Didn't we go through this last year? (Yes. Yes, we did.)
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, or the swifts returning to Chapman Elementary School... the arrival of the gi-freakin-gantic Rainbow Resource catalog each year heralds a change of season, a fresh opportunity to go completely overboard planning what we're going to do "next year," homeschooling-wise. (Isn't it odd how even homeschoolers get into the September-to-June academic year concept? In our case, I blame it on Village Home.)
Yesterday, the unlucky mailman stumbled up to our door with one thousand, three hundred seventy pages of pure homeschooling insanity. And I spent a while last night flipping through and seeing if there was anything I just had to add to our list of goodies for next year (right now, it mostly includes card games and art supplies, with the occasional smidge of math curriculum).
And in the overwhelmingly enormous "Bible" section that occupies 85 pages smack-dab in the middle of the catalog, I came upon this:
Institutes of Biblical Law
This is a heavy book, both in weight and in tone. Just shy of War and Peace in size, at 890 pages, author Rousas John Rushdoony* discusses the applicability of Old Testament biblical law to our world more than 3,000 years down the road from when the law was first given.
...Rushdoony covers dominion, theft, restitution and forgiveness.... He talks about big societal issues, like whether imprisonment is a biblical punishment, and whether state oversight of business practices is beneficial or harmful.
...[i]n discussing the fifth commandment, "Honor thy father and mother," we learn about various arguments by anti-family critics, claiming that the institution of the family did not come about by God's design, but from a patriarchal desire for personal power.
...This is a better book than I thought it would be. I expected a dry, academic disucssion of biblical law that only a theologian/attorney would love. Instead I found a meaty discussion of many current issues with profound implications. How we view biblical law does matter.
Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? "Big societal issues?" "Profound implications?" That might be a wee bit of an understatement.
This is the book, after all, in which Rushdoony wrote "[T]he heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state, and it has worked towards reducing society to anarchy... Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies." It's also where he stated that "[Biblical] law is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so."
Oh, and this little gem:
Segregation or separation is thus a basic principle of Biblical law with respect to religion and morality. Every attempt to destroy this principle is an effort to reduce society to its lowest common denominator. Toleration is the excuse under which this levelling is undertaken, but the concept of toleration conceals a radical intolerance. In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed.
So what does Rushdoony think should be done with "the atheist, the pervert, the criminal," as well as those who engage in what he considers to be idolatry or blasphemy (Catholics... Mormons... Orthodox)? Or non-virgin wives, adulterers or kids who talk back to their parents? Death by stoning, of course. What else would constitute a right and proper fulfillment of biblical law?
Rushdoony's followers in the Reconstructionist movement (including the entirely terrifying Chalcedon Foundation), advocate the replacement of the U.S. Constitution with the first five books of the Old Testament, with their uniquely bigoted, misogynistic and bloodthirsty spin. They believe democracy to be inherently flawed and evil. They believe that "the Christian state should
enforce Biblical civil law; and... that the responsibility
of Christians is to exercise dominion in
the earth for God's glory."
In short, they subscribe to beliefs that I consider un-American at least, and treasonous at worst. And for a flag-waving, mom-and-apple-pie, hooray-for-Christian-liberty company like Rainbow Resource to enthusiastically recommend a book like this one forces me to reconsider where I'm sending my (very) few, (very) hard-earned homeschooling curriculum dollars. They've gotten over $500 of my cash in the last three years, and I had a $370 wish list for this year. But no. I'm walking away.
(Maybe the reviewer didn't read the whole thing? Maybe he should have?)
So I'm having to do a bit of scrambling, since Rainbow was really the only place that carried everything I wanted to order for next year. (Not to mention that it was the cheapest by far.) But, y'know, I don't shop at Wal-Mart either. Us morally relativistic secular humanist types have got to maintain our inferior non-biblically based principles somehow, yes?
On the bright side, though: I really really wanted to use "The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe" for a chemistry resource this year. And wouldn't you know it, I couldn't find it anywhere except at Rainbow Resource, until one of the good folks on the Secular Homeschooling Yahoo! group pointed me to the author's Web site where I can order it direct, scary Dominionist theology not involved in any way.
*yes, I am fully aware that a grammatical snafu of this magnitude should've been reason enough for me to chuck the whole catalog out the window and go on my merry way