cell with no light.

the minutes drag on, the seconds slow down.

Like the resuscitated Dantès, become Count,

fighting back against all that was unfair;

Where is my Prisoner Priest, like Abbe Faria?

Where is my Island of Cristo,

with its hidden treasure made ready for me to bare?

the wind chill hitting my hands,

it’s a solitary stand.

This, these darkened minutes are testing my resolve,

It’s a saga even Dumas would have, with bravado, retold.

All because I went out into the cold

To hang up on a line, a bunch of wet clothes.


©RL2018

Photo credit: Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

As part of our home-school English curriculum this year, I decided to tackle Twain’s, ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn‘.

I’ve read a few of the, for and against arguments on the internet, by writers who either have an higher opinion of themselves (than they do of Twain), or they raise Twain to a higher level, just because he’s Twain.

My conclusion is this: forget all the, “I’m offended therefore ban ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, because Mark Twain uses offensive language.” Then ditch the flip side which says, “I’m offended, because you’re offended, that Mark Twain didn’t consider your feelings, before he wrote the book”.

What should be deemed offensive is the fact that we’re told our children cannot be taught to discern for themselves; told that they cannot learn the difference between appropriate, and inappropriate language. Especially the term which Mark Twain contextually applies to Huck’s, African-American friend, Jim.

Such an ideological imposition goes against everything that my role as an educator involves. Such as teaching kids how to think for themselves and act responsibly with what they’ve been taught. I’m a facilitator, not a computer programmer; I facilitate the learning process, I don’t insert information into an object, in a certain way, in order to get a specific set of desired results on demand.

Although age and capability are factors for why filtering certain topics is essential to healthy nurturing, I don’t water down facts to appease feelings. With age and capability factors in mind, I present the how, and we discuss the what. Deep learning requires learning the hard stuff and how to digest the hard stuff. We read, learn and act, therefore does not equate to, “we install and stoically obey”.

Learning is a journey, a discipline from which we grow together. This is encapsulated in the whole meaning of reader beware (caveat lector) and it corresponds perfectly with buyer (consumer) beware (caveat emptor).

For example: my students know the difference between Niger (the Latin adjective for black, pronounced Nigh-jer), and the perversion of the adjective used to refer to African-Americans in a derogatory way. Our students understand that the name of the country Nigeria is not pronounced or used with that pejorative in mind.

They are capable of concluding that if a term has an historical significance and was used in such a way to control and abuse others, than that term is not to be used, but is to be left in the historical context where it once was applied. Whitewashing history in order to make it digestible isn’t conducive to education proper.

Take for instance the term ‘wandering jew’’. This is a common name of a pervasive weed in Australia. It pops up everywhere and is hard to get rid of.  But the term raises some important questions: a) is the name of the weed, “wandering jew”, a term of endearment, or is it a pejorative? b)  Can the term be understood differently?  Just because I think the phrase is potentially offensive, doesn’t mean that a Jewish person would agree. c) The plant is strong, hardy and persistent with okay flowers. Instead of disparaging Jewish people, does it stand as a compliment to them?

Instead of banning terms, we educate our children about them. We teach them that the term ‘wandering jew’ can be viewed as a slur on a people group, used in order to dehumanize them. We also take note of the possibility that ‘wandering jew’ could also be viewed as a term of endearment. As a result, while knowing that the phrase is common, we give them reason whether or not to insert weed, where jew once stood or keep it. The consensus has been to use ‘wandering weed’ instead of ‘wandering jew’. If, however, someone used the term ‘wandering jew’, our children would understand its reference, and if someone was offended by it, they would understand why.

We can teach this without demanding that all horticultural books or websites which use the term, “wandering jew” be banned. Just because some Jewish folks might be offended, or use the term, doesn’t mean we have to either ban it, or use it. Likewise, just because the African-American community might (and some do[i]) use the pejorative version of the word ‘Niger (Nigh-Jer)’, doesn’t justify our own use of it (no matter how hypocritical it may seem).

In the case of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, the student is taught to understand what the word means, how and why it was once used, and to whom it was once applied. Instead of having them repeat the word, the pejorative version of ‘niger (nigh-jer)’ is easily replaced by the reader with African-American. We acknowledge the complications, but chose to think for ourselves instead of having a censor do that job for us.

The genius of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ is that, when allowed to speak for itself, Twain confronts us with the harsh reality of how words have been used to dehumanize others.

In order to holistically educate our students about the slave trade and the abuses carried out under the banner of racism, they have to be allowed to be confronted with the truth. The truth and the words associated with it. Thanks to Mark Twain, our students are no longer spectators. They get to participate in, and experience, hard truths through the eyes and ears of Twain’s characters.

There is no reason to ban ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’. Any ban would teach students to steer around being confronted with the horror and tragedy of that era (especially white folks[ii]). It denies them empathy and understanding, and as a consequence, fails to recognise that one of the essential building blocks of effective reconciliation and responsible freedom, is education free of emotional bias and ideological interference.

Banning a book because of a word that it uses, is asinine and ignorant – the very basis of Hannah Arendt’s ‘’banality of evil’’; a phenomenon that leads to the mass tolerance and participation in totalitarianism by people who are blinded by an uncritical trust in the blind bureaucrats who lead them[iii]. Not only would a blanket ban on ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ disallow children access to an experience of the past, but such a blanket ban would have to be applied to many African-American rappers, and movies where the pejorative use of ‘niger (nigh-ger)’ is applied regularly; the quintessential example being, N.W.A.

When reading the text, Twain’s consistent use of the pejorative derivation of the Latin word for black, “niger (nigh-ger)”, is easy enough to switch with African-American. Children can clearly see that black slaves are the category which such a pejorative has been applied.

Why all calls for a ban on ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ ultimately fail is that they are based on fear. If we give in to this, we let the past determine the future; repeating the past. Fear underlines racial hatred as much as excessive ethnic pride does. It restricts us from seeing our neighbor, and having our neighbor see, us.

In addition, we shouldn’t fear words, we should continue the age of old quest of learning how, when, why and where to apply and respond to them.

Parents and educators need to push back against any technological society which tries to program our kids as if they were computers. Conveyor belt education as part of an industrialised education complex has been an attempt to produce a certain type of human; if not a certain type of voter.  Androids are programmed, humans aren’t. Yes, humans can be influenced by conditions, but humans can also learn to overcome those conditions. We adapt because the gift of reason, empowered by God’s grace, hope, faith and love, allows us to overcome. We read, learn and act, therefore does not equate to, “we install and stoically obey”.

What is, and should be deemed offensive, are attempts, through the media, to tell us all what to think. The education industrial complex, for example, tells us that it needs to create “safe spaces”. Sinless spheres which are empty of any opportunity to develop reason, faith and resilience.

The subliminal message is that today’s men and women can’t be trusted to process or understand the power of the words that encounters humanity on a daily basis; words that come to us as either comfort, confrontation, conviction or a combination of the three. In a nutshell, “experts” take the false view that the humanity cannot be trusted with the God-given permission to speak freely, therefore thought, conscience and speech needs to be controlled. The fact that actions cannot be justified by their consequences is ignored.

Free speech is vital to our humanity. We need it in order to exist, first, in order to be free for God, second, to be free for others. We encode – decode – then reciprocate responsibly. Without that freedom we fail, as Karl Barth astutely put it, to see our neighbour, and having our neighbour see, us:

‘Humanity as encounter is looking each other in the eye […] Humanity as encounter must become the event of speech. And speech means comprehensively reciprocal expression and its reciprocal reception; its reciprocal address and its reciprocal reception. All these four elements are vital.’
(Karl Barth, The Basic Form of Humanity, CD 3:2:251)

 

Banning ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn‘ denies humanity by exalting the inhumanity Twain’s adventure story ultimately, so brilliantly decries.


References:

[i] This is so pervasive; I don’t really see a need to highlight any specific examples. However, for the sake of thoroughness, see the movie, ‘New Jack City’, a good portion of Ice Tea’s albums and the rappers N.W.A. (the abbreviation goes without spelling it out).

[ii] If I was to unpack this further I would say that, should the concept of “white privilege” actually exist, banning Twain’s book would only be feeding “white privilege”, not answering it, or having white people repent of it. If anything calls to ban the book, proves that “white privilege” is a myth.

[iii] Karl Barth (CD.3:2:252) : “Bureaucracy is the encounter of the blind with those whom they treat as blind.”

[iv] Barth, K. 1960. CD. 3:2, The Doctrine of Creation, The Basic Form of Humanity. Hendrickson Publishers