Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year's Greeting

After a holiday hiatus, I have to get back in the blogging game.  And there's no better way to do so than to rely heavily on one of my favorite Op Ed columnists - David Brooks.  In his latest piece he reviews a book called "All Things Shining".  He highlights several parts of the book, but let me cut to the chase.  Brooks paraphrases authors Hubert Dreyfus of Berkeley and Sean Dorrance Kelly of Harvard when he says this:
The most real things in life well up and take us over. They call this experience “whooshing up.” We get whooshed up at a sports arena, at a political rally or even at magical moments while woodworking or walking through nature.
He then goes on to dismiss some of the conclusions these two philosophers come to, but zeroes in on something that grabbed my attention:
We have official stories we tell about our culture: each individual is the captain of his own ship; we are all children of God. But in practice, willy-nilly, the way we actually live is at odds with the official story. Our most vibrant institutions are collective, not individual or religious. They are there to create that group whoosh: the sports stadium, the concert hall, the political rally, the theater, the museum and the gourmet restaurant. Even church is often more about the ecstatic whoosh than the theology.
The activities often dismissed as mere diversions are actually central. Real life is more about serial whooshes than coherent meaning.
(emphasis my own)
Then Brooks concludes:
We can either rebel against this superficial drift, or like Dreyfus and Kelly, go with the flow, acknowledging that the autonomous life is impossible, not seeking totalistic theologies, but instead becoming sensitive participants in the collective whooshings that life offers.
Is it true that real life is more about whooshes than coherent meaning?  Can your life be defined that way?  Is mine? 

As much as I think these writers are on to something, I'd like to see myself swimming against the tide.  If there's ever a time for rebellion I would suggest it should be against the trivial, insignificant, but often popular events our society engages in.

So here's to a fulfilled life - even when the glass is empty.  Here's to looking at life from a different perspective.  Here's to a coherent, meaningful, and Story-driven 2011.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The _____________ Twos

Turning two - and having a child that turns two - can be shocking.  Although I've done the former, I can do a better job of reporting on the latter.  Let me give you some adjectives to describe the culture shock that has accompanied Enoh's transition into the twos.

1. Terrible.  Don't stop here!  It's not that bad.  But sometimes you just have those instances, like the one below, where you wonder what got into your kid.  For those of you who received our Christmas card this year, this was the scene 10 minutes before the family picture was taken.   Yep, it can be terrible, but those moments only last for a...moment. 

2. Turbulent.  This is the one my wife prefers to terrible.  And I get it.  The life of a parent of a two-year-old is a plane ride over the Icelandic volcano - up, down and all around.  You just never know what response you'll get to a "no" or which parent, grandparent, or stranger they'll prefer over you next.  Oh, and restlessness?  Off the charts. 

3. Teachable.  It's amazing how Enoh has been learning.  We've had him thouroughly confused for close to two years now with this whole bilingual thing.  But he's starting to catch on.  It's rewarding and enjoyable to see a two year old learn - no matter what it is. 

4. Tender. Enoh was never a cuddler before he turned two.  But the combination of being the recipient of frequent hugs and the arrival of a younger brother have brought out some tender - albeit brief - moments.  Enoh is a wonderful big brother. 

5. Terrific. Genuine smiles are the best.  And when you get one from a two year old, you know it's real.  With all the terribleness and turbulence, comes a whole lot of terrific-ness.  We love you Enoh!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Tis Always the Season

As we sat down on the pew last Sunday, our 2 year-old son Enoh looked up at the projector screen hanging from the ceiling in front of the pipe organ and said in a manner that would make any Christian dad proud: "Iwant...Isus (Jesus)!" 

Enoh begins at least half of his sentences this way whether the object is in Croatian or English: "Iwant...gamma" (grandma), or "Iwant..meko" (mlijeko, or milk).  (We are working on "please")

What was it about this church service that made him say he wanted Jesus?  Did he associate the PowerPoint on a large screen (like many congregants would these days) with church?  Did he connect the pipe organ (like many congregants in the past) with religion?  I honestly don't know for sure.

But I don't think so.  I think it started with the fact that there were a bunch of people in the room.  I think the kind people who gave us a hug and asked how we're doing gave him another clue.  I think standing, praying and singing as one may have clinched it for him. 

I want Jesus too.  And I love that a congregation who loves and cares for each other gives us a glimpse of who he is and indicates that he is among us.  Christ came to redeem his people.  He came because he loves his church and desires for others to come to him.  I'm reminded of what Christ told his disciples before he was betrayed:
"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
May we, as Christ's church, regardless of the season, leave others with the desire to know Jesus by our love.