Sunday, June 17, 2012

On finishing Left Behind, the novel

During my week-long travel last week to the International Shelby Conference and back, I read Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It may surprise some that I have never read it before now, but I am not a millenarian, and I therefore do not have a predisposition of interest in a book that describes millenarian vision of the end of the world -- a particularly pre-millennial vision at that. Having been pressed to read the book by a fellow member of my congregation, I decided to finally do what so many others have done and read the book. Surprisingly, I found that I agreed with a few observations made in the story; however, I don't think I was supposed to agree with them. And there are a few comments made in the "study notes" after the story that I definitely disagree with. I thought I would take this post and document some specific examples of each.

Comments with which I agree:
Chapter 1: In a flashback, Rayford Steele remembers a dialogue with his wife in which she says at one point "I've told you and told you. Saved people aren't good people, they're --" "Just forgiven, yeah, I know," [Rayford] said, feeling rejected and vulnerable in his own living room." I think some Christian truisms have become catch-phrases that alienate non-believers rather than embrace and encourage them. Instead of catch-phrases, we need heartfelt compassion. We Christians need to become the vulnerable ones.
Chapter 6: In a flashback, Rayford Steele recalls that his wife Irene "didn't want Raymie [their son] even knowing that his daddy still drank." "That's dishonest," retorts Rayford. I agree with Rayford. It is dishonest, and I believe it has been shown that children of parents who drink responsibly are more likely to drink responsibly themselves or be teetotalers by choice than are children of parents who drink irresponsibly or are teetotalers. So it would be in the best interest of their son to be completely frank rather than hide the liquor.
Chapter 9: In a dialogue with his daughter Chloe, Rayford expresses his belief that the Rapture is the explanation for the sudden disappearance of many people on earth and the subsequent tragedy and chaos that ensues. Chloe says, "Daddy, what does this make God? Some sick, sadistic dictator?" "Careful honey," Raford responds, "You think I'm wrong, but what if I'm right?" "Then God is spiteful, hateful, mean. Who wants to go to heaven with a God like that?" I have to say that if the rapture were to take place as described in the book, I would agree with Chloe.
Chapter 23: Bruce Barnes, a pastor whose Christianity only becomes sincere post-Rapture, tells Rayford and Chloe, "I've also been thinking about a smaller group within the core. I'm looking for people of unusual intelligence and courage. I don't mean to disparage the sincerity of others in the church, especially those on the leadership team. But some of them are timid, some old, many infirm. I've been praying about sort of an inner circle of people who want to do more than just survive." I don't condone this line of thinking, but I sense the veracity of the sentiment. There are stripes of "Christians" who want to categorize people and define "levels" of spirituality. They are only too willing to make "inner circles" within the church, groups of those who are "in the know" in a way that others are not. Gnosticism first introduced this sort of hierarchical notion to the Christian world view, and it has so far been impossible to eradicate completely. I prefer to leave all such judgments to God, who judges the heart and not as man judges.
Comments with which I disagree:
Russia = "Rosh" in the Bible. Last I checked, "Rosh" is a Hebrew word meaning "the head" or "the beginning," and does not mean "Russia." The similarity of phonics is pure coincidence and is termed a "false cognate" by linguists. 
"Since the demise of Rome fifteen hundred years ago, no other world government has arisen." Really? What about the British Empire? "The sun never sets on the British Empire" was once a proverb that was nearly literally true. What about the Soviet Union? I haven't checked to make sure, but it seems to me that the USSR covered more square miles than did the Roman Empire. The author allows that many have tried to be world powers but all failed. Well, Rome fell, yet it still counts. Just because the government fell doesn't mean it wasn't legitimate during its tenure as a government with world-wide influence.
"You can be sure that any city mentioned seven times in two chapters, as is Babylon in Revelation 17 and 18, will be a literal city." Huh? Just because something is mentioned often, that means you can ignore the context of the source as a visionary, symbolism-rich genre? I don't think so.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

On Destiny's First Assisted Steps

Three wobbly steps behind a rolling toy,
That's all my precious baby took today.
But oh the swell of pride in her, the joy
Of watching breakthrough moments in her play.
And more than that, her father's heart is glad
That she is growing strong enough to live
A full and happy life through Mom and Dad
And all the love and nurturing we give.
So many tries, so many falls in store
Before she walks alone, her Holy Grail,
And we must stop ourselves from helping more
Than just enough, and often let her fail.
    My child, what grand and wondrous future journeys loom
    Begun by baby steps across our living room.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturn's Day, 3/31/2012

The yard needed to be mowed today, but the rain prevented it. I was glad for the reprieve. Tomorrow I think we will pay our friends' son Jeremy to mow it. He has done a good job for us in the past, and I really need to spend time working on my backlog of handouts for the big conference coming up in June rather than on yard work. I think we're going to engage our other friend John Land to be our "landscaping" contractor instead of a company like TruGreen or ChemLawn. He has his own landscaping business, and he goes to church with us. So I'm glad to give him our business, and I think he will do a better job than a corporate flunky out to turn a crank and earn a minimum wage pay.

That's a lot of talk about maintenance, but from an aesthetic point of view, the yard (while a bit overgrown and weedy) is nicely green and has some patches of flowers coming back up. In our yard, as everywhere else, spring started early. I am confident that with John's help with fertilizer and weed killer and Jeremy's mowing skills, the yard may look better this summer than it has since we moved in.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Frigg's Day, 03/30/2012

This was a momentous week in our family as our adoption of Destiny was finalized on Wednesday. We drove up to Delaware on Tuesday afternoon and met with her birthmother for a little while before heading on up to Wilmington to spend the night and be ready for the hearing at 10:30 a.m. the next day. The visit with Destiny's birthmother went well, and it was good to "break the ice" with her in such a setting. We agreed to meetings like that at least once a year with her as long as she wants them, so we will be doing it again sometime in 2013.

On Wednesday we got up and met up with our friends Bobby & Melissa Carter, who had also driven up from Mechanicsville on Tuesday so they could be with us during the hearing. I think it's fair to say that Melissa is Susan's best friend, and so it was a blessing to have her and her husband there at the hearing. We walked over to the courthouse together, which was only a couple of blocks from our hotel, and there we also met up with the lawyer we've been working with an Danielle, the representative of Adoptions from the Heart, the agency that matched us up with Destiny's birthmother. When the judge was ready for us, we went in to the courtroom. The judge, Judge Chapman, was friendly and tall. Very tall, but also very friendly. He greeted us informally at first, and after some discussion, he called the official business to order. The official business consisted of the lawyer asking Danielle about the adoption process and getting her testimony on the record that all the legal requirements were met and that Destiny was thriving and happy in our home. Once that was complete, the judge had an informal extension of the hearing and read passages of scripture to encourage Destiny and us in our journey forward from that point, and he asked for each party to share thoughts about the new family that was forming. Everyone was encouraging and supportive. Then we took a dozen photos or so, with each person getting a chance to hold Destiny.

We received the official order of the court that Destiny should be known henceforth as Destiny Michelle Johnson and that we should be recognized as her parents. It was a great day, truly a landmark day in our lives.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Birthday Thoughts

Today is the forty-third anniversay of the day of my birth and the sixth day after the birth of my daughter Destiny. It has certainly been a unique birthday, one I will not soon forget (as in: never). It started early, as I was up with Destiny holding her while she slept from about 4:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. I decided today would be the first day we would try to keep to some kind of feeding schedule, starting with the first feeding at 7:00 a.m. This meant waking Destiny to feed her, which we have had to do each time today. Somewhat surprisingly, it has worked rather well. The day isn't over, and it is only one day, but if the trend continues, we should be able to follow the Babywise "parent directed feeding" plan pretty well.

For lunch we headed up to Dover, about twenty miles north of us here in Delaware. We found a Red Lobster and stopped. It wasn't overly busy, we were seated at a good sized table with room for the stroller to sit beside Susan, and the service was great. The Cheddar Bay biscuits were wonderful, and the entrees were quite tasty. It was a great birthday lunch. While we were there we fed Destiny (the first time we fed her out of the hotel room since she was discharged from the hospital), and changed her in the public bathroom (also a first). All went well, and Destiny got all kinds of praise for how cute she is. Truly she is cute. Here is a picture to prove it:

Once we got back to the hotel, we played some Phase 10 in the hotel lobby, which Susan won.

Overall, this feels like the most regulated day we've had in terms of being able to work "normal" activities into the routines of feeding/changing/napping that we have just let happen ad hoc until today. I am hopeful today is laying the foundation for the future.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baby steps with Destiny

Adoption is a process of steps, one small step at a time. This week we have made several steps, and we are in the middle of waiting for the next. I guess we have been in the middle of waiting for the next steps since we started the adoption journey about nine months ago (yes people have pointed out the similarity in timing between our adoption journey and a pregnancy).
Almost three weeks ago now we took the gigantic step of getting matched with a birthparent. I guess S (the birthmother) took that step for us, but we are all too happy to go with her. Then Monday we got word that the next step was happening: S was in labor and the baby was arriving. So we drove to Delaware, and we were at the hospital only a few hours after the baby was born. We got to see S and the baby in her room, and we stayed with her most of the day. S wanted us there Tuesday morning, so we went up and spent most of the morning with her and the baby.
Tuesday afternoon we took the next step, which was to finish our placement paperwork with the social worker her in Delaware. Wednesday afternoon was hard because S's emotions were more volitile, and as a result we started feeling like the certainty of the adoption was suddenly not so certain. We left the hospital after doing the paperwork with the goal of getting to the next step: discharge from the hospital for S and the baby. At that point we would have custody of Destiny and could really start being mommy and daddy to our little girl.

Wednesday we were at the hospital again early because S needed help managing the baby, especially because her six-year-old son had been brought to the hospital and was also in her room and had been there most of the previous night and morning. The experience probably solidified her decision to allow us to adopt Destiny, but it did cause some awkward moments while we were there on Wednesday. The nurses and hospital social worker came through to do the hospital paperwork for discharge, and we got some pointers on parenting a newborn. The discharge came, and it was as emotional as expected. But at the end of the day we had Destiny with us at the hotel, her sole guardians and -- for all practical purposes -- officially her parents.

So we have been here in the hotel since Monday and here with Destiny since Wednesday. We have at least two more days, and likely three or four, before the next step occurs. That step is getting permission from Delaware and Virginia to take Destiny across state lines and to our home. It cannot come soon enough. We miss our cats and the comforts of our home, but mostly we need the space to stretch out and we need the "village" of our friends and church.

Destiny is such a blessing to us! Step by baby step Destiny joins our family.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

A New Chapter Is about to Begin

It has been a long time since I posted anything to my blog here. Life has continued pretty much the same from week to week, with occasional events of interest along the way. I should have been posting at least about those events, but just haven't.

But now there is a major event looming. Susan and I are about to adopt a baby girl! She will be born on or before the 21st of July in Delaware. We will be traveling up on the 20th to be in the hospital on the 21st when the baby is born. Since we know the baby will be a girl, we've even decided on her name: Destiny Michelle Johnson. We've been getting ready to adopt for about a year, and now it's about to happen. We are just so excited to be on the cusp of a great new adventure of parenting. I'm sure there will be much more activity on this blog in the weeks and months and years to come.

Here is a picture of Destiny, courtesy her birth-mother, who told us that when she saw the picture of Susan in our adoption profile and then the sonogram pic below, she realized the baby had Susan's nose. And so she chose us.