Saturday, March 31, 2007

TIME and All Eternity

Howdy everyone. Some of you might remember a comment posted a while back from a Time journalist who said that she was writing an article on pastor's wives. That article came out today, "What God Joined Together," and I think that Lisa Takeuchi Cullen did an outstanding job. (I got a mention in the first paragraph on p.2!!!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


This is the definition of "propaganda"

1.information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

That being said, obviously neither Republicans or Democrats are innocent of engaging in the spread of propaganda. I don't think it is right for either party to oversimplify the stance that the other party has. I am a Republican, there is no secret in that. In fact, I am practically Libertarian. If I were a Democrat, I would just as likely find this book offensive, because it takes the stances that real people treasure, and treats them as if they are cold-hearted, ignorant, and class-based.

Look at those pictures! For instance, the first one. "Democrats make sure we all share our toys, just like Mommy does." And the rich snobs behind are passing by a beggar on the street. I am a Christian. I try to view each person I meet as someone that Christ gave His life for, and I try to teach my children to do the same (and that includes Democrats as well as the poor and those with prison records). Republicans are big on giving to charity, not hoarding their "wealth" ( I'm wealthy!). They just don't want the tax money that could be given to charities, to help the poor, or to purchase products that will create jobs --- to be given to finance huge bureaucracies and to help the poor in ways that really don't help the poor. We want to have more of the money that we earn back so that we can choose to help the poor in ways that we see that will truly help.

I've been a social worker working with families who have had their children taken from them by the state. I've worked with and found ways to give respect to people who were being treated by everyone else as though they were the scum of the earth (including their Democrat caseworkers). And they weren't scum. They were mostly people who didn't have the skills or the emotional health to figure out how to make healthy decisions and provide for the needs of those who needed them, despite the fact that they did love their children. Family values had eroded so badly that their families were a hodgepodge of kids with different fathers who were either abusive or not in the picture. This does effect a woman's functionality as a mother. God didn't make parenthood to be like this.

Most Republicans that I know are very concerned about the poor, and seek to find ways to help. But the government regulation often makes it difficult for people and groups to help. My husband's home congregation set up a food bank, and the amount of paperwork that is required to make sure that those who are already on government assistance don't get certain things (by regulation), is appalling. This same church bought a property next door to them to start a clinic. The local hospital was thrilled. They offered to send their interns and residents so that they could have practice treating people without being surrounded by high tech machinery. In the end, they couldn't do it, because the 1940's house could not have a 2nd bathroom added, because the government insisted there be a bathroom for both genders....regardless of the lock on the door.

I do believe that most often, it is the people in the communities who know the best way to help those that need help....and are the ones who are going to care the most about giving the proper help, complete with accountability from the person who is being helped. Republicans are not a group of snobs who are in their private clubs, wearing their name brands, and choosing to remain isolated from the world. Often, they care very deeply and act on that caring.

"Democrats make sure we are always safe, just like Mommy does." I'm going to ignore the implication that the danger is from stampeding Republicans. I do have an issue with some of the safety issues that are pushed. Car seats for instance. I am all for car seats. But I have actually seen times where it would be better for my child to be out of one. My son, when he fell asleep in his carseat, would slump over and was completely unsupported. If we were in an accident, he would've been safer laying down on the seat in a seat belt harness than he was in that position. His neck would've snapped in that carseat. Yet my ability to make decisions for the welfare of my children is taken away in this simple law. Driving across country when we moved was a miserable experience for them because they couldn't be comfortable, couldn't really play games with each other....oh yeah, that's what the DVD player is supposed to be for now.

Schools. I do not believe that our schools are a safe place for our children to be. I also believe that they settle for mediocrity in the name of equality, rather than pushing children to excel. They are often indoctrination stations for tolerance of things that the Bible teaches against, and I know teachers in schools who say that kids are told not to tell their parents about what was discussed in health classes and other situations. In Los Angeles, where we lived before this, the parent is required to sign a form that allows the school to seek ANY medical care without informing the parent. The role of the parent is completely disrespected, and more and more, the parents are viewed as if they are even harmful to the child, whereas the school is beneficial, despite the fact that bullying, drugs, and violence are all on the rise. As a homeschooler, I have often had the perspective addressed to me that I am harming my children by sheltering them, not socializing them, and even harming them by teaching them things that are above and beyond what the schools teach, because they will have superior thinking skills and the other kids won't like them or will feel inferior.

The third one addresses college...."Democrats make sure children can go to school, just like Mommy does." My kids won't be able to get my help to go to school. I'm far from rich. But I also don't think that it is wrong for them to work to go to school, to save to go to school. I also think that college is a privilege, not a right.

On the other side of it all....I don't believe that most people on welfare are on welfare because they don't want to work. I've worked with clients who take pride in the fact that they do a good job in the jobs that they've had, and that they are able to hold on to a job. With prison records or lack of education, they're not able to make ends meet or make as much as they could on welfare...and they definitely don't get health benefits. I know a family where the mother has needed $100,000 back surgery, and NO ONE was going to do it without insurance or the guarantee of that amount. So the husband quit working because as long as they were bringing in ANY income, they would not qualify for Medicaid. She got her surgery, and they both feel shame that they are living off of the government when he is perfectly capable of providing for their basic needs. I also know a mother whose husband lost his job, which led to their losing everything and their separation. Her teenage kids went berzerk, as teenage kids often do when their lives fall apart, and she had to quit her job just to keep an eye on them, or they would be taken away.

However, I also know that federal guidelines which list alcoholism and drug addiction as diseases that allow someone to get disability benefits for these diseases without requiring the person to be in a treatment program or submit to periodic drug tests. A church or private social organization could make someone accountable for the aid that they received. When someone comes to the church looking for gas, we give gas cards or fill up their tanks. We give Walmart cards or such things when someone needs groceries. The local pastors communicate with each other so that they know who is "making the church rounds." If someone calls saying they need this kind of help or their power is being cut off, we ask for two people, preferably in a professional setting (their case worker, doctor, etc.) who can verify their story. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to say "no" so the person learns that they have to be accountable for their actions, or at least that we will not be taken in by sociopaths, and these exist, too. We also try to be aware of organizations who might be able to help beyond what we can, so that we can refer them. The government honestly does not have the means to do this, so either they help people in means that don't help them, really, and they don't give them a community such as a church congregation where they can grow and be a part of. This is why Republicans are usually against the way Democrats want to help the poor.

The fact is....Democrats do want to help the disadvantaged. Republicans do, too. They just see different roads to doing it. Treating either side like they are heartless and misguided isn't going to help. Simplifying positions down to little insulting stereotypes doesn't help, on either side. Imagine if instead of Republican and Democrat, it were Hindus portraying Muslims, or White and Black, men and women, Armenian and Hispanic, Protestant and Catholic, Serb and Croat. It would be wrong. In fact, those tacts are what lead to war in many countries. It could eventually break down that far here, too.

Because really what is going on is that such propaganda violates the 8th Commandment. It is bearing false witness against our neighbor. It is not truly portraying things as they are, and it is making them look bad and creating a prejudice in children that should not be there and will not help them grow into people who can make the world better. It only creates an air of moral superiority and turns these children into people that hate anyone with different views. This is wrong from either side.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Now This is a Disturbing and Lame Bit o' Propoganda

I came across an ad for this today on my Gmail page....

Why Mommy Is a Democrat

I "love" how it says its "nonjudgemental" but has pictures of "others" in the background enjoying expensive educations, ignoring the poor, and an elephant running down the road is the "danger" that the democrat mommy squirrel is protecting her children from.....

That's not judgemental at all.....more like not realistic.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

pics for feedback

Hi all, sorry to add clutter here (though they are more pics of my cute dog), but I am wanting feedback on breed, because I don't believe this is an Aussie mix....and so I have some questions. I posted a question on a couple of email lists, but couldn't get the pics to upload, so I posted them here...but hey, it's my blog :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Now To Get the Scalpel to See if This is True

Your Brain is Blue

Of all the brain types, yours is the most mellow.
You tend to be in a meditative state most of the time. You don't try to think away your troubles.
Your thoughts are realistic, fresh, and honest. You truly see things as how they are.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your friends, your surroundings, and your life.
Must be DODGER BLUE!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Meet Scully

This is our new puppy, Scully. He's 8 weeks old and is an Australian Shepherd mix from the Fort Wayne Animal Control Shelter. He is beautiful in a completely unique sort of way. From what I've been reading on the internet and elsewhere, his coloring is more similar to what working Australian Shepherds have (the ranchers and shepherds don't care if the mask is perfect or if the white "saddle" is present...just that they have a good dog!), and it is called a Blue Merle. The picture below kind of shows his markings (though they really don't do him justice. His fur is just this delicious swirl of jet black mottled with smoke gray). Though I don't know if you can tell from these pics that his eyes are different colors...well...actually his right eye is blue on top and brown on the bottom. The left eye is brown. It's very cool. The merle pattern even effects his eyes and his nose. We don't know what else is in him. We just know he's really sweet.

We wanted a good baseball name and we were pretty settled on Scully (because who is more baseball than Vin Scully???) but we were also looking at other aspects of our lives (which is usually how we pick animal names). Since the kids are learning Greek, we wondered "What's Greek for dog?" Since "dog" doesn't come up often in the Bible, Jeff decided to look on Babelfish, and up popped:

For those of you who don't read Greek, its sigma, kappa, upsilon, lambda, iota......or "Skuli" or...basically "Scully." Flabbergasted (wow, I love it when I can use such a cool word), we figured that this was a sign that we'd found our name.

If you don't mind, I'm going to go play with my dog.....

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Proof of My Sinful Nature

If when, during a perfectly good sermon on baptism, the preacher (in our case, our field worker) says "Because of your baptism, you can go to God and call him Abba...Father," you spend the next 15 minutes wrestling with the song "Take a Chance on Me," its pretty clear that there is a sinful nature at work.

(it wasn't too bad until the guys chimed in with the "take a chance, take a chance" background vocals that sound like a train starting up)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

House, M.Div

In a gratuitous effort to get a link to my blog, I am pointing you to a really funny, intelligent blog that I read on a regular basis....

And, since I have had about 50 pieces of email decrying our new presidential coins not having "In God We Trust" on them (and if it really DOESN'T have it anywhere, hold on to it, its worth something! Big snafu at the Mint) ....or that it has moved out on to the edge, House does a very good job explaining a point of view that I share. Since they don't define God in the least, I really could care less if it is on the coin.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Educating Our Children pt. 2

Okay, I posted this as a comment to Emily in my previous post , but became embarrassed by how it was too long.

"Early communion seems to be a taboo among us Lutherans."

Early communion is not as taboo as you would think, Emily. The LSB Agenda has a rite in it for bringing children to first communion BEFORE confirmation classes. It says that it was included because 25% of congregations polled were doing so. There also are a lot more pastors discussing this amongst themselves, on the blogosphere, and thinking about it in their own heads, than you can imagine. From experience and discussion, most of these are not liberal pastors, they are the most confessional, who are looking at our children, their ability, what the confessions say about when they should go to communion, and what our tradition was before the Enlightenment. I wrote about this in my post "True and Worthy Communicants"...with lots of references from The Book of Concord.

"I often stumble in faith like a blithering idiot and so I would much better trust the pastor who is ordained by God to speak His words and consecrate His sacraments as the one to instruct my children (and myself)."

Me too. I also often don't express myself well when dealing with those professionals I talked about in the previous post. But I get the job done.

I am not saying that the pastor is one of those guys who seek to tell you what is best for you and tries to circumvent your knowledge and instinct. Generally, confessional pastors have a really healthy view of trying to feed their flock so that their faiths are strengthened and that they have a rich understanding of their theology and heritage so that they can pass this on to their children and learn to rely on God's grace in their daily lives.

I am not saying that we should isolate ourselves or our children from the teaching in the congregation, nor am I saying confirmation is bad. What I am saying is that the primary role in bringing up our children in the faith belongs to the parents, who are guided by Scripture and their church. The pastor and the congregation do have a role in educating ALL of us, but DAILY prayers, Bible Stories, and catechesis can be done from birth on (A very simple way to do this is through Martin Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers and for asking a blessing at start off with). When a child is taught whether something is right or wrong, Biblical teachings can be brought in (when I was discussing the Jesus Tomb thing last week with my son, my 4 year old said "sounds like they are bearing false witness), when they do something wrong, helping them ask each other for forgiveness, granting forgiveness, and emphasizing Christ's forgiveness for all of us can be done...discussing controversial issues or evils in the world and explaining God's command and even mocking the foolishness of the worldly perspective (as Chrysostom points out) - not in a sermonish way, but in a simple way. Giving thanks for God's gifts, etc. When this is done, children often are ready and desirous to receive Holy Communion well before the non-Bibical age of fourteen.

As Deuteronomy 6 says: "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down,and when you rise."

This is what is important, that our faith is woven through and guides our daily family life, because if it is a once a week activity, and if it is not shown to be of utmost importance to the parents, then you can have all the once a week classes that you want, but they are not being truly "raised in the faith" and you are fighting against messages that they get the other 6 days of the week.

Look at what the Small Catechism says at the very beginning "For the Head of the Household to teach his family." It is not Lutheran to leave this completely to the church. For a deeper explanation of this, see Luther's Short Introduction to the Large Catechism. Luther knew and wrote the Catechism in order that families would raise their children in the faith on a daily basis. He clearly expresses this. Confirmation should not be the first time your kids see the Small Catechism, and many pastors bemoan that the confirmation class becomes a time when they are teaching kids the very basics of the faith (the 6 chief parts and what they mean), rather than leading them through the Large Catechism and the Confessions so that they can deepen that faith.

This is done in the context of the church life, not as an exception to it. If you can't do this, pray that God guides you. Because the Bible is really very clear that teaching your children the basics of the faith is not your pastor's job, and at your children's baptisms, you pledged to raise them in the faith. It is the job of the parents. You are the one that interacts with your children on a daily basis. The pastor gets once a week, and often very little before 7th and 8th grade. You are the one who knows your children and knows what they need, the best way to teach them, etc. You love them more than the pastor does. God meant for you to have that role. It is repeated over and over again in the Scriptures.

Know that you have the Holy Spirit blessing it, too. When you are being fed with God's Word and partaking of the Sacraments, your faith is being fed and strengthened to perform the vocations God gave you. If God gave stumbling, stuttering Moses the ability to confront Pharoah and lead His people for 40 years, then He can surely help you raise your children in the the full context of being part of the Body of Christ. And very few pastors would tell you otherwise.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Educating Our Children

Often times, when discussing how to create a situation where our children can come to communion earlier than the standard 14 years old, it comes down to this point:

If the parents were training their children in the faith, then they could be brought to the table earlier, because they would be prepared so much earlier.

God has instructed in Deuteronomy 6, as well as so many other places, that this education should flow through our daily lives. It is clearly the parents' primary responsibility, to raise the children to know the Lord. Yet often, little is done until they are dropped off at the door for confirmation, and even less is done afterward.

I've heard it recently suggested that the public schools (and even the private schools) leave parents feeling completely incompetent in their ability to educate their children. I maintain that it happens way earlier than that.

I remember when I got pregnant. All of a sudden, every movement I made was accountable to my obstetritian, and it often didn't seem like I was doing the right thing. I was examined, told when and what tests I was to have, even though most of them were completely unnecessary. Often, this was done while wearing a paper gown, while lying on my back with my legs spread. Talk about a bad time to "have a conversation about it." Then the doctor was out the door.

Pregnancy books inundated me with the "right" way to do things, and so much information about breastfeeding, and confusing information about bottlefeeding, all the equipment that I would need....and then there was the added implication that if I did not follow my doctor's advice, I was being irresponsible, whether they were referring to my obstetrician or whatever pediatrician that he would be referring me to.

When a woman expresses her wants about how she wants her birth to go, often they are disregarded It is the doctors' and the nurses will that reigns supreme in most cases, especially for a first time mom. A mother who wants a say in how her birth is going to go is treated as an idealistic dreamer who does not understand what is going on. I remember when we had our son, my husband had absolutely NO rights, except that he was allowed to be there, by virtue of my will, because the state of families and illegitimacy made it so that he was not important in the least, legally.

This does not end when the baby is born. As a breastfeeding counselor, I often hear from moms who had to fight to room in with their babies, whose efforts to breastfeed were undermined by a nurse who didn't trust natural processes and imposed a bottle.

Going to the doctor for those well-baby check ups, the doctor doesn't advise the mother on how to watch her baby to determine whether the baby is ready for solids based on any scientific or common sense information. Doctors regularly delve into the realms they received little to no training in such as proper breastfeeding(most pediatricians receive less than a 1/2 hour training in breastfeeding, and often, that is voluntary); when to introduce solids (information that is not taught in medical school, but they receive from Gerber and formula companies); and frequently distribute advice on whether to let a baby "cry it out," etc. All of this while making the mother feel guilty on issues that the doctor really is only giving his opinion on as a human being....not anything truly medical or related to the training he received. I had a neighbor whose pediatrician stuck so closely to the weight/height tables that he wanted their 3 MONTH old baby on a DIET, and would not allow the mother in the room when he conducted his exam. He gave her checklists on things to pay attention to that she had to account for when she came to the next visit.

Throughout all of this, we still have the baby books, the commercials, and the ads telling us exactly what our baby needs to be beautiful, intelligent, and delightful. And only rarely is this advice "your baby needs your love and guidance." Usually it is this particular toy, this special video. We are put up in arms if our baby crawls at nine months instead of at eight months...because the developmental charts are saying "eight is normal."

Rarely is a mother told to just sit back and enjoy her baby. "Is he curious, is he interactive? Watch how he tells you what he needs!" The very things a parent needs to do in order to establish that relationship with their children in which they can take control and grow confident in their relationship with their child. Instead, parents are made to feel that at any time, they could breathe wrong and cause permanent physical or psychological harm to their children.

Eventually, we are told we should hand them off to the preschool teachers, because socialization is ever so important at that age, and there is something wrong with Junior if he'd rather be with Mommy....that needs to be fixed. Mommy is overprotective, too, if her heart tells her that Junior just isn't ready yet. And then its off to the schools, where for the next twelve years, parents are often told that if something is going wrong with Junior, it must be what is going on at home, and that since the school is doing everything they can (maybe) to shelter Junior from lice, bullies, and hurt feelings (and sometimes even Mom and Dad) that any criticism that comes their way is unfair and unwarranted.

Parents don't feel like they can educate their children because I think many, without even realizing it, never quite became aware of how little their children belonged to them in the first place, or at least how much they were made to feel that way.

So in the end, these parents just don't know where to start. Actually being the one to teach anything that goes beyond instinct (because even potty training, the first behavior that is not entirely driven by instinct, is often taught by the daycare teacher, not Mommy or Daddy), is completely foreign and scary. So this needs to be approached with gentleness, simplicity, encouragement, and clarity.

After all, the opportunity to pass on our faith to our children is a blessing, it is a gift, and in this more than in anything else, we know that God is there helping us through our child's baptism, and through the very words we speak when we teach them about their Savior and what that means. Why would we want to leave that in the hands of the Sunday school teacher and the pastor? Why should they be the ones to pass on what is the most precious gift in the world?

I Don't Know What To Think About This

The Swiss accidentally invade Lichtenstein.....

I wonder which is more embarassing...that a country with over 330 years of neutrality inadvertently lets its military roam into its neighbor's borders...thus "invading" or that it wasn't even noticed by a country that doesn't even HAVE an army (wouldn't 170 soldiers then look out of place?).