I recently read Homeschool Sex Machine: Babies, Bible Quiz, and the Clinton Years. Written by Matthew Pierce, a homeschool alumni who is preparing to homeschool his own children, this short book is one man’s memory of the more insaner aspects of the conservative Christian homeschool movement. When Matthew first emailed me about his book, I knew this was a book I should read.
I am glad I did.
Homeschool Sex Machine is short, well-written, and funny. I say funny. Some of the remarks Matthew heard from the adults in the homeschool or fundamentalist Christian are not really funny. But Matthew managed to pull it off where I could laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Matthew’s story was different in mine in many respects. He was old enough to remember Clinton being elected as president. I was too young to remember. He is a guy; I am a girl. The purity culture affected his ability to dance with a girl during a high school dance. He went to a Christian school at the very end of high school, and even got a normal job. In high school, I just babysit for homeschool families, never went to school, never got a job, and certainly was never allowed to dance or friend a guy.
But no two stories are the same, and that’s what makes Matthew’s story so good. It’s important to see how a subculture plays out in a different person’s life.
So much rang familiar, such as Matthew’s story of a girl named Esmeralda who gave him a Chris Rice CD. Chris Rice! Chris Rice was the first CD I got that was not classical or hymn music. My friend gave it to me for my 16th birthday, and I remember praying that my mom would not take it away.
Matthew’s mother made him return the CD to his friend, for different reasons, but he still returned it, having never listened to it. He did not explain to the girl why he did not listen to the music. How do you explain these rules to outsiders?
Matthew also writes about a track his parents left on his dresser for him to discover. The track told the story of a group of Christians who started a Christian rock band. The track said that all the band members died of drugs and aids and stuff. Because: rock music is comes from the devil.
Matthew also talks about how he was taught by adults in the community that social workers are not Christian friendly, and how he was taught that social workers will investigate homeschool families and ask questions such as:
‘why are you studying the Bible so much? Would you rather watch cartoons?’
I liked cartoons. I also liked the Bible.
Okay, I laughed, because I remember being terribly afraid of social workers, and of course, the social workers would think we were weird for not having a TV. But I always knew we were weird anyway. But we were proud of it, because WE WERE SMARTER THAN PUBLIC SCHOOLERS AND WERE CHRISTIAN WARRIERS. As Matthew writes:
My parents insisted that I keep going to the local homeschool meetings. On one of these gatherings, a guest speaker informed us that in 30 years, no one in America except the homeschoolers would know how to read or write. (This was because we were chosen.)
I quote from the book a lot more, but it would be far more fun if you read it yourself.
If you were homeschooled yourself, this is a book worth reading. If you grew up fundamentalist anything, it’s also worth reading.
If you know anyone who was homeschooled, or who grew up in a religious subculture different from your own, I encourage you to read this too. It’s not that we want pity. I know that we all had weird childhoods, in different ways, but it’s always nice to try to understand a person who was raised different. With this book, you can do it while laughing.
HA note: Kierstyn King also reviewed Homeschool Sex Machine! Read the review here.