Welcome to this week’s edition of The Civil Reader. Since Mother’s Day was on Sunday (I had a wonderful one; thanks for asking!), I thought I would start by sharing a couple of blogs on the subject.
As someone who struggles to always be “present” for my children, I needed this little reminder. Greg and I were just talking today about how we sometimes fear that our smart phones and the internet are rewiring our brains and making it impossible to just sit still and “be” for more than a few minutes. Reading this blog gave me inspiration in my fight against internet distraction, and I reaped the benefits this week. For example, I let Anna watch a video on my phone in the carpool line this afternoon. Usually, I grow quickly bored without something to read, but today, I just adjusted the rearview mirror to watch her face while she watched the screen…and let me tell you, that was the real show. I learned that, when watching a video, Anna’s brow furrows into a slight frown of concentration for most of the program, interrupted only by short, fleeting smiles or completely abrupt bursts of quick laughter, which meld back into her concentration frown almost as quickly as they come. I spent the fifteen minutes of her video just marveling at the complexity of her features. What a gift she is!
Where is the Mommy-War for the Motherless Child? by Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan
Kristen wrote this in response to the controversial Time magazine cover. Only an excerpt from the blog itself will do it justice
I don’t much care if you breastfed your kid until they started kindergarten, or if you fed them formula from day one. I don’t really care if you turned your infant car-seat forward-facing prior to age 2, or if you homeschool, or if you send your kids to daycare while you go to work. Do you cosleep? Did you circumcise your son? I DON’T CARE. Do you babywear? Push your kid around in a stroller? Use a leash for your kid at Disneyland? Whatever. Good for you.
When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one.
On the Bible front, I enjoyed the following three articles
Let Them Both Grow Together, by Richard Beck at Experimental Theology
If I’ve ever heard a sermon on the parable of the weeds, I have forgotten it. Thus, the story is always a treasure to find on my tours through the Bible. It doesn’t take much to make this story come to life, because it really speaks for itself, but I like Beck’s thoughts here. His one misstep, in my opinion, is when he makes a small, misguided attempt to label weeds–something the parable seems to speak against. But I can understand the impulse; I think it is part of human nature to want to classify. I, particularly, should have been a Victorian (hello, binomial nomenclature!) because I love the idea of separating things into parts and organizing them by kind. Thus, I am naturally prone to applying such labels as “wheat” and “chaff.” Maybe that’s why I find Jesus’ words here to be so instructive.
We are the Pharisees, by Jenny Rae Armstrong
When I first read Luke Timothy Johnson’s description of the Pharisees a few years ago, I was immediately filled with sympathy for them. After all, unlike most of the Israelites in the Old Testament, the Pharisees were zealous for the Law and passionate about keeping it. Honestly, if I didn’t have Jesus’ words to contradict them, I would probably think they were right on, based on my understanding of the Law from reading the OT. I mean, keeping the particulars of the Law was important to God. Think Uzzah. Think Nadab and Abihu. Think Moses’ blessings and curses. The Pharisees probably worked harder at staying between the lines than any generation before them. And yet…they missed it. My sympathy for them is part of what made Jenny Armstrong’s article resonate with me. I think we naturally have such a knee-jerk defensiveness when it comes to being described as a Pharisee that we immediately dismiss it. To do so, however, misses the many important lessons that they can teach us. They are more than just mustache-twirling cartoons.
God Behaving Badly, Part One, by Frank Viola (an interview with David Lamb)
I was excited to see this interview, as Lamb’s book, God Behaving Badly, is on my must-read-soon list. The full title is God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist, and Racist? In this interview, Viola plays devil’s advocate and asks Lamb some tough questions about God’s behavior in the OT. I even threw in a question of my own in the comments, and Lamb gave a helpful response. There is also a part 2 of the series, which is also good.
And lastly, here is a great read that is about so much more than the recent NC vote:
A Challenge to Both Sides of the Amendment One Debate, by Justin Lee at Crumbs from the Communion Table.
As a “Side B” Christian who “believes that the church has mishandled its response to homosexuality,” even as I affirm that the male/female relationship in marriage is God’s plan for sexuality, I really appreciated Justin Lee’s grace-filled response to Amendment One here. I think he shares concepts that we all need to keep in mind during this election season and beyond.