Archive for June 10th, 2006

Practicing What One Preaches

June 10, 2006 @ 10:18 am | Filed under:

I tried to leave a polite inquiry on Reverend Jim West’s blog, but for some reason Blogger won’t let me comment. Perhaps Dr. West will be so kind as to respond to me here. He has written a series of posts harshly criticizing home education, which he opposes, he says, on theological grounds. Well, he’s welcome to his opinion, and I have no interest in trying to change his mind.

However. I find some curious and uncharitable inconsistencies in his statements, and I wonder if he himself is aware that he is repeatedly contradicting himself—and is doing so in a manner which runs counter to a central tenet of his religion, which instructs him to do unto others as he would have them do unto him.

In a recent post, Dr. West satirized homeschooling by presenting a fictional character whose home education by his uneducated mother resulted in tragic illiteracy and poverty. Thanks to “Bob Little’s” ignorant mother, he grows up to be a street sweeper who lives in a cardboard box. As satire goes, this one is clumsy and silly; among the evidence of Bob’s educational shortcomings is the observation that he “was a regular sight at the soup kitchen during the raging days of the Great Depression.” You don’t say. At least Imaginary Bob would have been in good company, standing in the bread lines with the thousands of well educated folks made destitute by the Depression. Ahem.

You know, I love a good satire. Dr. West’s post was not a good satire, but I’d have been willing to roll my eyes and move on if it weren’t for what comes next.

Blogger Christopher Heard wrote a post pointing out an unfortunate irony in Dr. West’s post:

The really funny thing about the satire is that Jim—a product of public education who holds a Th.D. from a non-accredited, distance-learning seminary, teaches at a non-accredited, distance-learning seminary, and and constantly champions the cause of quality control in scholarship against dilettantes even though the school of theology for which he teaches “offers a free and open educational resource for self-learners everywhere”—cannot properly form the plural of “homeschooler.”

I’d giggled over that too. Dr. West responded that the grammatical error was deliberate, an extension of the satire. I shall give him the benefit of the doubt. However, in his public response to Chris Heard, Jim West makes the following statement:

In any event, if folk have questions perhaps its best if they ask me directly rather than depending on infidel message boards or incorrect web addresses and slanderous misinformation. I may well oppose homeschooling on theological grounds- but Chris evidently opposes finding out the facts first. Readers will have to decide for themselves which is more egregious.

(Emphasis mine.)

And here, Dr. West, is my question for you. I am glad to hear you oppose “slanderous misinformation” and believe that omitting to “find out the facts first” is egregious. It puzzles me, though, that you are unaware of the manner in which your satire promotes slanderous misinformation (through the suggestion that homeschoolers are inadequately educated) and that you yourself are prone to making statements for which you have no factual basis. For example, you wrote,

Agape Press reports today One of the authors of a proposed resolution urging the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to come up with a plan to pull its children from public schools says the resolution is a “call to holiness” and a “call to obey God’s Word.”

That of course is pure unadulterated rubbish. But what can you expect from two people who have neither theological training nor any sort of intelligent comprehension of the Christian mission. Only the most foolhardy and uninformed fall for the notion being peddled by the “exodizers”.

The only people who pull their kids from public schools out of fear are the same sort who haven’t ever read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew. In other words, they are the sort of people who get all their information second hand. This whole crusade is nothing but another in the long line of senseless crusades entered into by frenzied, uninformed, twaddling and prattling mobs of unwashed peasants. And it is doomed to failure. Fortunately.

To brand homeschoolers “frenzied, uninformed, twaddling and prattling mobs of unwashed peasants” is not only uncharitable in the extreme—a clear violation of the Golden Rule—it is also the presentation of unsupported opinion as fact. You, sir, have failed to “find out the facts first.” Homeschoolers may be many things, but “uninformed” is a word that seldom, if ever, applies. It certainly doesn’t apply across the board. Neither are we frenzied. (We may, sometimes, be unwashed.) If you are serious about the faith you profess, you ought to understand that hypocrisy is explicitly disallowed.

Chris Heard’s post apparently contained an error about the college you attended. This bothered you, and you blasted him for it. He apologized. Yet you yourself have repeatedly made public statements riddled with factual errors and have shown no willingness to educate yourself with the facts. Readers will have to decide for themselves which is more egregious.

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