Saturday, January 01, 2005

A Line in the Sand

As home schooling parents, my wife and I receive many different catalogs to assist us in the education of our children. But one catalog called "A Line in the Sand" we recently received from the Vision Forum Inc. in Texas not only wanted to sell us products, it also attempted to indoctrinate us into their world view.

And what an interesting world view the Vision Forum catalog is trying to sell. Women should stay home and have babies. Men should defend to the death their faith and families from the threat of modernity. The most godly people in America were the Puritans during the Salem witch trial period.

Why is it important to understand groups like this? Because the people who see the world in the same way as Vision Forum are the people drawing that line in the sand farther and farther to the right and aim to drag the rest of the country there with them.

The cover photo shows a blond boy of about 12 standing in front of an old door. In his right hand is a sword that he has drawn a line in front of him with as he stands guard in front of the mission entrance. His left hand holds up a parchment with the large script "The Biblical Family Now and Forever." With his riding boots and pants, a red sash above his scabbard and Confederate gray jacket, he appears to be ready to defend the church from all that threaten it.

Of course, an armed guard at the door also keeps people out. And I'm not sure that's what God intends for us to do.

But I could be wrong about this group. Let's go past the cover and see.

Doug Phillips, the president and founder of Vision Forum Inc., has a two-page column explaining his view of "The Biblical Family Now and Forever!" Link to his blog here.

He starts off the catalog with scripture:
"Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed...He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established , he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies... The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away." (Psalm 112:1-2,7-8,10)

Not exactly "Love thy neighbor," nor particularly welcoming with the teeth gnashing and all, but what's with all of the ellipses?
What did he leave out?
"1 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.
(Hmm. Maybe Phillips didn't want to remind the reader that he's running a business and he's trying to make a buck or two off them. That's the American way. Let's go on.)
4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious and full of compassion and righteous.
5 A good man showed favor and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is established , he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor: his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honor:
10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away."
(Psalm 112:1-10)

Wow! That's some interesting stuff covered by those ellipses.

Phillips emphasizes the lines about fear the Lord, evil tidings, the wicked, teeth gnashing, but doesn't include the lines about being gracious, compassionate, righteous, giving to the poor on purpose.

Let's go over that again (because I want to make a point about something Phillips does repeatedly throughout the catalog). The upright have enemies that will grieve and melt away. Nothing about the upright showing compassion.

It is almost as if Phillips is promoting a world view that we are surrounded by enemies and should be afraid.

Maybe I'm making too much of his cherry picking of scripture. After all, it's just the first part of a two-page column of a 87-page mail-order catalog. What comes next?

"It was patterned before time began by an eternal Father who loved His eternal Son. It was birthed on the Sixth Day as the very pinnacle of Creation. It was chosen as the vehicle for globe-transforming dominion, covenant faithfulness, and the incarnation of the Savior of the world. It is modeled in the life of the Church through the spiritual brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers who are the very body of Christ. It is pictured and perfected in all its beauty at the culmination of time through a divine wedding feast. In its purest expressions, it is a society of love declared in the last verses of the Old Testament to be inextricably linked to revival and national peace. From Genesis to Revelation, it is proven to be the flesh and blood organization through which men first learn love, law and the meaning of life. It shapes the destiny of children, the character of leaders and the future of civilizations. Its definition is immutable, transcendent and non-negotiable.
"It is the biblical family - now and forever!"

I'll interrupt Phillips briefly to point out, since he places such an emphasis on family, that he has a lovely photo of the "Vision Forum Family in San Antonio, Texas." All the men and boys in khaki pants and blue jackets. Ms. Carnacki pointed out the women, all save one, have jumpers. One woman has a skirt going about mid-calf -- maybe she didn't get the memo. The 44 of them in the photo also are very, very white. There's a reason I'm pointing this out which I'll explain later.

"Every generation has its defining challenge. Ours is the systematic annihilation of the biblical family. It is during this deceptively peaceful yet culture-transforming epoch of history that God has placed us. This is our watch.

"We stand on the threshold of the single most destructive social event in the history of the West. Much has happened over the last two millennia, but it was not until our generation that women have been asked to strap on machine guns and die in combat, that parents en masse have rejected the fruit of the womb, that the majority of women have left the home as their primary mission field, and that the mass execution of the unborn has received legal sanction. And it was not until our watch, our moment in history, that men have sought to redefine marriage to include the most perverse of human behavior. All this on our watch! How will we respond?

"Think back for just a moment to your own childhood. Think back to an America that was, an America already in the throes of radical changes, but an America in which the people of this land still retained a moral conscience. Can you remember the days when moral perversions were not mentioned in public (let alone glorified on national television)? Do you remember? I do.

"And those memories are not so distant. You need only look into the eyes of those precious little ones given to you by God whose innocence and purity have been entrusted to you. I do this every day - with all seven of my children. It puts a fire in my belly. It daily reminds me that there is nothing I would not be prepared to do for my Lord, if only to preserve a future in which these little ones will not be offended. I am reminded that teaching my children the way of Christ "is not a vain thing; because it is [my] life" (Deut. 32:47) and that parents can state, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (III John 4).

"In defense of the biblical family, we today join faithful Christians across this great land by choosing sides in a fight. Like William Barret Travis before the Alamo defenders at the defining moment in Texas history, our sword is drawn and we call upon parents, pastors, and leaders - civil and ecclesiastical - to choose sides in the defining issue of our generation and fight to the death.

"Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD . . . and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. (Neh. 4:14)

"We will never surrender. Nor will we lack the proper weapons of our warfare. The Lord has predetermined both the means and the ends of this battle. This is a battle to be fought in the homes of families, in the local churches, and in the very gates of the land; but it is a battle that is primarily fought in the hearts of men as Christians do what Christians are supposed to do best - make the life of Christ extremely attractive as we evidence the sweet aroma of Jesus by thinking, looking, and acting very different from the world.

"We win every time a father turns his heart to a son. We win every time our daughters reject feminism for femininity. We win every time children rise up and call their mothers blessed. We win every time a local church embraces a vision for family-integrated worship. We win every time a grandfather embraces his patriarchal vision to bless his grandchildren. We win every time a candidate for public office speaks truth regardless of the consequences. We win every time a Christian filmmaker prefers the path of Christ to the sanction of Hollywood. We win through obedience. We win through faithfulness. We win by leading our households in a multi-generational vision of victory...."

(Look! Ellipses. If you're worried I'm leaving out the good stuff, full link here.)

"The products in the 2005 edition of the Vision Forum Family Catalog have been carefully selected to share our passion for the Christ-centered biblical family. Each reflects the commitment of others who have drawn a line in the sand and who will fight to the death in defense of Christ's truth."

Then he goes into a list of products available inside. Be afraid. Defend the family under attack. Buy our products.

"This is our watch. Let's serve the Lord with such vigor that Christian children yet to be born will someday look back and say: this was our finest hour!

"Victory or death! The biblical family - now and forever!" emphasis mine

Wow! Lock and load after a speech like that. My family is under attack and I've got to defend it from everything modern!

Seriously, the book covers nearly all have paintings depicting scenes of people in the 18th and 19th centuries. The compact disc on page 7 of "Biblical Womanhood Victorious, the Role of Women in the Local Church" has cover art of Pilgrim women walking on a snow-covered path apparently to church escorted by their watchful, musket bearing men folk. A toy covered wagon on Page 77 shows two buckskin clad boys escorting two young girls inside the wagons and peeking out from behind the canvas. (My oldest daughter's reaction: "That doesn't look like very much fun.") "Family Man, Family Leader," on page 6 shows a man and woman, both in Victorian garb, looking at a map spread across a table. "The Right Stuff: How to Evaluate a Suitor," available on two compact discs, shows a bucolic wedding scene from mid 18th century.

In addition to books on parenting, home schooling and history, there's also a section on books about the federal judiciary and federal government.

The review for "How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary" by Edwin Viera includes this: "Incredibly, some of these men - professing Christians - demand that judges must be obeyed, even when they offer rulings which provide for the vivisection of little babies, or seek to redefine that which only God can define - the institution of marriage. In his new book, Dr. Edwin Viera explains how issues like abortion and homosexual marriages can be resolved immediately, without special constitutional amendments, if we simply avail ourselves of the measures given to us by our Founding Fathers to hold lawless judges accountable for their behavior."

I guess not enough people have bought Viera's book to find out how to dethrone those judges.

In his "Christian Controversies in American History" series, there's this:
"Pilgrims vs. Indians: Racial Genocide or Biblical Dominion in Colonial New England?"

"Recently 'America's Hometown' erected new monuments near Plymouth Rock referring to the Pilgrims as genocidal murderers. In truth, the Pilgrims provided the most godly view of Christian-Indian relations seen in American history."

"Christians vs. Deists: The Truth about the Faith of America's Founding Fathers."
Joe Morecraft sets us straight on those who refer to the Founding Fathers as Deists.

"Yankees vs. Rebels: Understanding the True Causes of the American Civil War"

"Slavery? States rights? Economic pressures? What were the true causes of the War Between the States? How was it possible for so man 'great men', many of who me were Christians, to disagree so fundamentally on the defining war of American history? For years, Christian students have been befuddled by the nonsense spouted by secular commentators. Into the historical fray steps historian Bill Potter with a scholarly Christian response."

Now back to the issue of race. I mentioned that the 44 people in the photograph of the Vision Forum Family were all white. Of the more than 500 images of people in the 85-page catalog, counting photos of CD covers, and book covers, and models of clothes and toys and lecturers, one shows an Asian-American boy. And there's one photograph of an African-American boy. Guess where his photograph is? If you guessed the very back page, you're correct.

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

<<" It puts a fire in my belly. It daily reminds me that there is nothing I would not be prepared to do for my Lord, if only to preserve a future in which these little ones will not be offended.">>

They really are gearing up for a fight aren't they. What struck me when I re-read the above section is how "me centered" their perceived persecution is. Hell, I hope my kids are offended by what their government has done to others in the Third World - in all of our names.

Funny, when I homeschooled ( for Jr. High a few years ago) the catalogs I used had tons of material, but really none that I thought were that suitable for our particular purposes - primarily for the reasons you state.

The hardest subject was geography. Plenty of drill sheets and facts, but not enough on the diversity and wonderfulness of other cultures. We ended up constructing our own curriculum. One of the best books we came across was _ Material World: A Global Family Portrait_ which visually shows the statistically "average" family in over 30 countries and compares it to the US. The differences makes one pause, on one hand to realize how blessed we are to be living here and on the other, how much need there really is in the world.

Love this site.
God bless all of you in your ministry,

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