The Classical Christian Option

In his next chapter, Rod Dreher spends a good bit of time singing a song I am very familiar with, and he says many good things. The cultural key is education, and what Dreher urges is, from one standpoint, very heartening. “This is why we have to focus tightly and without hesitation on education” (Loc. 2150).

But Dreher does not believe that a deracinated form of Christian education is going to cut it. If we will not have the option of living “a regular life with a Christian coating” (Loc. 2586), then how much less will it be adequate for us to build generic “schools” where an insipid prayer is still kinda legal. This is good, but is in tension with what he proposes elsewhere.

In contrast, Dreher points to “a growing movement called classical Christian education” (Loc. 2162). He goes so far as to say, “To that end, one of the most important pieces of the Benedict Option movement is the spread of classical Christian schools” (Loc. 2168). He says, rightly, “Classical Christian education is the new counterculture” (Loc. 2572). Not only is this the case for younger children, but “a Christian plan for higher education is also needed” (Loc. 2171).

Through its Web site, the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (accsedu.org), an orthodox Protestant organization with members in forty-five states and four foreign countries, offers a how-to package, including a series of questions local communities https://classicalchristian.org/should ask themselves before starting this journey” (Loc. 2442).

All of this is very good, and I am grateful for Dreher’s support of the movement. Not only so, but he also understands what is going on in the government school system—a radical program of catechesis for the new androgynous bipedal carbon units. He says, “it is time for all Christians to pull their children out of the public school system” (Loc. 2306).

But what about the “salt and light” argument? “It brings to mind a father who tosses his child into a whitewater river in hopes that she’ll save another drowning child” (Loc. 2339).

Why don’t you put your six-year-old on a plane to Nairobi? They need salt and light there. But we can’t do that without training and preparation . . . Training, ah. Preparation, ah. Sounds like we need a Christian education first. Let’s go with that then.

All of this is very good. That said, I do differ with Dreher’s views on the size of the tent, at least as regards the school, the admin, and the teachers.

“While there are benefits to establishing a school under a particular tradition, there is also wisdom in taking a broad-tent approach, as long as the school remains under one of the ancient creeds” (Loc. 2408).

I would argue the lowest-common denominator approach to doctrine is one of the things that got us into this mess. If I were a Catholic parent, and there were no options in the community for my children, and I was enough of a Catholic parent to see that the secular school system is a hot mess, I would much rather put my children in a decidedly Protestant school than in a religio-friendly vanilla mush school. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of Judeo-Christians? And this goes to the point made by C.S. Lewis, when he said that individuals at the center of their communions often have better fellowship than the ecumenical glad-handers out on the edges of them.

All this said, this was a good chapter. The differences, for the most part, hover in the background—and relate to the fundamental difference I have with Dreher. Are we supposed to undertake a strategic retreat, or are we supposed to be establishing beachheads?

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Matt
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Matt

What is the source/exact quote from Lewis that you reference?

Caleb Nelson
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Caleb Nelson

It’s in the foreword to Mere Christianity.

adad0
Member

We are supposed to be “in the world, but not of the world”.
What with being on the planet and all, being in the world is pretty common! ????

Tad Lamb Jr
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Tad Lamb Jr

He mentions that “a Christian plan for higher education is also needed” I know that there are some Christian colleges that are remaining faithful, but the need seems so much greater than the supply. Do you have any thoughts on alternative approaches to higher education to prepare young people for work that would normally require a bachelors?

Capndweeb
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Capndweeb

Let us be clear. Public schools are government schools. And they teach lies.
Why would I send my child, whose brain is not yet fully formed, into an arena where lies are taught as truth?
Have we forgotten that the enemy is the father of lies?

PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

Govmnt schools don’t all teach lies — any more than many private Xian schools, that is.
2+2=4 = God’s honest truth.
Govemnt schools aren’t necesarily bound to function under the devil by default.
Of course, in these here united states, it’s becoming well neigh to escape deal breaking ungodly principles imposed upon are growing organically within schoolage of any level.

John Carnahan
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John Carnahan

2+2=4…common grace. WHY does 2+2=4? Can’t be taught that in the gov. school.

Jill Smith
Member

Is that a good example, though? It’s self-evident that 2+2 equals 4; you only need to count on your fingers.

John Carnahan
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John Carnahan

I guess what I mean is that there is no neutral truth. There is a reason that 2+2=4; a reasonable, ordered, and gracious God made the world. The “correct” sum doesn’t exist from nothing.

FeatherBlade
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FeatherBlade

I see you haven’t encountered addition by estimation and common core math.

wtrsims
Member

Is that particular to OUR government or is teaching lies inherent to any school or any government?

Capndweeb
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Capndweeb

I was referring specifically to U.S. schools.

wtrsims
Member

10-4

Jill Smith
Member

In that circumstance, a Catholic parent has the option of Catholic school.

PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

And thank God.

bethyada
Member

Protestants often send their kids to Catholic schools here.

Jill Smith
Member

Yes, I think lots of parents have traditionally done that. There are inner city Catholic schools in some places where the majority of students are not Catholic. In my time, nuns bent over backward not to proselytize Protestant children. They were excused from religion classes and chapel.

bethyada
Member

It is the religious component that I would want.

I think the concern is that the Catholic schools can emphasise Catholic specific minutia and neglect the more fundamental (and shared) Christian values. Of course the Catholics can do what they wish. But I think the 10 commandments and the resurrection of Jesus are of much greater importance that the immaculate conception and venerating the saints.

Jill Smith
Member

Believe me, bethyada, one could only wish. My godsons both had a recent and expensive Catholic education, and while the teaching was excellent on shared doctrine and values, it was abysmal on a lot of fundamental dogma. I think we can be sure the Ten Commandments and the Resurrection are handled well. But there is a lot they simply don’t cover, and there is no longer a catechism that must be learned. I would eat my keyboard if my godchildren have any idea what is meant by the immaculate conception, or if we have to believe the pope if he… Read more »

bethyada
Member

You know Jill, if the Protestants are right, your first 5 years in heaven will be in the re-education classes.

:)

John Callaghan
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John Callaghan

We Catholics call that Purgatory. ☺

JP Stewart
Member

And if the Protestants are wrong, all but the higher-church Anglicans and Lutherans will need a college-level course on liturgy, Revelation-style…

Christopher
Member

“Let alone how to make holy water–oh please, please ask me how.”

Boil the hell out of it? :-P

Jill Smith
Member

Go ahead and steal my thunder, my fine Catholic Lite friend!

adad0
Member

Jilly, you have the recipe for Holy water?
????

ashv
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ashv

Well said. My disagreements with Pastor Wilson are significant, but sheesh, he leaves the competition in the dust.

Christian Histo
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Christian Histo

Who do you like more… Stalin or Wilson?

adad0
Member

I’d guess Elvis. He had the monarchy thing going on!
????

wtrsims
Member

Have you stopped beating your wife?

PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

There be some vanilla Christian schools that excell in their inculcation of basic Christian fundamantals way above & beyond many denominational brands.
Just saying you have to test each case.

Christian Histo
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Christian Histo

I read this book and immediately thought that Dreher was a simply a pessimistic Wilsonite. They seem to agree on everything but who is winning.

Nord357
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Nord357

“If I were a Catholic parent”… Which is why we have Catholic kids in Logos.

Jill Smith
Member

I noticed that from the website. You also have SDA and Mormon kids. Do any of the parents ask for an opt-out on theology classes?

bethyada
Member

Seventh Day Adventists may have some theological differences, but they are definitely Christian. They are not a false cult like LDS.

Nord357
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Nord357

Nope.

Barnabas
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Barnabas

My experience with Christian education has not been an environment of counter culture but of cultural laggards. Conquest’s second law of politics says that any institution not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing. The only truly counter cultural people I know are home schoolers and they tend to mistrust the church since the church is selling the culture.

Ginny Yeager
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Ginny Yeager

You are fond of saying that one can accomplish a great deal if one doesn’t worry about who gets the credit.

When I visit with my classical Christian edjumacating friends and happen to mention you and they say “Who?”, it makes me chuckle.

PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

“retreat, or …beachheads” Doug — Your dispensational brand of postmillenialism forces you onto those beaches. But even you have admitted that in the final snapshot of the turf war, you still don’t capture or convert every last combatant, but need Jesus to ride in on His white horse to wipe the battlefield clean. We plain-jane postmillenialists enlist & put on the armor & fight with you. We’re happy you’re one of the captains in this army. But I know at some point, even you will need the Big Gun Himself to complete the victory. You say He arrives just to… Read more »

Katecho
Member

PerfectHold wrote: But even you have admitted that in the final snapshot of the turf war, you still don’t capture or convert every last combatant, but need Jesus to ride in on His white horse to wipe the battlefield clean. While there may be ups and downs along the way, with potential justification for temporary strategic retreats, PerfectHold shouldn’t try to read too much into not capturing “every last combatant”. The knowledge of the Lord is going to cover the earth like the waters cover the sea. The wheat field is going to be recognizably a wheat field, no matter… Read more »

PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

Do I read you right to say the presence of some weeds is a good thing?
Or at least it ain’t that bad?

And for those few pockets where are the faithful lay exposed and have their limbs torn and families beheaded no retreat is warranted?

Katecho
Member

PerfectHold wrote: Do I read you right to say the presence of some weeds is a good thing? Or at least it ain’t that bad? No. I was simply pointing out that wholesale Christian cultural retreat is not justified merely because “every last combatant” hasn’t converted. We have to look at what dominates the culture to decide if a temporary retreat is warranted or wise. As we approach Christ’s victorious return, the unbelieving culture is not going to be the one that dominates. Retreat will become less and less justifiable as history unfolds. PerfectHold wrote: And for those few pockets… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

And what’s a few beheadings when the prevelant culture elsewhere is so generally much better!

But you will forgive some who find such “victories” all that.

Every knee bowing for us plain jane postmillers means “every” and not most.

melody
Member
melody

The comment section here is certainly interesting; but I’m always fascinated at how far afield from the original blog content the conversation soon rages. Maybe I’m simply not reading between the lines and one should never take Doug at face value, but it seems to me that this is one of the reasons many folks have gotten the Bible so convoluted – they are constantly reading between the lines while ignoring the lines themselves. I read this post as simply being about the efficacy of a classical, actually reading the lines, Biblical education – for children, for heaven’s sake. None… Read more »