Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The CHEC and Casting Visions for the Rest of Us?

I don't believe this 2009 Men's Leadership Summit has been officially announced to it's intended broad, target audience, but bloggers are currently discussing it HERE. I wanted to point out the nature of the response that one outside the culture of patriarchy/patriocentricity generally receives when they offer criticism. I would like to point out the lack of cooperation to respectfully and thoughtfully discuss disagreements on the part of the patriocentrists. I encourage everyone to read the blog article and the comments that follow, but I hope to specifically draw your attention to the comments made by someone who represents the group presenting the conference. I could also address the loaded language of "vision casting" which sounds like spell casting to me, but I will let that one pass, for now.

I take it that all previous endeavors of Christians regarding homeschooling were either NOT "rock-solid" or "biblically-based" (or were neither)?
Please note that the emphasis of text
in this post is all my own.

Karen Campbell writes in Phillips, Swanson, Baucham, and Ray Casting a Vision for Whom? Not Me!:
Christian Home Educators of Colorado [CHEC] will be hosting a conference in Indianapolis in March of 2009. They state that the goal of this 2009 “leadership summit” is to define a vision for the future of the Christian home education movement, (to) lay down a rock-solid, biblically-based vision for home education that will withstand the attacks of our current generation and preserve this precious vision for future generation.” In order to do this they are “assembling the key national leaders, authors, researchers, speakers and advocates who have framed the homeschool vision over the past generation (1979-2009).” Headlining this meeting will be Voddie Baucham, Doug Phillips, Kevin Swanson, and Brian Ray...

As I read through the website, I kept asking myself “Who appointed or elected these men as leaders? What makes them think they can speak for me or the millions of other Christian homeschooling families? Where are the voices of the mothers who are doing all the hard work of homeschooling in the first place? Why are they being excluded in this vision casting?”

Immediately I had three thoughts as I watched this. The first is that it appears that the true leaders and founders of Christian homeschooling are missing in this version of the history of this movement. The second is that some of the “leaders” shown in this trailer [also affiliated with the leadership summit] have serious charges against them and their reputations, in my mind, disqualify them from speaking for any of us. And thirdly, I find some of what they are saying to be unsubstantiated and questionable and, quite frankly, more of the same scare tactics I have seen used to promote and sell a paradigm to homeschooling families in the past.

This blog post did not go unnoticed by the CHEC, because the group's president, Bill Roach, posted this response:

My name is Bill Roach and I serve as President of CHEC…we are sponsoring the National Men’s Leadership Summit II.
I have read your comments with great interest.
We could have a robust discussion about this topic!! I’m not quite sure we would come to a consensus about the issues, but I’m sure it would be lively.
First, my sympathy and prayers to those of you who have been the recipient of “angry patriarchs.” Whether you received it by teaching or personal experience…I know that kind of pain is real and extremely damaging. I don’t know if there is a worse roof to live under than one that has an unloving man claiming a biblical headship and living a life of anger.
To be honest, I have come to shy away from the word “Patriarchy”…partly because it has been misunderstood, and partly because it has been misdefined. I prefer to see my role as father/husband in unity with my wife. I guess you can call it “one flesh.” We strive for unity in all areas of our marriage- education, discipline, business, church…etc. I would probably have a different take on egalitarianism than some that have commented on this blog, but I’m sure we would agree on more things that you might think.
Secondly, may I say a warm and hardy thank you to all of you hard working moms. Without you all ,the modern homeschooling movement wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground. God clearly used moms from all over this country in a mighty way. While most men couldn’t see the need for homeschooling back in the 70s and early 80s, the love that you moms had for your children spawned the movement (sorry, I know some of you disdain that word…) From my heart, I say thanks….for all that you did and all that you are doing.
Here in Colorado, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sandy Lundberg who literally gave her health to the start of CHEC. She is an extremely taleted, giving and godly lady. At one point she served as Executive Director, Conference Coordinator, Newsmagazine Editor and Volunteer Coordinator…all at the same time!! There is not a week that passes that I don’t thank God for her contributions.
I owe my own wife so much for the job that she is doing in raising the 6 we have at home. I have 3 natural born children, 2 adopted children and a young lady who came to live with us after her mom died of cancer. Without my wife, I would be lost at sea…
My only question to you all is this…has anyone here ever met Kevin Swanson?
If not, you should…he is one of the most gentle, humble men I have ever met. I would have to say that if you only know the “radio Kevin,” you wouldn’t get the full picture. In fact you would get about 3% of who Kevin is. He and Dave (his co-host) sometimes do go over the top in their satire and humor. Kevin is very good at visual illustrations…but he would be the first one to tell you that sometimes he misses. But his radio program is a blessing to so many people…I wish you all could read the comments of people who are hearing the Word of God…sometimes for the first time!! The folks who write or visit the church come hungry and hurting I have seen time and again where the love of the church body ministers deeply to their soul.
Just thought I would let you know that this is a man who loves God, loves his family and is a wonderful church leader and Executive Director of CHEC. He serves the organization without pay, he donates his book sales (which are small but growing, to CHEC) and will travel to speak anywhere for little to nothing in return. He genuinely loves people. He is the last person in the world that you would think was in it, “for the money.” Not quite sure where that money is, even if any of us were in it for that. :)
I’m sure that if we all sat in a room and talked about the issues, there is no doubt that we would disagree…in fact, I’m sure some of you might even be angry.
But I do know one thing…even though you might not agree with him; you would know that Kevin Swanson is a kind, humble, loving man.
Anyway…just thought you might want to know…
I am not so naive as to think that you have to meet Kevin to comment about him…he has a daily radio program…you have the right to comment on it and disagree with it…but try to remember to be gracious in that disagreement… the way I assume you would want someone to disagree with you, if mentioning you by name.
Thank you,
Bill Roach

Roach mentions the "angry patriarchs." I think it's interesting that two of the worst offenders are listed as plenary speakers for his conference. Phillips and Swanson are the most outspoken and abrasive angry patriarchs, and Phillips is, by far, the most aggressive. Dr. Raymond Moore (who Karen points out started homeschooling when Doug Phillips' father was 3 years old and who published one of the first books on homeschooling when Doug would have been running around with a cap gun in elementary school) notes in his White Paper that one of the other speakers, Brian Ray, used Moore's own research to obtain his PhD, but then was miserably critical of him. (Does that make Raymond Moore an angry patriarch?) As my husband often says, "No good deed goes unpunished."
After a brief and non-patriocentric sounding explanation of his version of "patriarchy," he says "I would probably have a different take on egalitarianism than some that have commented on this blog, but I’m sure we would agree on more things that you might think." What does this mean, I wonder? I guess I'm too unsophisticated to figure it out. Why would egalitarianism come into play in this discussion of homeschooling and why is it significant? To explain why no women are welcome at this conference (just like Phillips' Witherspoon School)? I find it amusing, considering that Karen Campbell and I share nearly identical views on the role of women, and we classify as complementarian (though we are "soft" complementarians by comparison to the teachings of those participating in the leadership summit).

What exactly is he trying to conote with his comment of those who "spawned" the homeschooling movement. If it was a potentially offensive word, why did he use it and then apologize for the usage? Is that gracious, a concern that he also voices regarding the way these matters are discussed?

Roach also says, "My only question to you all is this…has anyone here ever met Kevin Swanson? If not, you should…he is one of the most gentle, humble men I have ever met. I would have to say that if you only know the “radio Kevin,” you wouldn’t get the full picture." Frankly, after listening to these broadcasts of Swanson's, I don't have any desire to meet with him because his discourses in that venue are so abrasive and reactionary. This is one of the most ridiculous arguments against false teaching and inexcusable conduct, playing upon the principles that Cialdini points out in his writings concerning the "weapons of social influence." And if the radio program is only 3% of who Kevin is, he might also note that it is the most publicized and is therefore more potent. If he is that indiscriminate about the manner in which he presents his views, what does that say about the remaining 97% of the rest of his character? Sounds like potent leaven that is indicative of and leaven for the whole lump. Oh, wait. Kevin says that Christians are leaven. The Bible speaks of leaven as sin 90% of the time. (Swanson states that Christians are leaven in his Christian shock-jock commentary that my husband begged me to turn off or use earphones because it was irritating.)

And I now assume, reading his second response, when he said that "we COULD have a lively discussion" of this topic, he really meant that it was possible but that this was never his intent. I guess his posts were damage control.

One woman named Kathleen responded with
Thanks, Bill, for your comments. I just remembered Kevin Swanson made the broad sweeping comments about girls who go to college being “vagabonds”, etc." He may have a lovely family, and have a wonderful “off air” personality, but it is his teaching words that I’m concerned about. I hold the same standard up to the people of leadership in my church (former).

Another blogger named Corrie said

As for Kevin Swanson, it is his words and teachings that we are measuring. I do not see anyone making a judgment on whether or not he is good or bad.
There is no reason for such over-the-top rhetoric. It is embarrassing to me, a homeschool mother, to listen to some of the extreme hyperbole. It discredits us as homeschoolers and makes us a laughing stock for those who oppose us. We look more like the caricatures on SNL than we do logical and rational individuals.
I am not opposed to satire or sarcasm but claiming that working women, for instance, sell their flesh for cheap in one-night stands with their co-workers is beyond ridiculous. It is one thing to believe that women should not work outside of the home and quite another thing to make such claims.

And I take it that this is chastizement for what Roach thinks is ungracious. (I guess he doesn't listen to Swanson very often who is about as gracious as an angry rodeo bull in a china shop.) "but try to remember to be gracious in that disagreement… the way I assume you would want someone to disagree with you, if mentioning you by name." Is he offended by the fact that we name names? Milieu control? I guess gracious is defined by anything with which he agrees as opposed to that which lacks grace.

Karen Campbell responds:
Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comments. I would heartily agree with you that we are most likely in agreement with many, many things, first of all our love for and commitment to Jesus Christ and secondly our love for and commitment to home education. And on a personal note, I was adopted and have a great deal of respect for those who choose this way of welcoming children into their homes so I appreciate your sharing that part of your life with us. (One of my podcasts in the militant fecundity series addresses the growing number of orphans worldwide and the importance of homeschooling families in making homes for them.)
You didn’t say whether or not you would welcome a robust discussion about the issues surrounding your upcoming conference but I would be happy to host that discussion here if you are interested. I will always allow unmoderated comments and will only delete those that are rude or inappropriate. I know that there are many who read here who would welcome the opportunity to have a real discussion about some of the concerns they have. In fact, I often hear from homeschooling moms who live in Colorado and whose families have decided to no longer attend your convention because of the patriocentric beliefs of your leadership and speakers you bring in. I believe it would be wise for you to listen to their concerns.
My chief objection to your conference is that I do not believe that either your organization nor the speakers who are advertised speak for the vast majority of Christian home educating parents in this country. In fact, for your group to assume that you can cast a vision for all Christian homeschooling families is audacious and arrogant. There are so many believers in solid, Bible-believing and teaching churches, whose leaders and teachers are committed to sound exegesis, who do not agree with your conference speakers on any number of issues. In fact, I believe that the number of those who embrace your philosophy of family life and education is becoming more of a minority all the time as the fruits and benefits of relationship homeschooling (see my sidebar) are apparent. Healthy, vibrant homeschooling families practice the one anothers of Scripture and seek to build relationships both within their homes and with those who are in need of a Savior.
Sadly, many of those things that your conference speakers represent are in sharp contrast to those objectives. Let me list just a few of those things that I believe have placed your conference into question and please consider engaging us in dialogue regarding these and other issues, for the sake of the future of homeschooling and the glory of God.
1. Kevin Swanson, Voddie Baucham, and Doug Phillips have all embraced and promoted a view of daughters that is not based on Scripture and, in fact, have misused the Word of God to promote their views. (Numbers 30) Those who have a high view of Scripture and who seek to follow its counsel rather than to use it to promote our own views, bristle at this every time we read or hear these teachings, not because we are feminists, white-washed or otherwise, but because we love the Word of God and cannot bear to see it handled in such a manner. Being a wife and a mother is a high calling from the Lord and it is one that any young woman would do well aspiring to. In fact, most of us who have real concerns about your movement are stay at home mothers who serve our families, some with many children, we homeschool, and would be the first to testify that we love being homemakers. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is the ONLY calling for a woman nor does Scripture claim that it is the highest calling. To place this burden on all women to conform to a patriocentric image of hearth and home when the Bible does not do so is legalism. In their zeal to show the value of motherhood, these speakers have gone further than the Word of God does and have superimposed their agenda onto all women.
2. The concept that the father is the only one in the family who has a calling from the Lord and that all family members are to further that calling is also not substantiated in Scripture. While I do believe that God works generationally and through families, it is not the ONLY way that His redemption plan is brought into fruition. The Holy Spirit works in the individual hearts of individuals, in each generation, giving spiritual gifts to each believer at the time of salvation and calling each one to serve and follow Him. Both mothers and fathers are to introduce their children to Christ and are to disciple them, using their own gifts to help their children recognize God’s plan for each of them. Placing the father at the center of the family and giving him a higher calling within that family is idolatry.
3. A few months ago, Doug Phillips made a declaration that a woman who faces an ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening situation, and has surgery is considered to be a “murderer,” one who practices “child sacrifice” or “infanticide,” and is not 100% pro-life. In researching Doug’s position and asking pro-life leaders around the country to comment on his writings, I could not find a single person who could agree with his perspective and many were concerned that homeschooling mothers who are being influenced by Doug could have their very lives placed in danger. He also stated that he would not support any organization that didn’t agree with him so I can only conclude that his is also the position of CHEC, lending credibility to this dangerous view.
4. Kevin, Voddie, and Doug promote the family integrated church movement and use the homeschooling venue to do so. As self-proclaimed leaders of homeschooling who are purporting to establish the standards for all Christian home educators and are casting a vision for all of us, I believe that the FIC agenda will most certainly be part of that vision, further isolating homeschoolers from other Christians and causing further division within the body of Christ. (see my article on the pros and cons of the family integrated church on at for a more complete listing of my concerns.)
5. No mothers are included being included in your conference, which is unfortunate. Why would this be? Where is the prohibition against women helping to establish a vision for home education? You mentioned that women helped to found the modern homeschooling movement but imply that now the men should take it over. Could you please explain your thinking so moms can understand this?
6. There is concern among some homeschoolers that there is a class distinction agenda being promoted by Doug Phillips because of his affinity for the pre-Civil War south and the lifestyle of that day. Combined with the message that anything outside of this paradigm is “socialism,” the message is sent that there is a certain elitism to home education. R. C. Sproul Jr.’s observations seem to substantiate that and were affirmed by James McDonald.
I have one final thought, regarding Kevin Swanson. I have not meant him in person but have listened to his podcasts. In fact, I have Kevin to thank for inspiring me to have my own podcasts. I was in awe of the lack of a gracious spirit that permeates his presentations and the fact that he was homeschooled himself cause me to cringe every time I heard him speak. My oldest children are just a few years younger than he is and I would be appalled if they behaved as he does. Do you remember those who heard Jesus speak and “marveled at the gracious words that came from his mouth?” I pray that that would be the response to my own children as they represent both Jesus Christ and homeschooling. Maybe you could pass that along to Kevin.
Bill, I look forward to hearing from you and to exchanging ideas regarding homeschooling and the future of this great way of educating children.

And Bill Roach's response to Karen:
Hi Karen,
Thanks for your warm comments about the adoption of my children. What a wonderful way to experience the love and grace of God by being adopted yourself! Of all the “things” that we have done as a couple and family, adopting two children was the one I was most convinced was of the Lord.
My goal in chiming in was to just present to you a different perspective on the Kevin Swanson you probably don’t know. Nothing more and nothing less.
I hope that you would respect that the first difference we would have between us is the format of a blog to discuss such heavy issues as you have asked of me. Unfortunately, we would disagree on that issue, and I have to respectfully decline your offer to engage in this way.
If you are ever out this way in beautiful Colorado and would like to meet, I would do all that I can to make it a reality. Please contact me at my email that I gave you.
May God grant you wisdom as you raise your family and run this blog.

Karen responds again:
Bill, thanks for your response and I will accept your position though I hope you will reconsider.
I really think being open and forthright about our beliefs and a willingness to hear a variety of positions from other Christians whom the Holy Spirit works through will be the first step in understanding the purposes of your conference and to clearing up any misconceptions we might have.

A blogger named Mary responded to Bill also:
I would like to respectfully ask Bill what he would consider as an appropriate venue for the discussion of the points that Karen mentioned? As far as I know there has never been a venue for this discussion . Would CHEC consider some kind of public discussion of these issues?

I guess that's the $75,000 question:

What is a fair, respectful and productive venue for the discussion of these issues? And I can bet that there will never be a public discussion of these issues. First of all, it would have to include women, and women are not respected as "leaders," requiring all matters to be digested and discerned by men first as their "covering." Patriocentricity find women who do assume this role for their families (overseeing homeschooling matters), whether delegated to them by husbands or not, to be acting against God's kingdom architecture. There is also a trend within these circles to keep these matters out of public discussion forums. The only open forums that they will agree to participate in are those that give the appearance that they are open to discussion but ones wherein there is no real discussion. Appearance is everything. Anything said in private is free game, and it can be the word of the patriocentrist against others, claiming that later discussion of an issue addressed via email constitutes gossip. This is milieu control, folks. Plain and simple. Star chambers can contain the messy business that these types of people would like to keep silent and deny later. It is also more intimidating, in many cases, for the critic.