Bradley listed the following things as the "blindspots" of Christian homeschooling...
1. Having Self-Centered Dreams
2. Raising Family as an Idol
3. Emphasizing Outward Form
4. Tending to Judge
5. Depending on Formulas
6. Over-Dependence on Authority and Control.
7. Over-Reliance Upon Sheltering
8. Not Passing On a Pure Faith
9. Not Cultivating a Loving Relationship With Our Children
While those ARE some serious blindspots which need correcting, those things are only side-effects and symptoms of the real disease - and if only the symptoms are treated, the disease rages on, which means the symptoms will flare up again (probably more resistant to treatment), and the disease will progress until it consumes the soul. It already has in many cases.
The disease is the absence of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe I just missed it (and if so, someone please point it out to me), but Bradley's article, like most of Christian homeschooling (and much of Christianity in general), made no mention of the Holy Spirit, leaves no room for the Holy Spirit, places no faith in the work of the Holy Spirit, all while emphasizing the role of parents in the spiritual life of children, even if it's suggesting a different role (perhaps disingenuously so - I don't know...can you tell I don't trust these people?).
The absence of the Holy Spirit is what lead to modern fundamentalism and it's associated paranoia. The absence of the Holy Spirit is what causes people to use religion and "faith" as a drug, creating religious addiction. The absence of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual disease of the mind, producing the following assumptions and presuppositions at the core of fundamentalism, dominionism, and the Christian homeschooling movement...
- There is no truth to be found outside of the pages of the bible - perhaps even a certain translation of the bible.
- All counsel and all ideas, whether familial, cultural, societal, must have a biblical basis. Experience isn't legitimate unless it can fit within biblical parameters.
- Anything "modern" is evil, including psychology, music, literature, et cetera.
- Anything outside of my sociopolitical religious belief system is evil, is "of the world", and seeks to destroy me/my family.
- The things which I fear must be reduced to black and white terms and opposed vehemently.
- If I attempt to understand the things I fear, I'm compromising my religion.
- Human authority structures are among the MOST important aspects of religion, therefore...
- I MUST mediate between my children/others and God, for if I don't, they'll fail to be religious.
- "Faith" must be regulated.
- All men are capable of being leaders.
- All women are weaker emotionally and incapable of being leaders.
- All parents are capable of teaching their children anything that they need to learn.
I could list more, but those will do for now. Until THOSE things, and THAT core, Holy Spirit-less mindset is addressed, Christian homeschooling will remain in a vicious cycle. Vicious is an apt word to describe it - a vice, an addiction...religious addiction. More formulas will emerge to replace the discarded ones. Children will continue to be indoctrinated into a dominionist agenda rather than educated and given genuine choices. Until a person is given ALL available information, and allowed to consider, without interference or undue human influence, ALL available information, no choice they'll make is actually gonna be their own - even in matters of "choosing" the Christian faith.
In Bradley's article (and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt as to whether he's being genuine), while it's clear that he's identified some symptoms of a Holy Spirit-less mindset and paradigm, it's also obvious that he still doesn't quite "get it". The article is rife with the language of a religious addict, and with the mindset that indoctrinating children is the right thing, but he's just gone about it the wrong way. Sort of an "eat the meat and spit out the bones" mentality. He hasn't given up on the dominionist agenda and goal of Christian homeschooling. He's just looking for a different path, and while these are MAJOR sacred cows he's tackling, in the larger context, until the Christian homeschooling movement is willing to ditch the dominionist agenda, this (and all other introspective exercises) is just a collection of bandaids being applied to a sucking chest wound.
From Bradley, regarding "Having Self-Centered Dreams"...
You see, I had a dream for my family and it involved adult children who lived at home humbly under parental authority, and who would one day leave home to marry, after following my carefully orchestrated courtship process. But now, my son had gone and "messed up" my perfect dream. Nothing is wrong with dreaming of good things for your children, but the truth was, my dream for my son was mostly about me.
He only acknowledges pursuing his personal dream for his family, and whatever damaged that caused, as wrong. The foundation of the dream itself - parental authority over adult children - is where he messed up, but that's never acknowledged. His Shepherding/authoritarian view of parental authority was the source of the problem. His personal dreams were only the symptom and by-product - the sociopathy that his beliefs demand and breed. His words suggest that he considers submissive adult children and the courtship process to be "good things". The "right goal, wrong approach" mentality.
Throughout the article, he continues to use the language of a Christian homeschooling cult - even as he addresses the issue of raising the family to an idol. There, he speaks, in positive terms, of parents having their "children's hearts", and misses the bigger issue of the family idol, which isn't parents finding their value in the appearance of their family, but parents cultivating a CULTIC environment through the paranoid, dominionist, fundamentalist mindset. THAT's the true idolatry issue - when the "culture of family" becomes the centerpiece of worship, not just for parents, but for children, too.
He makes some good points in #3 and #4, but there are still subtle undertones of religious addiction and a desire to "eat the meat and spit out the bones". It's difficult to take his commentary on #5, Depending on Formulas, to heart if he won't go to the lengths to give us an example. What does he consider formulaic? Courtship? Betrothal? The "21 rules of this house"? VERY few Christian homeschoolers consider courtship to be a formula, for instance. If my emails are any indication, courtship's proponents certainly don't consider it a formula. He needs to be specific for it to have any real teeth.
In #6, Over-Dependence on Authority and Control, it's clear that he doesn't get it at all. "Over-dependence" isn't even remotely the problem. ANY level of dependence on authority and control, where adults are concerned, is the problem. The entire authority/submission concept is the problem. He's just not quite ready to really treat the disease...
Solomon set for us a great example of balanced parenting - he admonished his young adult children and gave them commandments, but he knew that for them to honor his commands he needed their hearts. That's why he said, "My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways" (Prov 23:26).
He, and the Christian homeschooling movement at large, misses the key element in any modern handling of the Proverbs (a book they'll beat you over the head with in a second) - Solomon's children (and Solomon's greater audience) had no access to the Holy Spirit. We do. If under the New Covenant we all have access to the Spirit of God, with the veil that separated us being torn, why continue to live as if it's still in place, hoping to hold the "hearts of our children", rather than pointing them to God and letting Him hold their hearts? His approach leaves no room for the Holy Spirit.
In #7, he once again attacks a symptom while ignoring the disease. "Over-Reliance on Sheltering". He needs to drop the "Over". He says...
In the last five years I have heard countless reports of highly sheltered homeschool children who grew up and abandoned their parents' values. Some of these children were never allowed out of their parents' sight and were not permitted to be in any kind of group setting, even with other "like-minded" kids, yet they still managed to develop an appetite for the world's pleasures.
Based on what he's saying there, it's pretty obvious that he views any adult child who doesn't share an identical value system with his or her parents as having "developed appetites for the world's pleasures". The disease is rearing it's head (his own religious addiction and Holy Spirit-less mindset), but he's only looking at a symptom. In this paragraph...
Protecting from temptations and corrupting influences is part of raising children. Every parent shelters to one degree or another. All parents shelter - they just draw their lines in different places.Protecting our children is not only a natural response of paternal love, but fulfills the commands of God. The Scriptures are clear that we are to make no provision for our flesh (Rom 13:14) and are to avoid all corrupting influences (2 Cor 6:17-7:1). It warns us that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33) and that those who spend too much time with bad people may learn their ways (Prov 22:24-25) and suffer for it (Prov 13:20). Just as our Father in heaven will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor 10:13), we rightly keep our children out of situations they will lack the moral strength to handle. Young children are weak and we are to protect the weak (1 Thes 5:12).
...he's feeding his addiction, being pretty rigid, yet trying to appear fluid. What he describes here...
Growing up isolated from temptation can develop a child who appears spiritually strong, but the appearance is not reality. When I was in college I moved to northern California to live for a summer in a Christian commune. I was somewhat isolated from the world and surrounded by an amazing support system of my fellow "Jesus people." I remember feeling so full of faith, so committed to holiness, and so in love with God that summer. However, the "spirituality" I felt and the level of holiness I achieved was not real and could not endure testing. At the end of summer I returned to college in Southern California and discovered that I had not developed true spiritual muscles - when faced with temptation I fell flat on my face every time. The communal environment, isolated from significant temptation, had not prepared me for the battle I would face in the world.
...is an example of spiritual addiction, having gotten his fix, which turned out to be of little substance because he couldn't, and apparently still can't, discern between the use of religion as a numbing agent and a genuine pursuit of the truth of and intimacy with God.
Valid spiritual growth required that I face temptation and develop the capacity to resist it, which eventually I did.
That's a true statement and a good point. It's just not one which is backed up by the use of an anecdote about personal religious addiction.
In the same way, we may have started off years ago with a simple, undefiled faith, but the more we got caught up in all the "works" of intense parenting, the more we moved away from a simple faith contagious to our children. It is critical for our sake, let alone for our children, that we enjoy a life-giving faith in Christ with no religious trappings added to it.
Dominionism, which has always been the core of the push behind the Christian homeschooling movement, has never had a "simple, undefiled faith". As long as the dominionist agenda is behind the family belief system, there'll be no simple, undefiled faith to model and pass on to future generations. Dominionism IS a religious trapping, and Bradley never gets anywhere near addressing it.
While I can appreciate the intent of #9, it seems like the outline of an Old Covenant religious relationship between parents and their children.
Again, ANY step away from most of the ideas in Christian homeschooling is a good step. That said, I really don't expect much at all to come from Bradley's article. Until the Christian homeschooling community recognizes (and then shows a genuine willingness to treat) it's true disease - the fact that it left the Holy Spirit at a truckstop somewhere thousands of miles away several decades ago - and actually gives place to the Holy Spirit, not just in the lives of the children, but in the parents, there'll be no real significant progress away from it's legalistic nature. If the Holy Spirit can teach, let Him. Why indoctrinate?
The veil was torn. No more human mediators. When I hear one of them say THAT, I'll perk up.