Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Name:
Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

22.2.05

"I'm clockwork, and you're quartz"

My old friend Dave and I have taken different paths in life. He used to be, quite literally, nutty. Some say now he's nuttier, but I don't -- he's just a born-again Christian. More than that, he's an intelligent, well-spoken born-again Christian who has some difficulties believing that not everyone is a Christian. This leads to some interesting e-mails from him, but it also makes your brain work, and that can't be a bad thing, can it?

I have mentioned that my daughter has a traumatic brain injury. (And I might as well plug my new blog, The Daughter Chronicles, in which I give a detailed look at raising a child with a brain injury.) Anyway, I sent out an e-mail not long ago telling some people about taking her to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and how although its cost was prohibitive, it doesn't bother us since we'd pay much more than that to help our daughter. This sparked something in my friend Dave's head, and he replied. It led to a long discussion about rebellion and acceptance and, I thought, is really quite interesting. So, with his permission, I give you: The Greg and Dave Roundtable!

********** (He started it):
I do have to make some overtly Christian commentary though to what you wrote (or it just wouldn't be me would it). You said, "It costs around $5000, which doesn't bother us, since we'd pay much more than that to help Mia." I remember my pastor in Cincinnati was doing a message one time and talking about if he had to pay everything he owned to help save one of his kids and he said his response would be, "Who do I make the check out to?" He was trying to find an illustration to compare the love we have in saving our children to the love the heavenly Father has in wanting to save us from our sin and separation from Him. God essentially said the same thing but instead of giving a very large value of money. He gave Himself ... His own life ... an Infinite value. Wouldn't you be hurt if Mia got older and didn't acknowledge any of these efforts you expended to try and rescue her from her calamity? That feeling you would have is just an itty bit like how God feels to those who ignore or don't cherish with their whole heart the sacrifice that He made. Let's say Mia was older and had choice about whether she would submit and surrender to all of the costly treatments and therapies you are providing for her to help. Not only would you feel the hurt of her rejection if she chose not to receive those gifts you so badly want to give her but also compound this with watching as she would then not be cured or helped in her condition. This is the same double damage that God feels when those who dismiss Jesus Christ, the costly cure for the condition of our soul. God feels the pain of the rejection and the pain in watching us live lives now and for eternity un-cured and un-helped, because of our own rebellion. Would you want Mia to reject you and your efforts to help her the way you have rejected God and His effort to save you? What do you think?

Love you bro,
Dave

********** (I replied):
Dave:

Hmmm. I would say I expect Mia to reject us at some point, because that's kind of a necessary step on the road to self-actualization. Also, it's her life, and while I would feel hurt, I would also attempt to deal with it. She will, at some point, be an adult, and she has to make her own choices. I hope we will raise her correctly and she won't, but if it happens, it happens. That's what raising kids is about -- making sure they have everything they need to succeed as adults, and then letting them go. That's where I think your analogy breaks down a little, if I'm reading it correctly. If God is our spiritual father, and he sacrificed himself so that we could grow up, he's still holding us back from growing up by putting a guilt trip on us because we reject him. As a father, he should want us to rebel, since rebellion is part of becoming a fully realized adult. Rejection of parents is what becoming a parent is all about. As long as we don't reject God, spiritually we're stunted and immature. How's that for deep analysis?

********** (He came back with):
I would first question the presupposition that rebellion is a necessary thing in the step to adulthood. Just because it is what we both experienced to varying degrees doesn't mean we're the models for successful growth to adulthood, right? If there is such a thing as truth, then experience doesn't always determine or reveal truth. Many times truth should guide and determine our experience so that our experience can become more genuine and honorable. I know kids who grew up Christian who never had the typical "rebellious" stage and had intimate close relationships with their parents. I don't want to detach myself or stop reaching out relationally to my kids in anticipation of some phantom rebellion stage and create a self-fulfilled prophecy. I hope to prove the fallacy of the "mandatory rebellious stage" with my kids if at all possible. Witnesses beforehand can say I'm in denial of reality and after there is no rebellious stage can scoff and say we just got lucky if they want but I know it will be the true and living God working in our hearts and theirs if it is accomplished, not luck.

Secondly, as I reflect, my rebellion attempts were all the times when I came closest to physically dying on my way to adulthood, not the times when I was increasing in life more abundantly. My rebellious attitudes and actions were the things that typically granted me a greater measure of emotional depression, isolation, loneliness, guilt, paranoia, shame, anger, pain, hate, apathy, numbness, lust, etc. I wouldn't call these attributes stepping stones on the way to reaching stable emotional and relational maturity and happy adulthood. Only when I finally realized I needed to surrender my life utterly to God did things like peace, love, and joy even begin to emerge on the inside of me because of the power of Jesus Christ, not my own positive thinking.

With regard to the analogy I tried to make, I didn't think out and explain my analogy to the Nth degree so I could see you might see it breaking down. My analogy to the spiritual would utilize an image of reaching spiritual "adulthood" once you are in heaven. This would be the same as if Mia needed the treatment you provided in order to even make it alive to adulthood and yet she still rejected it. God as the perfect parent has given us (Himself) everything we need in order to make it to "adulthood" (heaven) yet we have rebelled and rejected his provision. With the analogy being placed with the rebellion occurring prior to adulthood, this would be something like a daughter running away from home at age 10-13 or so in physical/earthly terms. This would most likely be catastrophic to her successful growth into adulthood and she may end up resorting to stealing, prostitution, and could end up dead. This is the picture of us rejecting Jesus and going out on our own, thinking we can make it without our heavenly Father's provision and ending up spiritually dead, forever separated from Him. But thanks be to God that He loves us and in that love He gave us what we needed to survive to "adulthood" by sending Jesus Christ to take our wounds and injuries (our sin) upon Himself so that we might have life, eternal life. Why would anyone say no to such awesome love of such a perfect Father?

With HIS love,
Dave

********** (But I retorted):
I would say rebellion is a necessary step to adulthood. In varying degrees, we all have to rebel against our parents -- the whole Oedipal thing, maybe. It doesn't necessarily have to be a violent, overt act of rebellion, but if we don't rebel, we're never fully formed as people, we're just versions of our parents. I think everyone should go through it (whether or not they do is another matter). That doesn't mean I'm going to "stop reaching out relationally" to Mia (and the next one) and I hope I can guide her through the rough stage of adolescence (and we're probably going to have to do a lot of it, since her independence is in question), but I expect her to rebel and I hope that she rebels in the "right" way. What does that mean? Well, I rebelled against my parents, and so did you. We both rebelled in different ways, but we both had the "cushion" of being raised more or less correctly (I can't speak for you, but I know your parents provided you with everything you needed to know what's good in life) and so even though we rebelled, we were, I would say, rebelling in the "right" way. Yours was a little more extreme, but you got through it. You'll say you got through it with the grace of God, and so be it. You still got through it.

As for saying that your "rebellious" periods were times when you weren't "increasing in life more abundantly," I would argue the opposite. "Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger," that sort of thing. Yes, you were crazy, and were perhaps a little crazier than a lot of people, but your experiences ultimately drove you to God, which saved your life. Without your downward spiral, would you be where you were today? Your experiences, I would argue, gave you the strength to give up. That's not a bad thing, wouldn't you say?

You again make the argument about God giving "himself," which gets into semantic arguments that I'm not going to discuss. However, it still remains that you wonder why people would "reject" his gift? Not to drag comic books into this, but there are plenty of comic books in which heroes try to set up a perfect society and can't believe people would reject it. You're right that people have to accept the gift willingly, but what is ugly about Christianity is that many Christians do not understand this and force it on people. To go back to the parental analogy, it's like my parents forcing me to go to a university I didn't like because they thought it was good for me. That's kind of lame, but it's the best I can do. Yes, to you we all need to accept Jesus' gift, and it's painful to the Big Guy when we don't. It would be excruciatingly painful for me if Mia were to reject our best efforts, and I understand your point about a child running away. In other words, in God's eyes, we're all children. I'm sure that's you're argument, but spiritually, we're all at varying levels of adolescence. Is it better to simply accept God into your heart and have no doubt, or struggle with spiritual awakening on your own? I honestly don't know.

********** (Quick as a wink, he came back with):
As usual, I agree with some of your points but disagree with many as well. I think we've each explored our own understanding of the "child growing to spiritual maturity" analogy pretty thoroughly so I won't beleaguer (correct word use? Or maybe belabor?) the metaphor much more on my end.

In summation, it all really comes down to our rather different views on Destination and Transportation. I believe Heaven (ultimate unity with God) is the Lord's desired Destination and Jesus Christ is God's prescribed Transportation. As it seems you don't believe in Heaven, an earth-bound "spiritual" maturity of some sort is the most one can attain it seems you would believe Independence should be our Destination and good Parenting with just a touch of the "right" Rebellion is the Transportation. Your view doesn't really deal with the reality of Death as I understand it. How does your worldview explain or deal with the fact that we will all die? Is it the "we die and then that's it" explanation? Or maybe death is the ultimate climax to Independence, where we are then utterly alone in the cold darkness and not Dependent on such silly things as warmth, light, love, and God who created our life to begin with. If there is anything that life has taught me it is that I'm not independent. Maybe for you the greater independence you exercise the happier and more fulfilled life becomes. For me, the more independent I try to be the more pain life brings to prove to me -- I Need. And of course all the needs I experience in life are pointing to the thing I ultimately Need ... God in Jesus Christ. I need good parents -> He is the loving Father. My body and house need maintenance -> He is the sustainer of all things. I'm wandering and lost and need guidance -> He is the good shepherd. I suffer penalties and pain due to my own sinful stupid behavior -> He is the sacrificial lamb of God. I need companionship and rescued from loneliness -> He is God with us. I need help from trials and distress -> He is the Comforter. I am hungry and need food -> He is the bread of life. I am thirsty -> He is the living water. I need joy -> He is the true vine. He is the Lord of all creation, the way, the truth ... Life.

Needing Life,
Dave

********** (Feeling the end was near, I responded):
Just to finish up, I don't know what comes after death. I agree, that's where we differ -- you are certain, I'm not. I want to believe in Heaven (who wouldn't?) but I have no idea if it exists or not. Death is something that's there, but I don't worry about it. I don't necessarily believe Independence is the destination, but I would agree with you that spiritual maturity is something you attain on your own. You attained it on your own, I would argue, even though "on your own" means giving your life over to God. I haven't reached it yet.

********** (But he rallied, and hit me with this):
How can spiritual maturity be attained "on your own" by "giving your life over to God"? These two things are contradictory. Putting your life in God's hands means very significantly that you are not on your own. The New Testament often uses the term "in Christ" when referring to believers. I would say the Bible teaches that we are either "in self" or "in Christ" and spiritual maturity is when you are no longer "in self" (on your own) but when you are "in Christ".

(And not only that, but his wife chimed in too!):
I believe Trini will rebel in little ways because it is part of growing up. She will (and I hope she does) rebel against some of what I tell her in that she will be looking for the answer herself and not just because I told her it is right. I think she should be taught to question everything including me. Not in a rebellious "why" attitude for the sake of questioning but to learn for herself and a true quest for knowledge. I don't want her to be a carbon copy of me with a "yes mommy I believe you because you said so" attitude. But as far as disrespecting me and doing things behind my back with no respect that is what I am trying to avoid. Maybe you want to explain to Greg that there is acceptable rebelling so that she learns things for herself but that we are also trying to have an open enough relationship with them so that they don't have to hide things from us. That there is a difference between rebellion and disrespecting and I think we are trying to get our children to be respectful and expect some minor rebellion. I think to say they will always do what we say is naïve but our overall goal is to help them through life and help them know that even when we are not around they are accountable to God and when we do mess up He will forgive them like we do. I can see what Greg is thinking and where he is coming from and you may want to tell him you understand the difference too. Make sense?

********** (Well, that brought us to the final end -- we both like to have the last word, but I think I got it here):
See, your wife articulates exactly what I was thinking. Hang onto her -- she's obviously smarter than both of us. What I mean by attaining spiritual maturity on your own by giving your life to God is that you gave your life to God on your own -- it wouldn't mean anything if you did not come to that conclusion on your own. Now that you have made that choice on your own, yes, you are continuing the journey with help, but the initial step had to be done on your own, or it would be meaningless. One of the problems I have with many Christians (and, I'm sure, Jews, Muslims, and members of any other organized religions) is that they do it because it's tradition in their family, or because their spouses do it, or for a number of other reasons that have nothing to do with spiritual awakenings. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but that's the way it seems to me. Even though I disagree with you on a number of things (but not that 1980s hair bands RULE!), I still think what you have done with your life is a lot more interesting and challenging than a lot of people out there.

There you have it. Maybe you don't care, but I thought it was interesting. People who think differently CAN get along -- Dave is a good friend, and I'm glad he challenges me on some things.

2 Comments:

Blogger Krys said...

I only had the opportunity to meet Dave and his lovely wife on two occasions, so I can't say I know either of them well.
I do expect Mia and #2 to rebel--not all kids choose to rebel by doing drugs & having lots of sex. Most kids do (by their pre-teen years, anyway)have moments when they are just ashamed or embarassed by their parents.
My best friend recently told me that she apologized to her Dad (a very sweet man) for having him drop us off blocks away from our destination so that we would not be seen getting a ride from Dad. This is the type of rebelling I think Greg might be talking about. The garden variety type of rebellion that signals a child thinking for himself and backing away from Mom & Dad. Maybe that's why the Amish have 'rumspringa' (I may have spelled that incorrectly). The kids get the rebellion out of their systems & most of them return to their community & church.
I hope to teach Mia & DD#2 less about the Bible, and more about our basic responsibilities as human beings--caring for each other and our planet. It is more important to me that my kids learn genuine compassion for others and an appreciation for what they have, than anything else. I have some other thoughts on the whole 'relgion' topic, but I don't want to post a book!

28/2/05 3:04 PM  
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