Humility is important, spirit led living

When uncertainty is a virtue.

Excerpt from No One Really Minds When You Criticize Others by Joshua Gibbs at Circe Institue:

However, the man who criticizes himself makes us quite nervous. St. Francis of Assisi and Simeon Stylites were perhaps the greatest self-critics who ever lived, and they are commonly accused of being mad. The man who willingly risks blindness, frostbite, and death to climb the Matterhorn is a brave hero, but the man who risks blindness to climb Mt Purgatory is delusional. We are content that a man should risk life and limb for earthly glory, but the man who submits his body to a little rigor in order to conquer his temptations is self-righteous. Our blood gets itchy when we hear of a man who hates his sin so much that he is willing to do something about it. The man who criticizes himself is criticizing me in a way I cannot easily escape.

I have angered otherwise pleasant strangers several times in the last several years, usually evangelists who accosted me while I lived in Florida and demanded to know, “Are you certain you are saved?” I replied, “I hope I am saved. I have faith I am saved. I love my salvation. But I am certain of nothing.” I argued with one such fellow for a few minutes in the produce section of a supermarket, and in the end, he angrily said, “You can go to hell,” and shoved his cart away. Ambrose Bierce was never so rude to me. [emphasis mine]

Just something I ran across which made me think. I suspect Mr. Gibbs is a kindred spirit.

Advertisements
family life, just for fun, Uncategorized

More mom stuff.

Yesterday, a sweet friend of mine who is a mother of all boys shared this video with me:

We laughed, and she “envied” me, although I assured her that a house running over with estrogen is not without challenges. My man? He loves having all daughters. They go over, above and beyond to show their love and appreciation for him in ways that he and his brothers were never really inclined once they grew into manhood. His mother wanted a daughter, but never got one. We get what we get.

It’s all relative, so I’ve learned to count the blessings.

el's rabbit trails, family life, from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

The Tough Get Going

We are approaching the two year anniversary of the day my dad went home to be with the Lord.  I dreamed of him last night and woke up reminded of these thoughts I wrote not long after we lost him.

From April 2016:

I am struck with how tough my father was, and he raised his kids to be the same. Daddy was all about working the problem rather than rehashing it and you could hardly work a problem if you were overly emotional about it.

About 12 years ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now, older black men and prostate cancer is such a common occurrence that if you have any kind of knowledge about it, you know early detection equals a survival rate of over 90%. My father knew this, and the last thing he wanted was to create a panic. So he kept mum about it to everyone except his wife…and me (which includes my husband by default), until it was nearly over.

When he called me he said that he figured at least one of his kids needed to know what was up. I was the only one who could both handle it without panicking, and manage to obey him by not telling any of my other siblings until we were near the tail end of the thing. Daddy didn’t like being fussed over and he certainly didn’t want to be constantly surrounded by others’ fears or harangued for updates.

He also loathed the idea of being watched in a vigil-like manner. He was a strong man and he could handle whatever life threw at him, thankyouverymuch. His wife said it was male pride. He considered it an inherent requirement of real manhood. So we went quietly through what turned out to be a short lived ordeal from which he recovered fully before returning to his active and busy life.

My father spent one very uneventful week, medically speaking, in the hospital before he passed. It was in retrospect, also a very eventful week, one in which we experienced the full range of who he was and what he was all about, in concentrated form. As we looked back on individual conversations we had with him, it was as if he had some clue about what was ahead.

Anyway, one of those evenings a lot of us were in his hospital room. That was often the case that week, but on this day it wasn’t just family. His pastor, two deacons from his church, and a young family from his church (husband, wife and 2 kids) had joined us to keep him company. When the pastor broke up the conversations and suggested we all pray, Daddy spoke up:

“I always welcome prayer but.. I’m looking around here and I hope this ain’t some kind of vigil. I don’t like vigils, and I don’t need one. I feel fine, just need some rest and some things checked out.”

One of the men made it clear, “Nah, Deac. This ain’t no vigil. It’s a party“, to much laughter.

My dad never saw the point of crying over spilled milk or tough times (“it rains on the just and the unjust”), and he kept his emotional cards close to the vest except on very rare occasions. Those occasions were usually a very big deal. However, he understood that human beings feel, and that’s a part of life too. He knew how to offer comfort when it was needed.

The first time I vividly recall my father telling me he loved me, I was a teenager. My maternal grandfather had just died and he knew how hard we were taking it. Grandpa was the funniest, most generous, straight talking man you’d ever meet. Always, but especially on the weekends after he had a couple. His grandchildren thought the world of him, and it was a difficult loss.

It was one of those times when my father knew instinctively that his girls especially would benefit from the comfort of his arms and his words as well as his actions. It was a stretch because my father wholeheartedly believed that a person tells you how they feel about you by the way they treat you, and he took good care of his kids. We knew, all 9 of us, that he loved us.

That day though, he needed to do more so he did. In the aftermath it was business and usual; stiff upper lip and all that. It’s the way he bred us to be. I have had quite a journey on the road to being more vulnerable, with my husband’s help. It’s been a good lesson, one that has helped me be a better wife.

Nevertheless, one of the things I am ever so grateful to my father for is an understanding of how truly small most things are in the grand scheme. How rare we encounter things which are truly worth losing sleep over.

I hope that the tears I still shed for him after two years qualify as a very, very big thing.

 

American identity, spirit led living

I think Glenn Stanton is a little off here.

Before I get into my brief reaction to this piece he recently wrote for The Federalist,  a story from a recent discussion with our 11-year-old daughter.

As we were tidying the classroom before leaving school, she noticed that one of the youth teachers at the church where we meet had left the middle school girl’s Sunday School attendance sheet out. She read it, noticed that several of her school friends’ names were on it, and immediately asked if we could switch churches so that she could go to church with her school friends.

She has friends at our church, but our church’s youth program is not as active as at the church where they attend school. This is because our church is driving hard the message that fathers need to be teaching their children the principles of the Faith.

I told her the people at our church are spiritual family, and we don’t change churches -particularly after decades of fellowship- simply because there is another church where our kids would be happier, where there are more homeschool families or there is more [insert amenable quality here]. Which brings me to Glenn Stanton’s assertion that Christianity in America is doing just fine.

New research published late last year by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University Bloomington is just the latest to reveal the myth. This research questioned the “secularization thesis,” which holds that the United States is following most advanced industrial nations in the death of their once vibrant faith culture. Churches becoming mere landmarks, dance halls, boutique hotels, museums, and all that.

Not only did their examination find no support for this secularization in terms of actual practice and belief, the researchers proclaim that religion continues to enjoy “persistent and exceptional intensity” in America. These researchers hold our nation “remains an exceptional outlier and potential counter example to the secularization thesis.”

Leaving aside that a Harvard researcher’s perception of religious practice might be slightly different from that of a devout orthodox Christian, I agree that compared to the rest of the Western world, the USA has far greater numbers of practicing Christians. Does that mean Christianity is “alive and well” here?

Mainline churches are tanking as if they have super-sized millstones around their necks. Yes, these churches are hemorrhaging members in startling numbers, but many of those folks are not leaving Christianity. They are simply going elsewhere. Because of this shifting, other very different kinds of churches are holding strong in crowds and have been for as long as such data has been collected. In some ways, they are even growing. This is what this new research has found.

The percentage of Americans who attend church more than once a week, pray daily, and accept the Bible as wholly reliable and deeply instructive to their lives has remained absolutely, steel-bar constant for the last 50 years or more, right up to today. These authors describe this continuity as “patently persistent.”

I would suggest that large numbers of parishioners walking away from churches with ease is a sign that American Faith is not in the best health. Churches are supposed to be places where hearts of like faith are knit together. You fight for your church before you just up and leave it. The million dollar question is:

What kind of churches are they hopping over to attend?

In out metro area (which I heartily stipulate may be highly atypical and not representative of what you find in other parts of the country), a lot of the busiest churches hold service that look a lot like this:

 

Okay, that video was a snarky (but funny!). Seriously, the belief that Faith is as strong now, in the current culture, as it was 50 years ago or more, just doesn’t stand up to what almost any person of any faith tradition witnesses on the ground.

I hope Stanton is correct, and suppose it’s possible, but I doubt it.

Uncategorized

Reading through a biased lens.

My vastly different view (from an accomplished and much better educated person whom I admire) on the marriage between the fictional characters of M. and Madame Loisel caused me to examine the biases I bring to the literature I read. It didn’t change my mind at all about this story, but I hope I remember to read future such stories with a more open mind.

El's Reading Room...

It occurs to me, although I certainly intuitively knew it before today, that when we approach any piece of literature, our experience and interpretation of that literary work is highly influenced by our pasts, politics, and personal psychology.

However, when someone else’s experience of a piece of literature is so far removed from mine that I am incredulous that we even read the same piece, it gets my attention. This happened to me quite recently and although my initial conclusions about the story in question didn’t change, I appreciated the opportunity to hear another point of view.

Fortunately, the story I am referring to can be read in as little as 20 minutes, so if any one reading here is interested in the context for what follows should click over and read Guy de Maupassant’s The Necklace.

As I read this story, what happens in my mind is what often…

View original post 272 more words

Uncategorized

The Selfishness of Others

Since this book spent a lot of ink on relations between the sexes (and the manosphere in particular), I figured this book review is worth reblogging here.

El's Reading Room...

fear of narcisissmThe Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism, by Kristin Dombek. Published in 2016. 160 pages.

I found this bizarre little book at the library and read it in an evening. I didn’t know what to expect when I started it, and am still slightly unsure what the overarching message of this “Essay on the Fear of Narcissism” was supposed to be. There were a lot of interesting insights, and the author’s concern that the Internet has turned far too many people into armchair psychiatrists diagnosing everyone who ever hurt them with a personality disorder rings very true.

Dombek convincingly makes the case that far too often, it is all too easy for people to transform their pain, a universal human condition, into blame with the right keywords and a few choice clicks. Suddenly their all too normal friends, lovers and parents are possessed with Narcissistic…

View original post 519 more words

spirit led living

In Other’s Words…

In a culture full of Christians climbing the secular social ladder while believing they are holding fast to the True Faith, we have this, from Rod Dreher:

I don’t know what’s going to follow liberal democracy, or what should follow liberal democracy. I care most about the health of Christianity, which can endure any number of regimes, as it has throughout history. I believe that orthodox Christians who genuinely believed that they are called by God to work in politics, in law, and in the military, should, in general, answer that call. But they have to ask themselves: who, and what, are they protecting with their service? That is, absent the discipleship and formation the Benedict Option calls for, what kind of church will we have? Christians who have assimilated into the post-Christian, secular liberal order need no protection. They need conversion. This is a point that I cannot seem to get across to many Christian critics of the Benedict Option: that acquiring and exercising worldly power is an empty quest if the people have lost faith and virtue. Think about it: Even if an Angel of the Lord delivered from heaven the perfect scheme of government, and anointed a Philosopher-King to administer it, what good from a Christian point of view would that do if the people had apostatized?

What he said.

from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

You might be a Patriarch if…

This is from 2013. I got collaborative points from other ladies before I posted it, so it wasn’t just my thoughts.

patriarch.jpg

You might be a patriarch if:

  • You cultivate the True faith and pass it on to your progeny
  • You have a sense of honor and are prepared to protect the honor of your family.
  • People are glad to see you… if they’re doing what they ought to be doing.
  • And they dread seeing you… if they’re not doing what they ought to be doing.
  • You’re having sex with a beautiful woman, but without the regret that comes with playing PUA.
  • The aforementioned beautiful woman -your wife- makes you your favorite foods, on a regular basis.
  • She also isn’t engaged in a battle for authority with you but submits, and enjoys it more often than not
  • She actually cares what you think and wants to please you.
  • Your wife and children seek to improve themselves out of respect and appreciation for you
  • Your headship cultivates a character of obedience (holiness), not merely performance (fear)
  • You lead with resolve and refuse to give way to fear and capitulation rather than doing what’s right
  • Other men look to you for advice on everything from career dilemmas to marriage troubles
  • People outside of your family look to you for leadership and guidance
  • You find yourself leading whether you chose to or not
  • Your wife frets if she isn’t going to have dinner on the table at the right time
  • You don’t have to beg your wife to sleep with you
  • You have a reputation for being sensible, dignified, and sound in speech
  • You do what’s right because it’s right

When we call for a return to patriarchal marriage and culture, we often fail to paint a picture of what that looks like, leaving the door open for wild and ridiculous interpretations.

I based most of this list on my husband and father, two men who have enjoyed long marriages with women who are still enamored with them and children who, while not perfect, respect and honor them. I don’t know if that qualifies me as any kind authority, but I suppose it qualifies me as something.

This is just my interpretation of what a godly patriarch looks like.

It’s 2017, and you know what they say about opinions and noses, but I stand by this one. It’s one of the few I can’t think of any reason why I should mention my evolution, nuances or caveats. Is this offensive, LOL?

from the best-ofs files, Uncategorized

What Love Is…and What It Isn’t.

From 2012. I’m just about done with these little blasts from the past. I hope they were appreciated.

This is another installment in the periodic series, “Let Her Ask Her Husband…”

I thought it might be interesting to get my husband’s official, on the record take of what it means for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Indeed it was interesting, so much so that we had two interviews instead of the one I initially planned to use to present in this space. Because I feel so strongly the burden to present my husband’s position clearly, I will simply offer his words without translation from me.

Our conversation began during a rare moment of privacy we shared without the distraction of children, music, or phones ringing.  As we rode in the car I told him I needed his help with a post I wanted to write and asked, “What do you think is required for a man to love his wife as Christ loved the church?”

It is rare after nearly 2 decades for one spouse not to have a fairly accurate read on what the other thinks when major issues are discussed. At least, it is rare when they developed the intimacy required to be happily married after such a long stretch. As a result, I knew going in what the answer to the question would be. Nevertheless, the conversation that ensued was a great blessing to us both. He began:

“The most important thing a husband needs to remember about the passage is that Christ loved us by giving us what we needed: redemption from sin. We would have been perfectly happy to keep on enjoying the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of the world. But He knew we were doomed if He didn’t help us. So He took no thought for our feelings, and did what we needed.”

Right out of the starting blocks, he zeroed in on doing what needs to be done for the recipient of the love rather than focusing on their feelings.  And yes, I saw this coming. Leaders lead rather than pander, and my husband is a leader. For the purpose at hand, I continued with yet another question I knew the answer to. “So”, I asked, “Are you saying you never have to take my feelings into consideration”?

“Is that a trick question? When it comes to loving you in the truest sense of the word, no. Your feelings don’t get to run the show. Being the head of this family is an honor, but also a huge responsibility. It could even be considered a burden. I have to do what’s best for all of us at the expense not only of your feelings, but my feelings, too. Sometimes love hurts.”

Because my man is awesome in ways I cannot begin to describe here, and honest as well, he acknowledged that it would be wrong to pretend as if my feelings mean nothing because after all, he is a human being with feelings as well.  So, where do feelings enter the equation?

“I don’t want to see you miserable or unhappy. It makes me feel good to know that you care about what I think and make every effort to be the wife I need you to be. So yeah, when it doesn’t conflict with the overall vision, I do things to make you feel good. You’re much better at doing what I tell you to do when you like me, so I won’t ignore your feelings. I have feelings. But that’s not love. That’s emotion. It has its place in marriage and I feel for those couples without that connection, but it’s not what real love is all about. Love is action and loving you means holding you to account. And if you love me you’ll keep my commandments.”

My takeaway from all of this is that I am very blessed to have a husband who is strong enough to lead me well and smart enough to appreciate what I need as a woman. Now that’s love.