8/16/2007

Speaking of Education

A very disturbing article in the Brussels Journal last year. True, it's probably old news for a lot of people, but it's important nonetheless.
Paul Belien... was summoned to the police station and interrogated. He was told that the Belgian authorities are of the opinion that, as a homeschooler, he has not adequately educated his children and, hence, is neglecting his duty as a parent, which is a criminal offence. The Ministry of Education has asked the judiciary to press charges and the judiciary told the police to investigate and take down his statement.
It appears that the Belgian authorities are again considering prosecution – the second time in barely two months. This time the claim is not that my husband posted allegedly "racist" texts on this website but that he is failing his children.
My husband, a lawyer by training, and I, a former university lecturer, have homeschooled four of our five children through high school. These four have meanwhile moved on to university. Our youngest child is also being homeschooled, but she has yet to obtain her high school certificate, for which she is currently taking exams. Like her four siblings she takes these exams before the Central Examination Board (CEB), an institution run by the Ministry of Education. The Belgian Constitution, written in 1831, allows parents to homeschool. The CEB exists to enable people who have not attended or who have failed school to obtain an official high school certificate.

I just have a question for the Ministry of Education in Belgium. If a lawyer and university lecturer are not capable of educating their own kids, who is? Furthermore, if someone lectures at a university (ie: educating other people's kids), what makes them incapable of educating their own children?
Three years ago a new school bill was introduced. The new bill refers to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and it obliges homeschooling parents to fill out a questionaire and sign an official "declaration of homeschooling" in which they agree to school their children "respecting the respect [sic] for the fundamental human rights and the cultural values of the child itself and of others."
The declaration does not specify what "respecting the respect for the fundamental human rights and the cultural values of the child itself and of others" means. It states, however, that government inspectors decide about this and adds... that if the parents receive two negative reports from the inspectors they will have to send their child to an official government recognized school...
Parents who sign away their right to educate their own children are subsequently harassed and intimidated. Three families that we know have had to allow inspectors into their homes who interrogate and intimidate their children, then write a report that they are not in compliance with the minimum requirements (viz. the cultural values clause) set out in the signed document, announce that they will return for further inspection and that the children who fail to qualify will be forcibly sent to schools that are officially recognised by the government.
Nowhere, however, do these inspectors outline what they are inspecting and what criteria they apply. After a lifetime of inspecting schools with clearly defined curricula to determine whether the latter qualify for subsidies and recognition of their certificates, they are now set loose on families with no other purpose than to find fault and remove their children from their care. The families do not want subsidies or recognition of certificates, so there are no objective criteria for them to meet. Their children are questioned randomly on a variety of topics, irrespective of their own educational goals, age or curriculum. And they cannot protest the inspectors’ arbitrary verdict as they have signed away their right as citizens to appeal to a higher educational authority or to the courts.
Parents who do not sign away their right to educate their own children are regarded as not educating their children at all, and hence are guilty of a criminal offence.

Yay for freedom.
Sigh.

Education and Parenting

There is a disturbing article in the Vancouver Sun today. The Quebec Ministry of Education is threatening a Mennonite community with legal action if their children are not enrolled in the local public school. The action could be as drastic as taking children away from their families.
As though the state knows what's best for children.
"We are not trying to prevent them from living their life the way they want, but they have to obey the law when it comes to educating their kids," said Education Ministry spokesman Francois Lefebvre.

What a lie! Not trying to to prevent them from living life as they wish to.
The ministry says the community can send children to public school or open a private school, which would require permits and certified teachers.
"They would have to follow the curriculum, but religious private schools can add specific classes dedicated to their faith," Lefebvre said.

This is where secular individuals display their profound lack of understanding about the life of the devoutly religious. It's not about one class. It's not about one service on Sunday. It's about an entire way of life.
The Ministry's move is profoundly disturbing on several levels. There is simply no respect for the community as a whole. There is no consideration for the individual families. There is no thought for the parent and any concern for the well-being of these children is feigned at best. The Ministry does not care about the citizens of this community; it cares about its agenda and the furtherance of its own ideas.
The responsibility for educating a child lies with the parent first and the state second. The state may only interfere if there is either no parent or the child is demonstrably not being educated. Such is not the case in this instance. In fact it is possible, even likely, that the children of this Mennonite community are better educated than those attending the local state-run school.
I would be interested to know what the position of the Quebec Ministry of Education is on homeschooling. If anyone has any information, please send it my way.

8/14/2007

The Museum of Idolatry

My husband showed me this website today. A Little Leaven is a blog dedicated to pointing out what happens when churches fail to preach the Word of God. That is, it points out churches and businesses that have gone catastrophically awry.
And I really do mean catastrophically.
I don't know what is worse: the J3sus watches declaring Jesus is wealth or Temple 420, where they boldly declare that they "know Jesus smokes weed."
Because really, weed grows in Heaven.

There Is No Global Warming

There was an interesting article in National Post yesterday. I seem to recall saying I don't believe in global warming (for which I was called a child abuser).
In his enviro-propaganda flick, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore claims nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the last decade. That's been a common refrain for environmentalists, too, and one of the centrepieces of global warming hysteria: It's been really hot lately -- abnormally hot -- so we all need to be afraid, very afraid. The trouble is, it's no longer true.

No longer true? Say it ain't so.
Last week, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- whose temperature records are a key component of the global-warming claim (and whose director, James Hansen, is a sort of godfather of global-warming alarmism) -- quietly corrected an error in its data set that had made recent temperatures seem warmer than they really were...
To NASA's credit, when McIntyre pointed out their temperature errors they quickly made corrections...
Still, the pro-warmers who dominate the Goddard Institute almost certainly recognized the impacts these changes would have on the global-warming debate, because they made no formal announcement of their recalculations.
In many cases, the changes are statistically minor, but their potential impact on the rhetoric surrounding global warming is huge.
The hottest year since 1880 becomes 1934 instead of 1998, which is now just second; 1921 is third.
Four of the 10 hottest years were in the 1930s, only three in the past decade. Claiming that man-made carbon dioxide has caused the natural disasters of recent years makes as much sense as claiming fossil-fuel burning caused the Great Depression.
The 15 hottest years since 1880 are spread over seven decades. Eight occurred before atmospheric carbon dioxide began its recent rise; seven occurred afterwards.
In other words, there is no discernible trend, no obvious warming of late.

Read 'em and weep folks.
No obvious warming of late.
Of course, the current NASA changes are only for data collected in the United States. But available surface temperature readings cover only half the planet even today. Before the Second World War, they covered less than a quarter. So U.S. readings for a period that goes as far back as 1880 are among the most reliable there are.

And yet, somehow how readings for only half the planet were enough to predict its certain demise.
Sigh.
Some people never learn.
Hysterical, politically charged rhetoric has no place in academic research. If you want to show the earth is heating up, get your numbers right and present a solid case backed by empirical evidence. Otherwise, I will remain a skeptic.

8/13/2007

What Ruth Needs (According to Google)

For a laugh, type your name into Google with the word needs after it. Discover what you need. Apparently, my top ten needs are:

10. Ruth needs to be evaluated within the wider sociological and economic context (Yes. Please evaluate me within a wider context. Especially if you are coming here to trash my blog.)
9. Ruth needs to photograph things or use her own "clip art" collection. (Not I.)
8 RUTH NEEDS MONEY! (This is actually true.)
7. Ruth needs to seek a different profession because she just doesn't have that hunger. (What do you recommend, oh wise Google? A chef?)
6. Ruth needs help with typing, filing, answering phones, copying, and other administrative tasks. (No. Ruth needs help changing diapers, feeding her family and generally keeping on top of her housework.)
5. Ruth needs a good prodding now and again. (That may well be. I am sometimes late.)
4. Ruth needs to be cleaned. (I could use a shower, it's true.)
3. Ruth needs a husband. (Nope. I've got one, thanx.)
2. Ruth needs hugs. (Maybe. it depends on who is doing the hugging.)

Number 1 was the best. "Perhaps it was a reminder that God's power is what Ruth needs to heed, not man's shallow disdain, as Mr. Benson taught her." No clue who Mr. Benson is, but heeding God's power? Totally on the money. Good for Google.

8/08/2007

Metanoia

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
--Romans 6:1.2

As a teenager and young adult, I used to wonder why ministers would preach on gross sins. After all, I thought, Christians don't commit those sins. We obey God and live holy lives. We don't live according to the flesh. We don't slander, sleep around or do drugs. We walk according to the Spirit and produce spiritual fruits.
It has been quite some time since I thought this way. All I can say now of my former self is wow, what an idiot.
Christians do, in fact, commit those sins. Upstanding, Bible-believing, moral and God-fearing Christian churches deal with such grievous sins as infidelity, homosexuality, fornication, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, abuse and a host of others. In fact, the individuals caught in these sins are sometimes individuals who are otherwise upstanding, Bible-believing, moral and God-fearing Christians. For all intents and purposes, their lives are the perfect example of what a Christian walk should be.
It's just that they tried something one time...
Or they were having this problem and...
Or they met somebody and one thing led to another and before you know it...
When such gross sins are discovered, as they inevitably are, the damage can be quite profound. Christian families find themselves desperately clinging to the promises of God for the salvation of a loved one, lest they perish. The errant individual is faced with two choices: they can either turn, repent and attempt to heal the wounds they have caused or they can attempt to hold onto their sin. Such attempts invariably tend to exacerbate an already bad situation.
Only recently, I accidentally happened upon an unfortunate "Christian" movement growing in the US. The Free Grace Movement teaches that repentance is not necessary for salvation. Indeed, as is outlined in this excellent critique, the Free Grace Movement attempts to teach that it is not necessary for Christians to obey God at all. Spiritual fruits are not required and neither is an open confession of faith. Belief in Christ only requires an intellectual assent to His existence and the fact that He can save you from the ultimate consequences of sin, that is hell. It does not require an understanding of the cross, neither does it require an acknowledgment of His Lordship.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As Christians, we are not permitted to walk in continual, deliberate disobedience to God and His Will. When we fall, and all of us do, we must repent. Repentance does not mean to intellectually acknowledge some abstract imperfection in our spiritual person. Repentance, that is metanoia, literally means to change our minds, to change our thinking. As Paul explains in Romans, it is "being transformed, by the renewing of [the] mind." Repentance is work. It is an active process, not a passive one. The desire for it is wrought in us by God through His Holy Spirit. Without His help, our attempts at repentance can never reach beyond a sad grappling at air. This is why in the Psalms, David implores the Lord to "create in [him] a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within [him]."
In practical terms, the repentant individual will not only ask forgiveness of God and those whom they have sinned against, but they will also takes steps to avoid re-offending. Unfortunately, the larger the sin, the more complicated the repentance process can be. It is true that all sin is equally heinous before God. However, it is not true that all sin can be dealt with in the same way here on earth. Whereas an argument can be resolved with an apology and a hug, a drug or sexual addiction cannot. Rehabilitation and long-term counseling is usually required. Accountability partners may or may not be required depending on the situation.
Sometimes, forgiveness is also work. It also requires some level of metanoia, the changing of one's mind. Forgiveness may not be as simple as merely saying the words "I forgive you." To be sure, that is part of it. However, if the sin committed was particularly destructive, the wronged individual will likely find that they have to struggle in order to truly forgive. Counseling or some other form of assistance may be needed in order to effectively deal with fearful, bitter or distrustful thoughts, not to mention the memories of the sin itself. These thoughts often appear at the most inopportune times, and thus the trials faced by the forgiver are at least as difficult as those faced by the one who committed the sin.
Should an errant individual desire forgiveness, no Christian would argue that it ever be withheld. The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 is the most well-known illustration of this fact. No matter how great the sin committed against us, all of us have wronged God far more. When forgiveness is sought, it must joyfully be given. In some individuals however, true repentance appears suspect. The one who has been asked to forgive may feel as though the desire for forgiveness is not genuine. This is especially true when the sin has involved some degree of dishonesty. Trust has been broken. How can we be sure that the errant individual is now genuine? In point of fact, the only way to be sure of someone's repentance is to watch for spiritual fruits. However, it is critical to note that we may not wait for fruits to appear before we grant forgiveness. There is no bar we can set, no standard we may hold for another in order to grant them our forgiveness. The Bible gives us no such leeway: we are admonished to forgive. Anything less puts us in the position of the unforgiving servant. If the individual falls again then, as Jesus instructed Peter, we must forgive seventy times seven. Again, this will be particularly difficult if the sin involves some level of deceit or honesty. Without the help of God, it is an impossible task.
There will always be consequences to sin. Even the most perfect repentance and forgiveness cannot bring back the victim of a murder. It cannot undo the pain of infidelity. It cannot retract the damage of a gross slander. Any sin that is addictive in nature is one that will have to be fought every day of the repentant individual's life. The battle is not an easy one, as a large dose of guilt will often plague us. We all find ourselves agreeing with Paul when he writes "Who will save me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24)
But, Paul does continue that thought. "Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25)

Good Girl Rebels

There's an excellent article in the National Post today by Barbara Kay. There isn't much to be said except that I totally agree with it. I hope more girls and women can take this message to heart. Promiscuity is not a badge of honour to be flaunted, but a mark of shame.

Rebelling against a culture of porn
Barbara Kay, National Post
Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Which is the greater oppression -- sexual virtue imposed by the patriarchy, or sexual libertinism imposed by the matriarchy?
They call it empowerment, but in fact the decade-long vogue for "girls gone wild" -- "bad" as the new sexual "good"-- is just another form of cultural tyranny. Except now the oppressors are post-morality theorists and "desperate housewife" moms urging public "hotness," rather than stern, moralistic fathers suppressing it.
Today, the sexualization of girls begins in infancy with 12-month sized rompers announcing, "I'm too sexy for my diaper." At age four, it's The Bratz Babyz, singing "You've gotta look hotter than hot! Show what you've got!" At six it's a pouty, scantily dressed My Scene Bling Bling Barbie draped in diamonds. By 12, it's Ludacris singing ( Ruff sex): "make it hurt in the garden." Fully brainwashed by 13, lap dancer is by then considered a more desirable profession than teacher, as one British survey of 1,000 teenage girls found to be the case by a 7-1 ratio.
We've all seen countless variations on the theme, but these particular examples came from Torontonian Wendy Shalit's new book, Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good.
Shalit's 1999 book, A Return to Modesty, acknowledged feminism's legitimate triumphs, but deplored its obsession with girls' right (turned obligation) to boundaryless sexual exploration. She identifies the pressure on girls to experience early, frequent and emotionally detached sex as the primary cause of cynicism in both sexes, resulting in a systematic atrophy both of appetite for deep love and aptitude for long-term attachment. Shalit holds that voluntary sexual modesty throughout adolescence with a view to eventual loving monogamy more accurately dovetails with women's basic nature, and therefore results in their greatest emotional fulfillment. A solid researcher, citing wide-ranging statistical, professional and anecdotal testimony, Shalit builds a persuasive case for promiscuity's harsher toll on women than men.
Radical feminists despise this precocious, politically incorrect "modestynik" who herself remained cheerfully chaste until marriage. For her apostasy against the "bad is good" orthodoxy, Playboy scornfully dubbed her "A Man's Worst Nightmare," and The New York Observer caricatured her as an SS officer. Shalit has even received death threats simply "because being a romantic is nowadays an unpardonable sin."
Girls Gone Mild throws into detailed, sickening relief the actual content the average girl in North America is subjected to from birth onwards in the determination to make her "bad." By their early teens, girls' resistance to bad-girl brainwashing is ground down and they are ill-equipped to resist the paradigm of sexual largesse promoted by educational and celebrity authority figures. Last year, actress Sharon Stone, offering characteristically voguish "advice" to young teens, suggested, "If you're in a situation where you cannot get out of sex, offer a blow job." Cannot? Why not just say "no"? Ah, but that would make her appear "good," the one forbidden sexual choice.
Shalit offers quite hopeful evidence, through personal testimonies of the 100 girls she interviewed and examples from thousands of e-mails to her Web site, www.ModestyZone.net,that a -- well, modest -- but real counter-revolution is under way amongst young women and girls. She adduces the cases of sexually disciplined daughters rebelling against permissive mothers (notably Molly Jong-Fast, daughter of famously promiscuous, four-times-married novelist Erica Jong,) and the spontaneous 2005 "girlcotters" who challenged Abercrombie & Fitch on their degrading T-shirts (such as "Who needs brains when you have these?") and succeeded in having them withdrawn from inventory. In Canada, a similar phenomenon is taking shape with TRENDS: Teens Reacting Effectively 'NDiscovering Style. Conceived by four Toronto teenage girls in 2004 who were fed up with the unremitting sexualization of girls in the media and the fashion world, TRENDS is now active in six Canadian cities. These girls understand that the medium -- clothes -- are the sexual message. Girls are lured to TRENDS by the promise of involvement in fashion shows, but they stay for the group validation of sexual virtue. Canadian girls who are sick of "bad girl" culture should check it out (www.trendsfashion.ca). The girls in TRENDS and the "girlcotters" Shalit describes as bellwethers in the pendulum swing back to a more natural restraint aren't sexually modest to please the patriarchy or the matriarchy, but to please themselves. Free will choosing principled modesty because it confers self-esteem? Now that's true sexual liberation.

8/03/2007

Free Dominion

Initial post on Free Dominion
Follow up
Latest News
The complaint against Free Dominion has been dropped. It doesn't surprise me at all that nothing came of the complaint. It was just a whole lot of hoo-haw over nothing.

As you were.
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