I feel like I just found a time machine and was transported two decades back in time.
You may have seen that American Prospect came out with an article, “The Homeschool Apostates,” that chronicles some of the people who were hurt by the fundamentalist homeschooling world, and how homeschool graduates are pushing back. It’s a pretty long and important article and discusses Homeschoolers Anonymous, which I’m involved with. The article has gotten a lot of press and buzz on Twitter, including from Richard Dawkins (who I really don’t like for lots of reasons, but hey, he’s super famous) and Dan Savage (who I like much better than Dawkins).
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins)
Terrific—and depressing—longread: children escaping from homeschooling families. Read: http://t.co/eXKMiiCcGs— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage)
ICYMI: Compelling piece about kids abused and miseducated by “homeschooling” parents—and how they’re fighting back: http://t.co/XGyt5MizYT— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage)
That was cool and all, famous people tweeting about something I’m involved with, but what really meant something was seeing that Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales (and voice of Larry the Cucumber), the videos that every evangelical kid of a certain age watched, tweeted the article.
This story about extremes in Christian parenting/homeschooling is frightening, but worth reading. http://t.co/9ryKpAljdk— Phil Vischer (@philvischer)
Good homeschooling rocks! But this disturbing article/data is good motivation to avoid unhealthy extremes… http://t.co/40ZqyIfwvx— Lisa Vischer (@LisaVischer)
It’s silly, but for all of the press and the attention from famous people like Dawkins and Savage, what feels like it really matters is that the Veggie Tales people read the article and got it.
Of course Dawkins is going to get on board if he hears about it, he can use it to promote his anti-theist, all-religion-is-bad talking points. And it’s not really a surprise that Dan Savage would be supportive, he’s certainly heard from enough traumatized fundy kids over the years. That’s not the crowd that needed to be convinced. The overarching worry is that Christian parents, Christian homeschool parents, would read about what we’re doing and lash out defensively instead of seeing that there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with.
I don’t think I can exaggerate the role that Veggie Tales played in Evangelical pop culture for years, and to see that the creator of Veggie Tales, who influenced so many kids, gets it, well, that makes me ridiculously happy. It’s validation.
It means so much to 13 year old me, who knew all the lyrics to the songs from Where’s God When I’m S-Scared? (currently streaming free if you’ve got Amazon Prime, which means I’m totally going to be watching it), because I played it so many times when I babysat kids who were afraid of the dark.
Also yesterday I saw that Steve Taylor has a kickstarter to fund his first album in 20 years.
Thirteen year old me is very excited about this development.
Steve Taylor’s album “Squint”, as well as his best of album, “Now the Truth Can Be Told,” spoke to my cynical, flannel-wearing, 13 year old self at a time when was convinced that nobody in Christian leadership could be trusted and was fed up with the “Come to Jesus and he’ll make it all better” message. So, I guess, not so different from my current cynical adult self, though I’ve long ago retired the flannel.
Steve Taylor’s music showed me that it was possible to critique the church, even harshly critique the church, without losing your faith in the process. That’s that’s stuck with me through all of the intervening years. I may not be happy with the church, or certain parts of Christendom, but the message that you can have a problem with the church without having a problem with Jesus; that you can have a problem with the church precisely because its actions are counter to Jesus’ teachings, that’s something that came through loud and clear at I time I needed it.
It’s funny how a tweet from the Veggie Tales guy and discovering that Steve Taylor has a new album could drag me right back to when I was thirteen. Twenty years have passed. I’ve done things that I dreamed of but never imagined I would actually be able to do. I’ve gone to college, traveled, lived and worked overseas, came out, went off to law school, and yet here I am, still the cynical kid listening to Steve Taylor on repeat and playing Veggie Tales for the kids I babysat, and wishing that people would notice that I had opinions and ideas too.
Now, if only I really did have a time machine and could have erased, “Whatever Happened to Sin” from my copy of “Now the Truth Can Be Told” before thirteen year old me got her hands on it. I’d kind of like it if, “Now if the Lord don’t care and he chooses to ignore ya/ Tell it to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah” didn’t randomly get stuck in my head every so often. But that’s a story for another time.