Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Parenthood: Prepare for Chaos

The following post is excerpted from the chapter, "Prepare for Chaos," in my book, Marriage, Family, and the Image of God.

We all know them. The people who make statements that begin with, “When I have kids….” Like, “When I have kids, they’re going to be well-behaved.” Or, “When I have kids, I’m not going to allow them to make a mess of the house.” Or, “When I have kids, they’re never going to [insert behavior that the person has just observed and is particularly irritated by at the moment].”

Best not to get bent out of shape about statements like that. Best just to nod and smile and wait for the day when they find out….

Three Young Boys and a Library

I have a personal library that contains several shelves of books, developed while going to school to study English literature and theology. Yes, this all happened before you could get a whole library onto a tablet.

I used to like organizing my books. Fiction arranged alphabetically by author’s name and then by book title. Nonfiction arranged by category. It’s not that I’m an organizational nut. Far from it. Ask my parents about my room when I was a kid. But I liked being able to find specific books pretty easily, and I liked how it looked. Publishers often give books from a single author a similar cover and spine, so putting them together makes it look like they fit. It’s not so random.

So along came Daniel, my firstborn, and although having a baby changes your life immediately—because suddenly you’re responsible for this new life who can’t do anything for himself yet, and he’s crying and waking you up in the middle of the night—your life is changed, but your baby is still contained: contained to a crib, a car seat, a stroller. You, as parents, are still more or less in control. For the moment.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Archie Bunker Effect; or, The Main Mistake Christians Make when Engaging with the World

I grew up watching All in the Family. (Yes, I'm that old.)

All in the Family was an American sitcom that aired in the 1970s. It revolved around the Bunker family: Archie, the loudmouthed, bigoted father; Edith, his dimwitted but goodhearted wife; Gloria, his married daughter; and Michael, Gloria's opinionated, liberal husband. Michael and Gloria lived with Archie and Edith because Michael was in college and unemployed. In the close quarters, Archie and Michael frequently squared off regarding controversial political and social topics.

That was the point of the show. All in the Family was the liberal Norman Lear's vehicle for propagating his views. While Michael was mocked as "Meathead" by Archie, he was actually the mouthpiece for Lear's progressive social and political views. The staging and the dialogue were brilliant. Archie would usually "win" his arguments, but only because he was so stubborn that he would come up with ridiculous rationalizations that no one but he could possibly find convincing. Michael would give up in frustration over Archie's obtuseness, only to fight again another day.