A Man is Fit to Burst

Rachel Jankovic’s second book on raising kids, Fit to Burst, had some really good sections that I, as a part-time stay-at-home dad, want to remember. And, as the wise man said, blogging something is the best way to remember it.

In Christian circles there is constant talk about free salvation. It is free, thank God. But it is only free to us. God paid a great price for it. Jesus paid with His blood. It is free to us because someone else paid a great deal. And this is why we do not work out our salvation by never doing anything that might be hard or difficult to us. We imitate Christ, and we make sacrifices for others. We do things that are hard, that cost us much, because we want our gifts to be free to others.

It can be tricky to walk the line between “by grace you have been saved” and “work out your own salvation.” Why try to do good works when salvation is given freely? Rachel gets right at the heart of it here. Salvation is given freely, but that’s only possibly because Jesus paid for it dearly. Rachel ties this to parenting by making the point that the gifts your children receive may be free to them, but they most likely came at a heavy cost to you (straining the budget, staying up late, long days at work). Like God, we joyfully pay the price so that others can receive freely.

Lord willing, your kids pay it forward.

You would like to see your kids taking what they were freely given and turning it into still more free giving. This is because God’s story is never little. He works in generations, in lifetimes, and He wants us to do the same.

I love how Rachel emphasizes the generational scope of God’s promises. Good stuff.

Another:

Good leadership is engaged and involved the whole time. It is clear about expectations and consistent about consequences. But good leadership always starts with the leader. It always starts with what you expect of yourself. If you are engaged in disciplining yourself, your children will know.

One way children learn self-discipline is by seeing their parents act it out. Someone (I forget who) used the analogy of the new recruits who think the drill sergeant is being harsh when he drags them out of bed at five in the morning. The recruits forget that the sergeant had to drag himself out of bed at 4:30 in order to give them their unwelcome wake-up call. Leaders are held to a higher standard. That’s as it should be.

One more:

In our house, we make a point to discipline only when we have a biblical name for the offense, because we want our children to know that what we are doing is enforcing God’s law. So they would know they are being disciplined for disobeying their parents, not splashing in the sink.

Just a good rule of thumb: if you can’t name the sin, don’t discipline for it. You can make a rule against splashing in the sink if you want to, but then the kids will be disciplined for breaking the rule, not for their overexuberance.

A Man is a Confused Citizen of the Ever-Changing Web

Every time the Google updates Gmail, I spend about a week like a sleepless traveler in an unfamiliar airport. Blinking lights and new shapes, all the wrong colors.

My dad recently passed an observation on to me that he got from some smart person: the airport is the quintessential 21st-century place. The airport combines consumerism, boredom, loneliness, distraction, entertainment, convenience, surveillance, and a sense of dislocated time and space. An airport is full of strangers, often miles from home, mindlessly shopping for disposable entertainment and gadgets they don’t need. They have the freedom to travel almost anywhere in the world, but at the same time, they are under constant surveillance. In an airport, be ready to part with your privacy at a moment’s notice. In most airports, every gate looks the same, so traveling to Omaha is an almost identical experience as traveling to Tahiti. You lose your sense of place. (Pilot Mark Vanhoenecker calls this “place lag.” Get his book if you like flying.) In an airport, you’re usually tired, harried, and confused, but all of your needs can be taken care of in a bland, generic, Band-aid sort of way. In an airport, the world is at your fingertips – and you just want to go home.

Sounds exactly like spending time on the internet.

A Man Named CS Lewis Drew Comics

Did you know this? I didn’t. Tolkien was always the doodler in my mind.

Cataloguing books at Theopolis today, I snagged my eye on the subtitle of this one.

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“Hitherto Unpublished Cartoons on the Occult by C. S. Lewis?”

I flipped through till I found them.

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The context is a letter from Lewis to his friend Owen Barfield, who was toying with occultist ideas like anthroposophy (which I have known about for around ten minutes). Lewis is explaining to Barfield why his approach to reality is flawed – the letter is headed “The Real Issue between Us.” I’ll let the author summarize the rest. (It’s worth noting that Lewis wrote this before becoming a Christian.)

Lewis first describes his own approach by an analogy based upon Plato’s myth of the cave: like every man, Lewis is bound to the post of finite personality so that he cannot turn around and observe reality directly; clouds behind him represent that ultimate reality or True Being. His understanding of the meaning of life comes by observing the mirror before him, which displays “as much of the reality (and such disguise of it) as can be seen” from his position. He devotes himself to studying the mirror with his eyes (“explicit cognition”) and also reaches backward with his hands “so as to get some touch (implicit “taste” or “faith”) of the real.” For Barfield the occultist, however, though his position vis-à-vis reality is necessarily the same as Lewis’, his reaction to it is far different.

What I take away from Lewis’s little attempt at art, besides once again recognizing the man’s incredible gift for coming up with analogies, is his attitude toward his own drawing. In his description of the first sketch, he seems to barely recognize the details of what he drew, almost as though he’s discovering it for the first time: “something like despairing hands,” “I detect a curious figuration,” “fancy may interpret.” I wonder if this is something that undergirds Lewis’s imagination throughout his career as a writer, that sense of exploring his own creations as though they carried on a lively existence completely independent of their maker.