Sunday, June 26, 2005

Suspect Device

--Decided to re-post this after a friend announced the birth of his second daughter. From the wayback machine:

A Pastor's Notebook October 28, 1999
Suspect Device
Norm T., the domesticated engineer and mad tuba player, recently sent me an e-mail from the howling tundras of the St. Paul suburbs in response to my APN entry on meeting baby Celeste. He writes:
I don't disagree with a single thing you said, however as a father it goes beyond that, in that those same feelings of "total trust", "undying love", "Absolute awe" continue through their lives. Kelly, although 5 and very independent, still has moments where she wants nothing more than to be that little baby again, curled up in your arms being totally dependent on you. As long as you (as the adult) accept that this time decreases with age, but is still absolutely necessary (if not from her point of view, from mine) you too can have those same feelings throughout your child's life. (At least I hope it lasts that long.)

I still am in wonder every day at how she grows and changes and how she sees the world and people around her. I guess this has less to do with being a parent and more to do with just being there and seeing it happen each and every day.


To which I can only reply: I wonder if this is the way God sees us? We began our lives with God as wholly dependent, if you take the story of Genesis at face value. Over the years, we've become more and more independent, perhaps necessarily, perhaps not. Nowadays we hardly write home at all to let the old man know how we're doing. Things aren't going well, of course, despite the Clinton economic boom. There have been too many Kosovos, too many Rwandas, for us to believe seriously that the human race is ready to manage its own affairs without some timely parental intervention.

You’d think that we would turn to God more often than we do, given our state of affairs. It seems like an obvious statement, even a platitude. But how often does it really come true? Our ability to keep focussed on the God of love, mercy and peace gets more spotty every day. We distance ourselves with television, numb ourselves with the polite fiction of the stock market, and reassure ourselves with the outright lie that those countries have always been like that. Which is not to say that the good is entirely erased from us; there are still saints and angels who walk amongst us. Even the ordinary people of faith can accomplish something good once in a while. We did finally do something about both Kosovo and Rwanda, after all, though probably too little too late. But our hearts and minds remain our own, and as always, we remain erratic children, prone to saintliness one day, bestiality the next.

Fortunately, I have yet to meet a child given to devil worship, so I'll skip the discussion of "walking in the ways of the Lord" as compared to "walking in the ways of the devil." I will say this, however. Part of the pain, yet part of the joy, of being a parent is that you never know what the little monster is going to do next. Give you a hug or break your kneecap? Draw you a picture or smash your favorite vase? Sit in his room listening to punk rock, or become a pastor? And so on.

Again, I am only guessing at what that looks like from the perspective of a parent. But having been a "difficult" child myself—hell, let's not beat around the bush: I was nuts—I can extrapolate. One night when my oldest niece was turning two, she was so enthused about blowing out her birthday candles that she almost stuck her face into their flames. There were eight adults around the dinner table. Each one of us, seized by the same instinct, lunged forward, yelling and ready to pull her back by her overalls. She looked up, bewildered by all the commotion, and we had a good laugh. It occurred to me much later that that moment, played out more often than a Yankees world series must be what parenthood is like. That shouldn't take away from the awe and the joy and the pride of being a parent, but it does set it in a background of terror, something like seeing a diamond, then becoming aware of the sweat and sacrifice it took to bring it out of the earth. Labor was painful, some mother said, and after that, things only got worse.

My point in all this is two-fold and (mercifully) brief. The first is something along the lines of a lesser-to-greater argument. If it's ennervating for a human parent to watch their children grow, what must it be like for God to watch the entire human race come into their own? It's tempting to want to abstract the issue, to say that by and large, we get along okay, and God doesn't have much to worry about. But Jesus said that not a sparrow flew nor a hair fell that God didn't know about, which suggests to me at least that God is much more intimate with our ups and downs that we'd give a deity credit for being. It's hard to get a hold of, that idea. It's been gone over so many times before that it begins to look like that squirrel that got flattened on your street last Sunday. Think of it this way; God is like an extra family member to each of us. God's the brother we never had, or the sister; God’s like a third parent, a fifth grandparent, even a second cousin.

I won’t hyperbolize by saying that God loves us more than any of these could. Leave it at that God loves us as much as any of them. If we are struck by cancer, God knows. If we—or our wife—becomes pregnant, God knows. If we're feeling on top of the world, God knows that, too. The point is not so much that God knows each of us individually, however. It’s more that God knows all of us individually. The miracle of the divine is that God is able to laugh, shout, cry, weep and moan with the best of us—and with the rest.

More to the original point, the parental feelings of love, trust, and awe never leave God. For the divine being, we are an ever-unfolding act of wonder and beauty, children in the same way that we see our children grow and change. There are hard times with any kid, there's no denying that. But as Norm seems to be pointing out in his e-mail, the hard times are more than compensated for by the good times, and if you're lucky, the good times keep coming. Can you imagine that God is as proud of as your father? That God is as attached to you as much as your own mother? That God is as surprised, baffled and entertained by the continuing process of your life as you were when your children were babies? Seems outrageous, doesn’t it?

Which brings us to point two.

I love my God, but sometimes I wonder if "he" is not an anarchistic bomb-thrower. God has given us the gift of freedom, which sounds good in principal, but leads to a lot of chaos in practice. But for that matter, so does the birth of a child. We are each of us a suspect device, unpredictable and potentially quite dangerous little packages found tucked away under the benches in airports and railway terminals. The potential for mischief is enormous—Rwanda, Kosovo, Chechnya, the streets of New York City—but then, who said all mischief had to be bad? We could be high-explosives of love if we wanted to be, not violence or indifference. As the Northern Irish band Stiff Little Fingers once sang, "A suspect device/can score an own goal," a metaphor taken from soccer games, where a player accidentally punts a ball into his own goal. The Fingers were referring to the ability of Irish kids to subvert the structures that led to ever-increasing violence in their homeland, but the point is general. Each child is a suspect device, a love-bomb in the making, as it were. Why shouldn't we "blow up in their face," and refuse to take part in the dumb hurt and sadness that makes up our daily lives? I imagine that God looked at Jesus on the cross and said, "Well, I didn’t know he was going to do that, but he’s sure made me proud."

That may seem contradictory when stacked against my claim that God is intimate in our lives, but it's only an apparent contradiction. We all know—or at least hope—that our children will stand up and walk one day, but foresight doesn't privilege us with the exact time and date. Nor does God's awe and wonder at the progress of our lives mean necessarily that God knows exactly what's in store for each of us at a certain moment. Rather, God is Immanuel—God with us—as parent, friend, and comforter. God is being there, and God sees it all happen each and every day—and nothing could tickle the Eternal One more pink.

57 Comments:
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

tremendous piece.

as a parent of 2 rambunctious boys (one of whom was curious enough about the pitching machine at baseball camp that his hand got stuck in it recently?!?) I think you've gotten at least a good piece of the puzzle and I appreciate the insight of God as parent you take us to.

I'm having a rough day - read far too much of the confession / guilty plea of the BTK killer - the cold calculated way he described what he was doing - even to his victims as he did it - in one case with their children locked in the next room and able to hear and peek through a hole to see their mother's death.

it's the sort of thing that make me wonder about God - and yet - as I encounter the wonder of creation, the tremendous diversity of life - in those moments when I stop being a cynic and realize how tiny my life - any of our lives are - in the grand scheme of things, I begin to understand.

our life - our entire life - might well be equivalent to a few days of childhood. The best parent can't always prevent every tragedy - and most of us know that skinned knees heal - so not every accident - as horrible as it might be from the perspective of the skin cells on the knee - needs to be prevented.

In the end I'm reminded that I don't understand - and I don't have to. It doesn't make sense because creation is more than I'm capable of understanding.

So I can embrace my doubt, my anger, my confusion - and I can sincerely pray that the God who is greater than my understanding but also involved in the world can touch those who survived the horror of BTK, or Rwanda, Dahfur, Iraq, 9/11 with peace - that we can all work towards justice - even as flawed as we are.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Maryscott OConnor said...

PASTORDAN...

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger Maryscott OConnor said...

PASTORDAN...


So... where's the link to My Left Wing in your blogroll? Hmm?

http:www.myleftwing.com

love,
MSOC

 
At 2:11 AM, Blogger destiny483hillary said...

damn good blog, check out mine http://juicyfruiter.blogspot.com, comments always welcome!

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger jon said...

coding medical online school surfing tonight I saw your blog. I liked it and wondered how you did that? Anyway, its a cool coding medical online school site...

Jon

 
At 8:20 PM, Blogger Julian Silvain said...

I skim a lot of blogs, and so far yours is in the Top 3 of my list of favorites. I'm going to dive in and try my hand at it, so wish me luck.

It'll be in a totally different area than yours (mine is about mens male enhancement reviews) I know, it sounds strange, but it's like anything, once you learn more about it, it's pretty cool. It's mostly about mens male enhancement reviews related articles and subjects.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger credit6sec said...

interesting suff!
Visit my site too, relating to non-profit debt consolidation site. It deals with non-profit debt consolidation and other related stuff.

 
At 2:41 AM, Blogger Tom Naka said...

Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about group health insurance quote

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger Marketing man said...

You have a nice blog here! I will be sure to book mark you.
I have a cost per action email marketing site. It pretty much covers cost per action email marketing related stuff. Check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 3:42 AM, Blogger Bloggy said...

I really liked your page and it is related to gold watch band, until next time!

 
At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa, I came stumbled on a blog pretty similar to yours earlier today. I also have one that pretty much talks about work at home agent related stuff. You should check it out sometime.

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger honeylove said...

I definitely like your site, bookmarked!

I've got a natural penis enlargement related site. It covers natural penis enlargement related articles.

Drop by when you can.

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger honeylove said...

I definitely like your site, bookmarked!

I've got a natural penis enlargement related site. It covers natural penis enlargement related articles.

Drop by when you can.

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Health blog. It pretty much covers Dieting Health Fitness Exercise related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time

 
At 10:20 PM, Blogger Askinstoo said...

Nice Blog!!!   I thought I'd tell you about a site that will let give you places where
you can make extra cash! I made over $800 last month. Not bad for not doing much. Just put in your
zip code and up will pop up a list of places that are available. I live in a small area and found quite
a few. MAKE MONEY NOW

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog! Ilike it.But here you can find woman looking for sexTake a look if you have a minute. Thanks and have a good one!

 
At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog! Ilike it.I have Site where you can Find sex partnerTake a look if you have a minute. Thanks and have a good one!

 
At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog! Ilike it.I have Site where you can Find sex partnerTake a look if you have a minute. Thanks and have a good one!

 
At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discuss this topic daily myself. I also have a website that talks about legitimate work from home related things. Go check it out if you get a chance.

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Bloggy said...

I really liked your page and it is related to rose gold watch, until next time!

 
At 1:38 AM, Blogger Smallman said...

Excellent blog.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger unixlinux said...

Nice blog. Check out my cat picture blog.

 
At 3:45 AM, Blogger cards65 said...

Excellent blog on business opportunity home based work from.
Please visit business opportunity home based work from

 
At 3:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discuss this topic daily myself. I also have a website that talks about small home based business resource related things. Go check it out if you get a chance.

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger Swingin80 said...

Cool blog you have. I have a business home link suggest related site. Check it out if you get a chance. The URL is business home link suggest

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger blaze said...

Great site. I am very interested in card consolidation consolidation consumer credit debt debt debt debt help information relief sevices yahoodebtconsolidation.com and have also tried to set up an informative site about card consolidation consolidation consumer credit debt debt debt debt help information relief sevices yahoodebtconsolidation.com please feel free to check it out and make any suggestions.

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi what a great blog,make money on ebay. If you have time pay me a visit.make money on ebay

 
At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While surfing the net looking for Websites similar to my site about legitimate work at home I came across your blog about legitimate work at home It is nice to see that there are people out there who are willing to give us insights into
their daily lives through their blogs.

 
At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While surfing the net looking for Websites similar to my site about work at home data entry jobs I came across your blog about work at home data entry jobs It is nice to see that there are people out there who are willing to give us insights into
their daily lives through their blogs.

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Nick-B said...

Hello......when I was searching for info on business home online opportunity work I somehow got directed to your site. Glad I did and hope you don't mind me adding it to my favorites.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger unixlinux said...

Informative blog... Please visit the online collection agency blog.

 
At 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a christmas gift site/blog. It pretty much covers gift ideas for christmas related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger Work From Home Center said...

Hi Thanks for your interesting blog. I also have a blog/site, covering home based business opportunity seeker
related stuff. Feel free to visit my home based business opportunity seeker
site.

 
At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo, This blog is pretty neat. You should check out mine sometime. It pretty much covers internet business opportunity related stuff.

 
At 2:58 AM, Blogger Work From Home Center said...

Hi Thanks for your interesting blog. I also have a blog/site, covering equity home loan work
related stuff. Feel free to visit my equity home loan work
site.

 
At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw something similar about shopping

 
At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am about to show you a way that you can generate thousands of keyword targeted links back to your web site starting today!

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger WDM Info Services said...

I like your blog, please list it on my favourite Blog Directory.

It has lots of links to define blog blogs

William MacDonald

 
At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice blog enjoyed it :)

Keep up the excellent work! and i bookmarked u!

so cant wait for ur next post! :)

Thanks!!

 
At 2:34 AM, Blogger internet business said...

Finally an interesting blog. I have a site
about home based business if your
interested in learning more about or getting
some free info. on home based business check it out.

 
At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you like dog health you may very well like this site dog health

 
At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a becker download free pro traffic site/blog. It pretty much covers becker download free pro traffic related stuff. Plus you can advertise to billions using our becker download free pro traffic tools.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have You Ever Seen canada healthy living

 
At 3:43 AM, Blogger editor said...

Superb Blog, well done.
Here an interesting Site regarding:
Debt Consolidation, Debt Consolidation information, Personal Debt Consolidation, Debt Settlement

 
At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greatest Blog Post. Please visit this site on compare long distance phone rate
compare long distance phone rate

 
At 11:03 PM, Blogger WorldTrader said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a chicago computer data entry job Site. It's about ##KEYWORD## and you can easy make $300-$1000 per day. Give our program a try.
lot of back-links :-)

Check it out if you get time :-)

 
At 4:35 AM, Blogger Work From Home Center said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here.
I also have a web site & blog about work at home so I know what I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work!

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Mortgage Center said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here.
I also have a web site & blog about mortgage calc so I know what I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work!

 
At 6:17 AM, Anonymous My Bonus Area said...

work at home,http://allmyvista.com,work at home

free downloads of software, php scripts, audio, ebooks and seminar interviews. Make work from home incredibly easy

work at home

http://allmyvista.com

work at home

 
At 9:17 AM, Anonymous My Bonus Area said...

real work at home jobs,http://allmyvista.com,real work at home jobs

free downloads of software, php scripts, audio, ebooks and seminar interviews. Make work from home incredibly easy

real work at home jobs

http://allmyvista.com

real work at home jobs

 
At 6:32 AM, Anonymous My Bonus Area said...

work at home mother,http://allmyvista.com,work at home mother

free downloads of software, php scripts, audio, ebooks and seminar interviews. Make work from home incredibly easy

work at home mother

http://allmyvista.com

work at home mother

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Debt Resources Services said...

Many reputable debt management companies can help you deal with your debt problems. You can work with a credit counsellor to create your own plan to pay off bills.
If your site is of similar interest contact me and link sites.
Debt Resources Services.

 
At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Online debt consolidation information is availiable through many internet sources that specialize in assisting many American households in managing or eliminating their outstanding debt.
credit card debt help
Debt Resources Services.

 
At 1:23 AM, Anonymous joel said...

With personal debt in the US at an unprecidented level, the good news is that help is at hand for those carrying the burden, in the form of the US Debt Help Manual, produced by the (PRWEB) October 2005__The US Debt Help Manual, produced by The Debt Counsellors. is a free, no_nonsense guide.
financial advice
Debt Resources Services.

 
At 2:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With personal debt in the US at an unprecidented level, the good news is that help is at hand for those carrying the burden, in the form of the US Debt Help Manual, produced by the (PRWEB) October 2005__The US Debt Help Manual, produced by The Debt Counsellors. is a free, no_nonsense guide.
If your site is of similar interest contact me and link sites.
Debt Resources Services.

 
At 6:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Online debt consolidation information is availiable through many internet sources that specialize in assisting many American households in managing or eliminating their outstanding debt.
tax debt help
Debt Resources Services.

 
At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With personal debt in the US at an unprecidented level, the good news is that help is at hand for those carrying the burden, in the form of the US Debt Help Manual, produced by the (PRWEB) October 2005__The US Debt Help Manual, produced by The Debt Counsellors. is a free, no_nonsense guide.
business debt help
Debt Resources Services.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home