A Culture of Addicts—The Problem with Living for Eternity

5 August 2013, 07:00

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47

life-is-a-journey-525Dictionary.com defines an “addict” as:
1. a person who is addicted to an activity, habit, or substance*

Growing up in the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), a quasi-cult, I was constantly bombarded with ideology promoting service, self-sacrifice, organizationalism, and a general detachment from the real world. As someone who was born with many talents and abilities, I always felt an urgency to do something great and world changing. The problem was that if I was to venture out and become successful alone, I would probably fall to pride, so the path stayed murky at best. What seemed like a good alternative was to put myself under someone else’s direction and assuage my need to accomplish something because I was so caught up accomplishing something for the organization—even if it was pushing a broom.

All the moments not spent absorbed in activity were spent in torment constantly analyzing all my options, few of which would be sanctioned by my authorities, or finding something else to make me feel good. I never thought I had an addictive personality because I have never been “hooked” on anything. I now know that is wrong. The only reason I haven’t gotten addicted to all the “evils” in the world of drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc, is because in the long run I know they will make me feel worse about myself. The one addiction that I never discovered until today is busyness, or it could also be labeled: escapism.

As an adult on my own, nearly 30, trying to put the pieces of my life into something that is more than just a blue collar worker on the edge of poverty, I struggle with intense depression many days. Often I wake up with the question running through my head: “Why do I do this every day?” Because I have seen the light and removed myself from abusive cult environments, and am not dulling my pain with the “pleasures of the world,” I am left with a nearly constant ache that doesn’t seem to have an answer. Then while driving today it hit me—this is life and life takes time and patience. The next thought through my head was, “But the years keep going by faster and I’m doing nothing!” Again—this is life. If you enjoy each day and make it count, it won’t feel like a waste.

It reminds me of that scene in the movie “Blood Diamond,” when Leo says, “TIA—this is Africa.” Basically what he means is, “Don’t feel sorry for me; it’s just how things go here.” I wish someone had taught me that when I was a child. Life is like being kicked in the groin for years at a time, and then when that stops you realize you can get semi-famous as the guy on America’s Got Talent for getting kicked in the groin.

I blame ATI for my false view of life. From my observation, most of the parents who entered ATI wanted to escape real life so they threw themselves and their children into programs and Training Centers—a “Young Communist”-esque matrix for us to all drown ourselves in. Sure they preached that life is hard and suffering breeds righteousness, but right alongside it was a morphine drip of leadership opportunities at Eagle Mountain, etc. You had an almost self-sustaining world to perpetuate the delusions.

If time travel wasn’t a ridiculous plot device to make Hollywood millions, one of the things I would go back and tell the young me is, “Life takes time and there is a lot of heartache, but TIL—this is life. You can make it cowboy.” (I like to pretend I’m Raylen Givens.) When you focus constantly on the future, you miss the things right in front of you and will get to the end of your life wondering where it all went. The same goes for numbing yourself with substances or activity. You look back at the blur that was your life and feel a general sense of emptiness. I want to have goals and ambition but what I want the most is to enjoy each day as it goes by—even the ones that suck. Life does what it wants, and at some point it will not conform to how you think it should play out. At that point you can either dope yourself up or just realize: this is life.

*Shame on dictionary.com for using a derivation of the word in the definition!

Note From Author: This short essay came to mind because I was thinking about “living for eternity” the past few days. I have felt such an incredible drive in my life because I was “supposed to be doing something”  – to have a purpose. But I could never pinpoint why I felt this so strongly until now. I feel that the concepts of “life is short,” “redeem the time,” and “live for eternity,” have the ability to put you in a low grade panic where you feel you are constantly falling behind unless you’re drown yourself in service. Instead of focusing on something so far away, we should be focusing on making the most out of each moment, trusting that they will all build up into a collection that will matter in an eternity to be had.

 Deaglan "Irish" is a 30 year old father of four amazing children. He is passionate about art, light, and life as he seeks to view each day through the lens of living life to the fullest. He works in the entertainment industry and is making strides in writing his first book.

 

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

47 Comments

  1. Susan Bradbury August 5, 2013 Reply

    Thanks so much...this really affirms how I am feeling. Being in a cult-like church has left me feeling like there should be something more to life...and I am having a hard time kicking it. I too am an artist and am searching for myself. Trying to figure out who I really am, but I just need to realize that I have to accept life as it comes to me and not try to make myself important all the time...although it would be nice not to have to struggle all the time to make ends meet :)

  2. Tammy August 5, 2013 Reply

    "When you focus constantly on the future, you miss the things right in front of you and will get to the end of your life wondering where it all went."

    So very true. I hope everyone who reads this will really take it to heart and purposely enjoy each day of their life no matter your age.

  3. Shelly August 5, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I felt like you were describing the precise struggle I have been facing. I never thought of escapism as an addiction, but that is exactly what it has become for me. Whether it is watching episode after episode of a show on Netflix or burying myself in novels or Facebook, I seek to escape the grim realities of life. I love this quote: "Instead of focusing on something so far away, we should be focusing on making the most out of each moment, trusting that they will all build up into a collection that will matter in an eternity to be had."

    By God's grace, I will learn to embrace each moment of the life He has given me, refusing to let regret from the past or worry for the future keep me from enjoying today.

    • gina August 6, 2013 Reply

      Similar thoughts. Thanks, Deaglan, for giving shape/perspective to the frustrations and thoughts that I was thinking yesterday. TIL.

  4. hurting August 6, 2013 Reply

    Beautiful. While I should not blame ATI/IBLP for where I am in life right now, that organization(s)has had a large impact on my current situation. Growing up in a home that mainly used the Wisdom Booklets and didn't focus on normal grades has set me back greatly in education. I didn't get my GED until I was 21. I'm in my mid to late twenties and have my college degree held up because of six math and science credits. I cannot begin to describe the pain, anger, depression, and frustration that I've experienced with my longing to impact this world for Christ that IBLP had a large part inspiring with their teachings on "living for eternity, be a world changer, etc.," but had a large part hindering because of their desecration of education, and distracting depression due to false teachings on grace and justification and "holy living.” Sure, I've been on several mission trips, but even when I get back, go back to work and school, I still face judgment and legalism from other Christians who say mission trips are a waste of time. They don't understand that for some of us from IBLP backgrounds can only go on mission trips, drive 15 passenger vans, etc. because of our education and resulting money situations, but at least we're trying to do something for Christ in whatever situation we're in.
    It doesn't help that even in Non-IBLP churches, even churches that preach the truth grace and love of Jesus, church members and elders look down on or put pursue on people to follow the model of the American dream: go to college when you're 18 and pursue a good career with a corporation. They don't seem to care that some of us can't do that because of our background in IBLP. When we say something like that, they exhort us to forgive because that was our parent’s conviction.
    One good thing the Wisdom Booklets taught was that if you want to live for God, bad things would happen. It seemed like every historical character the history resource covered lost most of their family members. Unfortunately, IBLP didn’t teach that it would be the cause of many bad and painful things, and not how to respond and the doctrine to take comfort in during the response, other than forgive and shut up.
    Blood Diamond, great movie. My profile pic on Facebook is Danny Archer because experiences with IBLP make me feel like him at times. Blood Diamond should be required watching at every IBLP location.

  5. Alfred Corduan August 6, 2013 Reply

    Solomon expressed the weariness of the constant driven “self actualized” life, to make every second count. He said, basically, “For what purpose?” When you get to your goal – for most people wealth or fame – you discover that it does nothing for your soul . . . the money you collect gets spent by others. He also said several things that are good medicine for ATI families:

    “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” (Eccl. 7:16-17)

    “I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. . . .Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” (Eccl. 3:12-13,22)

    So . . . take time to enjoy life and live in it . . . be moderate as opposed to extreme.

    However . . . let us also be clear that much of what was cited by the author comes not from Gothard but from Jesus . . . and Paul. On the balance, if we live a happy, normal, non-extreme life, doing good to our families and others, and are missed when we die . . . and end up in hell, or even end up crying at the “Judgment Seat of Christ” . . . what good is that? Eternity IS real . . . and we will all be there sometime in the next 50 or so years.

    Are the ones who give their lives, every waking moment, every earthly pleasure to see people saved, to live for Jesus fools?

    “ . . . through faith . . . others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:33, 35-37) Deliberately staying in torture, just to get a “better resurrection”? The Bible calls these extremists heroes . . . is it a wonder that our kids start thinking that way?

    “Redeeming the time” comes from the Bible, not from Gothard. (Ephesians 5:16) Jesus is the one who said we are soldiers in His war, not “entangling” ourselves in the affairs of the citizens. HE is the one who said that if we lose our souls for His objectives, we will find them . . . and conversely if we set about to preserve our souls, we will eventually lose them (Mark 8:35 – look it up – “life” is “soul” in the Greek, psuche) Paul said we are “pilgrims and strangers” . . . just passin’ through.

    People who live extreme disciplined lives to make their mark in this world are fools. I remember reading of author and activist Susan Sontag having these extreme lists as a young person, disciplining herself to read key literature as she prepared herself for greatness. And she made her mark . . . without God, a perverted lifestyle . . . but she got what she wanted, I guess. In my first year of University, my Calculus professor related attending a talk by a famous mathematician – Richard Hamming – on, “How to Become a Famous Mathematician” :-) His “Hamming Codes” still form the basis of deep space digital communication, AFAIK. This lecture involved “redeeming the time”, every waking moment, and all you can steal from sleep – to immerse in the writings and works of others. It works. My professor – a believer – said, basically, “I don’t want it” . . .

    But people who – at times - live extreme disciplined lives for Jesus and for His rewards . . . are NOT fools for trying, right? Because the results last . . . forever.

    “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.” (C.T. Studd)

    • Anne-girl August 6, 2013 Reply

      Is it just impossible for you to not add a "but" to seemingly everything you write? Why is it so important to you to invalidate the growth process that others go through? Because that is exactly what it feels like. "Yes, that sounds good, etc etc... BUT, blah blah blah"

      Ending with your comment, "So . . . take time to enjoy life and live in it . . . be moderate as opposed to extreme," would have been perfect, refreshing, and an acknowledgement that we are all on a learning journey.

  6. Hurting August 6, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for your thoughts, Alfred, but do you know what it is like having your career and degree held up because you're parents raised you on WBs and IBLP trade schools? Do you know what it is like to constantly struggle with bitterness and anger at your parents because your degree/career is held up partly due to the fact that they home schooled you with Gothard's materials? Do you know what it is like to forgiven and then have to go back through the circle due to spiritual abuse at an IBLP location? Do you know what it is like to see your mother crying that she tried to go by the rules preached at Knoxville about the Wisdom Booklets, that she thinks she's a terrible mother and failed me, and that she and dad failed in their "umbrella of protection" whenever I say something about my struggles with self-worth, self-hate and regret due to the way they home schooled in IBLP holding my degree/career? Due know what it is like to see all your friends moving forward in life with their degrees and careers? Do you what it is like to feel worthless and disrespected because the church honors people who get their masters at 21 and considers people who don't have degrees worthless bums?

    I am not angry at you, but this is what I've been dealing with for the past year due to my experience with IBLP and its materials.

    • Alfred Corduan August 6, 2013 Reply

      Hurting . . . I am sorry. I assure you that my kids ponder the same things . . . as, actually, do their parents. I am just trying to lift eyes a little higher. The thing that keeps going through and through me: This is the MIDDLE part of the process. Not the end. What looks like a failure in the short term may not look so bad at the end.

      You see my point? Missing out on degrees and honor and success hurts when compared to how people are doing around us . . . middle part of the race. It says NOTHING on how it will be at the very end . . . and beyond. THAT is what I think we should be living our lives for.

      "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." (1 Cor. 3:18-20)

      Interpret that for me as far was what parents should do for their children. "Wisdom of this world" is . . . school, knowledge that the world respects. Remember: This is Paul, not Gothard. I am an ATI Dad - tell me what this means, how to best prepare my kids for success, at least how God measures it. This is a deadly serious question - I have had some of my young people say more or less what you are saying. So . . . I do know.

      • Hurting August 6, 2013 Reply

        Thank you, Alfred. The passage you used was a great encouragement during a time some years ago when I was spiritually abused at a IBLP location because they judged faith based on human/worldly ideas of success. I put that experience with IBLP and the homeschool failing behind be just to get spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically abused at another IBLP location.

      • Alfred Corduan August 6, 2013 Reply

        Just because they're blue and white,
        Don't mean their inside heart is right

        Wow . . . I take Scripture over the opinions of important people any day. Spiritual abuse . . . I have seen that, it is real.

  7. Corrine Jeter August 6, 2013 Reply

    I really enjoyed this post! You may like The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley, and his follow up book, God Without Religion. His writings are life-giving and grace, grace, grace. So good!

  8. Louise August 7, 2013 Reply

    Being a 'world changer' is rife through the whole Church, not just Gothardism, and it is especially preached at young people. Too much pressure and completely unrealisitc and definitely a form of legalism. I always think of 1 Thessalonians 4:11 - "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you,". Have you heard that verse preached lately? Paul wasn't calling everybody to be world changers, but rather to let God change them.

  9. Lynn August 7, 2013 Reply

    Alfred, I was an ATI mom for many years and have three children that are currently doing Abeka. Worldly wisdom is not "school, knowledge that the world respects." Abeka.com has a lot of information on why subjects need to be learned. I want repeat it here. Worldly wisdom does include evolution, humanism, etc. We need to teach our children why they are wrong. But we need to open up the possibilities "in" the world to our children. Jesus prayed that God would not take us out of the world but keep us from the evil(John17:15). Learning to be a preacher, plumber, nurse, mechanic, dentist, etc. is not evil. Community colleges have excellent programs, are cheap, and are close to home. Ask them what they are interested in doing. PCC allows students to work their way through. There are many possibilities.

    • RyanR August 7, 2013 Reply

      I agree with you, Lynn.

      Alfred, I get where you are coming from, but I think ATI has done a real disservice to young people. Character absolutely is important, but those glowing testimonials about people getting good paying jobs because of nothing but their bright countenances is the exception, not the norm.

      In my opinion, much of the vocational training through IBLP was little more than conscripted labor - students paid IBLP so they could come and work for the Institute to mow its lawns, cook its food, wash its inens, etc.

      Students could have better spent that money at a community college where the students would earn a recognized degree they could then leverage for a well-paying job. Yes, the students might be exposed to other philosophies and folks from other walks of life at the community college. But what is the point of "training" your children to stand alone, be world changers, etc. if you can't then trust them (and God) to actually go and do that? And while lifelong insulation from all outside influences is a nice fantasy, it's neither realistic nor sustainable for most people.

      It's hard for me not to think of Bill Gothard as Tom Sawyer getting everyone to paint his fence and thinking they were getting a great deal in the process!

      I wish he would refund my parents the $100/week they shelled out so I could work at the Indianapolis Training Center for nearly two years. I don't use ANY of that "training" in my vocation and 20 years later, I still can't think of anything truly useful from my time there (except that I met my wife at ITC).

      Maybe my parents could then re-route that money toward paying off the student loans I had to incur later in life so I could get a decent paying job that actually would provide the means to support myself and my family, because gratefulness, cheerfulness, dependability, etc. just didn't cut it.

      • Heather August 7, 2013 Reply

        I concur with you Ryan, just wasn't sure how to express it. I have no desire to be rude to Alfred, regardless of how different our opinions are.

        From my perspective, you do a horrible disservice, or actual wrong to your children, especially sons, if you do not put them in a situation where they are capable of making a decent living, and able to provide for their families. In today's society, it's just next to impossible to get a good job without some kind of degree. So with that in mind, it's perhaps naive to suggest that an education = worldly wisdom. Even Jesus learned a trade.

        Consider also that today we have things like health insurance, car insurance, light bills, etc.. that people didn't have a century or so ago, life is just more expensive nowadays. Your children have got to be able to take care of themselves, and unfortunately in this country, that requires some kind of education. (I'm not talking about becoming wealthy, just able to provide for your own, which is 100% Scriptural. If not, you're worse than an infidel, who wants to subject their children to that, even if it is unknowingly done?)

        • grateful August 7, 2013

          a friend of the family that is an ATI alumn said that they promised that "Your outstanding character would get you a job" and most came away from the program with neither (he was "rebellious" back in the day and went to college)

        • Heather August 7, 2013

          Yes. Technically I'm one of those who came away with no education and a hard time finding a job. Course my dream career as an actress (specifically in the Christian film world), doesn't strictly require a college degree, I was able to take non-college classes to get things started.
          So my case is a bit of an exception, I'm not trying to go into law, science, medicine, engineering, etc.. (although I may play all of those fields as an actress, haha) but I still am currently unable to make a living at it. I actually don't blame any of this on ATI, I was born to perform, I'd have chosen this regardless of my upbringing, however, if something were to happen to my husband, what on earth am I going to do to take care of myself? I would have a very difficult time indeed. I keep wanting to get licensed for real estate just to have it, but that keeps getting put on the back burner.

          One final point: How on earth will your 'character' get you hired, when you've had no way to prove to your boss your exceptional character in the first place?.. Scratching my head here.

          Sorry for my ramblings, I think I'm just thinking outloud here.

  10. E. Stephen Burnett August 7, 2013 Reply

    The problem is not "living for eternity."

    The problem is narrowly defining "living for eternity" to mean only overtly "spiritual" activities as defined by one leader. Prayer. Bible reading. Unquestioning obedience. Character checklists, and other nonsense.

    God is redeeming not just our individal spiritual lives, but the whole entire physical creation. It groans like us, awaiting its redemption (Romans 8). Someday God will bring Heaven to Earth, to make a New Heavens and New Earth (Rev. 21). Here we will do more than participate in church activities -- which do have their place -- and there will certainly be no cause for spiritual abuse for the sake of a narrowly defined, Gnostic-"spiritual" imposter "kingdom." Instead we will sing, work, dance, build, explore, engineer, discover, research, write, travel, perhaps even spacefare, all for the glory of God and God's fully realized Kingdom.

    With this in mind, it would be the height of absurdity to conclude that "living for eternity" means only anticipating some nebulous "spiritual" existence, which has no bearing on today save for "spiritual" tasks.

    • MatthewS August 7, 2013 Reply

      Discussions like this just bring home to me once again how well-written the New Testament is. Peter says we are "living stones" currently, ongoing, presently, being built into the church. Peter gives some practical considerations for what we might call Christian ethics. James similar. The church is an organic body, where we all have an active, ongoing part. Passages like Gal 5, Eph 4, Col 3 all have instructions for the Christian life that are present and active, not pie in the sky. All of these things are rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and all of them point toward eternity. But they are all present and ongoing, and they all make a difference in the here and now. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=gal%205:19-25;eph%204:20-32;%20col%203:5-16;%20&version=NIV

    • grateful August 7, 2013 Reply

      no dancing

      • grateful August 7, 2013 Reply

        j/k - had to lighten things up a bit

    • Shelly August 10, 2013 Reply

      Good point Stephen. Your thoughts remind me of Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven. The problem is that so many Christians have a distorted view of eternity and what is "spiritual". I don't believe God wants us to make distinctions between what is spiritual or secular. It is all to be done unto Him-working, sleeping, playing, reading the Bible, going to church, whatever we do.

      • Tangent September 25, 2013 Reply

        And dancing! lol

  11. Alfred Corduan August 7, 2013 Reply

    Lynn: Thank you . . . we keep all options open, especially for the older ones. For the younger ones, I am not so sure. I have a couple of degrees, plus a (long lapsed) teaching credential. I studied "readiness" . . . . and know that the whole notion of cramming a child full of knowledge to satisfy parents who intend to live through the successes of their children is flawed. In fact, if the research cited by sources like "Better Late than Early" (Moore) is correct - and I have every reason to believe it to be so - less in the early years, in fact NO education in the first 3 grades - provides statistically better results in the long run. It is almost as if the Lord wants children saturated in Himself and His word and in "parents" long before branching out into life/work skills.

    And . . . I am thinking of an insanely extreme family I know [and sorry if I have related this before]. They plugged into Bill Gothard decades ago and then went extreme from there. ATI was too liberal, never joined. Their home education program was them at home learning Scripture . . . and stuff. Home church, limited friends . . . I remember 20 year old young men respectfully asking permission of their mother to eat certain things or to try out video games with my sons. (Dad had passed away in there somewhere). Things got bizarre theologically in that little microcosm - basically invented stuff even I had never heard of before . . . and that is saying a lot.

    Last I looked the kids were all over Facebook. All bitter, bitter, ejecting the Lord from their lives. The sweet little princess girls swearing, talking about a life goal of getting rich. AND . . . all complaining about a lack of preparation for life. Can’t get a job.

    Yet . . . several of them I know for a fact had developed insanely good artistic skill, stuff I know would sell. The one young man I was closest to picked up the Clarinet and started diddling, no lessons. He and his brother (piano) performed at our little monthly “music night” (150+ people) . . . and I was amazed – he was really good. And I know good. You see, I studied clarinet through University, studying under the 3rd chair of the Seattle Symphony, participating AS 3rd chair in my university Wind Ensemble as a non-music major. Participated in competitions and did very well. I have him some minor tips which turned several corners for him. And all of this is just stuff I observed at a distance, since we were not super close to the family.

    I tried to talk to them. I mean . . . I did not understand the grief. For my part I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my degrees and teaching credential – was going on to graduate school in math, but got sick (collapsed), put that on hold, somewhat disillusioned with “education”. Taught high school 1 year before resigning – loved teaching, but I found that process incredibly difficult. Here I am living at home not sure what to do . . . ended up delivering phone books, helping curb number painters, doing store inventory, working for “Kelly Girl” services :-) just to keep busy.

    Took a job teaching brand new microcomputers to grade schoolers at a coop for $5 an hour, traveling an hour each way. Because of that the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry hired me for $9/hr to teach enrichment classes on microcomputers to adults. Because of that a 19 year old entrepreneur (read “no college”) hired me for $8/hr to teach PC classes all over the metro area . . . plus $4 for each hour transporting the computers. When he opened a Seattle branch office, I went there as office manager. When he opened an LA office, I went there to work it - $19K a year. When I got engaged I started work at a defense contractor doing microcomputer training . . . for $34K. In one year there I basically doubled my salary . . . and I have been there ever since. Along the way taught myself programming, which pays the bills to this day.

    No-one ever asked me about my GPA . . . not sure anyone looked at the many honors I had acquired. The doors opened because I was relatively intelligent, willing to work hard, and worried more about the quality of work than the remuneration . . .

    So . . . I am a bit of a cynic. I happen to know that a small minority of university graduates use the degree they obtain to make money. I laugh every time I do a bit of algebra as part of my – now – full time programming job (BS in Math). I use my BA in German (4.0 GPA) to chase down genealogy. Never pick up my clarinet much any more. We are not rich, but I can keep our family of 13 going and have been with a large corporation for 27 years. Yes . . . it was worth more money on a pay scale in a large corporation. Boy . . . take all of the money spent to get the education in the first place, divide it by that differential, and you will be retired long before you get the benefit from that.

    VERY few successful people trace their success to their education. Very few employers care much about the kind of degree you have. I am sorry . . . but that is the reality. The education establishment, including the bloated university system, let alone the “If you can read this, thank a teacher” elementary experts, have sold us a bill of goods. (kids teach themselves to read, given a nurturing environment, proven over and over) The terror they instill in our young people is criminal. Life just does follow their carefully controlled schemes. When are we going to wake up, take the bull by the horns, and make the life God planned for us?
    I tried to talk to my friends . . . but they would have none of it. Nothing else to say. They will perhaps spend their lives blaming their parents for what they did not get, rather than looking at the amazing things they did get . . . and get going. [And I am NOT defending the process their parents put them through – we found it horrifying, although we know they meant the best. Just . . . God is bigger than the boogeyman . . . and definitely than struggling, at times confused parents]

    Sorry for the length. Just trying to establish why I might push back a bit on some of this.

    • esbee August 7, 2013 Reply

      God certainly opened His pathways for Alfred and that is what His plan was/is for him.

      In my case my mom told me "if you want to be able to afford those horses you love so much, get a college education and teaching degree, get a teaching job then you can afford to buy what you want and have summers off for riding." She was right!
      I have just retired after 27 yrs of teaching (like 50 yrs at any other job). I have been able to afford a horse or two, have summers off and now have a nice retirement benefit.

      But it did not start that way. We floundered for so many years through my husband's illnesses, getting over how the church rejected him and finally "found his groove" working at what he liked (computers) and also it was my artwork that helped us in so many ways. Trading paintings for furniture, flooring, food, appliances, doctor bills, etc. Baylor took several paintings to pay for my stay at the hospital hotel while my husband was there for intestinal surgery. His surgeon took a painting for his fee. I am currently trading 10 custom saddle stands to a big tack shop in N. Texas for a new saddle. So you can see how God had a different path and used my college degree to help us live and pay bills and have the little extras that make life so nice. (Thanks Lord, you have given me neither too much that I forget you or too little that I curse you.)

      I understand that Alfred is saying that a college degree is not always a guarantee of a job. In fact, more college grads have to work other jobs before they land the one they were trained for. That is what happened to me. It was 3 years before I got an actual teaching position. I have also told my students they do not have to go to college as long as they work at something honest. If I hire someone to do electrical I do not care if they went to college, I want them to do electrical right! (Where I live Wal-mart is the place to meet and greet and have a career! Many kids's goals in this area is to have a truck, a dog and a gun for huntin'!) So, I think Afred's point is that no matter what happened in your early life as far as education, is that God stands at the apex of history and can make all that bad stuff turn out for good!
      For all those out there young and under-educated, and the feelings of uncertainty, welcome to the club. We oldsters have all been through that whether we went to college or not, whether we got the job we wanted or not. It is all about learning to follow God or sometimes making a decision and stepping out in faith.

      • Alfred Corduan August 7, 2013 Reply

        Awesome, Esbee. God is good. I have seen some of your work and really like it.

        I shall have to add that to our course of study . . . that is: Truck, Gun, Dog . . . right?

  12. Lynn August 7, 2013 Reply

    Alfred, I also have a degree in Math education. I taught two years, got married, and had kids. I am very confident when I teach my kids anything because of my background. I don't worry about how I would provide for my kids if something happened to my husband; I see jobs in my field posted all the time. ( Don't tell me I don't trust God. You do not know the incredible faith I have.) My husband worked his way up in a factory from electrician at $19,000 to maintenance manager at five times that amount by reading manuals. He said it is very difficult to do that today. In the 1920's -1940's you could get a good job with a high school diploma. In the 50's -90's you could get a good job with a 4-year degree. Now you have to specialize. You and I don't know what it is like to be uneducated. These young people do. I disagree with your idea of not teaching anything in the first three grades. Children learn a lot of character not by memorizing definitions but by acting them out. Diligence in school work. Orderliness. Neatness. Obedience. They are like sponges.

  13. Lynn August 7, 2013 Reply

    I didn't cram my children with information. They begged for it. If a person is going to know how to think, they need information to base those thoughts on.

  14. Alfred Corduan August 7, 2013 Reply

    Lynn: Whatever I said that sounded aimed at you, even to challenge your faith in the Lord, was not and I am sorry it sounded that way. I have no problem with what you are doing. Aimed more at young people who haven't perhaps gotten the training they think they should.

    And don't get me wrong. Take my philosophizing on the one side, and my practical wife on the other. We provide all the opportunities we can, not limited to Wisdom Books in any respect.

    Is your husband tied to the world of unions by chance? If so - got it. That is an artificial world . . . they govern it, they bless their monopoly. But I do not see that progression elsewhere. I see the complete opposite. Any more, they just want to know what you can do. And . . . they will train you. Northrop Grumman, for one, will send you to school, full 4 year degree if you want, basically pay everything. And, stunningly, with little interest in what the degree is in.

  15. Lynn August 7, 2013 Reply

    Alfred, my husband is not tied to unions, and his company does send people to school. But that is the catch: education is necessary. You did not attack my faith. I just have faith and action in the area of preparing my children. There are a number of talented, hardworking homeschooled young people in their 20's and 30's who can't get good jobs and get married because they don't have educations. Maybe you can connect them to these companies that will pay for their education.

  16. Lynn August 7, 2013 Reply

    I meant that kindly, Alfred. There are a lot of struggling people. I am glad your wife is practical. My husband is also and he keeps me in balance.

  17. Rebecca August 8, 2013 Reply

    Just wanted to include a comment here (a long one) since education is a subject dear to me. My family did not do ATI, although we knew many ppl who did (several of whose kids are very poor, rebelled, or lost their faith, I might add). We were homeschooled through high school and my parents were pretty legalistic in spite of being considered a little liberal by our ATI-ish friends!.

    My mom (who now works for a daycare for minimum wage while my dad is frequently jobless in spite of being a trade plumber-they are divorced now-another story!) insisted that we attend college one way or another. I'm the only girl out of five and the second oldest (my older brother was never good at books so he didn't go). My dad was hesitant at first to send me to community college. I was always a very good student and loved learning and my mom insisted. After a year teaching my younger brothers at home, I went to community college on a full scholarship I won writing an essay (I believe it was about homeschooling-ironically!). I then went to a 4 year school while living at home, also largely with financial aid and scholarships and graduated with High Honors and a BS in Economics and comparatively little debt.
    I really didn't know what I wanted to do and had no career aspirations, but at 23 I had never dated (I was shy and I must admit homeschooling never helped in that arena) and getting married and having kiddos wasn't happening without a husband :) With the encouragement of my professors, I managed to go to grad school with full assistantship. I moved away (one of the best things I ever did), became part of a great church and campus fellowship where I really learned to overcome the legalism I had grown up with, and got paid to earn 2 Master's degrees.

    I still didn't know what I wanted to do with all that education, except that I wanted to work in the field of education. At 2 days short of 27, I got married to the only guy I ever dated, (he's great!!), had a baby 10 months later, and just had my second last month. I've stayed home these 3.5 years, except for some tutoring, and recently overcame a yet another lingering hang-up about working as a mom. My first year of motherhood was NOT joyful and I was going nuts, but couldn't admit until recently that I really need some mental stimulation-and that is okay.

    I am now starting a part-time job (that was TOTALLY provided by God!) in which I can largely work from home for decent pay as an academic coordinator for international students. I'm making decent money for the hours, am much happier than when I was only doing domestic stuff, and my whole family is better off emotionally (and financially, as a bonus).

    I tell this story to share that my education is very useful to me now and I thoroughly believe God shaped every step of the way, even though I had NO idea what I was doing throughout college and just did what seemed wisest at the time. I am blessed with a great husband who is a good provider (thanks to a degree in web development). We have good health insurance and other benefits, and live in a small house that needs some work, but we can afford it and don't feel like we are always falling behind. We live modestly, but much more securely than I, and many of those I knew, did growing up.

    God has different plans for different people. While living as dirt- poor farmers and relying on God very directly for money for clothes and food may be the plan for some (maybe?), it is not the plan for everyone and should not be considered more spiritual! God provides for others by gifts of good minds and academic interests, provides educations and jobs, and provides for daily needs in this way. And that is good and a blessing!

    • MatthewS August 8, 2013 Reply

      wow, thanks for sharing your story!

      I am so thankful that the Lord opened the door for me to go to college. It was a long road, and I've had a lot of debt related to it, but I would not trade it. I am a software developer, using my computer science degree. I am thankful for every class I took. There are indeed some very good self-taught programmers out there. Almost all of the self-taught guys I've had to deal with would have benefited from an education even though they wouldn't admit it. And that's being nice. Some companies will hire a person without any degree, but look at most of the ads for jobs available in a technical field, and a 4-year degree will be stipulated. Someone may be able to get around that, but it will be an uphill battle from the start, and it is something that may be used against you in terms of salary and raises, and also in being somewhat "handcuffed" to the present job, knowing that the same issue will come up again when seeking out a new job.

      It's kind of a sore spot for me. I had to really work hard to catch up. I was behind in algebra, trig, calculus, and physics. To this day, I have never taken a chemistry or biology class. My parents meant well, and there were good things to my education at home, but to this day they have no idea how much stress I endured in making up on the fly what I had not received. An adopted grandpa had tried to set up a college fund for me, but due to Gothard's teachings that college was sinful idolatry, my parents and I were rude enough to refuse his generosity (now that they are selling something like college and "Doctor Gothard" has a cracker-jack Ph.D., they have magically changed that teaching). So I had to pay for the whole thing myself. But on the bright side, God has opened doors, I get to work in both programming and pastoring, both of which I love. Every class I have ever taken, at the undergrad or graduate level, has stretched me or helped me grow in some way. I am so, so thankful that the Lord gave the right help at the right time to nudge me out of the system and get me on the track to college. It was an awesome experience and I have never regretted it.

      Anyway, I went off on a long story there, but I totally agree with your last paragraph. It's great if God's plan for one person does not involve college, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but those folks should be careful not to pressure others into a path that stands to hurt their careers in the long run.

      • Chris Symonds August 9, 2013 Reply

        Yeah I saw the PhD thing attached to his name wonder if its a doctor of quackery?

  18. Alfred Corduan August 9, 2013 Reply

    Just read a timely article by Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" fame in the current issue of "Popular Mechanics". It whacks our topic at hand straight between the eyes. He appears to have a whole web site dedicated to it called "Profoundly Disconnected" (http://profoundlydisconnected.com )

    Opening paragraph:

    "The Worst Advice in the World
    WORK SMART, NOT HARD — WHAT A STUPID IDEA THAT WAS.


    When I was 17 my high school guidance counselor tried to talk me into going on to earn a four-year degree. I had nothing against college, but the universities that Mr. Dunbar recommended were expensive, and I had no idea what I wanted to study. I thought a community college made more sense, but Mr. Dunbar said a two-year school was “beneath my potential.” He pointed to a poster hanging behind his desk: On one side of the poster was a beaten-down, depressed-looking blue-collar worker; on the other side was an optimistic college graduate with his eyes on the horizon. Underneath, the text read: Work Smart NOT Hard.

    “Mike, look at these two guys,” Mr. Dunbar said. “Which one do you want to be?” I had to read the caption twice. Work Smart NOT Hard?
    Back then universities were promoting themselves aggressively, and propaganda like this was all over the place. Did it work? Well, it worked for colleges, that’s for sure. Enrollments soared. But at the same time, trade schools faltered. Vocational classes began to vanish from high schools. Apprenticeship programs and community colleges became examples of “alternative education,” vocational consolation prizes for those who weren’t “college material.”

    Today student loans eclipse $1 trillion. There’s high unemployment among recent college graduates, and most graduates with jobs are not even working in their field of study. And we have a skills gap. At last count, 3 million jobs are currently available that either no one can do, or no one seems to want. How crazy is that? . . . "



    He is not the first . . . I hear this all over the place. In some respects a college degree impedes more than it helps, especially with the insane amount of debt that normally accompanies it.


    And for rare situations where a degree is actually demanded . . . One of our local ATI families worked out a program with an accredited college where their son obtained a completely viable BA with a combination of coursework and credit for past experience before he was 17, if I recall the exact age. Past experience included serious time in China, learning Chinese fluently - he was no slouch. He then secured an appointment to West Point, which I was under the impression actually required a degree.


    Costco managers are hired in at 56K . . . cashiers go up to $21/hour. I am always stunned at what unskilled grocery workers pull in. Poking around, I see someone asked a general question on how much he and his brother might expect to earn a year with a 2 bay auto repair garage they were purchasing. Best answer:


    "I have probably 175 clients that own after-market auto repair businesses in my business loan, equipment leasing, and credit card processing business. They have one thing in common more work than they have mechanics for. THEY ARE ALWAYS BUSY. I have seen their annual statements and after over head costs they all have 100k plus!"


    Sorry . . . I still think we have been sold a bill of goods.

    • esbee August 9, 2013 Reply

      actually, Alfred (my big white cat we found wandering on a dark country road as a tiny 4 week old kitten is named Alfred!)
      I agree with you 100% on this one. (I agree with you on many things, btw)

      Trade schools are a viable option to expensive colleges. I wish schools would push more of their students to use them. Where I live in NE rural Texas, very few high school students really want or can afford college. The percentage that go have been groomed by their parents from infancy for college. The rest learn a trade. Or work at Walmart.

      • Alfred Corduan August 13, 2013 Reply

        And . . . I - with humility and deep gratefulness - thank you for naming your cat after me.

        It WAS me, right?

  19. Wendy August 9, 2013 Reply

    In my husband's and my families, parents send their young people to college. Degrees beyond a bachelor's degree are optional although many have them. Regardless of what anyone else does or preaches, this is what my people do. We (I, my husband, our siblings) are expected to raise our children to serve God and be productive contributors to society. Attending college is part of the process. If we fail to instill a lifelong desire for God in our young people, we are considered failures as parents. If we do not send our kids to college, that is also considered failure. (There are other expectations that come with being in our family, but those are not relevant here).

    My point with this comment is this: Our family's position on education trumps the opinions of outside religious organizations. The decision to send/encourage kids to go to college or not belongs to the individual family. Not churches or para-church organizations. Personally, I think if a degree is needed for what a person wants to do with their life, it is wrong to try to dissuade them.

    The fear that a young person would go to college and turn away from God is not a fear or concern that my family has. We know that college is coming and with it an entre into the much bigger world and we prepare our young people for the transition. My generation is over half-way through getting the next generation through college. So far, there have been no spiritual casualties in either my generation or the next one.

    I saw a brochure for last summer's IBLP regional conferences and was surprised to see a family friend was one of the featured speakers. His topic (listed in the brochure) was why parents should not send their kids to college. To me, this is an example of an organization overstepping its bounds. Full disclosure: I did not attend any of the regional conferences. I only read the write-up in the brochure.

  20. Lynn August 9, 2013 Reply

    Rebecca and Matthew, great comments. Alfred, I agree that there are many degrees offered today that are useless. 20+ years ago a 4-year degree in anything would get you in the door to a good job, not so today. Yet many, many jobs require specific training. I educate my children to be able to pick any career they want to have without having to do years of remedial work. I am not sure where you are from, Alfred, but most of the unskilled workers around here make $7.25 an hour. I just think it is wise to talk to your wife and kids about it. What do they want to do? That gives them hope and helps them see the possibilities. I have been through this with half my children. I speak from experience. Remember, Alfred, we are educated. We need to listen to the students on the other side.

    • MatthewS August 9, 2013 Reply

      Right on, Lynn.

      Even a quick check of Monster.com shows how many jobs state a requirement of a degree. I have been on the "clean-up crew" so to speak of people who lacked the training to do their job, and even after making a mess of things, they may not have been able to comprehend the scope of their own ignorance. A good education is challenging and outside the scope of what a person normally encounters in daily life.

      Interesting how we take Scripture literally until we don't. Solomon said, "Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." (Of course this is not a mandate for everyone to go to college. But it is a statement paying high honor to the value of learning and gaining understanding).

  21. Alfred Corduan August 9, 2013 Reply

    So . . . in response (to the notion of "necessity") I go back to Mike Rowe, not Bill Gothard:

    "Profoundly Disconnected?

    A trillion dollars in student loans. Record high unemployment. Three million good jobs that no one seems to want. The goal of Profoundly Disconnected is to challenge the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success. The Skills Gap is here, and if we don’t close it, it’ll swallow us all. Which is a long way of saying, we could use your help"

    $7.75/hr? Of course - we have all been there. Read my story above . . . I was making way less than that. After the degrees were in. Yet focus on one led to another, and the next, and suddenly 60 hours a week of work, all within something like 3 months. NOBODY cared about my degrees, least of which my new 19 year old boss. [All of that from answering cheap ads in the newspaper, BTW] 2.5 years later, after helping set up and then managing branch offices in multiple states, doing sales, hiring, firing, developing curriculum, training instructors, teaching bankers in high-rise buildings I cashed that in with a big corporation. The degrees gave me more money, true - but their hired me neither for my BS in Math nor my BA in German, but because I do do stand-up training of professionals and develop curricula. And they always had the proviso that so many years of experience was considered exactly equivalent to a 4 year degree for their purposes.

    It has always been my opinion - and experience - that just about ANY job will take you where you want to go if you accept it as God's personal assignment.

    Anyway, Wendy you are right that we all need to find our own way for ourselves and our children. What you put forward works. I am speaking directly to those who are mad because they didn't get the education of the fellow next door. I come from a family of 1st generation immigrants, leaving a destroyed world to start over in America. All the barriers toward foreigners in place. I am sure it colors my perspectives.

  22. Rebecca August 9, 2013 Reply

    like I said, everyone is different and has a different path to follow. I know several people who jumped into living at a four-year private school to get degrees in English or History and now have huge amounts of debt and low paying jobs. Not wise! I think a lot of that is that they come from a class where college degrees and the "experience" is expected. Those of us who come from less privileged backgrounds know it is a special privilege and I think, think a little harder about the debt to benefit ratio. One of my brothers started out at community college like me, finished his degree with some debt at a 4 year school, and now, at 26 makes close to 6 figures as a sales engineer. He's just good at what he does! I have no doubt he would have done very well had he never gone to college, but I doubt he would have progressed as quickly and almost certainly wouldn't be doing the same job since it would have taken quite a while to obtain his engineering knowledge with college. Another brother tried a year of culinary school after comm college but decided it wasn't worth the debt and transferred to where he could live at home at get more scholarship money even though he was at the top of his culinary classes. Now, he still has a decent amount of debt, but it should be manageable and he, again, is able to get a job that pays better than he was making before (he worked close to full time the whole time he was in school).

    College degrees are NOT a magic ticket to a cushy life for everyone, but for those who are good at what they offer, can get a degree with only a little debt, and who are studying a subject with good job prospects, it is still a wise decision.

  23. Heather August 9, 2013 Reply

    I think the bottom line should really be: Why are parents not raising their children with the expectations of higher education in their choice of field, (provided it's a logical choice, hello degree in 12th Century poetry.. what?), for the intention and purpose of creating young people who will grow up to be capable of being self-sustaining and able to provide for a family if need be? Anything besides that is doing an incredible disservice to your children, i.e. raising them with the fear of college or life in general will stunt their personal growth and cost them plenty in both wasted years and unnecessary trouble with just living their life. (I realize of course there are exceptions to this, it may not be the answer for everyone, and that's fine. It's the mindset that's the problem.)

    Consider this:

    A man builds an entire, huge ministry. Even though the ministry is lucrative and can more or less sustain itself, regardless of whether the ministry leader takes home a little or large paycheck.. He tells his followers college is evil, and on some levels, he is probably right to caution against said evils of college. But realize this: what are these parents going to do with their children once they graduate high school? Esp since many of them (esp girls) aren't going to go into the workforce. Why, send them up to the ministry where they can serve! And not just serve for free (depending on situation) but they can PAY to serve! Now the ministry is definitely lucrative. Many of it's workers work for free or are overworked/underpaid. What better way for a ministry to thrive?

    consider that the leader of this ministry knows this, and that may be a huge part of his motivation for preaching against college. Huge families + nowhere to send grown children = profits for his ministry in the long run. Add conveniently placed vows of singleness for the holy purpose of serving the Lord, and you've got yourself a long haul of free or cheap labor.

    consider also that this leader, even though he takes home a relatively small paycheck, doesn't really have that many bills anyway, because most of them are met by his ministry. Travel, clothes, meals (people are constantly treating him, just ask Gary Smalley).. all these things can legally be itemized for work, which is fine, but still.. Not everyone wants money, especially if having money might tarnish their image of being godly and humble. This leader has no real need for much money, as I have already explained. What he has and craves, is power.

    That last paragraph describes MANY if not most famous ministry leaders today. (minus the small paycheck perhaps.) Bill's lifestyle is not humble and modest. And I believe the whole passage is what Bill is up to.

  24. Will Hunsucker August 10, 2013 Reply

    Neither my wife or I have a degree, something that has caused us some concern - as to how we would live if we were to move back to the States.

    We have lived in Eastern Europe since we married in 2001, and there is no way our family of six could get by on the (quite meager)income we have as independent missionaries here.

    ATI came into my life when I was questioning college for college's sake, so combined with my own lack of direction and cluelessness, it was a major factor in my not pursuing an education.

    However, ati did introduce me to Russia, which gave me both direction, and over time(8-12 yrs), a somewhat marketable skill as a translator.

    Neither my wife nor I have degrees, which we have yet to regret, but we wouldn't have minded some further education, if it had been available as an option we could have pursued while beginning our married life in Russia.

    At this point, we have no great worries financially - we scrape by just like most people here. Adjusting to life in the States would be interesting, and the question of how much a lack of degrees would have to do with finding a decent job would be part of that. However, we hope to be in this part of the world for the foreseeable future, so no worries, right?

  25. Linn August 14, 2013 Reply

    Right before my church jumped off the cliff with Gothardism, I went away to college. I hadn't been a Christian very long, and my parents insisted I get a degree before I even chased my own dream of Bible college. I am so glad I followed their advice! By the way, my folks (one now deceased) are not believers. I was on my own spiritually (thankful for a great church in college) once I left home.

    So, I have been a teacher in public, private and missionary settings for the past 30 years. Homeschooling can be a great option if used as a way to prepare children to flourish according to their particular bent and serve the Lord in His place for them. However, when it is used to insulate them from a world with which they have to deal at some point, it can really backfire, leading to bitter adults who cannot support themselves nor deal with the stress of the world outside their home. I've seen this many times.

    Flip side-not everyone needs or wants a college degree. But many professions do require one! The BA is what the high school diploma was to a past generation. Even if a person ends up taking a job outside of their major, it still is an enormous benefit to have a degree.

    Finally, I have huge concerns about young single women coming from homeschooling families who are totally unprepared for life in the "outside" world. If they don't marry, and can't support themselves, they are left with shattered dreams and no sense of purpose for the wonderful, unique people God has created them to be (the articles in Recovering Grace are full of such stories). For whatever reason, I have stayed single my entire life, and I have always been able to support myself. This has also freed me up to serve the Lord as my chosen profession has allowed me to teach in many ministry settings.

    There are many ways to get an excellent education. God leads when we let Him. Parents who homeschool (any parent who homeschools) need to understand that they aren't always going to be sitting around the dining room table giving lessons to their little ones. Little ones need to have the best education possible so that they can serve God with the gifts He has given them.

    • Heather August 14, 2013 Reply

      Everything you just said. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you.

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