My wife is the one who follows the parenting expert books that teach you better techniques than the old-fashioned approach of yelling and spanking when yelling doesn’t work. I tend to rebel against following what “the experts” say to do about anything. As much as I critique my fellow evangelicals for having a knee-jerk reaction against the “worldly wisdom” of “secular humanism,” it’s part of my DNA too. When my sons aren’t obeying me, I want to put them in line with a look or my voice or my belt. But I’ve been convicted recently that my need to be the big mighty papa bear has led me into sin. I had to ask my sons’ forgiveness for being a bad parent twice last week. Continue reading
First of all, I’m a yuppie. I drive a Prius and my wife drives a minivan. Thus we are full-hog yuppies. I don’t know if other yuppies are neurotic, but it feels better to project my inner psychological turmoil onto a category of people. What I realized at my three year old son Isaiah’s soccer practice today is how much I personally exude the qualities of suburgatory life that I critique in this abstract ideological category called “yuppie.” So it might be the case that everything I write dissing yuppies is really just autobiography. In any case, I’m a member of what I would call the 5%. The 5% are the parents of the kid who doesn’t do what all the other kids are doing effortlessly at soccer practice. I suspect that more than 5% of the parents at soccer practice think that their kid is in the 5% because when you look at the soccer field at any given moment, your kid is the only one who isn’t fitting in. Continue reading
People will be offended by this post for a variety of reasons, but I’ve been told that my vulnerability blesses others, so I’m going to ask a taboo question that no father says out loud, hopefully in a way that isn’t hurtful. I have two sons who are very different. My younger son is emphatically a boy. He likes to kick and throw balls. He jumps off of furniture recklessly. He likes to headbutt me. He has the kind of wild, primordial laughter that the book of Job ascribes to a horse on the battlefield. He’s like the Biblical character Esau. My older son is different. He’s more of a Jacob. He’s extremely interested in his own emotions and those of other people. He likes saying, “I love you” to complete strangers. He isn’t interested in kicking or throwing. Instead, he likes dancing and being theatrical. What if he grows up to be gay? Continue reading
I remember when I was little, I would sometimes wake up late at night and notice a light in the study downstairs at my house. My dad would be in there typing on our old Apple 2 computer. I asked my mom about it, and she told me it was “grant time.” Every year, in the final week before my dad had a grant application deadline, he would put in a full night of writing after a full day of work. My memory of “grant time” was probably the main reason I didn’t pursue medicine like my dad and all his nine brothers and sisters. The irony today is that many nights I find myself staying up late typing on my computer just like my dad did. And it’s because of a burden I have inherited from him. Not only is my dad a dedicated and accomplished medical researcher, but he has also taught Sunday school for over thirty years, and he has several unpublished manuscripts for philosophy books that he has poured himself into. My father’s burden is that he wants God to make sense to people; this legacy has shaped much of who I am today. Continue reading
Last month, I watched the movie Tree of Life with some young adults from our church right before going on a trip with my family to Texas. We ended up coincidentally staying on a ranch 10 miles from Smithville, TX where the movie was filmed! So I went out with my sons to take this picture in front of the house that was used in the movie. Tree of Life is a story about three boys growing up in a 1950’s family in which the focus is on the tension between a father and his oldest son. It’s interspersed with a lot of pretentious filmography of jellyfish and volcanoes and other such nonsense, but the storyline was really moving to me as an eldest son who’s now the father of two boys. I wrote a reflection on the movie and my own experience being a father in postmodernity, which Kurt Willems has published on his Pangea blog. Please check it out!