Trivium Pursuit

Logic and critical thinking are desperately needed in the prisons

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Dear Bluedorns,

Logic and critical thinking are desperately needed in the prisons. There are so many conspiracy theories and so much bad propaganda passed around that learning something as simple as the informal fallacies is very helpful to the culture. I’ve been using your book The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning for a free correspondence course I offer to inmates all over Texas, in addition to the undergraduate program I work for at one prison. Hundreds of copies have been purchased over the last 6 or 7 years.

Have you looked at any of the information online about our undergraduate program? If you go to the Heart of Texas Foundation and look at the link to the seminary, you will find a lot of good information. There are articles and videos explaining what we do here. I think you will find it to be very edifying.

Thank you again for what you do!

In Christ,

……..
Administrative Associate and Adjunct Professor
Darrington Unit Undergraduate Program
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Darrington Penitentiary

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Over the past several years we’ve received dozens of letters from prisoners (three different prisons in Texas) asking for books. One prison (the one mentioned above) offers a seminary degree and the other prisons have classes for the prisoners.

We are in need of two things:

1. Books and curriculum
2. Money for postage. I currently have a $70 UPS bill which I’m not able to pay — for books we sent last month. If you are so inclined, we could use your help.

If you have any books we can send the prisoners, please send them to us and we’ll forward them on (Harvey Bluedorn, 525 120th Ave, New Boston, IL 61272). Our email address is bluedorn @ triviumpursuit.com.

They need any kind of educational materials (5th grade and up) or devotional materials. The devotional materials need to be from a doctrines of grace/reformed perspective. The materials can be used or new. No CDs or DVDs or anything made of glass or metal. The prison also rejects flash cards.

Below are excerpts from various letters we have received:

“In nine months I have been asked to have curriculum ready for introduction to logic, introduction to rhetoric, and Bible doctrine classes. Currently I am studying: Logic by Issac Watts, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by Craig and Moreland, A Workbook for Arguments, Second Edition: A Complete Course in Critical Thinking by Morrow and Weston, An Introduction to Policy Debate by Shipe, Jeub’s Guide to Home School Speech & Debate by Jeub, The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning, The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills, and A Greek Alphabetarion. If you have any curriculum materials it would be very helpful. I do not know how to develop a curriculum. Perhaps it would be best if I learn that by experience, maybe not.” Eric

“Thank you for sending me the great books The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox, along with all the other pamphlets. I really enjoy reading great theologians of the past, especially reformed, at least to some degree. I have passed the pamphlets on to the hungry multitude that is forced to feed upon the tons of charismatic material that floods the Texas prison system. Your help is greatly received and I pray that the Lord will continue to use you to be a blessing to many others. I’ve even had to promise an older gentleman that if I get rid of my Fallacy Detective, he is the first to get it. Even in his old age he is hungry to learn. Sometimes we never know what a blessing we are to people. You may never see the men you bless, but just know that it is very appreciated.” Jason

“I wanted to write to say thank you very much for the materials that you sent. I’ve been studying and meditating hard on this Reformed Theology. The more I come to grips with the sovereignty of God the less I can get away from it….” JL

“I’ve already thanked the Lord for blessing me with all those books,but I’m writing in order to thank the vessels He used as well. It is strange just how much more you learn when you have your own books to write in and interact with the author.” Jeff

“…I received the latest shipment of books — thank you. I have distributed them to people who are interested. There is one man — he was a hitman for a street gang in the late 80’s. When he came to prison he became a Muslin, then was a teacher of Islam for 16 years. He has now converted to Christianity. When I asked him if he would like a Greek grammar book he said, “Are you kidding?! I would be a fool to pass up a Greek grammar book!!” I have hope that his spiritual conversion is genuine. When I asked another man if he wanted a book on Latin he practically ripped the book out of my hands from his excitement. Both men are devouring the lessons….”

“…I know some people may put it down to coincidence that I write a letter asking you questions, and before I send my letter, I get a letter from you answering my questions. A history has developed of this sort of thing. Many of the books you have sent were….they could not have come at a more opportune time. It is a comfort to me; a source of assurance. Could I be wrong? Yes, of course. But, it remains my hope, hope that I am His, and He uses His children to care for my needs and comfort and reassure me.”

“…I suspect that if I had never read Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style I would never have pursued Christian education. I would possibly never been put in the position of having the opportunity to give back to society, even if it is just this prison society.”

“…I’m writing because I can think of no one better to share the news with — I know you’ll appreciate my joy. I have received my first permanent teaching position!!! I am teaching illiterate men to read and write. It is very humbling. One man is a former black gang member. Last night he declared, “I am no longer known by that name (his prison/street name). My name is ____. God has given me the desire to know for myself what is said in the Bible and not trust some preacher to tell me. I want to know for myself.” I am very hopeful this is a bona fide work of God on his soul. There are five students. I am assisting the lead teacher (who himself is only able to read and write and is a former motorcycle gang member). The program is not goal oriented, and is directionless. They simply read out of a children’s Bible and then review the words they have problems with. I was thinking if we had an English version of A Greek Hupogrammon the guys would get even more benefit form our once weekly meetings….”

“…I am reading your Teaching the Trivium. I sure wish I had this type of education growing up. There is an obvious advantage to being taught how to learn versus being filled with information…I would be interested in how a classical Christian education approach to rehabilitation of prisoners would look. My observation is that there is a lack of foundation that engenders the necessary change…Certainly the introduction of logic and Christian philosophy has made such a change for me. Now, I enjoy searching the scriptures and rightly dividing them, and then applying the principles I find to life. But, others seem reluctant to learn how to do this; they’d rather be fed than to learn how to cook…”

“Thank you for the great selection of Latin primers and grammars you recently sent [from Classical Academic Press and Bill Linney of Armfield Academic Press]. I will be spending my time getting back in the swing of Latin, along with teaching Greek at the seminary. I think it’s a shame that Muslims here in prison learn Arabic to read the Koran in its original, however you have to fight tooth and nail to get Christians to even see the relevance of Greek for them. I’m hopelessly a Greek geek and love that the Lord has chosen me as His child….My friend __ that writes you also has become Reformed also since coming to seminary. He fought with me in the beginning. He had been under Arminian teachings his whole life, but through some of the books you sent, arguments with me, and a study of the logic used by those old scholastics (Puritans) he changed his position. He is and will be a mighty instrument in God’s hands. He far exceeds me in learning capability and he is very humble….I want to study the Reformed creeds and confession. Do you know of a cheap place or book that contains the Latin and English texts? Also, can you tell me a Latin dictionary that deals with Latin of the church fathers and Reformed scholastics? I had a later dictionary that dealt with only classical definitions but the ecclesiastical terms were not in it….”

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