How are People Nurtured — In Our Constitutional Republic and Pluralist Society?

Today, I will confront the last two of four question-points in this current series (which interrupted another series). These are the questions I’ve been addressing in answer to a reader’s inquiry about an extended quotation I presented by Dr. A.A. Hodge regarding  the impact he foresaw  back in 1887  that secular, public education would have on America.

“In God We Trust.” Where have I read these words?

The previous two posts considered the first two points listed below. Now, let’s consider the latter two.

  1. What is pluralism and what is a pluralistic society?
  2. According to the U.S. Constitution, what is the role of government in education? What/who is responsible for education?
  3.  In our Constitutional Republic, how are individuals nurtured, and how is our culture nurtured?
  4.  What are the roles of the Bible and a “Judeo-Christian” heritage in our current “pluralistic society”?

Nurtured. Nurturing individuals. Nurturing cultures. What is nurture? What does a country’s form of government have to do with the nurturing of individuals and cultures?

Of course, I can’t fully answer these questions, but I can present some ideas pertinent to our times for you to ponder.

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government, Perspectives on Culture | Leave a comment

Approaching Education in a Pluralistic Society

Two main questions should be addressed today.

(Other things are going on at my house, so I grab a few minutes here and there to jot down ideas for this post. Then I will finish this and post it after our grandsons return home.)

This is a continuation of the previous post. In that post I presented five points of questioning to explore based upon two questions by a reader about the meaning of a quotation I presented and its application for today’s society (1).  The quotation from Dr. A.A. Hodge, first published in 1887, was about the role of public education in a pluralistic society here in the United States (2).  In answer, first I explored the meaning of pluralism and a pluralistic society, and now we explore these two questions:

  • According to the U.S. Constitution, what is the role of government in education?
  • What/who is responsible for education?

I think you know the answer to the first question. I think you know that the answer to the second is a current issue of controversy. Actually, the what/who is responsible has long been controversial, not only in our country but in many countries, throughout history.

Therefore, the answer to the first question becomes pivotal.

What does the U.S. constitution say about education and government’s role in it?

I’ve collected many old textbooks. This one, written for grades 7-9, was published in 1925.  Very interesting!

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Can Christianity and Education Dance Together in a Pluralistic Society?

Do you remember the post from last fall in which I included this quotation by Dr. A.A. Hodge, first published in 1887?

“I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.”

Irises pleasantly sway in our front lawn. “Consider the…irises.” (I have no lilies blooming now to consider.)

It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the States has the right of excluding from the public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or the agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States’ system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.”

A reader inquired:

“Regarding the quote from Dr. A. A. Hodge, “I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion…”, what religion might he be referring to? Or perhaps to any religion or a group of religions? If he meant a particular religion, and if that particular religion was Christianity, I would love to hear your understanding of how Dr. Hodge says this works in a pluralistic society. And, if it doesn’t work in a pluralistic society from his perspective, does he advocate theocracy?

I responded with a long response (for the comment section), and the reader responded again:

“I currently struggle to see how his ideas are actionable let alone defensible in a pluralistic society so I really look forward to hearing this unpacked and learning where I may be misunderstanding things (which may simply be a term or two!).”

So today, I’ll do some unpacking.

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Categories: Christian Reader, Dr. A.A. Hodge, Education, Government, Perspectives on Culture, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Back to Kirk (The Roaming Reader: 3)

Back to Kirk! I’m still focused on the first book of the list I gave you in March: The Roots of American Order, by Russell Kirk. (We noted Kirk’s definition and description of “order” in the last post.)

Worth reading.

In the short, first chapter, “Order, the First Need of All”, Kirk tells the story of a scholar born in Russia. He had been a moderate Socialist in 1917, a Menshevik. He fled to Odessa on the Black Sea, but what did he find there? “Bands of young men commandeered street-cars and clattered wildly through the heart of Odessa, firing with rifles at any pedestrian, as though they were hunting pigeons. At any moment, one’s apartment might be invaded by a casual criminal or fanatic, murdering for the sake of a loaf of bread. In this anarchy, justice and freedom were only words.”

So what did this scholar learn?

“Then I learned that before we can know justice and freedom, we must have order. Much though I hated the Communists, I saw then that even the grim order of Communism is better than no order at all. Many might survive under Communism; no one could survive in general disorder.”

Kirk contrasts this story to our American experience. “In America, order and justice and freedom have developed together; but they can decay in parallel fashion.”

While this volume was published in 1974 and reflects the thought and writings of Kirk since the early 1950s, we clearly see its relevance for today. Such is the nature of wisdom.

I lost myself in this book.

Cups of tea encourage me as I read and write. Thankfully, spring is peeking in the windows. Next week is supposed to be warm and sunny here in Indiana!

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Categories: Christian Reader, Government, Perspectives on Culture, The Roaming Reader | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Look at What I Found in My “File Tell”

What have I unearthed in my explorations through my own “file tells”? (If this doesn’t make sense, then read the previous post that introduces the “file tell” concept based upon the architectural term, “tell” or “tel”).

In this process of preparing to move, I’ve dug up photos not seen in decades, letters from old friends, and cards with hand written signatures from our parents, long gone (so precious to see Paul’s adoptive mom’s lovely handwriting). I found award plaques. (“Shall we throw them out?” Surprisingly, Paul chooses not to do so.) I’ve unearthed old teaching notes, childhood essays (fascinating see my young self from afar), and amazingly, a silver box filled with sympathy cards dated 1960 regarding the passing of my maternal grandmother (which I gave to Aunt Mary, Grandma’s last living child).  One bin held paper relics from graduate school, and “Aha”! There it is! Continue reading

Categories: Christian Reader, Education, Government, Moving | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

The G. of G. # 7: Vision, Collision, and Mission

This is my fourth attempt in the last week to write a blog post. There is so much to say that I don’t know what to say. Wearing my biblical worldview lenses, I’m always looking to interpret the visible world through spiritual lenses — seeing the temporal in light of the eternal.

When we entered 2020, many people were excited about the year, seeing some special meaning in the number 2020 — as in 20-20 vision. Admittedly, we were hearing news of some infectious sickness tormenting some cruise ships, how terrible, but that was just a dark blotch in the corner of our vision. “God, have mercy on those people,” we thought, and continued on our way. No 2020 vision there. Looking ahead, many thought the year was looking good. I too had this sense. It never occurred to us that those cruise ships were a microcosm of what we would become worldwide — a foreshadowing of the year and maybe years to come. And pandemic was but one (very large) aspect of the coming collisions. I don’t need to name them.

I just finished reading the new biography of Elisabeth Elliot written by Ellen Vaughn entitled Becoming Elisabeth (published in 2020). Hmm. And what does this title mean? What was she before? She was Betty. Betty. Not Elisabeth. She became Elisabeth after the publication of a side work she did at the bidding of others, taking her away from Ecuador for a year, to do a work which would introduce her to the world. She returned to her missionary work before her manuscript was published, drawn back to the people who killed her husband and four other missionary men.  Through Gates of Splendor introduced Betty to the world as Elisabeth, and so she has ever been. Elisabeth Elliot. E.E.

Elisabeth (Betty) Howard was born on December 21, 1926.  Elisabeth Howard Elliot Leitch Gren died on June 15, 2015. Interestingly, this biography of her early years was published in 2020. A sequel is expected.


And who are we? What are we becoming? As individuals? As Christians? As whatever identifying group? As a nation? Becoming ________________?

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The G. of G. # 6: Lesson from a Leprechaun

This Grammar of Government series continues. While we continue in limbo, waiting for final election results for certain races, most notably, the presidential results, let me tell you a story.

First, I must admit that I really have been in need of the comforting admonition I offered in my last post on November 5. It contained a number of Scriptures, but the article was bookended by this passage:

“Do not be anxious about anything,

but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

present your requests to God.  

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).

With this encouragement in mind, I want to tell you a story that I first heard when I was eight years old.

I tell this story in the chapter of introduction in my yet to be published book, A Traveler’s Guide through Suffering and Joy. The story goes like this.

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The G. of G. # 5: Praying for Our Nation

This will be a shorter post, and I’l continue the theme in the next post (hopefully, next week).

This election week has left us with much angst, but as Christ-followers, we need to keep preaching the Word to ourselves (listening to the Holy Spirit, our teacher). We are citizens of two kingdoms, and we view this temporal citizenship through the lens of our eternal citizenship. Thus, we pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Paul and I have participated in several group prayer meetings this week. With anxiety I entered the second prayer session and impressively experienced the very claims of the Scripture being discussed:

“Do not be anxious about anything,

but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

present your requests to God.  

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).

We were encouraged to pray. That is our part. We were encouraged to trust God’s sovereignty. His rule is His part. He is good and faithful, wise and true. And as we prayed, I felt the angst and anxiety drain out of my heart, mind, and bones. The weight lifted, and I smiled in faith.

We were encouraged not to feed our spirits with news and social media and such. Instead we were encouraged to drink in Scriptures, listen to worship music, and praise God.  After the prayer session, I sat at our piano and played beautiful hymns, drinking in the Bible-drenched lyrics. Thank You, Lord! I trust in You and Your Sovereign working of Your wise will for today and every tomorrow.

Below are some Scriptures to encourage you:

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Categories: Government, prayer | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The G. of G. #4: In God We Trust

Are you familiar with how the motto, “In God We Trust,” came to be placed on our coins and bills? It’s interesting. Often times, it seems that conflict is necessary for humans to be humbled and to face their need. I’m sure that each of us can personally concur.

I’ll get to a short version of that story. But first, I want to ask you this. Did you read any of the four Christian worldview articles that I listed in my previous post? If not, I’d encourage you to check out this site:!

These worldview articles will not only help you to see biblical principles that impact social issues and public policy, but they will also give you good examples of how to build biblical perspectives on issues and show you how to improve the biblical shape of your own worldview. A Christian worldview is not static. No matter how old I am,  I’m finding that I can continually grow toward a more sound view and practice.

This is the fourth article in a series entitled The Grammar of Government.*1  I plan to write one or two more articles in this series before moving on to another theme.

Have you re-read The Constitution of the United States recently? The Declaration of Independence? Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights are often studied in conjunction with The Declaration of Independence and compared with colonial charters and constitutions, and colonial self-governing perspectives and practices. Fascinating.

Have you noticed that the Constitution of the United States never references God?

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The G. of G. #3: How Do You Build a Biblical Worldview to Apply to Politics?

Over two weeks have passed since I posted my last article in this series, The Grammar of Government. Since then, the trees have broken out in vibrant colors. Paul and I spent four days camping with two dear friends in Pokagon State Park along Lake James, just 40 minutes north of our home here in Indiana. And politics rolls on.

Our president has encountered COVID19, fought the battle with impressive medical assistance and through God’s grace, and now he seems to be even more energetic. A fascinating and helpful Vice Presidential candidate debate occurred. A Presidential candidate debate was cancelled. Political town halls and rallies are happening.  The Senate this week has held hearings to scrutinize Amy Coney Barrett (currently a circuit court judge for the seventh circuit of the US Court of Appeals, who was chosen by President Trump to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Senators bloviated. Barrett articulated. Delightfully or begrudgingly, the audience recognized in ACB refined, humble, well-rounded greatness.

How do Christians build a biblical worldview and apply it to civic and political involvement in our Constitutional Republic? In this post, rather than my writing my views, I want to pass on to you a number of articles and a resource that you can explore online to assist you in this pursuit.

I hope that these will encourage you in your personal prayer, research, and decision-making on behalf of our country. You may want to mark these sites to come back to them as you can. Continue reading

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