Living Books on the Roaring Twenties

Dear Reader,

We’ve finished another decade in our study of 20th century history so here again are the books we used and what I thought of them. Find all the booklists here.

Living Books on the Roaring Twenties

This is going to be  a fairly short list. We only spent 2 weeks on the 1920s and I did not find a lot of good books to use. My goal for this section was to convey life in the 20s. We are saving the big stock market crash to go with the 30s since it really begins a new era.

Our spine books this year are from this series:


As I’ve said before, they are not classic living books but they at written in a quite readable style compared to more modern works. They do give a good selection of American history, world history, and popular culture. I don’t always read all the culture stuff (especially anything about sports, yawn). I did read the section on pole sitters this time. My kids found it very amusing and my oldest was surprised that this was such a phenomenon that they included it in the book.

I had both high schoolers read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I remember liking this book in high school. I read it again before I gave it to them. Though it starts a little slow, it is a good story with a lot of action at one point. The picture of life in the 20s it gives is very much of the extreme upper classes but I think that is okay for an era known for its freedom and excess. If you have not read the book recently, I do recommend prereading as there are some adult themes like adultery. Other Fitzgerald works could also be good choices. He has many short stories.

I really struggled to find any other living books on this era. I got out a small stack from my library and was pleased with pretty much none of them.

Here first are a couple of the books I rejected as being too dry and not at all stories:

For my 7th grader, I chose Al Capone and the Roaring Twenties:


Perhaps because it is on one more narrow subject, it seemed better than most of the others I looked at.

I had my 6th grader read three short books:

The Roaring Twenties by R. Conrad Stein (above left) is from a series I like, Cornerstones of Freedom. Unfortunately, this time I was not able to get one of the older books from that series which typically have titles like “The Story of . . .” But I settled for one of their newer books. American has Fun by Sean Price (above right) is also not a living book and is actually fairly simple for her age but a) I had another week to fill and b) it seemed less horrendously dull than my other choices. The one book which was decent was And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor : The Story of a Roaring ’20’s Girl by Dorothy Hoobler (sorry, no picture on this one). It was not the finest writing but it was a story, about a young girl who builds a radio on the 20s, and seemed engaging.

And lastly, a few of the books we didn’t use but which might be worth a look:

From left to right we have:

  • Top Drawer: American High Society from the Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties by Mary Cable — seems to be about what its title suggests. I chose not to use it because it was too broad chronologically for what we wanted to it seems like an interesting subject.
  • Joy Hakim’s War, Peace and All That Jazz — I know a lot of homeschoolers like Hakim’s books. I’ve mostly looked at her science books and find them too busy — eg. with side boxes of added info — for my tastes. Given the scarcity of good materials on this age, however, this one could be worth a look.
  • First Book of the Long Armistice by Louis L. Snyder — Despite its title, this seemed like it was a higher level book, at least middle school age. Again, it seemed broader than what I was looking for.
  • Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen — This looked to be an adult book (reading level, not content, though I didn’t look at it enough to know about that). It could work for high schoolers.

Are there better books on the 20s? I think there must be; I’m not sure if the lack is just in my library system. If not, somebody get out there and right some stories about this fun era!


Living Books on the 1910s and WWI

Dear Reader,

It’s time for the latest installment of “what we’ve been reading for history.” This time the topic is the 1910s including Word War I. You can find all my booklists for history and more here.

Living books on the 1910s and WWI

As I’ve said before, for our spine this year we are using the Our Century series. Though this not difficult reading – I’d call it upper elementary or early middle school level even – it serves out purposes this year, providing a introduction and overview in a relatively short amount of time. Though perhaps not a living book, it is not poorly written. Perhaps because it in an older series, it seems less dry and disjointed than similar but more modern books.


Though this period includes a major event – a World War no less – we didn’t take too much time on it. This makes me a little sad, especially as I reflect how long we spent on the Civil War last year, but with a goal of getting through 1900 to the present in one school year, we don’t have much choice. My goal was not to have my kids learn all the battles or even the flow of the war but to understand its causes (as much as anyone can!) and to know some big picture things like how the war was fought (trenches, aerial bombings) and major turning points (US enters; Russia exits).

I had my sixth grader read The Many Faces of WWI by Irving Werstien. Werstein is a favorite author and I look for his volumes when I can. I would call the level of his books generally middle school (as opposed to our other favorite author, Albert Marrin, who is more often than not high school level).

My 7th grader also read a Werstein book: Over Here, Over There: The Era of the First World War. Both did well with their narrations. I learned things from my 7th grader’s narrations, like how the Mexicans taunted the US in this period.

My 10th grader read The Story of the First World War by Red Reeder. I had not run across this author before but was pleased with the book. Since her older brother plays the bagpipes, my daughter ended up narrating many times the story of a bagpiper shot during the war (“Argh! I’m fine but me pipes, me pipes!”). A quick check on my library system shows that Reeder has books on all US wars through WWII, including many on the Civil War. I’ll definitely look for this author again. I’d place his books at the middle to early high school level.

I’m trying to have my 11th grader get a more global perspective so I had him read another Werstein book, Ten Days in November: The Russian Revolution. This is a slim volume but he actually had a mission trip in the middle of this segment of homeshcool so I was looking to get him through the subject without anything too burdensome.

As a family read aloud we did John Buchan’s The 39 Steps. This book is not explicitly about WWI but portrays a very similar situation in that lots of countries have complicate alliances and are being basically tricked or goaded into war. More than anything else I think it shows the paranoia people may have felt that hidden powers were controlling world events, and not for the good.

I read Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon by Dhan  Gopal Mukerji to my younger two. The title character pigeon plays a role in the war. There is quite a lot beforehand which tells of life in India and pigeon keeping. I found it to be a very well-written book which was a pleasure to read. One could do it as geography too because it gives such a picture of the narrator’s life.  It does portray the native religion in a positive light if that sort of thing puts you off, though I would suggest just using it as a jumping off point for discussion.  Read aloud it could be done for upper elementary and older. On the subject of pigeons, if you are ever in Oklahoma City, I highly recommend their (free!) pigeon museum. It is small but quite well done.

A book I checked out but decided was more than anyone could squeeze in at this point was The Yanks are Coming: the United States in the First World War by Albert Marrin. If I had wanted my oldest to read something more on the US, I would have had him do this one. Marrin, as I have said, is a favorite author.

Though we haven’t watched much yet, I’d also like to mention some movies set in this era. The Humphrey Bogart classic African Queen is set during WWI. I watched it with my older two when the little ones were away and they enjoyed it.

I’d love to have us watch Sergeant York, a WWI movie which I remember seeing with my dad growing up. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have it accessible at the moment.

While looking for things to watch, I also ran across the Young Indiana Jones series. There are apparently two seasons, one set before WWI and one during WWI. From the reviews I read they are high school level for both violence and adult situations. We haven’t watched any yet but they sounded good.

Next up: the Roaring 20s.


The Cost of a Charlotte Mason Education

Dear Reader,

I see a lot of questions from new CMers along the lines of “Do I really need all these books?? This is getting expensive. I am not sure I can afford to do CM.” Well, a Charlotte Mason education need not be expensive. In fact, it could be virtually free. Personally, I choose to save time by spending a little more money on some things. Below is my analysis of what it costs to do a CM education and some resources for how you can do it most inexpensively. If you are new to CM, check out my easy and quick start guide here.

The cost of a Charlotte Mason education

Language arts – This is one area where many of us are tempted to do more. You may choose to buy and use other materials, but, at least for most of your child’s education, all you really need here is copywork or dictation. For this you need passages. You can find these yourself, perhaps from your child’s other reading; this is more labor-intensive for you. If you choose to use somebody else’s resources, here are some of the options and their costs:

Queen Homeschool – Queen Homeschool has many copywork books available for $9.95. These contain enough for a full year’s work and, if you copy the pages or have your children do their copywork in a separate book (the youngest children might not be able to do so initially), could be used for multiple children.

Spelling Wisdom (Simply Charlotte Mason) – The most expensive options, all five volumes in the printed version, is $87.95. But keep in mind that this is all that you would need for copywork and dictation for all your children for their whole school career. If you get e-books, the cost for all five volumes goes down to $49.95. Of course, you can also buy one volume at a time as you need them.

The Arrow (BraveWriter) – Brave Writer offers a monthly subscription to the Arrow. You can pay $9.95 per month or $79 for a year’s subscription. But keep in mind that you can also save these and reuse them for future children. You may also be able to find old issues at a discount.

Spelling You See – Many CMers use this spelling curriculum from the people behind Math-U-See. It relies heavily on copywork. I don’t know how much of it is reusable, but a set (a year’s curriculum, I believe) will run you $51.

With a little googling, you may find free samples and cheap downloads online as well (BraveWriter tends to have a few issues available as free downloads).  There are also sites which will take passages you provide and turn them into copywork pages.

Because I know many of you will want to do some grammar, one of my favorite grammar curricula – KISS Grammar—is actually free online (it takes a little figuring out but then it is quite workable). For writing I love this free book.

Math – There is one free, living math curriculum I know of – Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP). There are practice books one can order, but you need not do so. Personally, I looked at this program at one point and found it way too teacher-intensive for me. (That is usually the trade off – cheaper = more work.)

Our favorite, also living, math curriculum is Life of Fred. It is not cheap, but, since you don’t write in the books, each volume can be reused so if you have multiple kids, you will only need to buy each level once. The complete elementary series is almost $160; the intermediate series is $48; the pre-algebra set (which includes Fractions and Decimals and Percents as well as their three volumes of Pre-algebra) is $125; and the two high school sets are $136 and $78. Altogether that is $547, but if you use LOF all the way through and for multiple kids, that’s all you ever pay for math.

Personally, I wasn’t comfortable using just LOF in the early years. We use Math-U-See for a number of years. The teacher’s materials and manipulatives are reusable. You will likely want to buy new workbooks for each child. The cost for the first year’s curriculum (called Alpha) with everything in it is $153. For future kids, you’d only need a student pack for $40. For teacher and student materials in future years if you already have the manipulatives, you are looking at about $85.  By my calculations, your first child’s math curriculum for 12 years of schooling will run you  a little over $1,000, but your subsequent children will only be $40 per year or $480 each.

My older daughter is currently using Teaching Textbooks, a CD-Rom based curriculum. We got ours used from another homeschooler. New, TT will run you $120-$185 for the whole set for a year, depending on what level you are using.

Many CM homeschoolers like Right Start Math. This is a manipulative-based curriculum. Their manipulative bundle will cost you a little over $200. Each year’s curriculum is a little less than $90.

Saxon is another popular curriculum. There are a number of sellers you can get it from. I did a quick check and saw prices for a year’s bundle from $65-115. Of course, as with most of these, with subsequent children, there will be less to buy.

Lastly, with Singapore Math you can get a year’s curriculum bundle from $45.

History – History is the backbone of our homeschool. Our approach is simple: read and narrate, read and narrate. The first step, then, is to figure out what books you’ll need.  Simply Charlotte Mason (SCM) and Ambleside Online (AO) both provide free curriculum guides online. If you choose to use one of their approaches, then you have to obtain books, but there is no inherent cost (SCM will sell you things like their planner, but you can use their curriculum guide without buying anything from them).

If you don’t like their book choices or need more guidance, Truthquest has some of the most thorough bibliographies you will ever see. Their print volumes go for $25-35 and PDF versions for $20-28. For the few extra dollars you spend, I recommend getting the print versions. Each book gives thousands of books suggestions in the period it covers (eg. Ancient Rome, the Age of Revolution). Tip: the older student volumes still contain the booklists for younger kids so if you plan to stick with them you can go ahead and get the older kids’ versions and save some money in the long run.

While not as thorough as Truthquest, Christine Miller’s All Through the Ages is a one volume bibliography with lots of resources listed.  I have seen it in print for $30 or as an e-book for $20.

Once you know what you want to read, how much should you expect to spend on books? With a little (digital) footwork, you need not spend a lot. Personally, I get all my library system has to offer first and then get anything else I need used on Amazon. If you are willing to use older books (and many are better anyway; AO in particular uses a lot of older books), many can be found free or very cheaply online. Some good sources for digital versions of older books are Project Gutenberg, Forgotten Books (they charge for books but also have a free book of the day, many of which are useful for homeschooling), the Baldwin Project, Yesterday’s Classics (e-books from $1.99), and Heritage History. Heritage History sells CD-Roms with curriculum guides and all the (older) books you need for a range of ages for $19-24. If you are on Facebook, check out the group Public Domain Homeschool for lots of links to free resources.

After exhausting the free resources, how much can you expect to spend on books a year? I looked back at Amazon, which I use for 99% of my book purchases, and estimated that I spent a little under $200 on books for homeschool in 2015. So far in 2016, which is 5/6 done as I write this, I have spent about $260. Even if I make it to $300 this year, that is $75 per child for books. This includes all subjects, not just history. Actually, history is the minority; most of the books I have bought this year are for my 11th grader’s political science and physics. Many of these books will be used again by subsequent children.

Science – I am anti-science curriculum. I don’t think you need anything formal until high school and even then I like to keep living books as the core of our curriculum. If you are doing nature journaling (and you should), you will want to get each child a decent journal and some colored pencils. I looked at a homeschool company – Miller Pads and Paper – and saw journals for $6-18. A good set of colored pencils starts at $5.

You’ll also need some living books to read with your children. One of my favorites, The Storybook of Science, will last you most of a year. It is currently going for $15 on Amazon. It will likely take you all year to read. You can also find many great living science books as e-books or at your library (see above on e-book resources).

As I mentioned above, I have bought a lot of books this year for my high schooler’s physics course. I didn’t look at exact numbers but even if half of what I have spent this year was on his physics, that is $150 for a science course. I like to add labs. Though he is not using Landry Labs for physics this year, their 2-day lab courses will run you $280 (look for deals though; we got a great deal after he did his first lab with them which made future labs only $99).

Geography – CM geography has two main parts: living books (again!) and map drill. As always, there are resources and guides that will tell you how to go about things but you need not spend a lot, or anything. We use the apps Stack the States and Stack the Countries (there are free versions but I think to go anything length you need to pay) and the website Sheppard Software (free!) for map drill. We have then just read books about different places or about travel. You should be able to find a number of these at your library or free/cheap online if you are discerning. One of our favorites, and it may last you a couple of years, is Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels. Sadly, it is $60 on Amazon so you might want to check your library though I think the price is well worth it. For younger kids, I like Hillyer’s Child’s Geography of the World. Used copies are expensive but the Kindle book is quite affordable (about $5).

Literature, Shakespeare, Plutarch, Bible, Poetry, etc. – I am lumping a number of subjects together here. They could all fit under the broadly defined heading “literature.” The beauty of most of these subjects is that they deal with older materials. That means you can find them free, either at our library or online. On the other hand, many of these are books that I like to spread out over the year(s) so I like to have them on hand and not to have to renew them. Many of you, I suspect, are also like me in that there are some things for which you just want a hard copy. Here are some of the current prices (from Amazon) for some of the books I consider essential:

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare $12.60

              Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare $4.99

Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare $6.99 (but free for Kindle!)

A good poetry anthology such as 100 Best Loved Poems $3 or A Child’s Garden of Verses $9.95 (but cheaper used)

Plutarch’s Lives $11 each for 2 volumes (but again free for Kindle)

The Arts – Artist and music study can be done for free. All you really need to do is pick someone, find some of their work, and spend some time immersed in it. There are many articles and resources to help you figure out how to do this. Of course, there are also packets that have been put together which you can buy so there is less legwork for you. Harmony Fine Arts is a wonderful resource. Her e-books are about $17 but you can also find a few free downloads on the site. SCM has picture study portfolios for $12-17. One of my favorite resources for music is Classics for Kids, a radio show whose episodes you can listen to for free online or through the WGUC app. If you want to read about art, Hillyer’s books are wonderful. You can find them as a one volume set or individually (with titles like “The Child’s History of Art: Painting” or “… Architecture”). Though these are also not cheap, they are worth the investment.

Other possibilities: Foreign Language, Civics, Music lessons, PE, handicrafts – If you are getting started with a CM education, I recommend starting slowly and working subjects in one or two at a time. But eventually, you may want to cover each of these. Some, like physical education, need not involve any expense, though of course depending on your child’s interests, you may end up paying for lessons or teams of various sorts. FYI, if you are interested in how CM did PE, check out Brandy at Afterthoughts Blog; she has a series on “Swedish Drill.”

Music lessons are another outside expense that you may want to pay for at some point (unless you are capable of teaching them yourself).

Handicrafts will vary a lot. Some can be done for free or cheaply; others will require more supplies. It really depends where you end up going with them and how much you want to devote to them.

We do civics (government and economics mostly) in high school. Others spread it out  a little more. There are various resources and books available. I know one popular series is the Uncle Eric series (though actually I don’t like this series and don’t recommend it). The whole series will run you $162 but you don’t necessarily need all the books.   The two books we have used are The Everything American Government Book (recommended by AO) $13 new or about $3 used and Lessons for the Young Economist $25 or $3 for the Kindle edition.

CM is pro-foreign language, both Latin and a modern language. I will admit we have not done Latin (until high school when my oldest chose it as his language) so I don’t really know what resources there are for younger kids studying it. My son has used the Cambridge Latin Course. Their website is wonderful and complete and you can do the first unit (which I think is the whole first book) for free online.

When it comes to other languages, the CM-ish resource I hear about these days is Cherrydale Press which has French, Spanish, and German Curricula. I have not used these as they weren’t available when my kids were little.  It looks like they are $50 for a year’s curriculum that can be used with multiple children. Less CM but DuoLingo has free curricula. Check out your local library too; they often have language learning resources.

Miscellaneous Supplies — A lot of the costs are not curriculum per se but all the other things one needs: pens and pencils, paper and notebooks, toner and ink, library fines (!), etc. One bigger purchase to contemplate is a Kindle or other e-reader. Consider it a one-time investment that will allow you to save in the future by taking advantage of all those free and nearly free e-books. With four older kids, I actually have 2 Kindles now; one is quite old and the other I bought used.  You can also get the Kindle app for your Apple device or computer (I’m not sure of all the availability; I know we have Kindle on iphones and ipads and a Windows laptop).


What can we say then about the cost of a CM education? If you want to do it cheaply, you can. There is nothing you can’t do for free if you want to. The trade-off is usually more work and prep for you, the teacher, and having to rely more on older books (which might not be a negative).

You should also, when viewing your credit card bill, consider the long-term. Many purchases are good for multiple years and/or multiple kids. In other words, there are more start up costs but expenses should go down each year and with each subsequent child. Caveat: there may be more you want to buy when it comes to high school.

I am sure I have missed many great resources? What are your free or cheap CM resources? Tell me in the comments and I’ll add them to my list.


Don’t know who to vote for yet?

Dear Reader,

Since I have been venting about political things, I wanted to share with you about Evan McMullin. He is a Republican running for president as an independent. You can read the principles behind his campaign here. I was not planning to vote for anyone this election since I could not do so in good conscience. McMullin has me rethinking that (though I do have one big reservation about him). Just sharing so you can make your own informed decision.


Getting Started with a Charlotte Mason Education

Dear Reader,
This is one of those topics I find myself always typing answers for on various forums (fora?) so I thought I’d just make a post so I have something to refer to.
How do you get started with a Charlotte Mason (CM) education? If your kids are young (below 7) I would encourage you to spend some time reading, reading, reading and learning all you can about it first. But if your kids are older and have already been in school or been homeschooled, then you are probably eager to jump in (you should still read as much as you can though; first about CM and then reading her own writings).
There are more and more CM resources out there. This article has a great summary of what is CM, what is partly CM, and what could be CM. Some people like to have everything laid out for them and that is fine. It is often helpful at the start. If you are looking to just pick one source and follow what it says, this thread from the Simply Charlotte Mason (SCM) forums gives a good comparison of SCM and Ambleside Online. The other big option out there is a new curriculum, A Modern Charlotte Mason, which aims to update the CM approach with some more modern books.
You don’t need to follow one of these curricula, however. And a Charlotte Mason need not be difficult to implement.
In an age of STEM and STEAM, history remains the core of a CM education. If your children have been in school or been homeschooling, there may be a next logical period of history for you to study. This may mean somebody repeats or has some gaps for now; that’s okay.  If your kids are in high school or approaching high school, you may want to think about what they need to get done and where you want to end up. But the main thing is to just pick something, whether it’s 20th century history, the age of discovery, or the ancient Egyptians.
I like using a spine book for history. This is a book which is fairly general and broad and which covers the whole time period. I recommend gearing it to your oldest or next to oldest’s level. You will be reading this book aloud to all your kids. When my kids were younger, we had this “together time” every day. Now we do it 2-3 times a week. When you get together, you read to them from your spine and have them narrate what you read back to you. I won’t get into the particulars of how to narrate here. You can search this blog or look at any good CM site for more on that (I do have a recent post on the theory behind narration here).
In addition to a spine book, you will need one book (at a time)  for each child to read on their own. This should be at their own reading level. Younger children may get through a book a week or even a day. Older kids may spend a month or more on a longer book. Because your spine gives an overview, you can pick more narrow subjects for their individual reading. Biographies are always good choices (how to find and pick books is another topic again; you can see all out recent reads on American history here; I rely heavily on the Truthquest guides for finding books). The procedure is the same for whatever you do– read and narrate, read and narrate, read and narrate. If your children are new to narration, they should begin with oral narration no matter what their ages. Older kids might move to written narration in a month or two if oral narration is going well. Younger kids might spend a few years narrating orally before attempting written narrations. If you have  a lot of kids lining up to narrate to you, have them narrate to each other occasionally or record their narrations for you to listen to later.
Once you are in a routine for history, you can add other subjects one at a time. Because it is viewed as so essential in our culture, math is probably one you want to include early on. We love Life of Fred for a living approach to math but it doesn’t work for all kids (my second one can’t seem to learn from LOF). Math-U-See is my second choice but one child is also using Teaching Textbooks this year to good effect. There are more CM math curricula out there but they can be harder to implement and more teacher-intensive. I recommend just picking something for math at this stage and not worrying too much about making it CM.
Continue to add one or two subjects at a time. Though often viewed as less essential, artist and music study can actually be fairly easy to work in. Each should only take about 10 minutes week.  Many families alternate so one day they do art, one day music and another maybe read a poem. Again there are resources out there but you need not make things complicated. Pick an artist you like, look at one of their paintings once a week for a while till you think you have a feel for them or you get sick of them. Read a poem once a week. You can pick one poet to do for a time or you can just get a book of favorite poems and pick one at random each time. Similarly, with music; pick a composer and listen to their music for 10-15 minutes at least once a week. There may be times you can put on your composer while your kids are playing or eating for a little added background education. I have often put Shakespeare in the rotation as well. You can begin by just reading abridged, narrative versions of his plays from Lamb’s or Nesbit’s books. How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare is another wonderful resource which deals with memorizing Shakespeare and can be done in 10-15 minute chunks.
You may feel like you need more in the realm of language arts. You don’t. At least, you need less than you think. Copywork or dictation (depending on your child’s age) is the main thing. Narration, whether oral or written, is already doing more than you know towards composition and writing. If you are just beginning, I recommend getting one source for your copywork/dictation passages. There are many choices out there, Queen homeschool has  a lot of resources. For more modern books your kids might be familiar with the Arrow from Brave Writer is good (though I was disappointed with the language and grammar in the passages they chose).  I like Spelling Wisdom from SCM. Don’t worry about other grammar or spelling or writing curricula unless they are 10th grade and up. SCM has some wonderful resources on how to do prepared dictation. If you have a lot of kids, try to put them into groups for this (maybe early elementary, later elementary, middle school, and high school) so you are not doing completely different passages for each. Need more time in your day? Have older kids dictate to younger ones or check their copywork.
Science depends on age but if they are below high school I would just pick living books to read and then try to get out for nature walks once in a while. The reading can be done individually at their own levels or all together when you do your history spines. The latter is probably better for younger children. Either way the procedure is the same — read and narrate, read and narrate. Science often lends itself well to drawn narrations, but always ask them to explain to you what they have drawn too. If you have high schoolers, labs are probably expected. You can read up on how we’ve done high school science (and other subjects) here.
There are other subjects you can add in over time, of course — map drills and handicrafts and civics and foreign language, to name a few. But if you start with the above subjects, history first an then the others added one at a time, you will have a pretty good basic CM education in place.
Any questions?

More Political Ranting

Dear Reader,

Okay, I guess I can’t stop with the political ranting. So far I have restrained myself from responding to the million and two Facebook posts which irritate me, but you, dear reader, get to benefit from that restraint.

From an article on Franklin Graham:

“The Rev. Franklin Graham on Friday sought to remind Americans that the presidential election is about a lot more than bad behavior, and that evangelical Christians must keep their eyes on the true prize — the Supreme Court.” (“Franklin Graham Reminds Christian Voters: Next President’s Court Picks Will Shape The Future” by Jack Davis at Western Journalism)

This is the first sentence. That’s as far as I needed to go (I did actually read the whole article though); I already disagree. The argument — not just from Rev. Graham but from many evangelical Christians — seems to be that, despite his personal faults, we need to vote for Donald Trump for the sake of the larger issue, the greater good if you will, which is the next Supreme Court justice.

I am reminded of the nations of Israel and Judah in the days before their exiles. They too put their hope in political solutions. They trusted in foreign alliances with Assyria and Egypt to save them. God rebuked them soundly for this and they did not manage to avoid the coming destruction.

Saving the unborn is a noble goal. It is hard to argue with that one (though I wonder sometimes if we elevate even that too far at the expense of other goods). But God does not tell us to hope in legislation or in judicial rulings. They are the horses and chariots of our day and we are not to trust in them, nor in the strength or wisdom of man, but only in the Lord our God.

How do we do that? We obey Him. We elect godly leaders, and if there are none available maybe we don’t consent to the election of any. We condemn sin where we see it, both in our political candidates and in our culture. We preach the gospel and call for repentance.

Would you rather have no abortions in this country because the law forbids them or because people in their hearts value life? Our goal is not to outlaw something but to save souls. We may win a political battle and get a Supreme Court justice we approve of, but if we, the church,  have lost the moral authority we should have, if we are seen to condone sin when it suits our purposes, we are losing the greater battle for hearts and souls.


How Should the Church Address the Current Political Battle?

Dear Reader,

A little follow-up to my last post on how we as evangelicals are responding to this election cycle. But first I want to commend to you this article from Christianity Today. It says a lot of what I was trying to say but much more coherently.

What I am trying to say is that we have a golden opportunity here to do what the church is called to do — to address the sins of our age and to call people and our nation to repentance. And as I think on the latest scandal — that is, some words of Donald Trump’s from 10+ years ago that demean women — I think we have been handed a perfect opportunity to address what is really one of the big issues of our day apart from the election, namely the importance of gender. Our society as a whole seems to be saying that gender is an artificial construct. The Bible tells is God created gender and that He did so for a reason. So rather than arguing about whether the Donald did or didn’t and how bad it is that he said he did, let’s seize the opportunity to say that yes, protecting women matters. It matters because men and women are different. They are different because God made them so.

The saddest part of this whole election season is that we have squandered what should have been great opportunities to speak the truth and that we have allowed ourselves to be pulled down to a base, worldly level. We need to return to addressing people’s hearts more than their ballots.



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