Coach Dave Daubenmire
May 27, 2010
I stopped by Gettysburg last week.
I was on my way home from speaking at a school in Pennsylvania and was feeling a little bit melancholy about the condition of America's young people. I do enough work with them to know that there is something seriously amiss. I was thinking about a quote from Abraham Lincoln as I turned left onto Seminary Ridge that drizzly Tuesday afternoon.
"The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow."
I had been to the Gettysburg battlefield once before. My wife and I stopped by one day twenty or so years ago...way before history really mattered to me. This day I was compelled...drawn might be a better word...to pull my rented car down the lane along which more American soldiers had died than any road in American history. I had travelled many miles since my last visit and my life had taken a direction that I could never have imagined. I now found myself thrust headlong into fighting for Lincoln's admonition that "these honored dead shall not have died in vain." Vain...empty...for nothing.
History is what connects the generations. We no longer teach real history in America's schools. Once the truth gets filtered through the lens of politically-correct thought we find out that we, and our children, no longer share the same perspective on America. I was taught about "Honest Abe", Washington's cherry tree, and The Minutemen of Lexington. Our kids today are learning about the Exxon Valdez, Che Guevara, and Global Warming. The most effective way to divide the generations is to change the heroes.
Heck, how can you possible study history without doing at least a chapter on Jesus Christ? Not the Savior Jesus, but simply the man Jesus. Has anyone revolutionized the world to the degree that the "man from Galilee" did? You will look long and hard to find a unit on him in any of your children's history books. That is what the textbook battle in Texas is all about. Our heroes define our culture.
History today is taught as a series of facts and figures, times and dates, and lifeless characters. As the old saying goes, "Some things are better felt, than telt." Unfortunately, history has very little heart.
Christianity is the same way. I see it in today's young people. Fortunately, many parents are waking up to the indoctrination passing as education in our government schools and are making the decision to place their posterity in the hands of a Christian educator. But that is not good enough. It has been my experience that even Christian schools are teaching Christianity as history. We are producing a generation of young Christians who know ABOUT Jesus, but in reality, very few actually KNOW Him. As a result, nearly eight out of every ten children in America who are raised in a Christian home are no longer practicing their faith at the age of twenty-five.
We are not passing the faith of our fathers to our children.
Because I spend so much of my time with young people I have a different perspective on things. As much as I dislike saying it, most of our Christian-school teacher's do not think like Christians. They also treat the Bible as a "subject" that the students take...just like math, or science, or history. In many aspects the Christian schools teach the same secular-curricula as the government school. In fact, they love to laud their "test scores" as if scoring high in secular knowledge is a badge of honor for the Christian educator.
I asked a group of students in a Christian school the other day this question. "What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word Bible?"
Almost in unison they replied "Homework." I felt the air drain out of me. We have made the Bible homework. No wonder we are losing them.
My thoughts are flapping around as fast as the wipers on the windshield as I begin my trip down Seminary Ridge. The steady drizzle tapping on the roof reflects perfectly the feeling in my heart. At this most famous of all American battlefields I ask myself why it is that so few can recognize the war that is raging for our children? Why are we so cavalierly forfeiting what others fought so hard to preserve?
"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg.
Full measure of devotion...do we even know what that means anymore? Do our children? Are we teaching them that if they have nothing to die for then there is no real sense in living? "Greater love has no man than this, than he would lay down his life for his friends."
After driving around the battlefield for a while I found myself parking my car on top of a ridge near Zeigler's Grove where the suicidal "Pickett's Charge" took place. In one afternoon the blood of nearly 10,000 American casualties, inflicted upon them by fellow American's, seeped into the hallowed ground. "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract." Lincoln spoke.
It is hard to explain, but I could FEEL what Lincoln spoke of.
I shut off my engine and quickly examined the sparse crowd studying the various monuments. With the clouds melting over me I climbed out of the car and walked to the edge of the ridge where the fiercest fighting had taken place. I got down on my knees, ran my hands through the dirt, and lowered my nose into the rain soaked turf. How many faceless heroes spilled blood here...giving their last full measure of devotion? I wanted to touch it...feel it if you will...breathe it in. One hundred and forty seven year old DNA imbedded itself in the brown knee-cap shaped mud clinging to my khaki pants. I didn’t wipe it off.
I will never view Gettysburg and Pickett's Charge the same. In that one brief moment the magnitude of what took place at Gettysburg took the six-inch drop from my head...to my heart. History, for me, came alive. What is that old saying..."you just had to be there."
We are losing our children, and eventually our culture because we have traded heart knowledge for head knowledge. History without the heart is like the Bible without the Spirit.
I look around at what is going on in America today and I cringe at what I see. "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it." What are we leaving to our grand kids?
Jesus said "The Words that I say to you, they are Spirit and they are life." To increasing numbers of young Americans His Words are homework.
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This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. -Mathew 15:8
Last full measure of devotion…..head knowledge…heart knowledge
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” -Philippians 3:10
Some things are better felt, than telt.
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.