Friday, September 30, 2005

No I'm not a scared cow!

I'm taking a break today. Believe it or not, writing these faith and gender blog entries have taken up a lot of time. If not how could I have come up with phrases like "scared cow!" rather than "sacred cow."

But here's where I'm going next week. First to Romans 16:1 and 1 Timothy 3. I was in a conversation late last night and I these passages on faith, gender and leadership came to mind. I think they will be instructive.

Then we're going to jump right into the deep end and look at 1 Corinthians 11-14 and then 1 Timothy 2.

After that I may look at a couple other texts or I may just summarize and be done.

I really appreciate the comments "on blog and off" from many of you. I'm truly learning and growing. It is great to hear from so many people who love our Lord and His Church.

I'll let you in on a secret...People have been studying these passages for years who are a lot smarter and taller than I am and have yet to reach universal consensus. I'm not sure I have a lot to add to the discussion. But I think it's important for me (and maybe you) to look at this topic and these texts again and learn from them.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The reason behind...

My last two entries have been of such length that they would have made Leo Tolstoy proud. But here's the deal. The gender faith issue plays out most prominent in the worship\leadership area.

In my experience: the real rub from both sides of the faith and gender conversation finds its focus on this: can women do certain things during certain times of the week when men are present and can women fill "positions" typically held by men.

I've not read or heard of any discussions about faith and gender targeted toward homes of widows raising baptized sons. I've never read an article about the right or "wrongness" of a Christian man being a stay at home mom. Nor have a read if it is right or wrong for a woman to earn more money than her husband? Can a man feed his baby because God clearly genetically intended women to perform this function? What's the biblical precept on Sadie Hawkins' day?

Why haven't I seen articles addressing these faith and gender issues? Because they're not the real concern. The concern centers primarily on this: can a woman do something public during a Sunday morning worship assembly that for years men have typically done and can women have a "title" or "position" typically occupied by someone who's a man.

It's about praying, singing, reading and talking in public.

But is that the totality of faith and gender? Does "headship" mean that guys get to "lead" public prayers and women don't? Is that what Paul meant when he said that God is the head of Christ? (1 Cor. 11;3) That God gets to lead singing and say public prayers and Jesus doesn't?

And when it comes to understanding spiritual leadership, where did we get the idea that saying a prayer, singing a song, or sharing a thought was "leadership? I'm still trying to find that book, chapter and verse. I know when I was in young men's Christian leadership training, that's what leadership meant. Only the baptized boys got to learn how to "lead" prayer, lead by reading scripture, lead by waving your hand and starting a song and lead by giving a five minute talk But you tell me, is the essense of leadership Jesus is calling us to?

And will it mean that the faith and gender "issue" will be once and for all resolved when a woman stands on the stage some Sunday because she's a good prayer or a better announcer?

And was it God's dream from unity to mean, people "putting up" with church practices that don't make sense to them and that have no apparent, clear scriptural mandate because that person likes the kid's ministry or they grew up in the Church of Christ?

Folks, let face it. There are areas that we treasure more than others. I'll prove it to in one paragraph.

People have been debating this gender faith thing for years and failed to come up with clear answer. Everyone would agree it remains a "gray" area. But Jesus said in black and white, go out and tell people about Me so they can be saved. That's crystal clear. Yet would you be reading this far in this blog entry if it was about evangelism? We not only don't discuss evangelism it doesn't even come up on our radar.

Unlike worship and leadership, evangelism isn't a sacred cow, is it?

But check out 1 Peter 3:1-7 and get back to me on who's doing the leading in this evangelical context?

(Here's a hint: God doesn't seem to have any problem with women leading men to heaven.)

So as we get into the texts I'll discuss, I hope I will be able to keep in mind, that the concern of being made male and female in God's image is more than what happens for an hour on Sunday morning and who gets to be called deacon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Talent: Competiton or Cooperation?

I'm currently reading John Maxwell's book Life@Work. It is actually pretty good. The premise of his book is that our spiritual life includes life and is not in conflict with it. Maxwell (and his co-authors) bases the major sections of this book on Psalm 78:70-72. In this passage David in his life work had: a calling, a sense of service, godly character and great skill.

In his section on skill, Maxwell shares an interesting perspective on skill. Maxwell offers that skill from a "worldly" perspective is nothing more than vocational Darwinism. A worker becomes more skillful to establish dominance before the next promotion comes around. I person sharpens skills to fend off other job applicants. Humiliate and annihilate competitors. Skill is the cunning that lets a person get away with as much as possible.

In other words talent and skill are seen as a competition.

Most people who read the New Testament would agree that in the list of worldly churches talked about in the Bible, the church at Corinth would make the top three and on many lists would rise to the top of this dubious list. Read just the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians and you'll quickly discover what a competitive group of misguided Christians these people were.

Into this competitive free-for-all, Paul writes what we know as 1 Corinthians. He confronts their pride, their arrogance and their divisiveness. In 2:1-5 Paul shows the basis for his own life, ministry and leadership. (Be sure to check out all of chapter 2. It's important for a lot of reasons.) He also addresses many other issues that flow from their worldly tainted Christianity.

Beginning in chapter 11 (through chapter 14) Paul talks about worship, talents and skills; love and church unity and encouragement.

Let's look at talents. In chapter 12, Paul sets a totally different standard than the competitive model the Corinthians had been using when it came to individual skills and abilities. Rather than being a competition, using our skills should be done in cooperation. In fact, Paul goes so far as to blow up the worldly view that some skills were more significant than others. (But should that surprise anyone who read Paul's words earlier in 2:1-5?)

Paul in chapter 12 uses the analogy of the body. As he does you may notice that one point, (verses 14-27) he says that no part of the body should feel it doesn't belong because of it's unique skill set, nor should one part of the body say to another, you don't belong. When it comes to skills and talents, it's never about competition. It's about cooperation.

I'm going to share much more on this subject, but for right now, what is your personal church history on talents and skills? Has it been a expression of competition or cooperation? When it comes to "church life" has our basic motivation been to more eagerly desire...the more excellent way?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Leadership. . .

As I mentioned yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday) the topic of faith and gender usually falls out in the areas of worship and leadership. Yesterday I chatted a bit about worship, today I want to share my thoughts on leadership.

What is leadership? In the many books I've read and experts I've listened to, no one seems to be able to give the "once and for all" definition of leadership. But truthfully, I'm okay with that. What I'm more interested in knowing is what God believes leadership to be.

Jesus seems to address both the worldly view and the spiritual view of leadership at one point in his ministry. Remember the time that James and John come up to Jesus with their mommy? She asks Jesus to allow her precious boys to be His second and third in command. This request not only ticks off the other apostles, it also serves as an opportunity for Jesus to talk about leadership from God's point of view.

Matthew 20:24-28
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

In contrast to the worldly view that leadership is bossing people around, using positional leadership to dominate others, Jesus' view of leadership is based on service and submission. Jesus goes so far to say that true leadership starts at the bottom.

I guess that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows anything about Jesus. Afterall he came from heaven to earth to show the way, from the earth to the cross my debt to pay, from the cross to the grave, to the grave to the sky...

I'm back now. But it really is true. The One sent to save us led us back to God by way of the cross, not the boardroom. And as far as I know Jesus never was awarded a medal for leadership expertise.

When I think of biblical leadership I think of some of the "great leaders" mentioned in Hebrews 11 and what characteristics they exhibited and how they went about leading.

Abraham walks away from his home and his family. He talks with God. He loves his wife. He struggles with temptation. He puts God first to the point of offering his Son to God.

Noah spends a good portion of his life, out of sink with his society. He builds a boat and collects animals for 150 years. He rides out a storm and starts all over.

Moses leads the people to the Promised Land. He confronts sin, he prays, he delegates responsibilities, he keeps the faith, he puts up with whiny people and prays for their safety when God decides to end their existence.

Joseph helps save the ancient world, by interpreting dreams, keeping his integrity, staying faithful in prison and using his orginizational skills and forgiving his sorry brothers.

Jacob started off lousy and finished strong in the faith. He loved his boys and helped them find their faith, except for when they sold their brother Joseph to some slave traders.

Rehab, helped keep the spies safe in her home, which in turn gave the Hebrews a great victory.

Leadership didn't seem to be about position or decision making or being the one in command. Though Moses certainly had position and God given authority

In fact, when it came to finding leaders God one time told Samuel,
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

It seems to me that leadership in the Bible isn't about position or "calling the shots," or being "the up-front, in charge person." Leading seems to mean you're the first in line to faithfully serve. Jesus' leadership took him straight to the cross, where his hand-chosen, still misguided "leaders" betrayed him or deserted him.

When is it that someone is a leader?

When was Joseph a leader? Was it when he was: wearing his coat, riding away as a slave after being sold by his brothers, running away from Potiphar's wife, in jail sharing his gifts, interpreting the king's dream, running a relief effort, reconnecting with his brothers? Or was he a leader all along the way?

I'm guessing he led in all those situations because leadership isn't about position or power or being in command. Biblical leadership is harnessing your faith in God with your God given abilities in any situation as a servant to others. (check out 2 Corinthians 4:5)

So if Jesus says leadership in his kingdom is different than leadership from the world's point of view, does that have any impact on the topic of faith and gender? In God's kingdom where the mantle of leadership seems to mean leaders are the first to submit, surrender and serve, where do position, title and power come into play? (Check out 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 and see what the great leader Paul boasts about.)

What do you think?

I will tell you that when it comes to leadership I'm convinced we are more influenced by the world then the world is influenced by us.

Tomorrow: The tension of talent.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Women and Worship

I preached yesterday that worship is a lifestyle and was never intended to be relegated to a 65 minute time slot on a specific day of the week. Though I didn't get any "amens" I also didn't get hit with any tomatoes either.

In John 4, Jesus meets a up with a woman at a well and they start talking about water. Their discussion turns pretty quickly from water, to marital status and then to worship. (Which is an interesting progression...)

This "woman" asks Jesus about the place and character of worship.

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

It's pretty clear what Jesus is saying. Worship isn't about zip code or what your father's did. It's about God and approaching him with your heart, seeking His truth.

If you take what Jesus said here with with Paul says in Romans 12:1-2 (see below) it seems that worship comes from a life of dedication, commitment, love, service and reverance to God: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Now I'm wondering, what does that mean about faith and gender. What does that mean about worship and leadership. Christians would be the first to say that worship is a lifestyle response to God that is lived out every day.

Typically the discussion of faith and gender ends up being wrapped in the tortillas of worship and leadershipl Well if worship happens all the time and in every situation, then what are the implications, for say, female leadership at work, in the neighborhood HOA, in the PTA and other arenas?

Got any ideas?

My idea is that this could be pretty important.

Friday, September 23, 2005

How it works

When is the last time you did some study on Mormonism? Though not a psychic I can tell you. It happened after two bicycle-riding kids wearing white shirts knocked on your door and asked you to study.

When did you determine your current position on divorce and remarriage? I have a strong sense that your current view has evolved after a Christian close to you got divorced (or it could have even been you who went through a divorce). When that event occured you jumped head-first into Scripture.

How and when did you come up with your view of the AIDS\HIV epidemic and your Christian response to it? I would again imagine that your thinking crystallized back in the early 1990's when AIDS\HIV hit the world scene.

How about your answer to "Can a Christian go to war?" I know for me the first time I sought an answer to that question was in 1973, the year I turned 18 and was going into the draft lottery.

Is it wrong that we don't study more about world religions on our own? Is it a compromise to study and modify beliefs on divorce once we've experienced it? At 18 should I have known my spiritual position on going in or staying out of the military?

I don't think so. The reason that Christians are dealing with the subjects of homosexuality, stem cell research, global involvement, the role of media, family models, etc... is that these issues have become a big deal in our society. As cultural concerns arise, they must be addressed from a Christian perspective.

The same thing is true with women. This morning Sheryl Crow was on Good Morning America as part of the show's "Women Rule" concert series. When did our grandparents or parents ever see something like that?

I'm convinced that every Christian and every church has the God-given responsibility to examine God's Word and Will in light of its generation.

So instead of claiming that Christians who wish to address the spiritual place of men and women are compromising truth for culture, we need to applaud their courage. They follow in the footsteps of Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Peter, Paul and Jesus.

Next week after some more renewed study, I'll attempt to step into the text on faith and gender.

PS Who knows what awaits this study, but my hope is that we'll discover God's will and at the same time have the courage to accept it. Afterall, it's not about culture, it's not about tradition, it's about Him.

Oh, another thing...tell your friends to come join us.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

J Fred Muggs, Title IX and from WACS to Iraq

As I get into this area, I'm going to bounce around from culture to scripture. Today I'll talk deal with culture...
I was watching the Today Show this morning. I didn't see a monkey on the set, but I did see, Matt (the middle of the road white guy), Al (the African American) Ann (the female Asian) and the star of the show Katie (lead woman). As I watched and listened to the "diverse four" and because the topic of faith and gender are on my mind, I thought about how different our mornings are from the 1950s when Dave Garroway (white-middle-class and tall male) and J. Fred Muggs (brown monkey) hosted the original Today Show. In fact, when it comes to news, except for the Dan Rathers, Tom Brokaws and Peter Jennings, there seem to be more women than men in news at least it's equal. For every Charlie Gibson there are two women: Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts.

In 1973, when I went off to college, men were men and women were inferior. At least when it came to numbers of enrollment, sports and curfew. Now thirty years later there are more women in college than men and with the passing of Title IX in 1972, women receive equal treatment on playing fields and dormroom regulations, as well as now they are encouraged to study engineering, science and computer technology, fields previously off limits. Just this past week the French Open decided to pay the female winner of Grand Slam Tennis Tournament the same as its male champion. I was watching a sporting report on Title IX recently and one of the commentators commented there's a new generation of women who have never been told, "No."

During WW II women served in support positions. During WW II women were WACS and WAVES, and ready for this "WASPS" "Women Airforce Service Pilots" (these pilots weren't even recognized officially by the Air Force until 1979) now women join men as full-fledged fighters.

In 2005, women are no longer in a "League of Their Own." Michelle Wie competes on the Men's PGA Tour and Sacramento is jumping for joy as their WNBA team The Monarchs have brought the first major professional championship to California's capitol city. Boys are now cheerleaders and Emeril and Bobby Flay are nationally known for their cooking shows.

As I reflect on how we've gone from monkeys as co-hosts to Katie Couric getting $7 million a year, it's hard not to notice the culture of gender changing.

A couple of thoughts and a couple of questions:
All of us are impacted by culture. Anyone who claims they aren't influenced by culture is either naive or misguided. No one can separate themselves from cultural influences.

For every "advance" in culture there seems to be an equally off-setting set-back. For example: in our current cultural climate women are moving closer to having an equal place in the work place and society in general. Yeah. Also, during this same time, negative issues with children have risen dramatically. Boo.

So let me ask you, "Is culture right or wrong?" Is the U.S. culture of the 1950's with the Cleavers and Senator Joe McCarthy witch-hunts better or worse than 2005's culture of Equal Opportunity and Internet Porn? Is the culture we have now better or worse than the culture of France in 1780? I'm not asking is the culture more advanced or sophisticated, I'm asking right or wrong? Does God condemn or glorify cultures?

If culture might not be intrinsically right or wrong, does that have any impact on the spiritual concerns of faith and gender?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Going where no blog has gone before

Okay, I'm ready, let's go for it. I'm currently looking at the subject of "faith and gender" in my personal study. Every few years I re-examine this issue. In fact, I want to talk about it for a few entries.

So for the next few blog entries I'll share some of my thoughts, reflections and interpretations of scriptures that deal with God's plan for women and men.

I not only welcome your comments I want them. I want to hear from you and learn from you. I want you to weigh in and share with me your thoughts about God, church, women and men. What does God expect and desire from women and men? Are we equal and still different? What's headship mean? How is our world different than our grandmother's and does that make any difference? What is leading and usurping?

You know, all this stuff and more, let's talk about it.

Let's get started.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Fetch Bruce Fetch

So we have a new fence around our backyard. It's great. And it gives me and our dog Nietzsche an opportunity to play fetch, something we couldn't do before the fence. We now have two rubber balls, a stick and two fFrisbees that we play with.

One of the great joys between a dog and master is the game of playing fetch.

Nietzsche is really enjoying it. I throw the object and she runs after it, puts it in her mouth, chews on it and then drops it. I then walk fifty feet from where I threw the Frisbee to where she's drooling over it, pick it up, and throw it again. Then she runs to it, clamps down on it, runs halfway toward me and stops. I then encourage her with, "Come here, girl." At which points she drops the Frisbee from her mouth and sprints to me. I in turn go and fetch the Frisbee and we play our game of Bruce throw and fetch all over again.

Not only is this fun for our dog, it's great fun for Jeanette, as she watches me play throw and fetch, doubled over in laughter.

I have a book "Dog Tricks for Dummies. It says on page 113 "The instinct to retrieve is all in the genes." Evidently I have this instinct in me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that it's in our dog's DNA code.

But hey, if you think I'm good at retreiving a Frisbee, you should see how "fetching" I look when I'm carrying a stick in my mouth!

I'm probably not going to quit my day job just yet.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Block Party Anticipation

Our church is hosting a "Block Party" on Sunday October 2. It will run from 2 to 4 that afternoon. The purpose of the BP is to build relationships with the two neighborhoods that surround our building. We're got tons of stuff planned and opportunities for fun. It should be enjoyable for kids and adults, singles and families.

I just hope it works. It's something different and new and for it to be successful we need FXCC people to come and neighbors to show up. And then we need FXCCers to mix and mingle with neighborhood people.

But if it happens it could be a cool thing.

Keep our Block Party in your prayers. Pray that God uses it for its intended use: to help us Show Jesus to our neighbors. Pray that the neighbors will show up and that we will too. Pray that the weather's great.

And while you're praying, mention the Redskins. . .

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sabbatical Panic Attack

Last fall the FXCC Elders granted me time for a sabbatical that can be taken during the 18 months between June 1, 2005 and December 31, 2006. It's a great gesture of understanding and support. (Try to contain the jokes that are running through your head as you read this.)

Believe it or not there are foundations that exist in this great country that offer support (i.e. cold cash) to help ministers with sabbaticals. But in order to receive this "grant funding" you have to put in a grant proposal that includes, a resume, reference letters, congregational support forms, current ministry reports, your sabbatical theme summary and your sabbatical theme paper and all of this has to be postmarked by September 15th. TODAY.

Thanks to the help of many people I finalized my paperwork last night, September 14th at 11:30 PM. This morning copies were made, labels were addressed and the wonderful postmark image of September 15, 2005 was stamped on the brown mailing envelope.

I've got to tell you, I've going to need a sabbatical after filling out the stuff to send in for a sabbatical grant. Coming up with a five page paper on the theme of a sabbatical is something I've never done before and come to think of it, I'll probably never do again.

So now all I have to do is wait until November 30th to see if I am awarded the grant. (Which I will use to help fund travel expenses to meet with other church leaders who can help me become better at what I do. I know we are all interested in that!) My hope is that most of you reading this have a very short attention span so if I don't receive the sabbatical grant you will have long forgotten about this blog entry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

We Stand In Different Worlds

I'm not sure that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but I am sure that we use different restrooms. And because of that I would guess that most women don't know about urinals. (That's as graphic as this is going to get!)

Besides reading newspapers and talking to your friends while standing in front of said object, it's fun to look down into a urinal and take in the sites. In a recent restroom visit, I looked down and saw the plastic sanitizer in the bottom surrounding it's mothball smelling "treasure." Written in bold lettering on the santizer was this encouraging comment:
Say "NO" to drugs!
I'm pretty sure that alone explains why there are more female than male drug addicts. I would guess (though I don't personally know) that female restrooms don't have the advantage of such helpful slogans.
Thank you and remember to drink eight glasses of water a day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Blogs Rule The World

Or so my co-worker Murray believes. Murray, who's blog is available to all, has strong feelings about blogging. Truthfully, I do too. Blogging a great way to express yourself and to let other people in on what's important in your life.

Here's a couple of important things to me today.

Last Sunday morning was really important. We wanted to help people continue to heal after the events of 9.11.01 and the recent devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I hope our worship was helpful. We also wanted to help people reconnect with FXCC after summertime vacations.

We also made schedule changes to help make Sunday morning worship and bible study more meaningful. I hope they will go well.

Special thanks to the 95 people who parked off-site, road the shuttle and left valuable parking spaces for visitors. You are real "second-milers."

We fed over 600 people at our Kick-Off Cook-Out. It was awesome the way that so many people stepped up and helped set-up, cook, serve and clean up. Thanks.

I continue to feel that reaching the people of Northern Virginia for Jesus is the most pressing priority in my life and for our church. We are uniquely equipped for the task. No one knows Northern Virginia, it's stresses, challenges and temptations, better than we do. We have to realize God's call to us to go find people like us to share Jesus.

What's important to you?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hospital Visits

Chris and I are getting ready in a couple of minutes to drive downtown for a hospital visit. A good friend and co-worker had surgery this week and we want to go visit.

In my "career" I've noticed that there are different kinds of hospital patient people. There are those who like tons of visitors and really thrive on people sitting on the edge of their bed and groups of people using their rooms as gathering places. These patients seem to be able to draw healing help from presence of people.

Then there are other hospital patient people who don't mind an occasional visit, but pretty much want to be left alone. This condition may have two causes: the person is in a lot of pain and needs alone time to recover; and\or this type of person feels like they have to "be on" when people are visiting rather and they find that draining.

If you have ever been in sick or in the hospital, what have people done that you've found helpful and hurtful. I have many personal experiences that I will share that fit both categories.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

No Mas

Over the past couple of months I've tried to expand my reading list. I've decided that I needed to start reading a higher quality of fiction. So I did and it left we wanting. . .less. I read a John Irving (the great American novelist) novel and it opened with a 16 year old being seduced sixty times by a married woman in her late thirties. Her husband was even more demented.

I next read a book by a contemporary English novelist called. It's title: Absolute Friends. {Plot Spoiler} Both of the best friends are brutally assasinated in the final chapter.

Then I picked up the newest novel by American Southwestern Novelist Cormac McCartney, No Country For Old Men. One of the main characters is killed, his innocent wife is executed, the man that murdered them both gets away cleanly and the sheriff who tries to solve the crime gives up and retires.


Hey if I want to be in a bad mood, I'll watch NBC's Joey.

Do you have any suggestions for other authors?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back To School

Jeanette, just backed out of the driveway and headed out for the "first day of school." Her driving off conjured up these nostalgic memories of the first day of school. Wait a minute. Though I can remember every teacher I had from kindergarten to sixth grade, I cannot remember the first day of any school year from kindergarten through college. Seriously, I can't remember the feelings I had on any first day of a new school year. I'm guessing that might mean I wasn't the most serious student.

But I do remember the first day of school of our daughters. These were mornings filled with excitement. The first day of school mornings would follow a familiar ritual. Each daughter would put on their new first day of school outfit, strap on their new backpack filled with new school supplies and get their hair curled (hair altitude was important back in the eighties!) They'd pose for their annual first day of school picture and then we'd walk them, or drive them to school.

Now those are some memories.

I just read an article on the importance of rituals in marriage. The author of the article, a marriage counselor, talked with "successful" couples. These couples all shared one thing in common: during the week they spend time together in shared activity or rituals.

Long ago, I read a sociologist talk of the importance of rituals for family life. As I look back on the "first day of school" experience I realize that it became an important and expected ritual for the four of us. Though it is long gone for our daughters and me, the feelings of excitement and expectancy remain.

As I type this, there's a smile on my face.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Live and Learn

As I've watched the news reports coming from the devastated gulf coast, I've had two overwhelming impressions:

The pain and suffering of thousands of people is real and can't be denied or rationalized away.

The personal embarassment I feel in not realizing the impact of poverty on so many people. I had no real concept of how many people rely on public transportation and don't have a car. I was oblivious to the fact that people don't have family elsewhere to rush to their rescue when devastation comes. I intellectually knew about poverty, but I didn't understand it's impact.

I never want to be the same and I want to help.