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John Mark Reynolds- Contributor

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University.

Beatrice Brigade
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 nails.

It is hard not to see Mrs. Huffington as a symbol for a burnt out culture of 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 the state, 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 them 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.”

These are 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 be heard.

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.

copyright 2003 John Mark Reynolds



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