For Self-examination: Why do I poke the hornet’s nest?

I'll take the bullet for you, Ladies!

I’ll take the bullet for you, Ladies!

A homeschooling friend posted this link to Facebook without comment.  The gist of the article from the Atlantic is that more Christian homeschoolers are asking for “mainstream science in their children’s curricula”.  Another friend shared the link but commented that she found the article scary.  I respond thusly:

Well, there IS a diversity of beliefs among Christian homeschoolers as to how God created. It doesn’t prevent you from holding fast to what you believe, but I think intellectual freedom within the homeschooling world is important….I guess my question is, why is that scary?

Then I left for an all day church conference.  When I came home there were over 50 comments (mostly explaining why young earth creationism is the only legitimate Christian view), and separate threads in which I think it was suggested that I’m a swine (as in, “cast not ye pearls before….”).  Most of the comments were not directed at me, but as one of the very, very few “dissenting” voices it’s hard not feel a little sensitive after such a strong reaction.

That’s what I mean by kicking the hornet’s nest.  There are certain subjects best left alone among homeschoolers, at least if you like to keep things comfortable.  Here are a few of the hot buttons:

*  Creation/evolution
*  Male headship
*  Gun control
*  Voting for a Democrat
*  Family church
*  Modesty
*  Harry Potter

That’s a short list.  I don’t have the moxie to keep going.

It’s easy to stay out of trouble.  Speak up approvingly when you agree with the prevailing opinion, keep your mouth shut otherwise.  I speak  more than is wise – big surprise – but this isn’t just arguing on the internet.  This is putting myself at risk with people I see every week.

Why do I do it?  Do I just love controversy?

A little bit, yes.  I do.  I confess, I do enjoy a lively discussion.

But I think I also imagine that I can throw myself out there and take the bullet for the younger homeschool moms who have divergent opinions on one thing or another.  I know they’re out there – I’ve met them.   And I know that some of them are very wary of showing their true selves in homeschool world.  Somehow I’ve got this idea that by being willing to take the flak myself, I’m helping to make the world safe for the next generation.

In other words, I have a bit of a messiah complex.

But I don't think the One!  Honest!

But I don’t think I’m the One! Honest!

So I need to sort that out, because we already have a Messiah, thankyouverymuch.

Maybe I can be more like the big sister who wears the parents down by endlessly questioning the rules – and even breaking a few – so that by the time little sister is a teen the parents have mellowed.  I will continue to press for more intellectual and spiritual open space in the homeschool community because, God knows, we’re already outsiders in the world at large.  We don’t need to treat each other as outsiders as well.  And maybe I will help the homeschooling establishment to see that big sis didn’t wind up living in the back room of a convenience store, selling cold medicine on the black market.  She turned out okay.  I hope.

Besides, Jesus was always questioning the religious authorities of his day, right?  I know I’m not the Messiah, but I’d still like to follow His example.

Postscript:  It’s just occurred to me that writing this post is another kick at the hornet’s nest.  Do I post this to Facebook, or just let it sit here quietly at WordPress, unnoticed by most of my homeschool friends?  What is prudent?


About Sharon Autenrieth

Wife, mom to 5, homeschooler, Christian Education Director, idealist, malcontent, follower of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Bible, education, homeschooling, parenting, religion, spirituality, theology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to For Self-examination: Why do I poke the hornet’s nest?

  1. Sean Asbeck says:

    Oh my… what have you done? 😉


  2. Dave Henry says:

    We’re thinking more and more about homeschooling Celyn. Maybe you can be our homeschooling big sister! 🙂


  3. mandarox says:

    I agree and think it’s really important to question everything, and not to take anything at face value. I, for example, was born into a Catholic family who never really believed in God but still called myself Catholic until I was 15 when I finally openly questioned my religion and became an atheist. It was only then that I was able to open myself to other ideas and arguments and eventually became a Christian a couple of years later.

    It really annoys me when people refuse to have their own opinions and think for themselves. How can a person learn when they don’t ask questions? As a science student, we’re taught to be very cynical and to not accept a new theory without looking at the facts.

    Some of the topics that you’ve mentioned to avoid seem like the most interesting ones (especially Harry Potter 😛 ). It’s the same as how society says to never discuss religion or politics. I saw, why not? Insightful and reasonable debates are the best ways for people to learn. Not just when it comes to religion but in every facet of our lives (plus it’s really fun).


    • What an interesting trajectory you’ve had!

      Perhaps the gaps in our own knowledge make us fearful of other points of view. I feel that way myself, occasionally – not wanting to have my own ideas shaken. I read a great quote from a sci-fi/fantasy writer named Vera Nazarian: “Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic conversation. It will do both of you good.”


  4. jubilare says:

    “I know I’m not the Messiah, but I’d still like to follow His example.” This. 🙂

    If no one speaks up, then fewer people will have a reason to question their own assumptions, and I think that would be bad. Jesus shook people up. I don’t assume I know even half his reasons for doing it, but I do know from personal experience that it’s hard to break us out of the prisons in our minds without shaking us up, first. Otherwise we just sit there, whether the door is open or not.


  5. Jerry Moore says:

    Kicking up the hornet’s nest? Welcome to my world, Sharon. The more of us there are, the better. As someone who has done this for a living for years, I find it shameful that more people I encounter want to express their opinions anonymously. When I tell them that we don’t do this, that they must attach their names to their letters, they say they don’t want to deal with the hassle of their neighbors knowing they disagree with their views. Freedom of expression is a two-edged sword. It allows us to stand up for what we believe in and be counted. But it also means we must make ourselves known while doing so. Hiding behind a wall of anonymity is not only a sign of cowardice, it’s threatening our democratic process.


    • You’re right, Jerry. It’s so easy to believe the worst about the nameless, faceless other. Harder to hang on to prejudices when it’s someone you know. Although being the “someone” is still difficult, and risky. And now that I represent my church in an “official” capacity, it adds another level of circumspection before I speak.


  6. Jeffrey says:

    Truth never suffers from an open and honest examination of itself.


  7. cindy0803 says:


    I am so glad I found you! I am 48 with a just turned 9-year-old, so while I am a new homeschool mom (just started this year), I am old and have wrinkles to prove it.

    I have never been one to refrain from speaking my mind, but I have never been put in such a situation where doing so could have negative consequences on my daughter. It is a hard place to be, and one with which I am unfamiliar. When my daughter was in public school, I could be as cantankerous and demanding in pursuit of my her getting a good education as I felt necessary without much fear of reprisal. Not so in the homeschool world.

    While I won’t go into too much detail, I was accused of “gossip and slander” by a co-op leader and was faced with the very real threat of being kicked out. The problem was that they did not tell me what I said or who accused me, and I had tried very hard to be a team player and not complain. I truly believe I was confused with someone else, but it was a very stressful time and though it worked out, in the first week of this ordeal I looked at “everyone” with suspicion of having “told on me” about something I couldn’t remember doing (well, how could I?). I started to understand how the McCarthy era must have been for those unfortunate enough to find themselves in the crosshairs of the accusers; it creates a real, unhealthy paranoia.

    As for my blog posts, I always link them to Facebook. I don’t comment. I just link. I have to be courageous. Plus I think it keeps me honest. My decision to blog was partly related to the incident that arose out of my new homeschooling experience and due to the toxic political environment our country was (is) in during the last election cycle.

    Loved your list, by the way. I chuckled at Harry Potter. I’m going to go out on a limb that you will not delete my post when I tell you I love Harry Potter.

    And I love your attitude toward creation/evolution and teaching our kids to be critical thinkers and to come to their own conclusions. At the end of the day, kids have to form their own beliefs and relationship to God.


    • I love Harry Potter, too.

      I’m sorry for the experience you had with the co-op! As much as I seem to step in it sometimes, I still think I’ve had it easy compared to some moms – like yourself – who’ve seen the truly ugly side of homeschool moms. We can be a very passive-aggressive bunch sometimes; we want conformity but we also want to all seem nice & polite. So I think the anonymous, back-stabby stuff happens too often.

      I’m looking forward to reading your blog!


  8. Pingback: If you’ve come here through a link….please stay! (And why I keep blogging) | Strange Figures

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