31 August 2010

So there.

I've smelled some smelly smells in my day, but I don't know if anything beats a rotten potato.

30 August 2010


OK, Anonymous from way back when who asked about women's suffrage. If you're even still reading, you'll have to forgive me. It takes me a REALLY LONG TIME to think about something. And to talk to everyone I want to talk to about it. And to decide how I'd put it. And then to type it up. And then to let it sit in my drafts while I think about it some more. And then revise and revise and revise. And then run it by my idiocy checker. And then let it sit in my drafts for a few more months. And then . . . . . . . . . . post.

Now, the Voters' Assembly as we have it in the LCMS today is a made up thing and Americanish and mostly silly. And that's why I've never been too clear on how to respond to the suffrage question because the Bible doesn't say, "Women shouldn't go to (or speak at or vote at) voter's meetings every first Monday of every other month at seven of the clock post meridiem." Suffrage is simply not in Scripture. All I could say was, I don't go and I wouldn't.

But now that I've done the thinking and the talking I'm doing the typing (and maybe even the posting). Here's what I turned up that was helpful. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is about congregational order. To keep order, we do things the Christian ordered way, that is, with men heading families as icons of Christ our Head. At home, the buck stops with Dad. He catechizes and calls the shots because God told him to, which means it's on his head if those things are done poorly.

Family is a microcosm of the local parish. The congregation is a family. So when the family units gather as a greater congregational family, the heads do the heading. They listen, they discuss, they decide what would be best not for themselves individually but for their family. If Mom is concerned about something, she can talk to Dad about it in the mutual love and patience of their own relationship, and he will weigh her concern like he always does, and make the best decision he can see. Mom trusts Dad to represent and care for their family wisely and selflessly at church just as he does at home.

Might I ask why the heck this post so long?

OK, but the hard cases: the moms without dadly care back at our control group, the microcosm, the family. Sometimes families get messed up. They don't have Dad at the head. Mom has to step up. It's not OK, but it happens. Although she is Acting Head, she is not a true Head. We can also factor in at this point the virgins and the widows.

Well, at church we're not so micro. There are numerous heads because there are numerous families, which means: that woman who has to step up at home doesn't have to step up at church. At home she doesn't have anyone to provide for her and protect her and in whom she can put her earthly trust. But at church she does. She has every other Dad looking out for her. She can take a load off and not worry about this world's cares for once in her life (just like the virgins and the widows and the abandoned did in Luther's day and Walther's day and every other day until 1969). If she's concerned about something at the parish, she can do what she can't do at home: take her concern to a man whom she trusts, and trust him to weigh her concern regarding the parish and make the best decision he can see. A woman whose husband or father has failed her is not as a result also failed by her parish family. At church she has the comfort only a woman has the benefit of enjoying, even when she has been robbed of that comfort at home.

Will the men of her church family fail her sometimes? Yup. In some parishes, it might be pretty often or pretty serious. But just as in a family, this is not license for Mom to push back and commandeer. In those hard, terrible cases of unfaithfulness, abuse, or abandonment, it is license for her to leave.

Why are we consummate Americans asking this Voters' Assembly question? Is it because we are concerned about our rights and having our voices heard? Because that's not how Christians think. The way Christians think is, in charity and humility, "My fathers and brothers have my best interests in mind. I know I can trust them because they kneel with me at our Lord's altar every week." It means that sometimes we live with the mistakes of others, even as they live with our mistakes. It also means that sometimes we learn that someone else really did know better, or that something didn't matter as much as we felt it did.

Here's the real money line I got from my favorite consultant: women voting in the Voters' Assembly is as disordered as mothers working outside the home. It's got a lot of problems. There are costs built into it, including a greater danger of slippery slopism into other disorders than in homes where it doesn't happen. But it's pretty far from the worst thing in the world. Every sane person understands that, and Christian charity guides us to put the best construction on any particular case of it happening.

But if it doesn't have to happen--why make it happen? And in the church, it just doesn't have to happen. So I don't go, and I wouldn't, even if I weren't the pastor's wife, even at a parish that "allowed" it. Not because it's wrong for me to go, but because I think it gives a better testimony to God's ordering of human life if I don't. I think it communicates trust and humility and the otherness of the family of God if I say of my parish family, "The dads/husbands will take care of us," even as I am blessed to be able to say that at home.

I don't think women who participate in Voters' Assemblies are bad people. I do think this is a very muddled topic for the American mind, which is steeped in the language of rights, individualism, populism, and feminism, and for the legalistic Protestant mind which thinks in terms of strict chapter and verse permission or prohibition rather than Christian prudence. I am not on a campaign to end women's suffrage by Synodical resolution, that most powerful catholic force, any more than I'm on a campaign to get people to eat more spinach. But I do think in my own private mind that eating spinach is good for most people, and I eat it myself, and if someone asked for my opinion on spinach I'd say I'm for it.

27 August 2010

Usage you can use: -igamy

Bigamy is having a second wife at the same time as a first wife.

ex. After hanging around with a lot of really nice people in Utah, he became a bigamist.

Digamy is having a second wife after having lost a first wife (through death or divorce).

ex. After a lot of court dates, awkward dates, and finally good dates, he became a digamist.

I've heard the term "serial monogamy" used to indicate digamy+, but I think I like digamy better. As a usage, obviously. Then again, trigamy appears less clear so maybe it won't work.

26 August 2010

My brain hurts

I actually have to plan when I'm going to think about things. Supper tomorrow: while driving to store. School thing: on walk to Post Office. Other school thing: while up with baby at night. School thing number 84: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Christmas stuff: next mending session. Everybody's clothes for wedding: while hanging laundry. Schwat I'm in danger of totally botching due to not having thought about: right now.

23 August 2010

Got luggage?

Thus wrote F.W. Boreham:

"It is part of the pathos of mortality that we only discover how dearly we love things after we have lost them…

"So is it with the lading and luggage of life. We never wake up to the delicious luxury of being heavily burdened until our shoulders miss the load that galled them. If we grasped the deepest philosophy of life a little more clearly we might perhaps fall in love with our luggage…

"Our load is as essential to us as our lunch… At any rate, it is clear that man owes as much to his luggage as a ship owes to her keel. It seems absurd to build her delicately, and then burden her dreadfully. But the sailor loves the heavy keel and the full freight. It is the light keel and the empty hold that have most reason to dread the storm. Blessed be ballast! is a beatitude of the forecastle.

"Such is the law of life's luggage. But the New Testament gives us a still loftier and lovelier word: 'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.' And these laws the law of nature and the law of Christ are not conflicting, but concordant. The one is the bud, the other is the blossom. For Christ came, not to remove life's luggage, but to multiply our burdens. It is true, of course, that He said : 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,' but He only invited them that He might offer them His yoke and His burden.

"Here is something worth thinking about. Christ gives rest to the heart by giving burdens to the shoulders. And, as a matter of fact, it is in being burdened that we usually find rest. The Old Testament records the sage words of an old woman in addressing two younger ones: 'The Lord grant’ said Naomi, 'that ye may find rest, each of you, in the house of her husband!'

"Who ever heard of a woman finding rest in the house of her husband? And yet, and yet! The restless hearts are not the hearts of wives and of mothers, as many a lonely woman knows. There is no more crushing load than the load of a loveless life. It is a burden that is often beautifully and graciously borne, but its weight is a very real one. The mother may have a bent form, a furrowed brow, and worn, thin hands; but her heart found its rest for all that. Naomi was an old woman; she knew the world very well, and her words are worth weighing.

"Heavy luggage is Christ's strange cure for weary hearts."

Recommended reading

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever got was that any book written before the 1950s is OK for your kids to read without your previewing it. Anything after that may have problematic content (there's some historical reason for this I can't remember; decency laws or something). This isn't just for big kid books. I can't remember how many picture books we've brought home from the library that I ended up hiding for the rest of the week. Here's a great article on how children's books have changed to justify and laugh at what would have been considered bad behavior in ages past. I got a kick out of Frances being contrasted with Olivia--my grandma never approved of Frances. She put the bad in Badger back in those innocent 80s.

Olivia, in our house children don't talk to adults that way.

21 August 2010

Stop me if you've heard this one ...

Folks, I’m running a bit too low on electrolytes to get jiggy with the fanfare, so I’m just going to out and say this: Gravida sum. EDD: Feb. something-or-other.

Rock on.
Hey, kid, boogety too!

20 August 2010

It's getting harder and harder to remember...

...but I'm pretty sure that there was a time in my life when the centerpieces on my kitchen table weren't composed entirely of amphibians and invertebrates.

Hey lady, are you gonna eat that cricket?

Second Annual CSPP Conference

It's been over two years since our last annual conference, so it's about time we scheduled another. To that end, the Second Annual CSPP Conference will be held concurrently with but not at all in the same place as day 2 of the Gottesdienst 15th Annual Oktoberfest. That's Monday, October 11 (and Gottesdienst is having Scaer, so it's worth your dude's time). The CSPP conference will be held at the Trinity Center of Trinity-St. Paul Lutheran School in Worden, IL. Don't worry, homeschoolers, there's no corrupting school that day. JK! Love you girls! :D

Unlike the other one, this will be sort of a real conference, by which I mean we sort of planned something. The basic outline is get here when you can and hang out. Kids play, moms confer (we're hoping for good weather so most of this can occur outside at the Old Timey Playground of Deadliness). Bring picnickings for your crew.

After lunch, and this is the cool part, we'll have a live interview and Q&A with a humble and gracious lady* who happens to be the mother of nine kids who all, get this, turned out OK. Babysitting for older children will be provided on immediate premises while we take in Mrs. F's wisdom for an hour or so (Babes in arms, tots up in arms, and any kids who want to listen or don't like other kids are welcome to skip the babysitting. If they could be kept something like quiet so people can hear our soft-spoken honored guest, that would be great. I anticipate being out in the hall the whole time wishing my kid would be quiet.)

This will be followed by more hanging out. If you stay too long Gauntlets and I will start acting rude to you. Actually we won't because it turns out neither of us are good at it in person, so it's really up to you to do the right thing. (We're still twisting Reb. Mary's arm about getting here too--no promises.) You'll be able to make it back to Kewanee in time for supper with dad.

RSVP to CSPP inbox with number who will attend and names and ages of children. There is no conference fee, but I'll put out a dirty cereal bowl if you want to toss in a few farthings toward the babysitters and facility. Formal midwifery services will not be available if you're thinking about traveling large, although I'm sure any of the adults and many of the children present would make a fine doula. You will also probably be put to work at some point in the day, and there will be crying and poop and stuff and it will be a big pain in the neck, so choose wisely.

If you're lucky, and if he's not going to Gottesdienst himself, you might spot a local celebrity running around the neighborhood in goofy shoes and no shirt.

*Prayers for the good health of this humble and gracious lady and her husband would not be amiss!

17 August 2010

Let's keep in mind

All we who are not primary researchers arrive at our decisions regarding what is safest, healthiest, and best on the basis of someone else's authority.

There is always an opposing view with research to support it, and always a question of whether the prevailing opinion prevails because it is conventional or because it is right.

To depart from the majority position is merely to exchange one form of credulity for another.

15 August 2010


Thanks to Kelly for these fine words of which I was reminded on this Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"One mother, one alone, did what was good
In worshipping the baby born to her"

14 August 2010

Three keys

From Starck's Motherhood Prayers:

"God has reserved for Himself three keys: the key to the grave, for nobody except God can raise the dead; the key that unlocks the rain in the clouds, for no false god can give rain, and no human being can cause rain; and the key to the womb, which nobody can open when the Lord has locked it, nor lock when the Lord opens it."

12 August 2010

I love a parade

I respectfully disagree with the decision to invite deaconesses to process at the service for the installation of Synodical officers for the following reasons:

1. The purpose of a processional is to facilitate the Divine Service; more circumstantial than pompous. Those who process do so for the purpose of carrying an object necessary to the service or because they will be performing some function in the service. Surely we do not have so many thuribles as to require a throng of deaconesses to bear them (particularly when every pastor of Synod has also been invited to process via the official invitation appropos of an installation, and no gentleman would ask a lady to carry something when his hands are free). As to performing a function, the function of a deaconess in a public worship service is the same as any other lay person: to receive the gifts of God offered by His called and ordained servants.

2. To single out deaconesses is arbitrary. It suggests some heirarchy among Commissioned Ministers. Why were teachers, DCEs, DCOs, and other CMs excluded? Whereas deaconesses are a subset not only of CMs but also laity, why not bricklayers, bean counters, bus drivers, or (as a caller to my house recently suggested) pregnant ladies? Or perhaps the deaconesses were selected to represent -esses, in which case waitresses, actresses, stewardesses, or blogresses could have been just as appropriately invited. Anyway, it's confusing and invites animosity.

In puzzling over this strange matter, I was informed that there are certain quarters which think President Elect Harrison does not value women highly enough and this move was intended to disprove that. Again, respectfully, I believe there is a better way to refute this absurd accusation. While the invitation is clearly intended as an honor, it is in the end tokenistic since the deaconesses do not have an official role in the service and therefore no proper place in the processional. Tokenism always brings the credibility of the token into doubt. But the Church can do better, for no one knows better than we the true value of every child of God and therefore has less need for cosmetic posturing.

The deaconesses would do well to say, "Thank you, Pastor Harrison. We know what you mean, and we appreciate it, and we know this is the kind of thing the world eats up. But you know us; we're much more comfortable in the highways, hedges, hospitals, and homes. What is our want, anyway? We want to serve. Whom do we want to serve? Well, the Lord's wretched and poor will probably be thirsty after that long service, so why don't we have some drinks ready outside afterwards? We'll be able to save our financially floundering Synod the cost of the wait staff and demonstrate the humble service for which Loehe saw a need in the church and world and fostered the development of the deaconess as we know her today. That's so Dorcas!" Or something like that. I'm sure any deaconess, as a licensed servologist, could come up with an even better idea.

And President Elect Harrison, if he is truly interested in serving the women of our church and world (which I believe he is) could inaugurate this task by doing something the LCMS (and the C there is for Chicken) has failed to do. He could apply his skills of scholarship and writing to a clear, unequivocal, Scriptural statement (not to say encyclical) of what women are given to do at home, church, and world; in celibacy, marriage (addressing both maternity and infertility), and widowhood*. He could reframe our discussion of women's service into an explicit confession of what women are positively given to do instead of a negative campaign against women's ordination.

Such a statement could render the benefit of cutting into the "how far is too far" games currently being played in our church body which are effectively turning the LCMS into a technical virgin. Such a statement could help make the LCMS the place where women are valued for what they do naturally, rather than narrowly frowned at about what they cannot (which merely provokes more mischief) or transmogrified into imitation dudes. And such a place as that could make a woman happy to say, "Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord. Let's rock the cradle roll!"

*For all the feminist readers of this blog, of whom I'm sure there are scads: why are women being considered only according to their marital/reproductive status? Because when God tells Adam and Eve "Be fruitful and multiply," He's giving Eve instructions very different from those He's giving Adam. That's just how Christians roll; thanks for asking! :)

10 August 2010

When life gives you caterpillars

They will make frass. Loads and loads of it. Unbelievable quantities of it. You will mutter to yourself, How can three little caterpillars possibly produce so much frass? You will have to clear it out, every single day.*

And you will have to feed them, from the herbs you were intending for another purpose, every single day. You will grumble, How can three little caterpillars possibly eat so much? And why do I feed them, when it just turns into frass that I must then clean?

Then, without regard for your science lesson schedule, the little buggers will pupate overnight, so you can’t even watch them do it. You will wake up and discover these brownish dull things taking up space on your counter, completely insensible to your careful plans, to say nothing of your preferred décor. At least they’re not frassing everything up anymore, but neither are they making much of a positive contribution to the household economy. How long can this go on?

But then—oh! A crack in the chrysalis—the wiggle of a wet wing!
You will hold your breath at the glimpse of a miracle in the making.

In the blink of an eye, the frass is forgotten, as improbably metamorphed beauty takes flight.

*On the bright side, frass is neither stinky nor goopy. In fact, I’ve read that it actually tastes like what the caterpillars eat, in which case our caterpillars’ frass would have been parsley-flavored. We decided not to test that particular factoid, so do let me know, intrepid readers, if you verify that.


How long after the birth of her baby can one classify herself as postpartum? Possibilities:

1. Medical/societal: 6 weeks. Once the doctor signs off on you, people expect business as usual.

2. Emotional: varies. Probably between 3 months and 2 years.

3. Gravitational: as long as weight is going down. Let's call this 9-12 months like the professionals recommend, although public opinion considers 2-3 weeks more than generous.

4. Pileous: as long as hair is falling out. My shower drain indicates this is still going strong at 7 months, and may be related to the gravitational indicator.

5. Somnial: at whatever point the mother begins having enough sleep regularly to feel regular. Varies widely.

6. Somatic: whenever functions approximate normal/painless. I said approximate.

7. Dermal: when stretch marks fade from shades of Lent.

8. Hygienic: when mother resumes bathing at a typical cultural rate.

9. Cinematic: when mother no longer falls asleep while trying to watch a movie with father.

10. Gestational: when mother becomes pregnant again.

08 August 2010

Deep thoughts

You know that thing where you wake up, and no one is crying and everything is fine, and then 10-15 seconds later the baby starts crying?

I did that with our first baby, and it felt like maybe there was one thing I was doing right. I had some inexplicable connection to this baby whom I was completely failing in every other way.

Then for the next three this didn't happen at all and I thought, well, the other stuff is going better, but now I'm just a jerk. No more magical baby connection.

Well, it's back on Baby 5. And so now I'm wondering if it's actually the baby who has the mysterious power. Because what do I think of as soon as I wake up for no reason in the night? The baby. So maybe it's actually the baby whose brain hears my brain thinking about him, which then causes him to wake up.

If this theory is correct, I'm going to have to keep extra close watch on Babies 1 and 5.

I was having this awful dream that Mom was awake and not feeding me.

05 August 2010

Theses on bashing synodical bureaucrats

Debatable. That's the point of theses.

1. A bureaucrat is a public figure to the public, but he is a private figure to his wife, children, siblings, parents, and friends. When public words get to these private people, those words often do not sound like the plain, necessary truth. They sound like the kind of words Christians are not supposed to use about each other. They do not sound like
defense and speaking well of, although everyone always claims to be trying to explain everything in the kindest way, if there were only some way all these awful things could be explained kindly.

I'm not saying this negates the "public figure" we all know and love, that unperson to whom the 8th commandment (joy of joys!) does not apply. But aren't family relationships always more complicated than we'd like?

2. Many synodical bureaucrats are probably not as dumb as we think. They know they are politicians, and they know we are too. They know they're trying to play us and we're trying to use them every time we schmooze or spar. Everyone wants everyone else in his back pocket. The bureaucrats find the system just as sleazy as we do (moreso, even, since they know it so much better), and they're just as stuck with it as we are. As a veritably politic observer of the synodical organism told me once, "We create a political system, and then are disgusted that politicians succeed in it." Downright politic, that guy. Of course, every system of church POLITY is political. It's not just an LCMS problem.

3. Few synodical bureaucrats arrived at bureaucratic positions without having spent some, often quite a lot of, time in the parish. They are still pastors and fathers in Christ.

4. Although such slick sophisticates as we know better, some bureaucrats really, truly mean it when they say they didn't seek out this position. Since (less empirical evidence to the contrary) it is impossible to distinguish the big fat liars from the charming innocents when they speak on this purely internal matter of the heart, I believe the charitable route is to recklessly take them at their word.

SURE you didn't want to wear that big hat.

Don't get me wrong, I know they're almost all jerks, just like all other categories of people. But as a pastor of my acquaintance says (and he's about as far as you can get from a hyperEuro-"confessional"-Gottesdiensting-conscience binding-Lawlusting-Fort Waynische Father): "That's Pastor Jerk to you."

03 August 2010

Trying times

Now, it's all fine and good for me to commend maternal at-homeyness in any family for which it is possible because it's not like I had anything big going on besides ideas that may very well not have worked out. I feel rather more awkward at the prospect of saying so in front of someone who went to law school or med school or is a specialist in a technical field (by which I absolutely do not mean an English professor). Clearly these ladies have brains and are hard workers and have more to bid farewell than I did when I turned up pregnant.

But one of the main lessons to be learned from staying home is that it is not only, or maybe even primarily, the children who benefit from Mom being around. Though it may boost my self-confidence, increase the family's income, even "keep me sane" to be gainfully employed at work I enjoy and at which I excel (and I did have a brief and gratifying go at this), it is, in comparison, no refiner's fire. I do not mean that such work is easy. But its particulars are largely self-chosen, its rewards are predictable, it is genuinely respected by the public, and it more commonly reveals mistakes than sin. This is to say, it is the opposite of CSPP at-homism.

This quotation from an NPR story on French écôles maternelles stuck with me: "I was very skeptical at first, to send her there for basically all day. But eventually as the year went on, I realized that she was learning so much. I mean, she was teaching me rhymes, French nursery rhymes that I should've been teaching her. So she's having a good time, she's learning and she's with other kids, so she's playing. And I can't really compete with that, even though I'm the mom."

I hear you, Barbara. There are many other people who would do a better job of teaching my kids French nursery rhymes and about everything else in the world. I just don't like teaching three-year-olds nursery rhymes, even in English. A lot of times, I don't like teaching my beloved children even the things I really, really, really want them to know. I am impatient, temperamental, lazy, and selfish. Should I be surprised that I didn't learn the oceanic depth of these sad facts about myself until such things became my job?

But there's this, which I think might actually mean what it says. Arguing from the weaker negative, there's the fact that I don't really trust even the most wonderful teacher of French nursery rhymes (or the American top-of-the-line daycare equivalent, which I and most people can't afford) not to screw up my kids. And then there's the horrific baring of my most inveterate sins that this whole maternal experience has been.

As a "person," I could do without that last bit of nastiness. As a "person," I need affirmation and publication* and a paycheck to show how much I'm worth (heaven forbid that I should suffer from low confidence or a lack of identity!), not to mention adult conversation to purportedly preserve my purported sanity and a professional wardrobe to help me remember that I'm a still a terribly beautiful woman (which, apparently, a pregnancy does not indicate). As a Christian, such comforts take the edge off my hunger for a Savior. As a Christian, I can see a big difference soul-wise between my old lines of work and my current hourly reminders of how insidious and horrific is my enmity toward God.

The Christian mothers who are trained as doctors and lawyers, organic chemists and glaciographers--they are Christian mothers too. Just as our beautiful sisters must bow lower to receive the mantel of modesty, our brilliant and accomplished sisters must bow lower to pick up their little ones day after rambling day. They have as much to gain from the crosses and joys of maternity as any Christian mother. Given their brilliance, they may recognize sooner and treasure more deeply than the rest of us the rewards God offers the humble hausmutti: a desperate reliance on His grace, the sweetness of the Christian home, the gifts parents and children give each other throughout a lifetime. God bless those who can and do--and if any of them happen to be reading, thank you. Your example to the rest of us is a profound encouragement.

*she blogged, ha ha ha ha ha.

02 August 2010

A lesson for the ages

"We were reading one day, for delight, of Lancelot, how love constrained him. We were alone and without any suspicion."

Many times that reading made us lift our eyes, and took the color from our faces,

but only one point was that which overcame us . . . .

That day we read in it no farther."

"Love, that on gentle heart quickly lays hold, seized him for the fair person that was taken from me, and the mode still hurts me. Love, which absolves no loved one from loving, seized me for the pleasing of him so strongly that, as thou seest, it does not even now abandon me. Love brought us to one death.

Caina awaits him who quenched our life."