Monthly Archives: March 2004

God’s Poker Face

God said he’d whip Nineveh but then relented. So if God is immutable then when He told Jonah that He would destroy Nineveh He had His poker face on. He was bluffing. Or was He?

Falling and Flying

Heard in a song:

“Falling feels just like flying until you hit the ground.”

If We Go Into the Water

I saw some stock footage on television of a large sailboat packed full of Haitian refugees fleeing for America. The main sail had gone slack and was falling away from the mast at the top, flapping wildly in the wind as it did so. It made it look as if the boat had no crew, only frightened passengers. And the passengers were packed in so tight that people were actually lining the edges of the boat with their legs and arms hanging over the rail. The boat was also listing terribly to one side and, combined with the wildly flapping main sail, looked as though it were just minutes from sinking.

I wasn’t ready to feel empathy — the news shows us boats packed with refugees all the time — but I was about to be painfully empathetic.

As this floundering wreck sailed by on my television screen I saw that one of the men with his legs dangling over the rail of the boat had a little boy of about 8 years on his lap. These two were on the side of the boat that was being rolled into the water such that this guy’s shoes were just a foot above the surface of the water. And I empathized.

What if that were me and Cora? If we go into the water I won’t be able to hold onto her. Can she swim? With all these people kicking and thrashing? Can she hold onto me to stay afloat? Can I stay afloat? How can this have gone so wrong? Why did I bring us to the middle of the ocean?

That man began a dangerous journey hoping for a better life for his son. After the hope is gone it’s just a dangerous journey and all your reasons for starting it would suddenly seem pretty shabby compared to the safety of your child.

And God Was Watching

I found a dead bird in my driveway this morning. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10 that something as small as a sparrow dying will not escape the notice of his Father. So apparently God was looking in my direction at some point last night or today watching this little thing expire.

The tie-in between this scripture and that little bird expiring on my lawn didn’t hit me until later. If God really bird watches then He was paying attention to something going on at my house this morning. Now the point of the scripture is that OF COURSE He’s paying attention to the stuff that goes on at my house because He even pays attention to little things like when birds are born and die. It was still sobering to think that one of Jesus’ illustrations had occurred right here.

In the New International Version of the Bible Jesus’ actual words were that not a single sparrow would “fall to the ground” apart from God’s notice. I’m somewhat complicit here because the dead bird had come to rest on my van and didn’t actually “fall to the ground” until I had chucked it there. The fact that I had played a role makes the feeling of this bible-in-my-life event more poignant. It’s obvious that anyone watching the disposition of that sparrow was watching me.

Two Major Faults

I have two major faults as far as my Christian religion is concerned. The first is that I’m not always sure that I believe in God, and the second is my potty mouth.

If you’re bothered by the first then you should know that I’m always faithful to my obligations before the Lord, even when I’m not sure he’s really there. That sort of faithfulness seems to me to be more real than any other kind.

If you’re bothered by the second then screw off.

The Imminent Danger is Half Full

Some see the glass as half full; some see the glass as half empty; I just see enough water to drown in.

The fire alarm went off at our church after Sunday evening service this week. We weren’t really ready for that: the fire alarm going off while the building is full of people but no actual service is going on.

We’re ready for the alarm to go off during service: the Deacons have stations, the Sunday school teachers have walkie talkies, and the pastors have a set of instructions to read to the congregation from the pulpit.

But after church, while everyone is talking and mingling and leaving? Nothing. When the alarm went off most people acted as though the biggest problem being presented was the difficulty chatting with each other over the blare of the fire alarm. They were not fast to exit. Once outside they hung around the doors hoping to be let back in soon. This is in direct contradiction to the instructions the pastor would have read during a service, instructing them that they should move to the assembly points at the far edges of the parking lot so that the fire department had easy access to the building.

I sent a letter to the pastor documenting the failures I perceived that night and proposed solutions to each. I got a letter back saying, basically, lighten up. The building had been evacuated, the fire department had been unhindered, and that my suggestions were good in an obsessive-compulsive sort of way, but not to expect to see any of them implemented.

We all got out safely. The glass is half full.

We could have gotten out much faster. The glass is half empty.

Whether I share my ideas or not, the situation will be no different next time. Just enough water to drown in.

Insecure Babytalk

I’m male. I’m also the stay-at-home parent in my family. I believe that women, properly motivated, are as good as men in the workplace. I believe that men, properly motivated, are as good as women at nurturing children. Still, the fact that I’m a male and 99.5% of all other stay-at-home parents are female makes me wonder sometimes whether that’s really true.

While babytalking to my daughter at approximately 3:00 PM EST today, my ears heard this coming from my mouth in the falsetto sing-song reserved for cooing at babies: “…Is there nurturing you get from mommy that daddy just can’t provide?…”

Random Acts of Kindness

Augustine Asks

Contemporary Relevance of Augustine’s View of Creation. It is common among Christians today to interpret Genesis 1 as saying that Adam and Eve were created immortal. Augustine asks why God gave them every seed-bearing plant as food. If they were immortal, what benefit did eating convey?

An Important Image


This photo of my family was taken on Christmas Eve when my brother Brad was on leave from the Army. A friend took the photo and just sent it to me tonight. This is also the week that my brother (center, no beard, non-infant) ships out to Iraq. I’m certain that this picture will be very important to my family and I over the coming year while he is deployed.

Carry on in the political sphere for or against the U.S. presence in Iraq as much as you want, but I hope everyone involved remembers that while politicians of all stripes gathered their rhetoric and went on TV my brother and people like him gathered their things and went into harm’s way.