Play Doh RobotThere are a lot of people in the world who like art. In fact, pretty much everyone does. Some people like good art (Rembrandt), others like bad art (that bicycle wheel thing), and others enjoy art that rocks.

I happen to fall in that last class. I can see why people would like Michelangelo or John Romita, Jr. (or Sr.), but to me that doesn’t represent the best that humanity can create. You see, I like robot PlayDoh art created by my two year old.

I mean, look at that picture and tell me it isn’t the best thing you’ve ever seen. At least, if you ignore the fact that robots are evil and dead set on enslaving humanity if only given the chance.  After that, you cannot deny the pure genius that is “One Armed PlayDoh Robot”.

Hang a second, I think the Smithsonian is calling.


Miscellany and Links

Voldemort’s servant (most likely Wormtail) visited our house this afternoon to install the new cable/internet/phone package. The neighbors wondered about the giant Dark Mark floating in the sky. Despite its use of dark magic, the voip service is excellent.

Douglas Wilson posts questions every father should ask of a potential suitor to his daughter. Required reading for fathers, even if their daughters are only four.

Overheard: “Thank you God for compelling us, forcing us even, by grace to come to you.” Something doesn’t quite sound right there.

I’ve got a bunch of posts in the hopper on Tillich’s “The Dynamics of Faith.” Great book.

This post at Fide-O deserves to be read by all.

My short-lived podcast is available here.  I might resurrect it at some point, but maybe with a different name and format (which would technically be a different show).

I’m thinking about starting a vidcast for a fake presidential candidate.  He would be an evangelical Republican named Roy Dean something or other.  His platform would be 1950’s family values, creation in the classroom, global warming is a crock, and  lots of guns.  Anyone want to help?

I Love My Kids

Today my wife and I were watching a movie (Flicka, which happens to be a decent film). When it came on, the Fox fanfare started blaring through the house. Our two-year-old son came running into the room yelling, “Star Wars is on, Star Wars is on.” It brought a tear to my eye. I love my kids.

She’s a Clever One

Yesterday evening my daughter came up to me and asked if I would play dolls with her. I had been playing for a while before that, but had to stop so I could study for a Sunday School lesson I’m teaching. Of course, she failed to remember we had just been playing, insisting that I never played with her. I told her I was studying and couldn’t play right then. She asked me if I would play later and I said, “We’ll see.”

Now, anyone who’s a parent (especially a father) knows that “maybe” and “we’ll see” are secret code words that actually mean “No.” You would think that after four years she would understand that I’m trying to be nice, but alas, she did not. Here’s how the conversation went after that:

Daughter: ‘We’ll see’, all right, that means yes!
Me: No, it means maybe; it depends on how much work I get done.
Daughter: But you said yes.
Me: No, I said ‘we’ll see.’
Daughter: And that means yes.
Me: No it doesn’t.
Daughter: Yes it does. In Spanish si means yes; you said si so that means yes.

At this point I had to give in to her impeccable logic and go ahead and play with her. It’s sad to say, but after only four and a half years, my daughter is officially smarter than me.

Where I Want My Kids At

Where do I want my kids to be? That’s the question I ended the previous post with and where I’d like to pick up on this post. I don’t believe the Gary Ezzo (or whoever) method will help us get where we want to be. Mainly this is because those methods stress conformity where I wish to see a relationship. (And remember, this is just my impression; if you disagree tell why I’m wrong.)

What I mean by that is I am more interested in my children building a relationship with the Creator than obeying a set of standards that supposedly represent God’s will. By stressing the externals too much, I’m basically showing my kids what I think is most important. If I can coin a term, it’s Reverse Fruit. The biblical model, as far as I understand it, is that an internal change (regeneration, conversion) produces fruit in a believer’s life. A follower of Jesus, then, will display the fruit of the Spirit (I’m generalizing here, I know that at times we don’t). Reverse Fruit is when you seek to develop these characteristics in order to prove you had an inward change. One flows from within, the other from without.

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Thoughts on Parenting: What Didn’t Work

In a little less than one week, I will be a father for the third time. Questions of fatherhood have been on my mind for a while now. Not the first time father questions about diapers, babies falling, and soft spots, but the spiritual questions that fathers have been asking since the dawn of time.

How do you raise a child in the faith without completely screwing them up? There are a lot of different methods people have come up with. I’ve read books that give you a complete day-by-day parenting guide. It tells you not only how to feed your kids, but also what to feed them. There are guides as to how to discipline your children (they even tell you what to spank them with), guides for potty training, and guides for kiddy-manners.

>And here’s the secret that no one will tell you: this doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for a lot of very good reasons. First, because every kid is different and they will never fit into the box you want to create for them. My two kids are, at times, polar opposites. One loves to play by himself, the other can’t stand it. One is easy going, the other is a wild beast-man. One is sensistive to a firm voice, the other can shut his ears off. I can’t treat them like they’re cookie cutter kids, it just doesn’t work that way.

Second, these methods don’t work because every parent is different. There is an assumption in these books that there is one way for parents to be and child raising flows down from there. Usually this model is somewhere between stern authoritarian and crazy fundamentalist preacher. Of course, we know that everyone is different and there isn’t a single personality model. We’re all different and we have to parent accordingly. What works (or worked) for you may not work for me.

Third, there is an inherant failure in these methods because they tend to focus on external behavior rather than a relationship. Don’t get me wrong here, I want my kids to be well behaved. I want them to have good manners, to say please and thank, for my son to hold doors for women, and to put others ahead of themselves. But far too often I’ve seen kids who say yessir and nosir (or ma’am), who wear the corny kid-suits, and have the plastered down hair but have no regard for anyone but themselves and their own pleasure. I was one of those kids. To put it another way: would you rather your kids be gold-covered crap or crap-covered gold? (The right answer is, of course, gold-covered gold.)

Finally, the all-encompasing, complete manual of parenting fails because of the method of biblical interpretation. It’s funny how a few verses in Proverbs can be stretched out to include every facet of your children’s life. No one doubts the wisdom of the Proverbs, but so many take them as absolutes. If you raise your kids in the faith, they will never depart from it; that’s it, final, it’s settled. All I have to do is ensure my child’s conformity to some standard and they will be godly their whole lives. Isn’t that one of the worst ways to interepret the Proverbs? Add in some selected passages from the Law that talks about child-rearing, and you’re set to go. No one ever mentions the law that calls for a kid to be stoned if he rebels. (I’ll get into this more when I do a post on the Scriptures and parenting.)

When my daughter was born, we jumped immediately to the all-encompasing method of child rearing. We wanted to completely follow what the Bible had to say and we just knew that these books (and tapes and DVDs) were right. But over time we got burned out on this stuff. We realized it just wasn’t going to get us where we wanted to be. It would help us create conformity but not build a relationship.