Monthly Archives: February 2003

Have Mercy

I’ve recently been elected and installed as a deacon at our church. We have about 15 deacons, and we’re charged with taking care of the physical needs of the people and property of the church so that the pastors and elders are free to deal with the spiritual needs. (Justification for deacons in Acts 6:1-4 and qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:8-10)

The deacons at our church work via committees, and I’m serving on the Mercy Committee. This committee handles requests from people in the church and community for help with any needs that they have. Today I did my first “investigation” of a request for help with a rent payment. I had to call the requestor and determine if I thought that he was credible or just scamming the church for some free money. (Apparently this happens not infrequently.) After talking with him and some other people, I think that his need is credible. I reported this to the committee and they have decided to help.

Good, but I have questions. What if I’m wrong? What if money that someone gave to the church to do God’s work ended up in the hands of a con artist because I’m naive? Or the other way around: what if I thought his story sounded fishy and turned him down, but then some honest guy at the end of his rope loses his apartment because some Christians refused to help him?

I currently have a mild case of, “Who am I to make this decision?” If we’d decided not to help him with his rent, I’d have a big case.

One Year Old

We’re coming up on an important little anniversary: somebody’s about to turn one! It’s pretty amazing to think about how much growing has been packed into this first year. We all start out having to rely on others to ease us into our new existence, but in a few weeks we’ve gotten the knack of feeding, clothing, diaper changes, and two-hour sleep cycles. There’s not much freedom of mobility in the beginning, but by the end of the first year, with the help of others, we’ve gotten our feet under us and are starting to go places on our own.

I’m talking about Tina and I of course: we’ve been parents for a year now! If you thought that last paragraph was about Cora then you need to read it again. But yes, Cora is turning one too.

We’re thrilled with Cora’s progress. She’s talking—not in English, but vocally. She’s standing unsupported and starting to take steps. She’s very smart. She’s sleeping through the night, eating all kinds of foods, and learning to stay with a babysitter without too much fuss. (If you’re some sort of internet stalker weirdo, you should also know that she’s afraid of strangers, has venomous fangs, and is believed to be sacred by a fiercely protective sect of Laotian ninja monks with sharp swords and a distinctly eastern conception of justice.)

I’m also proud to recognized our own progress. For the first few weeks Cora just needed to be kept full, clean, and warm. After that she needed to be comforted, engaged, and entertained. Then came socialization and education about words, utensils, and what should not be inserted into the VCR. I think that the subtlety of our parenting skills has grown right along with the intricacy of Cora’s needs.

Now we’re getting to impulse control. Heaven help the one-year-old parents!

Far away

Of late, Cora has been falling asleep at night holding onto a fistful of my beard. This little 18 pound sweetheart grabs the whiskers of her irascible 215 pound dad to feel secure as she sleeps. As she lays there in my arms, I swear that she’ll experience no harm that I can prevent or absorb.

I can imagine fathers in Baghdad whose children fall asleep the same way. Those children look to their dads for protection, and those dads feel duty-bound to defend their children from harm. If bombs rain down there those fathers may lose their children, and I feel for them. If bombs rain down there those children may lose their fathers, and I feel for them.

In President Bush’s state of the union address the other night, he mentioned going to war with Iraq to stop a madman. He simplified the question to something along the lines of, “Do you want to stop a madman? Yes or no?” This simplification glosses over the losses of those defenseless children and their protective fathers.

I understand that, rhetorically, one achieves persuasive potency by making an issue black and white and excluding any middle grey areas. But I don’t trust an argument that glosses over the killing of one group of innocent people to protect the lives of another group of innocent people. The true face of “collateral damage” should not be left out of the argument in an attempt to reduce political wind drag with middle America. Call attention to the inevitable civilian losses. Let me see that the man setting them in motion understands the gravity of his decision. Give me the reassurance of knowing that it bothers him.