Coronavirus Day 36- Kids and Church

Virtual church, ya’ll. Photo credit: Steve

God has no grandchildren.

Getting Your Kids Through Church Without Them Ending Up Hating God,
Rob Parsons

BLUF: Kids come have to come to faith on their own. Parents guide them, but must get out of the way.

We’ve decided to divide and conquer today. Steve and the kids are upstairs about to start Sonic the Hedgehog. I’m downstairs about to load the dishwasher and sweep the pet fur and do other cool and interesting things like that. This is all fine with me, by the way. By sheer volume of hours, I spend a lot more time with the kids than Steve does. I even have time to goof off with them during the week. So I’ll let them enjoy their movie. I’m glad I’m not staring down a work week.

It turns out that virtual church has been just as hard to gain momentum around as normal church had been. Just before Coronavirus, the last time we attempted church we had arrived so late, that the kids refused to go into the kids’ worship service. Steve and I brought them into the sanctuary where they squirmed and made noise and we ended up leaving early. Of note, my kids are not little! They are capable of sitting still for entire school days. What I’m dealing with is some kind of philosophical church parenting problem.

In the book quoted above (an on-the-nose title, I know), the author’s main point is to stress the role of parents in developing their kids’ faith—specifically the limits of parents’ influence. He emphasizes that parents cannot bear full responsibility for their kids’ spiritual journey. Kids have to come to faith for themselves. There are a lot of ways to model and help kids along (he makes a big point of the value of youth groups) but forcing Christianity could do more harm than good. I 100% believe this.

So where does this leave me? Today, I invited them. I appealed to their desire to make me happy (“Please just come sit with me while I watch,”). It worked last weekend (Easter!), not so much today. I guess I just keep trying. Maybe I get creative and bring in donuts and park them in front of the TV. I guess this works for normal churches. There is something to persistence and perseverance and continuing to try. Maybe this is the point the author is really trying to make.

Coronavirus Day 34- On Activating Reservists

TGIF. Photo credit: Penelope

“The Firm should be a place to work that exudes class. This means that the associates (whose workloads are arduous) should be treated generously and supported well.”

D. Ronald Daniel, Daniel on McKinsey

Today is Friday. I missed my window to run this morning in exchange for a trip to the grocery store for some staples such as, coffee! And milk! And paper towels! I complimented my cashier’s floral print face mask.

“Thanks,” she said. “My grandmother made it.”

I mentioned in a previous post that my reserve unit started activating people to support New England in handling the Coronavirus pandemic. As of yesterday, that activation has been canceled. For anyone reading this who is not connected to the reserves, canceling an activation sounds like no big deal. It sounds as simple as flicking on and off a light switch. But activating a reservist is more like booting up an old computer. When you push that big round button on the CPU, you can hear the little machines inside start to whir and beep, and see green lights flicker and watch commands flash across the screen. A minute or two later (probably longer I don’t remember), that computer is ready to do some work. Activating a reservist is more like that.

This past summer I received 30 days notice for a seven month activation. My “booting up” involved my husband saying to his boss, ‘Oh, hi boss, just letting you know my wife’s been activated so I’ll need to be more hands-on at home while she’s away thanks for understanding,’ and my mom telling her boss, ‘Oh hi boss I know I just signed a contract to work another year but can I do it remotely? My daughter just got activated and I have to move to Houston, thanks.’

When I did finally arrive to my appointed place of duty it became clear that my role—my team—did not have a clearly defined mission. In total, I can account for two-three months of idle time.

The other side of this is going through the booting up process and someone just pulls the plug out of the wall. Mission canceled.

There is something to be said for being a reserve force in readiness, as in, we are ready to “boot up” at the whim of our nation’s call because it’s our patriotic duty. We’re volunteers, after all. But there’s also something to be said for treating people with respect, as in, the organization respects the fact there are people on the other end with families and lives and jobs. Sometimes involuntary mobilizations and false starts can’t be avoided. But I get the sense that sometimes, some staff officer out there just sees rows of CPUs with big round buttons ready to push.

Coronavirus Day 26- Ordinary Time

Brownies from scratch

I’m sitting at breakfast with Nick and Penny. Each of us is looking at a screen. I’m sipping on a black cup of coffee. There was a time when I would have thought this was a pathetic scene as in, “Look at us, so addicted to media and disconnected from one another that we can’t even watch the same show.” Today, I’m not so critical. I think this is a product of my recent mobilization, where I spent nearly four months in Guatemala with two guys doing civil affairs work. We spent hours upon hours together in a van, eating meals, sitting in front of our computers, surfing the web on our phones. Even though we weren’t always talking or entertaining one another, we were still together. The hours, days, and months still counted. As such, my morning with Nick and Penny still counts, screens and all.

I’m reading this book, The Liturgy of the Ordinary, which is in essence a manifesto in praise of ordinary life. This book has introduced me to the Liturgical Calendar, which has introduced me to the concept of Ordinary Time. In addition to the big seasons that I was already familiar with (i.e. Lent, Advent), Ordinary Time is new to me, and it takes up most of the year. Ordinary Time represents months of white space and nothingness.

When I first returned home from my mobilization I was at teenage-level angst and turmoil over the boredom of regular life. I realize now that my coming home involved a downshift in my mind back to a place of quiet, ordinary activity. Ordinary Time. It’s natural to mourn the loss of the exciting, constant changes and stimuli of a mobilization. Especially now with social isolation in effect, the whole world is mourning the loss of having places to go and people to see. But a secure person knows that life ebbs and flows between the exciting and the ordinary. I think the most successful, contented, and satisfied people are good at doing both, the exciting and the boring.

Trash bag swimming pool