"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Friday, March 30, 2012

Baby Steps Towards Christendom: Step #2: Homeschooling

Previous posts in the series: Introduction   Step#1: Quit Pimpin'

(note: Step #2 was going to be about contraception, but I decided this is too rudimentary to mention. Faithful Catholics will not use it, and other Christian groups who ignore their conscience on the issue will (imo) eventually either self destruct or become Catholic. Along with my sentiment in Step #1, on contraception I stand with St. Augustine in saying that men who use it make their wives whores. If that sounds harsh, take it up with St. Augustine, not me. "...you try to take from marriage what marriage is. When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps." Augustine, Against Faustus 15:7 (A.D. 400). See here for further reading.)

So many of the “baby steps” towards Christendom can be written off as unnecessary.

“Do I really need to have my wife work at home?”

“Cant I stay in my cubicle working for a paycheck?”

“Will video games kill my kids?”

“Will public school kill my kids?”

“Will making my own beer or soap really bring me closer to God?”

“Do I really need to pray with my family every day?”

The answer to most of these questions is no, you don’t have to do that. It is possible for a Catholic to send their kid to public school. It is not a sin in and of itself. But it is unwise and foolish to do so if other options exist. By themselves many of these baby steps seem trite and unnecessary. But how many of us fail in most of them? These little failures can easily add up to major failure. Our culture laughs at this list and it is easy for us to get worn down bit by bit and give in to all of them. We can easily go from using our liberty by eating meat sacrificed to idols to no longer even recognizing that it has been sacrificed to idols. We then go from being “in the world yet not of the world” to just simply being worldly. Once we cross that line, I think we need to seriously consider giving up the “liberty” we formerly had. Like the alcoholic who gives up his liberty to drink for the sake of his soul, we need to get off the worldly path in many areas of our lives, and get on the paved road to the eternal city. And I am including myself in this! Just last night I was confronted with the decision to use my liberty to watch the TV series Game of Thrones or not. I watched the pilot episode and was both thrilled and disgusted. I loved 90% of it. But 10% was graphic nudity. I decided to not use my liberty in watching it (perhaps writing that here will keep me honest!). Why expose my mind to filth just for entertainment? I judged that no good could come of it. It is how we navigate the thousands of small choices like these that will determine if our great-grandchildren keep the faith or not. If we let ourselves be worn down like a smooth stone in a riverbed,  tossed about by our culture, what makes us think our children will do any better? After all, daddy watched that show, so it cant be that bad right? Daddy played video games 10 hours a week, so I can too, right? This is the morphing of liberty into license.

OK, mini-rant over, on to homeschooling!

And when I say homeschooling, I am not saying that a good private school is not OK. They do exist, and if your situation is good for sending your kids there, then great. There are advantages to that over homeschooling, and disadvantages as well. What you will have to keep constantly in the forefront of your mind when your child is in a private school is that you as the parent are responsible for their education. With homeschooling, this is much harder to forget, as you are the one buying all the books and such.

Overall, I think the renewed Catholic culture of the future needs to see homeschooling as the "norm", however. Why? Because it already is the norm. By that I mean that parents are already the teachers of their children. So in that sense, even the parents of public school kids are homeschoolers. They are just homeschoolers who are outsourcing badly. What those kids learn they mainly will learn from their parents. If they take algebra at the public school from an instructor who never prays with them or mentions Christ, it is their parents who have just taught them a lesson. They taught them that math is a subject that does not reflect God's beauty and order, and that we need not give honor to God for math. This is a powerful lesson.

Likewise for a private school student, the school should always be self-consciously seen by parent and child as an extension of the parents training in the home. Perhaps in many areas it is able to specialize more because of knowledgeable instructors, so the private school should be seen by us as a specialized arm of the home school, not as the norm itself. One thing a homeschool cannot easily do is attend daily mass. This is perhaps the single biggest advantage of a private school, and well worth considering.
The practical reason homeschooling should be (and I would argue is) the norm for a new Christendom has to do with Distributism. If Distributism is all about bringing the productive property back into the hands of the family, making the family the most powerful unit of government in society, then it naturally follows that the family is the default educational institution. And if Dad and Mom are not cogs in the corporate machine, but running their own productive enterprise, what better place for the children to learn about life than within such a healthy environment? The ONLY necessary things for a child to learn are who God is, who man is, and how they relate (I stole that from RC Sproul Jr.). We may bristle at that at first glance, but it is true. All other knowledge is secondary and supplementary. And the family is the best equipped for meeting that need. Who better than a mother and father to teach a child about life? Catholic schools can be great (I even considered sending my oldest to my parish school), but we need to have a clear vision that the home is the source and center of all education for a child, and the family should have the pride of place over other educators.

Next up:

Step #3: DIY: Become a Brewer.


  1. right on, David! Loving this series. Pull no punches.

  2. Pope Benedict said: "Once the plastic minds of children have been moulded by godless schools, and the ideas of the inexperienced masses have been formed by a bad daily or periodical press, and when by means of all the other influences which direct public opinion, there has been instilled into the minds of men that most pernicious error that man must not hope for a state of eternal happiness; but that it is here, here below, that he is to be happy in the enjoyment of wealth and honour and pleasure: what wonder that those men whose very nature was made for happiness should with all the energy which impels them to seek that very good, break down whatever delays or impedes their obtaining it." (Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, 15)

    The Catechism of Christian Doctrine (aka The "Penny Catechism" since it used to cost 1cent) was a famous catechism for all of England and Wales. Here is what it said:
    178. How do we expose ourselves to the danger of losing our Faith?
    We expose ourselves to the danger of losing our Faith by neglecting our spiritual duties, reading bad books, going to non-Catholic schools.

    With many Catholic schools not being much better than private schools, you are certainly right that homeschooling is ideal for the "new Evangelization". But under more 'ideal' conditions, solid Catholic schools are ideal, for mothers only know so much they can pass on, and when devout Nuns and Priests are serving the school it's a strong testimony to the children and community. Even today many Catholics tell of the fond memories of "back in the day" Catholic schools.

  3. The above post should say "with many Catholic schools not being much better than PUBLIC schools" (though I'd add that many private schools are not necessarily instilling good values either).

    1. Again, nice quotes Nick, thanks much. Sorry about the spam filter. It would be nice if it never spammed commentors that have previously commented without being blocked.

      I think we disagree a bit on 2 points. Though this is a more "logistics" disagreement than anything. We are fighting the same war, but slightly different strategy. I really do think homeschooling needs the pride of place as opposed to even a great Catholic school (which are incredibly rare).

      You said:
      "But under more 'ideal' conditions, solid Catholic schools are ideal, for mothers only know so much they can pass on,"

      What the Mother can pass on is indespensible. What priests or nuns can is not. And I still maintain that what children learn they learn from their parents regardless of where they are all day.

      A question which is rarely asked and usually assumed is: "what do children need to learn?"

      I strongly maintain that what kids NEED to learn, parents are always able to teach. And in fact, the parents are the best ones to teach it.

      "and when devout Nuns and Priests are serving the school it's a strong testimony to the children and community."

      I agree. And this should come back. But I still think it should be secondary to homeschooling. With homeschoolers perhaps going to sacraments at this location, or getting specialized classes like higher level math or something parents cant do. Obviously the church needs to provide for the education of orphans and widows, so there absolutely MUST be Catholic schools. It just shouldnt be seen as the primary resort of a healthy Catholic family. Also, think of the "strong testimony" of a father and mother united in a sacramental marriage fulfilling their role of raising children! To my mind, that more natural and more ideal than having priests and nuns be the primary source for training.

      "Even today many Catholics tell of the fond memories of "back in the day" Catholic schools."

      But look what these schools hath wrought. Things didnt work out too well! Imo, the main problem was parents "handing off" kids to the school. But what the children are learning is not from the school, it is from the parents. So while little Johnny is in spelling class at the local Catholic school in 1950, I maintain that what he is learning is important is not spelling, but whatever daddy and mommy are doing. The lesson he is learning is not about spelling, but that a mother and a father cant be bothered to teach their kids how to spell. Or to teach the catechism. Or to teach theology. etc.

      My main point is that a Catholic culture can not thrive without the faith being transfered within the home. It can, however, survive without school buildings. So homeschooling should be seen as the norm.

      Thanks for your input!

    2. After thinking about this a bit, I would say you are absolutely correct. The truth is, Catholic schools are relatively 'modern', and thus it's wrong to think that they are superior, since this would mean children had inadequate education all this time. Since the family is the basic building block of society, that entails that the parents are indeed the primary educators, and the parents must be capable (in light of simply natural law) of passing on the essentials.

      When it comes to "essentials," your argument made perfect sense: instilling virtues is far, far more critical than instilling algebra. You can have society without the latter, but not without the former. And for centuries instilling virtues and trades and history didn't just come from immediate family, but from extended family as well, again all without a 'formalized schooling system'.

      This remind me of a recent article Patrick Buchanan wrote about the skyrocketing illegitimacy rate today (25% of Whites, 50% of Hispanics, 70% of Blacks) and the disastrous demographic consequences: how can a child even do good a school when his home life is a wreck? Thus, what goes on at home far outweighs what schools can provide.

      I looked up an Encylical Pope Leo XIII did about marriage and saw this quote I highlighted:
      29. Truly, it is hardly possible to describe how great are the evils that flow from divorce. Matrimonial contracts are by it made variable; mutual kindness is weakened; deplorable inducements to unfaithfulness are supplied; harm is done to the education and training of children; occasion is afforded for the breaking up of homes; the seeds of dissension are sown among families; the dignity of womanhood is lessened and brought low

      43. Care also must be taken that they do not easily enter into marriage with those who are not Catholics; for, when minds do not agree as to the observances of religion, it is scarcely possible to hope for agreement in other things. Other reasons also proving that persons should turn with dread from such marriages are chiefly these: that they give occasion to forbidden association and communion in religious matters; endanger the faith of the Catholic partner; are a hindrance to the proper education of the children; and often lead to a mixing up of truth and falsehood, and to the belief that all religions are equally good.

      And a simple search in the Catechism reveals just as much:

      -2201 Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children.

      -2221 The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute."29 The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.30

      -2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. The home is well suited for education in the virtues.

      -2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years.

      -2229 As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their [the parents'] task as Christian educators.38

      Bravo, David, for helping me get better educated (no pun intended) in this important issue!

    3. Nick,
      You are a gracious guy. Glad I could impress upon you the importance of homeschooling!
      And again, very nice quotes. How did you round them up? WHat is your research method to find so much good info?

    4. I came up with most of those quotes when I read a book a few years back called "A Light In the Heavens," which is a book of about 20 of Pope Leo XIII top encyclicals. That book changed my whole Catholic outlook, and I became a huge Pope Leo fan.

      Pope Leo addressed almost all the key points 150 years ago for the problems that affect us today, from erroneous economics (capitalism & socialism) to erroneous philosophy (e.g. Conservatism), laying the firmest foundations for Catholic Social Teaching.

      As you can see, the Popes of that time were not afraid to tell it like it is. One of the most important encyclicals ever was written by Pope Leo XIII, called Rerum Novarum (the epitome of Catholic Social Justice), and every pope since then has written an encyclical expounding upon it.

  4. My post must have gotten stuck in Spam Filter.

  5. I'm not a Catholic, and I have some trouble about distributism. What about heavy industries/manufacturing, or transportation (shipping, railways, aviation, etc.)?

    1. Lukas,
      I'm no expert, but Distributism takes these into account. The main idea of Distributism is "distributing" the means of production. In Catholic social teaching, there is a great concept called subsidiarity. Which means that things should be done on as small a scale as possible, with ownership spread as wide as possible. SO it is better to have 100 family farms with 100 independent farmers working together in a guild in a given area than 1 factory farm with 100 paid "employees" who have no say on that same area. In cases like a railroad, where obviously everyone cant have one, then it needs to be run by a guild of people with real power of decision, and of course that power needs to be checked by the state in case of abuse. Can that system fail? of course. it just is a better system than socialism or capitalism, which both rob people of their dignity of ownership in their work.
      Rerum Novarum from 1891: http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum.html

    2. How about export-import bussiness? Because the problem with small-scale enterprises (particularly in food and beverages) are mostly about well..quantity. Many countries in the world depend on export as a source of revenue (as many as possible).

  6. When I said "ownership spread as wide as possible", I dont mean as in socialism. I mean as far as possible, each man owning his own business from top to bottom as part of a guild of similar businessmen, and where that is not possible, being a voting member in equal ownership of a corporation. The Mondragon corporation is a good example of this.