Saturday, December 11, 2004

Southern Slavery

The following is my response to the "Southern Slavery, As It Was" argument and commotion which has recently come to the public spotlight.

I am a student at Cary Christian School, and I can clarify this issue, as far as the blogs are concerned. The original article that sparked this controversy is in the Raleigh News and Observer, and has rapidly spread to other news sources, and obviously the blogs. The issue regards a pamphlet, titled "Southern Slavery, as it was". This pamphlet, as the articles say, tries to give a southern view, and a biblical defense of slavery. The 9th grade class at our school had to read this article when studying the civil war. In addition to this they are also required to read a book titled "Uncle Tom's Cabin", as well as many of Lincoln's speeches. Uncle Tom's Cabin and Lincoln's speeches are both very much against slavery, and provide a stark contrast to the ideas of “Southern Slavery”.

Cary Christian School, as our principal, Larry Stephenson, has been quoted, always strives to bring both sides of an issue to everything that they teach. In Rhetoric, we study the ideas of Aristotle, and the contradictory ideas of Plato. In our bible classes, we study the ideas of Wycliffe, Martin Luther, Huss, and others, while only affirming those doctrines that we believe are primary, leaving the rest for the students to discuss with their pastors and parents. The school encourages reading of many different sources, no matter the beliefs of the writers, but with the lower grades, always tries to be careful to remind them the origins and beliefs of the writers. The book was pulled because of what they called, "Clerical issues with citations and footnotes". The truth is, it had some parts that seem to be plagiarized from a similar book titled, "Time on the Cross". This book provides an economic examination of slavery, and seems to be a more scholarly work, though it also does make some assumptions. Our school was unaware of the issues with the pamphlet at the time of the first newspaper article. The school, as I will reiterate, always tries to bring both sides of an issue to the students, and I believe they will continue to do so in this context, even without this book. There may be a new version of Southern Slavery released in the future, which fixes the clerical issues, and there is always the chance that the school may use this. They may even decide to replace it with “Time on the Cross”, but I have no doubt that they will have something to replace this text.

Some people say that this is dangerous. The critics of the school say that we should not teach young children things that may sway their beliefs. My brother is in the ninth grade, and he hates slavery now just as much as he did before reading these books. There is no doubt in my mind that our school and students are against slavery.

Cary Christian School holds a very high standard of learning, and our ninth grade students are very intelligent. The philosophy of teaching at our school dictates that they are taught how to learn very early, and are always challenged with contradictory writings and ideas. We hold many debates in school, and the upper grades are even debating this very issue. I do not want to slam public schools, but many of them are not allowed the privilege of holding this type of debates. We value our right to debate very dearly.

In conclusion, I would like to say that regardless of what the articles may say, our school is against slavery. The primary goal of our teachers is always to prepare us for the rest of our lives. Teachers can give us controversial topics, and debated books, but because we are taught how to analyze everything we read critically, we are not indoctrinated, we are not influenced, but we are only further taught how to think for ourselves. This is not a skill that appears through age, it must be taught. This skill will not appear after learning facts, for how are we thinking for ourselves when all we do is repeat information. This skill is only learned through debates, and critical analysis, and no matter what the critics say, this is the best way to prepare a child for the real world.

7 Comments:

Blogger Paul Jones said...

I don't doubt your attempt to be a good Christian. But I do doubt the philosophy of the school as described by Wilson. A look at Doug Wilson at his own site or as more clearly interpreted by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that he and is co-author may have washed and starched their sheets and have them hidden in the closet, but they are ready to don their Klan hoods again at a moment's notice.

If the pamphlet were an incidental text by someone unrelated to the school, it would still be disgusting, but this is by the man who accredits the school, designed the philosophical basis of the school and who will be the speaker in the spring. Those facts shed so much light that the scoundrel cannot hide.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Ryan Thibodaux said...

Does your school teach "both sides" of the Nazi issue? Do they teach "both sides" regarding the shape of the earth (round vs. flat)? Do they teach "both sides" of drug use (for instance, those who say drugs heighten awareness and bring one closer to God)?

Of course not. Sometimes the "other side" is despicable, unsupported by fact, flat out wrong, or all of the above.

This is one of those times. There is no justification for your school handing out such rascist and revisionist nonsense.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

I have already said before, as an accreditor, the ACCS mainly only dictates what classes we are required to take, and we ascribe to their ideas of teaching. The fallacy is called an Ad Hominem, meaning, "attack on the person", and has been what the news has been using the entire time. Regardless of what the accreditation group does or its members do, the school functions separately, and does not have to hold beliefs of theirs outside of the educational realm. Cary Christian is actually my second ACCS school, and when I was at the first, Ad Fontes Academy, I could see no influence at all of the ACCS, even on our classes, though im sure it was there. At Cary Christian School, it is a little more evident, as there is a small controversy of whether or not the 11th grade class will have to take Greek next year, instead of Hebrew. Our school still does, and has always had the right to choose their own curriculum, and there is, to my knowledge, no basic textbook in the school coming from Canon Press. We mainly use Bob Jones, though they are heavily biased towards Christianity, an often quite annoying in this respect. My father has done some research on Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins in the recent days, and though Steve Wilkins does seem to have some pretty suspicious ties, my father is not yet willing to put forth judgement on Doug Wilson, for it appears he as at least trying to distance himself from "The League of the South". Our school may eventually lose their accreditation, or it may not, but our teachers will still hold to the beliefs and ideas of a Classical Christian education.

On another note, I have been told, by people outside the school, that the "Southern Poverty Law Center" is not to be taken to seriously. Don't you think it is rash to put judgement on our school immediately, before they even know the entire issue. I do not think this is something a "law center" should do.

To Ryan:
I do not believe our school would necessarily teach both sides of the Nazi issue, but it is very probable that we would read "Mein Kampf", to understand some of Hitler's motives behind his beliefs, though I do not think anyone would agree with him in his actions. When our school teaches both sides of an issue, they do not have to affirm both sides, rather, they try to give the backings to why people once held these beliefs. Here's a question, Why did the people in the South once believe slavery was right? Most went to church and worshipped God on Sundays, most probably said prayers to God. What would motivate them to have slaves? This is mainly what the classes in our school try to discuss; the motivation behind the issue.

9:18 AM  
Blogger WindyCityLefty said...

Brad-

I appreciate your comments about this on my blog. I've written a response, and I'm genuinely interested in what you think. My (long) response is here

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brad

I'm a pantheist and I teach sunday school in a Unitarian Universalist church. In the past, people who followed my belief system (see http://www.pantheism.net) were burnt at the stake by people who professed themselves to be motivated by Christ's love, so I tend to be a little suspicious of avowed Christians. I hope you'll forgive me.

Anyway, I wanted to shed a little light on the SPLC issue. I am very familiar with the organization! The SPLC was founded by a Jewish man who was tired of seeing white Christian southerners murder poor blacks with impunity because of the lack of legal services available to the poor in the southern states. Before anyone says these murderers weren't "real" christians, I will remind you that Jesus said only God has the right to make such judgements; that any mortal, however sinful, may claim refuge in Christ, and no mortal man may deny his salvation.

The SPLC are warriors. That's important to understand. They aren't interested in fine points of philosophy, and they aren't interested in the motives of people, they are interested in bringing the flaming sword of justice crashing down on those who oppress the weak and impoverished. If your school gives money to people who sell racist books, the SPLC doesn't care that you were just trying to understand the motives of racists, they only care that the money you spent will be used for evil, and that makes you their enemy. In a very real sense, the money you spend on a racist pamphlet may pay for a bullet that ends up in an SPLC staff member.

The zealotry of the SPLC makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But as the bible says, "the LORD has made all things to a purpose; yea, even the wicked, for the day of judgement". They do important work.

Keep thinking, brother. God did not give us minds and hearts with the intention that we should not use them.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

Thanks for responding...

BTW, I am not easily offended, so don't hold back when commenting. I can certainly forgive you for being "suspicious of avowed Christians", I know there are many who call themselves Christians and don't show it through their actions. Oh, and give yourself a couple minutes, this is a longer read.

To start off, I would like to say that I may have been a little too harsh on the SPLC, but that probably has alot to do with the skeptical view I hold of all "Civil Rights" groups. I cant say that it is wrong if they want peace, for it certainly isn't, but I can disagree with other elements and beliefs of their organization. (I haven't highly researched them, you must know, I am making some fair generalizations that should apply) In this particular situation, I would not criticise them for being upset that our school used the book, but that isn't the problem. They perpetuated a problem that was way overinflated. As I have said, the book is only presented as a way to show "the other side of the story", and it's "racism" may have something to do with why it was chosen. The schools official policy is that they removed the book because of citation errors (a nice way of saying it was plagiarized), but I would grant that it probably had alot to do with putting down the growing storm.

Specifically regarding the SPLC, (Ill be blunt here) I dont care how it was started. The ACLU was started as an organisation devoted to promoting civil rights, and at current, its goal seems to be to remove morality from society. Any organisation can fall from a noble program to a corrupt one once the idealists are gone. When I say this I don't want to imply that they are an ignoble organization, only that they are overzealous, as you put it. (see appendix 2 for a little more info)

"Before anyone says these murderers weren't "real" christians, I will remind you that Jesus said only God has the right to make such judgements; that any mortal, however sinful, may claim refuge in Christ, and no mortal man may deny his salvation."

I might argue that a good number of them could have been Christians at the time. A moderate Christian who has fallen from the straight and narrow may be caught up in the times, and regard himself more highly than those around him. I can make assumptions on who I think are Christians, but as you say, the answer to that question will be revealed when the time comes.

"The zealotry of the SPLC makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But as the bible says, "the LORD has made all things to a purpose; yea, even the wicked, for the day of judgement". They do important work."

I couldn't agree more. I have but a faint glimpse of the plan God has laid out in front of me, and the rest of the world. The scriptures clearly show many instances of God using evil people to fullfil his purposes. I know that he works all things to his glory, and I need not be worried about the future, though that doesn't mean I play no part in it.

Remember that as you read this article, and try to understand the controversy around it, that I am not trying to defend Wilson, or even the ACCS. I am defending my school, my principal, my teachers, and my classmates, as well as those who will come after me, all of whom I know had no ill intent in using this book as part of the curriculum.

"Keep thinking, brother. God did not give us minds and hearts with the intention that we should not use them."
Thats what I intend to do, til the end of my days.

Thanks for the response, I haven't touched this issue in a while, and it got me thinking again. You are always welcome to email me at jjesusfreak01@gmail(dot)com

-Non nobis domine, sed nomini, tuo da gloriam

Appendix 1
Further views regarding toleration (heavily promoted by the SPLC)

I believe all men are created equal in the eyes of God, and all should be treated as such. I personally do not believe that there are relative truths (truths that differ for different individuals in the same situations). When someone comes up to me and says "Allah is good", I am not going to smack them across the face, but I am also not going to say to myself, "Well I am glad he thinks that and I hope it works out for him". I know he is wrong, and I would like to "enlighten" him. Relating this to toleration: I can accept living in a society where people hold different beliefs. That is not a problem. I wouldn't care if the Muslims got to broadcast Koran readings across the country freely, that is, if I were the only one listening. I know I wouldn't be swayed (I am stubborn like that). The problem arises when others, whom I am commanded to love by the scriptures, are being led astray by false beliefs. For this reason I would like to live in a society where only Christianity is taught as certain faith (other faiths taught only historically). I know this isn't God's plan though, and I am still trying to reconcile that. It would seem to be the best way to remove indoctrination of other religions from society. What I mean to say by all of this is that I support tolerating living in a corrupt world, but I do not want others outside the faith to have to be exposed to incorrect worldviews. The worst of these is indoctrination caused by schools. In case you didn't know, the school system is a system of mass indoctrination. Kids are brought in and programmed to fit the ideals of the teachers. I will admit this occurs in private schools too, but the classical education lessens the indoctrination effect by actually teaching the kids how to think as apposed to just repeating information. Dont think I believe you cant get a good education from a public school either, I don't.
I will sum this up now. I will not tolerate children being indoctrinated, but not taught how to think; I will not tolerate gays who push an immoral lifestyle on society; I will not tolerate liberals claiming that women have right to an abortion, and them explaining that this has something to do with privacy. I will combat this with a message of truth, the best truth I know. It is not through political power that Christ built his kingdom, that was the vain hope of the Jews who followed him, but he has built a heavenly kingdom, and our efforts should be devoted to bringing people into an eternal saving grace, not an earthly belief necessarily. In heaven, all ills will be cured, there will be no pain or suffering, and there will be no immorality. I look forward to that day...

Appendix 2
Regarding gun control and political activism

To expand upon some political views of mine, I know that there are two extremes to every view. In gun control, there is the "Brady bunch" and the NRA. While I personally hold the view that gun control is useless (at least in the US in its current state), I am willing to admit that the NRA is often overzealous. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, gunc control advocates overzealously argue that there should be no guns bought legally in the US. I know for a fact that with a country already saturated with guns (believe me when I say that), that no law is going to get criminals to hand over their guns. What do they care, they dont follow the laws anyway. Getting away from that further rabbit trail, I understand the need for these extremes in every situation. They balance each other out, promote debate, and generally keep each other from really messing things up. I believe that there is absolute truth, but that not all of it is revealed to us. Until the time when we dont have to guess anymore, these problems will persist, and I am willing to live in a society that doesn't understand that.


Please forgive any spelling or other errors in this posting, I wrote it at about 1:00am. The time of day when I am at my best in thinking, but just about nothing else.

1:19 AM  

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