We Want Transformation, Not Conformity

I explained in a previous post that a group of second generation debaters were making some debate coaches uneasy. It may seem preferable to dislike uneasiness, but I’m siding with Romans 12:2.

We are teaching them to transform the world...right?

We are teaching them to transform the world…right?

I believe nonconformity is awesome, arguably a Christian calling, a most popular anthem of home educators. The verse from Romans is quoted to homeschoolers throughout most of the days we raise them: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Debate — the training of the mind — leads the young mind to challenge the status quo, offer solutions, and advocate for a better world.

Surprise, surprise. Debaters are actually transforming, not conforming. Sometimes this makes us uncomfortable.

Good Causes

Take Lila Rose, for instance. She partnered up with James O’Keefe (our keynote at the Training Minds For Action Conference, by the way) and captured several abortion clinics covering for statutory rape. Posing as a 14-year-old with money from her 34-year-old boyfriend, she got Planned Parenthood on camera willfully scheduling abortions rather than following state law and reporting the rape to authorities.

She’s got guts. Lila and James deserve Pulitzers.

Lila was a champion speaker and debater in the NCFCA back in the day. She’s definitely applying the basic tenants of a team-policy debate case: challenge the status quo, offer solutions, make the world a better place. I think this is totally, utterly awesome. This is exactly the kind of work that should be encouraged.

Are you pro-choice? Getting upset with Lila or her debate training is a wimpy red herring. I encourage you to instead get ticked at Planned Parenthood’s lenient practice toward sexual predators and rapists. That’s a problem with your community, not mine. Deal with it.

Same with James O’Keefe. He’s not an alumni like Lila, but he couldn’t be more excited over this group of debaters that are coming up through the ranks. He’s making headlines with his recent sting operation in Texas where he caught on camera ACA employees advocating for tax fraud, lying on their Obamacare forms, and connecting with political action committees and violating the so-called nonpartisan healthcare law. James is our keynote at the For Action Conference in January, and I can’t wait to connect him with the young people coming up to be trained for action.

For conservatives like me, these issues are awesome. I think they’re awesome even when they push the margins a bit…

Uneasy Causes

In my conservative community, this gets dicey. Causes on the opposite side of my world are supported. I’ve followed alumni who publicly attack significant homeschool leaders (myself included) and subcultures in the homeschool community that I happen to agree with, even advocate.

An example: the quiverfull movement, a community that Wendy and I are extremely familiar with and respectful of. We have 16 kids, for crying out loud, we were on TV in 2007, and we’re friends with a lot of the other leaders in this movement. We understand this community more than most anyone.

I suppose I could attack the naysayers and even the activity of debate itself. But this would be a double standard, and debaters know it (they’re trained to call out these fallacies, called double binds, in debate rounds). There are problems with the quiverfull community — physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse, especially. Just like pro-choicers and Obamacare supporters need to deal with their reality, I need to deal with mine.

Uncomfortable as these things are, I believe this is what God wants. It’s part of the Romans 12:2 idea. We need to be transformers, not conformers. Debaters get this. They’re trained to think, speak and persuade and are the leaders in the kind of change the world needs — uncomfortable, honest, helpful change.

They may not hit the mark, and they may advocate things we disagree, but I’m fine with that. This is hardly vindication that debate is a bad idea. “Training the mind for action” (1 Peter 1:13) is essential to the transformation of the mind and, ultimately, society.

This is what we wanted from the onset of homeschool debate, and we’re witnessing that change today. I’m good with that. Are you?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • (Adam) Reid Hall