From Luke's Inbox: Sonlight and Socialism

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Hi Luke,

Last night at church, a lady cornered me wondering why Sonlight uses a history text that promotes socialism. She was referring to Hakim's History of US. I tried to explain that the Instructor's Guides give lots of notes about the books to help present the other side. I like the fact that Sonlight presents us with a variety of viewpoints. That didn't help. She seemed disturbed that homeschoolers would use texts that have been adopted by public schools. What would you say to her or others like her?

Great question!

First, I'd love to find out where she is coming from. Why she is disturbed by the idea of using books public schoolers use? What's driving that? Based on that information, I'd try to tailor my response to answer her real questions/concerns.

Second, if I'm not able to get to the heart of the issue and address the underlying concerns, I'd start by pointing her to the 27 Reasons Not to Buy Sonlght... particularly points six, fourteen, and twenty-two. These will give her the philosophy/reasoning behind why we do some of what we do. I may also encourage her to read this article.

Third, I may then move into an even deeper discussion as to why homeschoolers would use texts that hold ideas with which we don't agree. Something like:

In an effort to best serve you and your students, we do encourage you to discuss these ideas and tensions. At appropriate stages, we offer materials to help you start on this journey and we hope that by studying this material together you will grow stronger in your faith and your knowledge of other's observations and ideas. We believe in education, not indoctrination. So while we strongly support some ideas, we do our best to teach not preach.

I recently wrote that--slightly modified here--when asked about why we include books that mention Evolution. I firmly believe that, when appropriate, we are wise to present the beliefs of others so we can wrestle with why they believe as they do. Being able to learn their reasoning, discuss it, and then discover why we don't agree, are essential skills if we ever hope to participate in these discussions. I discovered very shortly after Bible school that learning to laugh at bad ideas did no good. I was unable to actually discuss postmodernism with someone if all I could say to their statements of "there's no such thing as absolute truth" was, "Do you know that absolutely?" While funny, it's not an accurate portrayal of moral relativity and won't help either of us get closer to the absolute Truth. ...all that to say: If we want to be ambassadors for Christ, I think it is our responsibility to learn what the other side thinks so we can talk to them where they are; much like Christ did for us when He came to earth as a man.

After that, I'd want to make sure I answered her questions or replied to her objections. There's much more to be said, but a blanket answer would be difficult as these concerns have many different very important roots that must not be ignored.

That's where I'd start, at least.

~Luke

Well, bloggy friend, how would you respond? What would you add? Have you ever been asked a similar question?

Have you had a similar question about Sonlight yourself? If so, did this address your concerns?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father

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