I have had a few people ask me what substitutions I am making with Ambleside Online in these older years, in regards to economics, the justice system, and politics, if they know I am a Christian anarchist.
Because of this, I am going to start a running list of what I plan to do. (Bear with me, I will get to it, but I wanted to type up some thoughts that have been going through my head in regards to this area!)
There’s a longish (compared to just giving you my list) aspect I want to cover, as this all relates to CM/AO and my “anarchist” ways. Just the other day, I was reading A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason. An interesting quote stuck out at me.
“Practically there is no such thing as anarchy; what is so-called is a mere transference of authority, even if in the last resort the anarchist find authority in himself alone.”
~ Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, page 69
Based on her implied definition of what anarchy means (no governance/chaos), I agree wholeheartedly with this quote. I’ll get back to the definition of anarchy in a moment.
Christian anarchy, for me, came about after dissatisfaction in the Bush/Gore elections. I actually voted, y’all, and it was for Bush, the man who did not win by popular vote, but by the electoral college. Meaning that all the hype I had been told about our “votes counting” was not
entirely true. Our vote only counts when the higher ups want to permit us that illusion. Despite that, my family and friends said that EVERY vote counts – it’s our DUTY to take part in the process!
After the Bush/Gore year, I looked into a third party. I liked, at the time, the idea of the Constitution Party. When I told my family and friends about this, many of them told me they “wished” they could vote third party, but voting third party was a “wasted” vote that then distracted from the two bigger parties…
It was this very inconsistency… that EVERY vote counts, except third-party votes… they are WASTED votes and they suddenly don’t count… except, scratch that… they do… no… oh, that’s right, everyone forgot about the electoral college thing….
Anyway, I digress. It was that very inconsistent “logic” that piqued my curiosity when I was in the library and happened upon Jesus for President.
I read Jesus for President, and was convicted by reading 1 Samuel 8. I tried to fight it – my cultural conditioning was very strong. I felt I was betraying every person in the country (forget about… humanity in general) to not vote between “the lesser of two evils.” As the weeks went by, I realized that by voting, we are hoping that our vision of a good country would be imposed on others through The Lesser we have put above us. Slowly, my Christian anarchist beliefs have grown and sharpened into focus.
I have never once, internally, felt like a true “anarchist,” by definitions ignorantly created or implied by the majority. 1 Samuel 8 exposed to me that I absolutely DO want authority, but not of human making. To call myself an anarchist is rather backward for me when using standard (not accurate) definition, as I want the Ultimate Authority. Regardless of whether someone does not understand the root wording of anarchy, allowing it with either the correct definition or the wrong one, makes it easier for others to understand that I do not encourage, endorse, or take part in the kind of human authority 1 Samuel 8 tells us will ALWAYS result in:
“‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.'”
~ 1 Samuel 8:11-20
(By the way… wouldn’t a mere 10% of your finances be a breath of fresh air right now??)
Back to the lovely Charlotte Mason, for she is whom I love regarding educational philosophy, who inspired the women of Ambleside Online and many others, and her thoughts on anarchy and politics continue, from above. Her immediate thought following the last CM quote I shared is one I do not fully agree with, after reading 1 Samuel 8:
There is an idea abroad that authority makes for tyranny, and that obedience, voluntary or involuntary, is of the nature of slavishness; but authority is, on the contrary, the condition without which liberty does not exist and, except it be abused, is entirely congenial to those on whom it is exercised: we are so made that we like to be ordered even if the ordering be only that of circumstances.
~Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, page 69
1 Samuel 8 is quite clear that human authority/kingship/rule does make for tyranny. Democratic nations are no different than kingdoms in this regard – they are not immune from God’s clear words on the result of our hearts clamoring for human rulership over the unseen, Perfect God governing our daily politics. Just take a look at our presidents (any of them), our CPS system, our justice system, our economic system… and it’s very clear that we are living out 1 Samuel 8 all over again.
If it weren’t so depressing that so many have, do, and will believe this throughout time, it would be almost comical that involuntary obedience is not considered a form of slavery to her. The kind of comical where you start out laughing and end up sobbing, really.
Liberty is not found in human governance, or in the blood of strangers from another land, but only in Christ. So, this aspect of the quote is accurate, but misguided, as I know she is advocating for human government/rulership and trying to dissuade from “anarchy.”
Back to the definition of anarchy. This is not what Miss Mason alluded to it as, nor what most think it is. Anarchy is very much a governing ideal, but quite different in heart than what the majority proposes (right by might).
As to the “except it be abused, is entirely congenial to those whom…” I just have to chuckle a little bit, because, it goes right back to 1 Samuel 8. People beg for it, but are stolen from, abused, and enslaved, our sons and daughters are taken from us and put into a system of indoctrination, while we laud the system and advocate for “more” to be done within it to make it better. It has never been any other way, in any other system of human ruling, at any time. Why? Because, according to this passage in 1 Samuel, proven through all of history… human leadership is always abusive and enslaving to those it “seeks” to serve.
To circle back around, this is why I cannot teach only of the human system of government that we are now under, but feel a compelling need to speak of honoring our High King through our learning and daily politic.
Want to see what a Christian anarchist substitutes/complements in the higher (and even one for an earlier year) of Ambleside Online? Join me tomorrow, with Part 2.