Sunday, June 28, 2009

American Pastor Welcomes Guns in Church

"I think when people first learned about this invitation to wear guns to church, many people were deeply troubled," said Terry Taylor, one of the organizers. "The idea of wearing guns to churches or any sacred space I think many people find deeply troubling."

And, um, no one thought to ask why? If they did, it wasn't mentioned in the article.
At what point does "selling out" just not begin to cover the issues?
Even more troubling: this pastor draws 150 people a week to his services.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baby Grow Day

Helping someone do nothing has never been so much work.

Eva, my six-week-old daughter, has been having a rough day. Perhaps she's entering a growth spurt, perhaps she's overwhelmed with all the new things she's learning, perhaps she's just cranky. She won't sleep or stay awake. I check her diaper; that's not the problem. She won't stand to be put down, but doesn't seem to be satisfied with being held or rocked. She's just fussy - no matter what, just fussy.

It is all I can do to soothe her for a little while, in between outbursts of crying or squirming. If I can manage to keep her asleep for an hour or two, that is an accomplishment. It seems like I'm trying to help her do nothing.

Except that I realize that she's never really doing nothing. Even at rest, asleep and still, she is growing - working harder at these semmingly simple things than I do at some of my hardest work. By helping her be still for a while, it lets her body and her mind catch up to each other, lets her wrap her head around things. It isn't when she's active, but when she is at rest that she is growing.

Perhaps there's a lesson in this for me: we often help each other grow most when helping each other do nothing in particular at all. At surprising moments when we're working on other things, or when we're in one way or another asleep, quiet and unconscious, disparate parts of ourselves are working to catch up with each other, to make sense of the world as we're encountering it. Perhaps, as a parent, friend, teacher or minister, sometimes the best thing we can do is just help each other to step back, take a break.

Even now, in the time it has taken me to finish writing this, Eva has woken up from a nap, and given us her first smiles of the day. We have our baby back: the miracle of taking a little time out.

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Friday, June 05, 2009


I’ve heard it called simply “father strength,” that inexplicable strength of fathers. Something happens when men become fathers – they can do anything – lift heavy boxes, turn stubborn screws, open sealed jars, hike miles and miles without getting tired. Every father I have met is like this somehow – a Superman in Clark Kent clothing. Fathers just always seem to be strong.

It isn’t an obvious strength – fathers don’t generally have bulging muscles, and they seldom make sport of lifting large weights short distances. Fathers don’t generally “work out” in that way (who has the time?!). Fathers can’t lift a thousand pounds over their head for an instant, but they can lift 30 pounds for hours on end. Fathers can’t move a bulldozer across a stadium, but they can rock a child to sleep and walk in circles for an entire night. Look at their forearms – even long after their children have grown. You might not see it at first, but fathers are surprisingly strong.

Now that I am a young father, I can understand a little better where this comes from. I’m not a sporty guy, generally, but in this first month of child-rearing I’ve had a demanding workout every day: mostly short, small repetitive movements maintained for an hour or two; long walks down short hallways and around livingrooms; a short break and then back at it – carting, carrying, soothing, entertaining, enjoying my baby and all the paraphernalia babies seem to require. The muscles in my shoulders and back ache, but I only notice it after I’ve put her down – when my daughter is in my arms I am hardly aware of any pain or discomfort. It makes sense to me, going through this now, how fathers can be so strong: a few years of this kind of training and you really can do anything.

This strength that lasts for a lifetime is built by the daily exercise of caring for a child. The act of caring builds muscles. Fatherstrength, when you think about it, is really love. It is the result of loving, and the ability to love. It is love embodied, and as such, acts like opening jars and repairing bicycle tires and lifting groceries and moving furniture are acts of love. We fathers are able to do them so well because we’ve loved.

Fatherstrength as love also changes what it means to be “strong.” Fatherstrength is not the ability to bend other people to one’s will. It isn’t the ability to withstand pain. It isn’t the glorification of independence. In fact, it is the opposite of these things: bending oneself to the needs of another, opening oneself to the sufferings and cares of another, being gloriously and intimately connected and bound to another.

For the first six weeks after a child is born, scientists tell us, the level of testosterone in the father drops dramatically, allowing/encouraging the father to bond with the child to a level it might not have been biologically able to otherwise. It is almost as if the whole of nature was telling us what is most important, what is a more profound source of strength, what is the ground of care. How the father’s body knows to respond to the birth of a child is a mystery. Fatherstrength may be surprising, but it is surely the most natural thing in the world.

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