Showing posts with label Family Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Life. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

10 Minute Drill

It's late. I had (a very productive) worship practice tonight, got back late, edited PJ's article for Pillar (going up on Friday), finished editing and scheduled my own article for Pillar (a review of Kevin DeYoung's Just Do Something, going up tomorrow). That, combined with a simultaneous conversation with my younger sister on the telephone, pretty much maxed out my abilities for the evening. But here we are, because I'm committed: a blog post every day in October. The 31st should be #501.

A few of the things I've been batting around in my head today:

  • The difficulty of the transition into adulthood, relationally speaking. As many challenges as there are in growing up, I think the single most difficult (at least in our culture) is the readjustment in relationship with parents. I can say that both from observation—that is, watching many of my friends deal with the tensions there—and, sadly, experience, in that I muffed a lot of that transition along the way. There is a natural yearning for independence and the respect that comes with adulthood—but the way we go about seeking those things is often quite backwards. For me, it certainly was: demands to be treated like an adult are, well... childish. And thus, counterproductive.

    The challenge, it seems to me, is to learn how to honor one's parents even when disagreeing with them—how to seek their counsel even if you don't always take it, how to respect their opinions even when you think they're wrong, how to demonstrate to them and everyone else that they are a blessing from God. The transition is hard on their end, too: they have to learn how to treat us like adults, when our whole lives their job was to keep us safe and guide us in the right direction, in large part by making the right decisions for us. It can be a very rocky patch. Hopefully I will remember that in 20-ish years when Jaimie and I walk through it with our own children (God willing).

  • The simple beauty of the gospel is a marvelous thing. I've been listening to an audio book version of Greg Gilbert's What is the Gospel?—it's a fantastic book, and you should go buy it immediately—and I have repeatedly been impressed by how marvelous the Gospel itself is. This is a theme I plan to return to at length, perhaps tomorrow, because it is also something that hit me hard in my Bible study today, as I looked at just how imperfect David was: a marvelous foreshadowing he may have been, but in the end he just left Israel (and just leaves us, reading along) hungry for the real deal, the true Messianic King to come.

And that is all I have time for tonight. Not amazing, but not terrible, for 10 minutes. Sleep well, all. I'll be back tomorrow, with pithier thoughts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Weddings, Photography, and Writing

I edited—in whole or in part—three articles for Pillar on the Rock tonight. They'll all be going up over the course of this week. If you haven't stopped by in a while, you should; Pillar is slowly shifting in the direction of an online magazine (a format we've been close to for a long time). Among other things, we're increasing the number of authors we have writing for us, and offering some broader perspectives on Christian living as it relates to the church.

Due to helping with Anthony and Megan Plopper's wedding, I had little time to write last week. I anticipate having only a little more this week (on Wednesday evening), as Jaimie and I will be traveling to an in Colorado from Thursday through Monday. We will have some time with my family, and I will get to reconnect with a number of friends from Focus on the Family Institute (now the Focus Leadership Institute) at a reunion being held this Friday through Sunday. I'm looking forward to seeing both friends and family again. It will have been a good week for visiting; Jaimie's whole family came up and visited us today. We really enjoyed spending a few hours with them—especially since it didn't involve driving to Fort Worth.

One of the little ways I helped Anthony and Megan with their wedding was taking engagement pictures for them. I was reminded, in the two or so hours we were at it, how very far I have to go as a photographer. (I also recognized the one significant shortcoming of my current camera body: it won't do spot metering. When you're shooting in high-contrast environments, that can be a serious time-killer!) Below are my favorite two pictures I took that day. You can see the rest of the ones I've put up so far here.

While those two came out well, I definitely still have a long ways to go as a photographer. Unfortunately, I have more hobbies than I can manage to sustain at any given time. I have my often-mentioned web design interest (I just added some more functionality to Pillar last week, focusing on a simple but pretty new animation for the navigation menu and on post snippets on the home page), music, writing, and reading projects!

I mentioned early in the year that I was planning to write a string quartet based on the life of David. I have never been able to get that project off the ground, thanks to a combination of busyness and a general lack of inspiration. Despite spending a great deal of time mulling it over in my head, I could never quite get the ideas to gel. I've recently been contemplating taking the same idea and writing a full-scale symphonic work (probably totaling 30 to 40 minutes of music). Obviously, that's a huge project, and it would take me a while with my current schedule. Nonetheless, I'm thinking hard about attempting it. I know I would enjoy it.

I have a few other projects in the dock as well. In addition to writing the final post in my series on alcohol over at Pillar (a controversial one, as you can imagine), I am brainstorming a post on discipleship, outreach, and the relationship between the two. I am continuing to work on my essay regarding media, pop culture, and relational wisdom; with some writing time set aside on Wednesday evening I may even be able to finish it. 52 Verses continues to plug along nicely; fully 8 poems are live now—each one a bit different from the others.

I've also been reading N. T. Wright's massive treatment of the historical evidence for the resurrection, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3). It's good, but very thick and very heavy reading. I also have a Joyce Meyer book waiting to be read and reviewed. (Odd as that may sound, I make a point to read and review a wide variety of books, because lots of other people read a wide variety of books, and the most useful content on this blog is in the book reviews, at least in terms of the reasons people come here from search engines.)

Jaimie is contentedly working her way through the latter parts of The Wheel of Time, and I am enjoying watching her do so. The further she gets, the more we can discuss, and since the series is one of my favorites, that makes for a lot of fun conversations. She also keeps baking me good cookies—which is great, except that it makes it far more difficult to steadily lose weight in my bid to get in shape for a marathon someday in the future. My running speed steadily increases, as does my strength, but it would be much easier if my wife weren't such a good cook. (Even so, I am managing to keep on target. It's hard, but I'm getting there, and enjoying it.)

Speaking of Jaimie: you should go take a look at the most recent posts on her blog. She has a knack for hammering out spiritual truth in compelling ways that pushes me to do better myself in my own writing. Her most recent posts, It Is Finished and Baby, Baby are both exercises in communicating transparently, honestly, and Truthfully about the realities of this life.

With that, I am going to go; I have some reading of my own to do this evening, and I plan to be up at 5am and at work at 6am tomorrow. May God bless you with his peace, whatever your circumstances, and may his grace be your hope and strength in all things.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Long Process

I finished the duet. Or at least, I finished the semi-final rough draft of it. Four and a quarter minutes of music for clarinet and cello, a dance movement, written in about a week and a half. (That's why I am up late right now, and why I have not done much blogging in the same span of time.)

I will post a link to the piece once I get the recording of the actual performance of it (presumably in a few weeks). I have good sound sets... but they are still sound sets.

Yesterday was our one year anniversary. I will try to post some reflective thoughts on that occasion later this week. Tonight we enjoyed some of our cake, which was surprisingly good a year later (it was very well sealed).

I have a stomach ache. The two, gladly I suppose, are not related; I had the stomach ache first.

We will have another friend staying with us for a few weeks soon: the one and only Megan Tevebaugh, who is now counting down the days till her impending marriage to the equally unique Anthony Plopper. They will be living in the same apartment complex as us; it should be a wonderfully fun year (even as the next few weeks promise to be particularly fun as well.)

Sleep calls me now.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A man like David

I'm back, and life is at last settling down into something of a normal routine again. I'm posting twice a week for Pillar on the Rock, and trust me when I say that writing two posts a week is a lot more manageable than doing the web design. I was spending 10-20 hours a week working out kinks on the site design back when PJ and I were getting it ready to deploy. The four or five hours a week I spend writing, editing my own and PJ's posts (he edits mine), and posting links to them on Twitter and Facebook seem pretty trivial in comparison. Now the holidays are over, I'm back at work, and our personal lives have settled down a bit, at least for now.

So here I am, in the few minutes I have before heading off for worship practice, tapping away at my computer on my own blog. A shock, I'm sure, to my many (ahem, not-so-many) readers.

It is, as ever, difficult to express just how much change a year brings. Certainly this year brought more than most—transitions out of college and into marriage and the working world being chief among them—but every year has its share of challenges, victories, and changes. I spent less time writing poetry and music this year than in any year since high school, and I missed both. I missed spending long hours late at night tapping away at my blog, too, in some ways. Yet I would not trade my life now for the one I had before in any way. Though I sometimes wish for more hours to read and write and compose instead of programming, I count myself the most blessed of men for the wife God has given me and the life He daily provides. Besides, programming is a good job.

My resolutions this year are few and simple: diligently study the word of God, by His grace kick a couple of troublesome sin habits in the face until they truly yield, and read a lot of good books. My goals are a bit broader: they include studying Greek at least once a week and composing equally often. My desires, from playing guitar to ranking up in Halo online, well... we'll see.

This I know: God will do mighty things this year, even if I can't see them. I'm going to content myself with learning, as best I can, to be a man like David. Early in his life, a man said of him: "[He] is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him" (1 Samuel 16:18). That seems a worthy goal to me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mundane divinity

I was thinking yesterday, as I drove home from spending the evening with some friends, on how easily we undervalue the mundane. I run in, and have run in, a lot of very "intentional" Christian circles. We all place a strong emphasis on intentionally seeking out and engaging with others for the gospel. We tend to think in terms of living with eternity in mind. We strive to use our time in spiritually significant ways. That's a good thing, on the whole. There is certainly no lack of laziness and apathy in the visible church in America, right now, so intentionality can be a healthy counter to it.

On the other hand, I spent most of last week working, both at work and at home. I spent a good deal of time investing in my relationship with my wife, and a little with church friends. On the whole, however, I don't think the week qualified for "spiritually significant investments," at least from the outside looking in. On Saturday alone, I spent nearly 11 hours working on a blog design template for a project a friend and I are looking to launch sometime in the next month or so. The rest of the week looked similar. As you can imagine, there wasn't much conversation there. Neither did work afford many opportunities for deep discussions this week.

In short, my days were thoroughly mundane.

So, riding home, I was thinking about how I spent my time. I could easily make an argument about how the project I was working on was directed at a good spiritual goal. That's true, and it's an argument that holds water, as far as I'm concerned. But what about the time that I spend that isn't on that project? What about the time I spend writing code at work? What about all the hours I sunk into physics homework during the four years I spent in college? Could I have made a bigger difference in people's lives with an easier major? Could I have at least had more time to spend with people with an easier major, and could I now without this project? The answer to both of those last two questions is almost certainly yes, in some sense.

All of that begins to miss the point, however. We are called to glorify God in all of our lives. There is no separation in the minds of Biblical authors between the spiritual and the mundane, no Platonic or gnostic schism between the world of the divine and our own. There is just as strong a call to honor God in our daily activities as in our ministry activities. We are certainly called to minister to those around us. The need for clear proclamation of the gospel could hardly be clearer and could not be deeper. Churches have many holes in ministry that could be filled.

Yet that is certainly no different than it was at any time in the past two millennia of Christian history, or indeed since the beginning of time. Nor is God's sovereignty lacking, nor His ability to communicate to us through Scripture.

Three points that bear consideration as we think about what to do here:
  1. Work was instituted before the fall. Adam was set to tend the Garden of Eden before the serpent ever tempted Eve.

  2. Nearly all believers in God throughout all of history have been ordinary working folk. Only a very small percentage have been called to vocational ministry.

  3. Jesus spend over a decade of his life working as a carpenter in a little village in the backwaters of a small Roman province. I've no doubt there were "spiritual" things in that time, but the Son of God did no public ministry until His late twenties or early thirties.

My conclusion? —that perhaps God does not make the distinction that we tend to between mundane and spiritual activities. He calls us to excellence in all things, whether working for a paycheck, serving those in need, or discipling a younger believer. All of these have value before Him. I do not think that it is of no eternal consequence to provide for my wife, do good work for my company, and demonstrate character and integrity in my work. The consequences are different than for leading a Bible study, certainly, and we cannot let the mundane overwhelm the spiritual. Neither, however, can we cause our valuing the spiritual diminish our joy in and valuing of the everyday. It is spiritually significant to do work well, to study well, to fold laundry well, to do whatever it is that God is calling you to in this moment well.

We are not called to all do the same one thing well. Rather, we are called to do whatever one thing God has set before us well.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas, thinking...

It's strange, sitting down to type and wondering what to say.

I've alternated between periods of prolific writing and posting and periods of posting hardly at all. I'm not really sure what the difference is.

Some of it is simply circumstances, of course. The difference it makes to be dating and engaged is... immense. There is a time commitment that is simply absent when one is single. I recognize in this the seeds of Paul's comment that he wished all were single, "as he was". There's a great deal more time that must be devoted to the one we spend our life with. And, to be clear, this is a good thing. A married couple can reflect the gospel in ways that a single person alone simply cannot. That is, after all, the very reason marriage exists, as Paul reflects elsewhere.

So many things I have pondered of late. A sampling:

The greatest miracles in history:
  • The Incarnation of Jesus Christ - God takes on human flesh... permanently.
  • The death and resurrection of Christ - God the Son bears the wrath of God the Father, separated from the presence of God the Spirit, bearing the punishment of the sins of mankind.
  • The salvation of any one soul to the kingdom of God. (We miss this one more than we ought. It's big. Really. Stop and think about it.)

The purpose of marriage: to be a living reflection of the way that Christ wins the Church to Himself, and of the loving response of the Bride to her husband and Savior. I will never be Jaimie's savior, and she will never worship me as the Bride does Christ. Nonetheless, herein lies a glorious reflection of the way that Christ and His beautiful, redeemed Bride will relate for all eternity. And this I am honored to be a part of? Incredible. Undeserved, to be certain, this gift.

Family: a treasure of incredible value. I haven't words to express beyond that, and so I will leave it there.

The profundity of the goodness of God. I hadn't realized how deeply God had impressed this on me until conversing with my family the other day. We act in our own will - we disobey - we sin - because we don't truly believe that God is who He says that He is, and because we therefore do not trust His word. We do not believe that He really is sufficient for all our needs, and that His ways truly are higher than ours. We (I!) thus embrace lust and pride and selfishness because we (I!) do not believe that God's plan for sexuality and His call for our humility and His instruction of utter devotion to Him are really better. That ultimately amounts to a horrifying sin far deeper than those: we don't believe He is who He says He is. We don't believe He loves us - though He says it - and we don't believe that He is good - though He says it - and we don't believe that the reward of obedience is better than the immediate pleasures of sin - though He says it. In short, we don't believe Him God at all.

The glory of His grace: that for His glory and our good, He saves us from sin, from death - which we have ourselves [i]chosen[/i]! It is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and this not of our own doing... it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast! He has done this to the praise of His glory, not because we deserved it. Not by our works are we saved.

Yet His salvation is efficacious! It accomplishes something real. He freely gives us grace and faith that we might believe. And when that faith is given, it births rebirth and new life... it births works, as a clear and apparent sign of what God has done. The fruits of the Spirit are present in ever-increasing measure in the life of the believer, that God's glory might be shown in His mighty transformation of persons following Him. What was dead is now alive, and that by the selfsame faith given so freely. Praise be to God who has saved us with a mighty salvation indeed!

May the glories of God consume us! May we be daily more devoted to Him. May we deepen in our love for the Church, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our passion for together honoring our God and King. May we hunger for all the world to know Him as He is!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Missed notes

It is 2:22 am as I begin writing. Piano music by George Winston plays softly in the background. I have just finished - or rather, nearly finished - a quantum mechanics assignment, the final such assignment of my undergraduate career. Next semester the sole physics class I shall be taking is capstone; I will in a week have finished the coursework proper of a bachelor's degree in physics - no small thing, and certainly a thing not accomplished on my own merits.

And I find myself in a reflective mood. I suspect the music has much to do with it: long have I found George Winston's piano work to be among the best for inspiring quiet contemplation and thought. Not for nothing did I often model my early improvisatory playing on the piano after his playing. He captures ideas of seasons better than any similar modern composer I know of. Though not of great repute, though of simple style and developmental method, his works are of great value. They help me think.

In these hectic days, music that leads me to pause and ponder, to think... such music is a good thing.

This has been a busy and difficult semester, and it has flown by. It has been over three months since I proposed to Jaimie and she said yes, made me the happiest man in the world. It has been nearly a month since I finished the "final" draft of Destiny and Hope, my first orchestra piece in years. It has been four months, nearly, since classes began this fall, and it has been five since I last saw my family. I miss old friends that I see little of this year. I have learned how horribly selfish I am through the mirror that is my relationship with Jaimie, and I have seen God do great and mighty things in, between, and through us as a couple. I have seen my relationships with young men I care about deeply flourish in ways that surprise me, though it should not. I have been blessed to be a part of a ministry team in a ministry where God is moving - a ministry that, though my heart longs to move on to working in a church setting, is where God has put me, and where I thus work and work hard in this time.

God has taught me patience and endurance in some small measure this semester. More, He has taught me reliance on His grace in new ways, quieter and subtler than those that came before.

Often, come this time of year in this stage of life, it is easy to look back and see some grand sweeping changes in one's life, in one's character and constitution. Not so for me, this year. I see grand changes in my circumstances. Within, I see God working on my heart, less dramatically but for that the more deeply and more transformingly. He is rooting out sin, and driving me to my knees, forcing me to confront the terrible effects sin has, but more than that the evil that it is in and of itself. He has opened my eyes a little more to the sinfulness of sin. And He has continued to pour out His glory, to show Himself, to reveal just how great and how incomparable His splendor is. He has, in so doing, continued to transform my mind, shaping it to be ever more consumed with His agenda and His ends - to ultimately be utterly devoted to the glory of Jesus Christ above all else.

The OU orchestra recorded Destiny and Hope today. In that, in listening to them play and in listening many times over to the recording since then (12 times, according to iTunes), I catch a glimpse, though only the tiniest, of God's heart as an artist. I was awed as they played beauty where I had written beauty, as they captured quiet meditation and fierce pathos less than an hour after first hearing the piece. And I was sad, too, though not surprised, at how they missed notes. I marveled at how a single wrong note - an entry but a measure too soon, or a landing on a note a step too low - could destroy the carefully crafted beauty for that moment. I marveled, too, at how quickly they moved on once more into magnificent and compelling music-making. There is something striking and remarkable here: that we fragile little human people have been entrusted with the gift of reflecting the creative nature of God.

The universe sings. Most people thing such statements but flowery metaphor, but it's merely a statement of fact. (Perhaps merely is the wrong word.) Celestial objects, as they spin, have characteristic frequencies that correspond to pitches. I have often wondered, these last five or six years, if it would be possible, with some hard work, to synthesize from the relationship of perhaps the nearest 100 stars from the raw data into their connectedness and their musicality, and in so doing, to catch a glimpse of the symphony God has created for His pleasure. The stars never miss notes.

We, His great artistry, do. We live missed notes. We were made to reflect the very nature of God; His image is in us, placed there from the beginning. Now we are broken instruments, unable to be played properly; it takes the hands of a master maker to build us anew into beings capable of singing the Great Song.

My heart broke a little at every missed note, every gap in the music today. How much more does God's heart break when we miss notes with our very lives? How much greater is the the love - indeed, the Love - He has invested in us? And, as that orchestra did today, ought we not strive to play every note perfectly, to reflect rightly the intent of the composer?

I have missed many notes this semester. A recording would find my life a cacophony. Yet it would be a cacophony in which beauty emerges, not by the perfection of the instrument, but by the genius of the Maker whose instrument I am, and whose melodies and harmonies I seek to make my life's one song, as He remakes me to be a perfect instrument.

I pray you find yourself seeking harder after God Almighty in the days to come, that you are consumed once more with the mystery - for mystery it is - of the Lord of All come as a baby in a manger, the song of the heavenly host sung triumphant for the coming of God as a baby in a stinky manger. And I pray that you sing yourself the song of the redeemed, that you sing the glory of God with your voice and with your life.

- Chris

Destiny and Hope

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where I Stand

A little over a week has passed since last I wrote here. In that time I have thought through a great deal, prayed a great deal, learned a great deal. Not least I have learend a great deal about just how much remains to learn.

Over the weekend, I took another trip to Ft. Worth to visit Jaimie. The trip was wonderful, though it had plenty of trying moments. We had an at-times very intense conversation with her parents about our relationship and timing issues. Praise God that I am not who I was a year ago, a semester ago, even a week ago. Were I still, that conversation would have gone badly. I did not do perfectly, to be sure, yet God is faithful. And as Jaimie and I continue to grow together, to work through issues in our relationship and in each of our own hearts, I am increasingly amazed at what God has done and who He is, even as I am increasingly grateful for our relationship.

She is good for me. She pushes me in new ways, challenges me to pursue Christ more fully, inspires me to walk as a man. And I'm pretty sure that well over half the time she has absolutely no idea she's doing it. She is an incredible woman, on fire for Christ, and her heart for Him and for me challenges me immensely. And this is as it should be. I am profoundly blessed to be walking down the road of life beside her, learning to love her as Christ loves the church - sacrificially, life-givingly. It is a humbling thing, a wonderful thing.

My parents are an incredible blessing and encouragement to me. I learn much from their words and their example, and I am incredibly grateful to God for the health of our family. It is no small thing that our family - though we have our issues - is so close and such a place of Christ's love. I told Jaimie recently that there are only two places in the world where I can sleep peacefully and well: my own room and bed where I usually sleep, and in my parents' house. I am grateful beyond words for the restoration that God has done in our family. Ten years ago, I could not imagine what a marvelous thing God would do in our midst.

I enjoy working hard. Spending hours on end crunching code for a program you're designing can be frustrating work, but also rewarding. I can very much see how my father enjoys it. His example of hard work has been an encouragement to me. I've learned a great deal this summer about working hard on a task, and I'm still learning a lot.

Combining that thought with a previous one: I begin now to understand things my father has said throughout the years in ways I never did before. I begin to understand the passion he has for providing for his family, the strong work ethic he has, the concern he showed for my having a degree and a job with which I can provide. I see those concerns more clearly now because I share them deeply in a way that I did not before.

I had a hard day today. A presentation on my research went badly. And I learned a great deal from it. Funny what happens when I ask for God to make me more teachable...

In the pipeline: an essay on The Dark Knight (not a review; there are plenty of those), a review of Voddie Baucham's The Ever Loving Truth, a review of Howard Hendricks' Living by the Book, and thoughts on various things I've been studying in Scripture.

God bless you all; may His grace and peace sustain you, and may His glory consume you.

- Chris

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Valentine's day

My dad is amazing. I learn so much from him - about following God, about truly being a man, about what it will mean to be a husband and father. He's a good one, and getting better at both. I love him a lot.

His post about his Valentine's day nearly made me cry... so many answers to prayers I've prayed for my parents in that one day, so much that God is restoring and renewing and making better than it had ever been in their marriage!

I am blessed to watch it, blessed to be their son.

- Chris

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Prayer need

Please pray for Will. He needs it. Pray for his whole family, too, though - not just him.

- Chris

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Cool!

This is totally random, but also really cool: a 93-year-old woman is auctioning off half the town she and her husband started building over 50 years ago. Yes, a town they started building together. Here's the link: enjoy the read. (I hope I'm half that cool when I'm 93!)

- Chris

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Yes!

Urgent reading to be found right here. The Supreme Court just handed down its ruling on the 2003 ban on partial birth abortions. And it's really, really good news... praise God. It's the first fruits of President Bush's appointments of strict constructionist judges to the Supreme Court, and it excites me to no end.

(I know I'm going to catch some flack on this. I don't mind. Just understand that I hold the views I do because I believe Scripture supports them, as well as because of considerable evidence from psychology and sociology.)

Grace and peace to all of you.

Sourced: Mary Katherine Ham/Townhall.com

- Chris

Friday, April 13, 2007

Face-Off: Pair Debates Homosexuality


Here's an article you all might enjoy reading. I was honored to be able to participate in this, and blessed at how God used me. Certainly I can't take credit for the conversation going so well; God definitely orchestrated it.

Interesting point... she called me a Baptist. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ who's involved in a Baptist church and ministry, but one trend I've noticed in my generation of believers (myself included) is a distinct lack of denominationalism and a much greater interest in the solid teaching of Scripture and an emphasis on God-centered worship. If those conditions are met, the denomination is far less important. That's not to say, of course, that some denominations don't have tendencies to fulfill those requirements better or worse than others, but that denomination is less important than the fulfillment of the requirements for a Biblical church.

Anyways, bed time for me. Big day tomorrow - R.A. interview, work, class, and much else. God bless!

- Chris

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Important Correction!

As an important correction, when I posted that it was Colorado Amendment 44 that pertained to marriage, I was in error. Amendment 43 is the marriage amendment. The original post has been amended to reflect the correct numbering on the amendment. My apologies!

- Chris

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

As promised...

As I promised, I went ahead and did some independent research on the response made by Michael Medved to the claim of 49.7% marriage rates in the U.S. As expected, I confirmed his results. A massive number of the people not in marriages are simply people living alone - 26.9%, in fact. Comparing that to married persons puts the number of married persons in the US at almost 4 times higher than that of those living alone, unmarried. It's simple math, but math that the media has chosen not to do in the interest of supporting the idea that traditional marriage is outmoded and fading - that is, in the interest of supporting the redefinition of marriage.

What is perhaps most frustrating to me is how little people have done to clarify their understanding of the actual data. Websites like this one simply present the data in a raw form, without any context, historical or otherwise, and then irresponsibly misconstrue the information:

In 1930, fully 84 percent of American households included a married couple.

The 20th century, however, saw momentum build within such anti-marriage trends as fornication and out-of-wedlock parenthood, cohabitation, divorce, single parenthood and homosexuality—at the same that the stigma against all of these phenomena shriveled. Thus, over that period, the number of marriageless households increased, and the percentage of married households dropped: By 1990 it was 56 percent; in 2000 it was still 52 percent.

This is - or rather, ought to be - unacceptable treatment of something as important as the truth about the situation of American families. While the analysis has a certain amount of truth in it, it ultimately ignores essential facts that make the comparison rather fallacious. In the 1930's, it was hardly common for widowers and widows to live on decades past the deaths of their spouses. Today, it's quite common. I agree that there has been cultural erosion against the institute of marriage, but between the reality of the numbers given by this data, and the fact that marriage is actually stabilizing and in some ways becoming more important to people (cf. this years State of Our Unions report), we need to realize that the situation is not nearly so dire as it might be - as indeed it is in other parts of the world. And for that we ought to be immensely grateful.

On a related note, many states have constitutional amendments and or ballot provisions regarding marriage coming up this fall. I ask you to pray about exactly how God wants you to vote for candidates in terms of their support for (or opposition to) the defense of traditional marraige. I believe it's already clear how we ought to be voting on the aforementioned amendments (Amendment 43 and Referendum I in Colorado; I don't know the information for elsewhere).

- Chris

Really?

This caught my attention while reading Michael Medved's column today on Townhall.com:

That’s one of the reasons that so many Americans so readily accept the pernicious lie of the 50% divorce rate, despite the most recent (2001) Census Bureau figures showing that 71% of first marriages last till one of the partners die (see my blog from Monday). [emphasis mine]

I'm honestly not entirely sure what to do with that, other than go look and see if I can't find some confirmation. From his blog Monday after new Census figures came out:

This interpretation of the data is ridiculous, manipulative and profoundly misleading at a time when statistics show that at least 85% of Americans will eventually marry, and that more than 60% of U.S. adults above the age of 25 are currently married. Most unmarried adults are aging widows and widowers (a rapidly increasing number) or else young people below age 25 who haven’t yet married, but expect to get hitched eventually.


So what, exactly, are the “experts” talking about when they suggest that married people are now “outnumbered?”


The New York Times announces this conclusion in the following way: “Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority…The American Community Survey, released recently by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7%, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples….”


This may sound worrisome, until you realize that this highly touted figure involves households, not individuals.


To get some sense of the difference, imagine a block on a suburban cul de sac that includes six homes. Three of them are occupied by married couples; the other three are in inhabited by an elderly widow, living alone; a struggling single mom with her kids, and a swinging bachelor with a succession of glamorous dates. In other words, there are a total of six households on “Wisteria Court” and, like the national figures, only half of them feature married couples. But of the nine adults (total) who reside on this block, two thirds are currently married.


This little example illustrates the deceptive, dishonest way that major news outlets have decided to trumpet the new figures. Counting “households” as discrete units, two people who have been married for a long time are balanced by a single person who’s never yet married. The current decline in married couples as a percentage of all households reflects demographic factors concerning the huge baby boom generation: with more boomers counting as officially “unmarried” because they’re victims of divorce, or else widows and widowers.


The rest of the blog entry is well-worth reading. And, as I said, I intend to go looking for confirmation of this from independent sources as well as by looking at the data myself. (I'll get back to you on that later today, hopefully.) This information needs to get out, and quickly, because it says a great deal about the realities in our culture versus our perceived realities - and this at least is something that ought to be very encouraging to Christians attempting to make a difference in their culture.

- Chris

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To provoke a little thought

The United States today officially passed the 300 million persons mark according to the US Census Bureau. That's not counting illegal aliens in the US, of course, who pushed us past that number quite some time ago, by most estimates (given there are at least 12 million undocumented aliens here, you can extrapolate back a ways to figure out just how long ago if you feel so inclined). It seems like a lot of people... but as noted by the folks over at The Boundless Line, it really isn't, and in fact, our population, like that of Europe and Japan, is actually on its way to declining.

In the short term, our population will continue to rise, particularly as it is bolstered by the more traditionally family-oriented immigrants coming here from largely Asian and Latino backgrounds. Longterm, however, we're headed for the same situation as Japan and Europe, whose birth rates have fallen significantly in recent years, and now sit well below the replacement rate (which sits somewhere around 2.3 children per home). This is, of course, part of the ongoing reason for the Social Security "crisis" (there are many opinions as to the magnitude of that particular issue, and this post, at least, is not the place to go into them), and it will almost certainly cause other significant issues to arise in our future that we have not faced yet.

More importantly, though, as Candice Watters and Ted Slater variously hinted at and more directly pointed out in their blog entries today, they reflect a shift in our cultural mentality - far more visibly pronounced in Europe and Japan - that ought to capture our attention. In short, we are on the fast track to becoming a culture of death (some, like Ramesh Ponuru, would argue not only that we are headed that way but that in many parts of the country we are already there). This is disturbing on all number of levels. The Netherlands, for example, already have many cases of forced "assisted suicide" - that is, murder - by the very doctors once sworn by Hippocratic Oath to protect life. People supporting euthanasia nearly always conveniently overlook this fact, either from willful disregard or from forced ignorance. Abortion, too, is a significant issue in this culture of death, and will remain so. When we nihilistically value ourselves to the exclusion of anyone around us, it is all but inevitable that we will find ourselves (as we have) in a culture dedicated to "therapeutic" death. The Romans found themselves at the bottom of the slope we now tread in the days before their ultimate end. How much farther have we to fall?

- Chris