There will be a time, perhaps several years, when I am infallible, invincible and completely inerrant…

Yes, the time that my family will look at me this way and sincerely believe that I know best will be all too fleeting.

Yes, the time that my family will look at me this way and sincerely believe that I know best will be all too fleeting.

At least, I will be these things in the eyes of my child. I have to be honest and say that I’m looking forward to this, because the last time I was all of these things was when I was a teenager, and that’s been a while.

Yes, they say that parents are the equivalent of superheroes from a child’s point of view, able to do anything at all, solve any problem, and speak words of truth at all times. Every word I speak will be completely true to my child. Everything I do will be great in the eyes of my child.

Those will be nice days, the days when I have someone around who is too innocent to know the truth about me. Those days will not last long enough. Because the fact is, one day, a day that I cannot see nor prevent, my son will discover the truth about me.

That I am a hypocrite.

And maybe you have not realized it…but your children will discover the same about you.

But don’t worry. It’s not all bad news. In becoming hypocrites, we become human.

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So, I had kind of a revelation this weekend.

Cheri is 28 weeks pregnant. And my revelation is that we are, like, less than three months away from having a baby.

28 weeks

I know, kind a dumb revelation.

But the thing is that we are finally in kind of a sweet spot. Cheri’s miserable first trimester is a distant memory, and despite her discomforts, she’s actually enjoying herself. She says she can see why some women enjoy and anticipate pregnancy.

She also said she can see how women get postpartum depression. Because after the better part of a year of anticipating and having this little thing doing bicycle kicks inside you, it’s a shock to have reality hit.

I actually knew all-too-well what she meant.

I know I’m not supposed to. Postpartum is supposed to be a woman’s thing. But I am actually enjoying my wife’s pregnancy too. I’m going to miss “Big Cheri.”

For me, the anticipation of something new is always great. Whether it’s my first child or a new job or a new book that I’m writing, I love the anticipation. My mind builds up the excitement and the expectations. It idealizes and romanticizes.

But that’s a problem, because anticipation doesn’t get to last forever. And when it ends, reality sets in. I have had some of my most depressing episodes immediately after some big ambition is fulfilled. I know, that’s weird. But anticipation has a way of screwing up our enjoyment of the real thing.

I think a lot of us must have that feeling, that let down, whether it’s real, clinical postpartum depression, or we just got a new job or moved to a new city or we just finished a great big project. It’s that feeling of empty, that dread that maybe there is nothing left to do, nothing left to look forward to. It’s that feeling of being drained of all of the exciting brain chemicals that have been steadily dripping for months on end.

But the postpartum is always a lie.

There is always more to do.

Always more to look forward to.

Always a new horizon.

Because soon, this horizon that we just reached will be old news.

And our adventurous, primal human brains will tell us to go on another hunt.

I’ve spent most of my life in Kansas City.

That’s Kansas City, Missouri, mind you. Not Kansas. A few out of town sports announcers will arrive from time to time and say something idiotic on television like “It’s such a clear day here in Kansas City that you can see all the way to Missouri!” 

Anyway, for my entire conscious life, it has been pretty easy to not be a sports fan in Kansas City. I mean, I’ve literally never blogged about sports. Don’t even have a post category for sports. I’m not a fair-weather fan. It’s just that tuning out a terrible season is a self-defense mechanism.

We Kansas Citians are a long-suffering breed, the kind of folks who will diligently root for our teams through 100 loss seasons. But we won’t talk about them in mixed company. If you are from another city, I will not discuss our hometown teams with you. Yeah, our house is a mess, but it’s our mess, so leave us alone.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy week in Kansas City, as a sort, not really, but eternally hopeful sports fan.

I was honestly not going to watch the Chiefs on Monday night. I did not think I could stomach our city being humiliated. I would never have guessed it would the Patriots who would be humiliated in front of an international audience.

And then our Royals, pulling off one of the most dramatic wins ever…in their first postseason appearance since I was two years old.

I think our sports teams really might be like our messy homes. It doesn’t matter if the house is a mess. And it doesn’t matter how the season turns out. It’s our mess, and we are happy with it.

A few weeks ago, Cheri and I had a scare with the baby.chromosomes2

Of course, you probably know that pregnancy is already kind of scary. And everyone worries about their child’s health. That’s nothing new.

So when Cheri had a routine appointment with the genetic counselor, we were not overly concerned.

It was only when the counselor started digging deep into the family history that we got worried. Years ago, our family tested positive as carriers of a Fragile X pre-mutation. Fragile X is the leading cause of inherited mental retardation. No one in the family is symptomatic, but the family carries the gene. We were told at the time that it posed little to no threat.

The counselor disagreed.

She basically told my wife that with the level of intervention we received to get pregnant, we could have (read: should have) “weeded out” any abnormal embryos.

It’s a good thing I was not in the room, because if I had been, that counselor probably would have left with a red hand-shaped mark on her face.

I thought “This is your ‘counsel?’ To tell us what we obviously chose not to do?”

The next couple of weeks were pretty torturous as we contemplated what our future might hold. And we came face to face with a few dark realities of the business of baby-making today.

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Some people have a resume so long, it puts the rest of us to shame.

Henry David Thoreau was a lot of things I am not. An author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, surveyor, historian and probably a whole lot of other things. He did it all in just forty-four years, and seemed to do everything, from writing philosophy to trekking through Maine, with great purpose. He said it himself, he desired to live deliberately and today, he is still considered to be a role model for gentlemen of rugged and simple aspirations.

Thoreau’s life was not an accident. He was a man who knew how to get around and not waste time. I admire that a man who lived a relatively short life could take the time to keep a two million word journal over twenty-four years, yet find the time to accomplish all of the other matters which interested him. Here I am, at thirty-one, thinking I don’t have time to live deliberately!

It doesn’t seem to me that a man who accomplishes so much in a mere four decades spends much of his time wishing that he had more time. I don’t see great men wishing for some bygone era, or living in the “glory days” of their youth, or pining for the “good old days” (which never seemed as good when they were new.) What fascinates me about men like Thoreau is their constant and continual thirst for new, rather than the old. Here was a man who never got tired of seeing new things, gaining new knowledge, having new insights, experiencing new joys. He seemed to have little need for the past, other than to learn from it. For him, the future was always more interesting than what has already been.

For a man as reflective as Thoreau, it seems funny that he would tell people to stop living in the past, stop wishing for our “old days” back, stop trying to make things they way they used to be.

thoreau

There are a lot of people who are obsessed with what used to be (or how they imagine it used to be). And I suppose we can tag along with them and dream.

But the thing about wishing for the past is that those wishes never come true.

Ah, a new season. Autumn has to be my favorite (except for all of the pollen.) But then again, I get excited for every new season. It’s weird, I know what’s going to happen in the next season. I’ve seen it all before. But I’m always ready for it to happen again.

This week, there were some really good, deep, challenging things that came onto my radar, but I’m going to concentrate on one specific book that landed on my desk last week.

On My Bookshelf

I got a free copy of Peter Enns’ book The Bible Tells Me SoNow, here’s the thing, when it comes to any book on biblical interpretation, I ForTheBibleTellsMeSocan’t just give it a ringing, blind endorsement. That is irresponsible. So what can I say about it?

I fundamentally agree with Enns’ central argument, which happens to be the subtitle, “Why defending scripture has made us unable to read it.” I think most of us are borderline illiterate when it comes to making sense of our Bibles. Some of us take the bare-bones approach of the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it. Such an approach does not make a more faithful Christian. It makes a bulldozer Christian who plows through all manner of biblical literature with no sensitivity to the original author or audience. Other people get stuck in the weeds of “original Greek” meanings and trying to discern where one author started a sentence and another author ended it. I do not think that is productive either.

I have to admit, going to seminary was a trial for my faith, because I realized for the first time just how complex the history of the Bible is. I believe as Enns says that the Bible is exactly the way God wants it to be. And I have said before that I do not believe every Old Testament story has to be literally true for the Bible to be inerrant. (A word whose meaning we’ve all but lost.) The Bible is a complex, beautiful, poetic book that was somehow inspired by God. But that doesn’t mean it’s the same as our American History textbooks from high school.

That being said, I would be remiss to give a blanket endorsement to Enns approach, as I would be to anyone’s approach. I don’t know if I can go all the way to the logical conclusions of Enns’ arguments, in which whole chunks of the Bible were fabricated to address contemporary issues in Israel. I don’t need the Bible to be that way to be settled with it in my mind. And maybe you don’t either. Who says Enns has finally unlocked the “Bible code,” perfectly and inerrantly? No one. So read with discernment. Take with a grain of salt. I can’t imagine Peter Enns telling anyone to do otherwise. Don’t lap up these words, eagerly and unquestioningly, the way Enns’ describes his early experiences in seminary. If the Bible is as important as we say it is, then we should be careful with the authors who tell us how to interpret it.

The Bible Tells Me So may change the way you read your Bible. Regardless, I do think that reading an author who challenges us to “the the Bible be what it is, even when it doesn’t behave the way we want” is always a fruitful exercise.