Friday, November 2, 2007

More Thoughts On Vision Forum (Yes, I Really Will Eventually Drop This)

I think that there are three reasons that I find the products of Vision Forum so very offensive. The three reasons probably should include, but don't, my inability to turn my brain off when I start thinking about something, and my general desire to go against the flow. So, there are really five reasons, but three that are actually justifiable.

1) Inaccurate Portrayal of American History

Honestly, I do love being American! But I also think that honesty is important, and while it's nice and neat to believe that we live in a country that is Christian, or has a "Christian History" it's not right to teach that to our children when it's not the truth. At the point when we start making the myth "christian" we start merging true Christianity with our civic religion of patriotism. There is a lot that is good in our country now, certainly worth defending and certainly worth being proud of, just as there is a lot of the same in our history. I love teaching my children about the underground railroad, D.L. Moody, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and other such great Americans. But that doesn't mean I don't teach them the facts about Indian annihilation, colonization spoken in the name of God but practiced in the name of profit, or an economy built on the back of a vice (tobacco) and slave labor. It also doesn't justify trying to defend or create a religion for the founding fathers, or downplay the role that the Enlightenment had on the formation of our country. In fact, I think it's important that I teach them about the times that the church has been used as a vehicle to move ideology from the state to the people, and the times that the government has used the church to promote it's own agenda. Two examples that jump to my mind are the idea of manifest destiny and adding "under God" to the pledge of allegiance. Manifest destiny was used to justify the stealing of land all across the nation (often under the guise of 'leading savages' to the Lord), and under God was added to the pledge in the 1950s during the McCarthy era when there was a national panic reaction to communism.

The fact is our country is like many, and there are many countries that would like to be like ours. There are many points on which to take pride, and many upon which to hide our face in shame. But for Christians, the great thing is that it isn't all our lineage -- we can lay claim to the history of Christ and how He worked through both the good and the bad, and we can use all the wonderful freedom we now have to bring His kingdom more places. But we can't do that if we are too busy whitewashing the bad in order to preserve a way of life that was never promised to us by God in the first place. When we do that we're acting in the same manner as the people who justified the crusades.

2) It's wrong to center our families around our children.

I love my kids! But my family is not my god. My role as a wife and mother are also not my first and most important role. The most important role in life is as a servant of Christ -- wherever he calls me to be. At this stage in my life, I serve him by raising my children. I'm thankful for this gift, and know that if I do my job well that down the road I'll be unemployed. But, as a servant of Christ, this is good news. Because then He'll have a different, equally important (probably not as challenging, though) job for me. In addition to that, I know that I have other callings right now. I can pursue those callings as I raise my children and I can train my children for life as I bring them along with those callings.

While I hope that my daughters will marry and produce many cute little grandchildren for me to spoil, I want them to know that we don't know what God will call them to do. Perhaps He will call them to a life of celibacy and they'll live in remote jungles of the world administering medical help to natives. Perhaps they'll travel the world as investigative journalists. Perhaps they'll do all that and then marry and have children. Either way, it's my job to teach them that being a servant of Christ means knowing him, communicating with him and following him wherever he leads. That is a lot messier than telling them, "be a good little wife and bake your cookies".

Vision Forum is a pusher of roles. They are a pusher of formulas. I don't want my children, male or female, to be stuck in a formulaic relationship with God that never amounts to them hearing all the zany things He'll call them to do.

3) I don't think that role playing Dolly Madison will help my children learn to lead other children to Christ.

While I do think that there is a time for training, and we do focus our family on Philippians 4:8, I don't think that has to mean what vision forum thinks it means. (To quote The Princess Bride, "I don't think that word means what you think it means!"). If I dressed my kids up in their happy prairie clothes, sent them outback in their "covered wagons" to play prairie, then I think that there never would have been the opportunities that we have had to tell the other children in our neighborhood about Christ -- some of whom had never even heard his name before.

One of the main focuses we have in raising our kids is teaching them how to be in the world but not of it, or how to relate to those in our culture who don't live as we do. That means we must find things that today's children are interested in, but that don't violate Philippians 4:8. I just don't see the following scene:

"Hi Julie, would you like to put this pretty bow in your hair and play Dolly Madison with me?"

"Uhh..." replied Julie, who's mom it took me 2 years to figure out if she was the mom or dad of the family, "I don't know how a bow could make me like a powdered dough nut...."

"Well, let me tell you who Dolly Madison was. You'll be so interested, and then maybe you'll convince your mom to vote Republican."

Okay, I exaggerate. But, still, I don't see today's children relating to the stuff pandered in Vision Forum's catalogues. Yes, they can be used for creative play to teach history, but, man, do I have spend $200 to do that? My kids, on their own volition and with out any cost to me have:

dug for diamonds in our backyard
made our street into the silk road
snagged large numbers of neighborhood kids into playing out "peter and the wolf"
created an underground railroad in our backyard
made our deck into the Solomon islands

And that is just to name a few. Many times, over the years, they have, on their own and for free, created such great play that the neighborhood kids have just joined in. They have also played Justice League, Pokemon,Lord of the Rings, baseball, basketball and soccer. Is this so bad? They even included the girls when they made their first detective agency! And, over the years I can think of at least 5 or 6 children who got to hear about Jesus because their interest was peaked by what we were doing, and many others whose understanding, I hope, was expanded. I'm not willing to sacrifice that kind of fruit for anyone else's ideas of what my kids should be playing.

We can isolate our children so much from the culture that #1) they don't know how to deal with the culture once they are adults and #2) they don't ever relate to the people in the culture and, therefore, are never burdened to love them.

So, when I see what Vision Forum is pushing, it really breaks my heart because I know that there are hundreds, thousands, of children who will never know the love of Christ because the people who know him are not trying to relate to them.

Okay. Now I'm done.


gingerswindow said...

Good points. I really love reading your blog because your life backs it up. Someone your children need to be able to read this stuff one day. I hope you are saving it.

Stephanie said...

Deb, truth is that you cannot fix America. Only God can! I really was upset with your blog. I think that as much as you have accused Vision Forum of being extreme, you have as well. I have no problem with my children playing dress up as a prairie girl or a cowboy. They have loved it! Their friends have loved it. I'm not sure how they wouldn't be able to talk about Jesus while playing that as dress up. That made absolutely no sense to me. I do believe that Vision Forum is just giving ideas for play not demanding that this is the only thing you have to play. I have concerns about your second point on your children and your role of a wife. There are biblical roles given by God. You cannot deny Titus 2 or Proverbs 31. You were created to be your husbands helper, your a mother, keeper at home, to show hospitality, and help the needy and afflicted and even help with family business. V.F. is trying to bring these truth's back into the eyes of Christians. They do not claim that your children are your gods. They try to find Biblical principles and apply them. I worry that you have been relating to much to the "culture" and "Christian Feminism" and have taken on some of their beliefs. I would be very careful with wanting my children to relate to the culture. I don't want my children to relate, I want them to stay clear of any thoughts or practices of this world. Remember the song " Be careful little eyes what you see and hear". It's because the world's ways are broad and easy to be ensnared in. The American Christian Church is much like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water. We have been consumed by the world and don't even know it. V.F. is trying to call attention to this fact. If you believe that your children need to be able to handle the world when they are out of the house and relate to the culture, why are you homeschooling? I hope it's to show them God and his ways all day long. Of course, gov't schools are not doing this. I believe V.F. is trying to give tools in helping in this area and that their motives are pure. On your first point about history, V.F. does not claim that America has been perfect or blameless. For example you may want to listen to Pilgrims vs Indians, where D. Philips acknowledges the Indians were not treated fairly throughout most of American History. I have yet to come across anything that they have not backed up by scripture. I think you have misunderstood them and taken your point to unfairness. I would recommend that you read Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. You don't even have to buy it through V.F.!

Deb said...


I'm sorry if you find my blog offensive. I'll point out the obvious, which is that you're under no obligation to read it.

That said, the title of my blog is tongue-in-cheek, which I think is apparent in the overall tone of the blog. People discuss theology, culture and politics and often say "Now that I've fixed that". I'm sorry if you misunderstood that.

As far as my thoughts on Vision Forum, I stand by them despite your attacks on my faith and thinking. Just as men aren't defined by 1 or 2 passages of scripture, neither are women. There is nothing in scripture that says women are defined only by those roles. Wife and Mother are one role (albeit significant) that a woman has in her life. And, while V.F. does touch on the mistreatment of natives, the overall focus is justification of the colonization of this country and our way of life.

I believe that it is always difficult to talk about Jesus when you're playing a game where you're killing someone else. Sorry, I don't see how it can jive.

Finally, my husband and I homeschool our children because we are discipling them. We are not hiding from the culture, our goal is to teach them how to relate to the culture as servants of Christ. If I raise scared, isolated children who don't have a heart for seeing people reconciled to Christ then I haven't done my job.

I'm sorry for the narrow vision that you've been presented with in life, and I pray that your eyes may someday be open to a vibrant relationship with Christ, as it's much more exciting and rewarding than the legalism pandered by vision forum. Perhaps this can be a start.