I had the good fortune of picking up "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok at a thrift store last week for far too little money. This is a profound book, rich and full with so many different themes that I'll be processeing it for a while to come.
I was struck by how invested the fathers were in the educations of their sons and how much the students studied. The study of the Torah took hours a week and was presided over personally by the fathers. This was no happenstance study of the religious documents, this was a sacred trust placed in the hands of the father and presided over with love and care. I look at our post-modern world, our age of mechanical, slot-like thinking and grin a little at the latest wave of persons chanting the mantra of "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, " (Malachi 4:6). Seems to me that we have taken that to mean, watch an extra T.V. show with the kiddos, do something recreational or indulgent. Or, for the truly religious we take them to church every time the door is open or sign them up for Bible Quiz Team. I'm not denigrating S.S., Bible Quiz or indulgent recreation but I do think that we need to be careful that we don't liken those activities with fathers who capture their children's hearts and children whose hearts beat in resonance with their fathers. Through the lens of a Hebraic pov what it means is that we are to be teaching our kids deliberately and logically throughout their childhood and we should teach them about not only the things that we are "interested in" but maybe even more importantly disciplining their hearts and minds so that they can go beyond what they are naturally inclined to. I wonder how this is to be done when a myriad of distractions take our kids away from "home," literally and figuratively for hours a day. Certainly culture is being transmitted but are we deliberate enough in choosing which culture? Why are only 4% of kids raised in Christian homes remaining in the Christian church just months after leaving home for college? My theory is that they finally have the freedom to live out the culture that they have been steeped in for almost 2 decades, and in many cases, parents are lamenting that it is not their own.
"You shall teach them (the commandments and law) to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Deuteronomy 11:19).
We are to take joy in studying, and share that joy with our kids. The father/ son relationship in this book was about the fathers conveying their faith, belief system, ability to think and understand to their children, the very fiber and fabric of their being was being transmitted and the son showed honor to the father by what he understood in the same way that the father showed honor to his legacy by what he had successfully conveyed to his offspring.
Education wasn't just about the transmission of goods or wealth or how to do something. It was the transmission of self, understanding, position in the universe, the right relationship with the Creator, the nurturance of the intellect, the protection of the soul.
We too, are, or can be, chosen, "But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called [you] by your name; You [are] Mine. (Isaiah 43:1). This was a paradigm shifting passage in my life when I first discovered it a quarter of a century ago. I was called with deliberation. I was formed from over-flowing love. I was owned by the Creator of the Universe. I was no accident, no mistake, no aberration, no discard.
Yet our wider culture and educational climate certainly conveys that nowadays. Sexting and it's undesirable effects such as suicide, not to mention the denigration and debasement of self, functional illiteracy, rampant abortion and more commonly euthanasia, evolution, and it's companion, atheism and the inevitable nihilistic belief system that follow shout that life is accidental, determined solely by DNA, worthy of forfeit.
Education is the transmission of culture. This book shined a light on my educational goals for my kids and I realized I haven't wanted enough. That, as Viking Man, says, character is formed through intellectual discipline and inquiry, not the opposite as we hear preached in church and the homeschooling community far too often. I desire that my children have the tools and skills necessary to survive and thrive; Yes. But more importantly I desire that my children have a belief system that is rooted in the Living God to the very core and fiber of their whole being.