Sunday, February 9, 2014

Take Back Our Children

This may be a post that some people find difficult. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  Why not? Because this is important. Little by little we are selling our children. In our country, there are three viable options for your children’s education: Government (public) Schools, Private Schools, and Home Schools.
It is the parents to whom God has given stewardship of their children, so those parents must pray about which option is best for their family. Each family’s reasons are personal for why they choose them. We have no right to interfere with their decisions.

That being said, there is something insidious going on in our country and many parents seem pretty complacent about it.  The schools are taking over the role of the parents, in many cases overriding parental standards and choices. This isn’t just happening in the United States. Germany hasn’t allowed parents the right to pull their children out of school since the Third Reich. In the United Kingdom, there was recently a story about a family whose child was suspended because the parents packed a lunch that violated school lunch standards. The rotten parents allowed their child to have some cheesy crisps. Can you believe the negligence?

While I was outraged on behalf of the British parents and my heart weeps for German families that have their children taken away for teaching subversive ( ie. different from what the government wants) ideas, there is something happening right on our doorsteps in the U.S. and many are complacent. I’m talking about common core.

It is being touted as an elevation of standards and college readiness. At the risk of sounding like Dolores Umbridge (who still makes me shiver), this is  a lie.  Even a cursory look at the standards shows they are not raising them, but in many cases lowering them. Instead, it is creating a generation (or more if it continues) of children who will be indoctrinated in a certain ideology.

On top of that, the instruction that is taking place is flawed, especially in the elementary years.  What may have been a well intentioned attempt at teaching children to think outside the box, is going to cause our elementary aged students to grow up feeling confused and stupid, especially in math.  They’re trying to force young children to grasp the abstract.

As any proponent of classical education can tell you, that is not how young children learn.  They need to start with the concrete. Then, when they are developmentally ready move on to the abstract. This usually takes place in their Junior High School years.  You know those years…when they start arguing about everything. Then, the High School years they are ready to communicate the new concepts and ideas they have formed.  To learn more about this see Dorothy Sayers' essay The Lost Tools of Learning.

But, let’s get back to the main point. There are reasons not to give a central government control over the education of our children. It’s just plain dangerous. The blatant indoctrination in these standards will end up shaping the minds of our children. The danger won’t be obvious at first, but I see the direction this is heading. 

So, here is what I’m asking, I would like you to watch the video below. Then I would like you to pray about what the Lord would have you do. I firmly believe we need to stop Common Core.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren,

        if ye have experienced a change of heart, and

        if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love,

I  would ask, can ye feel so now?” Alma 5:26

We buried my father this week. One of my brothers was late for the funeral due to circumstances outside of his control. I didn’t want to start the service without him, so to try to keep those in attendance from awkwardness I spoke about my father and some of the many changes that he has gone through in his lifetime until my brother could get there. That got me to thinking about why people change. Some for good and some for bad.

How many times have you seen someone glowing from their recent baptism? Their whole being is different and they are excited about the new life ahead of them. Some go their whole lives with this glow and desire to love and serve their God. Others grow dull. For some it only takes a few months and they’ve disappeared. For others it is years later before they give up. What is the difference? Why do some endure to the end and others can’t endure through the month?

The passage above gives a glimpse of what it is like to experience the change that comes on those who make covenants with their God and Savior. How do those feelings get lost?

The verses that follow give some insight. Look at the questions it gives for self-reflection.

Have ye  walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God?

There is a need for regular repentance. Keeping oneself spotless from the world takes work. It takes a willingness to think eternally instead of temporally. Now, no one is perfect, but let’s face it, if we were we wouldn’t need the atonement anyway. That its one of the wonderful things I love about the sacrament. Each week we get to renew our covenants in our hearts.

“Could ye say,  if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that you have been sufficiently humble…”

Often, this is what keeps people from real repentance. We all like to be thought well of. It is hard admitting when we’ve failed. I recently had a friend that told me about a night that they blew it. This friend told me because they felt like a hypocrite not telling me. I was never more proud of my friend than when they came to me in humbleness and told me. This person also has the humility to take the appropriate steps and face the bishop. Despite the sin, I admire this person because they didn’t stay there. They didn’t try to hide it or make excuses for it. That is repentance. That is humility.

“…that your garments have been cleansed, made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem His people from their sins?”

This is a big one.  Evangelicals often accuse Latter-day Saints (Mormons) of a works based righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth.  We are made perfect through Christ by placing our faith and covenants with Him. Sometimes, though we lose that faith. Maybe we been disenchanted because of some perceived wrong in our lives. Maybe we feel our Savior is ignoring our needs. Maybe we put our faith in ourselves and forget the need for His sacrifice. We feel like a failure and forget about the beauty of repentance. We forget we can be made whole, because we’re so caught up in our sin.

“Behold are ye stripped of pride?”

I know someone who needs to be worshipped. He’d never call it that. He’d call it being a righteous example. But, he derives his sense of worth from being looked up to and admired. This has hindered his repentance at times. He has a hard time forming healthy relationships, because he has to be completely respected. When they don’t admire him, he accuses them of being prideful and sometimes worse things.

It matters to everyone what others think, so in some ways I understand the internal struggle this man must go through. However, this is one of the most destructive forms of pride. It robs you of honesty. It robs you of accountability. And worst of all it robs you of real repentance.

We sometimes cause this problem in others with judgment. I love how President Uchtdorf once said it. We shouldn’t judge others because they sin differently than us. When we do this we make it difficult for others to repent. They need to feel a sense of love and acceptance.  I’m not saying accept their sin. I’m saying accept that they are human and will struggle with things we don’t. Before we get too cocky, let’s remember we struggle with things they don’t too.

The next time you catch someone “blowing it” ask yourself how you would feel if someone saw you in the midst of failure. How would you want them to respond to you? Once you know, do that.

Be an example of righteousness and love people to repentance. Then, maybe, we can help the faltering saints gain the glow and joy of their salvation again. Then, maybe, their changes will be great ones.