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    Samuel and the Long View of Changing Culture

    March 17, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    The children and I are really enjoying our daily reading of Lord’s Beacon Lights of History. Well, maybe that’s stretching it. E. and I are enjoying it, and the girls are tolerating it and also bickering.

    But I digress.

    This work is offering a thorough education to both of us, and perhaps the little girls if they are listening at all. Every once in a while, A. gives me a sign that she is listening much more than I think she is. We try to read through an idea. Sometimes this means four or five pages, but usually it is just a couple paragraphs. Once I told my son this, he began to ask me daily, “So what was the idea there, Mom?” Usually, after I’ve begun to tell him, he finishes up.

    The idea on Monday was that Samuel took the long way when it comes to bringing about change in a nation, but then I began to think that perhaps good change always takes time. Good change is usually in opposition to the forces of this world, forces like greed, envy, strife, and so on. And so it takes time because good must win hearts before it can really be implemented on a societal level.

    Samuel, like Moses in the desert, labored forty years in educating the people in God’s ways. I found myself wondering if I would have that sort of patience. After all, I intend to kick my children out of the house around age eighteen {I kid, I kid!}.

    Lord tells us that the solution to the degeneration of the nation of Israel was to rekindle the religious life. And then he explains Samuel’s methods:

    [Samuel] was a preacher of righteousness, and in all probability went from city to city and village to village,–as Saint Bernard did when he preached a crusade against the infidels, as John the Baptist did when he preached repentance, as Whitefield did when he sought to kindle religious enthusiasm in England. So he set himself to educate his countrymen in the great truths which appealed to the inner life,–to the heart and conscience. This he did, first, by rousing the slumbering spirits of the elders of tribes when they sought his counsel as a prophet, the like of whom had not appeared since Moses, so gifted and so earnest; and secondly, by founding a school for the education of young men who should go with his instructions wherever he chose to send them, like the early missionaries, to hamlets and villages which he was unable to visit in person.

    I have encountered a number of families who see homeschooling as monastic in nature. It is a school of both mind and soul, and the children are bequeathed the treasures of our heritage, everything that is good, pure, true, beautiful, and so on. John Lord says that such methods and aspirations are timeless:

    [Samuel’s students] lived in communities and ate in common, like the primitive monks. They probably resembled the early Dominican and Franciscan friars of the Middle Ages…Like them they were ascetics in their habits and dress, wearing sheepskins, and living on locusts and wild honey…

    Okay, so maybe we don’t all wear sheepskin, but I’ve noticed a number of homeschoolers attempt to capture feral hives.


    I don’t want to get distracted from my particular vantage point, that of the family governess. What I found fascinating was that this didn’t happen overnight. Samuel worked diligently over decades to educate the people. Good things can rarely be accomplished in haste.

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