The Beam In Your Eye, or Somewhere Along in the Bitterness

I’m not really sure if I should post this, to be honest. To some, it may be viewed as unnecessarily airing dirty laundry. Others may just decide I’m whinging, and they may be right, as well. Ultimately, though, I think that there are others like me, and so I’m writing about this–for them.

As I’ve stated before, I don’t think the homeschooling community and the rest of the world use the term “secular” to mean the same things. In the homeschooling community, it appears to be a definition where there is an absence. If one is not a certain type of conservative, creationist Christian, then one is defined as “secular.” In many ways, secular simply means evolutionary. In the rest of the world, a person identifying as secular is usually assumed to be agnostic or atheistic.

Needless to say, there are many religious people and people of faith who homeschool and are also evolutionary homeschoolers, or also liberal, politically, but in general, they are considered to be “secular homeschoolers.”

I find this sadly ironic. I read books by theologians and Biblical scholars. I read about evolution and God. I read different books than do these non-secular homeschoolers, but I am no less engaged, in my opinion, in my faith. I know what I believe. I have studied the Bible. I have read commentaries. I come from a long line of thoughtful people who have all identified themselves as Christian, and until I encountered the homeschooling community, I did as well.

Over the years, I’ve stopped identifying myself as explicitly Christian. It’s been made clear to me that I don’t believe “correctly” in order to have that label. I call myself Christopagan, or a liberal Christian, because I have to distinguish myself in some way from those that have excluded me. If Christian still means a follower of Christ, though, I’m entitled to wear that name.

I've often thought that homeschoolers of all different stripes can still learn much from each other. Some of my very favorite blogs to read are written by people who are, in fact, that specific type of conservative, creationist Christian. I don't feel that I have to agree with my friends on every issue. I recognize that there are places where two good people can come to two different conclusions, and both stances come from a place of conviction.

But something happened last month, though the details are not important, and I was left feeling as though I had been cast out, a beam in someone's eye. Or perhaps I was a misbegotten evangelism project, and it was realized I wasn't going to suddenly become a Calvinist. The details, really, are not important.

How I’ve felt in the weeks since?


I’ve hesitated to respond to blog posts and threads on message boards. I have wondered if my input is truly welcome at all. I’m not a Calvinist. I don’t attend a Reformed church. I don’t attend a church that talks about a moment of salvation. I’m on the road to becoming an Episcopalian. One of those people, who have gay bishops, and women deacons, rectors, and priests. Who reads Francis Collins. I just want you all to know, because I’m also someone who celebrates the old Celtic holidays. I respect and revere the earth, and have from my earliest Sunday School days. I teach my children evolution. My undergraduate major was biology, and I agree with the statement, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” These are my opinions, my faith, my beliefs, and who I am.

As I stated above, I eagerly read the blogs of people with whom I may disagree on some of the above points, or even all. I sometimes find I have more common ground, in terms of homeschooling,with the very conservative (religiously or politically) than I do my fellow liberals or “secular” homeschoolers. There are opinions I would and do cherish highly from those with whom I seem to “differ.” I thought, perhaps foolishly, that the same was true in reverse. That despite my “evolutionary worldview,” my opinions were still welcome on other subjects. I thought that friendships were possible even amongst those who disagree.

I’d be lying if I said this didn’t come from a place of hurt, and some anger which has developed in retrospect. I find myself wondering how much of things in the past were lies. I’ve let myself be burned again. Last time, my mother suggested it was because the people in question were atheistic apolitical assholes. That would be easier, maybe, but no. This time it was a highly religious libertarian who was cloaked (and remains cloaked, publicly) in an appearance of gentle, sweet concern for all. I find myself very bitter. I have friends that don’t treat me badly, so I must not be a completely awful person. I try very hard to be respectful of others’ beliefs. The fact remains that, once again, I don’t know what I did wrong. I existed.

I try to live my life in simple terms. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” My cheeks keep getting slapped, though.


Smrt Mama said...

No, it's pretty much impossible to be friends with people like that. They are withing these insular communities where people like us, the non-believers or wrong-believers, are either The Sinner or The Project (to be converted away from Sin). We aren't anything else to them. I am also going back and questioning, second guessing every conversation. It all seems so fake now to me. All the niceness now seems like the "love bombing" they talk about in Jesus Camp.

In truth, WE could be friends with people with differing opinions. WE held up our end of the friendships: kept the differing opinions to our own space, kept the discourse polite, ended the discourse if it looked like the other party was getting too worked up, provided a graceful out for those awkward topics. How many times did I put disclaimers on my blog? How many times have you put them on yours? "We don't mean YOU. YOU are reasonable, have always been an adult capable of adult conversation." Apparently, though, we were wrong. We were very, very wrong.

This whole situation has led to me completely leaving the WTM forums. I'm second-guessing some other online friendships I've made with people with religious beliefs that different from my own.

What you're writing SHOULD come from a place of hurt. You were hurt. So was I. We weren't just cast aside; she was smug about it. She was petty. We deserved better than that.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to this on many levels. I am fairly religious (Catholic) but I would definitely be considered a secular homeschooler, because I plan to "expose" my children to concepts like evolutionary science and the idea that homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle. I hope to be able to make friends in the homeschool community, but I'm finding it difficult to find a place where I fit.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I know of you through Smrt Mama :o)

I'm going to be delving into homeschooling soon(ish), and reading yours and Smrt Mama's issues of "Christianity vs. Secular" have always left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I agree with you wholeheartedly...I too consider myself a Christian (if that means follower of Christ), but I also believe in evolution among other things. And here's the biggie...I don't attend church regularly (or at all now and days), but that doesn't make me any less of a Christian (in my book at least).

I guess this means that I'm secular. I guess the part that turns me off to the "Christian Homeschool Community" is that you have to either be all or nothing. If you don't share the beliefs of the Duggar's then you are a heathen and doomed to hell. Why? Doesn't that mindset pretty much go against the core beliefs of Christianity in the first place?

THIS is why I mostly align myself with liberals/pagans/non-conservative Christians (even though I don't necessarily believe everything they do). But I agree with you again...I feel that two people can have different beliefs that stem from different convictions and still be friends (or at least cordial).

Sorry for the long reply :o)

Sarah said...

The whole situation is just sad. I have friends in the crunchy community who are very Christian. I hope they don't similarly fall apart, someday:(

Christina said...

i'm very much a "wrong" believer-- quaker-affiliated nontheist-- and i lean strongly towards a classical education. i, too, read the blogs of religious/political conservative homeschoolers because i learn a lot from them. but, yeah, i don't even try to cultivate friendships. it's sad that there are so few people at this intersection. :-/

Daisy said...

I had another reply and for some reason it was lost.

Believe it or not, I’m sad too.

We come from two completely different worlds complete with separate languages. I said something that offended. I didn’t mean it at all the way it was taken. When I said, “What are people of religious and moral convictions to do?” I included YOU in that statement. I meant why should a doctor who has MORAL convictions against vaccinations or circumcision or abortion or ANY moral or religious conviction be forced to perform a procedure against his/her conscience? Never did I think the statement would be taken the way it was.

And yet the event made it very clear just how far apart we are; how impossible it is to think we can really communicate with each other. We believe very differently on most issues. You know that. I know it. Neither of us has ever lied about it. Sure, we’ve moderated our tone. We’ve fought to find the common ground. I even compromised my own personal convictions by saying nothing many times. But the fact remains I was bound to say something offensive at some point. I’m one of those people you both rail against. I believe in absolutes. Absolutes that are right and wrong for everyone and not just those who choose to embrace them. I’m always going to offend you.

I withdrew. Not out of a desire to punish or hurt you, but rather out of a desire to avoid further offense. That may be viewed as petty or smug, but it wasn’t intended to be. It was incredibly painful. I care deeply for both of you. Did I handle this wrong? I’m sure I did. I rarely handle things correctly. Which only makes my point. I’d be sure to disappoint you again some time in the future. I’m terribly sorry I hurt you both.

I hope my responding doesn’t cause you more anger. Perhaps it would have been better to say nothing, but I could not ignore the pain in your post.

Kecia said...

your post makes me sad. I wish there was something I could do to help, but I don't think there is. If I had an enlightenment stick to beat down people with, maybe . . .

Kash said...

One of the lines I edited out of this post read as follows:

"either I am viewed as a carbon copy of Smrt Mama, with no brain of my own, agreeing with her in lock step,"

Ultimately, I decided not to bring her into this unless she chose to identify herself with the situation. Your comment, Daisy, makes me think that perhaps I should have left it in the post.

I never commented on the evening in question. In fact, my sole response was ":(" when M. posted that she was upset. I didn't even know WHY she was upset at that juncture; I was merely responding that I was sad my friend was upset.

The thing is, while she and I share many similarities, we also share many difference, and while I object to the way that you assume one difference of opinion MUST lead to the actions that *you* took (and I'd like to point out here that they were all taken BY YOU), the fact remains that I wasn't actually involved until you decided I was.

Daisy said...

Yes, they were taken by me and I acknowledge that, though I was clearly told where I could take myself.

And while I completely understand that you were not part of that thread, I didn't want to cause any kind of conflict between you and Smrt Mama. Your friendship with each other is a priority and I didn't feel it right to put myself between the two of you. I felt that by limiting my online relationships altogether it would be perceived as LESS of an attempt to cause conflict. I wasn't even trying to create a conflict with Smrt Mama. Unfortunately, what I was thinking and what came across were two different things.

I obviously caused grievous offense to the ladies on Smrt Mama's FB account & to Smrt Mama. How could I continue to post light-hearted comments knowing that I had so greatly offended them?

I dropped many of my FB friends. I simply realized I really suck at relationships. I say all the wrong things. I can't even seem to maintain decent relationships with my own family. How in the world did I ever think I could do it online.

Kash said...

I'm a big girl. Hell, I even made it to 30 on my last birthday. And my mother will tell you that since about age five, I've resented other people making decisions FOR me.

Jonathan said...

Just a thought I want to share. I read "Love thy neighbor as thyself" as a statement of fact and not so much a prescription. We cannot help but love others at best how we love ourselves; we cannot offer what we don't have.

I thought this would be tangential but actually I think it is germane.

Kash said...

So, Jonathan, you think that I don't love others because I don't love myself? Interesting. I love when I get blamed for everything.

Jonathan said...

I honestly have no idea how you got that message from my comment. That wasn't the message I was trying to send.

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