Monday, March 31, 2008
A Working Biblical Definition of Pacifism:
I want to start with a distinction that I heard another blogger make some time ago - that Pacifism is not "Passivism". They often get confused, and I think that is why Dustin prefers the term Non-Violent Action. His explanation of the terms as they are culturally understood is quite good, so I will not repeat it all here. As I am searching for a biblical perspective on this, I think pacifism would be something akin to being committed to making (an active verb) peace, as in Matt 5:9, "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God." While I have no delusions of bringing peace on earth, I think we are also to make as much peace as we can in pursuing loving interactions with one another, and helping to diffuse situations and assist one another toward reconciliation.
Inclinations towards a Pacifistic Stance:
It is clear (though we will biblically support this as we move through the discussion), that the scripture instructs believers to be a people who pursue peace, and live in peace. Much of this language has to do with the state of one's soul and living in light of the order that Jesus as King has established. Certainly in "the kingdom to come," we will not be in wars and violent interaction with one another. This begs the question, "Aren't we to live as citizens of that kingdom-to-come right now?"
What is compelling me to take this issue, pacifism, seriously is the above idea that I ought to be living as a citizen of heaven, even though I am currently not there. Living according to the "laws" (if you will) of that country is part of demonstrating that I think those laws are the right ones. This is part of my understanding of what it means to fear the Lord.
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate" (wisdom speaking Proverbs 8:13).
As I understand this verse, what wisdom is telling us is that the person who fears the Lord will hate what the Lord hates (and presumably, love what He loves). It is agreeing with God's value system.
So, of course, what we are really trying to determine, is if God hates violence. If so, then we should too. Two topics arise for me with this question are: #1) What about all the God directed violence in the history of Israel. #2) What if God hates it, but also instructs it or allows it given the hardness of our hearts?
Israel's history aside, Jesus came to set some things straight and to introduce the reality of another kingdom. As citizens of that kingdom, shouldn't we live to the best of our ability as if we were already there? "The kingdom of heaven is within you," right? While there is no use trying to establish utopia/heaven here on earth, it seems part of the church's witness to the world to live "foolishly" in the midst of it because of our eternal commitments.
There are several thinkers whom I admire who have held a pacifist perspective. Jaques Ellul, Leo Tolstoy, Dietrich Bonhoffer, Martin Luther King, Jr. I am intrigued to know what inclined them so - as they seem men committed to a biblical perspective on life.
One of the more compelling arguments for pacifism (which Dustin summarizes well in his first post), is that we ought to be committed to pacifism because of the inherent worth of all men created by God. Yes, they may be evil, but so am I apart from God. I am no better, they no worse, and do they not deserve every opportunity at redemption as possible?
Hesitations concerning Pacifism:
There are several things holding me back from being "a pacifist". These are not my defenses against a pacifist perspective, just things that are holding me back - all things that I am willing to come to a better understanding of - but things that can help sort out what I think on the matter.
One: While killing people seems fairly easy to say is wrong, punishing with pain does not necessarily seem equally bad. Pacifists are opposed to any use of violence. Perhaps we could explore what a definition of violence is. I fear violence being equated with causing pain. Pain is a tremendous teacher, one wired into our physical make-up to teach us boundaries, and can carry over to other forms of discipline. Pushing away an attacker (or even bitting or kicking or sucker punching) does not seem nearly the same to me as killing him, or inflicting permanent damage to him. At the same time, it does not seem like turning the other cheek. What is required of us?
Two: Clearly God used violence to establish Israel. What do we do with that? My view of the scriptures does not allow me to dismiss their warring history as their own that they superimposed God on to justify. I think God determined to do something unique with Israel to communicate to the world through history itself. But, because of this, I also think it is dangerous to defend church practices or theologies based on the history of Israel alone. Again, He was doing something UNIQUE with the history and culture of Israel.
Three: If it were truly wrong for believers to use violence of any sort at any time, then the universal consequence of that would be that there could be no believers in the military, nor in the police force. That would be a scary world! Of course, perhaps a scary world would be a better world for the light of the gospel to shine in. Perhaps if the darkness were actually allowed to be dark rather than kept domesticated by Christian laws masked by civil laws, then the real choice, the world vs. Jesus's kingdom, would become more apparent. I cannot say which is actually better for people's souls. Suffering seems to do a world of good, while at the same time, I really like being able to take the boys for a walk without worrying about being robbed, attacked, or killed.
Four: Though Jesus obviously came quietly and peacefully into the world the first time, it sure sounds like He will be coming back violently. For me, this still does not justify our own violence, as He is God, and God can do as God likes. He obviously destroys, and He is in his right to do so as the Creator.
"Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" (Rom 9:21-22)
I hope I have not overstepped the topic for this week, and I look forward to seeing where this conversation takes us!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
For some of you - those of you who have been in my house on a regular basis - the following statement may shock you, so I caution you to sit down. Okay. Sitting? My kitchen has been clean - I mean CLEAN - for a full week (well, this started Sunday evening). No dishes on counters - and I mean none! I know a couple of you are saying, "right Marianne, except for one or two little things (like your entire pan collection), that still need to be hand-washed, right?" I am serious! NOTHING on my counters, except for when I am using them.
How might one accomplish this?! Well, I started by doing all the dishes one night and running the dishwasher, and drying all the hand-washing so that I could start fresh. Then I emptied the dishwasher first thing the next morning - before making breakfast. Then, dirty dishes went straight into the dishwasher all day, and I had an empty sink to make hand-washing a quick and painless chore. This is basically the "Fly Lady's" first step.
The second step is to get fully dressed every morning. Some of those same people who needed to sit down when I wrote that my kitchen has been clean - I MEAN SPOTLESS - for a FULL week, may also know that it was quite possible to stop in and find us all in our PJ's at any hour of the day and any day of the week. Sometimes (um...often?) I would even leave the house without brushing my hair or washing my face (praise God for a nice complexion and a husband with a large collection of ball caps). So, yeah, I get dressed now - everyday. Fun huh? She says all the way to tied shoes...but I have seen drastic improvements just going to socks with shoes at the door (like when I decided to take out all the trash and recycling from all 3 floors, or when we have been able to take spontaneous walks between rain showers).
Now, the last few day's assigned "baby steps" have had nothing to do with maintaining the house, but have had more to do with reading up on the effectiveness of this "system". I think this is so that the first two habits have time to sink in. What I have found this week - for me, who, I swear, was not lazy or a slob, but just doing all the same labor each day at the wrong time - is that having a spotless kitchen frees me up to joyfully devote my energies elsewhere in the house.
So, ALL the laundry got washed, dried, folded and put away this week. I mended a pair of socks and a sweater. I quickly and painlessly cleaned out my refrigerator today because it was so easy with a clean sink. I have vacuumed twice this week. I have switched out my picture frames with the new photos that Erin took of us. I have been abnormally productive, all the while feeling like I have more time in each day.
Some of this, I think, can only be explained by my pregnancy (which I still have not medically confirmed, but that is because Andrew dislocated his shoulder last weekend, and this week I have been taking care of him and the boys single-handed and not exactly been able to leave the kiddos with Dad so that I can go take a blood test). I also think that this Fly Lady reiterated what I already knew and needed to hear - just get on it and stop wasting time.
It also helped open my eyes to one of my primary mental failures. The perfectionist in me does not easily embark on chores I do not think I can finish, or do as well as I would like (like moving all the furniture when I vacuum). Fly Lady encourages you to spend whatever time you do have being productive (instead of the mental state I had found myself of thinking, "I only have 5 minutes, I don't have time to do all my dishes, so I'll just sit down and see if there are any new blog posts on my reader").
Unfortunately, this mental state carries over to our finances as well. Since when your broke, $10 can not fix anything, might as well use it to buy (enter unnecessary and trivial luxury here - like pizza because I am too exhausted to clean my kitchen so that I can cook, or a new book for Søren and Elliot, etc. etc. etc.). Over the course of a year, those $10's might turn into $1000, which could have paid something off.
Anyhow, I have been free of that mental state this week, and I am anxious to see it stay gone, much to my house and finance's delight. I do not know yet if I fully recommend the Fly Lady for everyone (there are a lot of silly emails, but hey, I have no problem hitting delete), but I do, at least, recommend incorporating the aforementioned "steps" to your routine, if you are a person like me, for whom immaculate housekeeping does not come naturally.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Yet, we remain beautifully sheltered from the lovely spring showers. Birds happily tease my cats from the trees outside our large insulated windows. Our bellies remain filled with nutrient-dense foods. My children remain outstanding and capable of love that would keep me smiling even if we were living under a bridge together. So, I do not mean for the previous paragraph to come off as a complaint. I was hoping it would serve more as an explanation for my silence on this blog - or an explanation of my contributions that have been a bit less significant than what I might like to be writing about. I prefer writing about ideas/pondering/musings/etc. I have missed having the time to devote to thinking.
That said, I would like to dip my toes back into exploring, for myself, what I think the biblical perspective is on non-violence/pacifism.
I have a met-only-through-blogging friend named Dustin, whose blog I discovered from searching for other people who listed "Over the Rhine" as a favorite artist on their blogspot profile (though he no longer uses blogspot). I have enjoyed reading his pondering on spiritual matters, as I think he is a true seeker - regardless of where some of our theological musings may differ. We have chatted about having a little blog-hopping, or at least tandem, discussion about topics related to pacifism. We will provide links back and forth to the corresponding post. I think his views on this topic are more settled than mine, but I think whatever I conclude, my ideas will be sharpened from the discussion. I hope you, my reader, will allow me this "change from the usual programming".
Here is a rough sketch of what we have in mind to guide our discussion:
1. definition of pacifism versus non-violence (also with a discussion of non-violent resistance versus non-resistance)
2. non-violence and its implications — nationally
3. non-violence and its implications — for the church
4. non-violence and its implications — for the individual
5. physical discipline in the home as it relates to non-violenceI say "rough sketch" because I am sure that somewhere in there we will stumble into a discussion of hermeneutics and divine determinism, or basically a readers-digest-version of our primary assumptions...but I also hope to post Scrivner-silliness along the way so as to keep you entertained and engaged with my person as a whole (or however much that can actually happen without sitting on the floor with me and the boys before dinner), for I am not plagued by this topic, just very interested in sorting it out for myself. I am going to try to write something for this each week.
I will try to title the posts so that if you do not care to read them you can know which ones to skip. I also am excited to see how you might contribute to the discussion, as I would love to be benefited by your thoughts as well. The first paragraph of this post was also an explanation of why I might not be able to respond as quickly as I might like (see my previous post about not liking to leave people waiting), and for the sake of achieving the ends for which I am setting out, I will prioritize responding to Dustin, and then turn my attention to responding to others.
Sara Kay - I know this was a sensitive subject a few months ago. I do not mean for any of this to be directed at you or your church family. I do not think either of us have the time to devote to fully working it out (at least not quickly) amidst tending to our families (especially since I have not even sorted out my own thinking and I know we are similarly passionate and devoted and could easily get too consumed), but perhaps you and I could engage in some blog-hopping dialog once this discussion is over and I actually have had time to figure out what I think! Sound fair?
Further disclaimer - What ever conclusions I state, I am NOT suggesting that people who beg to differ are just wrong, or heathens, or anything like that. My current position is probably best illustrated by this post on my other blog. We stand or fall before God individually. I am just striving to stand for myself.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Enjoys writing, though does not do it enough.
Likes not at all leaving people waiting.
Is patient most of the time, though not enough to feel like a great mother.
Xi, is a great word in her Scrabble repertoire, she thinks.
Ignites candle wicks in the evening to welcome her husband home from work.
Revels in the details of meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking, and wishes she had more time for it.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Andrew still thinks I'm pregnant, which I love him for.
I have no idea what's happening in there...but it would be nice to actually talk to a doctor (in which case, it would be nice if we were insured). Are there things that could be interfering with the hormone showing up in the test? Could there be a problem with the pregnancy? Could it be a tumor? Is everything fine and normal and I'm not pregnant, but perhaps crazy? =)
Time will tell I suppose.
Just found this article on a third pregnancy with twins causing 3 false negatives (well into the pregnancy)- and the explanation of how twin hCG levels can mislead pregnancy tests - specifically when coming from fraternal twins (two placenta's, which is what the spoon suggests). Also how dehydration can contribute to false negatives. I think that the article suggests a blood test should be reliable at this point, but that ultrasound is obviously most authoritative. I suppose I really need insurance at this point.
Here are my symptoms:
Growing waist (I am already wearing my maternity jeans),
Complete and utter exhaustion (I could literally fall asleep right here on the keyboard),
Loosened joints, need for extra pillows at night,
Hungry nearly all the time,
Super sense of smell,
Mild congestion at all times (this happened to me with both other pregnancies),
Constant headaches (this is new, but I hear that in twin pregnancies the hydration need is greater, causing more headaches if you aren't meeting it),
Slight/Occasional nausea (which is highly unusual for me),
Emotional and moody,
...and of course, the spoon still says twins.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
If you think he is beaming here, you should have seen him later, after the first piece, when the MC, Jack, invited Søren up on stage for an interview about his musical aspirations. The interview, introducing the avid symphony fan to the audience, went a little something like this:
Jack: So, Søren, you are 2 1/2 and I hear you love symphony?
Jack: And I hear you like to conduct?
Jack: What do you do when you conduct?
Søren, equipped with his wand, turns to the musicians, raises his arms and starts swaying his arms to his own beat, much to the delight of the 600+ people in attendance.
Jack: Thank you Søren, and I hear you play an instrument?
Jack: What do you play?
Jack: The violin. And I hear yours is a bit big for you?
Søren: No, it's just a little one.
Jack: Oh, it is. Søren, do you have a favorite symphony?
Søren paused for a long time, I think because he has a hard time picking a favorite.
Jack whisperingly suggests "Serenade" as it was the next piece to be played.
Jack: That's right, Tchaikovsky wrote that, and I think you can pronounce that better than I can. You can probably spell it too, but we won't worry about that now.
Søren and Andrew make their way back to where Elliot and I were seated. All the people cheered Søren as he returned to me BEAMING with pure joy.
The other humorous moment from the night was when the MC introduced the conductor and she took the stage. Søren stood up and said, "No, I'm conductor!"
Søren did stand for the entirety of the first half (we left at the intermission as it was already 2 hours past bedtime) conducting, and riveted on the music and the new style demonstrated by the conductor who was there. Elliot, also with matching stick in hand, happily mimicked his brother, bouncing and conducting until he promptly turned to me, tucked his head into my arm, and fell asleep without a peep. The boys displayed perfect symphony etiquette and each had a tremendously good time.
One of the ladies pictured above is actually a Suzuki instructor, but she does not take children under 5. She did, however, give us the name of a woman in Portland who does take on children as young as 3. She also told us that Søren would need a 1/32 violin, and what he has right now is a quarter (which is much to large, he often plays it as a cello).
This morning, Søren recounted for me on his fingers how many of each instrument he saw while comparing that to how many of each instrument is present in his favorite rendition of Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture. He is greatly looking forward to their next performance, which I believe is scheduled in the end of May.
He spent the rest of the morning with the violin across his lap strumming it like a guitar and belting out lyrics I could not make out. I am happy for his love of all things music. I think I caught a little of his guitar violin on video this morning, and will have it up on the YouTube account soon.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Here are some little snippets from the last chapter we read:
"Equality guards life; it doesn't make it. It is medicine, not food...
"Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer one another, are not. Do you know how bashful friendship is? Friends - comrades - do not look at each other. Friendship would be ashamed...
"They never warned you. No one has ever told you that obedience - humility - is an erotic necessity. You are putting equality just where it ought not to be."
Now that I have typed that out it does not seem as profound as it did in the context of the story, so perhaps I will just have to recommend the story. Anyhow, the plot is quite fun too, and both Andrew and I have found ourselves getting excited as the evening comes near and we know the boys are going to bed so that we can get in some more reading before we follow the boys to sleep.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
What I find delightfully ironic, is that it basically argues that the kind of people who abandon the family nucleus (which comes largely from a society that has rejected God - who is the moral basis for things like commitment and the selflessness it takes to stay married and have children) are not going to survive. The "fittest," it would seem, are those who believe in God (not that I ever questioned that), and thus preserve the idea of family and have multiple children.
While, of course, I firmly believe that one can believe in God and not have children, it just seems to be the case more often than not, that staying together in marriage eventually leads to having children. Of course, I also know that non-believers can stay committed and raise children. I am not trying to offend anyone, nor state that there are not HUGE exceptions to these generalizations, but rather, I am pointing to the generalizations which are truly there and which the documentary underlines.
Man-without-God is marching to his own extinction. Sorry Nieztche, the Ubermensch might be great and all, but it looks like he's being nominated for the Darwin awards.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
If this was just a battle between the spoon and the prego test, I might just chalk it up to something I just don't understand (like why the spoon would be indicating life - in fact TWO lives - for a month now, and yet aparently my hormones are not responding as if that were true). The problem with that is, one, I do not believe that the spoon moves randomly. It has had plenty of opportunities to do that in the past, and it has not. Two, I feel SO pregnant at this point that I would be sure of it even if there was no spoon. My waist is steadily growing. I am exhausted frequently and can lay down and fall asleep AT ANY TIME, doing things like sleeping through the doorbell ringing. If I miss a meal - even by 5 minutes - I start a mood and function free-fall, feeling sick until I can get some good fat and protein in my body; In other words, eating has taken on emergency status. I am sleeping with 3 pillows, and wishing for a forth. The relations with the husband are clearly of the pregnant kind. I feel fabulous all the time (except, of course, when hungry) and have that "glow" associated with pregnancy.
I did a little research and found a chart of "normal" hCG levels in pregnant women. It showed that some women can be below 5 (usually they consider "pregnant" at 42) for 28 days (past ovulation), then jumping to 10 at day 28, and 19 at day 35. I would guess I am right at day 28. Blood tests at the hospital detect from 5 up (see Wikipedia on this), and considering I went in for a blood test on day 10, it is certainly possible that I was still below 5. Theoretically, if I went in for another blood pregnancy test, it should probably show positive now. Further, I think that twin pregnancies normally create more of the hCG...so something ought to show up soon.
The home pregnancy tests show a positive from 20-100 (info also from Wikipedia), so according to the low end of normal hCG levels, I may have to wait until after day 35 to have a negative pregnancy test that I can reliably believe.
We are, of course, continuing to take the precautions that accompany pregnancy. Sorry I don't have more definitive news. I hope to have something soon because if I am right about the conception date, I will need an ultrasound sometime in the latter half of this month to pin down an accurate due date. I usually would not care, but with the possibility of twins and a planned c-section, the date will be important since the hospital will be inclined to do it as early as they possibly can, while we will be inclined to do it as late as we possibly can.
Hope to have more soon.