Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sex, Science, and the Home Schooling Parent

My wife spent Thursday morning at a friend's place this week, as usual. The family home schools their kids, and my wife is teaching Latin there.

If you follow the news,1 you may have read that parents who home school their kids:
  1. Are concerned about religious and moral instruction
  2. Really believe that the universe is about 6,000 years old2
  3. Think science is pretty much all wrong
    • Factually
    • Morally
It's hard to ignore the assumption that those deliberately ignorant home schoolers3 don't have both oars in the water.

I think home schooling can be a good idea. But I'll admit to a bias: My wife and I home-schooled our kids, from grade 7 up. Their choice.

Home Schooling and Getting a Grip: By the Numbers

There's some truth to those three points. Particularly the first one. On the other hand, I've got pretty good reason to believe that home schooling is a pretty good idea: particularly for folks solidly attached to the space-time continuum.

Here's what I mean, by the numbers.

#1 Religious and Moral Instruction

As I've said before, morality isn't always about "morality."

Given the sort of malignant virtue that permeated parts of the religious community where I grew up, I understand why some American sincerely thing that religious beliefs are a threat to public safety. And that "morality" is a sort of sexual disorder.

I don't agree with that 'intelligent' view: which is why I became a Catholic.

"Morality" involves sex - but it's more to it than that.4

Still, sex is a pretty basic part of being human, which brings me to -

Sex and the Serious Home Schooling Parent

Again, I've put links to part of what the Church says in "Background," under "Sexuality."

I think one reason some folks get crazy when it comes to sex stem in part from warped notions about being "spiritual" and "worldly."

Which reminds me of Gnosticism. Which is like a triple-cheese anchovy and bratwurst pizza: a treat for some that raises hob when swallowed. 5

Then there were folks who seemed to believe that God commands people to wear the sort of clothes some Americans did in the 'good old days:' somewhere around 1945-1955. Didn't they ever look at those pictures in an illustrated Bible? And that's another topic.

Or maybe not so much.

One reason - not, I think, the most important - for parents who give a rip about their kids to seriously consider home schooling is the way sex is presented in government schools. Because I am a practicing Catholic, I think sex is good, special, and a very basic part of each human being. But that natural law applies to human sexuality.

Which isn't the same as hating homosexuals and beating up people who don't dress the way I do. At all.6

#2 The Universe is About 6,000 Years Old?!

Bishop Ussher - not a Catholic bishop - decided that the universe is about six millennia old.2 And since he was convinced that the Bible said so, anybody who said otherwise is forever damned to the sit on the hottest griddle in Hell forever. Or maybe even longer.

No, I don't think so. Not at all. Definitely not. No way.

First, there's the Matthew 7:1-5 thing about not judging.

Second, there's a whole lot data that doesn't make much sense unless the planet we live on is upwards of 4,500,000,000 years old.7

But wait - I say I'm a practicing Catholic. Aren't faith and reason, religion and science absolutely incompatible?

#3 Science and Being Catholic

When I converted to Catholicism, I didn't have to stop being interested in God's creation. And I certainly didn't have to start believing that everything we've learned since about 1850 or so is some kind of conspiracy.

Good grief: The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is headquartered at the Vatican.

(The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, used w/o permission)

I wrote enough posts about science, faith, wackadoo assumptions, and getting a grip to warrant making a link page for them:
More to the point, the Catholic Church has a few things to say about science. I've noted a few points under "Science," in the "Background" section near the end of this post.

Bottom line: As a Catholic, I don't have to turn off my brain in church.
"...'Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.'..."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159)

Oars in the Water and Home Schooling

I suppose that a determinedly 'intelligent' America would assume that I must not have my oars in the water, since I
  • Have religious beliefs
    • And take them seriously
  • Home schooled my kids
    • Okay: my wife did most of the work
I won't argue the point.

Maybe it's because I live on the edge of Minnesota's lake country: I don't think in terms of "oars in the water." If my household is like a boat: what we have is more like an outboard motor.

And that's yet another topic.

Related posts:

1 I think reporters and editors accurately record their impressions of real events. When those events involve experiences foreign to their circle of friends and associates, the results show more about the journalists than the events. It's sort of like what you'd get if a newspaper's Art columnist, who specialized in early Dadaism, was sent to cover a monster truck rally.

What shows up in the newsstands is an entertaining, modestly lucrative, and occasionally-informative mix of fact and "journalistic infotainment-like art-product." (Buck Godot (December 18, 2008)) In my opinion, of course. I've discussed this sort of thing fairly often, mostly in other blogs:
2 Bishop Ussher (not a Catholic Bishop) made a few assumptions, took the best Protestant Bible scholarship of his day, and decided that the world was created in 4004 B.C. Some folks still think that's so. I've discussed this before:
3 Understandably, it's the sort of 'man bites dog' cases that get in the news, when it comes to home schooling or anything else. What seems to elude many journalists is the fact that many parents who home school their kids are not anachronistic ignoramuses clinging to foolish superstitions and obsolete mores:
4 I've noticed that Americans tend to think that "morality" is pretty much all about sex. And that "morality" is strictly limited to what folks used to call "middle class morality:" which, of course, was just simply too old-fashioned to be taken seriously. Oh, well.

There's more to "morality" than zipper issues, and I've posted on the topic. Including these:
5 Gnosticism is an old heresy, and keeps popping up under a new label. One of the appeals, I think, is that it gives folks who just simply abhor the wet and sticky aspects of reality to think that their aesthetic hangups are part of some vast, cosmic conflict between the nice, good 'spiritual' stuff and the icky, bad 'worldly' stuff.

I've harangued about this before:
Bottom line, God made the physical world, and God doesn't make junk:God made the physical world - and God doesn't make junk. That's what I believe, but I wasn't the first to have the idea:
6 I'm a practicing Catholic, so I'm not allowed to hate anybody. For any reason. At all. No exceptions. Which isn't the same as approving of every self-destructive thing that folks feel like doing.

It's the 'friends don't let friends drive drunk' principle, and I've been over this sort of thing before:
7 'Evolution' isn't a four-letter word. Really. I've opined on this before, too. Let's face it: I'm full of opinions.


Brigid said...

Line break rather than paragraph break: "to the space-time continuum.
Here's what I mean"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Found, fixed: Thanks!

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