(Proper) Catechesis is love

What it says on the tin.

Proper catechesis is missing from most Christian practice, and it’s one of the reasons well-off Western Christians seem so hypocritical and awful to non-Christians looking in.  There are many ways to properly catechize people smart and stupid alike, but mostly they aren’t done or even considered important by all too many Christians, but it is important for Christians to receive proper catechesis and it is, simply, love.

Advertisements

Biblical Theocracy

A book review from The White Oppressor T.W.O.
tankMan

It was June 5th 1989, less than thirty-six hours after the historic “Beijing massacre”, when the People’s Army complied with the Chinese government’s order to roll the tanks down the Avenue of Eternal Peace and through Tiananmen Square, to clear all debris from the nation’s political heart, whatever the cost. I was in the student canteen at Hong Kong Baptist College, picking at my rice box, sitting across from one of my students. Mee Mee had just struggled through a final exam on a day when many of the students, still in shock, had stayed home, unable to think about school­work when their homeland’s future was hanging in the balance. We were discussing whether or not the college should postpone the remaining exams until the political crisis cooled.
About six weeks earlier, near the beginning of the forty-nine day stu­dent protest that ended in tragedy, four well-meaning students had come to my office trying to persuade me to cancel my classes in support of the democracy movement in China. They were quite surprised at my rather unorthodox response, and went away perplexed at the idea that there should be a Westerner, a U.S. citizen no less, and a teacher of religion and philosophy, who actually claimed not to believe in democracy! Until then, I had normally kept to myself the political ideas which had been brewing in my mind over the past ten or twelve years, since voicing them usually met with just such reactions of offence and disbelief.

But here was Mee Mee, her heart torn in two over the recent events in China, not knowing whom to support. Her parents thought the Chinese government was in the right; she disagreed, yet found it hard to accept the equally extreme belief of the recent tendency in Hong Kong to view democ­racy as the final answer to mankind’s political quest. I bared my heart to her, telling her how I have always been the sort of person who is naturally in­clined to grasp his rights in the name of freedom and justice, and yet, how the results of such grasping rarely satisfy me. For if my struggle to defend my rights succeeds, I am often left with a strange sense of empti­ness or guilt; and if it fails, I am left with bitterness at having been treated unfairly. As our conversation developed, I realized that what she was so interested in discussing, others might also find challenging in this time of crisis.

Thus begins Biblical Theocracy, the most important book on politics and Christianity since Augustine’s City of God. (You can read it online for free in poorly formatted HTML.)

This is my favorite passage:

If we wish to adopt a form of Christianity consistent with the Bible, then we must seriously consider whether or not we are perhaps being deceived by our society and culture-and perhaps also by our own human selfishness-when we preach democracy as the panacea for all political problems. Aside from offering the citizen certain legal rights, most versions of democracy tell us we have the power and authority to claim for ourselves certain “inalienable rights”, such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Yet this is one of the greatest political lies ever told! Christianity is a religion of the cross, a religion whose founder taught that true life comes only to those who are willing to die [see e.g., Mat. 10:38-39; 16:24; cf. 1 Cor. 15:31]. Among other things, this means Christians are called to give up all rights: not just the basic right to “life”, but also rights such as “liberty” and “the pursuit of happiness”. For the Bible repeatedly says Christians are to be “slaves of Christ” [e.g., Eph. 6:6; Rom. 6:22] and are to endure all manner of suffering for the sake of a future glory [see e.g., Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 2:18-4:19; and Chapter Six below]. How, then, can a Christian defend a political system which encourages its citizens to stand up and de­fend their “basic human rights”?

How indeed? If you are wondering in what sense this is practical:

And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.
1 Samuel 8:18

Practical Definitions: Sustainable Natalism

Natalism in the common parlance usually refers to government policies designed to make people want to have children.  Practically speaking, that puts the cart before the horse.  I favor natalism that starts with social norms and then is reflected in government policies.

Sustainable natalism is arranging society so that children are acceptable parts of the public sphere at all child ages.  It’s making sure women aren’t broken and worn down by the stresses and strains of bearing and caring for little ones so that they have energy to pop out more than a couple and raise them to adulthood afterwards.  It’s also about granting higher social status to married mothers and fathers, so that marriage is once again considered the correct place to bear and raise children in.

Sustainable natalism is people setting things up so that women feel that they can handle 3-6 kids, so that men can marry before age 30 because they have a good shot of being able to support three or four kids and a wife, and helping parents by being the real village, full of loving friendships and support.  It’s discouraging atomic living and moving every couple of years for a job, it’s encouraging social norms that have extended family nearby.  It’s remembering the value of cousins and siblings and aunts and uncles.  It’s restoring healthy relations between single childless adults and children.  It’s creating a social milieu that leads to grandkids and great-grandkids as a norm.

Tax credits are neat and stuff, but they won’t do the job.  Society has to be oriented strongly towards children as a good in themselves, living the idea that they are a blessing, because modernity shows us that once any ethnicity or culture gets rich and bloated with cheap consumption, they get very uninterested in having children.  Children are hard, even easy ones are hard.  Without lots and lots of explicit support and status accorded to motherhood and fatherhood, people simply don’t bother.

 

Real Talk for SAHMs: When maternal instinct leads to poor maternal health

This is just to say that SAHMs lose sleep because it’s hard to get to sleep at night when you expect the wakeups and in fact they come for years on end.  Then there’s the food issue.  Yes, there is joking around about eating the crumbs the toddlers leave you, but it can lead to either overeating to compensate for the sleep deprivation or slow starvation (and corresponding increasing exhaustion) as appetite shuts down in response to stress.

So people hear about SAHMs being up at 3am doing laundry and think they are silly and frivolous and making up reasons to make it all seem harder than it is, but they aren’t thinking about the four wakeups the SAHM already had to deal with since attempting her own bedtime at 9pm after the kids were down between 7pm and 8pm.  If you can’t even hope to get any sleep and everyone around is convinced you never need a helping hand because you’re home all day and what on earth is there to do, really, then yeah, you just might go ahead and save the laundry for at night since you have to get up every other hour to nurse anyway, or quell a nightmare, or get a water sippy for a toddler’s dry throat and hacking cough.

Then there’s the putting off of medical and dental care because the prospect of trying to deal with the entire process with a bunch of little kids underfoot is too overwhelming to even think about.  It used to be obvious as recently as the 1980s that trying to leave the house with many small children was just not something a woman could do on her own, but it’s now a bizarre expectation towards SAHMs specifically.

Basically, a lot of women are in really bad shape mentally, physically and spiritually, and it’s because they are just trying to follow their natural maternal instincts in an environment set up to work against that in poisonous and damaging ways.  They just need a break.

Pregnant Pause

I’ve dropped any schedule for this blog until further notice.  I like this blog, I think it’s profitable to post the things that I post, but I have limited energy and it’s better served for now doing more offline stuff as best I can.  So I may post now and again, or I may leave this thing idle for months or weeks at a time.  I may turn up to comment here and there, but mostly I’m just taking pressure off myself to fret, since I could fret for the gold medal if it were an Olympic event.

I continue to hope and pray that more conservatives become serious about normal living and undertake the painful and necessary steps to help make it more likely for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (yep, it might just take that long).  I also more importantly hope and pray that the Christian conservatives specially might put on the holy armor of Our Lord and be the best Christians grace grants them the strength and perseverance to be.  It is hard out there, we are being persecuted in America and the wider West.  But we must pray for those who are actually being martyred right now for Christ and not forget that we can still worship in public spaces and carry Bibles around freely.  We still have it and we can still use it.

It’s hard to remember sometimes that the bolder in Christ we are, the worse it will go for us with the secular world.  If we do excommunicate adulterers and don’t bake wedding cakes for multiple divorcees and refuse chemical and physical birth control except for the direst medical need, it will not be easier.  If we teach our children the Narrow Way, the True Word, public schools will not rejoice and cheer us on in the PTA.  If we hold fast to what is lovely, true and real, things will not be light and cheerful.  The secular world will not go “How amazing to see you live your values, it’s so wonderful you are living near each other, building communities of blood, Christ and love, working with and supporting each other in economic, spiritual and collective ways!”

They would instead start looking longingly at the countries that kill Christians.  But we could yet count it all joy, for it would be, then.

Screwtape gets around, and it’s not pretty

This bad homage to The Screwtape Letters commits the error of making Screwtape look like a paragon of heavenly virtue by saying to women at home that they are evil for ever feeling overworked and underappreciated  In this homage, Screwtape is actually the good guy with the sane reasoning.

Modern conditions are not suitable for the average SAHM.  She really is being expected to do a lot of unreasonable things for unreasonable ends.  Work might have been harder in some obvious ways in the past, but the relentless overwork was never so socially acceptable as it is now.

It is interesting, is it not, that someone with a monetized blog that relies on sustaining the current untenable circumstances for SAHMs in order to profit is making posts about how bad it is to ever admit to feeling overworked or exhausted or plain irritated in going about one’s tasks as a housewife?  In a normal society, this type of monetized blogging to provide income would be replaced by real work for a wage that was doable around the demands of staying home with littles.  But we don’t live in a normal society, and Screwtape really gets around far more than one would ever desire.

I have certainly noted that routines and schedules are important, but the reason the whole world (and it is a whole blogland of its own) of monetized mommy-blogs concerning organization is a problem is that they’re selling a fantasy that individual efforts can make up for total lack of community and support from other women.  It’s a theology of salvation through works, dressed up to sell ad space, or “organizing kits” or, well, whatever.  But it’s not a healthy approach or an honest one.  It’s making money off suffering by offering fake solutions rather than real, less monetizable ones.  I guess Screwtape would be very proud, such works are a tribute to that demon’s master.

Being a SAHM with household help isn’t a luxury

Household help, as a matter of historical norms, is crucial to the domestic life lived properly and correctly.

I used to joke all the time about the Proverbs 31 woman.  I used to say, “You know, if I had a few servant girls to help me out, I think I too might be able to get a lot more done around here.”

Hahahahaha!

But you know what?

It’s really not funny.  It’s not funny at all.  It’s completely true.  And you know what else?

It’s completely BIBLICAL.

You know what?  There are a few hours a week where something peculiar happens.  No, actually, peculiar isn’t the right word.  MIRACULOUS!  No, that isn’t the right word either.  I don’t know…how about…WONDERFUL.  Something wonderful happens.  You know what it is?

There are a few times during the week where I feel like …A NORMAL PERSON!

Where I don’t feel overwhelmed.   When I am actually motivated.   When I can actually think straight.  When I feel happy.  You know what makes all the difference in the world?

HAVING HELP!

Taken from  the blog “Hidden with you” (linked above). Her post is a good start to recalling that the modern idea of being a Super-human, able to do anything alone, is dispiriting and unsound.

Another excerpt from her post on this matter of having help (read the whole thing, it is worth the time):

Oh my.  It’s like living in a completely different world.  During those few blissful hours?  I can nurse the baby, delegate a task, and the housework continues.  All work does not cease to be done when I am caring for a child or helping them with something, because it is not completely dependent upon me to do it while she is here.  I have help.   I can use the bathroom without people following me.  I can make a phone call in peace if I need to while she entertains the kids.

We talk.  We commiserate.  Her youthful vigor inspires and motivates me.  My slightly more years of life experience answer her many questions.  We encourage each other!  It is absolutely a breath of fresh air in what can be very stagnant air of domestic life.

And then, there is another older woman.  A dear woman, who without her kindness, I would’ve given up hope a long time ago, and I seriously might have walked away from the boring, stagnant life of lukewarm Christianity.  She restored my hope in humanity actually.  I had just about lost hope that caring people existed in this world.  That is, people who cared enough to actually DO something for another person.

Do you know what this woman did?

She volunteered to use her day off from work to come over so I could go to the store alone!  Or to run any other errands I needed to do.   Whatever I needed to do for a few hours, while she watched my kids.

I still cannot express the PURE JOY of knowing someone cared.  The relief that comes from having physical help.  Someone to lend a hand during these years when our hands are so full.

So, these seemingly insignificant needs we have, that we often laugh and joke about, they are very real.  Yes, adult conversation, using the bathroom in peace and having an extra set of hands makes all the difference in the life of a young mother.

So often, I’ve wondered if my faith was weak.  Maybe that was my problem.  If I just had more faith in God, couldn’t this be better!?!  Couldn’t I handle this heavy load?

But we were created not only to live in communion with God, but also to live in community with one another.  Family.  Neighbors.  Friends.  For so many years of my mothering days, I have spent my life surrounded by empty homes.  I would not have even known who to ask for any help, no one is home!

What young mothers are truly lacking, is a culture centered around family.  Where families are not being ripped apart from every angle of society.  Where older women are there to teach and encourage the younger women in this extremely important vocation of wife and mother.  Where there are actually other women around to help one another out on the home front.  To be there to answer our many questions and to guide us in this calling.  That follows the Biblical model of Titus 2.

Anyway I can’t just reblog the whole thing (I suppose I could, but just go read it instead!)

That kind of post is why I started this blog.  SAHMs are being failed by the very people who talk so big about their “commitment to family values” and other such pablum.  This woman is experiencing real woman to woman support, genuine Titus 2 care from an older woman in her local community, and this should be the standard, usual experience for any Christian SAHM. It should not be some kind of unusual, magical fluke.

Just as it’s not a luxury to stay home with the kids at all, it’s not a luxury to have some level of household help and regular breaks and rest/recharge time.  If it is such a big important job, then those who call themselves family-oriented should be happy to make sure the tools to do that job effectively and sanely are available to the mothers working so hard for the sake of love.