Saturday, March 02, 2013

Hidden Worldviews

I continue to be fascinated by the gifts that come to me from the members of my flock. These presents often reveal--as perhaps all gifts do--as much about the giver's perception as about the desires of the receiver. I receive gifts that seem like they came from the "Gifts for Your Pastor" shelf at the local Christian store; there are those that fall into the "I liked this, so I'm sure you must, too," category; there are those that clearly answer my expressed preference; and there are those that serve as catch-all (like money).

I get a good number of books from members of the congregation. The books fall into the first three of the above categories, probably in equal measure. Occasionally, however, one will start in the "I liked this . . ." category and, upon my reading of it, will move into the "right up my alley" category. Hidden Worldviews by Steve Wilkens and Mark Sanford (2009) turned out to be such a book.

Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives observes eight ways that twenty-first century Americans view their world and critically evaluates how those views line up with Christianity.

One of my last courses in seminary was a teaching on worldview, and it opened up my eyes to the power and richness of worldview over against simple points of faith doctrine. My introduction to worldviews gave me a holistic way to view faith and life. Typical of my generation, I was interested in the complete web of connection between personal narrative, metanarrative, ethics, and faith doctrine. I prefer to deal with the big picture rather than any of these in isolation. Wilkens and Sanford step back to look at the big picture of how we make meaning of and live in the world.

Hidden Worldview strikes a beautiful balance. It thoroughly evaluates each of the eight worldviews (for instance: individualism, scientific naturalism, and salvation by therapy), noting both positive and negative features. It refrains from pedantic lecturing, maintaining a graceful voice throughout. It speaks with both gravity and levity in due season. Its conclusion encourages the reader to develop a Christian worldview, naming particular helpful considerations. And it does all these things in 218 pages.

Here is a thorough, useful, and accessible introduction to the possibilities and problems of worldview. Unlike so many books that find their way under my nose, this one won't be given away quickly. Loaned, perhaps, but not surrendered.

Thanks to Steve for this good gift!

~ emrys

Friday, March 01, 2013

Pajama Party!

Two weeks ago, on my day off, the kids and I were bumming around the house. When the mail came, Gwendolyn received a gift of yellow M&M pajamas from my mom. She donned them immediately and declared that today was a Pajama Party day.

She also decided that winter hats were necessary as part of our pj ensembles. So Micah and I obliged and suited up.

The hats took a little explaining when Mommy got home.

~ emrys

The New Room

In an earlier post I wrote of the treasure hunt I set up for Gwendolyn on Christmas. Here is the promised post about the gift at the end of the trail.

Way back in 2008 I painted the room which would, for the first three years of her life, belong to Gwendolyn.  The arrival of our second child made us decide to convert the other half of that room (it's really a single room divided in two by a partition) into a new bedroom for Gwendolyn and hand down the orange-and-green room to Micah.

Seeing this change as an opportunity for artistic expression, I decided on a scheme for painting the walls in Gwendolyn's New Room. Rather than the circles and curves of the nursery, I preferred lines and polygons this time. For some reason which still mystifies me, Sara agreed to my proposal for bright yellow and purple.

After some brief work with ruler, pencil, and square, the painting began:
Because the project was a surprise, and because Gwendolyn's schedule and mine rarely lined up during the day, most of the painting was done at night, after she had gone to bed. I had to sneak through her room to get to the New Room. Because it was winter, the windows had to stay shut. Which means I'm in for it when they discover, twenty years from now, all the horrible effects of inhaling the off-gases from vinyl paint.

Below you can see that the former coffee table is getting its second life:

 What would a New Room be without the assembly of a piece of Ikea furniture? Nothing, I say! We got Gwendolyn a trundle bed which ought to last her until she graduates high school. Here's my lovely wife and brother doing the hard work while I wield the camera:
Et voila! The finished New Room, with new bed and linens bought for the occasion. (Note that the purple and yellow on the walls match the same colors on the comforter:)

Plus Gwendolyn gets Sara's heirloom dresser and mirror:
 I had to keep the New Room locked until Christmas day, even though Gwendolyn knew that something for her was going on behind the door. I suspect that even before she started her Christmas morning treasure hunt she knew where it ended. Here she is discovering one of the clues in her hunt (note the pink outfit given to her by her Best Friend Kerri):
 She was so excited that she almost literally bounced off the walls. This process was aided by the fact that her first move was to test out the spring in her new mattress:
 As an added bonus, the placement of her bed affords her a view over the driveway and front of the house. When she's old enough, she'll discover that it's safe to climb out her window onto the front roof, from which she can jump to the ground without hurting herself. (I discovered this about our bathroom window at my dad's house in high school.) Here's hoping she'll never need to use it that way.

 All of January, whenever someone came to visit the house, Gwendolyn would exclaim, "Let me show you my New Room!" That made all the vinyl paint fumes I huffed worth it.

I just hope she doesn't expect a New Room every Christmas now.

~ emrys

Making Memory


One month ago we started offering Cheerios to Micah. With eight incisors and a propensity to gnaw, he can crack the toasted Os or he can gum them over his budding molars. I say that we "offer" him Cheerios, rather than "feed" them to him, because part of his learning process is trying to pick them up from the high-chair tray.

Micah doesn't quite have down the coordination of his thumb and forefinger. When he goes for a toasty cereal bit, he usually pinches his quarry between the tip of his forefinger, the base of this thumb, and the tray surface. The porous cereal chunks stick to his skin, even if he doesn't have the best grip. With that sideways hold he can get it up to his face. At this point, however, a quandary arises: Since the Cheerio is not at the most accessible point on his hand (out between tip of thumb and tip of forefinger), how will he get it into his mouth?

The day is saved by the fact that Micah does not yet have any compunction about stuffing his whole hand into his mouth, even if it's an inefficient way to get that crumbly ring of oats.

The most fascinating part of this learning curve, to me, takes place away from the table. When I'm holding Micah--talking to him, babbling with him, walking him around the house--I see that his thumb and forefinger are quietly rehearsing their routine. Micah's eyes and attention may be on something on the other side of the room; but his forefinger and thumb are softly pinching and releasing, pinching and releasing. It's as if he's watched us show him how to pick up a toasty O, and now while they're not doing anything else, his digits are using the down time to master their moves. I imagine that they're forming the neuromuscular pathways that are second nature to us adults, who can pick nuts out of a bowl without looking a second time. Micah's on his way.

Always learning, always growing. I love it.

~ emrys