Friday, January 25, 2013

Evolution of a Secular Homeschooler

See what I did there with the title?  Clever, right?

A lot of stuff has been circulating through my life this last week or so.  I’ve been a member of a local, real-life, Secular homeschooling group for almost a year now.  I’ve been a member of an online facebook Secular support group for about the same among of time.  When I first began homeschooling, everyone I met was a religious homeschooler; specifically a Christian homeschooler.  I don’t think I was even cognizant of the term Secular homeschooler.  I knew of course that public school steered clear of, or was legally required to anyway, religious instruction, curriculum, etc.  I wanted that in our homeschooling experience and so I avoided using religious curriculum.  I graduated from a religious private school and I still remember show skewed the history and science books were.  {shudder}

Other than searching for non-religious homeschooling supplies, curriculum, resources, I didn’t think there was any ‘secular’ support for homeschoolers.  Or at least, I didn’t think I’d ever meet anyone like that.  For the first part of our homeschooling year we fluttered and faltered in and around the Christian groups.  I did not like having to sign Statements of Faith.  We found one group whose SoF was their declaration of beliefs and by signing you were agreeing to not advocate against it.  I settled for that.  It was the best I could find where we live and we did meet some great people in that group – some that I’m still friends with today.  However, it ultimately didn’t work out and neither did my attempts to establish an ‘inclusive’ group.  The good thing that came from that though was finding that some secular homeschoolers who had moved to our area heard of me and that group and while many of the religious homeschoolers found me ‘distasteful’ and referred to me as a heathen or an atheist (I might qualify for the first, but not the latter), these new to the area secular homeschoolers were drawn to the ‘least religious’ thing in town and therefore…me!  It was this group of folks who formed the Secular homeschool group that I joined after leaving behind the inclusive group.

As a side note only – because while I said I had talked myself down from the ledge and so wouldn’t be ranting – can I just tell you that for all the Christians I met in the homeschooling community that were convinced I was going to hell, not one ever expressed concern for me, wanted to pray for me, etc…- they all just seemed to want to push me closer to the gate, if you know what I mean. 
Anyway, once this secular group was formed I felt FREE.  I can’t even begin to describe what it was like to be among a group of women who, while all with different personalities, political views, religious views, etc, were so accepting and welcoming.  The one thing we all have in common is that we don’t want religion put in our face every day, in every way – including homeschooling.  This group has atheists, agnostics, believers (although they freely admit other believers wouldn’t accept them as believers), pagans, and ‘other spiritual’.  We discuss all sorts of issues and ideas – educational, political, and even religious.  No one ever agrees 100%, 100% of the time with 100% of the people and yet we move along as friends.  Whether you’ve had this experience or not, if you label yourself a ‘Secularist’, you know how wonderful it is, or would be, to find this!

Once I was with a group of ladies for whom I didn’t have to walk on egg shells, I realized I felt freer to be me.  I don’t mean I wasn’t being me prior to this, I mean I felt free inside – not having to constantly be on guard.  And that made me mad.  As a society we are hit constantly with the idea that the religious, no, that’s not right – let’s be honest – the Christians, are persecuted.  (In my opinion if you want to see persecution of religion watch what happens when a Jewish homeschooler enters the community or better yet, Muslim homeschoolers move into the area – even I had to dig deeper and be open to learning and understanding something that I fully admit the media and current events had slanted my idea of in a less than positive way.)  Now, I’m sure somewhere in the world it’s true that Christians are persecuted for their beliefs, but it sure as heck hasn’t been true in the areas I’ve lived for the last 20 years; to be ANYTHING other than Christian is what brings ridicule and ostracization.  Furthermore, to be any type of Christian other than the ‘right’ type of Christian can bring ridicule as well. 

So where’s the voice for the non-believer, or ‘different’ spiritual believer?  Where’s the voice for the secularists in the homeschooling movement?  It may be out there, here and there, in small little groups like the 12 women in our local group, but where is the NATIONAL voice?  Article after article is written about homeschooling and the overwhelming majority speak to the religious homeschoolers – usually Christian, at times Jewish or Muslim.  Don’t get me wrong, I *understand* that the homeschooling movement was brought to fruition predominately, if not exclusively, by religious (Christian) homeschoolers.  I tip my hat with sincere respect for what they went through and struggled with to achieve legality of homeschooling.  However, once something is deemed a ‘right’ it isn’t just a right for one – it is a right for all.  Secularists have as much right as any others to homeschool and to have a voice and a place in the homeschooling community.
It’s time we did something about it.  I know there is dissention among secular homeschoolers.  I know they can be as rude and unwelcoming as other types.  People get hung up the strangest things and demand others be just like them.  But, it we want to be a strong, heard presence in the homeschooling world and society, we have to by-pass those smaller differences and focus on one goal.  What goal, you ask?  First, we need to clearly define what secularism is.  I propose this definition:

Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law.

Secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens. Secularism is not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non-believers alike.

Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other beliefs, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others. Secularism ensures that the right of individuals to freedom of religion is always balanced by the right to be free from religion.
Secularism is a framework for ensuring equality throughout society – in politics, education, the law and elsewhere, for believers and non-believers alike.

So, how does this work as a goal for Secular homeschoolers?  

A national organization needs to be created, of secular homeschoolers, who advance certain goals.  Let’s call the organization The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers or N.A.S.H.

The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers asserts that all homeschoolers are equal and that no religious or political affiliation should give advantages or disadvantages between homeschoolers.  Religious believers and non-religious believers have the same rights and obligations as members of society.
N.A.S.H champions human rights above discriminatory religious demands. It upholds equality laws that protect women, LGBT people, and minorities. These equality laws ensure that non-believers have the same rights as those who identify with a religious or philosophical belief.
N.A.S.H is not an atheistic organization.  Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Secularism does not seek to challenge the tenets of any particular religion or belief; neither does it seek to impose atheism on anyone. 
The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers works to:

1) Provide a national framework of structure, support, and connection for those homeschoolers who identify themselves with secular homeschooling and as a by-product create a demand for secular curriculum and other materials that cater to homeschoolers,
2) Raise awareness of homeschooling, as it exists in the Secular community, in society,  
3) Provide support and guidance for current Secular homeschoolers or those interested in Secular homeschooling. 

And because it is one of my biggest pet peeves I strongly assert that while religious homeschoolers have the right to express their beliefs publicly, so do those who oppose or question those beliefs. Religious beliefs, ideas and religious homeschooling organizations must not be granted privileged protection from the right to freedom of expression. In a democracy, all ideas and beliefs must be open to discussion. Individuals have rights, ideas do not.

I strongly believe, and will work to advance the idea that, just as it should be true in society, the homeschooling community as a whole has the greatest chance of survival and growth if it works together to create a community in which all homeschoolers, those who are religious and those who are not, exist together fairly and peacefully with equal voice and presence in the advancement of homeschooling.

And that is the evolution of this particular Secular homeschooler.

~Mari B.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Use Your Words.........Adjectives Specifically

Everyone is offended today by something or someone.  Some folks are easily offended.  Some folks seem to live for the moment when they can say, ‘I’m offended’.  Offend is a verb.  We use it as an adjective to describe our state being.  It’s gotten a bit out of control, in my opinion.   Things can be offensive, of course.  One can be offended by offensive things, true.  As a society we use this word ad nauseam.  Someone is offended by something every moment of the day, or so it seems.  The internet makes child’s play out of offending or being offended.  It’s so easy to offend someone a monkey in a derby hat can do it.

I have recently witnessed or read a few items that really seemed to bring this point home for me.  First, there was a post from an anti-gun person toward a pro-gun person that said the pro-gun person was an idiot to be in support of gun ownership and should go kill himself.  Oddly enough, it wasn’t the pro-gun person who was offended.  The anti-gun person was offended by the pro-gun person’s views and that was his final response.  Am I alone in thinking that that is taking ‘being offended’ a bit too far?  Next, there was a bit of commentary on my Inappropriate Homeschoolers facebook page telling me that my language was offensive, that I was ‘too’ inappropriate.  Third, I read an article posted by a friend, concerning a waiter who refused to serve a group of people who had made a request to be seated elsewhere and remarking to him, about another family in the restaurant, how special needs kids should be put in a special place rather than out in the crowds.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud that waiter.  But what was said in the article?  “The waiter promptly told them he was offended by their comment and refused to serve them.”

Everything is topsy-turvy, to me.  People are offended, to the degree of violence at times, by other people’s opinions and words.  The spectrum of ‘offense’ is so large now.  People are offended by something that is said or posted that is meant to be humorous and, in and of itself, causes no REAL harm.  People are offended by the insensitive, ignorant, reprehensible words and actions of others.  The word has been used to the point that it has lost real meaning, if you ask me. 

Shouldn’t we should reserve our offense for the real crimes and evils of this world.  Child molestation, child pornography, abuse and neglect, those are examples of things we as a society should find offensive.  But, what does it do to be offended?  What resolution ever really comes out of being offended?  And furthermore, by saying, “I’m offended,” “You offended me”, “That is offensive,” it makes “YOU” the center of the issue and WE shouldn’t be.  We should be making the PROBLEM, if there is one, the center of the issue.

People need to get over themselves, myself included.  Too much offends, too easily, the masses these days - cursing offends, twisted humor offends, and differing viewpoints offend.  To those that are offended by things that fall into these categories I say, get over yourself and stop running around shouting ‘I’m offended’.  If cursing offends you, DO something about it – turn off the radio, TV, internet, etc and walk away from it.  Participating in anything where you know they’ll be humor, ‘bad’ language, differing viewpoints, or sarcasm and being ‘offended’ is asinine.  People are too quick to label.  Let’s say you refer to yourself as a conservative and someone, who doesn’t share your conservative view on an issue, says something that ‘offends your conservative heart’ – automatically the come back is an insult against ‘freakin’ liberals’.  I’m so sick of seeing that!  BOTH sides do it.  And by ‘sides’ I mean whatever the topic is where two people disagree – homeschooling, parenting, politics, religion – it matters not.  And the fact is, it is true on both sides because PEOPLE are on both sides.  People can be assholes, regardless of the concepts they embrace!

So what’s the solution?  We need to learn to let a lot more ‘junk’ roll off our backs.  Someone on the internet telling you they think that guns should be banned when you are a staunch supporter of 2nd Amendment Rights does not affect your position on the issue, right?  Right.  So why would firing back all sorts of outraged drivel at what they said change their position?  It wouldn’t.  It doesn’t.  It is a waste of time and energy.  If you are a staunch supporter of this or that – take whatever appropriate actions you can to support the cause – vote, sign petitions, demonstrate even – but let the words of others that don’t actually affect you go.  Now, what if someone says something, in person – as in the case of the waiter and the family?  I propose we direct our ‘offendedness’ at the issue, not the person and instead of making it about how *I* am offend we use our words, our adjectives specifically, to describe the problem.  For example, someone makes a remark that special needs children should be ‘put in a special place’.  Look that person in the eye and say, “I want to understand you.  Are you saying that special needs children shouldn’t be allowed to dine with the general public in a restaurant?”  Wait for a response.  If the response is, “Yes, that’s what I’m saying” then one could say, “Your remarks are rude, insensitive, and very inappropriate.  I will not serve you as a result of your crass bigotry.”

There are wrongs in the world.  Bigotry, abuse, injustices exist and for those individuals that perpetuate those wrongs, we as a society, need to take a stand.  Saying, “I’m offended” doesn’t take a stand.  It doesn’t address the real problem.  There are a  plethora of adjectives we can use to describe an action, thought, idea, or attitude that do not include the word ‘offended’.  Words like rude, insensitive, inappropriate are adjectives we can use to describe someone’s actions or words.

There’s a lot more too…

abhorrent, abusive, annoying, awful, biting, closed-minded, crass, cutting, detestable, disagreeable, discourteous, distasteful, disturbing, dreadful, embarrassing, evil, foul, ghastly, grisly, gross, hideous, horrible, horrid, ignorant, impertinent, insolent, invidious, irritating, nauseating, objectionable, obnoxious, odious, off-color,  opprobrious, outrageous, repellent, reprehensible, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, rotten, rude, shocking, stinking, terrible, uncivil, unmannerly

…to name but a few!

So, for the times we can’t ‘let it go’, or shouldn’t let it go, let us use our words and take ourselves out of the equation by pointing out the real problem rather than focusing on how we are offended.  

~Mari B.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wake Up, America!!!

The fact that our President is using the military, veterans, and social security recipients as his 'hostages' in order to blackmail Congress to raise the debt ceiling is so reprehensible to me that I could literally throw up. He is the Commander-in-Chief and the fact that he, basically, said he was willing to throw his employees under the bus makes him a traitor against his own troops, in my eyes.  Should he actually prove good on his threat, that would be an act of treason, according to our Constitution, and he should be tried for it.

The fact that he talks out of both side of his mouth and is a freakin' two-faced hypocrite doesn't surprise me. It appears to be a requirement for the job of politician to be such.

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

~Senator Obama in 2006.

Now, just this week he introduces a new gun bill.  Sure - let's pass this new bill that will ONLY cost $500,000,000 (and gives nothing to law enforcement to afford enforcement of the bill) - we can afford it - we are going to just raise the debt ceiling OR not pay the military and veterans - SO NO PROBLEM!!!

There's nothing worse than the government doing something to you and you having no say or control. Our first paycheck came in after the country went off the 'fiscal cliff'. Thank YOU Mr. President and Congress. My husband not only doesn't get a DIME of his measly 1.7 military pay increase but you are also taking an additional $60 a month away from us! Just using the figures from our single-family, middle class income that equals roughly $1400 a year we do not get - but the government does.

Let's play this out to the entire 240 million middle class working Americans. You are now taking in an additional $336,000,000,000 a year in revenue. Yep, $336 BILLION. But you can't lower the debt ceiling, decrease spending, or guarantee that after February you will be able to pay the Military, Veterans, of Social Security recipients.

An 8th grader with a rudimentary civics lesson would be able to see the ludicrousness of your leadership, Congress' theft and moral bankruptcy, and the joke the USA has become by claiming to be a world leader.  The entire US government - President, VP, Congress - the whole lot of them are now officially asstwats in my book. I wish they would start coitusing themselves instead of the American people

I never thought I'd see the day when I would actually lose faith in my government. So congratulations, Mr. President and Congress. You all also accomplished that as well.

I hate to be a downer, but clearly we are well encased in our basket on our way to hell and we are too busy keeping up with the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, and all the other mindless pursuits we pursue to numb ourselves from the drudgery of our lives to clearly see the erosion, rather the decent, that is taking place. They are going to take away all our rights and control us completely. We will be a bad sci-fi novel come to life, one day.

They want our weapons - taking away our ability to protect ourselves from those who want to rule over us. They want to take away our other freedoms, including freedom of speech - and with the media's help, already have in so many ways. They want to tax us to death - and beyond.

I'm so disgusted with the United States of America - and mostly because even though it will be too late, the day will come when we look back and realize we had no one to blame but ourselves!!

There is one thing the President has said that I totally agree: "Americans deserve better." 

We should demand better. Our government caused these problems with their greed, selfish legislation, regulation, and continuing compromises that put us in a worse and worse position. They all need to be voted out, every last f*cking one of them. We need to start anew....making sure the newly elected understand we won't put up with the game being played the way it has been for the last 70 plus years!

~Mari B.


In less than six weeks my husband, Punky’s father, will be leaving us for one year to serve on a remote tour in the desert.  We are a proud Air Force military family and have been for 23 years.  A remote tour was always a possibility; he knew it and I knew it.  How we managed to ‘dodge the bullet’ as long as we did is unexplainable, really.  Nonetheless, we did and we are so close to the ‘finish line’ that I don’t think either of us thought it was a possibility any longer; or at least we thought is was only a remote possibility – see what I did there?

That remote possibility is now a literal remote and we are preparing for living a year apart.  I do not want to whine about this.  I don’t even want to sound like I’m whining about it.  It’s part of the military life and we will suck it up and get through.  But you know what, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.  I used to think about the military wives who dealt with constant long-term, or frequent, deployments frequently and feel deeply for them and their situation.  Now, I’m going to be one of them – sort of.  This is the longest deployment we’ve ever faced, it is coming at the end of his career time, and he’ll be in a ‘relatively’ safe location doing a ‘relatively’ safe job.  Other wives can’t say that and that’s why I *know* I’m not one of them in all the ways I could have been.  Still, I’m going to be a single-parent for a year and my guy, my life-mate, my rock, will be gone.

I haven’t talked about it all that much and I’ve hardly mentioned it on public forums such as my facebook or this blog, mostly because I was afraid of the emotions it might raise up in me and that I’d end up looking like a wimp.  He needs to know that we’ll be fine.  He needs to believe that I can handle whatever comes my way while he’s gone.  I know that.  Breaking down doesn’t make one weak though; laying down and giving up does.  I will not lie down and I certainly won’t give up, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t break down now and again.  And I will probably blog about it some through the coming year, hence my writing this post:  giving the background of the situation, if you will.

Punky has a very close relationship with her father.  She spends the majority of the day with me and we are very close.  But I’m the guarantee.  Daddy, who has deployed for 3 or 4 months at a time each year her whole life, isn’t.  His absence, both during deployments and just during the day while he works, is something she feels.  She loves it when he takes leave and is with us all the time.  She loves the weekends because Daddy is home.  They have their own things they do, their own relationship.  They bike ride, fish, shoot nerf guns, wrestle, play games, work in the yard, and go on ‘Daddy-Daughter’ dates to dinner and a movie.  He is the one she cuddles up with to watch a movie or TV.  My husband loves Punky more than he likes to breathe – the way all girls deserve to have their fathers love them.  Better than that, he shows it.  He spends time with her, answers her questions, pursues her interests, and just genuinely enjoys her company.  All that will be missing from her life for an entire year.

It’s an important year too, I fear.  She will be 11 ½ when he leaves and 12 ½ when he returns.  BIG changes occur during that period of a young girl’s life.  He will leave behind his still little girl and return to a young woman in many ways.  That alone breaks my freakin’ heart.  To know that the last real year of her being a young girl he will miss has tears streaming down my face.  I know my husband’s heart aches over having to leave her to grow up for a year without his daily presence.

There’s nothing more we can do more than just get through it as best we all can.  I will be missing my rock, Punky will be missing her best guy, and he will be missing the two people who mean more to him than any other people on the planet.

May the Divine Creator keep us all safe, healthy, and sane until we are reunited.

~Mari B.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Responding to the Responses.....

Responding to Responses from ‘Open Letter to Christian Homeschool Groups’

While not my most popular blog post, ‘An Open Letter to Christian Homeschool Groups’ garnered the most comments of any blog post I have written, both on the blog and on my facebook page.  The vast majority of the comments were positive or neutral.  I did however receive a few responses, a couple via private message, that are now fodder for another blog post.

1)  In defense of Christians, they homeschool because of their religion – they want to be separate from the secular world (and people) otherwise they would send their children to public school.  That is why they don’t allow non-Christians into their homeschooling groups.

I originally had a long response to this.  After careful thought however, I only have this to say:  That’s not what it means to be a Christian, as I understood it when I was a Christian; but that is the way to be a bigot.  It is one thing to avoid having your children taught evolution in public school or that there is no God.  It is an entirely different thing to avoid having your children meet, talk with, and learn to deal with people who believe differently than they (or you) do.

2)  Secular groups can be as judgmental and unwelcoming as Christian groups.

This is the harder point, because it is true and so sad.  The bottom line is that people are difficult.  Yes, all of us.  Women can be especially catty and mean – we should have been forced to play team sports in school where we would have learned that you don’t have to like a person to work with them and get the job done.

I say shame on the Secular groups who are judgmental and sanctimonious with their beliefs for they are acting just like the religious groups they bitch about.  I’ve been informed that there are secular groups who judge you based on what curriculum you use, whether you breastfed, buy organic, and all other sorts of nonsense.  Yes, nonsense.  When will we wake up and realize that we are not the brand we wear, the products we buy, or even the choices we made.  Good people can make bad choices.  More importantly good people make different choices that mine or yours and that should be fine!  Women need to get the hell over themselves.  Stop feeling so insecure and shaky inside about who you are that you need to nit-pick and judge every other woman’s choices.

We want to feel secure that our choices are the right choices.  We look outside ourselves for that security.  Meeting people who made the same choices we made makes us feel good, right, and secure.  Meeting people who made different choices than we did makes us uncomfortable, scared, and insecure.  Now whose fault is that?  It certainly isn’t the other person for making a different choice from ours.

Hating anyone for a difference is the worst thing any human being can do.  There isn’t a ‘right’ side in hate.  It is hate and hate begins with judgment.  It is our ego that is controlling our minds allowing us to build a case of ‘differences’ against another person so we can feel better about ourselves and so we can feel justified for shunning them, or worse.  So, to any secular homeschooling group that is unwelcoming of homeschoolers whose choice of how they school, what they use to school, how they dress, what they feed their children, what charities they donate to, what their political position is, etc…is different than theirs I say the same thing:  Shame on you!  We are all homeschoolers and the world our children will enter one day will be filled with DIFFERENCES.   

We all have two, and only two, choices.  Either we teach our children to work with and respect differences or teach them to be bigoted asstwats.

3)  I don’t take anything you say seriously.  *Your just an idiot with a blog.
*The grammatical error was theirs, not mine.

Yeah, uh…this one I don’t really have a response except to ask, “Why do you read my blog then?”  Of course, I suppose I could take the low ground and respond with, “And clearly you’re just an idiot with internet,” but that would be inappropriate.

~Mari B.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Open Letter to All Christian Homeschool Groups

I was reading a thread in a Secular homeschool group on facebook that was discussing how difficult it can be to find active, live, groups to participate in that are secular depending on where you live.  I can relate to that.  I’ve been homeschooling for just over 3 years now and I only found the secular group we are now a part of about 9 months ago --- when it was started.  Prior to that we were a part of an ‘Inclusive’ group that fell apart and then another group that was to be inclusive that I actually helped organize, that fell apart.  I secretly believe that ‘inclusive’ , where I live, doesn’t meant what I think it means! The majority of the participants where Christian and those that weren't never felt comfortable.  But that’s a different blog post.

On this thread that I was reading, a fellow secular homeschooler was sharing her story about how after a year….A YEAR…of participating in a home school group where religion had never come up, she received a ‘get the hell out’ letter right before Christmas.  She had been ‘found out’, I suppose.

Now, I do not know all the details, nor did I ask.  Maybe she had to sign a statement of faith upon joining and did so, just to get in, and was then found to be a ‘liar’.  Maybe she had a change of heart about her personal, religious beliefs during the course of the year and made mention of it and was then kicked out.  Maybe the group was not militant in making the particulars of its beliefs known because they never imagined someone joining who wasn’t a Christian and when they discovered that was the case they freaked the hell out.  Who knows.  It doesn’t matter.  This isn’t the first type of story like this that I’ve read or been told or better yet, experienced myself.  But this sort of non-Christian behavior by supposed Christians always ticks me off and it suddenly dawned on me, I have a blog!  I can use that to get my message out, granted to all of probably 5 of you who read it...


Here is my open letter to all Christian Homeschool Groups:

I just don’t understand why you make the choices you do.  I certainly don’t understand your treatment of non-believers.  I’m appalled at your treatment of fellow homeschoolers who don’t meet your criterion.

If you are a Christian group, with a clear ‘Statement of Beliefs’ and someone wants to join who is not of the same beliefs there are only TWO reasons why they would want to join. 

1)  They are trying to subvert your children and lead them to the devil.

2)  They are homeschoolers who need a nice, welcoming, friendly group of women and children with whom to socialize and to discuss homeschooling. 

Why is it assumed that reason #1 is factual with every person who isn’t a believer?  Why does your statement of faith have to be every members’ statement of faith?  Why isn’t it enough for a member to acknowledge that those are the beliefs of that group (or co-op) and no other beliefs expressed (or taught) are welcome?  And do you know why I wonder all this?  Because anyone who wishes to join your group, even though they don’t hold the same beliefs as you, has to be so desperate for homeschooling contacts and support that they are willing to shut their own mouths and keep their beliefs to themselves just to make those contacts and hopefully find that support!!!

If, by some chance, you have some horror story you’d like to share with me about how some evil woman, who was an atheist, I’m sure, tried to join your Christian group in order to turn all the children into godless lovers of gays – spare me.  *IF* someone joined a group for that kind of reason, it wouldn’t take long to figure it out and kick them out.  If you or your children are so shaky in what you believe and why, that one person can crumble your world with opposing views ----- or even evil rhetoric ----- you’ve got bigger problems than you realize.

At the end of the day we are all homeschoolers, be we religious or secular, traditional schooling or unschooling, we are in the category of ‘out of the box’ for our choice in how we are educating our children.  Can that and that alone not be enough to ban us together and support one another?  I say it should be enough……but alas, I must be in the minority.  Perhaps it is because I’m not a participant in the religious movement known as Christianity that I simply cannot understand why a CHRISTian group would kick out someone who had caused no problems for them, and right before the CHRISTmas holiday, no less.

Ah, but wait.  I was once a believer.  I was  (am – according to those who believe in the ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine) a ‘born-again, baptized by water and with the Holy Spirit’ card carrying, church attending, bible studying Christian.  Guess what?  The Jesus I met, whom I met the same way all Christian do, – through the ‘Word of God’ – didn’t teach us to hate the unbeliever, shun the unbeliever, or kick the unbeliever out.  He instructed us to love one another as He loves us.  He didn’t just instruct us, he commanded us!  All his lessons point to acts of charity – love.  He wanted our lights to shine from inside us and light the path for the world. 

So for the love of your God, act like the man you claim to follow.  And if you MUST be an exclusive group that allows or welcomes no one but Christians, make sure you are upfront about that- don’t’ hide behind rhetoric or the mumble jumble of a statement of beliefs.  Be honest.  Just say it, flat out – if you aren’t a Christian you are NOT welcome.  But, if you are the only homeschooling group in your community, how about thinking about doing the Christian thing and opening yourself up to ‘outsiders’.  Consider it mission work.  The church has no problem dangling food, water, clothes, shelter, etc… front of third world communities in exchange for them listening to the word of God – if a non-believer would like to make friends and get homeschooling support from your group, why not let them in?  Be a decent human being, and a loving follower of Christ.  Love them where THEY are, not where YOU are; after all isn’t that what Jesus does for us?  If he only loved us from where he is….we’d all be doomed, right?  Besides, trust me, most, if not all secular homeschoolers would rather bowl alone than join a Christian homeschool group and do you know why?  The majority of Christian groups don’t seem to understand the concepts of acceptance, brotherly love, and kindness.  How sad is that?  It’s a good thing that the Apostles didn’t have that sort of attitude, or the Word would have never spread and your religion wouldn’t exist today. 

Thank you.

The Inappropriate Homeschooler


Did that seem hostile?  Did I sound pissed?  Do I sound disgusted?  Well, I am.  I am sick and tired of Christians getting away with making people cry, treating people like shit, or even worse because THEY are Christians who are in the ‘right’ belief.  I have Catholic friends and Mormon friends who are just as uncomfortable inside these ‘Christian’ homeschooling groups because they aren’t the ‘right’ type of Christian or not consider to really be a Christian.  Sheesh!  The judging that goes on………stones cast all over the place!

I’ve forgotten more than a lot of Christians will ever have studied for themselves, of that I’m sure.  I rejected the man-made doctrines attached to the religious Christian movement.  I was kicked out of Christian groups for no longer being a Trinitarian and later, was not welcomed because my idea of what it meant to follow Jesus was not the ‘main-stream’ movement’s idea.  Hence, a secular homeschooler was born!

I don’t blog about that in order to get a flood of emails or comments from Christians who want to get into religious debates with me.  I blog about this because it is something that still lights a fire under my ass.  Christians being jerks to each other, people of different beliefs, or unbelievers.  It just isn’t Christ like and for the love of everything Holy, they should live up to the name they have claimed for themselves.

Did these folks in these groups ever stop and think about how it is the sinners that should be most welcomed?  That it is the unbelievers that they should want to shine their inner light upon?  That the only Jesus some people ever see is the one that is supposedly living inside them??  Did these folks ever stop and think about what kind of ‘testimony’ their actions and words give to the ‘unbeliever’? 

Those types of actions speak to

1) a lack of true, deep faith in their own expressed beliefs;

2) an unwilling spirit toward being used in another person’s life for God’s purpose, and

3) an arrogance that THEY can bring (or not) someone to God, rather than having faith that God takes care of his Creation and all they need to be worried about doing is……

What was it again? 

Oh right, loving one another – including the ‘supposed’ enemy.  Jesus was concerned for the spiritual condition of the unbeliever.  He had a compassionate purpose toward tending to their well being.  He demonstrated this by meeting them where they lived, feeding them, teaching them, healing them.  He never once turned his back on them because they didn’t believe.  So shame on the Christian religious movement for thinking they know better, or are better, than Jesus – the man they say is their King and Savior.

Time and again I’m brought back to Ghandi’s quote:  “I like your Christ, I don’t care very much for your Christians.”

So often, I agree.

~Mari B.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Inappropriate Humor......

Made Me Laugh!

It's inappropriate!

I posted it to my blog instead of my facebook page..............

for obvious reason.

For those that get the joke and find it're welcome! 

~Mari B.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

What I Would Do Differently

I don’t consider myself a homeschooling veteran.  We’ve only been at this gig for a little over 3 years.  We pulled Punky out of public school in October of her 2nd grade year.  We are currently in our 5th grade year.  On top of that, we still struggle to find what works and a good balance.  Truth be told every time I think we’ve found it (I’ve found it), I’m wrong.  There are a myriad of reasons why I think that is the case.  I’m not going to blog about them all though.  I’m going to focus on just one of the reasons, because I think it is the best homeschooling advice I never took.

Punky had JUST turned 8 when we pulled her from public school.  She had a horrible Kindergarten year at a private, Christian school.   

As an aside, I know it sounds weird that I had my child in a private, Christian school – me the secular homeschooler.  But the reason was this school had a half-day Kindergarten program, 9am – 12pm, and I did NOT want Punky in school all day during her Kindergarten year.  At the time I was still snowballed by the idea that she ‘had to attend’ a brick and mortar school. 

We had attended Pre-K there and she had a lovely experience and the only ‘religion’ she was exposed to was through cute little songs and stories about how God, and Jesus, loved her.  I could live with that, or so I thought.  Kindergarten was a different story and all because of the teacher she had.  This woman was a hard-core, right-wing, Bible-thumping, burn-in-hell, Born Again believer.  I won’t go into all that Punky was exposed to, and suffered as a result, expect to state two things.  First, by Christmas time I knew in my heart that I should pull her and I didn’t listen to myself.  Second, aside from the religious shit that was dumped on her (which I didn’t find out about in full until almost the end of the year – still my bad, I know), I found out, very late in the year that this teacher would make Punky and other students stand at the front of the room and say, “I didn’t finish my work, I’m not ready for the 1st grade.”  Damn, my blood still boils when I think about it!

I sent sincere pleas into the Universe that her 1st grade year at public school would undo as much damage from Kindergarten as possible.  My pleas were answered.  She had the best 1st grade teacher ever and Punky LOVED 1st grade in a way I’d never seen another child embrace school.  Every day when I picked her up from school and asked her, “What was the best part of your day?” her answer was always, “Everything!”  The relief I felt was overwhelming.   

Entering our 2nd grade year was a rough time.  My husband had deployed for a 3 month mission to the dessert and Punky’s best friend moved to Virginia.  Both these events left us sad.  Punky’s 2nd grade teacher did not have the warm, fuzzy personality that her 1st grade teacher had.  Bad news for Punky.  If Punky has one ‘heightened’ skill it is her interpersonal skills.  She reads people really well – their unspoken communication in particular.  Having a teacher who seemed to hate her job, dislike her students, and gave off negative vibes the majority of the time made Punky nervous and stressed in the classroom.  Every day, upon picking Punky up from school her answer to the “What was the best part of your day?” was “You picking me up.”

With less than 2 weeks discussion and preparation, I pulled her – while hubby was still on deployment.

I’m rambling a bit, I know.  Bear with me.

So, we woke up and we were homeschoolers!  Daddy came home and we took Punky to Disney World for her birthday.  Upon returning home, I quickly set up the spare room as a schooling room and loaded it with all the supplies I’d bought through internet and local bookstore.  As soon as that was done, Punky woke up, went and sat down in the school room, looked at me and said, “Good Morning, Teacher.”  And so we began.   

And therein lay my mistake.

I should have breathed and let it alone.  I should have put aside all my worries and fears and told Punky that we were going to do something called de-schooling for the next few months.  Then, I should have gotten out interesting and fun books to read, arts and craft projects to do together, and stockpiled the school room with games, games, and more games instead of what I had stockpiled.  After a few months of moving along like this, I would have gradually added in maybe 30 minutes of English and Math instruction time.  I would have moved at a snail’s pace.  I would have gradually introduced homeschooling to Punky in this manner, instead of the way I did:  doing school at home.

Because of the way I did precede with homeschooling though, it took Punky two years to let go of the idea of receiving grades.  It took her until near the end of 4th grade to let go of most, but not all, of her fear and anxiety over getting something wrong.  She still has not re-discovered her love of learning.  And THAT was the best homeschooling advice I never took - allowing her to get in touch with her own natural, inquisitive nature that would have her following her interests and curiosity to learn.

They say you can always begin again; sure, but back-tracking is hard.  After I had some homeschooling epiphanies and realized what I had done, I began the back-tracking process.  But Punky was now 4th grade and the shit was supposed to get serious then, right?  So, I couldn’t ‘let go’ too much, right?  Wrong.  Second mistake – which was really just the cousin of the first mistake. 

If only I had listened to the veterans of homeschooling when they gave me the advice:

1)  De-school her.  Allow her a month of de-schooling for every year she spent in Brick and Mortar.

2)  While they are lower elementary, let the learning be fun and guided by her with little formal instruction.

3)  For the upper elementary grades, introduced instructional time slowly and never for more than an hour a day.

 I didn’t trust what they said.  I didn’t trust my own heart.  I was too concerned that I would ‘ruin her’ by homeschooling her.  I was too concerned that she would drop below ‘grade level’.  I was too concerned that she would learn nothing and be an idiot.  I was too concerned.  Fear was my guide.  That’s a lousy guide.

I’m not saying that my experience would be what everyone experiences.  Each family is different and unique and requires a plan that works for them.  But, I see where I went wrong.  I see where I still hang on to, albeit less so, the propaganda of what ‘learning should look like’.  This is why we still struggle, I think.  This was my biggest homeschooling mistake and the ONE thing I would do differently, if I could go back and start again. 

~Mari B.