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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baby It Like Beckham

This might be rocky.  I promise I'm going somewhere - just stay with me.

There are few topics that get my goat like overpopulation alarmism.  You'll hear it called Malthusian catastrophe, sometimes.   You've seen it, because it's everywhere.  The idea itself has made the rounds for a few hundred years, but it really wedged itself into mainstream thinking with the publication of Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb in 1968.  Heck, I can remember well-meaning science teachers frightening us about this stuff when I was a teenager.

To summarize a few of the gory details, folks like Ehrlich, Thomas Malthus and many more basically theorized that since the earth and its resources are finite, an upward, exponential trend in human population will eventually destroy us all because we'll simply exhaust the food/clean water/living space we have.  It's a fairly logical idea.

The problem is, it's not true.  Population growth has absolutely skyrocketed since the alarm was raised about two centuries ago, with living standards throughout the world generally improving, not the other way round.

True or not, there are some really very nasty public policy ideas that naturally follow from this type of thinking:  legalizing (and encouraging) abortion, allowing certain death rates to rise, eugenics, Chinese-style limits on family size, you name it.

So this brings me to David Beckham.  Really.  Mr. Beckham, of soccer/footballing fame, welcomed his fourth child into the world last week.  You might have heard that a few Brit papers sniffed that having this *ahem* outrageous number of children was "environmentally irresponsible" and that the Beckhams were "very bad role models."

Wow.  I mean, where do you even start?

I wonder if the overpopulation myth is where general hatred for parents and kids comes from.  Everyone knows that "good" people:
  • Have few kids, if any (moral restraint)
  • Meticulously recycle and drive hybrid cars (religious worship/good deeds)
  • Eat only organic/free range/etc. food (a new "kosher," as others have noted)
  • Publicly defend the environment/earth/nature/etc. (proselytizing)
  • Donate to activist organizations (alms giving)
These are the basic tenets of the new religion.  Of course, "bad" people don't live within these wonderful conventions.  *Gulp*  Hey, and there's nothing inherently wrong with some of the stuff above.  But, as in everything, motives do matter.  Tremendously.

Look at the comments section for (non-Chuck E. Cheese) restaurant reviews where kids are welcome.  The anti-family vitriol from the usually younger, single, and/or childless folks is at times downright evil.  Normally this would just be classified as rude behavior.

But when the environmental movement gives its blessing, and coos that you're actually doing the responsible thing by calling out these filthy "breeders" (a term that will instantly land you in a fistfight with this dad, by the way), you're not a jerk - you're virtuous.

So making snide comments to pregnant women surrounded by little ones in the supermarket is totally fine.  Ridiculing families (of any size) and those who would like to be parents is commendable.  It's your civic and moral duty.  Like voting or driving the speed limit.

When I get really fired up about the war on families, I take comfort in one thought.  The militantly anti-family/anti-child have a little demographic problem, themselves:

They might just breed their ideology into extinction.

Here are The Boston Globe and Washington Examiner articles, if you're interested:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing Up (And Down)

One thing that throws me about seeing Peter Pan on the stage is that girls are always cast to play Pan.  The other convention y'all have no doubt seen is that Tinkerbell is always "played" by a (usually annoying) flickering spotlight, accompanied by (irritating) jingling music or some equivalent noise.  Yes, I know Barrie's classic was originally in play form.

Jack is obsessed with Peter Pan.  And he went about it the right way, too.  We've been reading slices of a fat Disney storybook and he immediately loved Peter Pan.  I was changing him at one point over the weekend, and he was driving me almost completely insane.  Kept serially chattering WendyJohnandMichael enough to make me start twitching uncontrollably.  I fixed him up, sent him on his way, and he was finally quiet.  Until I heard, very plainly:

"I'm not going to grow up.  And I'm not going to grow down."

I almost shot milk out my nose.  I was not drinking any milk.

But since we were unsure he'd like the actual Peter Pan movie, we Netflixed it (I'm quite sure that's a verb) and let him see it on Saturday.  It was a rainy day, and just perfect for movie watching.

It was really nice to sit down and see Disney's interpretation.  I hadn't seen it in decades.  I didn't get to watch much, but it was really interesting to note that particular era in animation (1953), when some scenes bled back into the soft-edged Snow White or Fantasia days, and others reached forward to The Jungle Book and beyond.

We had his BIDH BOY BEHD mattress delivered that day, and he sat in front of the flatscreen, transfixed as I wrangled and fixed and strategerized about furniture.  I finally got the mattress tentatively anchored to my odd-sized, ancient, heavy iron bed.  It's been in storage for years.  It's unpainted and is varnished only in Briwax.  I bought it for 150 bucks to furnish my first apartment and it weighs as much as a Buick.

It is Jack's new bed. 

So the crib and the renowned Zip-A-Kid Foolproof Incarceration Tent are no more.  It took some time to break it all apart and put everything down in storage.  So we busted our little inmate out of stir, and he's now free to roam and destroy his room at will.  At night.  Oh, and pretty much the rest of the house, too.  Climbed right over the baby gate at the foot of the stairs to come say "Hi" to me at one point.  Uh oh.

We've kinda gone from Birdman of Alcatraz to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, if you follow.

Majesty tries to put him down for the first official nap in his huge expanse of bed.  Doesn't go well.  His head is about to explode, and she just gives up and leaves.  After a good while, she turns on the monitor and hears him quietly whimpering.  He's managed to solidly wedge himself between the iron headboard and the wall.

I didn't fare much better at nighttime.  We read, and prayed, and sang, but he was still uncontrollably fidgety.  I took off.  After finishing up an installment in our weekend Potterthon, we hear him at about 10:30, still fidgeting away.  I stroll up there and quietly ask him my usual, "Jack? Anything you need to tell Daddy?"  In this comically loud whisper, I get:
JMW:  "That man sells apples in The Babe and I." (Talking about a recent library book.)
EC:  "Yep, he does sell apples in that book.  Anything else you want to tell me?"
JMW:  "Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st Samuel, 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings."
We sang a song or two as I tried to stifle my laughter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Photographic Evidence of Our Existence

Incredibly, some (dated) photos finally showed up on one of my memory sticks.  Look well upon them, ye dogs!









Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pennies

Switching gears today.  And once again, no pictures.  Sorry, I'm working on it.

I wanted to share a communion thought I gave a few weeks back, for reasons that will become apparent later.

If you're not familiar, it's customary in the Churches of Christ, as it is in other evangelical Christian groups, for someone to stand up and give a few brief thoughts before the taking of the communion, or Lord's Supper, which we participate in weekly (for background, see the events of Matthew 26, especially verses 26-27 and also Acts 20:7).  Some guys bail on the devotional and give quick prayers of blessing, and some wordy ones forget that they're not the preacher and drone on forever.  Everyone else is in the middle somewhere.

For me, it can be the most revelatory and interesting part of the service, since you hear what the average Joe thinks about his salvation.  About Christ.  About God.  At times it's hilariously strange.  Sometimes it's profoundly moving.

People approach the communion service in many ways.  In the quiet spaces, some read their Bibles to maintain focus.  They go to the messianic Psalms, or to Isaiah, or they read the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion.  They close their eyes and pray.  They meditate on Jesus Christ himself, or on the very idea of his mission.  Still others just sit there and try to make sense of what exactly happened, and why.

I'm probably in the latter group.  And I get into ruts with my thinking, turning the same idea over in my head week after week.  My most recent rut, running through even last Sunday, has been to simply thank G0d for my family's salvation.  For my own salvation.  For Majesty's salvation in Christ.  For the opportunity to teach Jacques about Jesus as he grows.

Sometimes, when I've had my coffee, and I'm really feeling high-minded, I'll actually thank God for saving those in my church family, or even those across the world, that are acting out roughly the same thing we're doing right here in The New Town.

But I think I've missed the larger point.  Christ didn't give his life for just my family.  He didn't give his life just for those in the same church building I'm in.  And he didn't die for only those seeking to do his will right now, in this moment.  His mission was to provide salvation for all those that have ever lived.  For all those living now.  And for all those that will ever live.  Everyone.  Everywhere.  Ever.  Will all those take hold of it?  Sadly, no.  But his mission stands, nonetheless.

It was widely reported a while back that world population will pass 7 billion this year.  That's a whole lot of people.  And, by extension, that's a whole lot of sin.  It got me wondering, do we have an idea of how many people that have ever lived, total?  One demographer I found had calculated the number at just over 100 billion people, all-time.  That's 100,000,000,000.  Now, straight up, I have no idea whether that figure is even in the ballpark.  But assume for a moment that it is.

When people start throwing around billions and hundreds of billions and trillions, my eyes glaze over pretty quickly.  The reason is simple:  numbers that large are almost impossible to imagine.  They don't even seem real.  And I like concrete, real visualizations.  Like pennies.  You know what a penny looks like, right?  You've got them in your pockets, your desk drawers, and in the ashtray - sorry - coin tray of your car.  They're about 1/16th of an inch thick.

So back to our 100 billion people.  If you took 100 billion pennies, and stacked them up right in front of you, the stack would be just shy of 100 thousand miles high.  That's not quite halfway to the moon.  Each penny a person.  Each person a soul.  Each soul in desperate need of salvation.

This speaks not only to the breadth of Christ's sacrifice but to its absolute, extreme power.  Think about how much sin and unrighteousness and lawlessness 100 billion people could crank out.  Heck, I can hold my own just by myself.  Unfortunately, you can, too.

It's wonderful to boil salvation right down to what it does for you and yours.  Salvation can be, and indeed is, near to us all.  That's kind of the point.  But when we fail to think in larger terms, much larger terms, we're underestimating exactly what we are, and what we're a part of:  An eyedropper full in a vast ocean.