31 January 2013

Blue room

Somebody tell the passionate housewives desperate for God: I finally painted a room in my house. I can't claim it was for a love of beauty; on the other hand, maybe a disgusted surrender to indisputable unsightliness counts for something.

I had some blue paint, so I used it. I think I did an OK job for somebody who was too scared to look at How To Paint Dot Com before trying to paint something. Ignorance is the gift that keeps on giving.

At long last, the point: now I walk into that room and think, "Why is this room blue?" which (substituting in the relevant color) is what I always think any time I walk into a room that isn't white.

I just don't get it.

16 January 2013

You might be CSPP if

two kids get a stomach bug and you feel like you won the lottery:
Only two!

14 January 2013

O brothers, where are ye?

I wax synodical. Bo-ring.

The good news for all in disagreement is that the problems I cite will never change, because the top priority of the seminaries is to remain solvent, and the obvious way to do that is to enroll as many students as possible, and the way to do that is not to exclude any possible student. Penny wise, pound foolish is a discussion for another day.

Factor 1.  Recently I spoke with someone acquainted with a pastorless church. Soon one of its members will become an SMP student. "He's willing to be their pastor," I was told, "but he's not willing to drag his family to the seminary and wherever else for four years."

I sympathize. Well do I remember the hardships of men who dragged their families not only to the seminary and wherever else for four years, but even dragged them to a synodical college before that to complete pre-seminary training requirements. Without SMP, it wasn't enough simply to be willing to be a pastor. The seminary was a place and a community and a concrete committment, not merely a pragmatic entity. Many things about it were unpragmatic.

Factor 2.  My husband has few "seminary friends." The reason for this, I think, is that we were married a week after we graduated from college. He never lived in a dorm or even on campus. His hours outside of class were devoted to earning wages and maintaining me.

This makes for a different fraternity of pastors than was produced in the old days when seminary students were not permitted to be married. Surely there were many disagreements among those men, but they knew each other well, having spent a lot of time in close academic, spiritual, and living quarters. They were more like brothers because they had lived more like brothers.

Factor 3. Yes, I attended the seminary as a student myself. Once a student informed another student in my presence that you didn't want any chicks in a certain venerable professor's class because that professor would be considerably less forthcoming, especially on a certain topic. Frankly, I think the church would have benefited a lot more from that professor's unbridled forthcomingness than it did from me sitting in classes for pastors.

Now we factor the common factor. I think the camaraderie of our pastorate is in bad shape. In making the seminaries more "family friendly," in characterizing them as having been segregated rather than consecrated and legalistic rather than judicious, we have reaped pastors who are less fraternal with each other. I do not think there would be more agreement among them if they had formed stronger bonds during their training, but I do imagine there might be less animosity and more charity, less suspicion and more respect*. They would disagree, compete, labor, and love more as brothers than as acquaintances or coworkers or self-selected friends.  I do not mean to idealize brotherly love (I have some brothers myself :D), but it is a gift we are unwise to undermine among our pastors so carelessly. Dudes need dudes, and they need them close, and they need them without chicks around, and the more exclusively dudely their undertaking, the more do they need those things.

A bunch of men living together under compulsory celibacy has its own set of problems, and I don't know that second career pastorization should be categorically excluded, and I am not advocating the construction of a girl- or layman-proof fence around the seminary campuses (not that such a thing would help if and when the seminaries cease to possess locality). But we are foolish not to give serious thought to the implications of the drastic changes pastoral formation has undergone in the last couple of generations. What have our pastors gained from the changes at their rightful alma maters? Might they get along with each other better, even and especially in disagreement, if they had ever necessarily taken up the habit, so to speak? Would a more personally united pastorate make for a more personable and united Synod? And a bunch of other stuff.

*I particularly have trouble imagining (and I am 100% imagining here, so I may be 100% delusional and wrong) any sort of "alternate route" pastor achieving a parity of respect with pastors who got at it the old timey way. Ordained is ordained, but they are simply not equals in terms of effort. This is math, not meanness. It seems to me a formula for resentment all around.


I bet if you blended coconut oil and raw human milk with an immersion blender in an organic glass and drank it, you would never die.

10 January 2013

Chewing gum: a cautionary tale

I am not a germophobe, but I do have some borderline phobic issues with public restrooms. I know, I know: statistically speaking, a kitchen is waaaay germier than a bathroom, and an average toilet seat has fewer germs than the average light switch, door knob, phone, etc. That’s the thing about a phobia, isn’t it? We’re not talking rationality here.

Now, no mother who ever leaves the house with her young children can survive their childhood if she has a public restroom phobia. Any kind of bathroom phobia, in fact, is just another of the luxuries that mothers discover they must do without. So I’ve developed coping mechanisms, and I’ve been getting along fine, thanks in part to the fact that if ever Dad’s along on an outing, bathroom duty is all his. Quality male bonding: he lines up the troops, reviews the lecture (no touching anything, no looking under stalls, no asking any questions about anything you see or hear or read until you are all out of the restroom again…), and marches them all in and out.

Until recently, that is, when I entered a new stage of motherhood, enough to make a person phobic all over again: taking a toddler girl to use public restrooms. No such thing as a non-sitting visit. Oy. So. Again, I needed to find ways to cope, and hopefully to appear nonchalant enough not to phobicize my dear daughter, who will doubtless have enough other issues of her own as a consequence of being raised by me ;P. On our post-Christmas road trip, I shored up my mental health by taking along some of those disposable toilet seat covers, the ones that are specifically designed to cover all surfaces of the seat that little hands can’t seem to keep from grabbing. And all things considered, those gas station bathroom stops (*shudder*) went pretty well. (Uh, except for that little incident with the automatic flusher, but we got through it.)

All this is mere preamble to what is possibly the most horrific public restroom story I have ever heard, which came to me secondhand, but with horror all undiminished: A mother was supervising her young daughter’s bathroom visit. The girl was chewing gum, which dropped out of her mouth and down onto that middle place of the toilet seat. Before the mother could react, the girl picked up the gum and popped it back into her mouth.  (Can you hear the screaming in my head? Can you?!)

From the time of hearing that story and forevermore: never, never, ever shall a tender-yeared child of mine be found chewing gum in a public restroom.

09 January 2013

Trying times

I remember running into a Hallmark card once which congratulated the recipient on a pregnancy. The inside read, "Thank you for not telling us you were 'trying'."

I despise "trying" as a concept and a casual conversation piece. It is freakin disgusting. He who has ears, let him hear: anyone with potential reproductive function who is not celibate is "trying;" those who use contraception are actually trying to pretend they aren't trying (as any parent of an "unplanned" child or any Christian fornicator can testify, although you'll probably have better luck with the former). Neither is wanting or not wanting a qualifier for "trying" or "not trying." This was all covered long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

What the existence of "trying" means is that anyone who's not pregnant must be not trying, and anyone who wants to be pregnant and isn't needs to try harder, and what could be evident through the modest disclosure of nature is instead an incessant topic of indiscreet and tasteless dialogue. Like all sin, it cannot but be confessed, and where there is no private confession, it must be shamefully public.


 [trahy]  Show IPA verb, tried, try·ing, noun, plural tries.
verb (used with object)
to engage in sexual intercourse without use of contraception with the intent to achieve pregnancy: We're trying!

07 January 2013

Sometimes, I feel like such a rebel

Like when I just throw away the peanut butter or jelly jar, instead of washing it out to reuse or recycle.

B-b-b-b-bad to the b-b-b-bone.

05 January 2013

Babies need their moms. Duh.

I drafted this post a couple months ago and just came across it again. I’ll add the happy ending at the, um, end. 

Here is some of the weirdest and possibly worst parenting advice I’ve ever heard:
Get out and do something like eating at a restaurant, just you and your husband, soon after the baby is born. Do not take the baby with you! You must go without the baby! You must do this in the first few weeks of the baby’s life!

I’ve come across this in a number of places, even in parenting stuff that is otherwise refreshingly solid. (Most recently, I recall reading it in a Dr. Kevin Leman resource. I know he was trying to make some point or other about preventing, in effect, childolatry, but still. Sheesh.)

When my BabyOne was in his first week of postnatal life, grandparents came to visit, and we left Baby in their care so that we could go out, just the two of us…because I desperately needed to make a quick run through Target* to find a skirt that would fit me for Dad’s graduation, ordination, and installation, all of which were scheduled for the subsequent six weeks. Honestly, if I hadn’t thought it would be totally and offensively rude to my in-laws, we would have taken Baby with us. Dashing in and out of the dressing room, I was nail-bitingly, hand-wringingly, borderline hyperventilatingly anxious for the entire hour and a half that Baby was out of my reach. There’s no way that I would have left him, even in the care of doting and capable grandparents, for a frivolous or unnecessary outing.

This is not because I was some kind of superior mother,** but rather because I was neither physically nor emotionally equipped or inclined to leave my newborn at that point. And really, why should I have been?

So I was thinking about this again because there’s this thing coming up at church. It’s a thing that it would be kinda awkward for me to skip. It’s a thing that occurs over evening/bedtime hours. It’s a really good thing, and I would like to go and do my part, except that I have this baby who’s just exactly the wrong age. He’ll be four and a half months old at the time of the thing—too little (by his own standards) to be on a reliable bedtime routine; and too old to be socially acceptable at a fancyish thing that’s just for grownups. Also, he likes to nurse before going to bed, and often in fact will not go to bed without nursing and/or rocking. He likes me, and I like him. He is my baby, and I am his mom. That is what babies and moms do.

Unfortunately, it seems that very few babies nowadays get to do what babies do, to the point that most folks have forgotten what it is that babies and moms do. My baby is the second-last in the half-dozen crop at our church this year, and my baby is the only one who is not regularly left in the care of others—daytime, night time, feeding time, any time.*** Somehow, as I (pushing a stroller and/or wearing an Ergo) frequently encounter other new moms tripping lightly and baby-lessly about town, I doubt that the parenting advice our culture really needs is to get out of the house, without the baby, as soon as possible after the baby is born.

Most of the other moms who had babies this year will be at this event too, but I can guarantee you that I’ll be the only one showing up with my baby. So instead of looking like the normal one, who’s just fulfilling the biologically obvious aspects of her vocation of motherhood, I’m going (once again) to be the weird one. (I’m not at all against leaving my baby with grandparents for such an occasion—but bedtime is tricky; biological grandmas are hundreds of miles away; church grandmas will all be at the event; and if I’m lucky I’ll be able to find 2-3 teens who can be bribed to wrangle the older kids to bed. And I have no idea if my baby would take a bottle, anyway.)

All this rambling is merely to say: Babies need their moms. And moms, in less obvious but equally significant ways, need their babies. Going out with your husband can be a good thing. And at a certain point, even running to the grocery store without the baby(ies) can be a sanity saver. Bigtime. But don’t ever let anyone, be it guru, in-law, or every other mom at church, make you feel guilty for having a baby who needs you (and a you who needs your baby).

  *This was of course before Target was Totally Evil ;P
**(And I fully realize that my first-time-postpartum-self should not be considered normative for any woman, not even for my own subsequent-times-postpartum selves.)
***I am in no way passing judgment on anyone’s particular situation. I know that sometimes it becomes necessary for Baby to be cared for by someone other than his mother. It is sad that our world has lost our way to the extent that this sometimes becomes (or seems) necessary to many who would wish it otherwise, and that this seems Normal to so many.

Happy Ending: I went, and I was indeed the only one with a baby. Baby behaved, charmed everyone at my table, and fell asleep in my arms without me even having to sneak off to nurse him. Nice older lady found me afterward in the back where I’d gotten up to walk Baby to sleep, and she gushed kindly about how nice it was to see a mom with her baby. And I learned another lesson about how wonderful and supportive the people in this church family are. Even if they do think I’m weird :D. (More credit to them!)     

03 January 2013

Rhymes with insidious

Part of being human--male or female--is accepting that there are certain things one cannot do. No girl or woman bore the sign of the covenant, circumcision. One can only imagine what would be said about such sex-based exclusion today. The covenant!

But I wonder if what chicks are really mad about is that men accept their exclusion with utter grace. They are  never jealous or feel maliciously left out of childbearing. Some men express wonder or admiration, but never envy.

02 January 2013

Also waterbeds

You know, what you just don't run into any more is those cushiony toilet seats.

01 January 2013


I've been meaning for a while to put something together here about chick acolytes, but Pastor Beisel has spared me the trouble. Take a listen, and don't miss FatherHollywood's comment about what's vesting got to do with it, got to do with it.

The way to include people is not to give them figurehead jobs requiring no skill or personal improvement. That is nearly as bad in and for the church as dressing girls up like men. I also don't get it when women object to Altar Guild service as being somehow demeaning. Hasn't Martha Stewart built an empire on the premise that setting a beautiful table is worth it?