A Curmudgeon’s Musings on Muddled Marriages

We spend years studying.  Some subjects we will never use — at least in some practical way.  Others will be of benefit to some phase of our life in significant ways.  But how much study have we devoted to marriage – a really, really important part of the lives of us who commit to this sacred covenant relationship.  Of course we learn a lot about marriage but unfortunately it is primarily by experience and often through very painful experience.  I’m reminded of the old saying that experience is a hard teacher — it gives the test first and the lesson later.  How much better when we have the wisdom to learn from others.  Through the years and through painful experience I’ve come to realize that I should pay close heed to what others can teach me about marriage.  There is much wisdom out there to be mined.  Of course the most important source is the Bible.    But there are other wonderful sources.  The following is a brief article, originally in two parts, which I ran across last week. I really appreciated the author’s writing style and  It made me think about marriage difficulties and muddles in a way that I hadn’t previously.  It will become a part of my thought process in the future when I encounter couples struggling with their marriages.  The articles appeared at: The Curmudgeonly Librarian  as: Smack Dab in the Muddle.  The  author of the articles goes by CSL standing for (I believe) Curmudgeonly Sesquipedalian Librarian.  CSL describes himself as: 

Old? Check.
Cantankerous? Check.
“Born again”? Check.
All the makings of one holy pain-in-the-, er, neck? Check
Plays well with others?  Not so much, according to wife!

Yeah, but I’ve been there and I’ve paid my dues….
Oh, I forgot – I am also sesquipedalian.  CSL

I believe you’ll appreciate CSL’s article and believe you would enjoy his blog.  So, why not check it out.  Again, it is: The Curmudgeonly Librarian RMF

Smack Dab in the Muddle
by The Curmudgeonly Librarian

  Many of the authors and bloggers I read make it a point to emphasize generosity and good-will. Two of my favorite bloggers are Paul and Lori Byerly, authors of the Generous Husband and Generous Wife blogs (I read them every morning, without fail.) Another example would be Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, who peppers his writings with statements on how most spouses are not evil jerks and witches, but truly do have good-will for their mates (a statement with which I agree, by the way).

Wife and CSL

In the second chapter of L&R, Eggerichs sets up the premise for his book (the problem of gender-based miscommunication) by telling the story of one couple’s disastrous anniversary dinner. He tells us that the couple in this parable are “good-willed”, and then proceeded to explain what this means.

 

 


[What do I mean by “good-willed people”? Simply that both of these people love each other a great deal. They do not mean real harm; they do not intend real evil toward one another. They are hurt and angry, but they still care deeply for one another. That is why they spent their anniversary evening in separate rooms, miserable, wondering how this whole stupid thing could have happened. (And the reason neither will never figure it out is that each blames the other for the whole sordid affair.)] 
Continue reading

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Adult in America and Endangered Species?

The following is a neat review of a book by Senator Ben Sasse that you may want to read.  The reviewer is Eric Davis and his review appeared at: thecripplegate.com as: The Vanishing American Adult – Book Review.  Eric Eric is a church planter who pastors Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  RMF

The Vanishing American Adult – Book Review

By Eric Davis

Eric Davis

He has been serving as a US Senator from Nebraska since 2015. He holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford, St. John’s, and Yale. He has worked in consulting and was a university president by age 37. Sasse learned to work with his hands, having grown up farming. He is a Christian and has three kids. His conservative persuasion is not motivated by larger tax breaks, but by things like the first amendment, involuntarism, and decentralized decision-making. And, Sasse seems like the type of guy who you could chat with on anything from cars to Christ to culture while watch college football and eating a Coney Island dog.

 

For the most part, the book discusses how parenting and educational philosophies are the majority influencers on kids, and therefore, culture. Sasse laments the current scene of youth. And it’s more than a mere mocking of the 20-something adolescent vegging out on Call of Duty in his parent’s basement.

tfp.org

Even so, Sasse is upfront: we actually do have an unmatched, “coming-of-age crisis” on our hands. The unprecedented number of kids on things like antidepressants is not a good sign. Recent ADHD medication sales topping $13 billion is not encouraging. The average “tween” (8-12 year olds) glued to entertainment media about six hours per day is not the mark of an aspiring generation. Universities full of kids who crumble emotionally under opposing and challenging ideologies is not the mark of a responsible, courageous generation. Sixty-three percent of 18-30 year old males using pornography more than once a week is not a sign of maturity. We could go on. And, though there were some good things about the good ‘ole days, he goes farther than putting a chronological guilt trip on readers. The need for our youth goes deeper than having to walk to school uphill both ways in a snowstorm like granddad.

From the book, it’s clear that Sasse loves America but he doesn’t worship it. He values our government and constitution, but he does not impose a savior-expectation upon them. Regardless where one falls, I think readers will find the book refreshing as Sasse avoids a partisan blame-game when it comes to addressing cultural issues. He evades rallying a pitchfork-and-torch uprising against a particular political party. Nor does he portray himself as a political messiah with all the answers.

He takes a wiser approach by speaking frankly, humbly, and practically to everyday citizens. He just speaks to the everyday, street-level population. And that’s what I need as I attempt to navigate real cultural crises while trying to change some diapers, fix the car, and work a job.

The Education Situation

In large part, the issue comes down to parenting and education. It’s not only that, though it is at least that. He operates by the presupposition that humanity is born with a self-centered nature, thus needs to be steered in the opposite direction.

A few chapters are devoted to a look at education theory, though it is not only a book about education. We should not throw kids into more education. A broader goal is necessary; forming nascent human beings into wise, strong, and diversified people who contribute in a variety of ways to current society, while working to raise up the next.

Sasse argues that some Americans have placed too much hope in public education. We have placed expectations on it which it simply cannot produce. John Dewey, known as the prophet of progressive education, is largely responsible for some of those expectations. He elevated institutionalized public education to an absolute; a religion. Dewey said, “I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God.” With that approach, schooling simply cannot deliver.

Sasse argues that institutionalized learning does not best develop our kids. The increasing institutionalization of teenage years has made many young Americans less like citizens and more like cogs in a machine. It’s no surprise that many are floundering. “National greatness will not be recovered via a mindless expansion of bureaucratized schooling.” He cites a twelve-year, Kansas City study in which a few billion additional dollars were thrown a the public school district. Despite the claim that this would solve the issue, no demonstrable benefit was observed.

It was only in the past century that schools began grouping students by age instead of learning ability. Sasse suggests that generational segregation of kids and teens may not be the best idea. Perhaps it’s the soil from which the youth culture sprouts. He observes that childhood and adolescence are decreasingly periods of moral development under parental authority and more a time of unchaperoned peers shaping the sensibility of those coming of age.

Sasse takes an approach to education that is more comprehensive. It’s not possible for one teacher and one passive classroom K through 12 to awaken and stimulate the need and hunger for education in a child. Kids could be more developed if exposed to a larger spectrum of trades and peoples in the community (again, less generational segregation). The problem is not simply that kids are under-motivated. It’s also that they are under-exposed to a diversity of trades. Adjusting this could increase motivation. Further, education ought not only involve teaching kids to know. In the development of knowledge, kids needs to know what they don’tknow. That helps till the rocky ground of youthful pride, teaching them that the world is way, way bigger than themselves.

Some parents are observing the problem with institutionalized education. The current home and classical school interest is an indicator. Homeschooling is the fastest growing segment comprising a diverse population of a few million students. The population has doubled in the past fourteen years and is about half as large as that of all private schools in the US.

Parental Involvement

But institutionalized education is not the sole culprit. Sasse proposes, “The schools are less to blame than we are, for we [parents] are the ones who have asked them to deliver more than any mass institution is competent to produce.” In part two of the book, he gives five character-building habits for parents to help kids get traction out of perpetual adolescence. “All five require building scar tissue on purpose; bodybuilding for the mind and soul.”

First, discover the stages of the human life and mortality. Understand birth, the developmental stages, and death. Resist being cut off from older generations and human frailty. Flee age segregation. Kids should not have to wait until a personal, introspective existential crisis before they are truthfully walked through their mortality. Suffering should be embraced.

Second, develop good work ethic. Even if it’s not your primary goal, learn manual labor. Work with your hands. Endeavor in jobs for more than a few minutes which require sweat and pain. Experience a spectrum of trades. Appreciate the innumerable skills out there. And, in the process, find one of your own.

Third, embrace limited consumption. Understand the difference between needs and wants. “Gluttony is a danger we have forgotten to guard against.”

Fourth, learn how to travel and travel light. Know what it’s like to subsist. Experience other, less prominent cultures. Literature is one key way to do so. More preferably is to go yourself. “The traveler finds the larger world, but also his or her own.”

Fifth, learn how to read and how to decide what to read. Books offer literary travel. You can visit ancient Athens and Jerusalem. But learn the difference between reading and reading well. Kids need both an appetite for reading and a list to get them into reading well. Choose books that will stretch their minds and spark curiosity.

Regarding these habits, Sasse writes, “Most of our teens do not need more therapy or more antidepressants. They need direction about how to acquire the habits essential for navigating adulthood and experiences that introduce and instill those habits.”

Conclusion

Probably most encouraging was that a politician wrote this book. I don’t think Senator Sasse would first identify himself as a politician. But perhaps that is what might make him a good one.

I would not look to this as my primary book on parenting. And Sasse doesn’t suggest that it should be. I wish that more Scripture was brought to bear on the parenting discussion, but, again, it is not intended to be a manual of biblical parenting.

He wants to discuss how to effectively raise a culture who does not expect privilege without proven responsibility, affluence without skillful labor, and respect without demonstrated integrity. For that, it’s a needed book for our times. I heartily recommend the book to parents and non-parents; to democrats and republicans, and anyone who wants to think intelligently and tangibly about raising a generation better than ours.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Look to Jesus for the Standard for Living

Here is the best succinct description I have come across for how we should live. It appeared as: How Do You Determine Right from Wrong? at: bobrussell.org. RMF

How Do You Determine Right from Wrong?
By Pastor Bob Russell

Pastor Bob Russell

Several Christian parents have recently expressed concern about the eroding moral values of their millennial children. Children who were raised in the church a decade ago are now ambivalent about right and wrong. What was considered abhorrent a generation ago is now widely accepted. What was considered proper years ago they now often regard as offensive.

Parents moan, “My kids say I have no right to judge the behavior of others.” They protest, “As long as people are happy or fulfilled they shouldn’t be criticized. Who are we to say what is right or wrong for someone else?”

Charles Colson

A few years ago Charles Colson insisted that no society has long endured without a common moral consensus. He decried the myth of moral relativity which produces chaos and confusion. Imagine a football game where there is no common set of rules to abide by. One team puts twenty men on the field. Another conceals knives up their sleeves. The game would quickly be reduced to total chaos.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Desire Rightly Understood – Genesis 3:16

Genesis Chapter three has always been fascinating to me.  And verse 16 especially so.  I’ve never felt totally comfortable with the interpretations of it that I have heard and read.  The following is an article by Jordan Standridge that greatly expands my understanding of the verse and I hope it will be meaningful to you.  Pastor Standridge is on staff at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, a church which I greatly respect and where some dear friends attend and/or have attended.  His article appeared first at: the http://www.thecripplegate.com  as:  Four Reasons Why Desire in Genesis 3:16 is About Intimacy Not Domination.   RMF

Four Reasons Why Desire in Genesis 3:16 is About Intimacy Not Domination
by Jordan Standridge

The Fall

Genesis 3:16English Standard Version (ESV)

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to[a] your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.”

Footnotes: Genesis 3:16 Or shall be toward (see 4:7)

Pastor Jordan Standridge

I remember the first time I heard someone explain Genesis 3:16.  It was in a marriage seminar. Their view of this passage which is popular in conservative circles was simple, Eve, as a result of God’s curse would have pain in child-bearing and that she would want to usurp her husband’s authority and dominate the relationship. Therefore, the man concluded marriages struggle because of what we see in Genesis 3:16.  While I agreed that marriages struggle because of sin, I didn’t see that as a result of the curse in Genesis 3:16.

While commentators agree that God has cursed women with pain in childbearing, there is trouble and disagreement over the words of explanation that follow the curse. Perhaps the most common view of this verse, in my circles, has been that a wife will have a desire to dominate her husband. Recently, Crossway has decided to add this interpretation to their new update of the ESV, and they have decided to change the text from, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you,” to “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Are the deceased looking in on us?

Pastor Bob Russell’s latest blog article provides an answer to a question that has puzzled me and perhaps you too. Well, here is what he wrote in his article that appeared at: bobrussell.org as: ASK BOB: Are people in Heaven aware of what is happening on earth? RMF

ASK BOB: Are people in Heaven aware of what is happening on earth?
Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION:

Bob,

When you have a moment, I was hoping that you could answer a question for me. I was listening to a sermon online about the “Temporary Heaven” and wanted to clarify with you what the minister said. He said that if a Christian died today, he/she would go to what is called the “Temporary Heaven” until the Lord returns. He said that according to the Bible, when we are in the Temporary Heaven, we will know what is going on in the world, like with our family, etc.

Is that true? I thought even in the Temporary Heaven we wouldn’t know of any sadness or pain that our family was experiencing. Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond to me when you get the chance!

MY ANSWER:

Pastor Bob Russell

I’ll try to answer your question according to my understanding of the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Second Corinthians 5:8 says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” The Bible teaches when we die our spirit departs the body, and we go immediately to be with God.

Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” But we are not given our immortal, eternal bodies at that time. The Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, that when Jesus returns He will bring with him the spirits of Christians who have died and at that point “the dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thess. 4:16). I take that to mean that the departed saints will be given new glorified bodies when Christ returns. The second coming of Jesus will be glorious for those in heaven as well as for believers on earth.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

First Corinthians 15:51-54 reads, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed… When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Biblical Sexuality and Pastoral Compassion

When Professor Edith Humphrey writes I read.  In addition to her skill in presenting scholarly theological information in a very digestible form she is able to, along with the text, write with a heart that overflows with love and compassion.  This article which addresses a complex contemporary issue is an example of her giftedness.  It provides an understanding of real life struggles with sexuality by folks trying to come to grips with biblical principles and points to the godly path to life.  Ms. Humphrey’s article appeared at: blogs.ancientfaith.com  as:  “Medicines for the Soul:” Theology and Pastoral Compassion in Gender and Sexuality.  RMF

“Medicines for the Soul:” Theology and Pastoral Compassion in Gender and Sexuality

Edith M. Humphrey

Professor Edith M. Humphrey

Normally my blog is dedicated to giving Old Testament background that illumines the New Testament readings for Divine Liturgy. However, the present concern over sexuality in society and in the Orthodox Church has led me to think that my paper may be helpful to some: further, some respected Orthodox friends have asked me to make my ruminations public.

The matter of marriage and ordered sexual relations is found throughout Scriptures, not only in the Old Testament but also in the New. Those who are interested in more foundational papers on the issue of marriage and same-sex temptation and erotic activity may consult the shorter articles reprinted on my webpage at edithhumphrey.net, or the more lengthy article, “Same-sex Eroticism and the Church: Classical Approaches and Responses,” in The Homosexuality Debate: Faith Seeking Understanding, Ed. Catherine Sider Hamilton, Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 2003, 37-94.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Straight Scoop On Judging

Here is a neat little primer on the topic of judging.  There is a lot of  misunderstanding about judging and Shane Pruitt does a nice job in setting things straight on the issue.  Mr. Pruitt’s article appeared at: www.shanepruitt.com as:  Does the Bible Give Us Permission to Judge Others. He resides in Rockwall, TX with his wife, Kasi, and their four children.  Mr. Pruitt serves as Director of Missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.  He has been in ministry for over 15 years as a church planter, lead pastor, associate pastor, and student pastor. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in History, and a PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling.  RMF

Does the Bible Give us Permission to Judge Others?

By Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt

We’re living in a day that values tolerance above all. In fact, tolerance has become aggressively militant in recent years. A steady progression from tolerance to acceptance to celebration to forced participation has occurred right before our eyes. People are being forced to participate in actions that go against their religious beliefs and to participate in paying taxes that ultimately fund government-supported abortion clinics. Now, Christians are not only judged by what they say and believe but also by what church they attend and its beliefs on cultural issues. Ironically, our extremely tolerant culture becomes incredibly intolerant with people who disagree with certain agendas, beliefs of celebs, alternative lifestyles, or opinions.

In these situations, Christians are constantly reminded by those outside the faith, as well as those inside the faith, “You know what the Bible says, ‘Christians aren’t supposed to judge.’” Unfortunately, the very people that are repeatedly restrained from speaking out against the actions, beliefs, and practices that contradict their core values from Scripture; these same people are often the most judged people group on the planet. They’re constantly judged on television shows, in the movies, and on news outlets. Christians are portrayed as mean, uptight, odd, and out of touch with reality. The Christian college student who is still a virgin is portrayed as someone who is extremely weird and desperate to lose his or her purity. In the media, the conservative Christian is archaic, a bigot, and a racist. Christians with a past are not seen as forgiven but as hypocrites, constantly reminded of their shortcomings. These are all major judgments made about a people group that are constantly told they better not judge anyone themselves. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment