Jim has an ongoing joke about the homeschooling culture- you can imagine what it is: odd fashion, angry dogma-- the stereotype, and I laugh and tell him he's wrong, that it is not some strange subculture but a solid, intelligent movement motivated more by a standard of education than religion.
In my years following blogs and reading about homeschool, this has been my impression.
But on this day, at this conference, I was surprised.
I was surprised by the anger. The self-importance.
Maybe it was only a session or two that colored the day this way. I hope. By the end of the day I had to admit that Jim was more correct in his estimation than I had been.
I was glad for the information I gained from the conference, but I left in turmoil, and a little deflated. Overall this was not the warm, hopeful, energetic atmosphere that I expected but an atmosphere of arrogance and condescension.
This is not the reason we are homeschooling. We are not homeschooling because we think we are better than anyone who doesn't. We are not homeschooling because we are too spiritual for public school, or too delicate, or too afraid.
A few of the sessions I attended were very helpful and informative. I got a lot out of the keynote speaker, and did find some friendly faces.
But all day I wondered if this is the impression unbelievers have of Christians? Is it the impression I leave? This flavor of self-importance?
"I thank you God that I am not as other men are . . ."(Luke 18:11)
I left asking myself, What is worldly after all?
I felt it again this weekend.
Returning to our religious hometown, meeting people I haven't seen in years and often there is this twinge of something- some underlying conflict or tension- what is it? I rack my brain . .. did I offend them? When? Is it the church we attend or don't attend, some political affiliation we have or don't have, something I wear or don't wear, some group that we or someone in my family do or don't or did participate in five, ten, fifteen years ago?
It makes me tired.
Why the anger? Why the division? Why must I be in your particular camp on every issue, for us to love one another as brothers and sisters?
As my brother Joe, who participates in no church, said this weekend:
Christians, you have all the good stuff! Love and mercy, kindness, goodness, humility . . . be known for these things! There is so much good and attractive that could be what characterizes you!But continually, in my experience, we drift back into our small circles. We draw our lines and tilt our noses, and shun, and mock, and alienate ourselves further . . . and then we attend conferences for which to congratulate ourselves.
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
On a positive note, Why Homeschool? at a Soulful Life are some of the best reasons I have found to homeschool.