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Sep 06, 2004


Richard Hall

I kind of agree, but only kind of. At the extreme, if a father or mother see their duty of discipline in terms of administering excessive physical punishment, most would agree that the authorities have a duty to interfere. Of course, there'll be disagreement about what "excessive" means, but I'm sure everyone agrees that there is a point at which a parent can be said to have gone too far.
If that is true of physical abuse, surely there is a case for interfering in cases of educational abuse too. Doesn't the state have some role to play in maintaining educational standards?


John, you seem to think that all homeschooling parents have and either/or choice in the tradition that they ensconce themselves in, fundamentalism (whatever that is) or liberalism (which is, I assume, the general perspective you put forth on this blog). Are you suggesting that all homeschooling parents will ensconce themselves, and their children in one of these "traditions"? And are these "traditions" you point to political or religious?

John wilkins

Not at all. I think the benefits of homeschooling generally outweigh other problems. I do worry when people remove themselves from the public sphere, if only because there are obligations as citizens that also require attention.

I have a bias toward humanistic traditions, but obviously one can have a humanistic process and religious content to teach [which is just, credible, and rewarding]. On the other hand, there is also "indoctrination" which, in all its forms, needs an appropriate tempering by the requirements of democracy.

The first poster also notes forms of child abuse, which I did not consider. Some liberals consider telling children they are destined to hell a form of child abuse.

Todd Granger

You know, John, someone like Stanley Hauerwas would consider the requirements of "good citizenship" in democracies to be just another form of indoctrination.

There is no neutral ground. There are only competing traditions.

Sometimes Hauerwas comes across as a rabid social Darwinist, doesn't he...

I seem to recall Jesus saying a few words about rendering Caesar's things, not to mention Paul on a modicum of respect for governmental authority.

John Wilkins

I don't think there is "neutral ground" but we can agree on terms. Hauerwas, unfortunately, undercuts his own logic when he refused to discuss "justice." I have some fondness for him, but after seeing him ripped to shreds by Rorty, Jeffrey Stout [on Stout's recent book], and Cornel West [it wasn't exactly "ripped to shreds" but it was clear to the entire audience he'd lost the debate]. My point is that eventually Hauerwas has to agree on some ground in order to make sense. He resisted. Unsuccessfully.

Todd Granger

Yes, we need terms of engagement. But aren't the terms of engagement for the Church the proclamation of the kingdom (which encompasses what we narrowly think of as evangelism and narrowly thing of as justice)?

And yes, Jesus does counsel us to render to Caesar what is Caesar's, but given Jesus' attitude toward money, represented by the coin which Jesus used as a token for his comments about whether to pay taxes, should we assign some benign, cooperative meaning to this dominical saying? And the Apostle Paul does indeed counsel respect for governmental authorities, principally because God has ordained their existence. Why? Tom Wright and others would assert that God has ordained human governments to take authority in society to create some sort of order, because in disorder it's always the bullies who win. How does this speak to the issue at hand?

And don't forget, prayers for the emperor don't exhaust the New Testament view of government. The Beast of the Revelation to John figures prominently as well.

(Just for the record, I'm not some rabid Christian anarchist, I'm not a libertarian, my children are not homeschooled - though several friends homeschool their children, not necessarily for religious reasons, my wife and I pay our taxes, and we vote - though neither of us belongs to a political party, given that no political party has a platform that conforms to the Gospel. But mostly, I think that the reigning paradigm for Christian engagement with the government, be that the model of the Religious Right or the model of the Religious Left, needs challenging and ultimately needs rejection.)

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