Why the Internet May Rip People from Faith

I read an intriguing post about how The Internet Is Disrupting Religion. The author, Andy, is pleased to see religion go; I offered a few observations in the comment section. But a larger question has been forming in my mind since reading the post this morning: Should parents be concerned about their children browsing the internet?

First, the answer is a definite yes! Your children can encounter all manner of terrible content without warning. Inappropriate images and video abound, much of it no longer behind an age gate. If you are not aware of what your children are seeing, get involved. Educate yourself. Install tools to help you if needed. I believe some people abandon their faith simply because it's easier to wallow in sin.

Join the Dark Side

Second, the answer is no, not if your concern is that your children will walk away from the faith because they read something online. The problem is not, as Andy postulates, that your children learn things. Learning stuff is great! But learning in a vacuum without seeking out truth is bad. It's too easy to just gulp down what's given you. So if you don't talk with your children about the interesting stuff they find online, you should. Discussion about difficult subjects is one of the many things that sets Sonlight apart. Tackling tough topics together is a hallmark of Sonlighters. There's nothing to fear in encountering these ideas, but there is a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow in your faith!

Third, of course you should be concerned with what your children ingest via the internet. But I don't think it's facts or arguments that pull people away. It's normalizing the non-religious. It's what Andy labels "the spotlight effect." But instead of presenting justice, mercy, and humility as how we ought to live, the internet often highlights things that promote our self-centered-ness. We, as followers of Christ, are abnormal, the minority, strange. So it's little wonder that our ideals would be overshadowed by secular ideas on the net. If we passively soak in those waters, it's little wonder we absorb some of the thinking.

But, no, there is no need for Christians to fear the internet. It's a tool. It offers amazing opportunity. Like every tool, we should use it properly, with wisdom and skill. And, like everything, you should be involved in helping your students learn to navigate the world wide web.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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Don't believe the lies

Just because you are accused does not mean you are guilty.

I wrote last time about how I was attacked on my Facebook page. How I had my morality, my ethics and my intelligence challenged. I talked about how that crushed me. How that stuck deep inside and caused me to almost crack.

After I moved on and had time to reflect it struck me: it wounded me so deeply because I was swamped with the overwhelming accusations of not one person on the Internet, but by the accuser of my very soul.

The Liar, the lion who goes about seeking whom he may kill and destroy, stands before our Father day and night accusing us. But that does not mean we are guilty.

Hear it again: just because you are accused does not make you guilty.

I know for me the problem is the voice in my head. When I let down my guard I accuse myself more loudly than anyone around me.

A comment about the state of the house? "Slob, lazy, never going to get it together, worthless..." is my own accusation.

A child disrespectful or disobedient? "Failure, why do you even try?" I accuse myself.

Not being able to complete an assignment in the time I've set for myself? "You will never succeed, you cannot do this, give up now" is what I tell myself.

Crying alone in a new church? "No one sees you, no one knows your story."

But then I hear a whisper from on high, "I see you."

And it cuts through the lies.

I am created by God himself. He knows my abilities. He designed my passions. He established my family. He knit not only me, but my husband, and children together too.

He asks that I be the clay in His hand, that I allow him to mold me; that is His desire. While I am not even close to worthless, I believe that God desires to shape me into something greater. More useful. More beautiful.

But more loved? More precious? More unique? Not a chance. My place and worth in God's eyes is secure, nothing will change that.

When I tell myself the truth, God's truth, no accusation can stand.

Until next time,

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Rosetta Stone for $95 (only through Friday)

Rosetta StoneGet a Level 1 Rosetta Stone program for under a hundred bucks. That's an amazing deal!

Look, Rosetta Stone runs sales all the time. But they usually only offer deals this good -- 40% off -- on their foreign language program bundles. If you order before Friday 4/18, you can get this great discount and not shell out a few hundred dollars. You can be on your way to learning a new language for $95 (and 40 cents).

Order your Rosetta Stone language today.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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Pitting Educators Against Parents is a Bad Idea

Sarah at Little House of Penguins makes an observation that Common Core math instruction pits educators against parents. Her points are well made. My concern isn't, however, that parents will no longer be a moral influence for their children. The issues of passing along values arise naturally if students are not taught the foundation for why something is true (a recent post about the purity movement pokes at this a bit). What concerns me is that if parents can't help their kids with math at home...

...kids will not learn math.

Plain and simple.

Educators know that student success depends on parental involvement. And I've shared my own experiences with classroom math instruction. Parents need to be equipped to help their students.

The good news for us homeschoolers is that we are involved. No matter which math curriculum we opt to use, we can follow along. We get the opportunity to (re)learn right along side our students. And so the practice work makes sense. We're not struggling to figure out the meaning of some obscure phrase a teacher is required to use by national standards.

MathTactular4 Sample
MathTacular Makes Math Unbelievably Understandable

Stay involved, even if your student takes a class outside the home. Teachers want you to be on their team, even if political policies push in the other direction.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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Words From a Wise Woman

As I was driving home the other night, flipping through local radio stations, I heard an advertisement for an upcoming seminar titled "Words from a Wise Woman". The title caught my attention, and immediately brought to mind Proverbs 31 ... until I heard further explanation of the event. The featured speaker is an entrepreneur in business and has risen fast and far in her field. The evening's purpose is to allow other women to hear "how it's done" and to be encouraged as they pursue the top of the ladder in their field of interest.

Continuing down the road toward home, I wondered if anyone would pay to come listen to me share words of any kind ... or if they would classify me as a wise woman. My tongue has always conspired to get me in trouble ... whether I'm talking to my kids, or my husband, or co-workers, or friends. I'm not sure I could say that wise words always come from my mouth!

There is a book that sits on my shelf titled "Words That Hurt Words That Heal", by Carole Mayhall. The binding is a little worn as I've had reason to read it over and over again. The synopsis of the book reads "Our mouths are supposed to be fountains of life (Prov. 10:11), but all too often they sound like babbling brooks."

It is so easy to get frustrated with parenting, or with homeschooling, or just with life in general. I don't know about you, but that daily frustration often expresses itself in my words. Mayhall's book is just over 100 pages in length and a very easy read ... but oh so necessary. In fact, instead of attending that seminar next week to hear "Words From a Wise Woman", I think I'll curl up with this book once again and be reminded that when God's wisdom fills my heart, it will overflow into my conversation.

Still on the journey
~Judy Wnuk

When a good man speaks, he is worth listening to, but the words of fools are a dime a dozen.  Proverbs 10:20

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Your Child Struggle in School? Good

We want our kids to rock at life. We don't want to see them struggle. The idea of a student failing in school feels terrible. Yet as strange as it is for someone writing as part of an educational company, I think there are solid reasons why success in school should not be our ultimate goal.

First, conformity is a barrier to success. Time and again, history has shown us that those who rise to the top, who buck the trends, who stand out are abnormal, differently driven, and willing to do something other. As the popular layperson's definition of insanity would indicate, we should not do what's always been done if we want progress. And, if anything, school is about conforming. Learning to work within boundaries is helpful. I have no problems with introducing students to topics and skills and information and approaches. But the world of classrooms is an artificial one with many negative elements. Conformity is a major part of problems related to bullying, class grade levels, socialization, and classroom group think. If your student struggles in a classroom environment, it's likely due to one of the problems in the system. These issues may be an indication that your child is more on top of reality than others.

Second, test scores are terrible indicators of success. I tried to find a study that compared test scores to future success in life. My search failed to yield results. What little I saw tended to further solidify my position that factors far outside academia influence a student's future. This makes sense, especially when we consider the pros and cons to preschool. A student struggling in school is likely influenced by things not related to education. If there is a problem with the student, school isn't going to solve it. And just because the student gets bad grades or flunks tests has very little to say about the years to come.

Third, challenges are opportunities to grow. If your student has a desirable difficulty, the problem could hold them back or enable them to shine. If a challenge breaks you, that's not good. But if your student can push through the issues, success is much more likely to follow.

"Some of the most famous, richest people in this country were terrible students with terrible test scores who struggled through school."
~ Wayne Brasler in Building the Machine


The observation that success in school is not tied to fame, fortune, or positive future impact is a very important one. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world abandoned traditional school entirely.

This leads to two very important conclusions:

  1. As homeschoolers, we can help our children find positive ways to work through their challenges. The negative impacts of dropping out of school are very real. As homeschoolers, we can customize our approach to meet the needs of our students. Many brilliant people were bored out of their minds in school and thrived at home.
  2. If you have a student who is struggling (even at home), that does not mean your student is a failure. Far from it! God uses challenges to shape us. Your child may one day dramatically improve the world in large part because of what's happening now.

There is nothing wrong with having a student who breezes through school. We don't want our children to struggle. Academics are important. Doing well academically honors God. But success in school is hardly our end game. In fact, the reasons to purse a great education are for what it enables us to do, not so we can pat ourselves on the back for earning a certificate.

Keep your eye on your goals. If your student is currently struggling in a classroom setting, it may be time to check out Sonlight where you, and your student, can love learning together.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

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Some Distraction or Other

A month earlier, World War II had begun with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. Oxford students were shaken by news of the war and confused about how, or even if, they should pursue their studies. On October 22, 1939, C.S. Lewis delivered a message to a gathering of students, offering perspective, insight, and encouragement on the situation.

Available today in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, "Learning in War-Time" contains a number of profound remarks. One portion reads as follows: "If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come."

There is much wisdom in these remarks. Life is full of ongoing "distractions"--things that, if we let them, will draw us away from what interests us, what's important to us, and even what God is calling us to accomplish. Sometimes these distractions are mundane and may even be part of our daily routine--surfing the internet, absorbing ourselves in social media, watching television, immersing ourselves in our smartphone, or just having to deal with the daily necessities of life. In other instances, distractions may be larger and more looming--financial pressures, employment transitions, serious health concerns, or a spiritual crisis.

Lewis is not telling us to avoid life or the daunting situations we may find ourselves in, but he reminds us that these sorts of events will always be with us to one extent or another. In short, "some distraction or other" will find its way into our lives (and never at a convenient time). If we wait for the perfect moment of favorable conditions, we'll be waiting a long time.

Homeschooling can be like that--full of "distractions" and detours that life throws our way. Be encouraged in knowing that you're not alone in such circumstances. Know, too, that you can persevere and, despite the difficulties, enjoy teaching, learning, knowing, and understanding.

Robert Velarde

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