Archive - Jun 2008
Both boys enjoy playing the piano and are going to take some lessons this summer. Here's some footage of Finn playing one of his favorite tunes:
Here's another video of Finn playing some original compositions and Elliot playing harmonica:
I was a bachelor for several days last week and had a sort of bachelor's film festival...watching movies I didn't think Lisa would mind missing: 300, Black Snake Moan, This Film is Not Rated, Invincible, X-Men: The Last Stand, Nacho Libre, and Blades of Glory. I'll more to say about each later, but I was pretty much right that Lisa wouldn't mind missing them except maybe for Black Snake Moan and Invincible. I didn't delete Invincible so I can show it to my football-obsessed boys at a later date. I didn't know what to expect from Black Snake Moan (and had only seen the bizarre preview of Samuel L. with Christina Ricci chained up), but it turned out to be pretty good too.
Finn received a Bugville Butterfly Tree House for his birthday. The butterflies recently emerged from their cocoons and had a few moments of freedom today courtesy of Elliot. Here are some photos:
About a year ago I had a conversation with a friend in response to one of her blog posts. It was about how family planning fits (or doesn't) with yielding to "God's will." At the time I thought about the issue a bit (and also had a few conversations Lisa on the subject) and took the time to do a reasonable job of typing out what I was thinking (kind of rare). The subject sort of came up again today with some other friends which prompted me to check to see if I still had a copy of what I wrote (which I did) and to preserve it here:
It's wonderful that your family has found such peace and happiness where before there was burden and frustration. I certainly found your post interesting and have a few comments from my perspective. Admittedly, I haven't done any additional reading (e.g. about Above Rubies), so I may be missing the point or ignorant about some areas of the philosophy. Also, I won't be surprised if I'm not able to describe what I'm thinking in a way that is crystal clear.
Again, obviously the path your family has taken has led you from frustration to blessings and peace. I'm convinced along with you that this happened because you decided to accept whatever God brought you and to serve him in it.
However, I suspect this decision to faithfully accept God's will is largely independent of what choices you make in terms of family planning. Fundamentally, I believe that accepting God's will and receiving that peace of mind does not imply that my actions (or inaction) cease to have an influence on what happens.
I can continue to act according to my understanding of God's will and according to my desires (to the extent that they are consistent with my understanding of God's will) (with my primary desire being to love and serve God). In my opinion, it is fundamentally an attitude of accepting whatever God brings...not a commitment to any particular path of action or inaction ("interfering").
I think I have a different understanding about "God's will", interfering with it, etc. You can probably get a sense of that viewpoint in the comments to one of my blog posts: link. I'm not sure about this dichotomy between my control and God's. I think it's an illusion that I'm ever really in control, no matter what I do. Obviously, if God wants to, he can accomplish whatever he desires no matter what I do. On the other hand, my actions also have an obvious potential to affect what happens.
Therefore, I wonder about this:
"The stance of this ministry was definitely to turn family planning over to God, rather than take matters into our hands and try to prevent or plan for children."
In the area of family planning, what does it really mean to turn it over to God versus take matters in our own hands? How can you define one and only one particular path as turning it over to God and all others as interfering?
No matter what we do, we have some potential to influence the outcome. Birth control is an obvious one, but so many other factors have an influence: ovulation irregularities, egg or sperm problems, physical health of the husband and wife, stress level of the wife, whether or not the husband uses a laptop, does the husband wear whitey-tighties or boxers, frequency of love-making, level of nutritional health, etc.
Because many of these factors are at least partially within our control and influenced by our choices, it is inevitable that we will interfere. On the other hand, if our interference is contrary to God's will, he can make that clear (like he did for you) or work his will regardless.
As an analogy, Lisa contracted pneumonia a few weeks back. She assumed that it was God's will that she recover, and so went to the doctor and got a prescription for antibiotics. Within a week or so, she got better. Did she turn her health over to God or did she interfere? I would argue that she did both and that accepting that God has ultimate control over an aspect of your life does not imply that you not take action that you believe to be consistent with God's will.
Then it comes down to me trying to understand what God's will is for my family concerning children. How many kids does God want me to have? Is there an optimum number? As many as possible? A "large" number? What's the biblical basis? No matter what your answer concerning the target and the biblical basis, I assume that the biblical basis is rather subtle. I tend to think that God speaks clearly about the really important things. The number of kids I have is largely irrelevant, I believe.
Getting back to the theme of the blog post I linked above, the clear will of God regarding children that I see in the Bible is that I love them and train them in his ways...not that I have a certain number. That is his general will. In the exceptional case that he has a more specific plan, he can certainly reveal that (as he did for you) but I don't believe that he has already revealed in the scriptures a more specific plan.
About kids being a burden...I'm sure some people have that attitude and I'm sure that most every parent has had that feeling at some point, but I don't believe that it is generally as widespread as you imply. At least in my experience, most of the parents I know do not consider their kids to be a burden. I don't. About "large" families, you mentioned some benefits for the kids (learning skills, service, unselfishness). Are there any down sides for the kids? Are there not opportunities for those benefits in smaller families? Is it really better to have a family so large that the older kids raise the younger kids...better for the older kids? better for the younger kids? Humans and their families are highly adaptable such that I have no doubt that many different arrangements work out OK in the end...but 10 kids, really? That's what is best for everyone?
I think I've rambled enough. I hope I've been able to communicate my point of view. I hope it's clear that I'm not trying to criticize the path you've taken. Though it would be unfair to assume it, one might get the impression from your blog post that you were promoting the path you've taken as THE right way. I think what I'm trying to do is argue that the path you've taken is not the only one that can lead to the blessings you've experienced.