Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I get it! (well, not entirely, but more than I got it before...)

I am reading a book right now (well, more like hopping around in it) called American Facists: The Christian Right and the Twenty-First Century. I can't say that I recommend it, since I disagree with a lot of this guy's theology, but he makes some very interesting points and raises some issues with the church that are quite valid. He talks somewhat about the two images of God - the vengeful, bloodthirsty God of the OT and the compassionate, loving, forgiving God of the NT (sans Revelation, of course), and how confusing and manipulative it can become when evangelists mesh these two together into "God wants to woo you and love you and if you don't fall into His compassionate arms then He will smite you and make you suffer unspeakably!" What??? If God were a boyfriend, you wouldn't marry Him! You'd change your name and fake your own death and run away like Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy!

Well, anyway, I just had a thought that I think brings me a tad bit closer to understanding how these two "Gods" can mesh. Really, in all of life, we face the apparent contradictions of personal conduct and business conduct. "It's not personal, it's business" is a phrase that is used both in earnest and to ridicule people who are willing to sacrifice their ethics to get ahead. As human beings, we don't have the ability to objectively determine WHAT is personal and WHAT is business.

A recent political cartoon showed George Bush standing atop a pile of dead soldiers, holding up a petri dish protectively and proclaiming that it is immoral to sacrifice life in the hope of saving life. The obvious response is - why is it immoral to sacrifice embryos for dying sick people but not to sacrifice our sons and daughters because we think we are preventing some worse conflict down the road? Well, I think that in Bush's mind this is probably simple: He has categorized stem cell research as a "personal" issue and the war in Iraq as a "business" issue. We all must make these determinations.

When we view everything through "personal" glasses, we castrate ourselves. If a CEO weighed a new marketing strategy based upon how many daddies might lose their jobs at his competitor's firm if the marketing persuaded people to switch to his brand, and how many dentist appointments would be missed because of no insurance, and how many cavities would ravage innocent little teeth, what could he do but choose not to accept the strategy? Obviously, viewing everything as business has an equally if not more disastrous effect, with people willing to do anything to "get ahead" with no care whatsoever to how they affect anyone else. Each of us has to decide for ourselves over and over again when we will be "just" and when we will be "merciful." We see these two as painfully at odds, and much guilt is suffered as we fear that we are making the wrong decisions.

God, on the other hand, is all-wise, and I believe He must know something that we don't. I called Personal and Business "apparent" contradictions earlier because I believe that they must not be, but that we do not have the capacity to grasp how they mesh. Somehow, a loving God can assist a nation in committing genocide against another nation. He did it for the Israelites. And yet, He loves each of us as individuals. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I guess that's just part of the mystery. He does not struggle with this contradiction - I mean, I think there's some evidence in the Bible that He struggles emotionally with it, but, intellectually, He has it all figured out. He knows exactly when and where to act each way.

I also believe that striving to mesh the two for ourselves is a right and good thing when done for the right reasons, NOT hypocrisy. I believe that you can support the war while not wanting one more soldier to have to die, though I'm certainly not saying that you have to support the war. I'm just saying it's possible to view things both ways without being ridiculous. I also think it's possible to be against amnesty for illegal immigrants while still caring about the lives of each and every immigrant who may be forced to return to an impoverished lifestyle if exposed. I'm not saying that you should be against amnesty either, of course. I think both of these issues are two complex for me to tell you what you should think - in fact, that is EXACTLY what I am saying - God has this figured out, and we don't! We have to do the best we can for ourselves in these situations, and not be too quick to judge those who come to different conclusions. We are all grappling with the guilt that comes from having to decide between what feels morally and ethically right and what we know to be best strategically in the long run. Don't be too quick to judge someone else as either emotional or calloused. We all need to be a little of both sometimes, and it's anybody's guess when.

Jesus knew that the woman caught in adultery should be pardoned, even though it was His Father's (and thus His) own law that she should be stoned. I wish I could just know things like that. Know when to dispense justice and when to dispense mercy. Or even when to be firm and when to indulge. As a parent, this issue comes up a fair amount. Mostly, though, I think what is more important than getting it right is knowing that I can't get it right, and trusting that God will help me get it right during the times that it matters most. Humility is so important here, which sucks, because it's hard to measure your own humility. And at this point, I must humbly admit that my mind just went blank, pregnant-lady style, and now it's time to go to bed. Goodnight!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And while I'm in a posting mood...

Here's evidence that Ariel DOES in fact get her hair from her daddy - the start of some curls!

I'm sure everyone remembers Dan's sexy curls, but here's a reminder, if you need it (the lovely Laura is in the process of removing them):

Even though the curls started at the top of his head, he says that, when he originally started growing his hair out, it didn't get curly until it reached the nape of his neck, so Ariel's right on schedule!

And here she is with Grandpa's birthday balloon. He let her take it home, and for two days straight she was probably parted from it a maximum of 2 waking hours. She even took a nap with it! Dan commented that he was surprised her forearms weren't sore from all the grasping. In this shot, she's eating breakfast with it. You can't see it, but she's actually pinching a piece of banana between the balloon and her thumb. Can't let go!!!

What Do!

I caught it on video! Here's Ariel singing "Do Right"!

Also, we've been working on making baths more enjoyable (she hates getting her hair rinsed and it makes bath time miserable for everyone). The last couple baths that she's had have been very positive - she's played in there for a bit and we've been able to rinse her hair quickly and without too much suffering. It helps that she loves her rubber ducks so much! Here she is unable to think about anything else:

Saturday, June 16, 2007


So, this morning, I got Ariel up and brought her back to bed with us for a few minutes before we all got up together. At one point, Dan said to Ariel (about my stomach, obviously), "That's your sister in there!" Ariel responded by poking my stomach and saying "Beh-bay!" It was SOOOO cool! That's the most that she's demonstrated any understanding of what's going on, and, while it doesn't mean for sure that she gets the whole concept, she obviously follows at least a little bit! I was pretty excited. Later that morning she was sitting in the living room, saying over and over in her little sing-song voice, "Beh-bay! Beh-yay! Beh-bay!" So I took her down to get her little baby doll out of the car, which she is currently napping with. So precious!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Really Talkin'!

Ariel and I just had the following conversation:

"Up! Up!"
"You want up in your highchair?"
"Okay. Do you want some crackers, is that it?"
"Okay, here's one. Do you want me to get you some more?"

It's amazing being able to communicate so well with my little girl. I just wish she always tried this FIRST before melting into her little tantrums on the floor. She smacked her chin hard on my knee this afternoon protesting something while I was sitting in the recliner. Of course, it was all my fault that she was hurt - those accusing little eyes said it all!