Where might we look for people trying to live up to the ideals Robert Putnam puts forward in Bowling Alone? Stephen and Megan Scheibner, featured recently in The New York Times Magazine (" A Mighty Fortress," Feb. 27), come pretty close. They are evangelical Christians who homeschool their seven children. The children don't fritter away their time watching television (no broadcast programs are allowed at all). Megan spends virtually all her waking hours with the children and Stephen leads family devotions every evening and devotes most of his weekends to the children. A pilot with 17 years of Navy experience, he is intensely patriotic. The whole family periodically goes to Washington to participate in political rallies concerned with homeschooling.Although the Scheibners have largely withdrawn from mainstream culture, this withdrawal has given them time to pursue the civic life that Putnam commends. They spend Christmas taking gifts to their neighbors in the Pennsylvania hill country where they live. They attend services at a nearby Baptist church every Sunday morning and evening and teach an adult Sunday-school class. Once a week or so they meet with nine other couples who are homeschooling their children, and the children have opportunities to interact through this network and the church. The oldest Scheibner boy expects to become a missionary. Meanwhile, he and his siblings cheerfully follow the strict regimen of biblical and moral discipline that their parents demand.Putnam may not have had the Scheibners in mind (they have little interest in bowling), but they are succeeding better than most of us in realizing the ideals he proposes.

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