Category: Gospel and Culture

Gaining Fatherhood Isn't Without Loss

As I continue to prepare for fatherhood (Robie is in her 28th week), I have been helped by conversations, books and prayer. Today I met with a dear friend whose wife has the same due date (9/11, redeeming that date one birth at a time) to discuss the challenges, concerns and blessings of pregnancy and impending fatherhood. Although we realize we will never be “ready for fatherhood,” we took great encouragement that we are not alone, that we have a heavenly Father who has wired us for this all-important calling. “See how great a love the Father has given to us that we might be called children of God.” (1 Jn 3.1)

Believe it or not, the challenges set in before the baby is born. Although our wives have the hardest part (morning sickness, weight gain, hormonal changes, fatigue, etc.), their challenges call for husbands to relinquish their time to attend to their needs. My friend and I agree that our wives have been incredibly graceful and faith-full as they enter this unusual 9 month experience. Nevertheless, it takes time to pick up the slack, to clean more, to go to doctor’s appointments, to plan for life change. Losing time now is a foretaste of things to come (add to that sleep and sanity).

However, doing stuff isn’t the essence, though its essential, to parenting. In Becoming A Dad, James and Thomas write: “The priorities of joy-filled fathering must never be about doing more, learning more, or acquiring more skills. Rather, our focus as godly men must remain about discovering a life of authenticity and abundance based in the person of Christ…As fathers, we are called to acknowledge and experience the uniqueness of our children. This can only be done by naming, facing, and embracing our losses- the loss of free time, the loss of couplehood, the loss of money, the loss of privacy, the loss of sleep, the loss of freedom, the loss of quiet, to name only a few.” (and reading books like this one!)

Of course, loss is central to the Christian life, but it isn’t an end in itself. “Whoever wishes to gain his life must lose it.” (Luke 9.24) We lose our life, our lordship, in order to GAIN something, namely incomparable life, life filled with the fragrance of Jesus. So, my hope in parenthood is the same as it is in marriage and all of life, that I would gain Christ in every step, wherever it leads. Another father and friend has summed up the essence of fatherhood well: “In order to be a good father, try to be a good son.”

So, the joy set before us is to revel in our sonship. Sure, that will be really hard at times, but its worth it. Although gaining fatherhood isn’t without loss; its also not without gain!

Bono on the God of the Old Testament

In the recently released, Bono: in conversation with Michka Assayas, French journalist and U2 critic interviews Bono on a host of topics from childhood struggles to adulthood egotism and all kinds of stuff in between. The most authoritative book available on Bono (not U2 per se), this penetrating conversation draws you deep into the dreams and fears, faith and follies of the Irish rock star.

Interestingly, Bono does not back down from the hard questions. Although, at times, he attempts to sidestep them, Michka hunts him down with inquisitive force. As a result, some of Bono’s theology (quite good) is thrust out onto the pages of this exposing 323 page interview.

Michka inquires: “What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so Peace and Love.” (name of a new song on HTDAAB)

Bono answers:

There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey form stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Batman and Philosophy

Film director Christopher Nolan’s (The Following, Memento) Batman Begins, begins tonight, well actually tomorrow, 12:01 for the real Bat-fans. Whereas all previous Batman films have captured the “super” in the hero, apparently Nolan’s film is going to answer the question, “How did the “bat” get into the ‘man’?” Although likely far from Nolan’s existential, The Following, one wonders just how deep Nolan will dig to get to Batman’s beginnings?

It appears that heroes of modernism have been replaced by new heroes, post-modern heroes. Intriguingly, on October 14, 2004 the superhero of modernism, Superman, a.k.a. Christopher Reeve, died the same day as Jacques Derrida, the philosophical hero of postmodernism. Far from burying either modernism or postmodernism as ethical and philosophical frameworks, the deaths of these two individuals are reflected in recent Hollywood heroes. For instance, take the recent Jason Bourne of The Bourne Identity. When compared to the smooth, sexy and confident 007 of the James Bond legacy, Bourne appears conflicted, lost and confused. Bond is a indifferent assassin, whose female relationships are superficial and sundry. Bourne, on the other hand, is a conscientious killer, committed to one woman, a woman whom he loses. Bond appears omniscient, whereas Bourne is ignorant. Suffering from amnesia, Bourne is searching for his identity and is happy to have discovered his name. Bond’s egotism generates an unreal and un-relatable personality; he even goes by a pseudonym, 007.

So where does Batman fall in the superhero shuffle? Plagued by the death of his parents at an early age, Batman is a tortured soul searching for justice and identity. Oscillating between the Bond-like Bruce Wayne and the Bourne Batman, the masked hero simultaneously portrays the images and traits of both modernism and postmodernism. So who is he? Well, Mark Reinhart, author of “The Batman Filmography,” thinks that Batman is who we want him to be. In an interview by Mac Daniel of the Boston Globe, Reinhart contends that Batman is meant to absorb all of our perceptions, that “none of us is more right than anyone else,” making Batman everyone’s hero and no-one at the same time, a classic post-modern conundrum. One thing is for sure, Superman or Batman, Bond or Bourne, only One hero does it for me, one who is the same yesterday, today and forever- Jesus the Christ.

Children of the Devil

This morning I spent my devotion in 1 John 3. I was struck by the unequivocal, black and white nature of John’s statement: “the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning…By this the children of God and the children of devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God…(3.8, 10).” If I practice sin, I’m a child of the devil?! My first inclination is to harmonize what John says with what he says elsewhere, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake (1.12).” As a result, I “escape” the exhortation, I soften the blow of John’s bold statement.

But upon reflection, I don’t think John wants us to harmonize. Sure, he wants us to read in context and rest in the cross but he doesn’t want us to stay stuck in 1.12…he wants us to keep reading. Although Christ has come to decisively defeat Satan, I’m still left with a choice. Will I follow Jesus or will I follow Satan? Will I pursue righteousness or sinfulness? Will I behave in such a way today that I am conformed to the image of the devil or the image of Christ? Practicing sin starts now and so does practicing righteousness.

So where might devilish behavior manifest itself? I don’t have to look far. The tendency to complain about the weather, instead of exalt God for his omnipotence over it and his character in it (extreme temperatures reveal the might of God), is one expression of subdued anger (add to this related sins of grumpiness, self-sulking, cutting remarks, etc.). Satan is the epitome of anger, dissent, accusation. He doesn’t trust God in less than desirable circumstances; he blames God. He longs to lull us into subtle sins, sins of complacency and complaint. He plots to conform us to his angry image, to make us like children of the devil.

What would it look like for me, for us, to trust God even in weather we don’t desire? In circumstances or situations that are uncomfortable or undesirable. How might a child of God respond to these things? Will be content or will we complain? Angry or awestruck at God’s awesome power. Oh, to not act like children of the devil but like children of God!