Being Left Alone

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Christen Mitchell points out a fascinating article from a few years ago in the New York Times Magazine on an evangelical home-schooled family. In the article, A Mighty Fortress, there is an amusing attempt by the author to take a condescending attitude toward these dedicated parents. But, to my ear, the critiques sound pretty weak after hearing about the polite children, the family’s charitable work and the parents’ disciplined approach to teaching their children to love each other and love others. Some excerpts:We have arrived, it seems, at a moment in our history when the most vigorous and coherent counterculture around is the one constructed by conservative Christians.

…much of what Roszak said of the 60′s counterculture could be said of them too. It’s true that the “patterns” and “mores” they have discovered are not so much new ones as reinvigorated traditional ones. Parent-sanctioned courtship, the merging of school and home, the rejection of peer-group segregation, the moral value of thrift — all are ideas that, in the United States, last held real sway in the 19th century. But the impatience that people like the Scheibners display with acquisition, their unflagging commitment to putting the group — in their case, the family — above individual ambition, their rejection of pop culture, their characterization of themselves as, in Steve’s words, “people who question absolutely everything,” make them radical in ways that would be recognizable to some 60′s counterculturists too.

The political issue the Scheibners say they care most about is being left alone to home-school… [emphasis mine]

America has a long history of separatist movements, and within that history, there are, to put it bluntly, the bad separatists and the good ones. In the former category are the stockpilers of guns, the people who don’t pay taxes or vaccinate their children — people who lack any sense of their duty as citizens. [Hmmm. Sounds like the generation of 1776 to me!]

12:19 pm on April 2, 2004
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