John Mark Reynolds- Contributor
Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey
Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy,
at Biola University.
How California Will Be Saved One Kitchen Table a Time
[John Mark Reynolds] 10/7/03
Arianna Huffington tried to become the face of female California in this election.
She ran flaunting her sex while resenting any mention of it. Her life is the
story of the pursuit of power and acceptance, always falling short. Conservative
Arrianna became liberal Mrs. Huffington who ended up a shill for the dead Davis
regime. You get the feeling her new friends go to her parties and then laugh
at her behind her back. Like some damned Esau doomed to repeat his worst mistake,
she keeps selling her birthright as an Orthodox Greek for a bowl of pottage,
but ends cheated out of even the soup. At the close of the campaign, she was
pitiable. No woman I know would trade places with her now for all her millions.
She has come all to a point, hard and cold, with a face as sharp as her manicured
It is hard
not to see Mrs. Huffington as a symbol for a burnt out culture
self-improvement. When I was a kid, a children’s
show told me, “The most important person in the whole wide
world is YOU and YOU hardly even know You.” Arianna must
have taken this advice quite literally. Her life story is one
long quest to find herself and God save the idea or person who
got in the way of that quest. Of course, Mrs. Huffington is not
alone. Her husband seems to have hurt quite a few people on his
own quest for inner satisfaction. Sometimes, California seems
like a state that should been in constant Amber Alert for its
millions of lost people trying to find themselves.
A few weeks
ago, when feeling particularly depressed about this state of
I got to meet a few hundred home school mothers.
These women represent something new. They are not feminists,
a phrase they would reject with scorn. Most live in very traditional
households where the husband is the head of the family. However,
they are certainly not Donna Reed doormats waiting at home in
pearls and high heels for their lord and master to arrive home.
They are very strong and fiercely opinionated. They are incredibly
well read, devouring more books a year than most U.C. students
read in four years. Book a “talk with Plato scholar to
hear about big ideas” and they show up.
So what are
they? They remind me most of the strong women of my great-grandmother’s generation in West Virginia, who
could run a farm, fix the roof, write hymns for the church, and
who had never heard of bulimia. They did not worry about their
body image, because they were secure in the love of their strong
men, none of whom would have been allowed a “metrosexual
makeover” if they had wanted it. Those strong women could
never have burned a bra, because they never bothered trying to
wear pin up girl underwear. Ask those women what they thought
and you heard more than you wanted to hear. I knew a few of these
women, the last of the old pioneer stock, but only when they
were old and tired.
The home school mothers of California are not old. Sometimes
their brutal schedules may make them tired, but they are up for
more in the morning. When I talk to them I quickly realize they
care more about ideas than rhetoric. These women solve problems
every day. They educate their children in highly creative ways,
inventing curriculum, programs, and social events out of nothing
but their talent. They are neither dowdy nor fashion conscious.
Their dress is most often sensible, but feminine. They innovate,
but within the bounds of tradition. What are they? God bless
us, they are ladies, a group many thought had gone extinct around
the time of the sinking of Titanic.
In one sense,
their lives are a bloodless martyrdom. The media mostly forgets
except for the occasional condescending piece
in the Times. They fit no stereotypes, being too numerous and
too interesting, so they are ignored. They sacrifice for the
welfare of their children. Talents that could vitalize a corporate
boardroom are turned to teaching children to read. Their children,
of course, take such sacrifice for granted. Their mothers make
it safe for them to be blissfully unaware of their blessings.
So these strong women sacrifice everything our culture deems
important. They have no resume-inflating career. If Arianna Huffington
ever met them, she would sneer or patronize. Yet they give new
life to all the Victorian platitudes lodged – because they
are true – in the back of all our minds. “The hand
that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
kitchen table Socrates. They don’t trust the
government schools that spend billions to produce cookie cutter
children. These women use cookie cutters on cookies not children.
Like Socrates, they despise uniformity in education and people
who teach for money and not love of students. Their children
are producing reams of stories, hours of music, original plays,
and a whole new civilization. If our boys are overseas defending
the West, these women are home renewing it.
Home school mothers are the heart of a traditionalist revolution
in California that is driving life back into the homes. To these
women, and the men blessed to be married to them, homes are no
longer assets or places to share a microwave dinner at the end
of an exhausting day of separation. Spreading like some beneficial
virus, men and women are returning basic educational, economic,
and social functions to home where they have always belonged.
A great poet was brought to see God through the example of one
godly woman. Dante had his Beatrice and it was enough. It is
harder for men in our materialistic age, so God has raised up
thousands of such women. It is time to take a good hard look
at what these heroes without epic poets are doing in quiet. I
put very little trust in princes, whether elected or not. Rather,
if the oldest stories are true the fate of the Bear Flag Republic
rests more with these home school mothers.
There are now thousands of strong, independent, God fearing
women in California. They ask nothing of government, but to be
left alone. These women are not impressed with stardom and glamour,
many do not even own televisions. Their men work long hours in
their own, often not very glamorous, businesses so that their
wives can save the West. The men they admire get things done
with decency and honor. They are often quiet men, but as sound
as the state credit used to be. Their wives chose them for their
virtues, not their muscles. Home school mothers are fiercely
liberated and proudly traditional.
Governor Schwarzenegger may not have met many of these strong
women in his past. The perfect response is not to look for the
respect of some media Huffingtons, but to find some home school
mothers to give him advice and inspiration. What better group
to meet in his first weeks in office? They will have commonsense
suggestions. Many of them are brilliant problem solvers with
advanced degrees. Others are the sort of salt of the earth types
that pay the taxes that balance any state budget. They need to
But our new governor will not just get wise words, he will get
inspiration if he looks carefully. These are not botoxed beauties
simpering on a set, but real women. In their faces especially
their eyes, he will see a spark of the transcendent that will
humble and enlighten. I know. It has happened to me. If he will
meet them, Beatrice multiplied by the thousands will look at
him if he will visit their conventions and hear their stories.
If he can win their trust and loyalty by his actions, then Schwarzenegger
can laugh at the Huffingtons and the Times. In their eyes, he
will have found the pathway to the stars, a Beatrice Brigade
to storm the gates of Sacramento.
2003 John Mark Reynolds