324 | Preparing for a Time of Persecution: A Curriculum Proposal (Janice Campbell with Andrew Pudewa)
Is it imaginable that freedom of speech and freedom of religion could be suppressed where we live at some time in our future? History would indicate so. How do we prepare ourselves and our families for such a contingency? What curriculum might best prepare us for persecution, even martyrdom? How do we cultivate necessary virtues without sparking burdensome fears? Listen in as Janice Campbell and Andrew Pudewa explore this challenging subject.
Andrew Pudewa is the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and a father of seven. Traveling and speaking around the world, he addresses issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music with clarity, insight, practical experience, and humor. Although he is a graduate of the Talent Education Institute in Japan and holds a Certificate of Child Brain Development from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, PA, his best endorsement is from a young Alaskan boy who called him “the funny man with the wonderful words.” He and his wonderful, heroic wife, Robin, have homeschooled their seven children and are now proud grandparents of fourteen, making their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Janice Campbell, a lifelong reader and writer, loves to introduce students to great books and beautiful writing. She holds an English degree from Mary Baldwin College, and is the graduated homeschool mom of four sons. You’ll find more about reading, writing, planning, and education from a Charlotte Mason/Classical perspective at her websites, EverydayEducation.com, Excellence-in-Literature.com, and DoingWhatMatters.com.
Raising them Right by Theophan the Recluse
Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl B. Trueman
The Coddling of the American Mind by Lukianoff and Haidt
Eat Fast Feast by Jay W. Richards
The Boy Crisis by Farrell and Gray
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Andrew Pudewa of Institute for Excellence in Writing | Website | Podcast | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Pinterest | Vimeo | LinkedIn
Janice Campbell | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Website
Homeschooling.mom | Instagram | Website
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Janice Campbell Hello and welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Janice Campbell and I am one of many hosts here on the podcast. Each week we bring you an encouraging conversation from this busy and blessed journey of educating our children at home. While the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions, we do not pretend to have the answer to every question related to homeschooling. It is our hope that this podcast will point you to Jesus Christ that you may seek his counsel as you train your children in the way they should go. We are so glad you have joined us for today's conversation. Before we start the episode, I would like to thank the sponsor of the Homeschool Solutions Show, Medi-Share. Medi-Share is an affordable and biblical health care alternative. Find out more about their ongoing support of homeschooling families just like ours at MyChristianCare.org. And now on to today's show.
Janice Campbell Hi, I'm Janice Campbell, and I'm here with Andrew Pudewa to talk about a somewhat unusual topic for this podcast: persecution and how we might help our families to prepare. Welcome to the podcast, Andrew.
Andrew Pudewa Thank you, Janice. I appreciate the opportunity.
Janice Campbell So I think there's a whole lot of people who already know you from your talks at GHC and elsewhere, as well as all the writing curriculum that you offer. But for those who don't know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection with the homeschooling world? How you got here?
Andrew Pudewa Yeah, sure. I guess first and foremost, I am a father of seven all grown children, all of whom were homeschooled most of the time, some of whom were homeschooled all the time. And I now have—if I'm counting correctly—15 grandchildren, all of whom are being homeschooled, those who are of school age. So it's great to see the second generation coming. About 27 years ago, I started a little enterprise called the Institute for Excellence in Writing and gradually, over the years, it grew into a decent sized company, and I travel around doing seminars and workshops and also making video classes for kids and teachers and parents and tutors and anyone else who is interested in helping cultivate the art of language in their children. More about that can be read at our website IEW.com. And I have been privileged to be a featured speaker at the Great Homeschool Conventions I think every single year since the very, very first one, although it's possible I missed something. And of course, we all missed out in the year of 2020. But it's good to be back in that flow and to see how homeschooling is kind of developing. The demographic is changing. People's priorities and focus are expanding. And so it's kind of an ever-going fascinating conversation that we're having.
Janice Campbell So true. I've enjoyed the Great Homeschool Conventions myself for all these years. So, you know, I've known you for a whole lot of years. We read a lot of the same things. We both enjoy books. We've talked about books quite a lot. But a couple of months ago on Facebook, I noticed that you were asking your readers some interesting questions all based on a hypothetical situation. Can you give our listeners an idea of what that hypothetical situation was and the questions it led you to ask?
Andrew Pudewa Well, yeah. It was kind of the end of a thought process that brought me there, but the situation that I posited for my Facebook friends and followers was four parts. If you were in a situation where you were cut off from everything that you have—friends, family, library resources, internet—and you were in a very horrible situation, possibly suffering, maybe for your faith, possibly isolated or even imprisoned, what would you like to carry around in your mind that would help you hold strong to your faith? That would help you, whether such an extremely difficult situation which really none of us have faced? I don't know personally anyone who has faced that. I've read books about people who have faced such a circumstance. But my question was divided into four parts. One is: what songs would you like to know? Part two is: what kind of prayers or quotations would you like to know, to have memorized, to have learned by heart? What scripture selections would you like to have memorized? And then lastly, what stories would you like to have furnished your imagination with to be ready for probably an extremely difficult, difficult test? And the reason I asked this question was because—and I didn't tell everybody why I was asking the question. I just asked for suggestions because I kind of wanted to know how people would approach this. What would they recommend or what would they think? And then I was looking for a consensus— or not a consensus, but just some commonality in responses so that I could then choose five from each of those four categories and add to a presentation that I was preparing to give.
Janice Campbell Well, those questions caught my attention for a number of reasons, partly because my thought process had gone in that direction, and a few years ago, I had started what I called my personal memory project. Wrote a little bit about it on my blog, but not a whole lot. Memorized some things, and I think that's critical for us. But what was it for you that started this line of thinking? What made you even consider the idea that we could someday be in a situation of persecution? Was it books? Was it the news that brought you there?
Andrew Pudewa Well, it's kind of everything. Many, many years ago, I was given a book called "Raising Them Right: A Saint's Thoughts on Raising Children". This was written by a guy named Theophan the Recluse, who is evidently revered in the Eastern Orthodox Church as a saint. He lived as a semi hermit, I guess—I don't know much about him—in the 1800s. And he wrote voluminously. He's considered a great modern Orthodox theologian. And this little book "Raising Them Right" was an excerpt of some of his writings about parenting and educating children. And at the time, I found the book very disconcerting because he essentially had a pretty simple argument, which is, number one: the whole end, the whole purpose of education is the creation of attitudes or what we might call appetites. So when children grow up, they are forming their desires. What do they want? What do they have appetite for? What will their attitudes bring them to? And that's kind of the first premise, which I'm okay with that. You know, we tend to think more in terms of academics. He obviously was thinking differently in a wise way, I would say. His second premise is that the appetites or attitudes of a Christian should be to follow Christ. So if we are Christians raising our children in the way that Christians should be raised, we would be raising them with the appetites for following Christ, which is a pretty logical and agreeable statement. The problem came when he said, "To follow Christ means to live a life of service and surrender and sacrifice and suffering even unto death," which is what Christ was entirely all about. And at that point, it becomes kind of an uncomfortable book because you're thinking, "All right, service, well, that's okay if I get paid. Surrender, well, you know, you get married, so you practice that. But this whole business about sacrifice and suffering? I'm just not personally inclined toward that." And as I came kind of face to face with that, I realized my appetites are for comfortable temperature-controlled environments, expensive healthy food, enough money in the bank to not worry too much, and if possible, first class upgrades and nicer hotels. It's like my whole priority system— and I remember thinking at the time reading this book, "I have no idea how I'm going to teach my children to do something which I simply have no aptitude for at all." And I joke and say that's one reason I moved from California to eastern Oklahoma was so that my children could suffer more. But it has just plagued me for years, this realization that we, as Christians, are not well-equipped to raise our children to follow Christ, nor are we personally equipped to look forward to a life of this type of sacrifice and suffering. And yet that is very clearly all through the Gospels exactly what we are called for. And this came into super, super clear focus, I think it was around the beginning of this year, 2022. I saw a headline on an email that I get from a group called Barnabas Aid. And this group provides support for Christians, primarily in the Middle East. And the headline was "Pakistani Pastor Gunned Down" or "Murdered". And I looked at it and thought, "Well, that's not too remarkable. You know, he's in Pakistan and pastors get killed all the time." You know, it didn't strike me as something really worth looking at, except when I saw right below it. The wife of this guy— a quote from her, and I don't remember it exactly, but it was something like, "I am so proud and grateful to be the wife and the daughter of a martyr." And I just that shocked me because I thought, "I don't have the capacity to think that way. If my spouse were killed, murdered because of faith, I don't think that inside I would say, 'Praise the Lord. Thank God.'" But that's what she said, "Thank God." And then his brother said, "I praise and thank God that I am from a family of martyrs." And I just thought there is a huge gap here between my thinking and that kind of thinking. So that's what kind of got me started on this.
Janice Campbell Yeah, that's an amazing story and an amazing perspective. And you're right, we do not have a capacity for suffering. Suffering at this point is when I don't have the right yogurt for breakfast.
Andrew Pudewa Yeah, First World miseries, right?
Janice Campbell Exactly.
Andrew Pudewa Ran out of my favorite cheese. Horrible.
Janice Campbell Yes. It is. We are creatures of astonishing amounts of luxury, at this point. But what brings us to this point in history where we can be creatures of luxury and not thinking of this, but yet knowing we should think about that when there's so many people in the world who are suffering as we speak.
Andrew Pudewa Well, and I have always been attracted—and I think many people are—to the stories of sacrificial life, even martyrdom, whether they're biographies or autobiographies or fiction stories. You know, those tend to be really strong in my imagination. I remember I grew up in a home that wasn't particularly Christian. I mean, we were culturally Christian with a Christmas tree and Easter eggs, but there wasn't any kind of training or Christian habit in the home. We went to church very, very rarely. But I remember, as a teenager, reading a book rich by Richard Wurmbrand called "Tortured for Christ" about his experience in the Soviet prisons, and it's been a long time since I read it, but I remember it just had a profound impact on me thinking, "Wow. That someone could put God above every other form of of safety and comfort and security and this joy that came through." And since then, of course, particularly over the last few years, I've read intentionally a lot of books about people who mostly suffered in prison under communist regimes, whether it's North Korea or North Vietnam or the Soviet era East Germany Nazi period and also stories of early Christian martyrs. And I thought this does not jive well with homeschooling as most of us think about it. I mean, most of us, by default, say "I'm homeschooling my child, so what I need is this child to get a good education so that he or she can go to college so that he or she can get a good job so that he or she can have a secure and comfortable family like I have." And so we're perpetuating this. And I thought, "The early Christians did not educate their children to be successful and comfortable." Right? I mean, you think about the first few centuries under the Roman persecution and whatnot, they educated their children to die as martyrs. And if they didn't, that was just good luck or that was God's will. But there was this intentionality, and so I really was convicted that I think we need to recapture that because, I mean, if we look around the world today and we say everything's going to just keep on the way it has been for the last five decades, and we don't have to worry about the possibility of a real persecution of Christians, you'd have to have your head in the sand, I think, to think that way. But it is our default thinking. So the paradigm shift. So that's what I was really working on and it kind of all coalesced into this talk called Preparation for Persecution. I originally titled it, Janice, Preparation for Martyrdom. But I thought, "No one's going to come to the talk." So I had to soften it just a little bit.
Janice Campbell Right. And then you can talk about martyrdom. You know, you recommended a book last year, I think it was, called Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher that took me down a similar path to where you've been thinking. And so many of the things that we do read in the news sound a lot like those dystopian novels we read when we were younger, and we still probably read them: 1984 and Animal Farm and such. And so we are living in a society that feels a little more precarious than it used to.
Andrew Pudewa Yeah, and Dreher's book, I think— I generally announce my best book of the year and then I have a list going back about 20 years. And that was—without question—my best book of the year for 2020 because it was just so spot on. And he even wrote it really before the COVID mandates and controls and restrictions started to come out and the whole idea of mandatory vaccines to be able to go to work or to go into buildings. And in some parts of the world, it was much, much worse than in the U.S., and in some parts of the U.S., it was much, much worse than it was where I live. But in the first half of the book, he was actually kind of doing this where he was pointing out in what ways are we close to—as you said—1984 in terms of the truth is lies. The history is constantly remade by the people who want to control. War is peace. Love is hate. That complete reversal of things. And he makes it very clear how we see this. He goes and also talks about Brave New World. And and it's so interesting to read '84 and Brave New World together because they're kind of the opposite ends of a spectrum. In one, it's the total control of everybody by the oppressive boot on the face image. And then in Brave New World, it's like we empower you with this infinite amount of sensual fulfillment. Nobody objects. Nobody complains about being totally controlled because all of their sensual needs are met to an extreme and few will ever reject that. But then he goes on and points out, well, how about the whole Nazi era? And, you know, the taking of children and the programing and then the marginalization of different groups and the totalitarian control. And then he talks about the surveillance of the Soviet era. And you think about Bulgaria and East Germany and how everybody was having to basically spy on and report their neighbors for any infractions. And he paints this whole picture and shows how that's happening, not in exactly the same way. It's not the government spying us. But Big Tech is collecting information about us in a way that the East German government would have been thrilled to death, they would have been envious of that level of technological surveillance. So by the end of the first half of the book, you're just sitting there thinking, "That is it. It's all over. We are in the middle of this horrible Venn diagram of all of this dystopian fiction and real history." And you kind of just want to give up. But then in the second part of the book, he goes and he interviews and tells all the stories of all these people who lived through that time period and kept their families and their faith intact. And so many good stories. I cannot recommend this book highly enough because—as a good book does—it's a hurt and rescue operation. You feel the pain, you feel the the horror, and then there's the hope. And then you realize, "Yes, if I have the tools I could be ready for something like this." And so to me, it's by far the most important and best thing that Dreher has ever written. And I've read all his books and a lot of his commentaries. So that book kind of got me going. And the title kind of— he took the title from an article that Solzhenitsyn wrote. The last thing he wrote in Russia before he was exiled, he titled it "Live Not by Lies". It was like his last letter to his fellow Russians. And the bottom line of the book is you may be forced to live in a world of lies, but you do not have to let the lies live in you. And so then the question is, how do we—in this time and this place—prepare in case that does happen to us?
Janice Campbell I love the book, and it's one— you were out there handing it off to everyone. And so now we have it in print and audio and recommend it regularly. There is a children's book that I really recommend along with it because it offers a chilling picture of what it's like to live in under one of those societies. And the book is "Breaking Stalin's Nose" by Eugene Yelchin.
Andrew Pudewa And what age would you recommend this book for?
Janice Campbell I wouldn't recommend it for very young children. I would say probably middle grades.
Andrew Pudewa So 12 and up, maybe?
Janice Campbell Probably so, yes. Cathy Duffy recommended that to me, and it is quite a book, and I just— it's one I haven't stopped thinking about since I read it.
Andrew Pudewa Well, there are other kind of classic books written for kids that age. The Hiding Place is one that many, many people recommended. One thing that Dreher included— he was talking to this family, and the husband was a pastor, and he was in prison. I can't remember if it was Hungary or Bulgaria, but he was in prison for quite a while. He came out; he had to go back to prison. They had a lot of kids, and the kids had to go, of course, to the schools and the indoctrination and all that. But they kept their faith. So he was interviewing the mother, and she said, "I read to the children every night for hours. That's really what we did. We read the scriptures and we read the great books. And most important of the great books was Lord of the Rings." And Dreher said, "Why? Why that one?" And she said, "Because we knew that Mordor was real."
Janice Campbell That's amazing. What a powerful, powerful image.
Andrew Pudewa Yeah. You know, I kind of was collecting up everything from Aesop's Fables to Lord of the Rings and what else is in between, you know, both fiction books that show the great truth that no greater love hath a man than to give his life for another. And you see that in things like Tale of Two Cities. And then you also see it in these stories of people who were persecuted, but they kept that love and joy in their heart, praying for their persecutors the way Christ himself did. And they're just so inspiring. But we have to have a balance. We don't want to bring a spirit of fear to our young children, but we do want to bring them the stories of sacrificial love. And so that's part of the kind of the curriculum proposal that I'm trying to suggest we all work on. I don't have the curriculum. I've got the ideas, and I'm hoping that—over the course of this year and next year—people will continue adding, as you just gave me another book I wasn't familiar with that I will get right away. And how can we continue the conversation? And so my argument about this is, okay, it's possible that we may not suffer a persecution of Christians in our country during our lifetime. It's possible. But if we're ready for it, that's better than if we're not. And if it doesn't happen, we will actually be better people because of being prepared to follow Christ. Because blessed are you who will suffer for my name's sake. Am I ready for that? I don't know. But I do know one thing, and that is I have had very strong promptings—over the last year-and-a-half, two years—to become stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Janice Campbell And that's part of the curriculum that we need to build. And I know you have thoughts on that, but it interested me that, in your talk, you started out with the idea of starting with physical strengthening. And that interested me because usually when we talk about topics like this, you know, you're talking about strengthening your mind, your abilities to think and have have a spiritual life and that sort of thing in the face of a difficulty. But you started with the physical. Can you talk to us about why?
Andrew Pudewa Well, I suspect that that's going to be the hardest thing for most of us if we end up in a persecution situation, whether that is, on one end, kind of not having the whatever you want to call it, passport permission, mark of the beast to buy and sell and live a normal life. And so we have to somehow operate outside the system, or an actual case where you know, there is physical persecution or imprisonment. I think it's going to be the physical side that is the hardest for all of us. And if we look at kind of the ancient Christian— not just Christian, but every religious tradition has this idea of getting tough physically. Gird up your loins, fast and pray, be able to do without. The agony in the garden type of— that seems to be the— I know, for me, that would be my weakest point. That would be the one where I would most quickly capitulate and say, "Yes, give me the comforts I'm used to, and I will sacrifice my resistance or my— hopefully not my faith, but I don't know. Nobody knows. You know, if you're sitting there and people are going to pull out your fingernails if you don't deny Christ— you know, kind of extreme thinking. So that kind of struck me as I'm a wimp and I need to be tougher. And surely there's a grace involved, but I also have to have the physical cup to hold the grace. And I had a really interesting experience, and I'm sure many people did. Our lives changed so significantly during the COVID year. For me, the most radical thing was I didn't go anywhere for almost 12 months and I had not not gone somewhere almost every few weeks or more often for 20 years. I had not stayed at home every day for a whole year in my whole married life. So for me, it was very interesting because I started to establish certain physical routines involving diet, exercise, just morning things that I would do every day to become stronger, and I had not really ever done that because I had just lived this life of always being on the road and one crisis and then urgencies and all that. And when that disappeared, there weren't these external urgencies. I was able to attend to my physical self in a way I never had before. And what I noticed was that the rigor that I was able to embrace on a physical level strengthened me to embrace more consistency and even a rigor on a mental and spiritual level. And so I started to realize there's such an integration here. And if one thinks that they can be spiritually strong and physically weak, I would say that is a very, very rare kind of person. And I wouldn't say it's impossible, but I don't think it's likely. I think that the body, the mind, and the spirit have to develop strength kind of in consonance with each other to maximize the effect. So that was kind of this weird experience I had for a whole year, and I came out of it so much better in so many ways. I thought, "Okay, I want to build on this for people."
Janice Campbell And I think that plays to the point that we are a trinity of body, soul, and spirit. Everything is connected, and you're right, the physical is one of the hardest things. I noticed that you had recommended a book that had to do with eating, and that's on my list now of things I must get a hold of to read it.
Andrew Pudewa It's a gentle book. It is a very gentle book. And by the time I got the book, I had been very much kind of doing that. It's called "Eat, Fast, Feast" by Jay Richards, and he is a Catholic author, but he's very, very gently Catholic. And I don't think that anyone of any religious tradition, even non-Christian, I don't think they would take offense at the Catholic-ness of it because it's just his personal way of talking. But he does point out that there's this history of fasting and what it does in order to help you become stronger spiritually. So I came into fasting primarily for health and longevity reasons, and I got the side benefit of seeing that carrying over a bit into spiritual benefits. I've known other people who kind of got into it for the spiritual side and then saw health benefits on the other end. So I think his book is very good because it's part history, it's part science, and it's part theology, but it's very gentle. And so I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to become healthier and become both physically and spiritually more resilient.
Janice Campbell I'm definitely going to read that. I tend to resist making changes. Once I have my food routines set up, I tend to stick with them for many, many years.
Andrew Pudewa Well, and that is something that is very reasonable. And you know, some people know that they could benefit from losing a few pounds and kind of resist that. Other people don't really feel that need. But what he does is he points out the physiological benefits from fasting aren't simply related to weight loss. In fact, weight loss is almost a peripheral effect. It has to do with, like I said, resiliency, strengthening the metabolism. And what if you were in a situation where you had to go for a longer period of time without food? I mean, or without enough food or without decent food? How many people would be able to do that without it becoming overwhelming to a point where they would lose their mind metaphorically?
Janice Campbell Yeah, that's an interesting thought, because we really do have to be able to function physically in order to think, at least I do. What is the next part of ourselves that we need to cultivate? Our families?
Andrew Pudewa Well, I read another book which I think I mentioned to you called "The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self". This is by Carl Trueman. What a nice name. Wouldn't you love to have that as a last name? True man.
Janice Campbell Perfect.
Andrew Pudewa And it's kind of philosophy lite, but it goes through kind of the how we got to where we are starting with the early 1800s romantic poets—Shelley, Wordsworth—who were really challenging the whole idea of traditional Judeo-Christian monogamy and saying that's just not fulfilling enough. We're romantic people. We need to be able to expand our concept of love and therefore also sex. And so they did it in a poetic, subtle way. And you'd have to read it knowing what you're kind of looking for to consciously be aware, but it infected, if you will, the the whole kind of intelligentsia. And that was very strong with the Enlightenment. And you had Rousseau, who was basically dissatisfied with most everything. And you know why dissatisfied. And then you you roll into Freud, who kind of convinced everybody that first and foremost, humans are sexual beings. And if we don't have sexual fulfillment, then we can't truly be happy. In fact, every motive we have is energized or empowered or originates in our sexual nature. And this, of course, kind of flowed into this modernism that was empowered, if you will, by Darwinism. And so, you know, Darwinism— not necessarily Darwin himself. And we should make a distinction because Darwin, in a way, was a pretty good scientist who people love to hate. But it was the Darwinism that came from this idea that man is not a special creation. That we are an evolving animal and that completely changes the nature of who we think we are. That then was empowered by Marxism and the whole idea that all of history is class struggle. And so you had economic class struggle. But now we see the more modern iteration in the 1900s—particularly in the last half of the 1900s—of sexual identity class struggle. And what he calls in the book the marriage of Marx and Freud. And this is how we got to where we are in terms of now almost everything is thought about in terms of sexual identity. So it was really a very useful book to understand kind of the history of thought. Whether we buy into it or not, we're all affected by it. And he points out, he says, "My grandfather was a metal worker in Pittsburgh in the early 1900s. And if you had said to him, 'I'm a woman trapped in a man's body.' He would have had absolutely no capacity for understanding the meaning of your words." But now you can say that to anyone and anyone would know what you mean. Not that you necessarily agree with it or having it, whatever your opinion is, but you know what it means. And so that is a major shift. And so he's pointing out that all of us are affected by this triumph of this modern self. And I came to this thought that this is the biggest problem of young people. If they don't know how to identify themselves, other people will identify them for them. For example, Janice, if you ask me to talk about who I am, the last thing that I would ever think of telling you is—and this is assuming you didn't know me and never saw me or anything—the last thing I would ever think of telling you is that I'm white, cisgendered, heterosexual male. That would just like never occur to me. However, a lot of people are being told that's how you define who you are. In terms in that zone. So I came to the conclusion—and this is really the meat of my my talk—is we need to learn and we need to be able to teach our children how to identify who they are, how to define themselves. Because if you're in a prison and you've got no friends, no family, no books, no computers, no decent food, no clothing other than rags, no anything, no even hope or knowledge about your future, what's left? Your identity. So where does that begin?
Janice Campbell Think about that, people. Because that is one of the core questions of our era, our time, because if we ground our identity in something other than where it belongs, we're going to have difficulty. So what is identity grounded in? How can we teach our children? What do we bring to them that will help them?
Andrew Pudewa Well, I kind of got this from Trueman's book and then tried to expand it a little bit. And the idea that identity is based really on relationship. So if I were to tell you about myself, I would kind of go down a hierarchy of questions. The first question would be, "Am I a created being or am I an accident of the universe?" Those are really your only two options. If I'm an accident of the universe, everything flows from that, probably in a disordered way. And I end up an accidental human who just happens to be— name it. Right. But if I'm a created being, then I have a relationship with a creator. So now that's the first thing. I might say, "I'm a follower of Christ," so that now creates a relationship with Jesus Christ. I might then go one more step down and say, "I'm a husband." That creates an identity for me. I might go another step and say, "I'm a father, I'm a grandfather, I'm a member of a church, I am a friend, I am a member of a team of people that works in a business for a purpose," you know, and I might even get down to the level of saying, "I'm a person who goes to the gym many times a week," but that would be the least significant thing about me, right? So the questions start really big and important and go down from there. So I would argue that if you're working with children on defining who they are you, you need to start with the most important questions in terms of relationship. Now, if I can just go on a little more, I realized then— and this was a result of a conversation I had with a super, super intelligent guy. We were having dinner and he kind of helped me see this. But there's two elements: code and creed. Code meaning rules, commandments, principles, guidelines, precepts. Creed meaning those things I believe. And so these two kind of go hand-in-hand. Now when you think about it, if I am created by a creator who gave me some rules to follow, my relationship is connected by those rules. So I try to follow the laws of the creator because, first of all, just because I should. But then there's the creed. I have enough understanding of why those rules exist, that I know it will help me be fulfilled and happy. Go one notch down. I am a follower of Christ. Well, there's certain rules, certain things that I do and don't do because I'm a follower of Christ. There's enough creed, there is enough understanding and explanation for me to be empowered to follow those rules. You think about marriage. Marriage vows are basically reciting the rules. I promise to do this and not do that. Why? Because we have this understanding of the value of covenant. So, you know, and it's embedded in our culture from wedding vows. I mean, honestly, think about basic rules. The Boy Scout code. Used to see a lot of schools would have a code of conduct or an honor code that would help define the relationship between the student and the school and the students and other students. Our constitution is basically a code, and the creed is embedded as well. You realize I belong to a religious tradition where every single time I go to church—which is, for me, many times a week—I say, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and Earth, and Jesus Christ, his only son." I say this whole thing. Why? It's not like I don't know it. Why do we say it every single time? Because it more deeply embeds the truths of knowing what you know, believing what you believe. Our Declaration of Independence. We believe these truths to be self-evident. So code and creed is deeply embedded in our western Judeo-Christian tradition and heritage. And yet that is being brutally attacked from everyone, all sides, who say rules simply limit your freedom and you can't really know anything. And so we live in this anarchy agnostic idealism where everyone is going to become more and more dissatisfied, unhappy, miserable, angry and likely to start hating anyone who's happier than they are.
Janice Campbell We're seeing that, totally. So the things that we believe—our creed—and the things that we do—the code that we live by—are all part of our identity.
Andrew Pudewa Yes, and code is such an interesting word because it has three similar kind of analogous meanings. One is rules, right? The code, the rules. The second one is the hidden information, right? It's in code. But the third one fascinates me. We use the term code for genetics, like the genetic makeup. And this is where I believe we hit an incredibly important point where we say our behavior affects our identity in the way that what we do or don't do actually is embedded in our genetics. And we know with the new science of epigenetics that has just been coming out in the past few decades, in the past one decade so strongly, our behavior causes genetic changes that can be passed on, especially by fathers to successive generations. And so this idea— now you think about education, okay? You don't explain to children why first. The first thing you do is say, "We do this. We don't do that. Here are the rules by which you must operate to be in this family." Then as we get older, then we start to bring in more obviously the creed, the faith, the understanding, the belief system, the ideals that empower obedience to the code. And how do we do that? Culture. And that brings us to the final spot here where we started with— nice topic clincher. It's the songs, and the poems, and the prayers, and the quotes, and the stories that live in our hearts and imagination that embody the code and the creed.
Janice Campbell You know, talking about code and creed and identity reminded me of the New Covenant. It's written on our hearts. This code, this creed, our beliefs, all of these things are part of who we are in that New Covenant written on our hearts. That's why we do what we do.
Andrew Pudewa It really is. And the more I contemplate this, the more I am mourning, I am sad. I'm profoundly sad for the people who have rejected it. Because they simply cannot find true happiness. And when you look at the—you know, as we joked at the beginning—the minor dissatisfactions that we have to suffer in our first world problems and how that dissatisfaction affects our emotions and how stupid that is when we put it next to the great saints and martyrs and those who suffered persecution joyfully. Right? How did the early Christians? They suffered poverty, persecution, torture and went to their deaths singing. How do we learn to do that? And that is what I've been thinking about.
Janice Campbell What a great thing to think about. Okay, so this culture, building this culture, building this family culture, hiding the things in our hearts that we want to preserve. I noticed you started with songs because you are aware of the power of music. Who was it that said, "To sing is to pray twice"?
Andrew Pudewa Well, it was either Augustine or Luther, and it's probably Augustine, because Luther probably just echoed him. But yeah, and here's an interesting thing. Janice, you were telling me that you're dealing with end of life issues for parents in your family. I'm pretty much done with that. All four of our parents have passed on in the last decade, really. And so for me, it's been the decade of death, but it's very interesting to see what remains at the end when you have almost all your faculties gone. My wife's parents were very devout Christians their whole life. And her mother died a horrible— it was really horrible to see Alzheimer's taken to its total extreme, and there's just— it's like there's nothing left of the person you knew. And it's just so, so painful. But I will say the last thing that her mother could speak was to sing, "Jesus loves me. This, I know." And "You are my sunshine". And so a few weeks before she was unable to do anything at all and then died, my wife would go and just sing these songs with her again and again because it was their last point of connection. My father-in-law did not have that. He had some dementia, but it wasn't nearly as serious, and he hadn't been able to walk for a long time, could barely move his arms, his leg was going gangrene. They were talking about whether to amputate it, but that might not kill him. He was 89 years old, and I remember we went to visit him and we were talking a little bit. And then the last thing he said as we were going to have to leave him for the day was, "How can I help you? What can I do for you?" You know, that attitude. Of course, you know, my wife said, "Just pray, Dad. Just pray for us. That's your work now." So you kind of have an amazing opportunity when you're with people in the last points of life to be able to understand where were their priorities? And my mother died a little bit younger and the last two things I remember her very clearly saying to me— one was rather humorous. She kind of woke up a little bit and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I said, "What? What?" She said, "You have to do my taxes." Like, you know, unfinished business. And then just days before she died, she she managed to say this to me. She said, "Maybe you'll get to suffer, too." And that unnerved me. Like, I would rather die without suffering. Thank you. But she was trying to communicate there is value in this. There's value in the pain. There's value in the being totally dependent. There's value in seeing the end of your life. There's a suffering, but there's value to the spirit. And that's what she wanted to tell me. And that's the same thing that you read in the books of martyrs and those who have suffered is that is getting closer to Jesus Christ than any other thing you could possibly live for or do. So it's been a very, very interesting road to this point. And you know, it can look very dark to us right now. It's almost like you can't really look at anything and not feel a bit hopeless unless you look at the man on the cross. And that is the hope of the world, and that is the hope of each of us individually. So I never thought I'd get into the preacher mode, but you know, I suppose you get old enough, God does different stuff with you.
Janice Campbell Exactly. He does call us in different ways. And you get past the how-to stage so much. So, you know, I'm going to be putting some of these books that we've talked about in the show notes and things like that. Do you mind if I put the lists, the five songs and verses and books?
Andrew Pudewa Oh, sure, yeah, you can put those. I mean, those are ones that I kind of filtered through and thought, "What if you got someone in this audience who's like, never memorized anything?" And the only song they know is the one that the PowerPoint flashes on the wall at church and they don't have the cultural tradition of some of the great things that just, in many cases, didn't make its way into their education or their experience in a more modern church. And you know, there's just such deep value. And I know you've been working on cultivating memory. We talked about that a little bit, and I have also felt called to just, little by little— and it's harder at this age. It takes more time and more repetition. But you know, if I can learn something beautiful that nurtures my spirit, even just add one word a day, you can do it. You can build up a reservoir of the beauty of the Word and of music. And you know, if I could be tortured and sing God's praises, I would have no greater hope than to be able to do that.
Janice Campbell Absolutely, because it is— at the end of life, you're right. My grandfather was the same as your father-in-law, and I spent his last months soothing him by singing to him. And it was hymns and he could sing along, and it was the last thing. And so, I will mention a couple of the songs that are on your list, which, well, I would have probably chosen all the ones on your list: Be Thou My Vision, It Is Well With My Soul, Amazing Grace, My Anchor Holds, and Faith of Our Fathers.
Andrew Pudewa Yeah, the first two, it's like almost everyone who responded put one or both of those on their list. I limited everybody to three or five or something. I didn't want a gazillion things to sort through.
Janice Campbell Yeah. And those are those are amazing. And so those will be in the show notes, people. And we'll also have the five scripture selections, five prayers or quotes, and then five stories for children. Because these are the things that we will provide our families to help them carry into the next generation and into any difficult situations that we encounter. So is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap?
Andrew Pudewa No, just that the family is the monastery of the new Dark Ages. And it's going to be inside the family where the truth and the goodness and the beauty—and in communities of families—where this will stay alive, where the truth will live in us and the lies will not. And I think if we make that the most important thing about educating our children, whether we were homeschooling, or part-time homeschooling or supplemental homeschooling, or are we're just forced by circumstances to let other people educate our kids, we all have the responsibility, I think, to make that more important than whatever concerns we might have about reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history. That culture, at the core— that is what has to grow because that's what culture is supposed to do. Grow stuff, right? We have to cultivate through the culture of the home, and by extension, other closely like-minded families and community these things. And if, like I said, by some stroke of good fortune, there's a revival, there's a change, there's a recovery and we don't have to suffer because of whatever persecution might come, we avoid that. There will be other suffering, and we will be better off for it if we make it our priority. So that's that's pretty much all that's where I'm at right now.
Janice Campbell That's beautiful, and it's true because I know that looking back in my life where there's been areas of suffering, it has also been an area of growth, and I think that's just the way we're designed. I'm grateful. So I hope that the topic and the books that you suggest will generate a lot of dinner table conversations in a lot of homes. And I thank you for being with us on the Homeschool Solutions Podcast.
Andrew Pudewa Well, thank you for the invitation, Janice. And you keep up the good work in bringing more to more people.
Janice Campbell We'll do our best. And, listeners, you can connect with Andrew at IEW.com and with me, Janice Campbell, at EverydayEducation.com. Thank you for listening and goodbye for now.
Janice Campbell Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.Mom. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast, and while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you to connect with our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram at @homeschoolingdotmom to let us know what you thought of today's episode. Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are homeschooling events of the year, offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the U.S. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there.