Be at Leisure: A Lutheran Approach to Outreach, 6. Catechesis

So young men and young women are getting married to faithful Lutherans and having children. Excellent! Now comes the lifelong duty of parents: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the education and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Unfortunately, we’ve generally come to believe as a society that education is best left to the professionals and that the average parent is unsuited to teaching his or her children. This is nonsense. The child has no other teachers than his parents for the first several years of life and learns to do a great many things just fine. When it comes to bringing children up in the education and instruction of the Lord (let’s call it catechesis for short), parents have generally followed the secular education model of “trust the professionals.” This often turns into taking children to Sunday School and Confirmation classes, and never cracking open a Bible or praying at home.

If parents do this because they’re lazy and shirk their God-given duty, then they need to hear the call to repentance: “It is your duty to bring up your children in the education and instruction of the Lord. You need to be reading God’s Word to them. You need to be praying with them.” However, if parents aren’t living up to their duty because they don’t think they can do it, then they need mercy and help.

As great a task as it is to catechize a child, it is not a complicated one. It doesn’t require a great deal of cleverness, just a great deal of persistence. Luther’s Small Catechism is a wonderful help in catechizing children. Start with the Daily Prayers section of the Small Catechism. Luther arranged this section brilliantly, in that he attached daily prayer to things that people were already doing every day: we get up every day, we eat every day, we go to sleep every day. And so, he has a morning prayer, a mealtime prayer, and an evening prayer.

The morning and evening prayers are very short orders that include the Invocation, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and another prayer corresponding to the time of the day. Parents can use these when their children get up in the morning and go to bed in the evening. The prayer called “Asking a Blessing” goes before the meal, and the thanksgiving called “Returning Thanks” goes afterward. By praying these, children will very quickly learn some of the chief parts of the Christian faith and will also develop a healthful Christian piety.

Children will learn these routines very quickly, and routine is key! God has built into children (and into all people, but especially children) a love of routine. This is a great help to parents. Say a father leads his family in morning, mealtime, and evening prayers for a week, and then suddenly forgets to do it, or grows slack: the children will demand the routine! This means that beginning the routine is the hard part, because that depends on the father. But continuing the routine is significantly easier because the children themselves will call for it. They won’t go to bed until they say the evening prayer with Dad.

There are many other aids for catechizing children, and I recommend that every father consult a faithful pastor concerning which aids to use in his home. I won’t offer many specific recommendations here, but I will say two things: First, have a family Bible, and pick a time each day when the father reads from it to his family. And second, have a couple of hymnals in the home, the same ones used in church, and sing from them as a family.

Now there are two things that are particularly harmful to good catechesis in the home, and they are dangerous because they teach other catechisms that are not Christian. The first is the public school. Public schools should more properly be called “government schools,” because that comes closer to the reality, given that they’re funded by the government. Government schools have a certain catechism to teach, with its own commandments and articles of faith. And make no mistake, this catechism seeks to overthrow the Ten Commandments and dismantle the Apostles’ Creed.

It’s helpful to remember that all education is religious education. All education necessarily involves teaching students how they should view the world, how they should behave, what they should consider to be virtue and vice, what they should believe, what they should tolerate and what they should not. Education will either correspond to the Christian faith and be a great help to parents in catechizing their children, or it will contradict everything that parents are teaching at home.

It may be possible to send Christian children to government schools without completely jeopardizing their faith. But their faith will be challenged in a way that’s not helpful, and they will be tempted to myriad sins, and will be subject to the teachings of another religion. Can Christian children survive such an education? Perhaps, but we should be interested in much more than their “survival.” Parents should educate their children according to their God-given duty, not according to what’s easiest or what everyone else is doing. If members want to assist parents in finding viable alternatives to public schools, the congregation could consider hosting a homeschool co-op or even opening a classical Lutheran school.

The second danger to good catechesis is the screen. I’ll start with the television. The television is generally populated with sin and false teaching. Children’s programs may claim to be purely “educational,” and maybe some are, so that families will get into the habit of having the TV on all the time without considering any harm being done. But even children’s shows are pushing sinful agendas—for example, blatantly promoting false definitions of marriage and family. More subtle, and more dangerous to the well-catechized child, is the constant theme that those who follow their emotions (their hearts) are free and happy, while things like duty and physiology are mere human constructs. And the fact remains that much entertainment is nothing else than watching other people break God’s commandments and learning to delight in it.

Now the television is not a catechism like Luther’s Small Catechism. The television does not often state its commandments or articles of faith. And it’s the more dangerous because so much is implied without being said. Television shows have a way of manipulating the emotions so that we feel bad about certain things and happy about others. And if you have a habit of watching television, give this some conscious thought and it won’t take long to realize that you’re often rejoicing at sin and feeling happy at words or deeds that contradict God’s Word. The mind may be fully aware of the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed, but if the emotions are enslaved to another law and another faith, how much harm will come of it!

If only the catechesis of the screen were limited to the television that sits stationary at home! But how many kids now carry around phones and have unsupervised access to the internet? What sorts of things are children seeing as they scroll through their Facebook feeds? What videos start playing automatically before their eyes? Who put those videos there, and to what end? Where does the knot of links lead? Children can quickly find themselves in the labyrinth of “You might also like,” “Related content,” “Recommended for you,” and it’s like playing Russian Roulette: not all the chambers are empty, and how long until a child has something lodged in his brain that doesn’t belong there, something that he can’t get out? And all this to say nothing of the great harm that comes from what we might call disembodied friendship: ten children sitting on benches at a park, staring enraptured at screens, never breathing a word to one another, not daring even to make eye contact. Beware the lying and dehumanizing catechesis of the screen!

How does the realm of catechesis apply to the congregation as a whole? First, those parents who are concerned about “the lost” should ensure before all else that they’re giving such concern to their own children. It is a nasty trick of Satan that when we think of outreach we often skip right over those closest to us, to whom we are bound by God-given duty, and focus instead on unknown somebodies. Second, congregations should do all they can to aid the fathers in their midst in carrying out what God has given them to do. All members can offer encouragement to fathers who bring their children to church. Pastors can visit with fathers, pray for them, and provide practical advice for shepherding their households. Church councils can arrange meetings such that the fathers are not pulled away unnecessarily or lengthily from their duties toward their families. In this way families will prosper under the headship of the father as he catechizes his children.

Steadfast Lutherans will soon be publishing a book titled “Be at Leisure: A Lutheran Approach to Outreach.” The book will be available as a free PDF and in print for the cost of printing at This post is chapter 6 of the book: Catechesis.


Be at Leisure: A Lutheran Approach to Outreach, 6. Catechesis — 18 Comments

  1. I wish I could turn the clock back 30 years and do this right. Part of my failure was due to not being adequately catechized myself as an adult convert to Lutheranism, and part to a contentious wife.

  2. I am back 30 years. Knowing is still the easy part. The general attitude seems to be that you’ve spent your currency by continuing to have children past 3, you did it to yourself and are on your own now.

    When one adds up the energy required to work, run a one income family (and do it well) while the wife is pregnant then things like screen time restrictions start to reveal gaping flaws in ones character.

    I am searching strenuously for the proper adjustments to make, it is no simple matter.

  3. @Ben / Jay –
    To be fair, screen time wasn’t as much of a temptation 30 years ago. I’m convinced that screens have a more than fair advantage in the attention marketplace… we as a species and perhaps males in particular might have a built-in susceptibility. Combine that with the legion opportunities to Learn! or Prove Someone Wrong about Something Important, and even intellectuals are snared by a digital trap for their passions. It remains to be seen whether moderate living necessitates renunciation of digital platforms, but there’s certainly research out there that recommends it. See this link on psychology from a tech designer:

    @Andrew –
    I appreciated this post, particularly the engagement with philosophies of education, classical with government schools, etc. Yet I’m not sure how convincing this would be to folks who don’t already agree (If I’m wrong, someone comment please to show me). You did mention that much has been written on the topic of catechesis already. This is an important part of the overall argument itself, and it makes sense that you’re not going to write a whole book on it… perhaps you could give a few of your own recommended resources on those topics (classical ed + catechesis)?

  4. Maybe Lutheran churches should promote Christian education over fellowship, especially in men’s groups emphasizing our duty to catechize our kids. Dads need to know that they must “take ownership” of their family’s spiritual health and not just be a drone. But first they have to care more deeply and that begins with their own catechisis which is often deficient. Thus, the cycle of spiritual poverty that often doesn’t end well. My father, though a Christian, was disengaged in teaching my brother and me the articles of the faith because I don’t think he knew what they were. And that because he was raised an Anabaptist in the Bretheren Church until he married mother who was a Lutheran. Some have been given more advantage in life than others but I suppose that in the end God’s elect will not be forsaken. Still, God gives fathers the privilege to play a role in leading their precious family to a right understanding of the faith and to the means of grace. Guys, don’t let this be one of many regrets. Pastors, let’s hear more admonishing and encouraging from the pulpit. When Dads teach the faith and lead the family’s devotional life, their faith is strengthened as well.

  5. @Keaton #3


    True enough, I did not make a full-blown argument against government schools. I think the phrase “All education is religious education” will resonate with those who survived such schooling, have children in government schools at present, or have followed any of the stories about Title IX abuses or Common Core requirements. I have not presented evidence here, but the ravages of Secular Humanism, the Sexual Revolution, and now Social Justice Warriors in schools are plain as day. While it is important to make good arguments against progressive education (and many are doing so), there’s also a great need simply to call the thing what it is. In order to prove that a dog is hairy, for example, one could make lengthy arguments about the history of dogs, the tendency of small of four-footed mammals to have hair, and so forth. But it’s really just easiest to say, “Look, the dog is hairy!”

    Concerning additional resources, Rev. Dr Thomas Korcok is absolutely brilliant in addressing the philosophies underlying progressive education. This Issues Etc. interview is excellent: See also his book “Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future”: (check the Not Quite Perfect section of the CPH website, which sometimes has a heavily discounted copy of this book:

    I would also recommend anything published by the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education. Here’s a link to their media page: And here’s a link to their journal:

    I have also written a series of articles called “The Nature of the Student,” which examines the fundamental question “what is a human being?” and gives answers from the perspective of Secular Humanists, Christianity, and the ancient Greeks. Here’s the first article in that series, with links to continue reading at the conclusion of each article:

    Concerning the screen, I wrote a series for Steadfast Lutherans not too long ago called “A Year without Television.” The first part is here:

    As for recommended catechetical resources, the easiest and best is Luther’s Small Catechism. Fathers can lead their families in the Daily Prayers, and set aside a few minutes for asking questions from the six chief parts each day. It’s all written out word for word, attached to things that everyone does every day, and is brief. Families might also have Bible reading and hymn singing, or use something like “Celebrating the Saints” by Rev. Weedon to follow the schedule of commemorations, feasts, and festivals in LSB: Re-reading the readings from Sunday over the course of the week is a fine practice, or if your congregation has a hymn of the month, you could learn that as a family. But the big thing is, don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it easy, keep it brief, keep it regular.

  6. Pastor Richard, please don’t call public schools “government schools.” For our democratic society to work, we don’t need to feed paranoid distrust of anything “the government” does.

    We don’t call first responders “government responders,” we don’t call veterans “former government troops,” and we don’t call places like Yellowstone “government parks.”

    Yes, public schools are government entities. But you know the term “government schools” has a negative connotation–that’s why you used it! That’s as unfair as calling all religious schools “madrassahs” (as some foes of religious education have done), even though that is literally the Arabic word for any school.

    “All education is religious education”–that is simply not true! I have taught in public schools for 30 years. We leave religious intruction to the parents and the churches (or synagogues, etc.), and focus on teaching English, math, social studies, etc. Do some public schools or teachers step over that line? Sure. But, by and large, we are happy to leave religious questions to the parents because we teach kids from all backgrounds. The traditional separation of church and state is a fine principle.

    Homeschooling and Lutheran schools are fine for many. But some kids have special needs only the public schools in their area can adequately address. Lots of parents can’t homeschool or use a Lutheran school because of their circumstances. This is why Sunday Schools are so important!

    Public schools aren’t perfect. But neither are homeschooling or Lutheran education.

    And please don’t slander all public schools by accusing them of wanting to “overthrow the Ten Commandments and dismantle the Apostles’ Creed.” That is over-the-top nonsense!

  7. @James Gibbs #6

    Rest assured, I’m not encouraging paranoia, just “noia,” thinking about the reality of how things actually are. While “all education is religious education” cannot as a blanket statement apply to each individual teacher, it can as a blanket statement apply to secular education as a whole. I had some school teachers whom I very much liked – my eleventh and twelfth grade English teacher comes to mind. But during the course of my schooling, one assignment required me to find a Muslim, have an interview, and write a report on the five pillars of Islam (while, of course, nothing similar was done concerning Christianity). I had to listen to lectures on evolution. My education in history throughout my schooldays consisted of “social studies,” which simply read modern social issues onto the past (and indeed such classes taught a certain morality that opposed the Ten Commandments). My literature classes included such books as “Lord of the Flies” and “Catcher in the Rye.” I was taught environmentalism. I was taught sex ed at an age when children shouldn’t be thinking about such things. And education doesn’t just come from the teachers, but from fellow students as well. While we must be in the world, we don’t have to throw our children into the midst of peers who overwhelmingly worship fame, fortune, and their own passions. Such an environment is inescapable in this life, but we don’t have to rush our kids into it.

    Now I certainly don’t mean to say that you personally are seeking to overthrow the Ten Commandments and dismantle the Apostles’ Creed. I mean to say that that’s just what government schools do, regardless of the occasional well-meaning teacher. Progressive education is founded on the educational theories of John Dewey et al., and if we want to suppose that he wasn’t aiming to institute centers of religious instruction (in secular humanism) we need only read “My Pedagogic Creed” that he wrote: Rev. Dr. Thomas Korcok of Concordia Chicago is doing excellent work exposing the beliefs of modern educational theorists and showing how Gnosticism and Marxism underlie a great deal of the educational theories on which our current schools are based.

    I will concede that I am rather jaded when it comes to secular education, and therefore I use strong language in reviling it. But I’m not just ranting. I’ve experienced such education firsthand, and have studied why it is the way it is. I want you to know that you are not the object of my attack, and that I am genuinely glad that there are some teachers who strive not to indoctrinate children in lies.

  8. @Pastor Andrew Richard #7

    Pastor Richard, thanks for exempting me from criticism, but I, again, think you are being unfair to public schools in general. You yourself say you make “blanket statements” and are “jaded” when it comes to public schools. You cannot lump all public schools together like that!

    I don’t see any evidence of my school trying to undermine the Ten Commandments or the Apostles’ Creed. We have many teachers who are themselves Christian, but we leave religion to parents and churches, where it belongs. We go out of our way to avoid offending religious sensibilities!

    Find a Muslim and interview him or her–what is wrong with that assignment? The teacher probably assumed that you already knew about Christianity, and intended no disrespect to our faith. I teach about all the major religions of the world every year in World History, but I don’t try to convert anyone.

    Lectures on evolution–what is a public school supposed to teach? We can’t teach religion. It is a fact that the theory of evolution is the dominant paradigm in modern biology (rightly or wrongly), and any kid studying biology needs to be familiar with it, especially if they go into STEM careers later in life. If the biology teacher uses evolution to attack religion, they are way out of line, and any administrator worth his or her salt will have a talk with that teacher after one parent phone call!

    I’m not sure what you meant by “read[ing] modern social issues onto the past” or how your social studies classes taught morality contrary to the Commandments. I would be interested to hear more details.

    My own daughter read Lord of the Flies in (Lutheran) high school–not sure what your specific problem with it is. Yes, it’s violent and has a dark theme, but so do a lot of other things. It certainly reinforces the idea of original sin! My mother (who taught Sunday School) admired the writings of Salinger very much. We can all disagree on where to draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate literature for the classroom, I suppose, but this is not an indictment of all public schools as far as I can see.

    “Taught environmentalism”–not sure what your objection is. Shouldn’t Christians want to be good stewards of the environment?

    Sex ed–yeah, there is “too much information” in some cases, I agree. But I think it can be handled in a responsible way. Plus, some kids really do need it from the school, because their parents aren’t stepping up.

    As far as kids who worship bad stuff–you have those kids in Christian schools, too. My daughter’s Lutheran high school’s annual had a section every year on who had the coolest (expensive) car. Christian high school dances have the same issues with modesty and behavior as public high schools, believe me.

    As far as Dewey, look–there are many good things about progressive education (lifelong learning, critical thinking, child-centered instruction) that no one could possibly object to. Educational theory has its effect, but schools and actual teachers in the trenches tend to pick and choose a lot. (One reason why school reform is so difficult–people are hard to control!) I think most people agree with Dewey on some things, and let a lot of his crazier notions go. That’s true of any influential person. Take Luther–his teaching on grace endures, but almost no one cares about his anti-Semitism. Thomas Jefferson–we still revere “All men are created equal,” but we ignore his beliefs in secession, slavery, and how we should have a violent revolution every few years! MLK–we remember his courage, his dignity, and his championing of racial brotherhood, but we tend to ignore his somewhat screwy (in my opinion) economic views. Eat the meat, and leave the bones on the plate.

    Thomas Korcok–I have never heard of him before. Has he ever been in a K-12 classroom? No offense, but–Gnosticism and Marxism? Sounds very “conspiracy-theory-y” to me.

    Again, thanks for saying nice things about me.

  9. @James Gibbs #8

    Mr. Gibbs,

    If that meat is abscessed and cancerous, is one justified in the eating of it? If the philosophical rot is shot through the bone, is it not likely to leach out into the muscle also? This curate’s egg doesn’t pass the sniff test — not in the least. All the gnat-straining you are doing in these comboxes puts one in mind of Upton Sinclair’s quip: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

    Yes, Gnosticism. Yes, Marxism. Merely saying that the mention of them reminds one of conspiracy theories is low rhetoric. Their guiding hand is evident in their results: Gnostics and Marxists! Do *they* know it? No — and that is the insidious thing. (Put another way: how is the *taste* for ideas formed? How does one know to discard, say, Jefferson’s secessionism? Is it inherently bitter?)

    Budding biologists need not be taught Evolution (note spelling). The mechanics of biology and of evolution (note spelling) can be taught without the philisophico-religious catechesis involved in the former just as Newtonian mechanics can be taught without ever invoking the concept of ‘force’. Stewardship of the environment is not the same thing as environmentalism. ‘Sex-ed’ is an abomination on every level, and pedagogy should keep itself far, far away from such private matters — and should remind itself that prudery is the seed of virtue.

    (However, I agree with you in one particular: Golding’s Lord of the Flies really ought to be read — in civics, where it belongs, but there’s nothing wrong with that book.)

    Pax Christi,

    Elias Foxmane

  10. @Elias Foxmane #9

    First of all, “Elias Foxmane,” I was writing to Pastor Richard–not you. He knows what he was taught as a boy in public school—you don’t. He has been polite to me—you haven’t.

    Comparing public schools to “abscessed and cancerous [meat]” or to a rotten egg is ridiculously over-the-top, not to mention unnecessarily disgusting. Where do you provide any evidence for this alleged systemic rot? Nowhere.

    By quoting Upton Sinclair, you are basically calling me a mercenary liar who defends public education only because I am a public-school teacher. And you accuse ME of “low rhetoric”? On what basis do you impugn my motives? How about being fair-minded, and assuming my motives are good, even as you disagree with my arguments?

    I also find it ironic that you indict my arguments by saying I have an economic motive to believe in them. That’s a common Marxist tactic. Don’t you disapprove of Marxism?
    I defend the public schools because I have first-hand knowledge of them over three decades. In other words, I know what I’m talking about.

    “Gnosticism and Marxism”—how are public schools promoting these, supposedly? Again, you offer zero evidence for your claims.

    How do you know when to discard bad ideas? Well, one good way is to study history! Jefferson (good man that he was in many respects) thought the states had the right to secede. Many Americans agreed with him, and the Civil War resulted! That’s how we know he was wrong—over 600,000 Americans slaughtered each other. I’d say that’s pretty good proof secession is a bad idea!

    I already said evolution should (and could) be taught without attacking anyone’s religion. And that’s how we do it at my school, and at public schools all over the nation!

    I’m not sure what you mean by avoiding “force” when teaching Newton. The standard unit of force is…the newton! It’s used all the time in engineering.

    “Stewardship of the environment is not the same thing as environmentalism”—my question was how Pastor Richard defined “environmentalism,” not how you define it. And you don’t explain what’s wrong with “environmentalism,” either.

    As far as sex education—look, re-read what I wrote to Pastor Richard. Calling ALL sex-ed “an abomination” doesn’t help anyone. So my daughter’s health teacher in Lutheran middle school “sinned” by explaining to her (all-girl) class about menstrual cycles, etc.? At the public school where I teach, I have parents who come to Open House who have never been married! Their kids grow up without the faintest clue that sex before marriage is wrong. So our health teacher shouldn’t teach them how to avoid STD’s and unwanted pregnancy?

    I’m glad you think Lord of the Flies is an OK book for the classroom.

    The public schools perform a necessary, important service to America. Most Americans aren’t Christians, and millions of parents don’t have the money or the time to privately educate or homeschool their kids. They need good public schools!

    Do our public schools “mess up” at times? Absolutely. But horror-story anecdotes don’t equal proof that public education is beyond redemption, inherently anti-God, or any other kind of broad-brush indictment you want to level.

    That’s like taking the latest political scandal or dumb decision from Washington, and
    writing off our entire system of government as “beyond redemption.” Instead of trying to fix what’s wrong!

    And, btw, I don’t really want a “Pax Christi” from someone who already called me a hypocrite (“gnat-straining”), a liar, and someone who uses low rhetoric.

    Before you act like you’re my “Christian brother,” try treating me as a courteous pagan would, first.

  11. My fight is not with you. I wrote what I wrote because I was annoyed at the muddle-headedness of the points made. Please note I nowhere called you an hypocrite or a liar — even implicitly. My fight is not with you. I accuse you of nothing. My points were in response to what was written, and the tactics employed, which I again see deployed in the reply to me.

    My fight is not with you.

    The metaphor of ‘meat from the bone’ came first. The strong metaphor of an abscess was *necessarily* disgusting. There may be nourishment, but not health in such nourishment. I know what I have seen in and regarding the government school system, and it is a sick system. Sick, as in ill. Its fruits are sick, and do not know it. I have the evidence of my own eyes and ears. The statistics are only window-dressing of what anyone can see out of his drawing-room window. What does the common man out in the world think of his soul, if he has any care for it at all? Will he know without being taught that he is a creature of both mind and soul and body? Will he know that his soul and his body are really in a sense one thing, and not two things, and he can use his body howsoever he desires?

    No, he will not. That’s Gnosticism. And Gnosticism excuses many things.

    Will the young woman out in the world, broken on the rack of a society that alienates everyone into a cell as sound as any prison, who cannot make ends meet and has two children by as many fathers, neither of them an husband, will she shrink from accepting a dole from a State that is only too willing to give it?

    No, she will not. That’s Marxism. And Marxism excuses many things.

    Attempting to dismiss what is palpable as a Gnostic and even a Marxist influence on the thought-forms of Americans by saying that it seems to have the character of a conspiracy theory is to draw a connection to what is unbelievable out-of-hand without the intermediary of a syllogism. It is non-cognitive. It relies upon the emotion, rather than upon dialectic. That is rhetoric. That it does not partake of high, sweeping words, but couches its point in a tiny kernel makes it not high, but low. Ergo, low rhetoric. Why use it at all? This is not a rhetorical question — why use it?

    In my choice of words throughout my comment, I am trying to draw out a point. My fight is not with you. It is with a whole system, a whole world, that has engaged in a revolt from sanity that begins in the schools. Saying ‘Not All Schools Are Like That’ (and that is what is being said) is only to underscore that there are schools like that. Enough of them, in fact, that reform is hard, hard, hard. Anything that difficult is better off being reconstructed. And nothing is too durable that it cannot be thrown down and built afresh on better lines.

    History cannot be a judge. Facts cannot be a jury. The facts of history must be interpreted. If one were to say that the Civil War can just as easily prove that empire is brutal, and secession a vapourous dream, mere numbers do not rebuff him. Those six-hundred thousands of lives could be just as easily a regrettable stepping-stone to a glorious future of a North American Union. Taste in ideas must be the arbiter. And taste is either taught and received without question, or hard-won as a taste for truth by oneself. That is education’s role, and government schools, *as a system*, teach bad taste in ideas. We see it in the result: that ‘Sex-Ed’ is needed outside of the home at all. If it is from a dark conspiracy of men, a cabal of anarchists out to cause philosophical death, or if it is from men being only human sinners and only too willing to walk after the ways of their fathers, the result is the same.

    This is not about you. My fight is not with you. I had honestly hoped that my aside at the end of my previous statement would make that clear by the tone. But you will continue to fail to see my meaning if you continue to parse every line looking for weakness — and for words that I have not written.

    I do not withhold my Pax. If Christian brothers cannot have an howling argument, who can?

    Elias Foxmane

  12. @Elias Foxmane #11

    You use a lot of fancy words, but have yet to give me any real evidence to support your blanket condemnation of public education!

    Have you worked in public schools? For how long, and where? Or are you getting all your “information” from the Internet?

    If a man thinks he can misuse his body, I agree that’s bad, although I think it’s silly to call it “Gnosticism” without any evidence he actually believes in emanations, gnosis, mystery rituals, etc. But how is his misusing his body the fault of public schools?

    If a single mom needs public assistance to help make ends meet, that’s Marxism? Then every President from FDR to today is a Marxist–which is ridiculous! And, again–how is that the fault of public schools? You’re the one who doesn’t want us to teach young people about birth control!

    And, yeah, you DID call me a hypocrite and a liar. “Gnat-straining” is from Matthew 23:23-24, where Jesus called the teachers of the law and the Pharisees “hypocrites.” Upton Sinclair was talking about those who refuse to acknowledge the truth because of their source of income–which is a form of lying!

    Christian brothers and sisters don’t call each other names.

  13. Mr. Gibbs,

    You’re just not getting this.

    If I have not made my intents clear, you are not the target here. You *represent* the thing that is. I separate a man from what he does. But what he does can be so intertwined with he himself that the two appear inseparable. In the same way, I love the dairy scientists with whom I have worked in my own field — but I oppose their product as abjectly harmful to human health with as fiery an opposition as I use here, upon the balance of the literature and medical evidence, to say nothing of my own experience. They are one and all deaf to criticism of their product, as is only to be expected. Nor do I even say that it is conscious upon their part.

    I am opposing your *product* because of what it is doing and has done through the design and world-views of its founders. We are speaking of *ideals* and of the real history of impact of ideas, because there is nothing else worth speaking about in this line. The ideals which presently rule, and the ideas which guide them, have their impact in such cases as I describe in very low, vague, indistinct, and unconsidered ways. For it is not to the advantage of the designers of this system that a man should have a philosophy, which is, after all, only thought, thought out.

    Neutrality in philosophy or religion in education is a phantasm. When the mere neutrality of taking no religious sides on, say, evolution, is itself a stated goal of the humanistic philosophy, what can the Christian do but lose?

    Thirty years in the public schooling system is still not enough for a full picture. That would put the beginning of your career in the eighties; by then, the new ‘reforms’ and infiltration of thought-forms of socialist, cultural Marxist, and behaviouralist bent was already all but complete.

    I detest quote-lobbing. It accomplishes nothing. But if you really, *really*, REALLY want a wall of text, here are few, particularly vivid examples from the literature I have ready-to-hand. Note the dates. Smell the intellectual reek that comes off of these. These did not spring up out of ground that was not already well-prepared to bring them forth. Michigan and Hawaii are rather very far apart. I can multiply these, showing how far back the ground was being harrowed by the sympathies of American ‘super-protestant’ groups (see Time Magazine, “Religion: American Malvern”, Mar. 1942), and how this fails to lift one’s opinion of the National Education Association’s Educational Policies Commission’s 1944 document ‘Education for All American Youth’ that two local physicians and two local pastors in a fictional ‘Farmville’ gave assent to the proposition for sex education to the local youth. (Let the reader refer also to John Dewey’s own political sentiments as expressed in his 1928 travelogue of Russia, and let him see if it is not all of a piece):


    “Revised Report of Population Subcommittee, Governor’s Advisory Council on Environ-
    mental Quality” for the State of Michigan, to be used at the April 6, 1971 meeting of the sub-committee, was filed in the Library, Legislative Service Bureau in Lansing, Michigan. Excerpts from this disturbing report follow:

    I. Concept of a Population Goal

    In general, the Subcommittee was in agreement with U.S. Senate Resolution No. 214, as

    That it is the policy of the United States to develop, encourage, and implement at the earliest possible time, the necessary policies, attitudes, social standards, and actions which will by voluntary means consistent with human rights and individual conscience, stabilize the population of the United States and thereby promote the future well-being of the citizens of this Nation and the entire world.

    It was the feeling of the Subcommittee that the intent of the above Resolution should be
    encouraged by voluntary means and due consideration given to human rights. However, in order to accomphsh the above goal, state and federal legislation must accompany this intent to provide disincentives.

    II. Optimum Goal

    An optimum goal is to be considered in preference to a maximum carrying capacity. As a
    starting point, zero population growth is the recommended goal for the citizens of Michigan…. That the human population on a finite “space ship” cannot increase indefinitely is obvious. What is not so obvious is what constitutes an “optimum” level of population and the methods by which it is to be limited….

    III. How Does Society Obtain Population Control?

    Constraints on population size can be divided into two types, biological and social. Biological constraints include the limitation of those energies and chemicals required to drive human society as a biological system…. Societal constraints are more appropriate since the human population explosion is basically a social problem. There are three classes of social institutions which can be utilized to obtain population control. These are the political, economic and education systems. Each of these represent powerful control systems which help to regulate the behavior of our society.

    A wide range of public policies are available by which man can affect population size.
    Some policies can seek to change man’s basic values and attitudes with respect to the issues of population size. Other policies can seek to directly affect man’s behaviors which have consequences for population size. Some suggested policy goals are listed.

    General Public Understanding

    Having children is a public interest as well as a private interest. Likewise, the use of the
    environment must be understood to be a collective responsibility rather than a private or
    individual responsibility, since the costs and the benefits of the use of the environment are indivisible to all members of the collectivity. This idea runs counter to the underlying ethic of individualism and privateness of our society, but is basic if we are to mobilize the collective will which is necessary for social action. To change such a basic set of attitudes and values requires cooperation from the full range of opinion leaders in the society. A program of education for leaders in all sectors of society, such as religious, economic, political, educational, technical, etc., is therefore called for.

    Since basic attitudes and values are formed early in life, and since it is the youth of
    society who are yet capable of determining the size of future families, a program for all levels of formal education can be a powerful way to change society’s attitudes and values on the question of population size as outlined above.

    The idea that family size is a collective, social responsibility rather than just an individual responsibility can be fostered both directly by exhortations by opinion leaders and in the schools, and indirectly by the actions that government and other institutions in society
    take. For example, the proposal to eliminate the income tax exemption for children in excess of the two-child family limit can be a powerful way for government to symbolize its determination that family size is a collective responsibility.

    Public understanding of the interdependent nature of our natural and man-made environment is also important for enlightened public support for population control policies. A state-wide education program concerning ecology and population biology is needed for both student and adult segments of our society. This will require vigorous action to remove the topic of sex from the closets of obscurity in which conservative elements in our society have placed it….

    Cultural Changes

    Two types of cultural changes are needed in order to reduce the population increase: reduce the desired size of families, and reduce the social pressure to marry and have a family.

    Large families can be changed from an economic asset to an economic stability if all
    members of society can be offered the prospect that through work, saving, and deferred
    spending they can achieve economic security for themselves and their children. For the already affluent middle class, larger families can be made an economic liability by increasing the incentives for and the costs of advanced education for their children….

    Cultural changes to reduce the social pressure to marry and have a family can be pursued by changing educational materials which glorify married life and family life as the only
    “normal” life pattern, by granting greater public recognition to non-married and non-family life styles, by facilitating careers for single women….

    Direct Behavior Changes

    Two general types of public policies are distributive policies and regulative policies. Distributive policies involve the distribution of resources and opportunities to people who choose to modify their behavior to conform with the socially desired patterns. They thus operate as incentives rather than as official constraints. Examples include the elimination of tax incentives for larger families, monetary incentives for sterilization or adopted families, and removing the income tax discrimination against single citizens….

    Regulative policies involve direct constraints on behavior and necessarily generate
    greater political conflict than distributive policies. This is because regulative policies eliminate the element of voluntary choice and apply automatically and categorically to a whole class of people or of behaviors. Examples of such regulative policies designed to control population growth include forced sterilization and restrictive licensing procedures to marry and to have children. However, it does not seem necessary, desirable, or feasible to involve regulative policies for population control at this time. One regulative type policy which is now in effect and which allows population increase is the law forbidding abortion. Restrictions against abortions should be removed to allow individual choice in the use of this back-up method of birth control….

    A general acceptance of birth control to obtain population stability will create a more
    static ethnic, cultural and racial structure in society. Minority groups will continue to stay
    at a numerical minority. Minority problems are basically social and should be solved in that manner. An equilibrium condition will also alter the structure of our economic relationship both within our society (a shift from an expanding economy to a competitive displacement economy) and between other countries that will still be experiencing increasing populations….

    Immediate consideration must be given to (1) the development of an integrated social
    control of our population size and growth, and (2) the impact of a steady stable condition
    on our society. The scope and complexity of this task requires the attention of a highly professional team whose talents and professional training are equal to the challenge. It is the recommendation of the Council that such a team be brought together and charged with the prompt development of the details of this program and reporting back to the Council.

    Approved by the Population Subcommittee, March 30, 1971.

    Present: Dr. C.T. Black, Mr. Robert Boatman, Professor William Cooper, Dr. Ralph MacMullan, and M.S. Reisen, M.D., Chairman”

    (Cited in ‘the deliberate dumbing down of america’ [sic] by Charlotte Thomson Iseiliyt, 2nd Edition, 2000)


    I also quote from the 1969 Master Plan for Public Education in Hawaii — Toward a New Era for Education in Hawaii by the Hawaii Department of Education:

    “That our system of values should change as the conditions in which these values find their expression change is evident in history…. Our past also has shown that society courts trouble when it clings stubbornly to outmoded values after experience has clearly shown that they need to be revised. For example, developments in our society have now cast considerable doubts on the worth of such deep-seated beliefs, still held strongly in some quarters, as extreme and rugged individualism or isolationism in international affairs. While values tend to persist, they are tentative. They provide the directions basic to any conscious and direct attempt to influence pupil behavior…. Some will argue, of course, that direct and purposeful effort at changing value orientations of pupils is no concern of the schools. But from what we know of the pupil and his development, the school is inescapably involved in influencing his moral values and ethical structure[.]” (p. 63)



    Or, in the end, I could just quote from G. K. Chesterton, who is also among the prophets:

    “We can always convict such people of sentimentalism by their weakness for euphemism. The phrase they use is always softened and suited for journalistic appeals. They talk of free love when they mean something quite different, better defined as free lust. But being sentimentalists they feel bound to simper and coo over the word “love.” They insist on talking about Birth Control when they mean less birth and no control. We could smash them to atoms, if we could be as indecent in our language as they are immoral in their conclusions.” (“Obstinate Orthodoxy” – The Thing)

  14. @Elias Foxmane #13

    Oh, I think I am “getting this” (understanding you) just fine.

    You keep telling me you have nothing against me personally–I’m just a brainwashed tool of nefarious forces.

    You apparently think dairy products are bad. Okay, fine–not very on-topic, but…whatever.

    You tell me that education CANNOT be neutral about religion. So I guess I am undermining the cause of Christ every day I step into a public-school classroom, and teach the kids about world history and American history.

    According to you, my 30 years of teaching experience in public schools gives me no insight whatsoever on education, because “socialist, cultural [sic] Marxist, and behaviouralist [sic]” forces have long ago poisoned the wells of my thinking powers.

    You really, really dislike birth control. (This is a real “bee in the bonnet” on this website, apparently.)

    You put a lot of stock in the writings of Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, who apparently thinks Ronald Reagan was a Communist agent (see, and that the American public education system wants to “mold…child[ren] into…member[s] of the proletariat in preparation for a socialist-collectivist world of the future,” according to the Wikipedia article about her.

    You think G.K. Chesterton was a prophet. I guess you don’t ascribe “prophetic” status to his opinion that we should all convert to Roman Catholicism. I also doubt you endorse his anti-Semitism. Other than those two tiny things, you think he was a prophet.

    And none of this strikes you as…crackpot?

  15. ‘Apparently.’



    ‘No insight whatever.’

    ‘[T]hink G. K. Chesterton was a prophet.’

    That, sir, is the crux. You continue to insert yourself, your words, your thoughts into my lines. Good heavens — who reading this does not understand a figure of speech when he sees it? This rejoinder, ‘should we all not convert to Roman Catholicism as he says, then?’, is not only predictable, it is *irrelevant*.

    (Calling Chesterton an anti-Semite, like Nietzsche, is to utterly misunderstand him.)

    My opinion on Iserbyt’s writings is of little moment. The subtitle of the book cited (‘A Chronological Paper Trail’), however, *is*. You will note that I cited *none* of her own words to you. In attacking Iserbyt, you have moved the goalposts where my citation disproves your assertion that I have only ‘got this from the Internet’ (another handy phrase). Did I not say that quote-lobbing accomplishes nothing? I have seen this game played before.

    If you will not hear me on the matter, how about another K-12 educator of thirty years?


    “I’ve worked as a New York City schoolteacher for the past thirty years, teaching for some of that time elite children from Manhattan’s Upper West Side between Lincoln Center, where the opera is, and Columbia University, where the defense contracts are; and teaching in most recent years, children from Harlem and Spanish Harlem whose lives are shaped by the dangerous undercurrents of the industrial city in decay. I’ve taught at six different schools in that time…

    …Over the past thirty years, I’ve used my classes as a laboratory where I could learn a broader range of what human possibility is – the whole catalogue of hopes and fears – and also as a place where I could study what releases and what inhibits human power.

    During that time, I’ve come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us. I didn’t want to accept that notion – far from it: my own training in two elite universities taught me that intelligence and talent distributed themselves economically over a bell curve and that human destiny, because of those mathematical, seemingly irrefutable scientific facts, was as rigorously determined as John Calvin contended.

    The trouble was that the unlikeliest kids kept demonstrating to me at random moments so many of the hallmarks of human excellence – insight, wisdom, justice, resourcefulness, courage, originality – that I became confused. They didn’t do this often enough to make teaching easy, but they did it often enough that I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children’s power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of the national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior…

    …The sociology of government monopoly schools has evolved in such a way that a premise like mine jeopardizes the total institution if it spreads. Kept contained, the occasional teacher who makes a discovery like mine is at worst an annoyance to the chain of command (which has evolved automatic defenses to isolate such bacilli and then to neutralize or destroy them). But once loose, the idea could imperil the central assumptions that allow the institutional school to sustain itself, such as the false assumption that it is difficult to learn to read, or that kids resist learning, and many more. Indeed, the very stability of our economy is threatened by any form of education that might change the nature of the human product schools now turn out: the economy schoolchildren currently expect to live under and serve would not survive a generation of young people trained, for example, to think critically…

    …Over the years of wrestling with the obstacles that stand between child and education, I have come to believe that government monopoly schools are structurally unreformable. They cannot function if their central myths are exposed and abandoned. Over the years, I have come to see that whatever I thought I was doing as a teacher, most of what I actually was doing was teaching an invisible curriculum that reinformed the myths of the school institution and those of an economy based on caste.”

    (Gatto, John Taylor ‘Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, 25th Anniversary Edition’, “Foreward”, 2017, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada)

  16. Pastor Richard, it would be nice to hear a response from you to my comment #8. Thanks in advance.

  17. @James Gibbs #17

    I’m glad that you welcome my continued comments. As the comments have become increasingly lengthy, I must second your “life’s too short” phrase, though I don’t mean any malice by it. I have written at greater length on the topic of education at My articles there on the classical curriculum and the nature of the student may be of some interest to you. If it’s ever feasible to continue this conversation in person, I will gladly buy you a drink.

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