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Way back in 2005 I posted a largely unremarked-upon diary about how I escaped my Theocratic upbringing. As a result of recent discussions on homeschooling, particularly the differences between conservative homeschooling and progressive homeschooling, and also because many progressives think there's no way to escape the programming delivered by a theocratic religious conservative homeschooled childhood, I'm republishing this original diary. I've updated and clarified this a bit from it's original form, posted nearly 7 years ago. I've become less religious and more political in that time.

I was raised by fundamentalist Christians. My dad was never too bad about forcing religion down our throats, but my mom was everything that's bad about Reconstructionist Christians. I was taught all manner of crap when I was growing up. I was homeschooled to ensure that I was not exposed to sex ed, evolutionary theory, or religious pluralism. I was taught that gays and witches and liberals all serve Satan and are part of his plan. My education concerning other religions, both in 12 years of homeschooling and at yearly week-long intensive summer religious indoctrination camps, went only as far as to tell me why every other religion including atheists and probably Catholics are wrong. Here's a hint: Because many parts of those religions disagree with the Bible.

Now, of course, these days I do not find it surprising that a Hindu's religious beliefs do not correlate closely to the teachings of the Bible, but back then, I was convinced the Bible was meant to be taken literally, and was for everyone. I remember a book we had in our family library, called "Why so Many Gods", which says slickly and simply what is wrong with every other religion. I saw it again recently and it made me sick to my stomach. Must be those demons in me. I had few subjects in my homeschooled education. They were "History", "English", "Math", "Science" (Seven Day Creationism of course), and, lest we forget, "Bible". I was taught Bible as a subject. Every textbook was ordered by mail from an outfit in Arizona called "Alpha and Omega". My parents controlled my exposure to the outside world completely, myself and my 4 younger siblings. Forget cable, we didn't even have broadcast television because my parents couldn't control the commercials and we might see something offensive. All we had were videos, and they had to be parentally approved. I didn't see a PG-13 movie until after I'd turned 15, because if it was PG-13 then there must be something sinful in it. I could go on and on.

So what was it that broke the shackles, so to speak? Well, my parents let me go to the library on my own, and to the bookstore. And there I read books. Chiefly from that time, I remember graphic novels from DC-Vertigo, like "Sandman" and "Books of Magic" and "Hellblazer". They had horrific scenes of sex and violence, they dealt with mature sacreligious themes, and they were water in the desert to me. For once, I wasn't worried about the morality of it, all I knew was that those comic books were damn good. There were more books of course. My dad has always been into science fiction, and he encouraged me to read these books as well as the satirical works of Kurt Vonnegut.  Unfortunately for my parents attempts at creating a good Christian soldier, religious fundamentalism cannot stand in the face of a mind developed by really good science fiction. I read 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Hocus Pocus, Player Piano, Animal Farm, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Martian Chronicles, and so on. I am an avid reader, and I always have been, and the reading of all these comics books and science fiction books has done me a great service. It reinforced my imagination, and it encouraged me to ask questions.

Imagination and a questioning mind will always defeat drab static fundamentalism.

I joined the Air Force at 17, and had all the stereotypes of other people and other religions broken. I met a Wiccan and a Hindu in my basic training flight. I was shocked that a Wiccan was allowed in the military and that the Hindu did not have cow dung in his hair, and I was also shocked to find that they were pretty okay guys. At tech school, my first roomate ever was a Wiccan, and a decent guy. I was stunned that he did not participate in blood sacrifice of infants under the full moon. My Christianity became steadily more liberalized (though I wouldn't have said so at the time), until I reached the point after two and a half years where I realized that religion in its purest sense is nothing more then a lens through which your personal light is shown on the world, and it is not the lens but the light that matters. When you reach this point, which I think all truly intelligent people must at some time, you realize that it does not matter what religion someone holds. The Bible is meant to be figurative, as are all holy books, and there is no religion that knows absolute Truth, because all religions are formed and guided by men, and men are flawed, thus are all religions flawed.

At this point, after realizing that it really doesn't matter what religion you associate yourself with, after realizing that I did not believe Jesus was a deity, believing as I did that the Bible's literal veracity could not be confirmed because of the chokehold that state-sponsored religion held the Bible in for at least 1500 years, believing that hell and original sin were both concepts that simply do not make sense, I knew that I couldn't call myself a Christian. I wouldn't feel comfortable with the term, not after my upbringing, and not when I considered so many of the "pillars" of Christianity to be dubious at best and outright lies at worse. I tried Buddhism for a while, but it didn't fit either, for a reason that can simply be described as "I like my stuff". Now I am loosely neopagan, and have been for nearly a decade, and I am very happy with it.

So now I have twenty or so years of looking at fundamental Christianity from the inside, and almost ten years of looking at it from the outside, and overall I can't say how happy I am to get away from that. I've found that I have a tendency to make Christians lose their faith the same way I lost mine, simply by voicing the tough questions in such a way that it seems I am simply saying the way things happened for me. It's true, but hearing those questions make them either question their beliefs or recess themselves into "the conch of blind faith" (to shamelessly steal a term from South Park), and even blind faith loses its taste after a while. I can't say that this bothers me, because I know that it was hearing the hard questions that got me out.

I have found that my best analogy, especially since I am a mechanic myself, is to say that God can't hold us responsible for sin, not if he made us and is omnipotent. If we were created, then we are like anything else created, we are machines. If somebody designs a machine and it does not function as intended, that is not the fault of the machine, it is the fault of the designer. Only an idiot would say that a car with square wheels is the fault of the car. The most common counter I've heard to this is that we were designed with free will. The answer to that is simple. If you design something with free will, with the ability to make choices, you had better content yourself with whatever choices are made. If God intended us to have free will, then exercising our free will, no matter what we are doing, fulfills God's plan. Also, if someone were to build a robot that went insane and murdered, say, 6 millions Jews, it would be the fault of the person who built the robot, not the fault of the robot itself (though of course the robot would be destroyed). If that robot had free will, well, what kind of idiot designs a robot with the capacity to kill 6 million people?

I'm certain that if I lived a few hundred years ago, Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps would have to fight over who got to put me to the torch first.

I have never been comfortable following the leader, especially in religion. I cannot reconcile myself to following a "Wiccan Priestess" any more then I can reconcile myself to following a preacher's words. I have a few reasons for this. First is my problem with any organized religion. Organized religion requires people to shut up and go along with what the leader is saying, or leave. It requires sheep and shepherds, and as I have no desire to be a shepherds, nor could I stand to be sheep, I will have no part in it. Next is the problem I have with acknowledging any other human as a religious authority. Saying someone else is legitimately a pastor and you yourself are not means that you think that in matters of religion the pastor is more experienced and more educated then you are, or else you would not be submitting to him. Religion is too personal for this. No other human's religious experience is any more meaningful or valid then your own, and yours is as valid as anyone else's. My third problem with organized religion ties closely to the second. I do believe that all humans have inherent flaws. As such, any instruction I receive on the matter of religion will be flawed, because it comes from a flawed vessel. This is not true of, say, math, because math is concrete, or of literature, because literature cannot be concrete or it loses its creativity. But how often has science and medicine been distorted by the whims and views of those teaching it and of the society of the time? The world was once considered flat, you'll remember. Anyway, I do know that I too am flawed. But it is better to, if I am to try to commune with the divine, have only one layer of flaws between me and it, as opposed to one for me, one for the pastor, one for his seminary, and so on. I do not want anyone to come between me and my ways of worship.

My political development has followed a similar path. When I started out, I was a conservative in every sense of the word. Reading Vonnegut and Ursula K LeGuin has cured me of a lot of that. It was from Vonnegut that I first learned of Eugene V. Debs, the great Socialist leader of the early 20th century. It was Eugene V. Debs who made the best cases for socialism that I've ever read, and he also illuminated the inherent corruption of our two-party system. Many of us have the impulses and beliefs to be socialists, and it is our conditioning against socialism that is the root of our refusal to self-identify as such. We believe the bad things we're told about it by people who have a vested financial interest in keeping our eyes closed. The best thing any person can do is to open their eyes.

As I've seen our country continue down the authoritarian and imperialist path, often first-hand, I've become more interested in anarchism as the only defense against an inherently corrupt and overbearing State. When Ursula K LeGuin wrote "The Dispossessed", she was inspired by the writings of Petyr Kropotkin, a contemporary of Marx and Engels and Bakunin. Kropotkin, in his book "The Conquest of Bread", describes how to create a society of perfect equality, without a State that always obeys the interests of money and power, without fantastically wealthy capitalists exploiting the labor of millions. He does this using the technology and social structures available a hundred years ago, and in the time since, it's become only more possible. The capacity for an anarcho-syndicalist society is there, we can do it, and it is only ourselves and our attachment to the current system that keeps it from becoming a reality.

So, that is how you go from being a homeschooled anti-abortion fundamentalist Christian conservative to a pro-choice pagan anarcho-syndicalist.

Some specific issues to bring up as I republish this diary to this specific group:
1. I am not opposed to all homeschooling. I'm not even opposed to homeschooling by religious fanatics with the specific intent of brainwashing their kids to be like them; clearly it doesn't always work. If anything, coming from that background better prepared me to understand what's wrong with it and why I'm no longer in that category.

2. I do think that public schools should be heavily supported by everyone, even homeschooling families, as the school system is something that our entire society regardless of personal income level relies upon. We need educated people, as many of them as possible. This is also why I'm opposed to things like location-specific taxes for school districts. In central Ohio at least, and I'm sure in many other communities throughout the country, the wealthy make sure to move out of poorer areas and into suburbs where their school taxes go only to educating their own children, leaving poorer rural and urban areas critically underfunded and understaffed. They don't want their taxes going to pay for the educations of poor people, as if this will somehow benefit them in the long run, as if society benefits from a permanent underclass that is educationally and economically disadvantaged. I'd prefer to see school districts funded out of the state budget, with a proportional moving of taxes from the city/suburb level to the state level. But this is a matter for another diary and it's not a very developed idea yet.

3. I don't think homeschooling should be heavily regulated, as this will enable the people in the government in charge of the regulation to force their views on the families. Bear in mind that the people making the regulations could be right-wing religious fanatics just as easily as they could be liberals. As a homeschool child, I took the Iowa achievement test (scoring well above my grade level in every single category), and the SATs (700 Math / 650 Verbal in 1999); I would not be opposed to requiring some level of standardized testing for homeschool students, but on a rare basis. Maybe once a year at best. If nothing else, it will re-affirm for the child the quality of the education they're receiving, compared to their peers.

4. I am not opposed in theory to homeschooling my own (eventual) children. My wife, however, has a strong desire to send them to a parochial school (she's pagan like me but went to Catholic school for much of her childhood), and I don't feel strongly enough about it one way or the other to disagree. If nothing else, it will demonstrate for them the differences between the religion of their parents and other available major religions, and hopefully instill that same deep-seated cynical outlook towards organized religion that has benefited me greatly. I mean, just think how much tithe money I've not spent over the last 12 years.

Originally posted to Education Alternatives on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, Community Spotlight, and Street Prophets .

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  •  Tip Jar (180+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debby, Kamakhya, FloridaSNMOM, Killer of Sacred Cows, shenderson, Contra, Matt Esler, wishingwell, Lorikeet, Siri, EntrWriter, alguien, jennifree2bme, G2geek, Arahahex, catfishbob, Carnivorous Plantling, minidriver, skrekk, Sylv, wayoutinthestix, jfromga, Liberal Mole, Renee, elfling, Clytemnestra, Quite Contrary, k8dd8d, Alumbrados, PSzymeczek, EclecticCrafter, cantelow, No one gets out alive, Sophie Amrain, rogerdaddy, kjoftherock, madame damnable, Russgirl, Fiona West, mkfarkus, One Little Victory, jeanette0605, reconnected, tin woodswoman, ellenbee, Shockwave, TBug, historys mysteries, Eddie L, tigerlilymom, Its a New Day, angelajean, Moody Loner, leftyparent, Leslie in KY, SteelerGrrl, dogemperor, bnasley, CAPitBull, dotsright, sockpuppet, ZaphodsSister, Yohannon, Nance, gizmo59, SherwoodB, oceanview, kevin k, northLondonLiberal, targetdemographic, WarrenS, khughes1963, Lefty Ladig, Dingodude, Kevskos, nio, soarbird, Lujane, Brown Thrasher, dmhlt 66, doingbusinessas, Sassy, tacet, Rhysling, RandomNonviolence, Odysseus, ATFILLINOIS, Grandson named me Papa, houyhnhnm, MRA NY, laurnj, science nerd, dufffbeer, lcrp, Over the Edge, LynChi, pucklady, Naniboujou, millwood, mconvente, BlueStateRedhead, jedennis, Gustogirl, zett, yet another liberal, Aaa T Tudeattack, edsbrooklyn, Chaddiwicker, uciguy30, Loudoun County Dem, mariva, coquiero, J Edward, dalfireplug, mrkvica, GMFORD, CJB, Princess Vespa, dotdash2u, Bule Betawi, ER Doc, dhcallahan, Larsstephens, 207wickedgood, OldGrammy, VexingEyes, MillieNeon, virginwoolf, David PA, thomask, Youffraita, KathleenM1, rebel ga, BalanceSeeker, catly, deha, means are the ends, kmoore61, kathny, offgrid, bsegel, True North, BeninSC, TheMomCat, trillian, kurt, imokyrok, radarlady, Robynhood too, eeff, Marko the Werelynx, Shelley99, Pam Bennett, SarekOfVulcan, gulfgal98, Jjc2006, Gareth, cRedd, freeport beach PA, Randolph the red nosed reindeer, Joy of Fishes, IreGyre, Captain Chaos, idahojim, OleHippieChick, JesterDel, Sam Sara, x, Unknown Quantity, Witgren, JDWolverton, Dvalkure, Mathazar, zhimbo, NoMoJoe, genethefiend, samddobermann, MadEye, splashy, Oh Mary Oh
  •  Thanks for sharing your experiences with us (32+ / 0-)

    As it is very interesting and quite fascinating.

    How have your parents and siblings responded to all of this ? Have any of your younger siblings followed the same path as you or are they still fundamentalist conservative Christians?  

  •  Yes, but... (17+ / 0-)

    What I am curious to know is how your parents feel or felt (if they have passed) about this.  Also, where are you siblings in their personal evolution?

  •  this: (22+ / 0-)

    "...religion in its purest sense is... a lens through which your personal light is shown on the world..."

    Yes, for good and for bad, for enlightened and for obscurantist, for the will to liberate and the will to dominate, all of the above.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 01:53:44 PM PDT

  •  anarcho-syndicalist religion: (7+ / 0-)

    What you said:  "But it is better to, if I am to try to commune with the divine, have only one layer of flaws between me and it, as opposed to one for me, one for the pastor, one for his seminary, and so on."  Brilliant and well-said.

    What you're describing is the difference between:

    Deity / Ground of Being >> Church >> Seminary >> Pastor >> You

    and

    Deity / Ground of Being >> You.

    So, what happens when we do this:

    Deity / Ground of Being >> Alice, Bob, Carlos, Darlene, Eleanor, etc. etc. ...?

    That is, a group of people coming together as equals to study and practice and share their insights about certain beliefs they hold in common?

    To my mind that looks like a network with multiple-redundancy and built-in error correction.  There's a greater likelihood that individual flaws will cancel and something more insightful and useful in the world will emerge.  

    You could call it a "religious (or spiritual or philosophical) co-op":-)

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 02:08:46 PM PDT

    •  Or built in error reinforcement (9+ / 0-)

      Not to rain on the parade, but there is at least as great a possibility that individual flaws will reinforce each other. For example, look at any one of millions of crazy cults. Also, not everyone is going to participate equally. You will see some saying more than others. Which is fine. Until the guys who say more start to believe that they are saying more because they are divinely inspired. I think most world religions started the way you describe, as spiritual co-ops. And they all ended up as, well, whatever they are today.

      Note that I do not consider Buddhism a religion, as Buddha refused to even address the question of whether or not there is an individual soul, an afterlife, or a creator God.

      Also, according to Hinduism anyhow, Atman is Brahman. There is no chain of relation between Atman (Self) and Brahman (Ground of Being) because they are the same thing.

      •  yes, good points all (7+ / 0-)

        Yo dude!:-)

        Yes, teh crazy can be self-reinforcing and cults can form, and charismatic leaders can emerge.   And yes I agree, Atman is Brahman, or "thou art that."

        What I had in mind when I started promoting this meme a long time ago, was a way of circumventing the tendency of people who are in a "seeker" phase to end up getting sucked into various authoritarian denominations and overt cults.

        In things religious I'm basically what Huxley would call a contemplative with an activist streak, and not given to group rituals, or personification of the "whatever-it-is" aside from the use of common language and metaphors.  

        However for most people, the social function of religion is a very strong motivator, so the question is:

        Given that religion engages the portion of the brain that mediates "deeply felt sense of meaning in relation to something larger than self" (right temporal lobe, Persinger et. al., numerous articles in J. Perception and Motor Skills), what can we develop in society that engages that hardwired capability and also addresses the social aspect of religion, without devolving into authoritarianism and cultism?

        This is more than an abstract question as I'm currently working with another Kossak who for the moment shall remain nameless, on something related to this.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:10:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Check out the UUA (5+ / 0-)

          Unitarian Universalist Association.

          There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

              The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
              Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
              Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
              A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
              The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
              The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
              Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

          Most UUs probably cannot recite them from memory. It's a generic guide that came about because we were generally known for what we don't believe in (God, the HB, Hell,etc). We have a lot of subgroups like Pagans.

          The hallmark of UU thought is questioning. The Beacon Press is our publishing firm, which stepped in to publish The Pentagon Papers when the original publisher backed out.

          The ministers act as teachers of ethical and religious concepts. They are independent thinkers who have formal college training in religion, continue to study it and share their knowledge and ideas with the congregation; facilitating the discussions and search for truth and meaning. They have no way to force the congregation to believe anything.

           The congregations choose their own ministers and can dismiss them if/when they choose. Fellowships are groups that are too small to be able to pay a minister, or just don't want one. The members do some of the services and outsiders do guest services.

          I am third generation UU. Most are transfers from other denominations. It provides the freedom to search for and build your own lens, with many others in the same, ongoing search. Which gives you the additional benefits of socialization, human support and contact that traditional churches provide.

          One of the great UU preachers said "Write your own bible." I started mine about 30 years ago, forgetting then and still who said it (Emerson or Channing). Never met anyone else who has. That's UUs for you. We follow our own drumbeats, take our own paths, and actually agree more with each other than people in denominations that have a lot of 'prescribed' beliefs.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:14:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And Quakers (4+ / 0-)

            jabbausaf said: "Organized religion requires people to shut up and go along with what the leader is saying, or leave. It requires sheep and shepherds, and as I have no desire to be a shepherds, nor could I stand to be sheep, I will have no part in it. Next is the problem I have with acknowledging any other human as a religious authority."

            This isn't the case with Quakers. Quakers are seekers, and each person follows the light within.

            Ginny, I see a lot of overlap between UU and Quakers, though Quakers in unprogrammed meetings are typically much less organized than UU: no ministers or preachers.

            The fundamental principles for Quakers:
            - Peace
            - Truth
            - Equality
            - Simplicity.

            •  My standard joke, after noting how many of the UU (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ginny in CO, True North

              that I know became Quakers first, is that the Friends are the gateway drug to UU. :0)

              The GOP: Fighting to make government small enough to stuff up a woman's vagina for 40 years.

              by jayjaybear on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:25:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Both Quakers & UUs are big into democratic... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ginny in CO, True North

                process, though the Quakers are the innovators (along with the Iroquois) in consensus process.  If you participate in UU lay leadership at all, like I have, you generally learn all sorts of meeting and process skills.

                The joke about UUs is that when Christians die they go to heaven.  When UUs die they go to a discussion about heaven.

                Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                by leftyparent on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 09:01:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I'm a UU as well... (0+ / 0-)

            Some great points to the denomination, particularly the liberty they give to their older youth.  See my piece... http://www.leftyparent.com/...

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 08:58:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely. You said, better than I could (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            reconnected

            what UU is all about.

            Fellowships are groups that are too small to be able to pay a minister, or just don't want one. The members do some of the services and outsiders do guest services.
            That's how I started out. I was invited to do a "service," we called it program, for the fellowship in Tuscaloosa, Ala when I was working and speaking on the ERA. I did, complete with some rather unusual feminist music and, I am just recalling, Sojourner Truth poetry.

            I liked them; they liked me so I stayed. Having a "church" was also a defensive measure in the deep south.

            We always had a "Talk back" after the talk, even after we acquired a minister, so there was never any I—thou bit. It was community.

            Oh, and since a lot of us knew and loved christmas carols we always had a sing along of them in July. With ice cream.

            I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

            by samddobermann on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 03:18:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Very good point (0+ / 0-)

          Religion is a third of what I call the holy trinity of happiness: enough resources to feel secure about survival, being part of a community, and having a religion. Anthropological surveys have shown that these three factors correlate very strongly with self reported happiness, more than any other factors. Having a religion is more likely to correlate with happiness than having a million dollars.

          While I snidely brought up the "millions of cults" out there, there are certainly many examples of positive religious groups out there as well. I've had positive experiences with both the Quakers and the UU and would recommend them as 'safe' religions for seekers to engage with.

          As long as the religion stresses the importance of personal experience and questioning authority (Buddha said, "Don't believe anything anyone tells you, even me, unless it agrees with your common sense.") then it can't go too far wrong too quickly.

    •  Discussion groups are fine (14+ / 0-)

      What I worry about is somebody making themselves a leader within that group, but that's natural human behavior.

      When I was in Baghdad in 2005, I had a handful of pagan friends stationed there with me. Since we didn't have a DoD approved "Distinctive Faith Leader", we were legally prohibited from meeting for religious purposes. So instead we had a "book club". :D

      •  VERY interesting! (6+ / 0-)

        (BTW, an old friend of mine is Pagan and was in the Army; there are a surprising number of Pagans in uniform.)

        Very interesting that the DOD is looking for a "Distinctive Faith Leader" as you describe it.  I think they're trying to do their best but occasionally run into the limits of conventional thinking on these issues.

        For example until about 1967, "conscientious objector" status depended upon demonstrating adherence to any of a number of specific faith traditions that claimed that the deity specifically prohibited participation in warfare (e.g. Quakers, Mennonites, etc.).  Eventually there was a court case over that, wherein the complainant argued that as a Buddhist, the proscription for warfare did not arise with the deity but as a philosophical principle derived from "doing no harm."  The complainant won, and the law was changed to "belief in a deity or a principle that holds an equivalent position in an individual's life..."

        So here you've said that DoD recognizes religions where there is a specific leadership, contrasted to Pagan circles in which there is no specific leadership aside from what may occur in each individual meeting of a circle.  

        Looks like there's need to do some educational outreach, because this could also affect people in other traditions who operate in the same manner, as groups of equals who study scriptures, discuss religious principles, participate in religious rituals or exercises of whatever kind.  Someone needs to write a clear and concise paper and get it into the hands of "whoever" is responsible for these things.  

        Above all, that document needs to demonstrate that this issue affects a very large number of faiths, arguably every faith and tradition that does not have a central hierarchy in the manner of the Catholic Church.  And it needs to provide a concrete proposal for how DoD can move forward on this.

        What I'd suggest is something like a "designated contact person" to a group, who does not have a "leadership" role as such in the group, but who has the delegated functional authority from the group to interface between that group and whatever command hierarchy is associated with e.g. the chaplaincy.  

        I'd be willing to bet that with some effort, DoD rules will change accordingly.  It's just a matter of demonstrating the need and providing a proposal.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:54:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How do they handle Quakers? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, samddobermann

          Don't remember if Mike Weinstein and Chris Rodda of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have anything geared to this. They are primarily focused on exposing and eradicating discrimination. That could at least include knowledge of what is going on to promote more freedom to establish these kinds of groups.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:27:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't know there were Quakers in uniform... (0+ / 0-)

            ... at least not in combat roles, since pacifism is a central tenet of the Society of Friends.  

            But in any case I don't have even a faint clue as to an answer.

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 12:19:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think there are some who serve in (0+ / 0-)

              non combat positions- at least I remember being surprised to find out there were any Quakers who would serve. Probably too small to trigger any adjustment of the rules you are considering.

              Mike and Chris would be quite likely to have some idea what may be going on. Even though it isn't exactly their focus, non Christian groups trying to have their own services would be targets for discrimination and may have contacted the MRFF for help in dealing with that.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 02:17:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Policy may have changed (5+ / 0-)

          But when I was in, a "Distinctive Faith leader" was somebody approved of by a legitimate and DoD-approved ordaining body to represent that religion. Which, as you can imagine, is an even harder standard for pagans to meet. The alternative was to see if you could get sponsored by another religion, typically the Unitarians were a big help with that.

          But really, while it's nice of the UUs to facilitate our DFLs, it still feels like "separate but equal" on the part of the DoD policy.

          •  here they may be thinking of divinity school or... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            samddobermann

            .... similar graduate or professional educational background that DFLs may have as a qualification.  As far as I know there isn't anything like that for Wicca or other forms of Paganism.  

            But I wonder about this: what mechanism of recognition applies to the Native American Church and other First Nations religious organizations, and to Buddhist organizations?  Perhaps there's a model to look at there.  

            Or they could be thinking in hierarchies since the military is a huge functional hierarchy where every role is clearly defined, and it may be that they can't haven't fully adjusted to the idea that certain religions don't work like that.

            If the preceding paragraph is true, this is on its way to changing.  You've probably heard of John Robb.  USAF Intel (Ret.), and a highly respected military theorist whose ideas are now pervasively present throughout DoD doctrine.  I know the guy, he's ferociously brilliant and also very progressive though he wouldn't use that word.  

            Some of his key memes are "global guerrillas" and "leaderless resistance" and so on: for years he has been promoting the idea that US defense doctrine needs to deal with the realities of subnational groups using these modes of organizing.  At some point during the Iraq conflict and the evolutionary arms race between IEDs & countermeasures (I actually worked on that informally before it became "news"), the message got through to the Pentagon that organizationally "flat" insurgencies are a real factor to reckon with in conflicts, and Robb's ideas were catapulted into prominence.  

            The point here is, DoD is starting to adjust to a worldview in which things are quite a bit more messy & ad-hoc than the world of nation-states with clearly defined chains of command and orders of battle.  There were a lot of mid-grade officers during the Iraq war who were very much engaged with these ideas (though many of them left during that time).  So I think that as DoD thinking about the nature of conflicts and adversaries changes, the thinking about organizational structures in general will change.  And from there, the idea will spread to encompass certain aspects of American military culture, including the reliance on clearly-defined hierarchies in all situations.  That may lead to a more liberal environment for minority religions with flat organizational structures.

            Where things go from here depends in large measure on who is CinC for the next four years.  With Obama we will see continued progress.  With Mitt, stagnation.  With Santorum, the religious right will get full license to infiltrate & recruit, and we will have a (much more) serious crisis on our hands in terms of religious right penetration of the armed forces.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 12:18:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary (18+ / 0-)

    and on your Point #4 -- whether to homeschool your (future) children:

    Your parents chose homeschooling to push a fundamentalist-the world is evil- protectionist attitude on you.  You have the option of choosing to homeschool because your children might need it, want it, or be able to flourish through it.

    Or not.

    It's that choice that makes homeschooling attractive:  you only have to exercise that option if it's best for your children.

    Your parents' blind faith is no way to manage homeschooling or life.  That "free will" is everything.

    Thanks for letting us know how you turned out.

  •  You schooled yourself (13+ / 0-)

    Your family had a narrow view of the world and passed that on to you. You are fortunate that were able to grow past that view and into your own person.

    What your post shows us is that once you were out in the world, you began to learn. Before that you were taught, as kids in school are taught according to what is prescribed by certain rules, doctrines, curriculum guidelines, standardized tests, etc

    There is a stark difference between the two words.  

    Kids who are learning at home and out in their communities start learning at birth and simply continue on. Graduation or"finishing" education isn't generally a part of their vocabulary because they are learning all the time for all of their lives (at least, that's what I and many others hope to instill in our kids, and it seems to be working beautifully).

    Thank you for your post. It's a beautiful example of what an individual can learn when he is free to explore, discover and form educated opinions and outlooks on life

    •  Agree with your take, except... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doingbusinessas, kmoore61

      I would say he "unschooled" himself.  I always think of "schooled" as a transitive verb, something one person does to another.  Particularly when the word is used in sports slang when one player just totally outplays another, presumably "schooling" (teaching) them a lesson they will never forget.

      Anyway... just interesting semantics, and confessing my bias, I'm an unschooler.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:28:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Minor correction: Kropotkin is Petr, or Pyotr (6+ / 0-)

    rather than Petyr.  He's the intellectual heir to Charles Fourier, and attempts at Fourier-style phalanxes of collectivist communities were surprisingly common in the United States in the mid-19th century; none were very successful.

    For what it's worth, LeGuin is riffing off the (mistranslated) title of Dostoevsky's novel The Possessed, which is highly critical of Kropotkin.  Clever!

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:03:07 PM PDT

  •  Tips for anarcho-syndicalism (5+ / 0-)

    It does my heart good to know that these ideas are not just echoes of a distant past.

    Give this ball of dirt another thousand years, and we might just get our shit together...

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

    by No one gets out alive on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:57:32 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your story (15+ / 0-)

    We homeschool, and my oldest, now 15 is involved in speech and debate with a whole group of children who are being raised with fundamentalist parents...they teach them to debate (governmental policy)  so they can later advocate for their faith.

    My son is very clear in understanding his own beliefs, and this has been a really instructive journey into how others think, into faith based communities, etc. because we are the outsiders.

    The thing that throws me, is that if it weren't for the religion, these are the kids I would love to have mine hanging out with all the time...polite, well mannered, comfortable talking to adults, sweet with their siblings, really smart (albeit limited due to their education/familial situation) seriously, it would be hard to find a nicer group of teens.

    And yet....I feel so sorry for them.  Sorry that they are going to have such a tough time when they go out into the world after being so sequestered all their lives.  Sorry that they are being brainwashed into thinking that there is only one right way, only one right answer to everything, not being taught to question and think, just to obey.

    You've given me hope for them, thank you.  I really, really like some of these kids (the parents less so).  

    I'll be diarying this whole experience in the summer after the debate season is over.  Watch for it through the education alternatives group.

    I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

    by k8dd8d on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 03:59:31 PM PDT

  •  Very interesting, especially the part about (8+ / 0-)

    what kind of arguments work to crack the fundamentalist mindset. Maybe you could make a diary with more details about that? Sort of a flyer for the casual agnostic or generalized non-monotheistic person.

    I do sometimes discuss with the faithful and I find them generally immune to attacks of logic. So any insight of yours would be highly welcome.

    He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

    by Sophie Amrain on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:01:54 PM PDT

    •  I enjoy discussions with people of faith... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SherwoodB, kmoore61, angelajean, k8dd8d

      and try to handle myself in a non-judgmental way, applying the "Golden Rule" as best I can (which I think is the greatest of all fundamental religious principles).

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:31:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ask questions. Always ask questions (0+ / 0-)

      Not sarcastically, not superciliously. Those, and especially logical arguments get their defenses up and you get gospel/talking points. Questions get them off balance and more open to thinking. Thinking can go on long after you leave. You may never know the effects.

      Read some Socrates.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 03:58:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for updating and reposting your diary (8+ / 0-)

    I found it very interesting.  I grew up in the liberal branch of the Episcopal Church.  While I did go through a period of rejection of it, I soon returned and found it a spiritual anchor for my life.  But I was brought up to question the Bible, clergy and theologians (my godfather was Dean of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago).

    We all have to find our way and it sounds like you have found yours.  Your story is an illuminating one.  Your path to what I would call enlightenment has been an long and, I would guess, often difficult one.  Best wishes for the rest of your journey.

    "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world."--Mayor Bloomberg

    by mkfarkus on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:24:46 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for your diary (11+ / 0-)

    I wasn't home schooled but went to church and attended a parochial school. By the time I was 14, I was asking questions the teachers didn't want to answer or I didn't like the answers. Especially the question of why is there human suffering if God is all powerful and loving? Never got a satisfactory answer to that one, even to this day. So I found a Wiccan group and later traveled the path to Tibetan Buddhism, which places no value on blind faith but places great value on the scholarly achievements of its teachers. I have had wonderful teachers who are also flawed human beings, but they can still impart a great deal of wisdom concerning how to live with contentment.

    The Buddha's teachings are not something to believe, they are something to do.

    by madame damnable on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:26:00 PM PDT

    •  I meant to add this (12+ / 0-)

      I loved this quote. What a perfect argument to use when talking to a Christian fundamentalist.

      God can't hold us responsible for sin, not if he made us and is omnipotent. If we were created, then we are like anything else created, we are machines. If somebody designs a machine and it does not function as intended, that is not the fault of the machine, it is the fault of the designer. Only an idiot would say that a car with square wheels is the fault of the car. The most common counter I've heard to this is that we were designed with free will. The answer to that is simple. If you design something with free will, with the ability to make choices, you had better content yourself with whatever choices are made. If God intended us to have free will, then exercising our free will, no matter what we are doing, fulfills God's plan. Also, if someone were to build a robot that went insane and murdered, say, 6 millions Jews, it would be the fault of the person who built the robot, not the fault of the robot itself (though of course the robot would be destroyed). If that robot had free will, well, what kind of idiot designs a robot with the capacity to kill 6 million people?

      The Buddha's teachings are not something to believe, they are something to do.

      by madame damnable on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 04:27:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for sharing your story! n/t (4+ / 0-)
  •  I love the idea of you learning about the world (6+ / 0-)

    through science fiction. I've seen that refrain a few times in the last couple of weeks while talking to other folks, especially homeschoolers, about education. I do wonder how much science fiction opens our minds and our hearts and allows us to see the world as it might be as well as how it actually is?

    As a military wife who homeschools two boys, I have encountered many fundamentalist homeschoolers. What I am finding is that the kids are curious about a lot of things beyond their religion. I have a feeling that being homeschooled in this faith may actually open some of these minds more than if they would have attended a public school with a lot of like minded individuals. They somehow seem more open to the idea of ideas... or at least accepting that not everyone has the same ideas that they do. Maybe that's the military part... we do learn to accept difference because we are constantly surrounded by people different than ourselves and have to learn how to get along. But I also feel that a part of it is the time they have to learn on their own; the time they have to think and to reflect. Any mind that is given that kind of time is bound to begin to think outside the standard box.

  •  Great piece & a great read jabbausaf... (7+ / 0-)

    giving me a glimpse inside a world that is totally opposite to the very progressive one of my own youth.  As a great believer in individual liberty within a community context, I am heartened by how you triumphed as a unique soul vs your programming.

    I also think it is cool the role sci-fi played in the broadening of your consciousness.  I read many of those same books and LeGuin and "Dispossessed" is one of my favorites.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and I'm particularly pleased to see the larger DKos community acknowledge that by highlighting your diary on the Community Spotlight.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

    by leftyparent on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:21:17 PM PDT

  •  I can agree with your point that home schools (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoJoe, samddobermann

    should not be heavily regulated, but I do think home schooled students should be held to the same test standard as students educated in public schools.  It is the only safe guard we have to make sure kids do not reach adulthood totally unprepared to function in our complex world.

    The same is true of students in any other alternative education model.  I know Republicans push the concept that for profit schools should be exempt from any standards and testing that are required of public schools, even fiduciary standards.  I am adamantly opposed to that.  Why should we pay our tax dollars for schools with no quality controls?

    “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

    by ahumbleopinion on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:29:34 PM PDT

    •  Problem is that testing based on approved... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nance, Brown Thrasher, angelajean, k8dd8d

      knowledge, pushes all education towards a mind-numbing regimentation and standardization that numbs the mind and hinders creativity and innovation.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:34:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I am no fan of the current testing fetish, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoJoe

        we need to find a way to insure that kids are getting the education they need as discussed in this article:

        http://www.salon.com/...

        “Please spread the word that it is really necessary for the government to make sure children aren’t being robbed of an education… Kids have rights too, and one of them is the right to an education appropriate to their age and ability.”

        “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

        by ahumbleopinion on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:48:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And no traditionally schooled kids turn out.... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, angelajean, k8dd8d

          illiterate? Tests or no tests children are leaving public schools every year illiterate. Considering how many more children are public schooled vs homeschooled I'd bet my last nickle the public schools churn out a heck of a lot more illiterates then homeschooling families do.

          Secondly, anyone who is not providing an education for their kids will likely just not comply with it, and those who are providing an education for their kids are given one more hurdle to jump through. Punishing the parents and the children that already comply with the letter of the current homeschooling laws (which are the only ones who would comply with new laws) serves no purpose. Anyone who will abuse or neglect their children, knowing it is illegal not to mention immoral already, isn't going to magically become a law abiding citizen if some new testing law is passed.  

        •  Some of us homeschoolers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, k8dd8d

          have kids who do not work with standardized tests. Some of them have disabilities, some just don't do well under that kind of pressure. My son could always manage the tests, barely with several accommodations, but he would lose a month's worth of focus and behavioral gains after from the stress.
          Imagine having to take a test which in Florida is given in February, to judge you on a school year you haven't finished yet, knowing that everything educationally rides on the one test, no matter what else you've done that year. Now add in that you're autistic and this is a HUGE routine change, you already have trouble self-regulating in large groups of students, you're easily distracted, and tend towards paranoia and violent or at least uncontrolled meltdowns when under stress.
          Add in that taking time out of our school year, stopping other work to do 'test prep' that would be required to get him ready to be able to sit down and take the test, not for lack of knowledge, but socially, behaviorally ready would cost us another few weeks.  And the time to get him back into the routine of normal school work, reviewing to get him back onto track after that length of a break and change and able to focus on learning again.
          I'll skip the standardized testing thanks and stay with the review of the year's work and progress by a licensed teacher we currently use.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 05:04:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is a difference between (0+ / 0-)

          aversion to standardized tests and home schooling.

          The point is that as a society, we can't abandon the education of our children to a completely unregulated open-loop system in which anyone can decide to teach their children whatever they want.

          I completely agree that the "one size fits all" approach of requiring standardized testing doesn't work for everyone.  And things have become even worse since the Bushes implemented No Child Left Behind.

          But just because the people who post here on DKos may be intelligent well-educated people who can impart knowledge and literacy to their children doesn't mean that all home schooling parents are equally competent.

          Suppose a parent says, "I believe that all books are the work of the Devil, and I will not teach my child to read."  Is that OK with you?

          FloridaSNMom says

          I'll skip the standardized testing thanks and stay with the review of the year's work and progress by a licensed teacher we currently use.
          But what standards does that teacher use to determine "progress"?  Because the teacher is licensed, those standards probably are the same as or similar to the ones on which the standardized tests are based.

          So is it OK to require all home schoolers to hire a licensed teacher to come to the home and "review the year's work and progress"?  Does that sit better than requiring a "standardized test"?

          kmoore61 says

          I agreed to have her take the tests, naively thinking that they would be helpful to me, letting me see where I was doing well, as a "teacher" and where I needed to improve.  The results were ridiculous ... it was a complete waste of time.
          So how do homeschoolers propose to find out whether they are doing well as a teacher and where they need to improve?  Suppose a parent -- unlike the home schooling DKos posters -- is so convinced of their own righteousness and correctness that they know that they can't improve as a teacher?

          tigerlilymom says that complying with the letter of the current homeschooling laws is sufficient.  But homeschooling laws range from a completely laissez-faire attitude (e.g., Arizona) to requiring the administration of standardized tests (e.g., New York).  

          Here's what's required if you live in Arizona

          The parent or guardian must file an affidavit of intent to homeschool with the county school superintendent within 30 days after homeschooling begins.

          The affidavit of intent shall include: the child’s name, the child’s date of birth, the current address of the school the child is attending, the names, telephone numbers and addresses of the persons who currently have custody of the child.

          The parent or person with custody must also provide the county school superintendent either a “certified copy of the child’s birth certificate” or “[o]ther reliable proof of the child’s identity and age.”

          Teacher Qualifications: None. The parent/teacher’s test requirement was repealed in 1991.

          Standardized Tests: The standardized test and optional evaluation requirement was repealed in 1995 by Arizona Senate Bill 1348

          We must drive the special interests out of politics.… There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will neither be a short not an easy task, but it can be done. -- Teddy Roosevelt

          by NoMoJoe on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 01:59:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You misquote me.... (0+ / 0-)

            Never have I said complying with the letter of the current law is sufficient. What I said was, that those who comply with the letter of the current law are the only ones that would comply with any further laws put in place, and in turn further laws would do nothing to ensure an education to those who claim to be homeschooling that are not educating.

            I actually feel the laws in many states are too intrusive, and parents have the right to educate their children without any government interference. As I said before, any parent who is denying their child a basic education will not magically become law abiding because of new regulation. All regulation does is serve as a further hurdle for those that do educate properly.  

            As to your example, of course I don't think it is OK for a parent not to teach their child to read. The point I think you fail to see is that if a parent feels that strongly about books being the work of the devil that they would deny their child literacy they will not follow any laws and regulations put in place anyways. All regulation will do is push them further underground and potentially isolate the child even more.

            There are always exceptions to every rule. When it comes to homeschooling, it is generally those exceptions that are plastered across the news. In many of these negative stories hyped up and tossed out by the media it is found, upon further investigation, that the families involved weren't even homeschoolers legally, meaning they weren't following the current laws and instead were truant on top of whatever other abuse/neglect was going on. That distinction tends not to be made clear to the public at large though. It is much more interesting to turn it into a war against homeschoolers.

            I'd also like to point out that being accountable to a failing public school system is pretty insulting. The number of children that graduate or quit from public schools illiterate or unable to do basic math is staggering. All you have to do is talk to a collage professor to get a feel for the quality of students entering their classrooms. And those are the ones going on to collage.  

          •  In Florida (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NoMoJoe

            You have several options, and the teacher evaluation is the one we use. The teacher we use knows my kids, and their abilities/disabilities. My son in particular is on several different grade levels because of his disabilities. Which is another problem with standardized tests. He's in 10th grade and taking pre-algebra, mostly due to the special ed classroom he was in in Elementary that failed to even teach him fractions, decimals, geometry, etc. Only addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division from 3rd through 5th grade (and he was still having some trouble with division when we started homeschool in 6th). Last year we decided to do consumer math, balancing a checkbook, interest, etc. Life skills math essentially, but as he doesn't generalize well we felt that was more important than starting algebra last year (and gave him another year of development).
            I know the FCAT grade 10 math has a lot on it that he hasn't touched yet, but will before graduation.
            I would prefer not to have to pay a teacher, as that's funds out of our home school budget that could be put to more educational opportunity, but at least I have one I trust who knows my kids.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 08:49:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Testing doesn't show what (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kmoore61, angelajean, k8dd8d

      content you know or how well you know it. All it does is show how well you test. Testing has done nothing but bring the quality of education in our public schools down because rather than focusing on learning kids are forced to focus on passing silly tests. The last thing we need is to expand testing in any way, shape, or form.

      •  So true! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k8dd8d

        I homeschooled my daughter in our local (CA) public school independent study program--when she was in second grade, I agreed to have her take the tests, naively thinking that they would be helpful to me, letting me see where I was doing well, as a "teacher" and where I needed to improve.  The results were ridiculous--a string of meaningless numbers, because they won't let you see the actual questions (for fear of cheating.)  Other than testing into the GATE program, it was a complete waste of time.

        I never let them do the testing again, and as a teacher myself, I advise other parents to decline the tests (any parent can do so in California.)  They are meaningless in regard both to the individual child, and in rating the "quality" of the school or teacher.

    •  I would agree, maybe, if (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, angelajean, smalakoff

      there weren't so many kids in public school that are

      totally unprepared to function in our complex world.
      when someone can show me that the public schools are successfully turning out critically thinking, intellectually curious people, then I will agree to being held to their standards.

      in the meantime, I'm pretty busy with my kids, trying to assure that they meet MY standards, which do not align with the politicians and bureaucrats who run our school district.

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

      by k8dd8d on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:53:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can't agree with this because (4+ / 0-)

      my daughter was in a youth community group with four about-to-graduate youth who had taken the standardized tests, and not one was prepared to function in our complex world, starting with the ability to spell and add simple columns of numbers or how to set up the numbers to add them up. Have met many more like these kids and could give you dozens of examples.

      My daughter (17) has never gone to school, but is an eager learner, understands more about science than I ever did, holds down a job, manages money and plans her days and manages her time according to what she wants to accomplish.

      She has never taken a standardized test, but is already prepared to live real life because she has always been a part of it, always interacted with it - she has not locked away in an institution away the rest of the world and all it's complexities.

    •  Same test standard? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

      What's that standard?

      As far as I can see, the standard is 'throw away half the useful curriculum and spend months cramming.'  Nothing happens as a result of the test besides lots of moaning and wailing about the future of America.  The kids who are behind stay behind, the kids who are ahead stay ahead, and next year the education professionals resolve to spend even less time teaching and more time cramming.

      You seem to feel that these tests are a "safe guard."  Could you explain how you think standardized tests work as a "safe guard" and how they'd work that way in the case of home schooled children?  Would the state come in and take the kids away at some bottom threshold?

  •  one of the biggest things about intense religious (8+ / 0-)

    indoctrination in children is how their eyes are opened by experience in the wider world.

    I was raised in almost a total Fundie atmosphere.  On top of Sunday school, Sunday AM & PM service, Wednesday night prayer meeting, Thursday night visitation and Friday or Saturday youth meetings I was sent to a private baptist school from 2nd through 9th grade.  I had no idea how in the minority alot of the society i existed in was until i went to a public school.  I was blown away between the disconnect of what I was taught regarding what I was taught about other "types" of people and what I saw for myself.  It made me rebel that much more in my late teens and the outright lies drove quite the wedge between my mom and myself.

    Some years ago I reconnected with a long lost aunt and she was doing the same exact thing with her 12y/o son/my cousen.  I certainly didn't try to pop the bubble when her son was around but I tried several times to gently let her know when her boy got to college age (if not sooner) and realized the disconnect between what his mom had been teaching and what was the real world it was going to be a rough ride and tears for both of them.  Religious zealots aren't big on listening, though, sooo...

    if guns don't kill people, people kill people, does that mean toasters don't toast toast, toast toast toast?

    by bnasley on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:37:37 PM PDT

  •  I went to a Catholic grammer school, was an alter (7+ / 0-)

    boy, etc. But my second grade teacher said, "Read any book and write a book report that you will read to the class." At home, I was about half way through 1984 (My family had a large collection of paperbacks...) I had to look up a lot of the words and concepts, but we had a battered-old Encyclopedia Brit. in the house.

    So, I wrote a two page book report and read maybe the first three paragraphs when Sister (name-redacted) took the report out of my hands and told me to sit down. That started me on my own "separation of Church and me"; I started keeping my own thoughts to myself around other people. Just as well, that's around the time I invented "bondage", I had a crush on one of my classmates. (I was so disappointed when I found out in junior high that other people had invented BDSM before I had. If I could have patented... well never mind.)

    Thanks for your story. It was a great read.

    “Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that is not the reason we are doing it.” – Richard Feynman (-9.00,-8.86)

    by Jonathan Hoag on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:43:35 PM PDT

  •  If one ignores the theology, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SherwoodB, zett

    one advantage of belonging to a religious tradition of some sort is belonging to a caring community.  I don't know if that was important to you as a child, but if so, you may miss that now.

    One alternative you might consider is the Quakers.  As far as I can tell, their one doctrine is that each individual is a source of spiritual light.  Beyond that, what each Quaker believes or doesn't believe is considered a matter of their own conscience.  Worship services are conducted in complete silence.  There is no pastor.  All Quakers do their own spiritual heavy lifting.  But members of a Meeting are all expected to give input regarding all decisions that must be made, as such decisions are made by consensus.

    Your story reminds me of a young woman I know who was raised in a fundamentalist Evangelical environment where her parents carefully controlled what she and her sisters were exposed to.  She is currently attending a Bible college, but she is going through a spiritual crisis, because she no longer considers herself a Calvinist.  Her father is distressed about this, and so there is family friction involved.  (Her mother died of cancer some years ago.)  She is still extremely conservative and extremely Christian, but she hasn't yet worked out quite what she believes in the details.  If only her father could understand that each young person has to find his or her own way.

    By the way, as something of an atheist myself, I have made a certain peace with religion and religious people.  It is clear that many, if not most, humans have a need for religion to satisfy their spiritual hungers.  While I could rail about how such religions require belief in all sorts of absurdities, I've decided to ignore that and simply ask if the residue of the religious experience is mere kindness to others.  If the answer is yes, then I have no problem with that religious person, whatever I might think of the religion.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:10:06 PM PDT

  •  It's such a breath of fresh air (10+ / 0-)

    to know that I'm not the only one that thinks this way.  

    Growing up, I was exposed to a number of "Christian" religions (Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Southern Baptist (yes, there is a difference, Virginia), Episcopalian, Church of Christ....ugh).  The one thing that struck me about all of them is how they turn religion into a huge money-making venture, and then do nothing (from my perspective) for the flock.  It's a money pit...

    I also loathe being told from the pulpit that I m a flawed man, by other flawed men.   I know, and freely admit, that I am not perfect...far from it.  I am who I am.  If God was who he was, he would accept me for who I am...not judge me every day and allow men to threaten me from the pulpit with fire, brimstone, and eternal damnation if I did't do so.  No church time for this kid...haven't been in one in about 4 years.

    Blessings to you for putting up this diary, jabba - you made my day.  I saw alot of myself in what you wrote, and it's nice to see that there are others that believe mainstream religion has truly gone down the proverbial toilet.

    "We need more than just a win. We need to send a message to the rest of the Republicans in Madison that we are coming for their asses with a hickory switch and a clear conscience." -- Ruleoflaw

    by Dingodude on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:17:28 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (8+ / 0-)

    Thanks so much for reposting it!  

    My upbringing was not quite as insular as yours, but it was very Christian and very strict.  We were "officially" Catholic, but my mom got "saved" when I was 9 or 10.  We went to Mass on Sunday and the Evangelical church on Wednesday nights.  I remained a devout, professed Christian until my mid-twenties.  

    Christianity was hard to let go.  It was a safety net, a source of comfort and community and fellowship.  It had a Book that explained everything and a Personal Relationship with a guy named Jesus who always has time to listen to your problems.  He might even grant you a Miracle if He's in a good mood.

    Plus, if you do happen to die before Jesus comes back for you (any day now!  Revelation says so!), you've got your EZpass for St. Peter's gate.  

    But, I've recovered nicely, as have my two sibs.  We are all atheists, and all avid readers.  My brother introduced me to Vonnegut and we're both huge fans.  

    What's sad is my parents think they've done something wrong.  They're both full-time fundies now, the "kids" are in their forties with degrees and jobs and spouses, but all they see is three lost souls.  Any advice on dealing with close family still very much in the fold?

    "as long as there last name is not obozo, i am voting for them." -- some wingnut blogger

    by SteelerGrrl on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:32:43 PM PDT

  •  Proof of Inability to Control a Child's worldview (6+ / 0-)

    Like the diarist, I grew up in a conservative household.  Like the diarist, I am "apostate."  This has led me to conclude that Cardinal Richelieu was wrong.  Indoctrination cannot make the child what the parents want, i.e., a clone of his or her parents.  

    In the first place, there is a certain random factor in genetics.

    In the second place, you can never completely control the environment.

    In the third place, I believe we humans are now so numerous that we are compelled to domesticate ourselves in order to live together.  But that is just conjecture on my part.

  •  Homeschooling (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SherwoodB, Va1kyrie

    has nothing to do with religion or convictions or whether or not the local school has terrible teachers.  In your long essay there is one quote that stands out

    because my parents couldn't control the commercials
    and that is the real reason.  Control.
    •  some homeschooling, yes (0+ / 0-)

      but all homeschooling is not about control.  I hope you were just referring to the religious fundamentalist approach to homeschooling, and if you weren't, please stop by the education alternative group on Saturday mornings to learn more about liberals who are homeschooling.

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

      by k8dd8d on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 11:46:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Control--for children (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reconnected

      In some homeschooling, it is indeed about control.  But we are talking about democratic education where the child is given primary control over the process, as in unschooling.  I do say that controlling how we spend our time on earth was a strong motivation to homeschool.  

      Also consider that institutional school is largely about control.

  •  Congrats! Learning to think is always harder than (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, k8dd8d

    learning to believe.  I would suggest reading a great sermon from the early days of America by the Rev. John Leland, a Baptist supporter of religious freedom in Virginia who worked with Jefferson and Madison.  He gives his reasons for universal religious freedom, he was an extraordinary man and you will love his title for this sermon. Here

    Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

    by J Edward on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:35:17 PM PDT

    •  Google the title below if link does not work. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      The Rights of Conscience Inalienable; and therefore Religious Opinions not cognizable by Law: Or,The high-flying Churchman,stript of his legal Robe,appears a Yahoo

        John Leland (1791)

      Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

      by J Edward on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:40:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  rec'd for (0+ / 0-)
      Learning to think is always harder than
      learning to believe.
      I may steal it for a new tag line!!

      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

      by k8dd8d on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 11:44:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  T/R for the encouragement to ask questions. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, angelajean, k8dd8d

    Well written, thanks.

  •  I like your "machine" analogy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabbausaf

    Nikola Tesla called human beings "meat machines", because all we do is respond to stimuli with electrical impulses.

     I always thought it was a neat way to look at us.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:42:33 PM PDT

    •  We are on a fundamental leve (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      We're an organic machine equipped with a central processing unit, memory, the ability to judge distances and speed, an excellent set of optics that are themselves part of a complex sensory suite, hands with which to grip and manipulate our environment, a method of locomotion at varying speeds, and the chemical processes to power all this.

      Some see this complexity as evidence of a divine design. Since we're already able to duplicate many of our biological functions, I don't know that divinity is required as an explanation. Whether designed or organically developed, we (and indeed all living things) are excellent machines.

  •  I sent my kid to catholic camp (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero

    I am agnostic on most days and atheist on quite a few, yet I sent my  son to catholic camp. My families ancestors were hugonaughts and so, I was raised with a level of anti-catholicism. I did not wish my kid to carry this with him to camp and so, I taught my son tolerance of others religious views. I was, of course, worried about the prospect of brainwashing at the camp, but he returned year after year and even became a camp counselor, yet he grew to be a free thinker and more of an atheist than me.

    I don;t know that I would advocate a catholic school though or home schooling: I think it is important that we all work to make the public school system the fulfill the promise of a good education for all. We should demand it.

  •  Wonderful Break From Thought Control (0+ / 0-)

    Your post made me think more about the home schooled children my children met. Although somewhat friendly, the home schooled kids were not able to make a lot of friends, it was how my sons described them that struck me hardest. 'they were socially strange'.

    I look at home schooling as fitting into three categories. The first is the child with a mental or physical problem and being in a classroom setting does not work. The second is to teach the child more than the public schools do. And third, is to "protect" the child from the world. It is the third category that seems to be where "religious" types congregate.

    Congrats again on breaking free.

    Pam Bennett -6.95 -7.50

    by Pam Bennett on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 04:40:29 AM PDT

    •  I would like to add a fourth category to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, k8dd8d

      your homeschooling list. Granted, we're a minority, but as a military family, our primary reason for homeschooling was stability. We could provide more stability in our childrens' lives by homeschooling than by moving them from school district to school district. Maybe it is the same thing as 'protect' but we weren't trying to separate them from their public school peers.

      I hope you tune in to our Saturday Series on Homeschooling. I would be curious to see how other homeschoolers might or might not fit into your categories.

  •  Wow just wow! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, k8dd8d

    Thank you for sharing your story. Although I was not home schooled as it was not the thing for my generation I did attend a Fundamentalist Christian private school due to the conflicts in my public school due to forced busing of the time. For me I never bought into the fundamentalist doctrine and have come to see all religion as cult behavior. I live in a VERY conservative small town where there is a church on every corner. The LDS church is very prominent as is the Catholic church. After learning more of what the LDS beliefs are, what the Native American beliefs are and knowing the Fundamentalist beliefs to me none of them make sense enough to be a valid foundation for my life.

    It would be an interesting diary to find out how you reconciled your change in beliefs with your family.

  •  Australian public schools are state-funded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean
    I'd prefer to see school districts funded out of the state budget, with a proportional moving of taxes from the city/suburb level to the state level. But this is a matter for another diary and it's not a very developed idea yet.
    I wanted to let you know that a very good model of state-funded local public schools exists in Australia.

    In the US, local property taxes fund the local schools, enabling politicians to contain federal taxes to a lower level.  The difference in Australia is that we pay no local property taxes (except an annual 'rates' bill of well under $2000, which goes towards garbage removal, sewerage, etc.) and we avoid state taxes, thereby obligating us to accept higher federal taxes.  A proportion of the latter are then returned to the states for equitable division among public schools according to population rather than desirability of neighborhood.

    No government school child's education is compromised because he/she comes from a lower socio-economic area.

    Of course, this would require a radical re-think of US funding options and a major overhaul of legislation.  I doubt you'd ever get a consensus to do it.  

    But if you want to research how it's done effectively, look to the Australian model.

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com

    by harchickgirl1 on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 05:40:34 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, k8dd8d

    I somehow missed it the first time around.

    I think your "evolution" is similar to mine though you had a much harder path in that you had your fundamentalist parents doing the brain washing, which meant more time on task for them to do it.

    I was raised catholic and went to catholic schools where the brainwashing took place.  Luckily neither of my parents were particularly into the church.  Not that they were not into god and religion.   But they had their own belief system.  

    And I was lucky to come of age in the 60s where there were many public figures, including some religious ones, on the liberal/socialist bandwagon.  

    I also read many of the books you read and was actively in search of answers.  In my freshman year of college, a book that started my journey was "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards, required reading for a course in American Literature.   The book literally gave me nightmares as I could not understand how this nasty deity could be anyone's father let alone the "loving father of all".    Because I had a real life loving dad, it simply did not compute.  And unlike myself as a child, I was at an age and time where challenging authority came easily.  

     I have learned that the search for answers is a lifetime project for me, but am now comfortable with accepting the unknown, the things that may not be known, as a part of my journey.   I work hard to live a Zen philosophy but still scratch my head at the blind followers in my own circle of family and friends.  It reminds me of how easily fear and threats can be used to manipulate people.

    Anyway, thanks for this.  As I age, I continue to question, to read, to learn.  For me, those are the tools one must use to fend off the authoritarian fear and manipulation used to control the masses.

  •  Great philosphy and wisdom. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k8dd8d, angelajean

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your diary.  Really great food for thought.

    I particularly appreciated the concept of one's religiosity as being the light and a given religion being the lens through which that light is focused.  

    I hope my paraphrasing did not mangle your much better description.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Ghandi

    by Randolph the red nosed reindeer on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 06:50:26 AM PDT

  •  As someone who sent one kid (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k8dd8d

    to public school, but had pull another kid out of public school to homeschool them, I thnk I've covered the bases. I do support public schools and am concerned about the privatization of public schools being pushed by the right. Hell, I even think that for-profit higher education is detrimental to students and is just another way for Wall Street to suck up money from the rest of us. More and better public education, but leave options open for people who don't fit the mould.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 07:34:59 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, k8dd8d

    Thank you for your diary post.

    Rmoney, the mayonnaise of modern politics; rich white pasty goo in a transparent container.

    by Sam Sara on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 10:29:32 AM PDT

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