Alex and Brett are not here. You can find them at:
Christianity. Theology. Apologetics. Philosophy. Literature. Politics. Science. Culture.
Alex and Brett are not here. You can find them at:
In the comments section of The Myth of Adolescence (Part 2), fellow blogger Jan (The Happy Homemaker) requested that I share about the environment in which Brett and I were raised. There are few better ways to accomplish this end than to share the following article by my father, Gregg Harris. Originally published in TABLETALK magazine in August of 1999, these words capture the heart of my father's approach to raising his children. Long a reformer, my father was a leading member of the home-school movement, and has more recently turned his focus to the reformation of the church. He currently serves as a teaching elder of Household of Faith Community Church. The church was planted in our family's living room in August of 1998, when Brett and I were 9 years old. Besides his study, writing, and teaching, my father still occasionally travels and speaks around the country, and is actively involved in the raising and instructing of his remaining (at home) 5 children. Serving as Brett's and my manager, advisor, and visionary, our father is our hero. Now, without further ado, I present my dad:
Priceless Treasures: My Reasons for Home Schooling
by Gregg Harris
C.S. LEWIS ONCE OBSERVED that God is not so much offended that we want too much as by the fact that we are satisfied with so little. Though He offers us the highest of adventures in our Christian life, we settle for the stale mediocrity of our lukewarm religious routines.
The parental counterpart to this idea is that most mothers and fathers actually want too little for their children - they settle for success in this world's terms. But God would have us aim higher, not like an ambitious stage mother pushing her mildly talented children into the spotlight, but like a fine jeweler making the best possible use of each bit of gold, silver, and precious stone he has. My children are priceless treasures, and I want God's highest and best for them.
What does it mean to aim high in this way? What am I really trying to accomplish in the education of my children?
Is it enough that they read well? No, not for me. I want them to commune with great authors from throughout the ages and be able to comprehend the profound ideas and truths that God has used to change the course of history. Let them be voracious readers of truly great literature.
Do I want my sons and daughters only to write and spell correctly? No, I want them to correspond with fellow enthusiasts in their chosen areas of endeavor. If they have the gifting, let them eventually author intelligent, superbly written works concerning the important issues of their day. Let them be prolific writers, whether privately or publicly
Do I want them merely to know enough history to pass a written test? No, I want them to understand the times in which they live and to be able to pass the real tests of life they will face in voting booths and on battlefields. Let them be like the sons of Issachar ("who had understanding of the times," 1 Chron. 12:32) in the unfolding dramas of future events.
But education is so much more than mere academics. It is primarily matter of character development. Self-discipline may be out of style, but it is never out of work. Do I want my children simply to be nice, well-behaved, and safe from peer pressure? Not at all! Aslan, in Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, is not a tame lion, but he is good. I prefer my children to be like that - good but not tame, men and women of integrity, not conformity. Let them be so influential and contagious in their faith that they turn the hearts of their companions toward God. Let the world grieve that its best and brightest have become Christians...
What is sin? This was the question posed by young collegian John Wesley in a letter addressed to his mother. Wesley’s goal was to get a clear, cut-and-dried formula for what comprised "sin." After all, such technical definitions are easy to get around; stretched and bent for the allowance of things that our consciences (except when mollified by sinful rationalization) could never justify.
As recently announced on 'The Dawn Patrol', our efforts to alert the media regarding Planned Parenthood's "Superhero for Choice" cartoon have resulted in an unexpected editorial in The Washington Examiner.
Apparently, the lesson to be learned [from "A Superhero for Choice"] is that abortions are OK, especially if it means less welfare payments later. The animation ends on the high note of referring to the Rev. Jerry Falwell as a "schmuck."As Dawn points out, the fact that this is a Washington, D.C., paper is particularly exciting, because it will most likely be read by those on Capitol Hill.
The video is a shameful and disrespectful take on the very sensitive issue of abortion and reproductive rights, where good, reasonable people disagree for good and reasonable reasons. By taking the low road and appealing to the lowest - and juvenile - common denominator, Planned Parenthood demeans its opponents and, even more, its supporters.
For the purpose of facilitating logical and respectful argumentation and discussion, the lovely Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol commissioned us (Brett and I) to write out the complete blog commenting guidelines. We are now pleased to present:
About the Authors: Alex & Brett Harris have competed for four years in high school speech & debate, including policy and value debate, persuasive platform speaking, limited preparation categories, and even interpretative events. Over the past two years they have combined for 5 national titles, making it into final rounds over 18 times. They have been contributing authors to several debate sourcebooks and have coached high school speech and debate clubs in Oregon, Washington, and Maryland. They currently author the blogs ‘Conscientious Contemplation’ (Alex) and 'The Rebelution’ (Brett).You Have Entered “The Comment Zone”
Step One: Remember that your opponents have come to their conclusions using more or less the same rational process you have. The difference is not necessarily their intellect, but rather the information they had at their disposal and the values they hold.
Step Two: Understand that this means your opponent feels just as confident about the accuracy of his or her position as you do about yours, and will only be persuaded otherwise if you prove that their information or values are out of line.
Step Three: Realize that successful argumentation will only take place when you make it your goal to inform and persuade, by supplying additional bits (or chunks) of information and by addressing the values behind your opponent’s conclusions.
DO feel free to disagree, even strongly, with other people, and say so!NUMBER TWO: “No ‘ad hominem’ attacks, you moron!”
DO feel free to permanently demolish opposing viewpoints. (Good luck!)
DO NOT attempt to demolish opposing “people.”
DO NOT stoop to name-calling (moron, idiot, etc.)NUMBER THREE: Eschew Obscenity & Prohibit Profanity
DO NOT imply negative monikers onto people simply because they disagree. (i.e. “Anyone who’s even slightly intelligent will believe that cows are people too.”)
DO NOT be upset when your comment is deleted for inappropriate language.NUMBER FOUR: He who asserts must prove.
DO NOT be upset when you IP address is banned for multiple offenses.
DO feel free to confirm other people’s points without providing additional support.NUMBER FIVE: Respond to the argument, not to the spelling.
DO NOT make additional arguments or publicize your disagreement with someone else’s position without providing adequate support.
DO feel free to point out significant errors that impact the validity of a claim.NUMBER SIX: Debating When Less Is More.
DO NOT point out errors solely for the purpose of embarrassing your opponent.
DO feel free to ask pertinent and probing questions about your opponent’s position.NUMBER SEVEN: Do your own research.
DO NOT expect answers for loaded questions.
DO NOT ask loaded questions.
DO feel free to make powerful and relevant arguments against your opponent’s position.
DO NOT expect answers to your 5 page tome.
DO NOT write 5 page tomes.
DO feel free to provide links to outside sources for your opponent’s consideration.NUMBER EIGHT: The fallacy of the majority.
DO NOT expect your opponent to read them unless you make them want to. (i.e. “If you go read Maxwell’s five-foot bookshelf, then you’d agree with me!” never works)
DO feel free to support your arguments with outside resources. Just make sure you summarize what the resource says. Otherwise your opponents will consider your argument unsupported until they go read/see the support. Which they most likely never will.
DO feel free to destroy dissenting opinions using respectful, logical argumentation.
DO NOT silence dissenting opinions by majority “piranha attacks.”
In Part 1 of this series, I wrote of the great elephants of India, who, although they have the physical capacity to uproot trees during the day, can be restrained all night long by a piece of twine and a twig. How is this possible?
UPDATE (3:30 PM, PST): Just got off the air with Lars for the second time today. When confronted with additional evidence, he gave me a somewhat broader explanation than what I received earlier. He said that he and his people looked into the cartoon when it first came out and called Planned Parenthood, who denied any knowledge of the film. He then admitted that the cartoon has been traced back to the Golden Gate affiliate, but that he didn't think it was that big of a deal. That struck me as odd, because earlier he said that he would definitely "take Planned Parenthood to task" if they were behind it. Unfortunately, people like Lars don't feel that such a news item is worthy of their time... Despite the fact that PPGG gets 53% of its funding from taxes and that a similar cartoon by a pro-life group would spark uproar and lawsuits. Larson is someone I respect and admire, but I am disappointed.
I just got off the phone with Lars Larson. He said he had heard about the "Superhero for Choice" cartoon, but that his understanding was that it was made by a third-party and then attributed to Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. I have no idea where he got that from. If that was true, you would expect that PPGG would have removed the snapshot image from its front page last week when the story broke and released a statement denouncing the film and explaining that someone had hacked their server. Conveniently, the snapshot image is gone now. I'm kicking myself for not taking a screenshot. If anyone did, please let me know.
The trained elephant of India is a perfect picture of the power of psychological captivity. Tamed and utilized for its enormous strength, the great beast stands nearly 10 feet tall and weighs up to 5 tons when fully grown. Its tasks may include uprooting full-grown trees, hauling great boulders, and carrying enormous loads on its shoulders. And yet, when the day’s work is done and this powerful beast must be kept from wandering off during the night, its owner simply takes a piece of twine, attaches it to a small branch embedded in the ground, and ties it around the elephant’s right hind leg. Reason dictates that the elephant can easily snap the twine or pull the twig from ground, and yet the owner does not worry, fully confident that when morning comes he will find the animal exactly where he left him. And he does.
A big thank you to everyone who responded to my post exposing Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's "A Superhero for Choice" cartoon. I was on the Lars Larson Show here in Portland on Monday, alerting Jeff Kropf (who was filling in for Lars) and Northwest listeners about the film, and I plan to call in tomorrow and talk to Lars himself. Meanwhile, be sure to alert as many people as possible about Planned Parenthood's advocation of violence against pro-lifers. The national organization still refuses to renounce (or even comment on) its affiliate's film, despite pressure from the American Life League.