Sand in the Gears

The unlovable

Thursday, November 10th, 2016 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 12 Comments »

I guess before you read the rest of this you should decide how you feel about the fact that I didn’t vote for either of them. Nor did I vote for the Libertarian, or the lady who makes Bernie Sanders ...

A note about the end

Thursday, September 29th, 2016 Posted in Faith and Life | 8 Comments »

I used to write much more about my children, but they’re growing despite my best efforts to conserve groceries, and they’re online in their various ways, and so it makes sense to let them tell their own stories, in their ...

Politics, porn, and football

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 Posted in Curmudgeonry | Comments Off on Politics, porn, and football

Some of you may like my attempt, though it probably deserves more thought, to articulate why we pay little attention to big-money sports in my home. Here's an excerpt: Now, let’s not quibble over semantics; I know the Canadians spent millions ...

The world we show them

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood | 13 Comments »

"Which world do you want to live in?" My oldest son, just days from his 14th birthday, glares back at me. Behind him in the car sit his brothers. Their hands are pressed to their faces. One of them is crying. Caleb begins ...

The ministering parent

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 16 Comments »

Do you ever look on your children, and wish they had better than you? Back when we were shopping my embarrassingly confessional first book, my agent at the time told me I needed a ministry to accompany it. She said this ...

The Cost of Calling: The Answer

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 Posted in The Art of Parenting, The Sermons | 18 Comments »

I come now to the question in my heart when I began: what can my sons say to a deceived and soul-sickened world? You might remember the story of a girl murdered that awful day in Columbine. As this story goes, ...

The Cost of Calling: Compromises

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 Posted in The Art of Parenting, The Sermons | 16 Comments »

What is the cost of a calling? You can be called to be a parent; you can be called to be a plumber. But having a child, or picking up a pipe wrench, is not—in and of itself—to pursue a ...

The Cost of Calling

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 12 Comments »

Many parents carry within our hearts—sometimes in a cramped and even despairing corner—a vision of what we hope our children will become. This vision lives deeper than our wish that they be doctors or NFL quarterbacks, deeper even than our desire ...

The professor in the home

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 Posted in The Art of Parenting | 48 Comments »

Every month, money flies from my checking account to the education savings accounts of my children, because I don't want them to become hobos. This is one way I allay my fear the world will eat them up. It's a ...

Sheep and wolves

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 10 Comments »

Because I am a father I think about the parents of that boy torn to pieces, of his sister whose leg was taken. I think about those parents in Newtown, whose biggest Christmas purchases were coffins for their sons and ...

On the imperative of baby swaddling

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 6 Comments »

Hey you, with the crying baby. I understand that this little person is, in deeply emotional, psychological, physiological, theological senses of the term, an extension of your person. Please recognize, however, that this is not literally the case. In other words, the ...

Abandoning children

Friday, September 21st, 2012 Posted in The Art of Parenting | 13 Comments »

The intellectual consensus seems to be that having children is miserable business. This consensus is built on shoddy thinking and shoddier statistics. The latest example is brought to us by Why Have Kids? author Jessica Valenti, who notes that in the ...

A boy grows

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 5 Comments »

Yesterday was Stephen Caleb's birthday. He's twelve, and there are now only 364 days between him and the onset of teenagerism, which I associate -- at least among American kids -- with sloth and self-indulgence, ignorance and idiocy and all-around ...

Possibility

Friday, January 28th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 7 Comments »

My work with non-profits over the years has given me the opportunity to sit down with a number of philanthropists. I'm just now flying home from visiting Tucson, Arizona, where I met with several people who have led very different ...

On Tiger Mamas, bad art, and the heart of a child

Monday, January 24th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 13 Comments »

My first thought, upon hearing of Amy Chua's now famous (or infamous) essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers, is that it's irrelevant to me. The odds that I will go out and father a child with a Chinese woman are ...

The Loughner boy’s eyes

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 20 Comments »

When young men take up guns and set about killing to satisfy whatever dark insanity has possessed them, I think of my sons. I think about the world in which they walk, a world that is physically safer than most ...

We pray the anger melts

Friday, January 7th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood | 12 Comments »

I've got all four boys to myself and I'm trying to plot a course halfway across America, a course that doesn't entail careening off an icy highway to our deaths. They are, meanwhile, chasing one another about upstairs, with occasional ...

There’s no program for fixing rotten

Friday, April 30th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 6 Comments »

The thing you run into, when you are in the business of saving the world from itself, is that there is no lever marked: "PULL HERE TO SAVE WORLD." It fascinates me to see intelligent thinkers reason out top-down solutions to ...

Because

Friday, January 29th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 8 Comments »

This is why I write to you, boys with me, girl who is gone. I write to you because when I am with you, when I look into your soft brown eyes, I do not have the words. They come ...

Perhaps draw a random name from the phone book?

Monday, January 25th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry, The Art of Parenting | 2 Comments »

I recently saw a news clip about a mother who ordered her son to kill his pet as punishment for bad grades (the son's, not the gerbil's). An investigator says the woman was raised by a good family. Maybe so. When ...

Criminalize this

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry, The Art of Parenting | 9 Comments »

Perhaps most disturbing about Robin West's attack on homeschooling is that it's published in a scholarly journal, even if it does come out of the University of Maryland. One might expect more thoughtfulness, even from a second-rate scholar. But instead we ...

On leading your children

Sunday, January 10th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on On leading your children

Joanna Moorhead offers another example of surprisingly good advice flowing from disastrously poor premises. Among her flawed bits of wisdom: "Our children are entirely different from us. . ."; and ". . . the more you hold things to be ...

The myth of the myth

Saturday, January 9th, 2010 Posted in The Art of Parenting, Theology | 5 Comments »

Leslie Fields muddles about in Calvinism and Darwinism before arriving at good advice for every Christian parent, which is to pray your child toward Heaven. I think "the perfect parent myth," however, is itself a myth. None of us envisions ...

This just in: children aren’t so bad after all

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on This just in: children aren’t so bad after all

Some of you might recall research floating about suggesting that having children reduces happiness. My own point of view has been that immediate happiness is not the point of a fulfilling life, at least not for the Christian. Now I've ...

Marionette parenting

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on Marionette parenting

Judith Woods reminds us that there's a difference between good parental involvement and hovering overkill (i.e., "helicopter parenting"). We ought to dispense with calling it helicopter parenting, in fact, and call it marionette parenting. Parents should be in the helicopter, ...

When is it legal for them to mix me a drink?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 1 Comment »

I suppose it's helpful to hear some expert advice on when my children can have sleepovers and get their own mobile phones, but there's some other milestones I have in mind, like the age when they can operate a chainsaw, ...

Kill your television before it gets you

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 15 Comments »

The average child between the ages of two and five in the U.S. watches over 32 hours of television per week, according to the latest Nielsen numbers. Nearly five hours a day, in other words. Given the greater sleep needs ...

Parent, heal thyself

Friday, September 25th, 2009 Posted in The Art of Parenting | 4 Comments »

The problem with too many modern commentators on parenting, I think, is their inability to distinguish love from acceptance. This confusion is apparent in Alfie Kohn's New York Times essay, where he writes: "In 2004, two Israeli researchers, Avi Assor and ...

Could have been anyone

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | 13 Comments »

The Columbine killers, a new book says, weren't twisted little psychopaths who intended to kill dozens. They were one twisted little psychopath and his pathetic sidekick, and they hoped to kill hundreds. But otherwise they were regular kids. USA Today reports this ...

I can’t hear you, I have a banana in my ear

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 6 Comments »

We have this plague in our house that bounces about from person to person, lingering mostly in the lungs, with occasional forays to the intestines. I'm thinking that if it stays with us much longer I can claim it as ...