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Divorce for selfish reasons

Thursday, 28. July 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Love is most fully defined/expressed when it gives the beloved the freedom to even not reciprocate, yet continues to love afresh and lavishly in the private set of the soul. That is the kind of love Christ modeled for us. He gives us enough rope to hang ourselves—and He never jerks on the cord. The marvel of the story of the prodigal son in the Gospels is that after the father has given the son everything, the father waits. He waits for the son’s own thirst to develop. He says nothing; he sends no messages; he doesn’t shed his own flashlight upon the path. The son himself rises up—in the counsels of his own heart. And when the son loves, the father then can do no wrong (in the son’s view of things).

A spouse who drops his marriage for selfish reasons vainly imagines that he dances with high thought, when actually he is staggering through low delusion. What such a person doesn’t reckon with is that while he lives in a fantasy reality, the actual reality doesn’t go away. Real reality sits there in his world like concrete, and he will repeatedly turn and stub his toe upon it. Until and unless he bends, he banks on there being no relational fallout as a consequence of any of his actions or his thought life. He counts on still receiving the same kind of affection from his children (in the world of reality), the honor of his parents, etc. He will be the last to know that real esteem for him has gone south.

What such a person doesn’t see is that he has exchanged private personal integrity for the hollow praise of an eventually fickle public. Instead of a quest for personal identity, he will wake up to relational failure. He simply has no idea what relational “work” is all about. Rather, he wants to skim relationships—like skipping rocks. Doing so, he will discover that he will do that even with new relationships. He doesn’t know it in the early phases of this dissolution of his key relationships, but he has embarked upon a sea of ever-shifting relational expectations with everyone he interfaces with (both old and new) from there on out. He will thenceforth encounter no satisfactory relationships anywhere. Oddly, he desperately wants the other person to have enduring relational character (most especially, his children in their regard for him) while he possesses none toward them. He will restlessly dump new “better” relationships as easily as he dumped the old ones. Such a person has thus entered a cauldron of relational dissatisfaction.

A spouse who willfully spurns his marital commitment is like a young child trying desperately to cram a square block into a round hole. Outside of the Lord he is doomed to furtively dart from one fantasy to another—and they will never deliver what he hopes for.

What is the lesson? Life is all about expectations. “If you expect it to be a five-star hotel it is awful, but if you were only expecting a reformatory it isn’t half bad” (loosely paraphrased from C. S. Lewis).
Life is fixed and designed, not for temporary and fleeting assorted happinesses but for sanctification—for us to grow in love of God and in trust in His big plan through it all.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The key to marital bliss: KNOW your spouse

Thursday, 09. June 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Marriage is an adventure in adjustment.

Loosely paraphrased, C. S. Lewis profoundly commented about life (not just marriage) with something on the order of: “the chance to live life well is all about expectations; if you are anticipating life to be a 5-star-hotel you’ll be disappointed, but if you thought, on the other hand, that life was going to be a reformatory, it isn’t half bad!”

The same is true of marriage. If you think you are going to ride off into the sunset in the arms of more of “me” then you’ll soon falter on your ride. If, on the other hand, you think you’ll need to “learn” your spouse in depth and then grow in your ability to adapt to him/her, the potential for your ride into the sunset will be sure-footed, long and surprisingly fulfilling.

Remember that the person you marry, no matter what kind of a saint, or Who’s Who he or she is, comes with 200,000 hours of pre-programming that is quantumly different from your own, and was, in fact, hardwired with a given personality, desires and habits that are just as entrenched as your own. It is a great adventure, which yields personal growth in direct proportion to what you put into it—just like with all things that are “hard won”.

1 Peter 3:7 in the KJV version says: “Husbands, dwell with your wife according to knowledge” (of her specifically; the inference here is that every wife is different, so work at gaining a knowledge of how YOURS is! ) The spiritual inference is that the wife will need to gain knowledge of how her husband “works”, “clicks”, “IS”, as well. This dynamic, is, in fact, true for every relationship, that we must learn one another—and love accordingly.

To listen to more on this topic, listen to today’s 2-part broadcast with author Dr. Gary Chapman on Focus on the Family.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Boys and girls and sex

Thursday, 02. June 2016 by Renee Ellison

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It is no wonder that we are now placing our young girls in combat in the military, as they have been “fighting” our own young men for years now. Where? In sex. Our culture’s young girls (younger, and younger, by the way) have been let loose amidst a pack of lusty, physically uncontrollable boys, with no protection from their fathers and no moral restraints from their boyfriends.

Our society’s abandoned daughters want to belong; they want to have a boyfriend who “loves” only them; they want to be approved, since, for the great majority of them, it didn’t happen at home, so they swiftly learn that they gain it all by giving in to a boy’s coercion. One seldom hears of a girl pressuring a guy for sex. Initially, unmarried girls largely have sex against their will in order to “belong”. They may try to raise feeble, confused objections but are overwhelmed by the steady aggressions of a guy.

Let’s face it: many men today, whether young and old, are not on the side of guiding, protecting and honoring our females, sexually. Yet we blame our girls for getting into “fixes” or embarrassingly showing up at school pregnant. They are “bad girls” but the boys acquire no corresponding stigma. No restraint was expected. They used any means and any narrative possible to coerce and to accomplish date rape.

In today’s world, all restraints are off from our boys; they are simply not the gentlemen adolescent boys used to be. Instead of logging in years of skill development and accomplishments in their young emerging years (corralling that physical urge into productive ends) today’s boys have used their youth to feed upon lust in their bedrooms via video games and pornography.

Our girls are not blameless, but they do tend to be brainwashed. At the same time our girls have been feeding upon magazines (their editors hell-bent on brainwashing our frail young girls to let go), packed with ways to make themselves physically alluring. Young girls emerge from these browsings, thoroughly exposed in how to deck themselves out with the clothing of prostitutes, believing it to be the norm.

Just like we used to protect our unborn babies (now we sell their body parts), we used to protect our girls, too, not only from romance novels but from non-domestic geography. The entire Victorian Era was set up to protect its young (all of them in every age, immature), girls. Boys met them in the parlor of their father’s home and conducted their discourse there.

Currently, on the other hand, teenage sex takes place outside of a home that has parents in it. Both parents are working. Gone. Not only is there no parlor, the young are strolling the school parking lots, the streets and malls and alleys, and there is no protective father anywhere within sight. (Traditionally, fathers have understood the wiring of their sons and have taught them how to bridle it in heroic work—and fathers have understood the wiring of their daughters, that they needed fatherly protection until marriage). Now, however, girls are there for the grabbing, after school, in parks, in the backseats of cars, at parties where parents AREN’T—and most of all in co-ed dorms where there is 24/7 availability and anonymity.

Without a father’s protection, young girls are thrown into confusion, and are in danger of coercion by sexually aggressive boys. Why? Because their anatomy was built that way. Forgetting this, we charge our young girls with pregnancy and guilt. It is all your fault that you got in trouble—while the boy rushes out and lays the next girl. The boys drop off the girls they have laid, at the abortion clinics, too, and speed off to go watch football while she has it “done”.

What is the difficulty here? Why the suggestion that we lay more charge at the feet of our culture’s males, both fathers and boyfriends, young and old? Because our girls’ anatomy and psyche were not designed for combat, or to resist. Consider how in marriage, a young woman was created to respond to her husband’s sexual initiations and desires, by yielding to them. This is how the human race propagates itself through the creation of families. When she is hugged, her control goes out the window, on purpose. She was designed by God (even in her anatomy) to be a responder. To let go. So when you put that psyche and that anatomy amidst a herd of unbridled boys you are going to have skyrocketing fornication statistics. The numbers are currently appalling. Decades ago, high school fornication was at 25%, then it grew to 50%, now it revs at 85% (with no apparent difference between Christians and non-Christian youth). The governor is OFF—there is no restraint going on here. The damage (in STD’s and in children born out of wedlock into lifelong poverty and shame for the start of the next generation) in every direction is incalculable.

Fathers, come weep at this. Come home. Wake up. Sparta, Athens and Rome were initially all built up by controlled, directed men. They correspondingly all later fell when the men became obsessed with self-indulgence. We are there again—like dogs without leashes.

Steps for conquering sorting old family photos without feeling overwhelmed

Tuesday, 24. May 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Do you have boxes of old family photos that seem overwhelming for you or your aged family members to sort and identify? So it was for my mom, too—until we came up with a system for overcoming the overwhelmed feeling and plowing through the project to completion. These are the steps that worked for us.

# 1: I largely did the bulk of it for my elderly mom, and away from her, so she didn’t have to feel overwhelmed, even for one minute. I only asked her about two kinds of pictures:

1) about persons I couldn’t identify. If she couldn’t remember or didn’t know, we pitched those (figuring that if they weren’t meaningful to her, they wouldn’t be meaningful at all to her progeny). If she did recognize them and they were significant to the family tree, I wrote some brief identifications in pencil on the back of them.

2) about some select keystone pictures of her own childhood, so she could amplify the events and feelings around those pics. Mom enjoyed this part immensely. I only showed her a few of these pictures a day, so it didn’t feel rushed.

#2: I removed all of the photoprints from the old albums, because those old albums take up enormous space, the pages turn brittle, and the covers break off. I had to pull some of the photos out of decaying sleeves with a pair of small needle nosed pliers (this worked great, and was fast). I set all of them in shoe boxes; they condensed wonderfully down to manageable size. We went from large, heavy boxes of chaos down to super-organized little boxes, all neatly labeled and organized, that could be stored on a shelf in anyone’s hall closet.

#3: I threw out all pictures that were of only scenery or wild animals, or were far-away shots or cloudy and unclear and underexposed shots, or unfavorable shots of a person—a photo the person would feel embarrassed about or unflattered for posterity to see. Not all pictures taken are worth keeping; just because they exist doesn’t mean they have to remain existing and use up people’s time viewing them, down the road, in future generations.

#4: Next I went to a high-end shoe store and asked for as many shoe boxes as he would give me—boxes with removable lids on them—and sorted the pictures into those boxes by person. All pictures with only one person in them went in these boxes—each box labeled with only one person’s name on the outside, in huge print. All group pictures went into that particular family’s box.

#5: After all of the pictures were sorted I then arranged the contents of each box, further grouping those pictures by event or time period—filing them in the box by grouping events or time together—and then stuck 3x5 cards tall-ways with little titles on them stating what that section of pictures was about. The viewer then pulls just that section of loose pictures out of the box to view them, and then puts them right back in the box, under that section’s title.

#6: Mailed pictures (or full picture boxes) to each individual who would treasure them. (An option would have been to take a quick photo via cell phone, to email someone who could then reply if they wanted to have the originals.)

#7: I distributed the grandparent and great grandparent pictures to their descendants as evenly as I could, so each person had “roots” pictures. smile

#8: I collapsed—and rejoiced that it was done for all time and that the job was so meaningful.

For more on this topic, order our guide for preserving your family papers and photos.

Filed Under: Home management tips

A mere man makes a poor god

Tuesday, 10. May 2016 by Renee Ellison

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[Some of what we teach—and learn—in homeschooling is a lifetime lesson. This is one of them—perhaps the most important that we can start to teach our children when they are still growing into manhood and womanhood:]

To figure out the grand mystery of life there are only two starting points. One must either defer to an external and eternal God or throw out the one true God and make a god, internally, of oneself. Descarte’s statement “I think therefore I AM,” showed that he preferred himself as a god. And many have followed him, plunging themselves into an insupportable dichotomy, as we shall see.

If one chooses to throw out the external God, replacing Him with oneself, instead of emerging emancipated from all responsibility, as he had anticipated, he now is immediately faced with the heavy burden of re-writing origins and realities. Everything is up for grabs. All boundaries slush around; all realities must be dredged up from the face of the deep. For such a man, the earth is again “without form and void.” Re-writes become his new raison d’etre—and eventually his prison.

Am I a man or a woman? Am I black or white—merely by my own assertions? Are laws, laws? or suggestions? or are they just obstacles in my way? Can I only be married to one person? Seriously? I’ll have them all, even if they fight and scratch each other. Do words mean what they have meant historically or are they malleable in the eyes of the beholder, meaning whatever I want them to mean, in this case, and something different in the next case—according to my own advantage? Such a person’s swim is a deep dive into an abyss. Assuredly, he will face rapids and whirlpools.

The descent into his overwhelming burden does not stop there. A man will be faced with rewriting reality, not only allegedly to somehow make sense of things to himself, but also to authenticate an indulgence or two (his own, ever shifting and ever more) or to assuage a guilt (a mincing deviance from the old order, which lingers with him still, and then a larger one here and there—as he gets pulled further and further from his actual roots).

Bewilderingly, he soon finds that his re-written realities—oops, grown at cross purposes—have implications that he hadn’t anticipated, can’t reconcile and won’t work in the real world that he was born into. His new world will eventually surround him with insanity; it is bound to run amuck.

Even then, his burden doesn’t stop. He will now chase around after an exploration of his own angst for the rest of his life. Without absolute answers, absolute realities, life has become an exploration of personal angst. That is the “heroic” new narrative. It is, however, only another tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”—claiming to be the ultimate reason for life, for winning a place on the bestsellers page, putting pen to paper in a new sophistication—it is nothing. “I’m contorted; where do I run?”

This new modern perspective, “I am because I am,” flatters the individual into thinking his struggle is uniquethink our struggle is unique, unusual, individual, highly intellectual—aristocratic—needs my own solutions to relieve my own pain—needs new discourse. But as in the case of a man torn in the dilemma of choosing between his career and raising his own children—if someone were to wake him up, he embarrassingly discovers it is every man’s dilemma and it is never an “either-or”. This “either/or” dichotomy is a trap—a mirage.

The answer is to put God back into His story and then go humbly ahead with Him as one’s escort into all human dilemmas (of which the dilemma before him now, that seems insurmountable, and is all consuming, is merely the beginning). God designed life with its apparent dilemmas, a myriad of them. And the Almighty has a passage through them. But God will be God, first. A mere man will eventually discover that he makes a poor god—by his own self-made contortions.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Are God’s ways narrow but our culture’s ways broad?

Friday, 06. May 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Strange as it is to our natural mind, when studying the holy scriptures we begin to notice that God not only provided redemption for His people, He also apparently designed a rhythm and a lifestyle for us.

Upon close examination of the scriptures, we uncover that God designed the year to hang upon an agricultural calendar. He invited His people into periodic stoppings and musings, rejoicings and feastings. He also arranged for and intended that His followers would look UP at least once every month (and not just at one phase in history but for all time) to remember the miraculous hanging of the moon (see Isaiah 66:22-23). Viewing the moon, the closest object in the firmament, is a representative glance into the heavens. Why? Because by remembering the cycle of agriculture (that the Almighty brings forth life from the earth—yes, from mere dead dirt—and hangs celestial heavens above us; we look down AND up) we find ourselves worshiping.

Such a design for our year’s celebrations! He keeps us “on the press” of cultivating an expanding awe. By continually “looking”, throughout the year, we discover that there is a depth of mystery embedded in what we are encouraged to look at. From mere agricultural glances we are led eventually to the profundity that “the earth will [also] give birth to her dead!” (Isaiah 26:19). Aha! Our experience of agriculture is an object lesson, a look at a precursor and microcosm of what happens to redeemed humans! They get resurrected, after a perplexing and long time of itching and churning in the dark, dank earth. Further, by contemplating the moon we gradually come to realize that we ourselves will live with a “limitless Him” in a large universe—will inherit the firmament AND the earth—will traverse there, and here, in another realm that is beyond time.

Without such frequent reminders to partake of earthly and heavenly gazes, we descend into a narrow materialism. Make no mistake, the pagan who kicks God out of His story does not sit in neutral. The vacuum is quickly filled with trivia. He (in partnership with Hallmark cards), immediately and hastily designs another kind of year, a materialistic counterfeit year, to absorb us. We leap from Halloween to Groundhog Day, soon followed by Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, and then to an Easter Bunny Easter, while also filling our calendars with competing and exhausting birthday rituals, concluding each “year” with a tinseled, frenetic and vain Christmas, to ...etc… We exchange looking downward and upward at the miraculous, for looking inward at an “endless shallow me-ism.”

The seven Biblical feast days (initially spoken of in Leviticus 23, but seen continually throughout scripture) perhaps come for a reason, from “the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful… whose wisdom is magnificent!” (Isaiah 28:29).

[To read about the Biblical holidays, download our free e-book: Jewish [Biblical] Holidays Made Simple.]

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Hidden beauty

Tuesday, 03. May 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Most women—including the gorgeous ones!—wish they were more physically beautiful than they are. It seems to be a universal anxiety for nearly all women. That feeling is not helped by having to see photoshopped and airbrushed pictures of physically perfect women in magazines, or by daily viewing news anchorwomen who have whole teams of people “work on them” before they come on the air. One news-anchorwoman when doing a tour through the TV studio said to her guest: “See this room over here? This is where they turn a sow’s ear into a raging beauty!”

Let’s look at this from a spiritual point of view. How come we all didn’t come out of the birth canal flaming beauties? What might be going on here if we look at the whole phenomenon with a little larger perspective?

The scriptures tell us about our maker/redeemer that He had no handsomeness/beauty, no natural physical draw when He himself visited earth. Hmmmm—Almighty God limited His own physical physique on purpose?

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him…” (i.e., on that basis) (Isaiah 53:2).

Could it be that in this choice, He was making sure that there were no distractions to work through to get to the core of who He really was? It seems that the Father did it with deliberateness in crafting the Messiah, via His incarnation and He then apparently additionally allowed it in the great majority of us, no doubt, for the benefit of other gains to our souls, while on earth, and to His kingdom body, as a whole.

Apparently this is not the TIME of glorification, (‘tis reserved for a future chapter) but rather of humility! This is the donkey chapter; the white steed in us comes later. The whole creation waits “to see the sons of God [blindingly and spectacularly] revealed!” (Romans 8:19). This is the “covered glory” chapter; the UN-covering (the slight tweak of the cheek and nose moved into perfection, the tweak of the character into holiness), shall assuredly yet BE! “Those who look to Him are radiant” (Psalm 34:5) “And those who wait for Him will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 49:23; also see Romans 9:33).

My mother used to tell me, regarding any personal shortcoming: “Remember, people care more about their own headache than if you die!” I’ve noted through the years that exceptional personal beauty (and it is the exception) is important only in the initial ten second introduction of people and even then it is quickly eclipsed in all persons, as the personhood behind the edifice immediately pumps forth. People are first and last drawn to the emanation of love, alone. Many a man (in relationship to a woman) has sadly found out that his enjoyment of a beautiful face turned south after an experience or two with the not-so-beautiful self-absorbed character behind it.

It is important to look as nice as we can, given what we’ve got—being unkempt is no joy to be around, either—but we can safely stop at good grooming, cleanliness, pleasant colors, and well-ordered, God-honoring, modest clothing. If we, as believing women, major yet further on improving our insides and on emanating more love (for, who of us doesn’t still have a ways to go in these areas?), He will see to it that a kind of additional heavenly beauty will manifest upon our countenances. We will have beauty at our core—His beauty. And then, those around us wouldn’t trade that for anything.

A woman bedecked only as an ornament or as a glossy model (i.e. merely used by the world as a coat-stand or as a clothes hanger) can, in a matter of minutes be regarded as a waste of humanity—exerting no real contribution or influence upon a very needy world. Everywhere, the world cries for the gentle impress of a godly woman upon people’s souls and circumstances.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Trouble changing a defeating habit?

Friday, 15. April 2016 by Renee Ellison

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To change a habit, you’ll want to tackle it from both directions—both positively and negatively. This is called the pincer strategy. Here is how it works. You design the worst possible consequence you could think of, relative to that habit as your unpleasant deterrent/punishment, if you sink back into it, and, on the other side, you also allure yourself with the best possible incentive if you go the new direction, by a better choice.

Examples:
Let’s say that you want to stop eating greasy salted chips. If you cave in and eat one, your “self crafted” punishment/deterrent might be that you follow that action of past habit NOW with a 1/4 tsp horseradish! Conversely, if you succeed in going a full day without chips, you give yourself a positive “chip” (i.e. perhaps smaller in size, like a quarter, in an envelope for that day), giving yourself an even larger prize at the end of the week of one used book of your choice on Amazon or Abebooks.

Directions:
List the habit(s) you want changed. Write it down. Then, design your pincer strategy. If you can’t think of a bad consequence, enlist your family’s help. They’ll have NO trouble designing hair-raising consequences that are the perfect fit for you! If you listen to them, OR your better self, you’ll be jettisoning bad habits right and left smile

Are commitments scary or sacred?

Friday, 25. March 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Apparently, making a commitment to anyone, in any direction, freaks out modern man. Engage in anything but a commitment. In effect, commitments seem to be generally regarded as tantamount to suicide, or at the very least, are viewed as traps to avoid. Note that all four of these categories of commitments are falling apart in our current society:

1. Commitment to marriage. We would rather cohabit indefinitely, or drop the difficult intimate relationships we have been in.
2. Commitment to parent children (or even to birth them). We find them a consummate irritation, from the womb to the tomb.
3. Commitment to eldercare. We prefer to abandon them.
4. Commitment to pay our bills. We prefer to make the other guy pick up our slack.

Our behaviors belie that we view commitments as downright scary, a wrong direction for the exertions of our wills. Modern man prefers the slushy place of ambiguity in relation to all other people and contracts.

Some people are apartment hoppers, living in rentals without paying rent just long enough to get kicked out, and then leaving to go do it again somewhere else, artfully escaping any fiscal responsibility. People shack up, or live in “open” marriages with several people, simultaneously. Students demand to go to colleges well beyond their means, get there at any cost, and are surprised and incensed when the bill comes due. Adult business bankruptcies abound. Parents give over their children to be raised and schooled by others. And we hide our elderly in institutions, abandoning them.

Anything goes. Parameters of any sort, in any direction, suffocate our “free” spirits. We want to be able to drink all we want, buy all we want, entertain ourselves all we want, play all we want, work to climb the corporate ladder, etc.—all without being tied down to any relationship, in any direction.

Why do we so desperately eschew commitments? What is it, exactly, that we are afraid of? We know full well that it is a commitment of our future self to a course of direction, and that seems insurmountable to the comforts of our immediate self and its increasing lust for self-soothing. We “handle” our future by refusing to go there—by buttressing ourselves with ways “out” in every direction.

Instinctively, we know that all commitments are a plunge into the unknown, and we simply have no faith in ourselves (and no God to help us, since we dispensed with Him) to “go there.” Instinctively, we know that it will require self-denial, at some level—and we must not deny ourselves.

The Enemy of our soul has broadcast nothing but bad press about commitment. He has convinced us not to go there. He has made “gulping at the thought” the correct response.

What, however, might be hidden in the idea and practice of commitment that was set there by the LOVER of our soul? Surely if it was built into the fabric of “the way life works” by the intelligent design of our Maker, if we jettison it might we lose something that is germane to our happinesses? What if we were to receive commitment as a gift from our God, and lean on Him for the power to do it, all the way through it?

Let’s hold on a minute with that idea of not wanting to deny ourselves. Strangely, if we look closely, we see that cities, communities, churches, marriages all grow out of the fertilizer of self-sacrifice. Without sacrifice we cannot have community. We won’t have any. We end up replacing all community with a dysfunctional conglomerate of isolated individuals, running helter-skelter in all directions at once, loaded with the baggage of endless “personal rights.”

When looked at a little closer, self-denying commitment has silver linings all over the place. When we embrace commitment as a necessary part of human life, we find that it gives us a clear and distinct GPS to one path—forsaking all others, for example—that in turn helps shore up and define our own identity. Conversely, traveling infinite paths in all directions eventually leads us to personal chaos and floundering, because soon we find multiple personal desires at cross-purposes. Falling in love with three people equally, at once, leads us into a nightmare of what to do with tonight. Wanting a relationship with a man but not with a pregnancy with his child leads us to confusion on the way to the abortion clinic. Wanting a classy car but disdaining the self-denial to achieve the finances to purchase one leaves us in a quandary of conflicting self. Wanting to belong to a family, but not wanting the family to belong to us when it ages, plunges us into conflict with ourselves.

When, alternatively, our paths are well-defined by our commitments, the question then becomes what will we do, given this course and no other? What our character is made of becomes evident when we take that path. Commitment brings self-realization; we discover who we really are. Modern man would rather stay out of that spotlight. We would rather walk in delusion about our true identity. We prefer to live in an opium den of what we might have been, rather than experience who we are.

The parameters of limited time, limited finances, limited space and limited relationships (we each have a web of individuals into which we were born, and into which circumstances thrust us) all force our personal priorities to be expressed. And, incomprehensibly, and progressively, somehow, someway, we emerge as better souls, now with depth, in the middle of such limitations. We become—we are in fact, actualized—amidst the limitations.

Of course, if we are not interested in “becoming” or “emerging”, we’ll prefer no fences, and no parameters. We’ll feast upon delusions and virtual realities and there we will sit, banqueting upon hot air, growing fatter, and fatter, and fatter, until we become big blobs of nothing.

Filed Under: Home management tips

The false promises of Unschooling

Sunday, 28. February 2016 by Renee Ellison

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In some circles, un-schooling is all the rage. It offers supposed academic emancipation: just let the child follow after his own curiosities. What its proponents may not be aware of, however, is that unschooling is an experiment that has already been tried, with dismal results. It has been around since the 1960’s.

Unschooling is great for appropriate chapters in life. It is, in fact, what any set of parents does with their toddler up to age five. They run around after the child, giving parental oohs and aahs and affirmations galore. At some hour, though, the application of cognitive discipline is advantageous for a developing human. Just ask any Olympic coach, or a violin virtuoso who has been training since the age of three, or a trainer of Lipizzaner horses. You can be sure that those horses aren’t allowed to change out of their pajamas any time they feel like it, or that they are born knowing how to proceed to dance on their hind legs to classical music at some future hour. They are led by bit and bridle into magnificence. Coaches hover over beginning details, just like misers counting their diamonds. They know, down in their very gizzards, that victory is in every highly disciplined detail.

Another chapter where Unschooling might be a preferred choice, even an advantage, to some, would be college. When a student reaches that age, he has acquired enough skills to be able to chase around after his curiosities, with some real progress, given a gifted mentor or two. (This is not true for some disciplines, such as engineering and mathematics, but surely is true for the humanities.) Apprenticeships, outside of a classroom, are also very expanding at that age. For the in-between years, however—i.e. all of elementary, jr. high and high school—there is a sink-hole in this theory of un-schooling. Students, so trained by the hundreds in the homeschooling movement, or by only “experience-based-novelty” private schools, are now embarrassed at all that they don’t know.

Unschooling lulls its followers into a false dichotomy. It baits its proponents with the misguided idea that if one actually schools a child, that child will not get to chase around after his own curiosities. Huh? How many hours do we have in a day? Does it follow that if we sequentially and progressively train our children in competent cognitive development for 3 or 4 hours a morning, in vital areas like phonics decoding skills, mathematics, and essay writing, that they, then do not have the remainder of the day to chase after anything they would like, be that the biology of butterflies or youthful “brilliant” military strategies? Since when does one limit the other?

Unschooling presupposes that the bulk of Western Civilization training is mostly worthless—that the body of knowledge that has been built up over the centuries and has been meticulously passed down from generation to generation, by conscientious tutoring (even down to basic first penmanship strokes, multiplication facts and historical dates), is superfluous. The root of the one type of education is humanism; the root of the other is revelation. We either start from ourselves and fashion the world as we want it, or receive with humility from God himself the vast unmovable principles of his universe. There is a body of knowledge outside of ourselves that is worth setting our hearts to acquire with discipline.

Is it not arrogant to think that we don’t need to progressively learn geography or real history, even in the hours when we don’t want to learn them? Is it not good for a child to have to put his own immediate will under, to gain a larger long-term self-capacity and objective understanding of the world in which he lives?

Go talk with coaches and see how much of their training is undisciplined and wandering. It will be an eye-opener for some, but wholesomely obvious for others who have been trained by progressively tougher and tougher cognitive disciplines all of their lives. Educated adults are glad they didn’t wind up like their peers who can’t spell, can’t locate China on a map, can’t subtract in their checkbooks, or measure their lumber to cut it accurately.

The sooner you can jettison the unschooling theory and get busy educating your child, incrementally and progressively, the better.