The Rohdes Hit the Road

Kendra Thompson

Joel and Pam Rohde have never lived outside of Iowa. They met at Central College in Pella where they studied ministry, music, and art. When Joel became a pastor and Pam became a mom, she held many quirky side jobs. Everything from Airport baggage handling to Greek tutor to shave ice franchise management, all while Joel served as Director of Worship and Discipleship at North Ridge Community Church in Eldridge, where he still ministers. When their oldest was about to start Kindergarten, they found Morning Star Academy and were thrilled not only to find a unique Christian education for their son, but also a chance for Pam to use her art education and theological training in a scholarly setting.

For seven years Pam Rohde has taught at Morning Star Academy. For the first three years, she taught art part-time. Four years ago, she went full-time, adding Bible coursework to her workload, and really sweetening the deal.

After fourteen years in Eastern Iowa and seven at Morning Star, the Rohdes have been obedient to see what God might do next with their family. In Pam’s prayer journal she sensed that something big might be coming. She even wondered if it involved moving overseas, but this seemed to come out of nowhere. Until, that is, she found out about the M.Litt. program at St. Andrews University in partnership with the Logos Institute. This would be an opportunity for Pam to further her biblical studies and add depth to her already robust scholarship in this field. The family considered it prayerfully, applied, and figured if God willed it, they’d walk through the next door as it opened. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” was one of the scriptures Pam had written in her journal. “And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Paths continue to open for the Rohdes, and with the blessing of both their workplaces to take a time of “sabbatical,” they will live in St. Andrews, Scotland for the next academic year. For Pam this means two full semesters of coursework and a summer of dissertation writing. For Joel, he will be their four children’s primary educator for the next year and hopes they don’t end up tripping over each other in whatever housing situation they’ll be in – likely much smaller than their Eldridge, IA home! “It feels like a bit of a reset button,” Joel said. “I’m looking forward to more intentional time together and investigating what God is doing in this part of the world.” They say they are also looking forward to sitting together in worship for the first time in many years. Since Joel is a worship pastor, and often Pam has opportunities to serve in other churches, they don’t always get to just sit in the pews and worship together as a family.

From talking to the Rohdes, I’d say confidence is a word that marks their decision to go. The choice to move temporarily across the globe is one they sought together in prayer and discernment. Pam mentioned a little book she read with her eleventh graders at Morning Star. Paul Little’s Affirming the Will of God. While she meant for it to be instructive for her upperclassmen, it ended up being a tool of discernment in her own life. Through this little book, she asked herself: Am I being obedient to God’s will? Am I sharing this opportunity with people I trust? Am I seeking the Holy Spirit in prayer? Interestingly enough, when she described the program at St. Andrews to her eleventh graders, one of them said: “Wow, Mrs. Rohde. Sounds like a Biblical Worldview Degree!” And that is just what it is, and what she teaches. What a gift to be able to gain that insight and bring it back to the Quad Cities and Morning Star Academy. The Rohdes plan to return in 2022 to share what wisdom they’ve gained from their time in such a radically different setting than what they are used to.

They say their kids are at once excited to go and also eager to stay in touch with friends back home – primarily through letter-writing, but a family blog might possibly be in the works, too. For Eva, their youngest, she’s looking forward to the travel itself as she has never been on a plane or a train.

The Rohde family leaves for Scotland at the end of summer. If you know them, reach out to shower them with congratulations and prayer. If you don’t know them yet, I highly recommend meeting them. And, if you would like to receive prayer updates and/or follow their family blog, contact Pam or Joel at: and

Kendra Thompson is Morning Star Academy’s part-time director of communications. She and her husband John have two children who attended MSA while their family lived in the Quad Cities.

When Pilgrims Eat Cake: Reflections on Psalm 145

Anna Carrington

At my fifth birthday party, I demanded a particular piece of the cake my younger sister and I were sharing for our joint celebration. As I made this demand, I informed the guests—my friends—that they would all receive party favors and that they should therefore “Be grateful!” for whatever piece of cake they were allotted. Cute. Selfish. It’s all on a video somewhere … hopefully in an obsolete format!

We often consider blessings to be positive: a good gift, value added, something we wanted. That’s certainly true; blessings are those things, and we can thank God for them. What about negative blessings—blessings that come only through the wilderness?

Telling someone to “Be grateful!” or “practice gratitude” in a valley isn’t wrong but it can sound like a thin sentiment. Why? Because they might start counting positive blessings, and when those don’t seem to outweigh grief and loss, your appeal to “good stuff” may be insufficiently comforting. Also, when gratitude is not directed at the Giver it can be just a coping mechanism. It can keep us from digging deeper under our disappointment and asking, “What is God like? Can I trust him?”

Psalm 145 is one of my favorite Psalms. It carried me through an anxious season in college, when I was grasping for control as I realized how much uncertainty lay ahead. Notice how the rich promises of provision (verses 14-19) are given only after an extended meditation on God’s power, unsearchable greatness, splendor, righteousness, goodness, gracious and merciful love, enduring kingdom, and faithfulness across generations.

The pilgrim road of following Christ goes between mountains, not just on top of them. We can’t see what is ahead but we can see who is ahead: We are following our Forerunner, Jesus Christ, who suffered great grief and death on a cross, that we might inherit eternal life in his unshakeable kingdom. He conquered the grave, ascended into heaven, and gave us his Spirit so we might walk in freedom, even now, even in suffering. “And joy, it is severe, when the way is rough and steep,” sings Josh Garrels. Hard-won joy is the “negative blessing”—and the pilgrim road is the only way to it.

I’m writing this on my March birthday. If I’m remembering correctly, my fifth birthday cake had a frosted scene with a road on it. God doesn’t tell us what our piece of road is going to look like, and we can’t demand one piece above another. Psalm 145’s posture of praise recounts what God is like, what God has done, and what God will do. So keep walking, knowing he is near, he opens his hand, he fulfills the desires of those who fear him. The same God who did not withhold his own Son gives us food “in due season.” When the Giver gets the glory, that manna turns into cake.

Anna Carrington is a graduate of Wheaton College (IL), a freelance editor, and an avid reader. She teaches children’s Sunday School and Bible studies for women who speak English as a second (or third) language at Christ Church in Moline. Anna and her husband Wes have two sons at Morning Star.

Disrupt My Tunnel Vision, Lord

Joel Rohde

Something that often scares me is how quickly I can begin living as if all that really matters is me.  I am quick to make resolving the littlest inconveniences central to my actions and sometimes I elevate those miniscule annoyances to a level of importance that must seem comical, if not completely narcissistic to people around me.  It is easy to live in a sort of tunnel vision where MY agenda, MY problems, MY health, MY finances, MY dreams all become the driving force that dictates how I go about my life and interact with the people around me.

One of the many reasons a daily dive into the Psalms is important is because it has the power to blow open my tunnel vision and remind me that the one in control of all of this is not me but rather, it is a good God who is in love with his people and desires to dwell with them.  Take Psalm 25:4-11 for example.  David says in this chapter that he is “lonely and afflicted”.  I’m sure many of us experienced some level loneliness and affliction this past year.  While David wants to appeal to God for help, he is careful to rightly place God as the one who is powerful enough to do anything about his loneliness and afflictions and surrender himself to God’s instruction.  David’s path belongs to God and he wants to learn it.  Truth belongs to God and he wants to be taught.  After acknowledging these things David asks God to turn a blind eye to the fact that he was a rebellious youth. He mentions his many iniquities and his need for forgiveness.

David puts full confidence in God’s mercies and love that have been revealed throughout history.  Perhaps we would do well to do the same.  Perhaps our prayer should be that God would teach us our path and his truth.  The best news of every day can be found in Psalms when we realize that we aren’t in control and because of the great God we serve, we don’t have to be.

Joel Rohde served as pastor of worship and youth at North Ridge Community Church in Eldridge for 14 years before transitioning to his current role as pastor of worship and discipleship.  Joel has a deep love for the the church and Classical Christian Education. He coaches fifth and sixth grade students at Morning Star Academy and is committed to using the sport as a tool to guide students toward a life of discipleship and service in God’s Kingdom.

Permission to Complain

Rob Spykstra

You’ve made the polite but inauthentic query at work. “How are you doing?” You are expecting the one word reply, “great” or “fine” only to be stopped in your tracks with, “terrible.” Brutal honesty, it can be refreshing. 

This is why I value Psalm 44. The psalmist vividly expresses his perceived, angry reality of loyalty to God. “In God we have boasted continually . . . but you have rejected us and disgraced us” (8-9). Or this vivid expression, “You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them” (12). Psalm 44 stops us in our tracks. Brutally refreshing.

We are in good company to value this psalm. The apostle Paul in his glorious expression of the inseparable nature of God’s love for His covenant people copies verse 22, “For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (Rom. 8:36). The psalmist’s perception; Paul’s perception centuries later; our perception is the same. Loyalty to God in this world doesn’t pay. Or as one upper school student expressed, “Life is hard, and I may have another 60 years of it.” 

As we experience the brokenness around us and in us, we agree with the psalmist, “You have rejected us and disgraced us” (9a). As we watch our world go off the rails, we agree with the psalmist, “those who hate us have gotten the spoil” (10). In agreement we cry out, “Why are you sleeping, O Lord?” (23a). 

It is this brutal honesty that is so refreshing. For God gives us not only permission to complain, but to do the unthinkable, commanding: “Awake . . . Rouse yourself . . . Rise up; come to our help” (23,26a). We have permission not because God has failed. On the contrary, it is God’s delight to glorify His steadfast love as we are bold and command, “Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love” (26b).

Rob Spykstra has been part of the classical Christian movement for nearly twenty years, first as a homeschool dad, then as a fundraiser, and now as a headmaster. Rob is married to Tamra. They have four children, all classically trained. He serves as an elder at Sacred City Church. Tamra and Rob enjoy hiking and walking particularly in Rob’s home state of Colorado.

Psalm 95 “O Come”

Kendra Thompson

I know a couple that prays with their daughter every night and in their prayers, they invite the Holy Spirit to come and be with her. They sing a little song and ask the Holy Spirit to come into her room…her bed…be with her while she sleeps. Then, they let her add people and things and places she would like the Holy Spirit to visit. That’s how they pray at bedtime. I love it.

Psalm 95 in the Book of Common Prayer service for “Morning Prayer” is called the Venite or “O Come.” It is an invocation, a welcome, an opportunity to trust God’s faithfulness even more than we already do.

I love the opening lines – I’ve practically memorized them! “O Come. Let us sing unto the Lord. Let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.”

For these next two months, we’re trying something new with Morning Star Academy communications. A little video-blog (vlog) project called “Psalms in Spring.” In some ways, it’s like my friends’ bedtime prayers with their young daughter. We are taking time to pause and invite the Almighty to dwell with us as we bask in God’s scripture. In particular, through the songs and poetry of the Psalms.

Each week you’ll hear from someone new who is connected to Morning Star Academy. Some weeks you’ll hear from a staff person, others, a faculty member, even some students will share from their favorite Psalms.

We hope you’ll enjoy these reflections – and engage with them! Like, comment, read, watch…and be sure to tell us what you think. But most of all, enjoy this opportunity to dwell with God’s word and feel God’s presence through these written and spoken moments.

Kendra Thompson is a minister, a writer, a Morning Star Academy parent and part-time director of communications for the school. She and her husband, John, love that their kids’ faith is incorporated into their learning at Morning Star Academy.


Wes Carrington

In physics, resonance means that an object vibrates most strongly when subjected to impulses at a specific frequency that is closest to that object’s natural frequency – which depends on the size, shape, and composition of the object.  In this way, objects have their strongest natural reaction, or resonance, when hit with vibrations that align with that object’s own natural frequency. 

I think we humans also powerfully demonstrate the principal of resonance.  When we receive information or experience events, we are quick to judge based on how well it resonates with our pre-existing beliefs, our inclinations, our experiences, and our opinions.  Recent political events have shown that even when presented with the same data, those in different political camps draw vastly different conclusions.  We filter facts, make assumptions, and generally judge the validity of information by whether it resonates with our pre-conceived notions.  And increasingly, our filtering and judging is further distorted when we only listen to those on our side, to those in our tribe.

The problem with this is that we are fallen, sinful people.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “None is righteous, no, not one . . . All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10).  Sin has distorted and corrupted us. 

This means that what resonates with us is not always what is good or true.  Our “natural” frequency is off-kilter.  Because of this, it’s dangerous to judge the world by how it resonates with us.  In fact, returning to the physics of resonance, perfect resonance can produce increasingly strong vibrations that lose control and eventually shatter the object itself – like the ear-splitting soprano at the opera shattering glass.

Thankfully, we have a source of objective truth that stands outside of our own distortions and fallible frequencies.  God is perfectly true, perfectly righteous, and perfectly good.  Through study of God’s Word, prayer, and the work of the Holy Spirit, we can – by His grace – seek to live not by our own decayed senses, but toward God’s perfect standards.

A classical Christian education like that at Morning Star Academy can be especially helpful here: Recognizing God’s primary authority and revelation in the Bible, as well as a child’s natural curiosity about the world, classical Christian education can – in the words of MSA’s philosophy – “train a student’s reason to bring him/her in harmony with the created order” – not the other way around (bringing the created order into harmony with a student’s reason).

How else can we seek to live by God’s standards and not our own?  We can find our identity in Christ rather than treasuring our self-expression.  We can find our communal identity in our church and as God’s people rather than clinging to our individual autonomy and personal liberty.  We can focus our energy on loving and serving others based on their needs rather than gazing inward and expecting people to meet us on our terms.  As the Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)  And we can encourage one another through fellowship and prayer – “build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and exhort one another “that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).

May God’s power be at work in our lives and may the word of Christ “dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16) – even resonantly.   

Wes Carrington is an attorney at John Deere, specializing in the area of global trade and compliance.  He enjoys music, reading, travel, and Hawkeye sports.  Wes and his wife Anna have two sons at Morning Star Academy.

The things I’m learning.

Brenda Porter

David Letterman’s Late Show was famous for its top ten lists. In keeping with that excellent tradition, I share my list. Here are the top three things I’ve learned from the pandemic.

Number 3: God’s World Is Medicine for the Soul. I now look forward to my regular walks along the Mississippi River, and even now that summer is long past, I pull on my boots and head out for a sunset walk two to three times per week. By the time I get home, I feel refreshed, relaxed, and able to keep things in perspective. As research is showing, spending time in a natural environment can lower blood pressure and stress levels. Corrie ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place that she would look out of a high prison window each day just to enjoy the beauty of the blue sky. How much more I’ve been able to enjoy—the freedom to walk the river, hike wooded trails, and walk in the sand on the Florida coast.

Number 2: People Can Adapt and Learn. As we headed into the early days of the pandemic, some students and teachers were familiar with Google Classrooms; others were not. I remember the sinking feeling I experienced when I looked at a blank Google Classroom page and realized I had to fill it with accessible, user-friendly content. Students likely felt the same when they looked at the first week’s assignments and wondered how they were going to do it all! One day at a time, we found our way through. We have not often faced such dramatic challenges in 21st century America, so it is great to know that we can adapt. How exciting to realize that God has equipped us to meet challenges, think flexibly, adjust, and learn new things. Instead of asking why, we can ask what. What can we learn?

Number 1: “I Choose the Gandalf Option.” One new source of learning for me this year has been The Trinity Forum. Their mission is “to cultivate, curate, and disseminate the best of Christian thought, to equip leaders to think, work, and lead wisely and well.”  A Trinity Forum talk given back in July featured Alan Jacobs of Baylor University. A listener concerned about the challenges facing our country asked Jacobs, “What option might you propose that would best tend and mend our collective brokenness towards integration, unity, and shalom?” Jacobs’ answer surprised both him and his listeners. “I choose the Gandalf Option.” He goes on to describe it as the choice, despite difficult circumstances, “to nourish and care for and strengthen, to feed and water the gardens that we hope will produce fruit for our children and our grandchildren.” I love being a part of the Gandalf Option at Morning Star, where we continue to “strengthen the things which remain” (Revelation 3:2) by teaching our students to seek truth, appreciate beauty, and practice goodness.

It won’t be COVID-19 next time, but there will surely be a next time. By God’s grace, students at Morning Star will receive an education that equips them to be life-long learners, ready to find beauty in God’s orderly world, ready to adapt to unexpected circumstances, ready to ask God what they can learn from the challenges they will face.

Brenda Porter teaches English, writing, and rhetoric at Morning Star Academy. She and her husband, Rob, are the parents of three grown daughters. 

What Am I Learning? Expect More

Gregory Bradford

“Then give it up, Crito, and let us follow this course, since God points out the way” (Crito 54 d-e).

As I prepare to discuss the final section of Plato’s dialogue, Crito, I notice four hands shoot up into the air. All four students have the same exact question. “Was Socrates a Christian?” It’s an impressive question. Even more impressive is that it was asked by four 7th graders.

I confess that I did not read Crito until I was in my freshman year of college’s history class. However, given the length and themes of the dialogue, I felt it would be a good example of how the great philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle spoke and thought. Short version: Crito is attempting to convince Socrates to escape Athens, where Socrates had been sentenced to death. Several students repeatedly asked the same questions that Crito asked of Socrates. Why is Socrates “ok” with dying? Why doesn’t he try to escape? And the classic 7th grade question: Did the poison taste good? All great questions…well, maybe not all great questions…

As we continued through the text, the students slowly shifted from Crito’s perspective to Socrates’ perspective. They realized that Socrates’ arguments, which were centered on standing on the ground of his principles and respect of the rule of law perfectly parried Crito’s more selfish appeals. This shift reflected Crito yielding control of the dialogue to Socrates. Socrates’ logic was flawless to the point where Crito gave up arguing and meekly agreed with the great philosopher. Crito’s simple agreements annoyed my students.

As I reflected on the themes of Crito and the discussions we had as a class over the course of three days, I discovered much. First, I was able to confirm that Biblical truths can be found in many places beyond the Bible. Just as Socrates gave up his opportunity to escape death in the name of God’s way, Jesus Christ gave up an opportunity to escape death to die for our sins that we may be saved. Secondly, I found that our students have a great capacity for understanding and discovery when given the opportunity. Finally, and most importantly, I can confidently expect more of my students. Too often, students will underestimate their capacity to truly grasp the things that they are learning. Sometimes, we as teachers and parents may lower the bar for them. That way, they will more easily hit the mark and not suffer failure. However, that sells our students short. They are capable. They can achieve excellence. It may take a longer amount of time to grasp a concept, but they can achieve a depth of understanding that would make anyone who knew them proud. Some of the best learning occurs through questions and conversations geared towards seeking understanding.

What have I learned? Ask questions. Take the time to engage in good fruitful conversations. Expect more from your students than they or you may think possible. As Socrates said, “let us follow this course, since God points out the way.” Let us help our students discover the way God has laid out for them in our expectation of excellence.

A 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College, Greg Bradford is in his 4th year at MSA. He currently teaches 7th and 8th Grade World History, American Government, Economics, and Consumer Math. Additionally, Greg serves as the Assistant Athletic Director for the Morning Star Academy Mustangs.

“Consider my servant, Job.”

“Job Rebuked by his Friends”
William Blake

Mary Sievers

Job. The story of a man of great prosperity falling into deep poverty. The story of a father to ten children, for whom he prayed continually – to have them killed by a great windstorm. A man that went from highly respected to widely ridiculed. From the picture of health to a man ridden with the filthiest and most painful diseases of his time. 

On January 1st, I entered into a plan to read the Bible in one year, chronologically, with a group of women. The first half of this month has been spent in the book of Job. When Satan told God that believers reject God if they lost their prosperity, God takes the upright and blameless man, Job, and asks Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” (1:8). Here is what I’m learning from God, through Job’s story: 

  • In grief and suffering, we do not need to doubt God’s goodness (2:10). In fact, we should worship Him (1:20).
  • Ours is not the task of “figuring out” what God is doing with suffering, ours is the truth that God will work all things for His glory. We have no idea what the scene in heaven is, we could never comprehend the glory that God has in store (28:23-24). “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and see everything under the heavens.” (28:23-24)
  • There is wisdom in silence when the people we love experience deep grief and suffering (4:6). Job calls his friends “miserable comforters”. We don’t need to try to explain God’s ways, because they are not our ways and His majesty is unsearchable.
  • Even in our present sufferings, God’s is good and He is great. It may be reasonable for us to complain, but it is not reasonable to question God’s goodness. (5:9-16, ch. 26, ch. 38, etc.)
  • The Old Testament consistently and constantly points us to our deep need for the Savior. “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.” (9:33-35) “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.” (14:4) “If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.” (14:14)
  • God is wise, He is mighty, and He is sovereign. “He is wise in heart and might in strength – who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?… Who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number.” (9:4, 10)
  • We should remain faithful to God and our salvation, even amidst false accusations (ch: 22). 
  • Even when we don’t feel the presence of God, He is there. We can press in obedience to God’s word (ch: 23).
  • God will humble us in our pride and call us into a time of confession and repentance (ch: 42).

In the past eighteen months, I have many times entered into an attempt to discern what God’s bigger picture is; to find an earthly explanation. Watching my father suffer in his last months of life, grieving the loss of a parent, and then entering into a global pandemic, I’ve mourned experiences I knew to be good, yet no longer available to me. I have at times entered into a temporary posture of hypothesizing: “if this is happening, then God must be doing _______.” I am learning, from my time spent in Job, that it’s not about hypothesizing. It’s not “if this, then this”. It is the gospel truth that God is sovereign and all things work together for His glory and the good of His kingdom, of which we have citizenship through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

I am learning that while our circumstances are ever changing, our sovereign God is unwavering. Though our complaints may be justified, doubting the goodness of God is not. In the short book of Job, we get a close and intimate glimpse of the gospel. We observe that God created Job as a man of great wealth and riches, and then we witness him fall at the hand of God. We watch God sanctify Job through his grief and suffering, and then we see Job’s call to confession and repentance, his redemption and beautiful restoration; “and the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…” (42:12). 

Mary Sievers, and her husband Jon, raise four children on an acreage just west of the Quad Cities. Their four children attend Morning Star Academy. Mary enjoys being outdoors, great coffee, and is a “work from home mom” as a co-owner of a women’s boutique, Caty + Rose Market, in the Village of East Davenport.

Pears, or Asparagus?

John B. Thompson

After much holiday feasting (including pears and asparagus), it’s fun to feast one’s mind on big questions, such as “what is human nature?” Carl R. Trueman, in his recent book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, expands on such questions. Are we creatures of a fallen world, sinful in our being and in need of redemption? Or are we innocents, basically good and only corrupted by societal influences? Contemporary culture, in its multiple forms and forces suggests the latter, but this is not a new idea—this aspect of anti-Christ thinking has been in the works for a few generations of thinkers from the early Enlightenment period to the present.

With that in mind, let me introduce our players for today: 4th century theologian and bishop, St. Augustine, and the 18th century philosopher jean-Jacques Rousseau. Both were thieves in their younger days and both later confessed their wanton behavior and the life-lesson learned in written memoirs. Augustine, in a youthful misadventure with his friends, decided that it would be fun to steal the pears from a neighbor’s tree. They had no intent on eating or sharing them, just the thrill of stealing itself, and no doubt the fun of throwing them around and having a good time at someone else’s expense. And what did Augustine learn from this event? Upon reflection he recognized the corruption in his human nature—in other words, sin. He enjoyed stealing and the rebellious acts of destruction. Augustine’s was a rueful reflection in which he recognized his need for redemption that could only come from Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.

Rousseau, centuries later, also a produce thief, stole some asparagus at a friend’s behest. But his life lesson was rather different: having rejected Christ, Rousseau determined that he was innocent (for who needs a savior if there is no sin). And with regard to the absconded asparagus, ‘society made him do it.’ Rousseau reasoned that his human nature was pure, and it was only the need for food paired with the influence of friends that led him to steal. More generally, he figured that it is only our need for recognition, competition, and perhaps a dose of resentment for those more fortunate than ourselves, that leads us to such things as throwing pears or stealing asparagus (or what have you). Sin was irrelevant: it is not a corrupt human nature that leads to bad behavior, it is a corrupt human society that leads otherwise innocent individuals to ‘bad’ behavior.

So what am I learning? From the sea of increasingly aggressive secular culture and media that we all swim in (which is also infecting churches these days), I am learning that the idea of sin and the need for a savior is being elided (that is, not just denied, which requires an idea to be presented and negated, but ignored, eliminated, erased…). The intent to dismantle what would become Christianity has a long history dating back to the very beginning (think serpent, sin…), and more recently in the supposedly enlightened thought of folks like Rousseau (and Marx, Nietzche, Freud, etc.). Over the past several decades, numerous anti-Christ philosophies (e.g. postmodernism) were mostly just the abstract play things of academics. But that time has passed and these ideas have gone mainstream, including eliding Christian concepts such as sin.

So what should we do about it? Many things to be sure (Rod Dreher can help with details), but for now I will say that we must be vigilant consumers, whatever the source (TV, film, books, news, social media, etc.). and we must not just be reactive, or negative, about this phenomenon, but instead be positive (not Pollyannaish)—we need to reintroduce and reiterate the  authentic, historic, biblical Christian worldview, whether about sin, salvation, resurrection or otherwise. Above all we should do this with the kindness of Christ, sharing the hope we have in Him in our attitudes and behavior. And of course, we must critically consume media (and the culture in general) with our children, and teach them to recognize the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that secularism seeks to undermine truth, beauty and goodness, and  instead supplant those ideas with faith, hope and love.

John Thompson is a seminary graduate and associate professor in the school of social work at St. Ambrose University. His teaching and research focus on social and economic justice from a biblical Christian perspective. He and his wife Kendra are the parents of two Morning Star Mustangs. Joe who is 6 and Andi, 4.