Filed under: Christian Living, God's Place, Parenting, Personal Development
Dogma Has A
Short Shelf Life
In the movie, Hoffa, starring Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and more, one of the opening scenes has Nicholson and Robert Prosky firebombing a laundry in retaliation to the owner’s refusal to join the union.
Unfortunately, the bombing goes badly wrong and Prosky’s character, Billy Flynn, is caught in the flames. Dying in the hospital, Billy is coaxed to confess by the attending priest. That could be tricky for two reasons.
Billy is convinced he was acting justly, which doesn’t require confession, and more importantly a confession might possibly lead to the conviction of Hoffa and his new sidekick played by DeVito.
Billy’s response is surprising and unexpected.
He looks at the priest, breaths an expletive and then makes an unforgettable quote.
Never let down. Never let up. Never forget.
I don’t know if that really happened but I don’t doubt people have expressed that kind of devotion in the face of life and death situations. I also don’t doubt that Hoffa was able to elicit that kind of devotion.
But here is the point. Devotion is not always what you think.
Generally, we view devotion as an honorable thing and devoted people as committed, reliable and good. In fact, devotion is a popular topic in religious circles and the truly devoted are among the best religion has to offer.
But is that completely accurate? According to Hoffa, devotion can apply to less principled types.
Devotion has a moral sense that doesn’t fall within the boundaries of traditional thinking. People frequently commit themselves to causes, groups and ideologies that are questionable at best. It happens all the time.
And once established, devotional connections are difficult to dislodge, regardless how right or wrong they may be. According to a Michigan study, devotion becomes more resolute in response to challenging facts. The followers of Hoffa didn’t let the law get in the way.
In reality, devotion is just devotion. It’s neither good nor bad, and it has many dimensions to consider. You find it everywhere, even among the unsavory.
Based on that thought we could make some interesting observations about devotion. Read more
Faith Can Be
Strong Or Weak
But Never Big Or Small
We usually associate faith with qualities that many people don’t have: confidence, focus, boldness and assertiveness.
High profile types have faith. Low profile folks just watch.
That’s how we see it anyway, so the general assumption is faith must be big, like the people who express it.
Can that be true? Were great examples of faith outspoken and obvious or did they carry their faith a little more quietly? One example doesn’t fit the big faith mold.
Jochebed, The Mother of Moses
You probably know Jochebed’s story. She lived under the oppressive rule of Pharaoh. He had enslaved the Israelites to reduce their numbers. He was afraid they were getting a little to numerous to manage. When enslavement didn’t reduce their numbers, he took a more drastic step. He decreed the destruction of all male born children.
Fortunately, that plan didn’t work either. The midwives who managed the birth of these children disobeyed, allowing the males to live. But Moses’ mother went a step further.
She devised a plan not only to save Moses but to insure he got the benefits not afforded any other Israelite child. The outcome was he was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as one of Pharaoh’s own.
Maybe it was a mother’s sixth sense, I don’t know, but she saw Moses as a potentially great leader. That was important because God had promised to delivered Israel from bondage. She believed that promise and knew God would need someone to lead the charge.
I won’t go through all the details but her plan worked. Moses was raised in the wisdom of Egypt and, if tradition is accurate, he learned the art of military leadership also.
But what about Jochebed’s faith? This is where the story becomes most interesting.
Her faith wasn’t loud or boisterous. She carried no placards. She made no public declarations. She expected great things from God but she didn’t publish it in the Goshan Gazette.
Everything she did was below the radar. As far as we know, she kept the whole thing very quiet. The Bible doesn’t even tell us what she prayed. She acted quietly and secretly.
And she probably acted alone. I don’t doubt her husband supported what she did, if he was even aware of it, but he was a slave. Slaves don’t work 9-to-5 and who knows whether they got home at night very often. I doubt he had much energy to contribute.
One last observation.
This faith was directly related to parenting. This had nothing to do with political action. Meaning, of course, you don’t have to change the government to protect your children. There is a lot a parent can do for their kids, by faith, in spite of the political environment.
Conclusion: The effect of her faith was big, bigger than she would ever know. But her faith, though decisive, active and strategic, was quiet and almost off the record.
Faith doesn’t have to be loud.
A Great Mother
Need Not Be
A Perfect Person
There are many great examples of motherhood in the Bible. Sara, Jochebed and Hannah always come to mind but what made them notable was their great faith.
Not faith in the general sense of the word. It was the faith associated with Motherhood. The faith required to become a mother, i.e., get pregnant, or to be a mother. Some struggled with both kinds of faith but all of them wrestled with the kind of faith it takes to shape the life of a child.
The distinction is important. Faith isn’t the same for every person.
But, here is the question. We can make endless observations about the Motherly skills of these ladies from what we read in the Bible but what would be interesting, is to know what their children might say about them.
For example: Read more
Mom’s Voice Is Always Heard
Even When She Is Gone
We celebrate “Mom” only one day a year but her influence is evident every day in the lives of her children. Through them she’s everywhere. She rubs off. Her influence is subtle but the effects are very real. Sometimes she’s intentional and sometimes not, but she always leaves a mark.
For those who doubt this, the following observations are offered as proof that Mom really gets into your head.
Mom Is Universal, Timeless and 24/7
Mom is not a localized concept or historical trend. She doesn’t come and go. She is everywhere and for all time.
There’s never been a generation where Mom-hood wasn’t relevant. There’s never been a person who didn’t have a Mom. There’ never been a person who didn’t love a Mom. If not their own then another.
The only two people who didn’t have a mother were the first man and the first woman. Mom is the soil in which every life germinates, literally. She is the first person we touch and through that touch we share feelings, nutrition, experiences – both good an bad, and if science is correct, she shapes our taste for food and music even in the womb. And all of that before we are born. Read more
Rewards And Consequences
Of The Same Coin
This post is part 2 in the discussion of rewards, the fourth of 4R’s in the series on Good Parenting and focuses on the natural law of cause and effect. What our kids do is a cause. Good parents will help them appreciate the effect.
You can find part 1 here.
Rewards Counterbalance Consequence
You can’t really develop a concept of rewards and ignore consequences and vice versa. One effects the other. They are two sides of the same coin. If we do away with one, rewards or consequences, it is only logical to eliminate the other.
The two ideas need balance. Eliminating or under emphasizing one creates an imbalance and it can work both ways, with rewards or consequence. over emphasizing consequence can be just as damaging as over emphasizing rewards. Maybe more so. Read more