a dark silhouette of the back of a person watching a blazing fire

Swamp Fire: A Reflection

By Paul Bright

You Know It’s Hot When the Swamp is On Fire

Driving to a vacation spot this summer for our annual sabbatical at the beach, my wife and I were on Interstate 12 near Stennis at the border between Louisiana and Mississippi. Like much of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, this area is filled with wetlands, bayous, creeks, cricks, rivers, and overgrowth that rivals any dystopian, apocalyptic movie. And it was on fire. A burn ban had been in place for quite some time, but the extended heat of the summer and the lack of rain had turned the vegetation into a tinderbox. The flames had jumped from the westbound lanes, through the median, and onto the eastbound lanes. Thick smoke filled the whole area, making visibility impossible and covering everything with soot and charred smell. In my characteristic deadpan humor, I turned to my wife and said, “You know it’s hot when the swamp is on fire.”

A Quick Laugh and Further Reflection

Only my wife can chuckle at such dry humor. However, the conditions for a fire in a swamp were clear and longstanding due to the combination of neglect, rebellion, and environment. The surprise of driving through a swamp fire was humorous and ironic, in that it illustrates the swamp fire of Western Culture. But what are some of the conditions that lead to the blazing chaos that is burning through our culture, and why are there so few Christians who seem unaware or willing to do anything?

The Putrid Soil of Idealism

Idealism, philosophically defined, is the theory of epistemology that teaches that the mind forms reality. Historically, idealism arose from pursuing rationalism during the Enlightenment in thinkers such as Hegel, Leibnitz, and, to a lesser extent, Kant. In the proponents that followed the Enlightenment, pure subjective idealism became not merely Optimism but also a teaching that the mind does not create the idea but the thing itself. Thus, pure subjective idealism results in the creation of the thing directly. Through the power of the mind, man creates the very thing imagined by thought. The subject creates through noumena (from the Greek word, nous, “mind”). “The duality of the matter and mind,” as Bavinck surmised, has been “denied, and the thing and the representation of the thing, being and thinking, are viewed essentially as one.” 1

The Voracious Weeds in the Swamp

Pure subjective idealism infected Christianity directly through the charlatans of the Word-Faith movement and continues in a more mass-appealing form in the hucksters peddling the prosperity gospel, where the conjoined sins of self-worship and greed increasingly breed ever-blasphemous pronouncements in the name of Christ. The recent history of Western Christianity is dominated by these popular teraphim (from the ancient Hebrew, “false idols”) that are adored and emulated. There is a headlong rush toward any living savior who can speak of money, fame, and celebrity as a blessing. Their numbers are only limited to how quickly followers can heap on teachers. Their influence is only limited by their opportunity to jump from a smaller idolatrous family to a whole tribe (Judges 17-18). They are weeds, all. Truly, truly, they are cursed directly by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:24-26).

The Impenetrable Undergrowth

Growing unchecked out of this idealism is the regurgitated anthropological teaching that the affections are granted a substance and an epistemological and moral priority. Feelings are given a “soul” with an unyielding, undiminishable, and immutable authority. Feelings are an abiding revelation, a self-originating, self-authenticating, self-interpreting impetus, as base and necessary to existence as breathing air. Thus, feelings are presented as a prius (from Latin, “a prior thing”), not a posterius (from Latin, “a following thing”). Feelings internal and subjective are the ousia (from Greek, “substance”) and hyparchis (from Greek, “abiding presence”) and are, similarly, necessarily detached from phenomena (Greek from phenoo, “I observe”). The new category is aesthemena (Greek from aesthima, “feeling”).  

Swamp Undergrowth is Not a Garden

This affectional ratio ad vitam (Latin for ‘meaning for life’) corrupted historic Christian theology by a deceptively disastrous mutation in the skewed recharacterization of God’s love as eros (from Greek, “sensual love”), not agape (from Greek, “love by choice”). Popularized by multiple, respected, well-studied, philosophical, historical, and exegetical preachers and teachers, the apex of Christian virtue became “Glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” Feelings as motive, as drive, as the substance was drunk in, as living water. Passion and pleasure were put forward in man and God as the only true achievement, embodiment, and reciprocation of glory. Anything of will and duty is of works and baseless and useless. Rather than growing a well-tended garden, the result was an entangling, unstable, impenetrable overgrowth of affectional mass. Undergrowth is not beautiful, and it was part of the curse (Genesis 3:18). Man was never designed by God to be led by affections.

The Match Was Thrown

Is it any wonder that the current cultural climate is one where the mind exhibits and engages in pure subjective irrationality from the prius of the feelings? This is why debates based on phenomena and logic are rejected immediately, comprehensively, and violently based on feelings. The person who believes that the mind is an organ of feelings that stimulate the creation of reality is irrationally enslaved. These persons will go to great lengths to subjugate their thoughts and the observable world around them to conform to their feelings. These persons must create from the inside out, from the affections as the source, through the mind as means, to the outside, as the transformative object. These have made themselves as Deity in their feelings, to which any, and eventually all, must prostrate in obedience.

The Fire Consumes and Is Healthy?

However, in order to create, these persons must first destroy. They will destroy all norms, whether individual or societal, amoral or moral, religious or civil. Worse still, this destruction and recreation is repackaged as a necessary mental health crisis for these individuals when the world outside of them does not immediately conform to their idealism. This explains why their verbal and material reactions include radical outbursts of violence and, contradictorily, simultaneously and exclusively, claim themselves to be recipients of violence. You have, in their reality, assaulted their most complete and necessary substance and being.  

Where there is Fire, there is Smoke

The pursuit of this idolatry will destroy them internally as well as raze relationships, morals, institutions, and societies. The consequences of idealism are already observed and experienced in the institutions of society through education, government, employment, military, health services, the family, and religion. The planned destruction through idealism is combined with the blatant realignment of the historic political foundation of our country. Marxism, at its roots, views man as tolpa (Russian for “herd”). The target of Marxism has always been and will be the most innocent and vulnerable…children. Familial, ecclesiastical, educational, technological, governmental, and societal fumes will billow from the smoldering miasma of this Idealism and Marxism.  

Putting out the Fire Through the Promise of Repentance

The only recourse for change is direct confrontation. Exposure of the insane irrationality comes through the proclamation of the objective revelation written in the Scriptures. There is hope that the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11) will shatter the illusion of self-deification. The promises of God to work for regeneration seen in true repentance have never been revoked.

Growing Anew

Corporately, Christians should pursue the position of illuminator and preserver (light and salt) through soberness, prayerfulness, engagement, and, as is customary in the course of Christian history, a willingness to suffer. It behooves Christians to live circumspectly, pure, clean, and with holy wisdom that comes down from the Father of Lights. Also, Christians should actively prune the undergrowth of this idealism and live worshipfully with the rich communities established on the Reformed doctrines of grace, which oppose idealism. Finally, Christian parents need to understand that the current culture fire is specifically designed to disintegrate their God-given position and responsibility as moral teachers and examples in the minds, hearts, and souls of their children in all respects. So, parents must make a choice and act. What will you choose to do?

Paul Bright currently works in the field of Biotechnology. He is a native of Evansville, IN, and an alumnus of Purdue University and The Master’s Seminary. He was a Systematic Theology and Ancient Hebrew professor in Samara, Russia. He and his wife, Jennifer, homeschooled their daughter all the way through high school and currently reside in Covington, Louisiana.

  1. Herman Bavink, Reformed Dogmatics. Vol. 1. (MI: Baker Academic, 2003), p. 216. ↩︎
a boy concentrates on his homework, studying the design of airplanes

What are Our Schools “Really” Teaching?

By Jennifer Bright

As contentious school board meetings were publicized in Virginia, I pondered about what was happening in my local area and what the schools were ‘really’ teaching. I started watching my local board meetings online to see the hot topics like library books, new curricula, charter schools, etc. For background, my community is one of the wealthier, conservative parishes with some of the best public schools. With the top schools, my area also has the largest number of homeschoolers in the state.

In addition to this, I wasn’t surprised to see inconspicuous, redefined language regarding social-emotional learning in the curriculum. So, I took a closer look at a few curriculum companies that my local school district uses:

Amplify Science

In early 2023, the local school board adopted a new science curriculum, Amplify Science. I did a quick search online to learn more about the company. From their website:

“Our goal is to make education, and thereby the world, more equitable and accessible… To do this, we hire and develop people with the broadest range of talents, life stories and experiences, and together we build a diverse and inclusive culture”.1

There are a few words that stick out: equitable, accessible, diverse, and inclusive. This is, on the surface DEI curriculum.

FranklinCovey Company: Leader in Me

Another curriculum company adopted this year by my local public schools is Leader in Me by the FranklinCovey company. Here is what the company says about itself:

“Inclusion is a core value at FranklinCovey. We know that building an inclusive work culture in which everyone is valued and respected contributes to our success. Our content and solutions encourage inclusion and embracing and celebrating different backgrounds, perspectives, and identities.

As a company, we prohibit discrimination as it relates to race, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, education, disability status, socioeconomic status, religion, or any other characteristic… We are committed to serving our customers with respect and helping them improve their individual, team, and organizational performance to achieve extraordinary results and lasting change.” 2… FranklinCovey works with clients every day to steward diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives bolstered by our learning programs… Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are in strong alignment with FranklinCovey’s core mission and values.”3

Do we not see those same words of diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) here as well? And the FranklinCovey company is committed to stewarding DEI in its learning programs, like Leader in Me.4

FranklinCovey company is very clear that they are proudly proclaiming DEI, CRT, and the alphabet mess.

Great Minds: Eureka Math

As a final test case, a popular math curriculum used by many schools around the country, as well as in my local public schools, is Eureka Math2; This math program states in its overview, “designed to advance equity in the math classroom.”5

In the Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 press release from Great Minds, they share “how its math and English language arts curricula integrate social and emotional learning into their core instruction.”

“Eureka Math® (PK–12) and Wit & Wisdom® (K–8) each foster the development of the five core competencies from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The analyses explain how each curriculum aligns with the competencies and research, showing why the competencies are important to student development and academic learning.”6

This company was not as easy to identify if they were using CRT or committed to DEI. It is like a blip on a radar screen that is warning us that something is coming but not sure if it is a friend or foe. So, as a classically educated person, let’s define the terms:

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) “is a systemic approach that emphasizes the importance of establishing equitable learning environments and coordinating practices across key settings of classrooms, schools, families, and communities to enhance all students’ social, emotional, and academic learning.”7

“Inequities based on race, ethnicity, class, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors are deeply ingrained in the vast majority of these systems and impact student and adult social, emotional, and academic learning. While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can create the conditions needed for individuals and schools to examine and interrupt inequitable policies and practices, create more inclusive learning environments, and reveal and nurture the interests and assets of all individuals.”8

Is SEL a Trojan Horse for Critical Race Theory?

From a 2021 article, the Washington Examiner said social-emotional learning is a “Trojan horse” for both critical race theory and transgender advocacy being introduced and propagated in public schools. It is also being referred to as a “new variant of the “CRT-virus,” and “SEL education pipeline.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has evolved into a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum (SEL) known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  This has crept into our public school systems through its school curricula via teacher training programs. Words like “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching” sound harmless and pleasing, but their actual definitions are different than what they commonly mean.9

My local school district banned Critical Race theory from being taught in public schools. I am not so sure. So what are your local schools ‘really’ teaching?

Engage and Educate

We can’t just do internet searches on DEI and CRT and expect to find everything anymore. The enemy always appears as an angel of light, shifting its language to accomplish its goals. This is just scratching the surface of the cultural battle raging around us. Parents, we need to be sober and attentive to what curriculum providers are promoting. Do they align with our Christian values and beliefs?

We need to engage the culture, stand firm, and choose to educate in the Truth!

Classical Conversations has created a new math curriculum that is classical in pedagogy, with a Christian worldview, to teach and disciple our children in the Truth.  Check it out!

To learn more about the difference between equality and equity, read our recent blog.

Jennifer Bright is the Communication Manager for Research and Quality Assurance for Classical Conversations. Jennifer’s passions are classical Christian education and discipling the next generation to live for Christ. She supports homeschool families by tutoring their students with the classical tools of learning. Jennifer and her husband began their homeschool journey almost 20 years ago in Russia while serving as missionaries, and currently, they reside in Covington, Louisiana.

  1. DEIA Statement”. Amplify. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  2. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  3. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  4. Commitment to Diversity”. Franklin Covey. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  5. Eureka Math Squared”. Great Minds. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  6. Colby, Chad. “Great Minds Curricula Integrate Social Emotional Learning with Instruction”. Great Minds. October 4, 2019. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  7. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  8. Fundamentals of SEL—What is the Casel Framework”. CASEL. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
  9. Letter: The Failing Acronyms of CRT DEI and SEL”. Orange Town News. September 28, 2023. Retrieved 18th December 2023 ↩︎
paper in a typewriter with the word "equality" printed out

Equality vs Equity

By Elise DeYoung

Today, it is typical for social movements in Western civilization to claim they are fighting for the founding principles of America: liberty, justice, and, most of all, equality for all.

Feminism, that age-old movement, claims that women are inherently oppressed by men. Betty Friedan, in her modern feminist manifesto The Feminine Mystique, makes the case that for women to gain equality with men, they must become empowered, strong, independent girl bosses. Ladies, we’ve all heard this line.

The Pro-Choice movement, through Planned Parenthood, claims to be an agent of equality as they kill unborn children so that women, like their male counterparts, can experience sexual freedom without fear of the consequences. On its website, Planned Parenthood defines itself as “an equal opportunity employer [that] welcomes all qualified applicants, regardless of gender, race, age, sexuality, or disability.”1

The Black Lives Matter movement implores us all to “Join the Movement to fight for Freedom, Liberation and Justice.” “Their vision aims at “achieving liberation” for all minority groups, including (but not exclusive to), “Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”2

Through the rise of the LGBTQ movement, individuals are fighting to protect the rights of so-called “trans-identifying individuals.” These allies of pride celebrate legislation such as the Equality Act, passed by the British Parliament in 2010, as a small step towards ensuring that each individual has the equal right to identify as whatever they want. 

It is clear that many movements today are seeking radical social reforms in the name of “equality.” So, if equality is an American value, shouldn’t we, as conservatives, support these causes?

The answer is a resounding “no.”

Why, you may ask? Even though these movements use the word equality in their messaging, equality is not what they are fighting for. Rather, they are striving for the perverted “equality” of Karl Marx, known today as equity. Understanding the distinctions between these words and how they have been weaponized against America is vital as we seek to conserve our founding values and way of life.

This article will explore the drastic differences between these two values, expose the danger that equity poses to Western society, and provide a greater understanding of why Marxist movements, such as those listed above, must be stopped.

Equality vs Equity

We have all heard it said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This statement must not be underappreciated. Thomas Jefferson established the great American experiment by penning these words in 1776 onto the Declaration of Independence. No society in the history of the world had been founded on words as profound as these. No society in the history of the world has been established on the principle of equality for all.

Equality is the belief, as Jefferson wrote, that all men are created equal. It is not a result of sex, race, social status, wealth, or religion, but it is a truth because God has created all men in Imago Dei.

How often do you hear that message today?

Equality for all has been the bedrock of our great nation for centuries. Systems like capitalism and ideas such as the American Dream have been born out of our strong belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This beautiful idea is why the American experiment was, and is, successful.

However, in our modern day, this truth seems to be battered and bruised by radical progressive thought that abuses equality and threatens to blot out Jefferson’s words. Where did this threat come from? How can we put an end to it?

Equity

To discover the origin of this anti-equality ideology, we must examine 19th-century Eastern thought.

Karl Marx officially founded communism in 1848 when he and Friedrich Engles wrote The Communist Manifesto. The political pamphlet combined the thoughts of German revolutionaries into a persuasive and passionate call to action. Marx argued in favor of annihilating capitalism and the class system through a complete revolutionary restructuring of society. However, his ideas did not take root until 1917, when Vladimir Lenin led the first successful communist revolution in Russia. Since then, communism has been tried, and communism has killed many in different countries.

Marx’s ideas have evolved, and his ideology has seeped into Western social trends and economics. Present-day communism upholds equity as its central value in the same way that Americanism upholds equality. Its entire system depends on it.

But what is equity? Equity calls for destroying distinctions to ensure that everyone in a society achieves the same outcome.

What does this look like in practice? It means that distinctions between individuals that may lead to “unequitable” or different outcomes must be abolished. Factors like race, religion, property ownership, sex, class, age, wealth, and health must be eradicated from an equitable society. This is the radical and unavoidable consequence of communism through equity. Thankfully, such extreme measures have not yet been accepted by the West. This does not mean, however, that we cannot see traces of the poison of equity throughout the country.

The Infiltration of Equity

Like a virus, equity seeps into a society unnoticed. Like a virus, you might notice some symptoms at first, but you’d never guess the true source of the illness. And just like a virus, equity will eventually make itself known, but by then, it will be too late.

For many years, the ideas of Marx infiltrated the West under the guise of “equality.” We have already seen how many radical leftist movements claim they are fighting for the equality of some minorities. Women, would-be mothers, African Americans, or those who claim to be LGBT or Q are told that they have unequal rights compared to the dreaded straight, white, evangelical man. These movements do not care that there is no American law on the books that discriminates against any minority group or individual. But I digress.

The message to America is that the differences between men and women, “a clump of cells” and babies, white and black people, and those who are straight and gay must be rendered obsolete before “equality” can be ensured. This is not equality, which promises equal opportunity to all; this is equity, which promises equal outcome to all.

Today, the virus of equity is beginning to make itself known in our sick nation. If you are a college student or an employee of a large corporation, you have heard the acronym DEI or, as Jordan B. Peterson refers to it, DIE. DIE stands for diversity, inclusion, and equity. These values have been infused into universities across the United States and the rest of the West. They have been accepted by teachers, bosses, and even our President and are now being promoted as so-called “American values.”

Radical Marxist movements, supported by large masses of college students, have begun to wave these values unashamedly as their banners and shout them as their anthems.

There is no doubt that equity has infiltrated our society and way of life. And just like a virus that cannot help but corrupt its victim, equity, if it is not soon eradicated, will continue to infuse itself into the West until the words of Jefferson are dead and gone.

Equality for All

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence.

With this declaration, Jefferson freed a nation. Now, with this same declaration, we must maintain that freedom.

Today, we are urged by the Left to fight against America in the name of America. We must not be fooled! “Equality for all,” as we have seen, is not the aim of these radical leftist movements. What they want is the implementation of Marxism through equity in our free nation.

Is this a sinister and purposeful attack being made by those in power? Or is it merely a misunderstanding born of ignorance? We may never know, but what we can know is that Americans deserve their God-given right to equality. We must recognize this as our battlefront as we seek to conserve our nation’s principles.

Equity and equality are as different as the East is from the West (literally). The two cannot coexist, so one must overcome the other. Which will it be? If we value the words of Jefferson and the American way, we must stand firmly against Marxist movements and stand up for the right to equality, for all.

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!


  1. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us ↩︎
  2. https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/ ↩︎