So after all that kerfuffle and rending of garments, guess who’s been reading like a crazy man for the last week or so?
If you guessed “Rhys,” you would be correct.
We’ve started just asking him to read us books multiple times per day. He always scowls and acts like it’s the worst idea he’s ever heard, and then proceeds to go ahead and read. Yesterday: “Little Bear,” which for some reason we don’t own and which I don’t think he’s ever had read to him before. Baby steps, baby steps.
Also: I got a letter back from Rainbow Resource Center about my request to be removed from their mailing list. It was really a considerate and well-thought-out reply… and it had some information in it which kind of scared me.
Dear Ms. [RedMolly]:
I received your letter of July 20, noting your concerns with our review of the book Institutes of Biblical Law. I am the one who wrote the review, so I must take responsibility for not describing it for you in a more informative way.
We added the book to our product line last year when we learned it was a resource used in the Sonlight curriculum. Many homeschoolers who use the Sonlight curriculum appreciate being able to purchase some of the components of the curriculum from us at a savings. I wrote the review based on my skimming the book, as I did not have time for a thorough reading. I was also familiar with the author by reputation, as his name was mentioned at some conferences that Linda and I attended when we first began homeschooling. The ideas expressed in the parts of the book that I looked at and mentioned in my review did not strike me as outlandish, but more as thought-provoking viewpoints that are not often discussed. My attempt in this review, as in all our book reviews, was to give the reader an overview of what the book is like and some details so that the reader can make an informed decision as to whether it will be worthwhile or not. In this, I believe our company has done a better job than other sources of materials. No supplier that I looked at made any mention of Rushdoony’s stated positions. Sonlight offers a 5-line description, and Christian Book Distributors gives a one-line description (both enclosed). Amazon carries the book but does not describe it, leaving it to contributors to make comments. I read the 20+ reviews on Amazon’s site; some were quite positive and some were very negative. The gist of many of the reviews was that Rushdoony makes controversial statements with which you may strongly agree or strongly disagree.
My intent was not to be disingenuous or deceptive. We try to find products that are portentially worthwhile and describe them as best we can so that our customers can make an informed decision about which ones are best for them. I will certainly consider reworking the review to mention that some of the author’s views may be controversial. If you wish, send a customer review of this book that can be appended to the current review on our website.
Thank you for your past support of our business. Per your request, we will remove your name from our mailing list. If we can be of service to you in the future, we welcome the opportunity.
OK, nice letter… reasonable and rational in tone… I very much appreciate his taking the time to write me. But what jumped out at me was the information that Sonlight, one of the big dogs on the homeschooling curriculum block, apparently uses Institutes of Biblical Law as a core text for their high school 400-level course. (Check out the sample pages from the instructor’s guide.) Sonlight has a lot of followers, both specifically Christian and–surprisingly, to me at least–secular. I’m wondering how many Sonlighters actually know what they’re supporting… honestly, Rushdoony’s beliefs are so weird that I doubt even the crazy-fundie stripe of homeschoolers could really get behind them. Sonlight’s core curriculum also includes the sheer nuttiness of Gary North’s Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus. (That’s professional conspiracy theorist and “wealth-building” newsletter shill Gary North, in case you were wondering.)
Sonlight prides themselves on including books in their curriculum that express a variety of worldviews (though, of course, this is done specifically to “immunize” Christian kids against the wickedness rampant in the world). I think it’s a bit telling, though, that their idea of opposing worldviews runs to Rushdoony Reconstructionism on the one hand and the mild, poorly footnoted assertions of The Godless Constitution on the other. Come on, if you’re going to drag out Rushdoony, why not throw up some Susan Jacoby to oppose him? What are you guys afraid of?
And does Sonlight’s inexplicable popularity with non-wackadoo homeschoolers mean that there is a “felt need” for an intensively scheduled, reading-heavy, literature-based homeschool curriculum out there? Geez, who has time for these things?
Anyway, back to Rainbow… I think I’m going to write back and let them know how much I appreciate their reply. Any other thoughts?