Where I Come From: Homeschooling

As I mentioned before I am a homeschooled alumnus. I have read the stories of my cohorts(to use Darcy’s term http://darcysheartstirrings.blogspot.com/2013/11/of-homeschooling-and-cohort-effect.html?m=1) on blogs and on Twitter. Here is my story:
I was christened in an AME Zion Church(African Methodist Episcopal, a predominantly African-American denomination). A few years later my mom had a born-again experience and grew dissatisfied with our church, wanting more. Along with a family friend we found a new church after having visited a few others. After a few years we moved closer to the church and a year after the move I began my homeschooling at grade six.
Let me describe the church: it’s a white Charismatic, non-denominational church on the frontier between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. I say this because we had some of the traits of Fundamentalism that are mentioned in stories like these, but we were lax in other areas. For example, modesty was preached, but pants, shorts, and sleeveless shirts were considered “modest”(just watch the cleavage). We watched secular TV and movies, but were told to be selective. There was an ambivalent relationship with secular music(Christian music definitely being preferred). We generally were not taught we were worthless, maybe a feature of the Prosperity Message. In fact, I remember sermons on no condemnation and on how much God thinks well of us.(There were exceptions; I know of at least one person who grew up hearing he’s worthless.) We were told God has a plan for our lives, and we younger ones were encouraged to do better than our elders.
On the other hand, we also were very insular.(Even today most non-Christians I interact with are online.) We weren’t part of any homeschooling groups; I didn’t even hear of Bill Gothard or the Pearls until last year. However I recognize versions of some of the teachings. We had the authority teaching; that there’s protection from Satan when you’re under authority. We had the teachings on respecting the man of God. We had complementarianism(for us we didn’t use the term and mainly preached that wives are to submit to their husbands — our pastor’s wife preached as well). We also had purity culture and I Kissed Dating Goodbye (though we went further and kept the genders separate for years). Spanking was prevalent.(Some families were more ruthless than others; my mom was on the benign side.) Spanking, along with threats of Korah and passing on A Divine Revelation of Hell, was a popular way of dealing with teenage rebellion.
Now for the education itself. Due to my having been picked on in school, I was glad to leave public school for homeschooling. With my mom being a single mom, a lady from church agreed to school me, along with another boy from a single parent home. We mainly used the A Beka curriculum(I did a little Bob Jones for algebra and chemistry). I’m sure going to someone else’s home helped guarantee I actually got schooling done. Also, my education was really important to my mom and she made sure I got through all twelve grades.(My mom later explained that comes from African-American culture. Namely, African-Americans traditionally value their kids’ education, as a way of offsetting the disadvantages they face.) Thus she put me on college bound. Due to being a math major she was able to help me in math in the higher grades. Pensacola Christian even tried to recruit me to go to school there.(After reading Samantha Field’s blog, I’m glad I didn’t go; mainly didn’t go due their rejection of the Charismatic movement.) Overall I describe my educational experience itself as positive.
Overall there was a taboo against going to college, due to fears that you’d walk away from God for “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, as the old saying goes. Someone even told me it’s rebellion to go to college. (As we know, rebellion is a heinous sin in Fundamentalism.) What I didn’t realize, though, is my mom wasn’t Drinking the Kool-Aid. By the time I turned 18, I didn’t care if it was rebellion but wasn’t into a battle. My mom told me she’d have fought for me. Also I started questioning my religion at this time, when the light went off that there’s more to the world than my little cave(I fell in love with Plato’s cave allegory). But that’s another post. This meant that I was concerned if I asked about going to college I would be pressed to go to a Christian school, and I just didn’t want to hear the same old line; I wanted to see the world from different perspectives. After all, part of my questioning arose from recognizing that if I’d grown up in Saudi Arabia I’d be Muslim and if I grew up on a mountain in Bhutan I’d be Buddhist. I was also afraid of inquiries into my life.
Some of my friends’ experience wasn’t as good as mine. Their parents dropped the ball (some of their moms may not have wanted to do it); and a lot of my friends didn’t make it through all grades before being recruited for work at extremely low pay(and the girls to work at church). I, too, got recruited for one of these jobs, being told it’s what God wants and if I didn’t accept, my marriage and ministry would be postponed. After nearly a decade (when their mid-20’s), a couple of friends finally got their GEDs.
Why am I sharing my story? Another post by Darcy sums it up: http://darcysheartstirrings.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-accidental-world-changers.html?m=0. Darcy says that as we found each other and told our stories we had a sense of “Me too”; we stood for each other. I wrote this to join up, to extend my hand, to say, “I  stand with my homeschool alumni cohorts.” Anne Lamott said that the most powerful sermon in the world are the words, “Me too.” That’s why I wrote this: to say, “Me too.” On my blog I tell my story, share my reflections on many issues, and invite others to be fellow pilgrims to journey through life with me.

At The Concert

What a wonderful evening! After a boat ride on a cool night, Bob went to a concert — and it’s a blast. The venue is lit up; there’s a laser display show; people are dancing. Being hungry Bob had grabbed a burrito to eat in the stadium. However, before he could bite into it, someone bumped into him, causing it to leap from his hand, somersault through the air, and land on the floor. SQUISH! A dancing woman wearing 2″-heeled ankle boots stepped on the burrito, the guts oozing out as she pressed her weight on it. Bob simply replied, “Crap!”

This post is inspired by a photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers on http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com Due to not yet having figured out all the details of links I wasn’t able to participate formally, but I love my story!

Harriet Tubman: What Did She Do?

The title for this post comes from a question posed to a Twitter follower concerning plans to put Ms. Tubman on a US $20 bill. This post is an answer to that question.
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery around 1820. As a result she witnessed many acts of brutality committed against the slaves. In one such incident they were told to tie up a slave for a whipping, something Tubman refused to do. When the slave ran away, the master threw a 2 lb. weight at the slave, which hit Tubman in the head, nearly killing her. Though she lived, she suffered the effects of the injury the rest of her life.
After her master died, rumor spread that they were to be sold to the Deep South. It was at this time Tubman decided to escape. Upon reaching the North, she resolved to return South to rescue her people. So she got work as a cook for families and hotels and saved her earnings for money to return to the South to lead bands of slaves to freedom.
She made many trips south to rescue slaves, “scaling mountains, fording rivers, threading forests.” She carried the babies(given opium to prevent crying) in a basket on her arm. When people wearied and wanted to return, she pointed her revolver at them and said, “Dead n******s tell no tales; you go or you die!” (Sarah Bradford, Harriet, The Moses of Her People, p. 33)
Tubman was a woman of deep faith. Her biographer Sarah Bradford observed that, in contrast to those who prayed in the morning and evening, Tubman prayed throughout the day. Thomas Garrett, a Quaker working on the Underground Railroad, commented, “I have never met any person, of any color, who had more confidence in the voice of God, and He talked with her every day of her life, and she declared to me that she felt no more fear of being arrested by her former master, or any other person, when in his immediate neighborhood, for she ventured only where God sent her, and her faith in the Supreme Power was truly great.” (Bradford, pp. 83-84) In one example, Tubman took a different route than usual, due to what she believed to be Divine guidance. Later she heard that flyers had been put up where they had just left.
When the Civil War broke out, she accepted the request from the Union to help with the war effort and worked as a nurse and spy. “She sacrificed everything, left her nearest and dearest, and risked her life in the cause of the Union, without one cent of recompense.”
Secretary of State William H. Seward said, “The cause of freedom owes her much; the country owes her much.” Bradford comments, “Yet the country was not willing to pay her anything. Mr. Seward’s efforts, seconded by other distinguished men, to get a pension for her, were sneered at in Congress as absurd and quixotic.” (Bradford, pp. 77-78)
To sum up, what did Harriet Tubman do? She led 300 men, women, and children to freedom. It is believed that, despite a $40,000 bounty on her(at least $900,000 in 2016), all in her charge made it to freedom. She rendered invaluable service to the Union during the Civil War, despite received nothing for her service. In addition she looked after elderly and disabled people of color and opened her home to the hunted and homeless.
I consider Tubman an excellent role model for today’s young people and her place on our currency the least the government can do.

Waitressgate: Reflections of Someone Mixed Race, Part 2

Yesterday I did a post on waitressgate in South Africa, giving my thoughts on the incident. In part two, I’m going to talk about the fundraising campaign on Ms. Schultz’s behalf.(seekeroftruthweb.WordPress.com/2016/05/06/waitressgate-reflections-of-someone-mixed-race-part-1/ for part 1).
The fundraising campaign began when Sihle Ngobese, spokesman for Western Cape social development MEC Albert Fritz, entered the café and gave Schultz R50. Using social media, Ngobese started a couple of fundraising campaigns that raised over R44,000 for Schultz.
This ignited a discussion on whether or not this is appropriate, considering the injustices black people face. My answer is “yes”, as Gwen Ngwenya wrote, ” All the worlds[sic] wrongs don’t have to be corrected before people can give money to something more ‘trivial’. “; in other words, just because something is less of an injustice doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed. To say otherwise is called the Fallacy of Lesser Degree. Another fallacy implied is the False Dilemma, which oversimplifies to only two possible choices when there are in fact more. In other words, when someone presents an either/or, 1) see if a both/and is possible; 2) try to think of other options. I think it’s possible to take care of everyone, if people work together.
I applaud Ngobese in this, in that he sought to be a peacemaker, as Jesus said, ” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”(Mt. 5:9); and as in the Parable of The Good Samaritan, in which a Samaritan helped a Jewish man(in a time in which the relationship between Jews and Samaritans was tense). Jesus Himself interacted with a wide variety of people. However, when interacting with a woman from an area whose inhabitants exploited Galilleean peasants, He called her out(Mt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30).
Though I’m not Muslim I find inspiration in the Quran: “Don’t let the hatred of a people lead you to be unjust! Be just, for it is nearer righteousness” (surah 5:8) and “We have made you from a man and a woman into nations and tribes that you may know each other” (49:13). The latter ayah(verse) is one of my favorite lines of any holy book and something I want to promote(and one purpose for this blog).
Other lines I believe are relevant are this quote from Malcolm X: “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against.” Also the Ahmadi Muslim slogan of “Love for all, hate for none.”
To sum up, I urge us all to do what we can to promote justice and peace; as it is written, “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deut. 16:20); the rabbis say the repetition means that we remain just ourselves in our pursuit of justice. Also, “Seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14); this blog is an attempt to put this into practice.

Waitressgate: Reflections of Someone Mixed Race, Part 1

Waitressgate occurred at the Obz Café in Cape Town, South Africa. When waitress Ashleigh Schultz (a white woman) brought their bill, two #RhodesMustFall activists wrote on it, “WE WILL TIP WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAND!” Schultz broke down crying. One of the activists, Ntokozo Qwabe, went onto Facebook boasting about the incident and mocking her tears as “white tears”. On the one hand, apologists for Qwabe say he was right to mock ” white tears”; on the other hand, a fundraising campaign raised R44,777 for Schultz.
To dismiss Schultz’s tears as “white tears” commits the Explanation Freeze, a human tendency to fixate on the first explanation that comes to mind. Studies show that when we consider alternative explanations we are more likely to accurately assess the situation. In Schultz’s case, she’s working to help her mother, who has cancer, and she had had a rough day.
One Qwabe apologist raised the issue of white people responding with guilt and tears when confronted with the realities of racism. He contends that it’s oppressive to attempt to share the pain instead of accepting responsibility and working to end the oppression. I disagree. I contend that it’s human, when one’s narratives and worldviews are rocked, to be shocked; in fact, it can be psychologically disruptive, particularly, considering the fact that we(humanity) have a tendency to surround ourselves with ideas that confirm our preconceived notions and anything to the contrary is “lontano dell’occhi, lontano del cuore”(Italian for ” far from the eyes, far from the heart”). Due to this confirmation bias, these issues are uncharted territory for a lot of people, and they probably don’t know how to respond.
Now, to white people: once you’ve had a good cry, felt guilty, etc., dust yourself off, go back to your sources, and try to understand what they’re saying. (Remember to avoid the Explanation Freeze.) Seek contrarian viewpoints. Like a pioneer, go into this uncharted territory. Find something, however small, you can do to change the system, for it’s little acts that add up to make a big difference. Decide the buck stops with you. As the Bible says, “Pluck up and break down, destroy, and overthrow; build and plant” (Jer. 1:10). In my view, it’s the private citizen that can do more to change the world than the politicians.

Why I’m Here

Why does this blog exist? First of all, the name: it comes from Jeremy Beahan of the Reasonable Doubts Podcast. “Before you identify yourself as a Republican or a Democrat; before you identify as a Christian or a Jew; before you identify as anything, identify yourself — think of your primary identity as a seeker of truth.Put that first above anything else. Then whatever is worthy should follow that.” Previous to this quote in the podcast Beahan said it’s important that we have the courage to seek opposing viewpoints; to listen to the other side. Thus, I hope this blog won’t be a liberal, conservative, or libertarian blog; it won’t be a Christian blog; it will be a blog for all seekers of truth — black, white; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu; conservative, liberal, libertarian; cisgendered and straight as well as LGBTQIAP+. 

To share whatever I have that may help someone, that they may connect to. A little over a year ago I joined Twitter to connect with people beyond my bubble, to see alternative perspectives, to break the shell of provincialism.

People have called me smart for much of my life, but I really don’t know what I’m doing. However I think I need to share what I do have. The Quran says “Whoever is given knowledge is given indeed abundant wealth.”(Surah 2:269) and “Of my Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”(20:114). The Bible says “If you seek it[wisdom] as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”(Prov. 2:4-5, NIV)

Here are a few hadith(sayings of Muhammad): “Go back to your people and teach them.”(Bukhari 3:25); “Let him who is present impart knowledge to him who is absent.”(Bukhari 3:37); “Knowledge is only maintained through teaching.”(Bukhari 3:10). The idea of knowledge being wealth and the imperatives to share it reminds me of Psalms 72, in which Solomon prayed for wealth and power to be a voice to the voiceless. Like in the parable of the talents(Mt.25:14-30) I see a good mind as a gift, a trust. The two servants who used their talents were told “Well done thou good and faithful servant”(Mt. 25:21, 23); whereas the one who buried his talent was told “Thou wicked and slothful servant”(Mt. 25:26). 1 Peter 4:10 says “Each one of you should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its many forms.”

BOTTOM LINE: I have an inquisitive personality, have many interests, and am an intellectual. For me learning new things is fun. I want to share that; my experiences, my journey, my story, my studying, reflections — maybe it will be of help to someone; I hope to make connections, to develop a community in which we can learn, grow, connect, etc. Also psychology shows that sharing what we learn helps us to learn.
For more please see my post Meet Me

Meet Me

!שלום

!سلام

Hello world! I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while; well, here we go!

My name is Kevin and I was born in 1985. I see myself as a believer, a freethinker, a skeptic, a seeker. I’m another homeschool alumni from Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism coming out of the woodwork into the blogosphere. I maintain my Evangelical identification but am dissatisfied with a lot of Christian Culture(TM). Right now I’m working as an electrician but I would like to be a writer/translator. As can be inferred from this one of my hobbies is foreign languages.(At the moment I only speak English fluently but I can read online articles in French, know a little Spanish, and am currently working on German.) Other hobbies I have are reading, watching TV, listening to music, tweeting, general Web-surfing,  and now blogging. A few of my interests are religion/spirituality(from a variety of beliefs), foreign languages, foreign countries, history(from the dawn of humanity until present day, the whole world), psychology, MBTI(I’m INTP), and philosophy.

I read mostly nonfiction but two novelists I love are Hermann Hesse(I plan on doing a review of Siddhartha) and Elif Şafak. Subjects of the nonfiction books I’ve read lately include religion/spirituality, gender relations, psychology, memoirs, group conflict, etc.

Things I love: openmindedness, tolerance, peace, cosmopolitanism, equality, cooperation, liberty, human rights, justice, love, dialogue among people of differing viewpoints that’s informative, reason, critical thinking.

Things I do NOT like: closedmindedness, intolerance, dogmatism, hate, oppression, racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, general bigotry, war, political correctness.

If you have any questions about what I’ve said please leave a comment. I plan on doing posts based on what I’ve said but comments will affect the timing and subject matter of said posts.