31 October 2008

Dear Old Dad


--the guys who gave up grad school so they wouldn't have to spend even more time away from home

--the guys who traded boneless, skinless chicken breasts for drumsticks

--the guys who drive minivans

--the guys who decline to take up expensive, time consuming hobbies

Let them be anathema

--the guys who live with a woman who gains 40 pounds every other year and don't sulk about the disappearance of that one dress

--the guys who remember the grocery budget and head home when all the other guys decide to move the shop talk to a restaurant

--the guys who won't watch the HBO show that's all the rage even if, not being X-rated, it's not technically pornographic

--the guys who, even though they have to go to work in the morning, are already walking down the hall with a toddler when Mom wakes up to crying

Thank you, Concordian Fathers of Perpetual Parturition, for all this and for demonstrating how not to whine about it.

30 October 2008

Favorite sins of Concordian Sisters

A dangerously astute holy man was once good enough to sophisticate my understanding of coveting. It's not just wanting something that isn't yours. It's wanting something that isn't real.

29 October 2008

Good to hear

The Rebellious Pastor's wife has posted a warm narrative on the infamous topic of homeschoolers and socialization.

I particularly enjoyed her musings because, when I recently mentioned the possibility of homeschooling our oldest, the other party in the conversation immediately threw "what about socialization?!" at me. This was one of my very first real conversations about homeschooling...I can only imagine that those of you who've been at this for awhile grow rather weary of that knee-jerk "concern." So thanks to RPW for presenting such a positive perspective on community (and such an admirable way to obtain suitable spouses for one's children :) ).

Spooky Stuff

I’m still somewhat paranoid about poison plastic, especially since BabyGuy currently dedicates every waking minute to gnawing diligently on anything within his greedy grasp. All this talk of endocrine disruptors and estrogen-like compounds is enough to give a Boy Mom nightmares. For the sake of my future grandchildren (DV), I decided that ordering a couple wooden teethers was worth a try (though I’m sure he’ll still prefer old Tupperware lids, spatulas, and the doubtless toxic random pieces of his brothers’ toys that are lying about).

The inflammatory rhetoric surrounding plastic is rather difficult to wade through. For instance, I thought I’d heard that all pacifiers are now PVC/BPA-free, but then I’ll see statement advising caution in pacifier selection. Some teethers have “PVC-free” plastered all over them; but does that mean that all the rest are loaded with the stuff? I know that some toy manufacturers are voluntarily phasing out PVC in toys designated for kids 3 & under, but it seems unnecessarily difficult to pin down which and when. Sheesh. Someone’s always trying to influence me by playing on my relatively uninformed paranoia…rather appropriate for the run-up to next Tuesday, no?

So I’m interested in recommendations for safe/natural/organic/PVC- and BPA-free teething toys and/or classic, can’t-live-without-‘em natural/wooden toys for the slightly older kids.

Health concerns or no, one’s soul grows rather weary of all the cheap plastic junk, anyway. Anyone have any recommendations, or any inside scoops on the confusing plastics scenario?

28 October 2008

Varmint showdown: Rodent vs. Roach

We recently discovered, much to my husband’s amusement, that I scream like a girl when I see a mouse in my kitchen. Well, I am a girl, so there! Really, it’s the anticipation that is my undoing. I mean, I’m in my kitchen—a sacred space, also a space formed of myriad nooks and crannies—knowing that a mouse (or more!) is lurking, lurking, watching, waiting…shadows twitch on the outer edge of peripheral vision…the tension builds….[cue dramatic music]…EEK!

My story, and I’m sticking to it, is that I occasionally do something uber-helpless-feminine (e.g. “the mouse scream”) to give him the opportunity to be the Protective, Problem-Solving Man.

So I was trying to decide whether it’s more disturbing to share a home with rodents or roaches. We found more than our fair share of the latter (any at all being more than our share, in my book) when we moved into our first St. Louis apartment.

Generally, I find small mammals less disgusting than large insects. But while I tend to think of roaches as being inherently grosser than mice, I don’t think a roach ever elicited a scream from me. Those nasty bugs caused me great unhappiness, to be sure, and once I actually fled the apartment, tracked down my husband of two months, and informed him that I would not be returning to our apartment until he could present me with the death certificate of a certain mouse-sized (no joke!) roach.

Fortunately, thanks to my Protective and Problem-Solving Man (and the fact that we don’t live in a climate where the crunchy bugs flourish), our kitchen is a sacred, scream-free zone once again. (Well, at least it’s free of mouse-screams.)

27 October 2008

You know it's true love

when he buys you gel kneepads for your scrubbing comfort.

It's the little things :)

Growing on me

Between the brutal shock of learning to live with a baby 24/7/365 and an utterly horrible nursing experience my first time around, I really thought I didn't like babies. But now that I no longer feel entitled to sleeping in, having time to myself, or remaining fully clothed whenever the fancy strikes, I've honestly started to enjoy having one around the house.

The current specimen is over-the-top personable and his corpulence alone wins him praise and respect wherever he goes. But his predecessor, a much more cautious lass, was also a great friend to have around. She didn't think much of anyone else, but she liked me. They always like me. It's really nice of them.

Now if I could just figure out how to get along with 2- and 3-year-olds, I'd really have it made.

24 October 2008

Eating greens is a special treat

Even if I weren't conscience-bound by catholicity and all that, it would be worth it to generate my own busload of humans just to tick off environmentalists.

Dig in, kids!

22 October 2008

Kidults and other frightening creatures

I recently skimmed Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion against Low Expectations. DHT is, of course, written by “Rebelution” co-founders Alex & Brett Harris (twin younger brothers to Joshua Harris of I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame).*

And I just read some of the comments on Rebekah’s last post. Monique observed, “in our culture today adults seem to be more infantile than ever.” The Harris brothers employ a great term for such maturity-impaired persons: “kidults.”

If, as the Harris brothers engagingly assert (and I’m guessing most of us have already thought this), we’re expecting way, way too little from teenagers, then surely we’re setting the bar too low at earlier ages as well. “Kidults” don’t just happen; they’re the end product of years of parental indulgence and/or negligence. And part of that indulgence, sad to say, is the myth that the older children in a large family are somehow “robbed” of their childhood because they are learning to be responsible members of their family and community rather than spending aimless hours and wads of guilty cash at the mall.

What we need is a book like the Harris brothers’ for all stages of child development. For babies: Do Sensible Things: An Infant Rebellion against People Who Make Babbling Fools of Themselves When Talking to Babies. For the toddler set: Doo Doo Things: The Twos Rebel against the Idea That Soiling Oneself Is a Necessary Evil. For our four-year-olds: Do Things: A Preschool Rebellion against Lying on the Couch and Complaining of Boredom Despite the Fact That One’s Mother Has Provided a Wide Variety of Engaging and Educational Activities. Suggestions for other titles in the series?

So by all means, let’s break out the chore charts, and no apologies. I’m still new to the idea that my children can be productive rather than destructive members of the family…So tell me, what are the two- and four-year-olds out there up to? (I’ll give the 7-month-old a pass for the moment.) We had an Adventure in Carrot Peeling this afternoon, which I would consider to be a modest success, with the quantity of vegetables consumed mid-process tipping the balance favorably away from focus on the mess.

Back to the Harris brothers’ book: I’d definitely put it in the Book, Recommended category, particularly for parents of tweens and teens to read/discuss with their kids; a good one for the church library. If any of y’all out there have actual teenagers (a season of life that’s rather beyond my imagination at this stage in the game :) ) and have read DHT or have gone to one of the Rebelution conferences, I’d be very interested in your take on it. (Yes, I’m aware that they are Not Lutheran. Broaden your horizons, people ;) )

*Strange LCMS-small-world connection: The Harris twins, who were homeschooled, are apparently now attending Patrick Henry College and are in some group mentored by Veith.

The stabilizing influence of older children

I still think the worst was having two tiny ones. They both needed me constantly, and conflictingly, and there was no one who could find me a pair of socks or turn on the light. There was no flexibility because the older one needed regular meals and times and places and routines, and those things had to happen somehow when the baby needed to be nursed in the middle of them. And was there any greater tragedy than non-aligning naptimes?

Now I have a five year old. O blessed five year old! She brings me things! She wipes her own bum! She anticipates needs! And when she gets rotten, all I have to do is send her off to her room! It's so great. There's also a four year old with some commendable qualities. He's not quite as civilized, but he at least knows how things work around here and that he sometimes has to wait. These two anchors keep the house a lot more like what I remember as normal. It's not the formless chaos of one baby, or the mayhem and hysteria of two. It's just family life, and if the baby or the toddler has me occupied, things keep ticking where before the whole world crashed down around us.

21 October 2008

Jesus Lutherans Doth Receive

It's one thing for those of us with wonderful Father Confessors to go on about how wonderful private confession is. But the sad fact is that if a pastor doesn't know what he's doing, private confession can range anywhere from awkward to awful. Most LCMS pastors have probably never made a private confession. Of those who have, many were probably in a drive-by setting at a conference where they import pastors from the next district to sit in classrooms and hear random confessions for an afternoon. Few have Father Confessors, and few make confession with any regularity or preparation.

I've been blessed to spend my adult life in locales populated with faithful pastors who make and hear confession regularly, so I have always had access to experienced and capable confessors. But there are plenty of places where such shepherds are hard to come by. You don't even have to travel out of the midwest. So it's fine and good to exhort people to confess and be absolved privately, but it's hardly fair to come down on the people in the Bronze Belt saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"

I've heard some ugly stories come out of the confessor hunt. One pastor who was asked by a friend of mine to serve as a confessor received the request poorly and fulfilled the task reluctantly and artlessly. That's not an excuse to quit going, but it's not exactly the pastor/pentitent relationship for which a pious soul longs--someone who wasn't really sold on this popish-sounding confession business would not stick with it under such circumstances. Another friend had a confession horrifically botched by someone who apparently had no idea what his end of the deal was. It still turns my stomach to think about it.

Worst of all, stop an average pastor or seminarian on the sidewalk and ask him about the seal. If he hasn't been taught exactly what the confessional is and has instead obtained all his knowledge on the subject from syndicated episodes of Law and Order, he does not get it. There are LCMS pastors out there who do not think they should (and have vowed to) keep the seal if, for example, a crime is being investigated. That is criminal on the part of our church, and it's not right to send people running off to a confessor whose ears are anything short of sepulchral.

It's not as easy as telling people, "You should go to confession. Any pastor can do it." Sad but true, LCMS pastors haven't been trained for it unless they've sought out the training themselves, and most don't know that they should.

But as someone said in the comments recently, don't let your pastor off the hook. It is his job, so ask him, and be patient if you're both learning together. Take him a copy of this and say it got you interested and would he please hear your confession and pronounce forgiveness to fulfill God's will?

20 October 2008

A song for our election year

I had intended to post this following the third presidential debate, but, you know, stuff happened. Let's sing it now instead, shall we? Any tune you like . . .

The Candidates step up to preach from podiums faux bois.

I watch, entranced, their fancy dance, just shy of feeling awe.

Mere men they seem, yet sweet they sing of oil, taxes, wars;

They stammer grand, “Defend our Land ‘gainst free trade, guns, the poor!”

What treacly, august sounds they make! Each grunt a poignant promise!

Each man adept, each fully prepped to show that he’s aplombest!

The words they drop (Oh! Hear them plop!) fill up my head with blather;

Those well dressed swine, their visions fine, make current life seem grander!

The cloying song of politics, I wallow in its measures!

I strain my ears ‘round children’s tears to catch each aural treasure!

Yet in the end, I say my friends, there’s but one thing to do;

Since there’s no hope, just throw your vote to Old Cthulhu.*

Do not tremble, tasty mortals. O.C. is here for you.

*The Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition do not, in reality, endorse for president twisted, betentacled characters from the Science Fiction genre. Nor were any children neglected during the debates, though many bars of chocolate were desperately consumed. This is a joke. This is only a joke.

19 October 2008

From Pastor Preus

This clarifies things considerably. I apologize for my misunderstanding of Pastor Preus' words and subsequent freaking out, and I think we all agree that there are plenty of conversations which neither pastors nor women want to or should have with each other. Thank you, Pastor Preus, for your patient response, and Dr Heidenreich for passing it along. Rebekah

Erich Heidenreich has been kind enough to share with me comments posted in response to these paragraphs in a paper I gave this past June:

“But a deaconess can be a tremendous benefit to the church specifically in serving women in a way that a pastor cannot. While private confession and absolution is a great blessing to the church, there are matters that are simply inappropriate for a woman to discuss with a man who is not her husband. God only knows how many pastor / parishioner relationships that began with a woman confessing her sexual sins to her pastor were concluded by the two of them sinning sexually together.

“A woman can speak from within herself to another woman in a way a man cannot do. No, this is not the ministry of the word, but it is a blessing from God. A woman can listen, understand, and give woman to woman counsel that no pastor can give.”

The respondents have interpreted my words to say that I do not believe that a woman should confess her sexual sins to her pastor. I did not say that. After saying that private confession and absolution is a great blessing I added that there are matters that a woman should not discuss with a man who isn’t her husband. I was not equating confessing with discussing. In fact, I was attempting to distinguish between them. It is one thing to confess. It is another to discuss. All Christians should feel free to confess to their pastor all of their sins, especially those they know and feel in their hearts, and that includes women who suffer the guilt from having committed sexual sins. We confess our sins and God forgives us our sins through the voice of his minister. Confessing and discussing are quite distinct, in my view. Confession may entail further discussion. It may not. As I said, there are some matters that are inappropriate for a woman to discuss with a man who is not her husband. This is not to say that a woman may not confess her sexual sins to her pastor and receive absolution from him as from God himself. It is to say that in certain circumstances one Christian woman can give to another Christian woman the kind of counsel that a man either cannot or should not give. The “mutual conversation and consolation of brethren” may be offered by women to women.

I thank Erich for posting this for me.

Pr. Rolf Preus

Original CSPP-LSB literature, hot off the presses

Found poetry: an intriguing literary exercise.
Today's sampling: CSPP adventures in LSB, direct from the trenches of this morning’s pews.

Lord, have mercy
when the wild tempests rave:
Cure your children’s warring madness.
Take my life and let it be.

Guarding with watchful eye
Lo, the hosts of evil round us,
A countless throng,
Your sin deplore!

Receive our prayer:
For the facing of this hour,
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Save us from weak resignation.

For the facing of this hour,
the evils we deplore,
To Thee aloud we cry:
Have mercy on us!

For the facing of this hour,
Lord, to whom shall we go?
On Him we wait,
Cuz it sure seems like a lot longer than an hour today.

18 October 2008

Absolution update

Father Rick weighs in with his usual pastoral wisdom on the question of the confession of sexual sins raised below. Thank you, Pastor.

Christian News Fails To Advocate Breastfeeding

Photo in Christian News Shows Man Pushing Bottle Down Baby's Throat

A photo on Page 21 of the October 20, 2008 issue of Christian News denies the primacy of breastfeeding as taught in Scripture (Genesis 21:8, I Sam. 1:22-23, Isaiah 49:15 [AAT]) and as is evident to all people through Natural Law.

The blogger discovered the photo when opening the (continued below)

Best for Baby

A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula. Breast milk has agents in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses and to help them fight off infection and disease. Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile.

Best for Mom

Breastfeeding saves times and money. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula, and there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night. Breastfeeding also helps a mother bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and

comforted. Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds gained from pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size more quickly and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth. Breastfeeding also may lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

The U.S. Surgeon General Recommends Breastfeeding

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that babies be fed with breast milk only — no formula — for the first 6 months of life. It is better to breastfeed for 6 months and best to breastfeed for 12 months, or for as long as you and your baby wish. Solid foods can be introduced when the baby is 6 months old, while you continue to breastfeed.
(continued from paragraph 2) paper to use as a winter groundcover on her watermelon patch.

This is not the actual photo from Page 21
of the October 20, 2008 issue of
Christian News
because the blogger's scanner is broken.
However, the baby is clearly being fed
from a bottle by a man. The editor of
Christian News
has not yet responded to a survey about
whether he approves of bottlefeeding mothers
being on the LCMS deaconess roster
which the blogger is thinking about
writing up and sending to him.

It cannot be determined from the photo whether the bottle contains formula or breastmilk. The blogger acknowledges that there may be times when using a bottle to feed a baby breastmilk or even formula is necessary, such as when a newborn has mercilessly demolished some poor woman's breasts. However, CSPP disagrees strongly with the use of images and language which marginalize breastfeeding and normalize bottlefeeding. It is also unclear as to whether the bottle in the picture has an orthodontic nipple to ensure the infant's proper oral development. Dental health is another area of interest to CSPP.

CSPP retains staff lactation and dental experts whom they are pretty sure would back them up on these points.

The blogger will still use CN as a groundcover, but will make sure this misleading photo of weak nutritional and maternal confession is facedown so as not to confuse poorly catechized mothers who might see it covering the watermelon patch and think that it didn't matter if they used a bottle to feed their baby. The blogger typed this post with one hand while feeding her eight-month-old breastmilk without using a bottle.

17 October 2008

Blogkeeping for the unsavvy

When we started this grand blog experiment something like a year ago none of us really knew anything about blog etiquette and still don't. So let me just apologize right now if we've offended anyone with improper linking or something like that. It is due to pure stupidity, not because we don't like you.

So I'm attempting yet again to update our blogroll properly. What I've tried to do is link to anyone who links to us and/or is a regular commenter. But if we list you and you don't want us to (I know a lot of people's blogs are really just for family or are otherwise personal), just let us know in the comments or an email. Or if you have a link to us and/or would like to be listed and we missed you, again just let us know and don't feel like that's cheesy or something; we certainly don't think it is and we want to provide a link to anyone who would like for us to.

I can sense already that I've missed someone or otherwise screwed this up . . . help me out if you know what it is, and also let me know what I forgot to pick up at the store this afternoon, because I know I missed something there too.

The First Girl Ever To Learn Greek

Here's something I've been saving for all you nice people for a while. Comic relief relating to our popular topic.

The LCMS, famously not ordaining women and having an inferiority complex as a result, is populated by a group of young women, reborn in every generation, who think it's vaguely scandalous for women to pursue any kind of theological education. Thus each of them becomes the First Girl Ever To Learn Greek. And she makes sure everybody knows about it.

Back when I was the First Girl Ever To Learn Greek, I would occasionally run into older women, each of whom would hurriedly correct me: no, no, she was the First Girl Ever To Learn Greek, decades ago, when no women did! Also, many of them were the First Girl Ever To Teach Theology At A Lutheran High School. So that took some gravy out of my pot pie. Then I didn't do all that well in Greek (turns out it's a lot of work), and by the end of the second semester I was pretty embarrassed showing my face in class every day to a professor I really liked, not to mention my criminally Greek-geeky future husband who was the tutor. (To preserve my dignity: I did pass all the qualifiers. And to preserve my reputation, I didn't go in for much tutoring. ;) )

Next I got to the seminary and met a lot of other First Girls Ever To Learn Greek (and related species, such as the First Girl Ever To Major In Biblical Languages, and the First Girl Ever To Major In Pre-Sem At Concordia-[Wherever]). They were all extremely annoying and I started having myself some good laughs over all the First Girls Ever To Learn Greek, beginning with my own lame self.


My sister took Greek at a certain non-affiliated Lutheran college just for the heck of it (she's good at languages). There were lots of other girls in the class. When she shared this with all the First Girls Ever To Learn Greek she met in her deaconess classes at CSL, they agreed that those girls didn't count because they were all going to be ELCA pastors. Actually, my sister explained, most of them were taking it to fulfill foreign language requirements (unheard of at Concordias) or as part of a Classics major (unheard of at Concordias). The First Girls Who Weren't Going To Sinfully Become Pastors (Until The Rule Changes) Ever To Learn Greek were unimpressed. My sister, in statu confessionis against the First Girls Ever To Learn Greek, refused to learn Hebrew. Of course, the First Girls Ever To Learn Greek (retooled as Deaconesses Who Daringly Majored In Exegetical) now use that as a reason to dismiss out of hand every theological argument she makes, since most of them are about how deaconesses should mind their own d*** business and stay out of their pastors'.

Finally, at and around the seminary, female scholars would occasionally appear at conferences and whatnot. They didn't give two rank diapers about Exegetical majors or parsing. They were actually smart so they didn't have to. Yet another note to self . . . .

If you ever run into a First Girl Ever To Learn Greek, do her a favor and mention how well your homeschooled 11-year-old daughter is doing with it.

This is just another hazard of LCMS parochialism. At least it's a funny one. If I had it all to do over again, I'd major in Systems. Of course, I'd be the First Girl Ever To Learn Latin And German.

15 October 2008

And another thing

[warning: knee jerk rant follows]

So long as we’re on the topic of this essay, here’s a section that made me blink:

Are there certain offices the church may create that are especially suitable for women more so than for men? Yes, there are. I am thinking specifically of the office of deaconess. It is not necessary, probably not even desirable that a deaconess be given her theological training by an institution of a synod. It certainly isn’t appropriate for men who are studying to be pastors in the church to be sitting next to women during their seminary training as these women receive instruction to be what God forbids them to be. A church that does not have a pastor competent to give a deaconess the theological training she needs is a church that should not have a deaconess.

By this standard, I’m doubly wicked: I sat next to men in seminary classes, and I wasn’t even at Sem for the “permissible” goal of being a deaconess. No, I was there because I wanted to know, and hopefully serve, my Lord better; in a weird way I was also doing it as prep for being a pastor’s wife. [NO, I’m not claiming that pastors’ wives must formally study theology, or be “co-partners” in their husband’s ministry or anything like that…I’m just talking from my particular situation and marriage.] ’Splain to me how that means I was “receiving instruction to be what God forbids me to be?” I humbly acknowledge that I am, in general, more than doubly wicked; yet in this particular instance I find that my conscience is clearer than its usual wont.

Does the objection to women studying at seminary center around the fact that the presence of women will somehow distract or lead astray the men? Hmmm…as provocative as the tent-draped pregnant form is to the general public, I never seemed to create much of a stir among all those future pastors as I slid quietly into the back row each day. Wait—I do recall a time that I clearly distracted the man sitting next to me. He asked when the baby was due. I smiled and truthfully replied, “Today,” whereupon he turned rather pale and—no joke—scooted, ever so subtly, just a few inches farther from me. Fortunately for him, Boy the First was (un)fashionably late.

[Excursus: I’m appalled that our seminary felt compelled to add desks designed to accommodate “seminarians of larger girth,” but those extra inches do come in quite handy in the third tri.]

“Certainly isn’t appropriate”—them’s fightin’ words; what else can they mean but that it’s wrong, a sin for women to study at seminary? And how far back does the “inappropriateness” go? Was it also wrong for me as an undergraduate to sit in classes with pre-seminary students—men who were studying to be pastors?

Is there something huge that I’m missing here? Perhaps the various Reverend Bloggers will have something to say on this point, as well.

What really made me blink is the implication that it’s preferable for a deaconess to receive her training from her pastor, rather than from seminary. Say huh? If we’re concerned about inappropriate situations, then why would we want to put a man and a woman into an intense, one-on-one instructional relationship like that?

Hmmm, indeed. I’ll go take a couple aspirin and try again to make sense of the world in the morning.

14 October 2008

Absolution, but not absolutely Absolution

While private confession and absolution is a great blessing to the church, there are matters that are simply inappropriate for a woman to discuss with a man who is not her husband. God only knows how many pastor / parishioner relationships that began with a woman confessing her sexual sins to her pastor were concluded by the two of them sinning sexually together.

A woman can speak from within herself to another
woman in a way a man cannot. No, this is not the ministry of the word, but it is a blessing from God. A woman can listen, understand, and give woman to woman counsel that no pastor can give.

Hmmm re: this quotation from Pastor Rolf Preus which was part of a longer essay posted to Lutherans and Procreation by Dr Heidenreich.

Our Lord established Holy Absolution to forgive sins and thereb
y comfort broken and contrite hearts. The fact is that women sin sexually. With all due respect to the Father in Christ whose words I'm considering, are women to be denied the comfort of Holy Absolution of these sins on the basis of inappropriateness? This seems particularly cruel since sexual sin often causes great personal shame and as a result can be uniquely painful to confess. But it is precisely that shame which drives penitents to endure the pain of confessing it.

The Catechism: "But before the confessor we should confess those sins alone which we know and feel in our hearts." The Smalcald Articles: "But the enumeration of sins ought to be free to every one, as to what he wishes to enumerate or not to enumerate" (3 VIII:2, e
mphasis added). I don't see an allowance here for awkward social situations, (arguably) excessive propriety, or potential temptations to the confessor or penitent.

What's a girl to do? The wicket sticket, but doesn't every child of God have a baptismal birthright to Holy Absolution of any and all sins that torture his or her soul? This means I'm not going to just have a chat about it with some nice church lady and pretend it's taken care of. "Not ministry of the
Word," then what's the point if what a woman needs is the Word of Absolution? I want all my sins loosed in heaven, darn it. And to prohibit women from confessing sexual failings to pastors stigmatizes these sins even more, inflating their natural shame.

What about glossing over, using euphemisms ("indiscretion," eg), confessing very generally under the umbrella of the sixth commandment? Eh . . . ok, but in my experience with confession, sometimes I need to get a whole story out and hear that the rotten thing I did, and the manipulative way I did it, and even the obliquely related catty thought I had while I was doing it are forgiven. Does a woman have to forgo this costly comfort when a specific sexual sin has br
oken her? Furthermore, there is always a temptation to euphemize and thus mitigate when making confession. My black and evil heart doesn't need an excuse to gloss over any sin rather than facing it head-on, as speaking it in plain words requires.

The peril: too perilous?

And what about those temptations? Hearing confessions is indeed risky business. Then again, so are many responsibilities of the stewards of the mysteries of God. Handling our Lord's holy Body and precious Blood, for example, or exorcising the unregenerate who would be baptized, puts pastors in spiritually vulnerable positions. Shepherds are like that. They expose themselves to danger to protect their sheep. Perhaps the danger could be minimized with some simple ground rules: don't socialize with anyone who poses temptation, don't hear confessions in hot tubs, keep your vestments on (especially that cincture). If a particular person is (unwittingly) a problem for a particular pastor, maybe he could find a priestmanly way to entrust her spiritual care to a colleague down the road. And obviously a "penitent" who is behaving provocatively is unrepentant. I believe the system has a correction built into it for this scenario.

Maybe one of the Blackbirds or another pastoral type could take this up. I would really appreciate it. If any of you Reverend Bloggers are so inclined, email us or drop a heads up in the comments when you get around to it and we'll link back to your post.


"Are you going to have any more?" is an extremely personal question. Since when do strangers inquire as to what is going on in another person's bedroom?

Lay off, you pervs!

Captain Obvious, CSPP news: the parsonage.

12 October 2008

He gets it

The two-year-old, an affectionate if exasperating little creature, spontaneously rushed over to embrace me: "I kiss-a you! I kiss-a you! You're bee-YOO-tiful 'cuz I LOVE you!"

Reminded me of Gauntlets' magnificent, fabulous, wondrous "Through the Looking Glass" post from last week: I am beautiful, not because I am lovely, but because I am loved.

What a marvelous model of the Heavenly Bridegroom is my own husband--and what a wonder, what a challenge, to see how early our children perceive and imitate the example of our lives.

Excuse me for being unsympathetic

Feed me...or else......

If you have neglected your ox--if you have not fed or watered your ox, if you in fact have not even made a minimal effort to educate yourself on the proper care and feeding of your ox, and have repeatedly refused others' offers of help--your ox will wander off through the fence you didn't bother to mend and fall into a deep, deep well. Why are you so surprised when this happens?

Inevitably, as has been previously noted on this blog, this "emergency" will occur on a Sunday afternoon.

Because he is a good shepherd, my husband will come to help you with your livestock issues. Because I'm trying to try to be a good shepherd's wife, I will do my best not to begrudge this preventable absence. But perhaps, once your ox is resuscitated, you will take a moment to consider why a wiser generation than ours was so insistent on the point that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

10 October 2008

Remember when

the children and their governess took their meals in the nursery until the little darlings were civilized enough to join the adults?

What--you don't believe this is, or ever was, or ever will be, my house?

09 October 2008

Through the Looking Glass

In the history of this blog, there has been some talk about an issue dear to our hearts. There’s been a lot of talk about this very issue in my house lately. Conversations go a bit like this:

Me: Wow. I look very like a whale.

Him: You’re lovely.

Me: I’m HUGE! For crying out loud! I have, like, half a year left! And I’m already carrying a watermelon! (turning around) Two watermelons!

Him: You’re beautiful.

Me: I can’t believe this. What am I going to end up wearing?!?! I’ll stock up on tarps. Big tarps. I’ll cover the windows and doors of this room in tarps and stay under the covers all day.

Him: Darlin’, shut up.

Now, don’t misread me. I’m not looking for a forum to discuss my fabulous, gibbous beauty as, objectively, I was neither born with it nor is it Maybelline. What I do want to point out is my husband’s rather endearing habit of thinking of me as “lovely” in spite of my “never the same river twice” figure and in spite of the good view he gets of those swimsuit models in the diet ads that keep popping up on our homepage. He seems to like me, and God bless him, he is not about to let my constant self-hag sessions stop him from saying what he thinks. I am deeply grateful to have this man as my husband, and not only because he’s so nice.

More to the point: I’ve had some time (at 3 a.m.) to think about the impact of my words upon my marriage. And because I can, I’m going to share those thoughts with lucky, lucky you.

Most women I know naturally want to be admired and appreciated as beautiful. We do not wish to be leered at with those poor creatures on the Victoria’s Secret runway; we want to be genuinely appreciated—Venus rising from the sea foam, chaste, pure, lovely, and loved.

Such appreciation is not achievable in the minds of the general populace. The boys who looked upon us--who today look upon our daughters—as innocent girls fresh from the sea foam, thought: “Smoking hot, made to order with onion rings at Appleby’s.” Regardless of hair color, height, jean size, and modesty, there is no avoiding it. Shudder The general populace is such a vile thing.

The gods that feed the depreciation of feminine beauty are too numerous to be named. Their prophets are everywhere, from cosmetics counters to Super Bowl commercials, and their message is very, very loud: You do not measure up. You are old. You are just a baby. You are fat. You don’t fill out a swimming suit. You are in desperate need of this product, this outfit, this surgery, this diet, this pill, this technique, this shampoo. Buy it, do it, wear it, strut it, sister, or no one will ever, ever love you.

We then carry these prophecies into our homes and into our relationships with our husbands. We look in the mirror, stand on the scale, or accidentally fall into a triple-layer dark chocolate strawberry ice cream cake and we just can’t help but reiterate all we’ve heard: I’m old. I’m fat. I’m scarred. I’m ugly. I am not worthy of anyone’s appreciation. I cannot be loved.

On the other hand, the good, Christ fearing, long-suffering husband does not see what his wife has been taught to see. He sees the wife of his youth, the mother of his children, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. How frustrating, how infuriating it must be for him to hear his most precious possession wrongly called worthless, to hear the object of his love called not worthy of love. How devastating when those terrible words drop from the very mouth of his bride, her features twisted as she spits at her reflection.

I daresay Paul’s admonition to submit to one’s husband comes into play here. Note to self: shut up. When your husband dares speak his heart and tell you that you are beautiful swallow the bitter pill of your disagreement. What you think is not of any importance whatsoever, for it is the filthy residue of that first lie hissed into the ear of our mother, Eve. Your dear husband is your head, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and what he says is not only final, it is truth. You long to be loved, appreciated, seen as one who shares in the very image of God. Here is a man who sees your flaws, your scarred up flesh, and by the grace of God sees with eyes of faith that which you already are in Christ. What a great gift you have been given in this husband who, as a metaphor of the Bridegroom, declares that you are worthy, whom Christ in His mercy uses to communicate the fact that your not yet is now.

Marriage is great. Here’s to casting off the corset in favor of the crew neck. Come next brownie night, I’m really going to enjoy my half of the pan. ;)

08 October 2008

More ground rules

5. Do not feed my kids.


7. Even that! Especially that!

8. Yes, I'm mean.

9. If you think you must feed my kid something, ASK ME FIRST.

Still confused? Allow me to explain. Some kids are picky. Mine are not. They will eat anything. They will eat everything. They will eat themselves sick. They will eat if their bellies already hurt. They will eat themselves explosive. Only one of them is beginning to develop an off switch. And the baby is a BABY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD DO NOT FEED HIM ANYTHING!!!!

(And although I cite non-pickiness as the reason my children must not be fed by anyone but me, I would guess that parents of picky children don't want you squandering their kids' limited willingness to participate in consumptive life on whatever schwat it amuses you to stuff into them.)

Furthermore. We have a house rule about treats and vegetables. So don't give my kid a treat if she hasn't met the requirements for it. I don't undermine your attempts at good parenting when your back is turned. Also, I'm sorry if you don't consider the treats we have around here treat-worthy. Feel free to eat all the treats you like at your own house. Please note that my children are quite happy and sturdily constructed without having Tootsie Rolls crammed down their gullets all day.

If you still don't get it, ask yourself, do I want someone feeding my precious Fluffy the chocolate bars and pork rinds she so enjoys when I love her too much to give her anything other than her Iams® Veterinary Formulas Weight Control D - Optimum Weight Control™?

Precious Fluffy

By the way: many kids have allergies, so you should never feed someone else's kid anything anyway.

Finally. If you feed my kid something messy behind my back and I'm still trying to get the stain out of what was a perfectly good article of clothing, please know that I am thinking mean thoughts about you every time I go at it with yet another stain remover.

07 October 2008

Some ground rules

1. If I don't know you, don't try to touch my baby. Just because I occasionally look pleasant doesn't mean I won't bite you if you reach for my baby.

2. If I do know you and you would like to touch my baby, please confine yourself to playing with his feet. They are just as pudgily squeezable as his hands, and less likely to go directly into his mouth along with the germs from everyone whose hands you just shook. Stroking his punk-spiky hair is also a fun, acceptable alternative.

3. If I do let you hold my baby, don't interpret that as permission to offer him your fingers to suck. Do I know where your fingers have been? Do you even know? There's a reason I attach a pacifier to him when he gets passed around. (Exception clause: Grandparents With Clean Fingers.)

Need I add how immensely (albeit discreetly) gleeful I am when BabyGuy glurks on Scofflaw Babysnatchers?

Remember when

vacation included time for aimless relaxation and a few good books?

She who blogs crabs twice

Why can't we just smile and wish the gentlemen well when they say they're going to go do something they like this afternoon? This is so obvious. Because we never get to go do something we like.

Men can leave. The perpetually parturitional can't. They are always pregnant, and thus bringing a baby and the associated discomforts and restrictions along, or (more often) nursing, and thus unable to be absent for more than a few hours, and totally unable to be absent without thinking they shouldn't be.

I've been pregnant, nursing, or both since March 2002, which means I'm barely out of my rookie years on a CSPP scale. This is why I have something like absolutely no sympathy for the "I just need some down time" argument. Believe me, I need some down time. But there is no way for me to get it. So it turns out I don't need down time. And you're going to have a really hard time convincing me that anyone else does.

NB, guys: she can't complain as much if your hobbies are edible.

I get it that life isn't fair, so all this isn't to say that a certain man in my life doesn't get his afternoons, days, and weekends away. I try not to resent it, but that really hasn't started working out for me yet. So I try for the next noblest thing, which is not to ruin it for him by crying, screaming, throwing things with the conscious intention of breaking them, and shrieking about how sick I am of all this and how totally unfair it is that he gets to not only occupy himself with employment of his choosing, engage his mind in exercises both practical and academic, socialize with colleagues, and participate in adult life (including interaction with women who would not debase themselves by living as I do), but also casually announce that he'll be gone at these times for this number of days to do things that he enjoys doing. Right now I'm generously ruining it for him only with dark moods and snippy reminders of my endless sacrifices whenever I see opportunity to slot one into a conversation.

I'm sorry to say that I weigh each paternal absence with miserly precision in units of self-determined necessity and reciprocity, and the children suffer under the foul moods that result when the number I come up with is low.

06 October 2008


This is a weird time of year to say it, but I was thinking about it for whatever reason.

Of all the scenes of our Lord's Passion, one that has always struck me as singularly, achingly, pathetically terrible is the Deposition. It's a picture of something we've all felt, and it is so emptying and defeating: as if we haven't been through enough already. It's looking at the huge pile of dishes after Thanksgiving dinner while everyone else settles in for a nap, having to deal with insurance companies after a car accident, being told not to get comfortable after the baby is out because you have stitches coming. The feeling is realized in the extreme at the cross: the injustice incomparable and colored with pure horror and anguish rather than just fatigue and annoyance.

The world's greatest execration, and yet there's work to be done. As usual, those who undertake it are the ones who most deserve to be spared the awful burden. Even the banality of evil we see here proven great.

01 October 2008

Job description

I'd appreciate being provided with one. What exactly am I supposed to be doing during these endless hours in my house?

1. Feed everyone.

Food prep and nursing take up several hours and cannot be put off for even one meal. I also get the impression that since I'm here I'm responsible for seeing to it that everyone eats sort of healthy things. Gardening and canning also fall into this category, so that's a lot of time in the summer. This is the only clear task on my list.

2. Make house livable.

The standards here are ambiguous. We're pretty much clear of outright filth, but I'm not exactly thrilled when someone drives up unannounced. Am I a bad interior minister if the bathroom sink looks gross? Or am I squandering my time and cleaning supplies on a vain pursuit if I go in there and spray it down after every toilet, food, or chalk event? I don't trust anyone who says not to worry what the house looks like, and I don't trust anyone who says my house should be clean. Also, decorating: merely pointless, or potentially criminal?

3. Rear children.

This is completely unhelpful language. What is the precise ratio of "actively engaged with mom" time to "supervised but self-entertaining" time that I should be engineering? If I spend an hour cleaning the kitchen after breakfast, and I go into the playroom and they're all getting along fine, am I permitted to take the baby upstairs and pack up the summer clothes? How many and what kind of activities should I be planning, or is that buying into the day care model rather than waiting for organic learning experiences to present themselves in our lives? Does it matter that I never read board books any more, even though we still have a toddler and a baby? How often can I just clean up the mess myself so it will actually get clean?

4. Am I missing something?

And could you tell me about the compensation package?