Wishing you a Happy New Year

We are on the road heading out of town now for the holiday, but I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

We stopped at the Dexter Bakery on the way out this morning to fortify ourselves with coffee and doughnuts, and they had made these rather clever cookies especially for New Year’s Eve:

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I let each of the girls get one, to be saved and eaten at midnight.  May your evening be as sweet, and may 2016 bring you peace and God’s blessing!

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Just shut up and listen.

In Unhinged, Dalrock writes about an incident highlighted in Tim and Kathy Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage:

“In the section titled The Godly Tantrum, Tim explains that Kathy wanted Tim to work fewer hours, but he was focused on the goals of his ministry.  Tim offers this story as encouragement to readers “not to shrink from really telling the truth to one another.”

One day I came home from work.  It was a nice day outside and I noticed that the door to our apartment’s balcony was open.  Just as I was taking off my jacket I heard a smashing noise coming from the balcony.  In another couple of seconds I heard another one.  I walked out on to the balcony and to my surprise saw Kathy sitting on the floor.  She had a hammer, and next to her was a stack of our wedding china.  On the ground were the shards of two smashed saucers.

“What are you doing?  I asked.”

She looked up and said, “You aren’t listening to me.  You don’t realize that if you keep working these hours you are going to destroy this family.  I don’t know how to get through to you.  You aren’t seeing how serious this is.  This is what you are doing.”  And she brought the hammer down on the third saucer.  It splintered into pieces.

Tim explains that this was the wakeup call that he needed to decide to work fewer hours.”

In She Only Acted Crazy To Get Her Own Way, Dalrock continues discussing this incident (highlighting in the first paragraph is mine):

“There is another point worth bringing up in this episode, and that is the meaning of the complementarian expression “listen to your wife”.  This is another case where the complementarian expression means something quite different than what the words would suggest on their face.  Just like “servant leader” doesn’t mean headship, and “submission” means rebellion, “listen to your wife” doesn’t mean simply listen to her.   When spoken by a complementarian, “listen to your wife” means do as she says (emphasis mine):

I sat down trembling. I thought she had snapped. “I’m listening. I’m listening,” I said. As we talked it became clear that she was intense and laser focused, but she was not in a rage or out of control emotionally.  She spoke calmly but forcefully.  Her arguments were the same as they had been for months, but I realized how deluded I had been.  There would never be a convenient time to cut back.  I was addicted to the level of productivity I had achieved.  I had to do something.  She saw me listening for the first time and we hugged.

Note that they had been discussing this for months.  He had heard her arguments but didn’t agree with her on the correct decision.  This is what complementarians call “not listening”.  “Listening” means agreeing with her.”

 

Is it true that what complementarians mean by “listening to your wife” is agreeing with your wife and doing what she says?  This is actually a very serious accusation, and therefore all of us who take biblical marriage seriously should be concerned about this charge because if it is true, what complementarians are teaching is directly counter to what the Bible says about the marital hierarchy of headship and submission:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

The Bible says the husband is to be the head of the wife.  He should listen to her and then make a decision about what course of action is best to pursue.  However, if what complementarians mean by “listening” is agreeing with your wife and doing what she says, then this is teaching that the wife is to be the head of the husband, a direct inversion of what is taught in the Bible.

Is Dalrock’s charge true?  After all, it is seemingly based only on Pastor Tim Keller’s story.

A couple years ago, my husband and I participated in a couple’s Bible study, The Art of Marriage, at our church.  The featured pastors for this series are like a Who’s Who of the complementarian evangelical world−Voddie Baucham, Bryan L. Carter, Michael Easley, Dr. Wayne Grudem (President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), Dave Harvey, Mary Kassian, Albert Mohler, Russell D. Moore, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Paul Tripp, Dave and Ann Wilson, and others.  The Art of Marriage is essentially evangelical complementarianism in its pure, distilled form and thus can serve to either prove or refute Dalrock’s charge.

During one of the video teaching segments, Pastor Dave Wilson and his wife Ann discussed a difficult time in their marriage.  He was growing a new church while also serving as team chaplain for the Detroit Lions, and he was very busy and away from home more than his wife wanted him to be.

She had tried discussing her unhappiness with him, she said, but he was not cutting back enough in her estimation.  On their tenth wedding anniversary, he planned a nice date and took her out to dinner.  He arranged for individual roses to be delivered periodically to their table while he lovingly reminisced about each year of their marriage.  She grew increasingly angry with him, and later when they left and went to park at the site where their new church would be built, he leaned over to kiss her and she turned away.

When he asked her what was wrong, she told him that she had lost her feelings for him (i.e. no longer loved him) because he was gone too much for work.  He was devastated and started to disagree with her, reaching for his calendar to show her all the times he’d been home when, he says, he suddenly felt the Holy Spirit telling him,

Don’t say a word. Listen.  Just shut up and listen.

So he listened to her and then prayed and repented and asked God to help him be a better father and husband who was home more, as his wife wanted him to be.  He said their marriage improved after that.

You can watch the video segments here:

At the time we viewed this, it really bothered me.  Although I can’t fault her for missing her husband and wanting more of his time and attention, it seemed to me that Mrs. Wilson had behaved very ungraciously on their anniversary evening out.  Surely, I thought, she could have continued to discuss her feelings with him in a more respectful way and then committed to praying about the situation while abiding by his decision, whatever it was.  After all, he was very busy with work, not only building a ministry he was (presumably) called by God to start, but also providing for his family.  And many women in the world have to take care of matters at home on their own more than they would like because their husbands are gone long hours for work – just ask a military wife about deployment.  Or ask my sister, whose husband’s work schedule since leaving the army is six weeks on an oil rig in the ocean and then one week home, followed by six weeks away again, maybe in the oil fields in Wyoming this time.

Viewed from that lens, Mrs. Wilson’s story begins to look a bit self-centered, frankly.

But even if he was truly in error in how he was dividing his time, it seemed to me that it would have been best to speak with him respectfully about it and then pray often, asking God to handle the situation.  Delivering an I no longer love you because you are gone for work too much type of speech on their tenth anniversary doesn’t really square with what the Bible says in Ephesians 5.  As we sat in church that evening in 2014 watching this video, I felt a strong sense of unease about what we wives were being taught.

Looking at their story now, two years later, it clearly seems to support Dalrock’s charge.  The Wilsons’ story is eerily similar to the Kellers’ except that Mrs. Wilson doesn’t violently smash anything.  But there is still a veiled threat implicit in telling your husband that you no longer love him on your tenth anniversary date night.  Pastor Wilson even talks about getting the sense that he was supposed to “just shut up and listen” to his wife, as Pastor Keller had with Mrs. Keller, while she told him what she had told him repeatedly before,.

Again, Pastor Wilson may very well have been in error in how he was choosing to use his time.  But whose job is it to make that decision – his wife’s or God’s?

The creators of The Art of Marriage included this anecdote as an example of the correct way to solve what may have been an error in Pastor Wilson’s decision-making.  The only way he could demonstrate that he was finally really “listening” to his wife was by agreeing with her and doing what she said.

In other words, she became the head of the marriage and his spiritual leader, and he submitted to her as unto the Lord.

And all the complementarian evangelicals said, “Amen!”

This is profoundly disturbing.

 

 

Listening to the wind and counting blessings

The wind is a-howlin’ tonight and it has been raining ice for most of the day…a perfect night for curling up in bed with a cup of hot tea.  I spent most of the day in the kitchen, since bad weather always makes me want to cook and bake and clean.  I don’t know why; it’s like I have this deep need to prepare food when the weather turns very bad.

I have a bit of a wind phobia, actually, since about 13 or 14 years ago we had a terrible windstorm that brought down a huge old cottonwood tree on our house and crushed my car, which was parked in the driveway, like a pancake.  Since then I get the heebie-jeebies whenever it’s extremely windy.

“But we don’t have to worry about losing power,” I proclaimed happily to my husband earlier this evening, “because we have a generator!”  One of my most favorite little perks in this house has been the generator that automatically comes on when the power goes out.  It’s come on a handful of times since we’ve lived here when storms have knocked out the power, including the very first day we owned the house.

Not ten minutes later after remarking on how we don’t have to worry about losing power, the power went out.  The girls started to panic, but don’t worry girls, I said cheerfully, we have a generator.  And any minute now, it’ll kick on…any minute now…any minute.

Um.

Hey honey, why isn’t the generator coming on?

Five minutes later, clad in heavy boots and coats and bearing flashlights, we skidded across the icy grass over to the generator to have a look.  My husband’s usual first course of action in these kinds of situations is to give the non-functioning appliance a good swearing-at.  You’d be surprised how often just telling a mechanical object what a piece of shit it is will cause it to shamefacedly spring back to life.

But the generator stubbornly refused to be cowed into fixing itself by being called four-letter words.  And then the electricity came back on by itself, so my husband was spared having to try to diagnose and possibly fix the potentially-broken generator in the midst of the raining ice, raging winds and pitch dark.

Only now I’m sitting in bed all anxious, listening to the wind and worrying about the power going out.  Which would mean not only no lights, but no heat and no water since we have well water here.

So I’m counting my blessings instead of worrying.  Care to join me?

Let’s see…if your house wasn’t blown away in a tornado or flooded out like in Texas or Missouri, well then, you’ve got something to be very grateful for!  My sister and her husband live in San Antonio, and they didn’t get hit by any tornadoes, but as I’m sure you’ve heard on the news, many people in the Dallas area weren’t so lucky.

What else?  Oh, it you weren’t shot in the stomach today, you’ve also got something to be grateful for!

A 39-year-old Flint man was hunting with his 25-year-old nephew from Burton, and the pair were headed out of the woods about 5:40 p.m., Kaiser said.

“Those two are walking out of the woods at night. They hear a noise. They see a glimmer of light and believe it to be the eyes of a deer,” he said of the incident police have labeled an accidental shooting. “The nephew points his gun in that direction and fires.”

The Davison man, who was archery hunting, was struck once in the abdomen with buckshot fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, Kaiser said. The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment and was listed in stable condition.

Glad he’s okay, and I know it was an accident, but they literally hammer it into your head during Hunter’s Ed to always clearly identify your target and what is beyond it before you shoot.  You aren’t just supposed to say, “Hey, sumpin’ shiny!” *blam*

Well, you know, let’s enjoy a bit a cute humor to pass this dreary night, shall we?  This has been around for awhile apparently, but it’s new to me.  I think this might be what happens when the Youth Pastor and the high school ministry interns get a hold of the Children’s Ministry puppets.  High church-basement madness…

Which reminds me of a story from when our eldest daughter was about 3 years old.  One day whilst we were driving to church, she was wondering about how Jesus had told his disciples that he would eventually be crucified.  Well, I said, I think he managed to communicate that to them in so many words.  “But how?  Like did He use puppets or something?”

My husband and I about died laughing.  But it made sense; in her little world, profound Biblical truths were nearly always communicated via puppetry or felt boards.

May your night be safe and peaceful!

And now, for those puppets…

What I’ve been up to.

Well, it’s been busy around here, and every time I think, “Oh, I should write a blog post about that!” five things I have to do first always pop up.

But I’m settling on the couch with a cup of coffee this Sunday before undertaking the day’s baking projects to update a little here.

First, life: nothing of any great importance to report.  Just the usual Christmas stuff…making gifts, doing a lot of-cookie baking:

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…going to Christmas concerts and church events, class holiday parties, the Chelsea parade, where the high school marching band decorates their instruments with lights:

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and all the usual things that you are probably doing, too.

Suddenly it seems fashionable among certain Christian traditionalists to proclaim that the only way we are supposed to celebrate Christmas is by engaging in spiritual pursuits and religious tradition.  Now, I understand the sentiment and totally agree that the holiday for many folks has turned into an empty, meaningless glut of consumerism.  Yuck.   Among the many things Americans Don’t Need, here are two I saw:

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You don’t need a yard of cheap candy.

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You don’t need tacky candy cane underpants.

But when Mrs. Wood even said we ought not put up Christmas trees and just look out the window at the pine tree outside, well…I mean come on, we are celebrating a BIRTHDAY here.  How does one normally celebrate the birth of a baby?  Especially when that baby is a KING, for heaven’s sake?  I dunno, but at my house we’ve put up evergreen wreaths and garlands and twinkly white lights:

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…and a Christmas tree and silver bells and a glass creche and wooden creche and a Nutcracker doll and…well, you get the picture.  It doesn’t cost much – probably 85% of our Christmas decorations were either given to us as gifts or inherited from elderly relatives who were cleaning out their basements.

Anyway.  What else?  Oh yes, a movie came out this weekend, perhaps you’ve heard of it?  I didn’t go see it, but one of our daughters is a big Star Wars fan and so she and Phil went to see it yesterday. They amused themselves in line with some Star Wars picture app on his phone:

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And then they got really silly and turned Professor Diggers into a fighter pilot and Miss Ruby into Princess Leia:

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What I’m reading online: I don’t have a blogroll for this blog, but there has been a lot of really interesting reading material, both in the posts and in the comments at these ten blogs that I read regularly (this does not imply that I necessarily agree with every word written on each site):

So, just a brief post to say hello and that I’m not dead.  I hope to write a few substantive posts over Christmas break.  Hope you and yours are well!

Jiffy Mix: capitalism does not HAVE TO be predatory or anti-family.

I don’t really know much about economics but I’ve been quietly following along and thinking about the discussion of usury* happening on various blogs I read.  I do know that materialism and lifestyle striving have replaced kinship and community, but the blame for some of this mess rests at the feet of the leaders of large corporations for their predatory form of capitalism that is always looking for a way to squeeze one more penny out of humanity.

Capitalism doesn’t have to look like that.  A very wealthy elite has rigged the game in their favor, but it could look differently.  Consider this story about a local Chelsea company whose products you might even have on your shelf: Jiffy Mix.

The factory is located right in downtown Chelsea, and it’s almost ridiculously pristine and wholesome-looking for a factory.  It’s always freshly painted and neat and tidy.  Yeah, their products are pretty cheap…I don’t often use them personally since I like to bake from scratch.  But read this article:

Michigan-based Jiffy Mix plans $35 Million dollar expansion

The owner is the fourth-generation of his family to own Chelsea Milling and…his name is Howdy.  How can you not like a president named Howdy? And I love the fact that they very purposefully do not advertise at all.  But here is the best part of the story:

The expansion of production capacity does not mean Holmes will be going on a big hiring spree. The machinery that will be installed in the new mixing tower will be much more automated than the mid-20th-century tools used to churn out the retail products.

“We’re probably going to go from about 315 employees to about 240, but we’ll be producing up to seven times as much product,” Holmes said.

“But we’re going to do that without doing any layoffs because we’ve been smart about it.”

Holmes said the reason these plans weren’t executed 20 years ago is that about half the workforce is now approaching retirement age.

“We could have done this and forced people out of their jobs, but that’s not how we wanted to do it,” he said. “So now we’re starting the process and as many of these people retire we simply won’t be hiring to fill their positions.”

So they could have modernized their factory and increased production and profits twenty years ago but purposefully didn’t do so just so that they wouldn’t have to lay off their workers who were probably too old to find new jobs.  Contrast that with most other corporations you know.

This story hits close to home for me because not only do I live in Chelsea, but when I was a kid, my father lost his factory job when the factory closed up shop suddenly and moved to a cheaper labor market.  Our family went from working class to desperately poor pretty quickly.  My dad found work on the dairy farms that existed in Caledonia back then, but it wasn’t enough to support a family by any means.  Anyone who has read me for a while has already heard the tales of my teenaged years – We had no heat!  The electricity kept getting shut off for non-payment!  The government cheese was yucky and gross! – so I won’t torture you with them again.

But hearing Howdy Holmes say that he could have squeezed more revenue out of his company but chose not to do so – chose to be content with the profits he was already making – so as not to throw older workers and their families into abject poverty – is touching enough to me that I suddenly have a yen for some cheap cornbread made from a box mix.

* A few places you can read about the ongoing conversation on usury are:

Zippy Catholic (lots of posts on usury, but start here: Usury FAQ, or money on The Pill)

The Thinking Housewife (see her post: On Debt Theft for starters)

Hawaiian Libertarian:( Identifying the Root So We May Strike It)

They don’t all agree with each other, but it is interesting to read their various perspectives, especially for someone like me who knows little about the subject.

And so you see, Mom, that’s why I don’t vote.

I came out of the closet as a non-voter to my family-in-law this summer.  It was upsetting for all of us.  Especially difficult was when they asked why.  How to explain the evolution – no, rather, the clarifying – of my understanding about democracy in dinner table conversation?  See, Mom, it’s just that I have come to understand the Founding Fathers as the liberals they were.  Well, and what is wrong with liberalism, they would like to know.  The more one tries to talk and explain this kind of thing to a baffled audience, the more one realizes that other picnic-goers view you as perhaps being a sandwich or two short…

Well, they would like to know, if I don’t like liberals, why don’t I just vote Republican?  Because, you know, Republicans are conservatives, so even though you may embarrass your family by being a conservative, at least it is a thing which they can understand.  As opposed to just not voting at all which is frankly…suspicious.

My dilemma is really kind of solved now, though, for whenever my back is up against the wall and I am forced to confess my dogged refusal to vote even for conseratives, I shall simply say:

…the function of conservatism in society is to preserve and protect liberalism from its own excesses. Conservatives are the abused enablers of progressives and always will be, mopping up the vomit and excrement after the drunken binges to make sure that they can continue.

And I think that will nicely end any further dinner table queries about my political preferences.  Don’t you?