The following item appeared recently on a homeschooling list to which I subscribe. “I am a public school teacher (for right now). My youngest son, 16, has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I am having a hard time dealing with that. We had a pep rally today. I got very upset seeing the band (he was in the band last year) and knowing that he can't handle things like that like a normal kid can. Then, to top it all off, the dance group went through a couple of dances that were very sexually suggestive. They were mostly 8th grade girls, but they 'performed' mostly in front of the 6th grade, to a section that was mostly boys. I really was morally offended. I stood there wondering what I was doing in a place like that, where I felt immoral things were happening. I guess I said all that to say, I think I need to be 'homeschooled.' I can't take any more of this. I just want out. I want to get out of my contract so badly, but am afraid of financial repercussions. I just have to find a way.” I thought that we all might be benefitted from knowing how someone inside the teaching profession sees things.
Grassfire has learned that CBS television told a federal court yesterday that the new “zero tolerance” policy for indecent broadcasts is threatening to choke off free speech. According to the Hollywood Reporter, there are two legal battles that may determine whether the government can slap broadcasters with big fines and threaten their licenses. Click here to read the complete story: http://www.grassfire.net/r.asp?u=1198&rid=10984945 . But there is more to this story than what the Hollywood Reporter is reporting. Even while these cases are playing out, NBC/Universal CEO Robert Wright is lobbying the courts and anyone who will listen in Washington for the right to drop an f-bomb, or use the s-word on national television. However, earlier he boasted that broadcasters are “the most responsible, community-focused providers of programming in the business.” With a shift in power on Capitol Hill, broadcasters are eager to reinstate the old enforcement regime which amounted to a gentle slap on the wrist and a wink. We know we must remain vigilant in our efforts of promoting decency and trust over our airwaves, which is why we have teamed with Brent Bozell and his Media Research Center (MRC). The MRC is the nation's pre-eminent media watchdog, and has already helped Grassfire a great deal. In fact, Brent Bozell's latest column “The CEO of Silliness” is a must read for everyone who is engaged in the battle for broadcast decency. Click here to read Bozell's column: http://www.grassfire.net/r.asp?u=1199&rid=10984945 . After reading this update, please forward it to your friends–urging them to join with you in efforts to protect and restore decency to our airwaves by clicking here: http://www.grassfire.org/39/petition.asp?PID=10984945 . Thanks. (Steve Elliott, President, Grassfire.org Alliance; 11/22/06.)
Note: A condensed version of this review was carried in the 11/25/06 issue of the HomeSchoolBuzz.com e-newsletter and is posted at http://www.homeschoolbuzz.com . The full review will be included in my free homeschooling e-mail newsletter, http://groups.yahoo.com/biblicalhomeschooling/ .
Edwards, Roy G. Eafin Lokdore and the Magician's Lost Medallion (copyright 2005 and published by R. G. Edwards Publishing, P. O. Box 978, Goodlettsville, TN 37070). The recent successes of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia movies based on books by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and the soon-to-be coming film based on homeschooled Christopher Paolini's Eragon, have created a renewed interest in fantasy literature for young people. Some series that are based on a Biblical worldview, such as The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers, are quite good. Christian Book Distributors also has the Dragon Keepers Chronicles by Donita K. Paul, The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black, and Dragons in Our Midst by Bryan Davis, among several. However, others are not so good. The Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling are obviously based on an occultic worldview, and His Dark Materials by Phillip Pulliam are specifically intended to promote atheism. The newest “kid on the block” is Eafin Lokdore. R. G. Edwards was homeschooling his two daughters one afternoon in 2005, amid a terrible spring lightning storm, when an idea for a childrens book. He had been disturbed by the tremendous amount of witchcraft and the occult found in Harry Potter and similar children's books. But the strong popularity of Harry Potter inspired Edwards to create a somewhat similar portrayal of character and events for the story of Eafin Lokdore, encouraged by the worldwide reception of G.P. Taylors Shadowmancer and that particular books underlying Christian themes. Having been also greatly influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Edwards set about creating a story that was also deeply imbued with underlying Biblical imagery and tone over the course of the next nine months beginning in the spring of 2005 and on into 2006. He was kind enough to send me an advance galley copy for review purposes, and I have now finished the book. Eafin Lokdore is a fifteen-year-old peasant boy who is apprenticed to the good sage Methusass in the kingdom of Lorrimoor. With the help of his young friends Seth, Jimbo, and Ralph, he sets out on a quest to save their homeland from a renewed advancement of their age-old enemy, the Maggorians who, directed by the evil sage Dredmon and several other vile characters, try to take control of the kingdom. In general, I like the book because of its classic good versus evil plot. It is a very interesting and quite readable story. Nothing that I shall say from here on out should take away from this fact. However, I do have a few observations. First, I think that the story could have been helped by more character and plot development. Edwards says that there will be more in future books (this is the first of a trilogy), but I thought that things flew by a little too quickly at times, and especially the ending went bang, bang, bang, and was over. Some people may be turned off by the somewhat eccentric style of writing with an overabundance of passive verbs and a rather quaint vocabulary (for example, people's thoughts were often said to be “graven”), but this is simply a matter of style. The “d” word is used four times, and the “h” word two, always by “bad” guys; I personally oppose curse words anywhere in books intended for young people and Edwards says that in the rewrite for final publication all objectionable language will be removed. In the galley copy there were all kinds of annoying grammatical errors, especially in punctuation–plurals used for possessives, possessives and contractions without apostrophes, too many commas in places where they should not be, and a lot of sentence fragments (not just in dialogue). I felt that some better editing would make great improvements in the book and Edwards has obtained a professional editor for the final rewrite, saying that these will be corrected too. Other than these comments, I do not have any major objections to the story and again I do like the emphasis on the clash between good and evil. Edwards said, “Eafin Lokdore isn't an alternative to Harry Potter. But being a Christian writer doesnt mean you cant create fun, and I think that this book certainly reveals that.” The self-published Eafin Lokdore and the Magicians Lost Medallion Book I of the Lokdore Trilogy is currently available on the Internet through Amazon.com and also on Lulu.com. Availability through conventional bookstores such as Borders, and Barnes & Noble should begin after the final rewrite is done. The book is intended for middle-grade age readers around the ages of 9 to 14 but also should appeal to older young adults between the ages of 15 to 19 years as. The author can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (615) 851-1662. He can also be reached via his web-site at: http://www.rgedwardsblog.com . Language level: nothing objectionable (based on Edwards's statement) Ages: 9-14. My rating: GOOD.
One of my favorite magazines is World. While I may not always agree with every opinion that is offered in it, I do appreciate the way that the staff approaches their news reporting from a Biblical worldview; it is certainly much better than Time, Newsweek, or even U. S. News and World Report. In the Nov. 25, 2006, issue, Paul Young of Cape Town, South Africa, wrote a letter in the “Mailbag” section which said, “It is true, as Joel Belz points out, that Christians and conservatives are building a crucial advantage by having more children and refusing to abort. But a huge percentage of these conservatives and Christians are surrendering that advantage to the enemy by sending their children to public schools and state universities to be indoctrinated with leftist propaganda.” How true!
The Sun., 11/10/06 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a front page article “Vacations from school: Pencil in some time off” about how more and more families are taking their children out of class to travel and even to learn. Some schools and teachers encourage it while other school administrations are considering cracking down by limiting the amount of time that a student can be gone even with “excused absences” from parents. Arguments were made back and forth as to whether this is a good thing or not, but there is one telling statement which is important to note because it reveals the real motivations behind today's public schools. Principal of Reed Elementary in the Ladue School District Donna “Jahnke said these vacations could cause problems for teachers because it takes a lot of time to put together and grade the makeup work. It's even more of a hassle if students miss class when standardized tests are being given. AND LOW ATTENDANCE CAN AFFECT SCHOOL FUNDING” (emphasis mine, WSW). This was confirmed in the very next paragraph. “Roger Dorson, director of school finance at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said, 'The fewer attendance hours you have, the less money will be received down the road.'” So, that is what it really all seems to be about, is it not?
To follow up on something reported in a previous blog some time ago, Focus on the Family's CitizenLink.com reported on 11/17/2006, “According to Phil Vischer, one of the creators of the children's cartoon VeggieTales, NBC has backed of its insistence that the Saturday-morning network version be free of references to God and the Bible. Big Idea, the creator of the hugely popular VeggieTales, teamed up with NBC to place the show in the Saturday cartoon lineup. But two weeks prior to its premier NBC told the show's producer the cartoon needed to be free of references to God and the Bible. On his blog, Vischer noted he'd heard a rumor that NBC received 600,000 e-mail letters critical of the network censorship — a rumor he said 'I can't confirm or deny.' 'But the last four or five episodes, most of which had at least as much theistic content as the earlier ones, if not more, came back from NBC standards-and-practices department with no requested edits. None,' he said. 'So they're going to air just the way they were originally written.' Madame Blueberry and King George and the Ducky are among the episodes that will air as written, he said, without a single edit. 'That's really cool, don't you think?' Vischer said. 'So if you stopped watching your Veggies on NBC out of protest, turn it back on! Your protest may have brought a little more light to TV's vast wasteland. Let NBC know you're thrilled with their recent choices by watching the show.'”
While The Old Schoolhouse is definitely my favorite homeschooling magazines, there are others. I don't look on them as “competitors” but as “complements.” On the same day, issues of two wonderful homeschooling magazines recently arrived at our home in the mail. Vol. 17, No. 1 of Homeschooling Digest (www.WisGate.com) has a number of good articles about homeschooling and parenting in general, including four articles by homeschool graduates; some that particularly struck me were “Ten Mistakes Made by Homeschooling Mamas” by Maranatha Chapman, “Family Life Plain and Simple” by Celia Sorensen, “Confessions of a Resolution Recidivist” by Bruce N. Shortt, “Homeschooling is a Relay Race” by Michael McHugh, “Submission and Obedience for Homeschoolers” by Steve Ryerson, “Because I Said So” by Bob Surgenor, “What to Do When You Can't” by Kathy Lee Dolan, “Do We Need Compulsory Attendance Laws?” by Joel Turtel, “Should Public Schools Be Supported by Christians?” by Gary DeMar, and “Egypt Is No Longer My Home” by Scott and DiAnna Brannan. The Sept./Oct., 2006 (#72) issue of Practical Homeschooling (http://www.home-school.com) has interesting observations by publisher Mary Pride, a couple of letters with Mary's insightful responses, and an article on “The 1st Homeschool Alumni National Reunion,” among many other helpful items.
Under “News Shorts,” the Sept./Oct., 2006 issue of Practical Homeschooling contains the following item: “Arnold Boosts Homeschooling? If you have been following the 'culture wars,' you know that the pressure is on to promote non-heterosexuality to kids from birth on, especially in the public schools. The cultural 'left' got a big boost on August 30, when California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that overrules the sexual moral conduct codes of all groups in the state receiving even one dollar of state funding–even if it's just a grant to one student. This includes all California public schools…and all private and parochial schools that accept any state funds, even indirectly. Joseph Farah, CEO of WorldNetDaily said in an 8/30 editorial, 'The only alternative left for Christians and Jews and people of other faiths in California is quite literally to drop out. That means homeschooling.' Will this lead to a boom in homeschooling numbers? We'll see.”