May 11, 2014

oh, stuff about mother’s day and the church

Last year during Mother’s Day week, I found a blog post about Mother’s Day and the church and what the church should do about this day. There were over 1,000 comments and there’s no way I could read them all, but as a childless woman who finds this day hard and who avoids church every year on this day, I was struck by a recurring theme in a fair portion of the comments:

The childless women’s comments were frequently countered with “Well, yeah, you’re sad on this day but you’re supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice, the Bible says.”

You know, I love it when people use only half a verse to make their point or take a verse out of context entirely because, yes, we are supposed to rejoice with those who rejoice BUT – as the verse goes on to say – we are to mourn with those who mourn.

As it relates to the childless, when does the church do that, publicly? When does it mourn with other mourners – publicly? If the church is going to publicly rejoice with moms, then by extension, if it’s going to live out this verse, it should publicly mourn with the non-moms, but it doesn’t, or at least I’ve never seen a church that does. To be fair, I think it doesn’t because it just doesn’t know how. (I have some ideas, actually, because I know this road intimately.)

The church acknowledges moms a lot. They’re not forgotten. It’s not hard to find support and friends with that common bond, is it? Mothers are everywhere in the church, so they can’t possibly feel ignored, generally, in the church. There are lots of programs, lots of women walking a similar road, lots of moms with whom to commiserate, so to my eyes, there’s no lack of company. I’m not saying that moms can’t feel alone sometimes; I’m saying the state of motherhood is certainly not ignored in the church at large.

But, frankly, I don’t think it’s the church’s job to celebrate moms. It’s the job of the individual families to celebrate their own moms. I think the church should leave this manmade Hallmark holiday to the culture at large and keep it out of the church entirely. Enough with the mom sermons on Mother’s Day (and enough with the dad sermons on Father’s Day). Enough with the flowers it gives to moms one year and enough with the flowers it gives to all women the next year so no one feels left out. (I’m not stupid. I know I’m not a mom. A flower doesn’t fix it and it’s just awkward and pandering. In the past I said “no, thank you” to those flowers.)

But back to the post I mentioned at the beginning of my tirade. You know, I was also struck by just how many Christian moms commented that they want to be asked to stand in church on Mother’s Day and that they want to be acknowledged and applauded by the entire church. Why? Why are moms entitled to acknowledgement from the entire church? Several women gave the rationale that it’s no different from Veteran’s Day when veterans are asked to stand.

And … then I had to comment. First calm down and then comment.

Because, no, it’s not like Veteran’s Day at all. When veterans are asked to stand on their day, they have served EVERYONE in that church in their service to our country. Moms don’t serve the entire church. They serve on a much smaller but no less vital front: their own home. Expecting honor from people you don’t serve in your capacity as mom is expecting honor that you’re not entitled to. If I were a mom, I’d care much more about things like a scribbled homemade card that says “I love you, mommy,” burnt toast and runny eggs, a sloppy mani-pedi, or a bouquet of random flowers from my yard than any polite applause from people in church who don’t even know what kind of mom I am. Who cares about that? And if a person does care about that, I think they have to ask themselves why.

Maybe moms want to feel like heroes for a little while. I can understand that, but, again, they’re heroes to the family they serve, not the church at large. No, it’s not on the same scale size-wise, but isn’t it much more meaningful?

And about that standing acknowledgement, can I be blunt – or more blunt? The only thing that separates a mom from a non-mom is that all the male-female parts worked correctly and in a timely fashion. The “standing mom” acknowledgement that some churches employ is for the physical fact of being a mom. It isn’t a judgment nor is it an endorsement. It’s not saying “these women are all great moms”; it’s saying “these women are all moms.”

At its core, it’s really a physiological difference that separates a mom from a non-mom, but the church doesn’t do other such acknowledgements and celebrations based on physiological differences, does it? You don’t hear “Stand up if you don’t have diabetes.” “Stand up if you can see.” “Stand up if you don’t have ED.” “Stand up if you can stand up.”

Absurd, right?

I stay away from church on Mother’s Day. I have for years and I don’t see that ever changing – for the rest of my life. I won’t go. In my house, it’s called “Tracey Day” and I get spoiled rotten. That’s how I cope and how I will always cope with this manufactured, exclusionary day.

But would Mother’s Day really be diminished for Christian moms if the church didn’t acknowledge it? Would the Christian mom feel gypped if there weren’t flowers passed out, sermons preached, applause offered? There are plenty of non-Christian moms who don’t get applauded by a roomful of people on that day, so are their Mother’s Days qualitatively worse for the lack of it? I rather doubt it.

I just looked this up: Mother’s Day was established as a holiday 100 years ago – in 1914.

So I’m just wondering.

If this were 1913, what would Christian moms do?

April 23, 2014

i can’t look away from the duggars

Oh, those Duggars. (You know, “19 Kids and Counting Until Michelle’s Uterus Falls Out or Jim Bob’s Penis Falls Off.”)

On last night’s episode, the first Duggar daughter-in-law said this to her toddler son:

DIL: Today at the store, we’re going to practice self-control, okay?
KID: Mmm ……….
DIL: Do you know what that is?
KID: Mmmm ………
DIL (said like a mantra): Instant obedience to do what is right.

Well, yes, that’s the definition of “self-control” in a patriarchal fundamentalist context. Self-control to them is actually total parental control which isn’t actually “self”-control at all, now is it? And this control applies to their kids of all ages, not just the littlest ones. I just find it fascinating that obedience = self-control.

If they’re following the discipline system advocated by those cray-cray Pearls — which they are — then “instant obedience” is required at all times and they’re punished whenever they don’t display instant obedience. You don’t see that part on the TV show, though, because it’s all about being “good witnesses” as opposed to being authentic.

April 8, 2014

get off the roller coaster

Over the last month or so, I’ve been reading the online Christian commentary/reviews surrounding the movies “God is Not Dead” and “Noah” and I’ve come to a conclusion: Christians need to jump off the validation-persecution roller coaster they allow themselves to ride when “Christian-themed” movies are released. “God is Not Dead” comes out and Christians everywhere applaud that “The Christian guy wins the movie! Hurrah!” The high of validation. Then “Noah” comes out and Christians everywhere boo and hiss that “The movie is gnostic and pagan! How dare they mess with a biblical story! The depths of persecution.

And I don’t get it. I really don’t. I don’t understand the intense emotional investment here, the endless cycle of “good movie/bad movie” hysteria that does nothing, ultimately, to move anyone closer to Jesus in any genuine way. Some Christians seem to need to praise or condemn a movie as a requirement of their faith, which I find bizarre: “Look at me going to a movie where the Christian guy wins everything! I’m a good Christian!” Or “Look at me lambasting a movie that messes with our biblical traditions! I’m a good Christian!” (Well, maybe, but not because of this, okay?)

It’s a movie. It’s not Jesus. It’s not the gospel. It’s not salvific. It’s a movie made for the purpose of making boatloads of money. The movie industry isn’t a 501c3. It’s a multibillion-dollar moneymaking business and its money-making goal has nothing to do with you and your beliefs. They don’t really care about your beliefs, okay? They care about stroking your religious ego with this “good” Christian-themed movie – if it makes them money — or stoking your religious hysteria with that “bad” Christian-themed movie – if it makes them money. And that’s all it is. It’s a business for them but we seem to need it to be The Church. It’s not. It’s entertainment.

Hollywood doesn’t care about this self-made roller coaster Christians are on, but they’ll ride along if there’s money in it. Christians, however, ride the roller coaster because they choose to get on. So get off. Get off the roller coaster and see it for what it is: our own self-made misery regarding our perceived rights and/or perceived persecution. Hollywood is under no obligation to make Christians happy. We need to stop being so emotionally invested in “good movie vs bad movie.” We need to stop expecting miracles from “Christian-themed” movies when most of them are — aesthetically — crap. We need to stop bitching about them when they fall short of our personal expectations or agenda and we need to stop praising them when they do our job of offering an apologetic for the faith. We need to stop being so insecure in our faith that a 90-minute movie can soar us to heights of validation or depths of persecution.

Hollywood isn’t in the business of making Christians happy, nor should it be.

So next time the roller coaster stops, get off.

January 4, 2013

the reading of the resolutions

So we were at my brother’s yesterday having some New Year’s time with the family. Original Banshee, now 8, has been hooked on making New Year’s resolutions since she was just 4 — an obsession for which I have only myself to blame since I introduced her to the idea — and now, since she’s a very ducks-in-a-row kind of girl, it’s a yearly ritual we must do together. She took it a little hard that we weren’t going to be there exactly on January 1st, since we were trapped in the deep dark middle of nowhere, but she miraculously survived the disappointment and we did her resolutions yesterday. Last year, she made 8 resolutions — because she turned 8 that year — and completed 6, which is pretty darn good if you ask me. One of them was “Get along better with (little sis)” and while I, as an impartial observer, couldn’t necessarily say she achieved that goal, she thought differently and nevertheless crossed it off the list as done. “I now get along beautifully with my little sister — done!”

This year, it’s 9 resolutions because she turns 9 next month, and while I see this trend becoming increasingly onerous for her as the years pile on, she remains fiercely undeterred and makes her number of resolutions match her number of years.

Woe to my future 93-year-old niece!

Doing resolutions with Original Banshee is a very specific process. She gets out a piece of paper and a certain Sharpie she likes. No wimpy-inked resolutions for this kid. Oh, no. If a Sharpie is good enough for John Travolta’s entire hairline, it’s good enough for OB’s New Year’s resolutions. She places a newspaper underneath the paper so she won’t get Sharpie marks on the table, which I think is pretty considerate for an 8-year-old girl. Then, with a furrowed brow, she spends approximately the next 57 minutes writing the word R E S O L U T I O N S at the top of the page with thick underlining, including the date and the age she will be for most of the year. If you’re hearing Pomp and Circumstance pounding through your head right now, let me assure you that’s entirely appropriate.

After this slow-motion preamble that’s almost unendurable for scattershot types like me, she looks at me with wide blue eyes and asks me what her resolutions should be.

I ain’t kidding. All that focus and deliberation and then, “Tee Tee, what should I put??”

I blink at her. I don’t know. How do I know? I don’t even do resolutions, kid.

But there’s what I think and what I say and sometimes — only occasionally — they don’t match and so I don’t say those things to her.

Because I know Original Banshee has a hard time deciding what to do and, since I know that’s the case, I start rambling an elaborate list of stupid things she will not want to do in any way, shape, or form just to get her mental juices flowing.

“Well, hm. Do you want to dress like a rainbow clown for a month?”

“No, Tee Tee!”

“Okay. Well, cross off that option. See? It’s good to know this stuff. Original Banshee does not want to dress like a rainbow clown for a month.”

From across the room Banshee Girl chimes in. “I do!!”

“Okay, sweetie. Well, you can write that down as one of yours, if you want.”

“Yay!!”

Original Banshee puts on her big sister hat. Truth be told, she never takes off her big sister hat.

“Sissy, you can’t dress like a rainbow clown for a month!”

“Yes, I can!”

“No, you can’t.”

“Yes, I CAN!”

And that whole getting along better dealio goes all to pot, you see.

It’s worth noting here that that was not one of her resolutions this year.

“Okay, sweetie. Let’s think. Uhm ……. do you want to ……. find people with smelly feet and smell them every day?”

“Tee Tee! EW. That’s icky. Plus, it would be awkward!”

“Awkward” has been her favorite, most-used word for at least a year now and that wasn’t even a resolution either.

“Okay. But see how we’re getting closer to what you do want to do?”

“Not really.”

“Well, now we know two things you don’t want to do.”

“Nobody wants to do those things, Tee Tee.”

“Well, you can’t know that for sure, can you? Maybe someone somewhere is smelling smelly feet right now.”

She giggles and shakes and holds her stomach until her blue eyes pop huge with a sudden idea.

“Oh, wait! I know one! Go to Hawaii!”

Her mom chimes in drily from the kitchen.

“Yeah. Start saving your money, honey.”

She giggles even more but writes it down anyway, spelling Hawaii correctly with no assistance.

As she finishes that, I mention a sketch of a fruit bracelet she’d drawn and shown me earlier. “That was really good, sweetie. I love it. So let’s make that happen. Make that bracelet. I’d wear it.”

“Really, Tee Tee??”

“Absolutely.”

She writes it down, words fairly bursting now from her adamant Sharpie. From there on out, she’s rolling downhill. There are cupcakes lessons with Tee Tee, finishing her novel, making a music video, singing for people in a nursing home, reading a book a week, creating a picture book, arranging a day camp for younger kids, and, phhhhew, I think that’s 9, isn’t it?

She then clears her throat, stands up, and announces to the room that it’s time for The Reading of the Resolutions which she does in a clear proud voice.

The kid is a force of nature, I tell you.

All I know is that she will be a very busy little girl this year and, frankly, I’m tired already.

December 22, 2012

back in the new year

Hey, pippa!

Moving has been crazy. We’re still getting settled, everything is in chaos, and yet, house guests are descending upon us this very night. (They invited themselves …. ahem and grrrrrrrrrr.)

After that, we’re headed to the deep dark middle of nowhere — although we live in our own version of that now — to hang with the tortoise in the drawer and in-laws in their underwear.

Good times. Good times.

I will report back here in the New Year with tales of country life, severed crows’ heads, marauding turkeys, and hopefully, no in-laws in underwear.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone!

December 3, 2012

we’re in!  we’re in!

We’re in our new place!

This week has been totally crazed and surreal, pippa.

More to come when I get a chance to breathe.

November 26, 2012

moving day!!!

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!

More to come from our new mountain home, pippa!

November 21, 2012

happy thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful time of thanks with family and friends this weekend, pippa!

I’m thankful for each of you.

I’ll be in radio silence until after Moving Day Monday — then I’ll report back here. ;-)

November 13, 2012

la casa montana

Front view:

front-yard.jpg

Backyard:

backyard.jpg

Our deck — not a great angle, but it’s pretty huge:

house-back.jpg

Our kitchen/dining room. I love the dining area. I love the kitchen, but I do not like the counter/cabinet combo. Way too blah. Will be doing something about that ASAP. I love the floor, though. And look! You walk out the sliding door to eat al fresco on the deck! Weeee!

kitchen-dining.jpg

Our living room. (The carpet looks a weird color in this shot. Oh well.) Look! You can see our “front porch”!

living-room.jpg

We move on the 26th!

November 5, 2012

it’s about to getting really interesting or really boring

Now, I understand I’ve neglected my blog this summer and …. now the summer has turned to autumn, etc., and the weeds are growing taller and thicker each day. Lots of reasons. Just life getting in the way.

On top of all that we’ve been busy because we’re moving three weeks from today.

Up to the local mountains.

Yep. We’re about to become rednecks or hippies or hicks or peckerwoods or all of the above. It’s our dream, you see, being peckerwoods.

Well, it IS something MB and I have wanted to do for several years but it’s just never worked out until now. It’s been an interesting confluence of desires that brought this about. We’ve always wanted to try living up there and my parents, who also love the area, were looking for an investment property. So the four of us went house-hunting, a month-long exercise in holding my tongue which met with patchy success at best. Really, after a few weekends of clenched jaws and tight lips, I didn’t think there was any way the four of us would agree on a place since our tastes are quite divergent. But somehow we did. Miraculously, we did. We found a place we all agreed on, my parents made an offer, got an insanely low interest rate, and here were are.

Moving to the mountains.

We’re renting the place from them which I hope (fingers crossed) will be a positive experience. We’ll be living in the biggest place we’ve ever lived in in our whole marriage. I hardly know what to do with that much space and we definitely don’t have enough furniture to fill it all. There will be vast empty spaces begging to be filled — and begging for a long time, I imagine. Those of you who’ve been reading here for long time know we lost our condo four years ago and have been renting a different condo in a less-than-desirable neighborhood since then. It’s been rough. It messes with your head and how you see yourself, those kinds of losses. You move on, but it’s not the same you that moves on. After so much loss and disappointment for so long, you get used to wanting less and less for yourself. Or maybe you get used to expecting less and less for yourself. You erase all desires from your heart and mind and become an accidental Buddhist.

So while this is something we’d wanted and hoped for for a long time, we’re used to wanting and hoping for things that don’t happen. I’m still in a state of shock that it’s actually happening. We’ll be living in a yellow house with a green door nestled among the oaks and pines and quiet.

I’ve always wanted to live in a yellow house with a red door but we can definitely paint the door.

I’m pinching myself.

Well, in between panic attacks.

I don’t know for sure what life will be like up there. It’s a small town. Really small. It’s a tourist trap on weekends. Allow me to paint with a very broad brush here and say the place seems to be populated by both a fair share of right-wing homeschooling Christians and fair share of left-wing hemp-wearing hippies. Honestly, I’m not sure where we’ll fit in on my intolerant little spectrum there. (Narrow-minded town bigots, I guess.) I imagine we’re too hippie for the Christians and too Christian for the hippies, but we’ll have to wait and see. Maybe we’ll have to create our own offshoot of the spectrum and make everyone wonder how to fit into our special branch of things. “Are you a narrow-minded bigot! Come sit by us!”

I know it’s going to be an adjustment. I don’t know how big an adjustment it will be. I can’t know for sure until we’re there.

Oh, here’s the other thing:

For those of you who have read it, this town is the little town mentioned in our Maybe Church saga.

And, yes, “Joe” lives there.

Indeed he does.

As I said, we’ve wanted to do this for a long time, long before we ever set foot in that crazy place and experienced that bizarre scenario. We even shelved the whole idea for a couple of years after leaving because we knew that Joe lived there. But then MB said, “Look. We can’t keep making decisions based on Joe’s comfort level. He doesn’t get to control our lives.”

Still, I was dubious for a long time.

But MB’s right. Joe doesn’t get to influence our decisions anymore, so he didn’t.

We’re moving there despite the fact that he lives there. I’m sure we’ll run into him, his wife, his kids. I have no idea what will happen but I assume they will be as friendly now as they were then. Ahem. MB has declared that when he sees Joe, he’s going to run up to him, give him a huge bear hug, and say with a choke in his voice, “Oh, Joe. Joe! I’m so glad you’re here!”

While I doubt he’ll actually do that, the mental image makes me giggle because it’s so absurd.

So life in this small town? Well, it’s about to get really interesting or really boring.

Stay tuned for tales of angst and woe as we transition to redneck hippies.

Or something.

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