Last night, if you watched the Oscars, a ritual occurred. It’s a ritual that has been with humanity since our very beginning.

It was not about the little statues or the speeches.

What the Oscars are all about is people seeking after permanence.

People crave immortality. We want some piece of our lives to be permanent. Somehow, Birdman will always be on the Best Picture list, and I can’t believe, of the very few movies I saw in theaters last year, I picked the future best picture to see.

But how many people in fifty years are really going to know what Birdman is? Look back at the list of winners. There are a few memorable films, the films that are studied in classes. But there are some real goofs too. A lot of films have not stood the test of time. How many people in fifty years are going to know what Birdman is?

That’s not a knock on the film. That’s just the way things are. Because last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we had the opportunity to be reminded that we are dust. And all of our work will return to dust.

We have a real problem with creating an illusion of permanence. I tune out as soon as someone uses words like forever. We think that we build something or we put a plaque on something and it will “always” be there. But we tear down things that are just fifty years old to make space for our “permanent” things. We are too in love with “new” to be concerned with “permanent.”

Take the weather in the Northeast. They are saying Boston has had record-breaking snow, which is significant. “The most snow ever,” they say. Well what does that mean? It means they are getting the most snow recorded in the last century and a quarter, more or less. One-hundred and twenty-five years, out of six billion years.

Our reach into history just is not very long. And our reach into the future is not much better. Even the great people, the people who got into our history books, how much do we really know about them?

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I have decided that striving for permanence is a losing proposition, one that destines me for frustration and anxiety in this life that I have. Just because we write books or paint pictures or build great things, let us not delude ourselves. All our work will return to dust. All we are called to do is help the people who exist here and now. 

And that is enough.

Maybe you are a parent.

Maybe you know some people who are parents.

Maybe you want to be a parent. That was where Cheri and I were for years.

You know what? We all think a lot of things about parenting. And our culture sends us many messages about parenting. And most of thoseoutsidebt1 messages don’t really help parents be parents. Most of those cultural messages suck the fun out of parenting and wrack us with frustration and anxiety. Our culture makes it nearly impossible to be a parent and feel good about how we parent our kids.

Last Sunday, I spoke at Beggars Table Church in Kansas City about this very issue. The thing I learned is that I didn’t have to be a dad to fall into the same trap that parents are led into. All I had to do was try to become a dad. You can find the full audio here.

If you have time because you are on a snow day, or maybe you’re just slacking at work, give it a listen. Maybe you’ll think a little bit different about yourself and your kids by the end.

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No, we do not have equal access to medicine in our country.

What do we mean when we say “reproductive freedom?”

I think most of us are familiar with the usual conversation. The discussion usually about women’s rights and access to medicine and some old guys in Congress trying to take those rights away from her. And that part of the conversation is all well and good, and it’s not the thing I want to talk about.

I just want us to be able to finally admit something?

We aren’t really talking about reproductive freedom. That’s a misnomer. We are talking about something entirely different. It’s not about equality or free access or anything like that.

Because when it comes to reproductive medicine, there is still much about it that is not free, equal and accessible.

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I’ve been to plenty of funerals. I’ve even conducted a couple.1

We all eventually wind up at a funeral. Maybe it’s for a long-lived relative. Sometimes it’s a tragically unforeseen death.

We think that a funeral is a mandatory event on the way to the hereafter, if not for the deceased, then at least for the ones they leave behind.

But it turns out that, in reality, most of the people who have ever been born, never had a funeral. They were never mourned. Their pictures and obituaries were never in the paper.

Did you know that?

Because I did not, not until my wife and I started trying to get pregnant.

I’m guest writing at Confessions of a Funeral Director. Go read the whole post at Caleb Wilde’s site.

It’s the end of another week.

On the one side, there was plenty to read about the topic of love, which is to be expected. And on the other side, many people, myself included, were talking about a particular movie (one that, apparently, is not even that great. I told you it would be boring.)

In My Blog Reader

I did not have time to read all of the comments that people are making about Fifty Shades, but I did read and appreciate Emily Wierenga’s comments. There are so many times when we as Christians think we need to absorb everything in order to be culturally relevant. Or we think that nothing can hurt us. But there are still boundaries and sometimes all the shades of grey are really black and white.

The debate over yoga pants, of all things, continues to rage on in some corners of the internet. And while this debate rolls on, Lore Ferguson takes aim at the issue and shows just how fruitless this whole discussion will probably end up becoming.

In the ongoing discussion of ISIS and Islamic extremism, it’s become apparent that some of us react by digging in our heels, puffing our chests, and declaring that we are without sin (we being Christians, Americans, or both.) Zack Hunt calls all of us to a place of humility even as we confront a very real threat.

Switching gears, I completely sympathized as a teacher with Abby Norman in All Schools Are Full of Humans. When did under-privileged education become a “pet project.”

And finally, in thinking about our own struggle and pain through infertility, I was really encouraged by Kristen Welch’s discussion of what we can do to love our neighbors in our pain.

Those are the writers that most encouraged, challenged and fueled me this week. See you next time!

My social media feed has been filled to capacity lately with commentary on the impending release of Fifty Shades of Grey.Fifty_Shades_of_Grey_1

And if you keep the kind of online company that I do, it’s largely negative. For good reason, I think.

A few of the radio stations in town (the top 40 kind that are always giving away prizes) have been giving away tickets all week. One morning DJ in particular is always excited about everything, whether it’s Miley Cyrus or Transformers or some other piece of cultural sludge. It’s almost comical, really. So of course, he says, “I’m not going to lie, I’m really excited to see this movie.” I think it’s his job to be excited about everything, but I honestly don’t see how a self-respecting man, much less a man in media can publicly declare his excitement for a movie like this. It sounds…emasculating.

I don’t know what kind of man would take his wife or girlfriend to see this movie. That sounds even more emasculating. And I really don’t know what kind of man would be comfortable with his wife going out with her girlfriends to see the movie. That sounds really really emasculating. Even though the movie is not really about sex (it’s about taboo behavior), it still sounds emasculating.

But rather than retreading the same observations about the glorification of violence against women, et. al., that others are making more eloquently, it would be better if we asked some other questions. Because Fifty Shades is hardly the first of its kind. And it won’t be the last.

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