Sunday, February 19, 2012

A son of prayers, if there ever was one. He's still wheezy more than a baby should be (the surgeon told us that infants with TEF have softer tracheas), and his herniated belly-button might be causing us more concern than it warrants (doctors don't do anything about them until kids are four years old or so) - but overall he's been gaining weight quickly and acting more and more like his brothers and sister did at his age. I can finally write about him now, since the raw agony of panic has for the most part subsided, along with the bulk of all those feelings of foreboding I had before.

Still, the valleys of the shadow formed such a regular sort of rhythm for the last several months we can't help but feel a bit of flinching expectancy. Father, please forgive our fears, and at the same time don't lead us into temptation-deliver us from evil.

Also been feeling a general cloud of malaise - probably from lack of sleep and company - these last few weeks. Brandy has had even less sleep than I have, and the older kids have suffered quite a bit of neglect in the mornings. It's a little disappointing how much our family boat can rock after a few big waves. But still, the comforting rhythms of Thanking our Father in Heaven for our breakfast, reading to the kids before bed, or going through the first ten or so questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism have done a lot to help us find our sea-legs again. The one thing I do miss is closer fellowship with other strong believers (or even not so strong believers).
I guess we could seek it out, but it's difficult to find time or presence of mind to arrange anything that would work, and so many friendly visits with believers we don't know so well can end up being mostly small talk.

Small it the human equivalent of canine rear-sniffing? I guess it's necessary in its way, as a sort of preliminary to real conversations that might follow; but it can be very tiring.

Going through Genesis for our weekly bible-study. Brandy can't participate as much since she's doing the bulk of baby-holding, and since bible-study hours coincide with Elias' fussy hours. Ben and Rose have been our faithful attendees for the past six months or more, others have come and gone, TJ's been so busy with his extra work at the Roaster in Camano Island he hasn't shown for a while. In a lot of ways a good bible study is a lot harder to put together than a "teaching". The organizer has to come up with questions that aren't too hard for people to understand, but aren't too easy either. Just like in a class, people are hesitant to answer the first because they think they'll get it wrong and embarrass themselves, or reluctant to answer the second kind because it's boring or degrading. Thinking of good questions is like fine-tuning a dial.

But life is Good, God has blessed us, I am full of blessings and peanut butter. The only think I want right now is Light, more Light - conscious fellowship with God in Christ.
"Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof."-Ps. 137:7
(this is the verse that always pops into mind when looking at a straight razor, although the phrase was directed by nasty Edomites towards Jerusalem, I think I can reappropriate it for a different purpose.)

My first straight razor shave was without much of the blood and tears promised by Amazon reviewers to first-timers. It easily took off an amount of scruffiness that would have clogged a disposable razor after two swipes. But still, asking myself why I bought it, I guess the main reason is that I liked the idea of it. True, it's more efficient at removing beardiness than the bags of razor encrusted plastic sticks I was using before, and also true, it will cost less in the long run; but those aren't what pushed me over the edge.

I guess the romance of something less specialized is a better part of it, the attraction G.K. Chesterton wrote about in his essay "The Universal Stick".

But not quite, because if I was going to go Chestertonian, I'd be using a knife.

It could also be a sort of nostalgia, the way some people enjoy old cars, fedoras, pipes and "classic" movies.

I suppose I could ask my little brother, because I found out the day before yesterday that he beat me to the punch and has been shaving w/ a straight razor for two months now.

All reasons combined, I think it was worth it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So anyways, I haven't written much in quite a while. Here's an article response I just wrote to the "Falcon", SPU's newspaper.

In reply to Pech's article "Give it up, churches", I would like to point out some insufficiencies I see in his reasoning. He points out that "reasonable people can disagree" on whether homosexuality is a sin and whether God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. I don't think it's a matter of whether disagreement is possible between reasonable people, it's a matter of coming down on the correct side of the disagreement. Many people throughout history have been both reasonable and mistaken.
Next, he asks, "If the church's main concern is God's approval or disapproval of marriages, why not leave that up to God?" I hope that this isn't the church's mainconcern, the church's main concern should be obedient devotion and faithfulness to God in Christ. However, if faithfulness to God includes confessing (in the sense of "saying the same thing") then to repeat to His creation the Word of God regarding the responsibilities of states and the definition of evils is part of what constitutes faithfulness.
If we were to leave the church's obedience "up to God", and still want to call itself the church, it would be playing the part of the son in Jesus' parable who told his Father "yes, I'll go work in the field", while remaining firmly planted on his rear end. Being the Church involves both saying yes to God's proposed mission and in His power carrying though with that resolve.

Pech then cheekily asks: "If God does not count gay marriages as legitimate, won't he simply, you know, not count them?" - yes, yes he will, but God's frustration in scripture often seems to come from having to "tread the winepress alone". Should we also scold the Apostle Paul for speaking to the pagan governor Felix about "righteousness, self-control and the coming judgement" rather than leaving these things for God to sort out when the right time came? This may have been what Felix would have preferred at the time, but Christ's apostle Paul exhibits no such inclinations.

Oddly enough, Pech goes on to bluntly state: "The state shouldn't be in the marriage business at all". Putting the historical problems with this statement aside, it seems that this is a position he hopes the church and state will adopt, and it carries with it an obligation of the state regarding marriage (that they shouldn't have anything to do with it). Isn't telling the state what it should do about marriage what he's chastizing the "church" for?

After telling the church it should not dictate the responsibilities of the state, Pech...dictates the responsibilities of the state.: "...To protect and serve its people, not to legislate their morality." The cliche "you can't legislate morality" which he summons to make his point, falls apart fairly quickly. All legislation depends on moral judgements. Why do we disagree with any laws? Because we don't think they are right (i.e., "moral"). Supporters of "gay marriage" don't believe it's "right" (i.e. "moral") to deny marriage to people practicing homosexuality - this is a moral judgement. The question is not whether the state should legislate morality, the question on the table is: whose morality should it legislate? Pech's? The "church"'s? The supporters of "gay marriage"?

Shane ends with "If the only value [presumably of the church] is to degrade a group of people, what kind of witness is that?" My response would be agreement in principle. However, if it happens to be true that same sex marriage is wrong, and if the scripture is true that "Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace [i.e. degrading] to any people.", then the ones seeking to degrade a group of people are the supporters of same sex marriage. And if the church finds its value in aiding and abetting the degrading of a nation, well, what kind of a witness is that?