A Quiet Week

IMG_0226[1]I have no excuse for writing this late in the week besides the fact that when Thursday rolled around, I just didn’t feel like writing. It’s been a quiet week, mostly. But since I know my life will get much busier after Labor Day (I’m starting a lot of new music students when school starts) I decided mostly to do things I really enjoyed. So, I worked on some sewing projects, started reading a new book, made some curtains for my room and stuff like that. Last week I finished a crocheted rag rug for my hardwood floor. That should be nice when the Polar Vortex comes swirling back in a few more months. Here is Cora sitting on it.

And here are my new curtains. Or at least, one of them. There is nothing fancy about either the rug or the curtains, which is exactly what I like. They make me feel at home.

IMG_0228[1]I dream of having a little house out in the country some day, full of rag rugs, homemade curtains, a dinner table with chairs that don’t quite match, topped off with a red and white gingham tablecloth. There would be a cat curled up on the sofa and a big dog laying in front of the fireplace to make me feel safe. Of course, a big, strong husband and a lot of kids would be nice, too, but you can’t go out and buy those.

Well, since this is my week to do fun stuff, I have decided I will make this a short blog post and go bake chocolate chip cookies. I have the time. Why not!

Until next week. Perhaps I will have more profound thoughts than idle day dreams rolling around in my head.


Courtship Schmortzship

imagesAs you might have noticed, there’s an article making the rounds on Facebook called “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.” I read it sometime last week and found it to be quite interesting, though I didn’t agree with most of it. It did, however, hit a nerve, and judging from the reaction I’ve seen from many of my friends, I was not the only one. If you have not read this article, you should before reading any further. 

I’m a single girl in the last year of my twenties. I have one failed relationship to my name and two instances where guys have been interested in me and I could not return the favor. For the longest time before all of that, I thought I must be ugly because no one ever seemed interested and no one ever asked for me. I have since then discovered that I am not ugly and am actually quite attractive. At least the failed relationship I mentioned was good for that realization. Not only that, but every parent of marriageable young men with a five mile radius of me wants me for a daughter-in-law. If only their sons were so enthused. So, what’s the problem? According to the article above, girls like me stay single year after year after year because either courtship requires a guy to want to marry you before he gets to know you or your dad is an overbearing control-freak. The author of the article recommends a return to good “old-fashioned” dating. Hmmm. I sent the article to my brother-in-law to get his perspective. Jason is always good for a rational, non-reactionary, Biblical response to such things. He did respond, and I asked his permission to share his comments here. They are as follows:

“Bottom line, I thought that the article was poor and unhelpful. We need good conversations on topics like this in order to gain wisdom, but this kind of article doesn’t promote wisdom. Here’s why I think this.

The problems begin with the title, “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed.” That’s a big claim, and if one is going to make such a claim, one needs to have something to back it up. This is what the article fails to provide. It would have been much better if the author had titled his article “Why We Need to Improve on Courtship” or “Suggestions for Courting Christians” or even “Why I Believe Dating Is Better than Courtship,” or something along those lines. That kind of humility in the title (and the article) would have gone a long way toward making this a vehicle for gaining wisdom instead of a reactionary exercise.

I suspect, though I could not verify it simply by reading this article, that some of the underlying problem prompting this kind of reaction is embodied in the sentence, “Each year I waited for courtship to start working….” If the trust was placed in this methodology, then that was a problem to begin with. It reminds me very much of reactions against Christian schools. Back in the 1970’s, starting Christian schools became very popular, even though many Christian schools had a weak basis. In the past ten years, we hear all the reactionary comments about Christian schools not working. I think people had misplaced expectations to begin with. A good biblical understanding of sanctification would be a great help at this point. The distorted understanding comes through loudly in this statement, “The deal was that if we put up with the rules and awkwardness of courtship now we could avoid the pain of divorce later.” When I read that, I wanted to exclaim, “What???” If this is really the way the author thought about courtship, then it is no wonder that courtship is a disaster. It was practically guaranteed to be a disaster if it was built on such an unbiblical foundation.

The author uses his grandparents’ generation and their dating practices as a foil for courtship. The unspoken assumption is “It worked for them.” But, with all historical integrity, we can ask, “Did it really?” Actual statistics don’t bear out the author’s paradigm. The entire twentieth century was a progression of getting worse and worse in the marriage and divorce departments. The “greatest generation” was pretty morally confused, in my opinion, and it showed in all kinds of ways, including relationships.

Another burr in my saddle regarding this article was that it was not well informed historically. The author makes unfounded generalizations, even in terminology like “traditional dating.” What was “traditional” about the way his grandparents dated? Actually, the way they dated was fairly “new-fangled” when they did it. The author also fails to take into account current sociological trends in general, like the fact that all Americans are waiting longer to get married these days and more and more of them are staying single, including the ones who date around like crazy. This is not an issue that can be compartmentalized as a courtship issue. Thus his entire cause-effect paradigm is open to serious doubt. For example, he puts in bold the statement, “a commitment to courtship is often a commitment to lifelong singleness.” Really? How does he know this? Anecdotes? What does he have to say to all the young women who have pursued dating with gusto but end up single?

So, by the time I got to the bold headline “Why the Courtship Divorce Rate Is So High,” I was about ready to stop reading this article. This is written by someone who seems to want to get lots of shares on Facebook by using shrill rhetoric. He goes on in the text to admit that there is little research on courtship divorce rates. So why put in bold what you admit you do not know?

At any rate, without interacting with every point he makes, I would have liked to see much better interaction with Scripture. Again, if he is going to claim a “fundamental” flaw in courtship, then he needs to demonstrate why it contradicts Scripture. He actually doesn’t even attempt to show that it contradicts Scripture (which, again, would be fine if he had made a more modest claim about his argument). I would have also liked to see much more rigorous moral reasoning, anchored in permanent moral truths, demonstrated in the broad expanse of human experience. If this article passes for good moral reasoning, may God help us all.

Now that I have given my unvarnished opinion about the article, I’d like to also say that I think the problems he reacts against are real problems. They need to be addressed. But articles like this just perpetuate the problem by adding more mess. Surely if the courtship groupies were spewing out simplistic, sloppy moralism, then throwing simplistic, sloppy, pro-dating moralism into the mix will help, right? Well, it will help create more mess. It won’t help people become more like Christ, which is what we are really after.”

So much for that. Since reading Thomas Umstattd’s article, I have come across some articles on the subject that I found to be far more balanced and helpful. Top of the list is an article by Jesse Jost, “Saving the Baby: An Alternative to Courtship.” Here’s another good one, “Courtship: It’s Just Coffee,” by Hal and Melanie Young.

Thoughts, anyone?

Blessings and Sorrow

A ray of sun...
A ray of sun…

What a chilly morning it was! I had to break out my cozy sweater and my fuzzy socks. It is a beautiful morning, though. The sun is shining brightly through my window as I sit at my desk and type. It feels so nice and warm on my face. I’m looking forward to sitting here on crisp winter mornings. At the apartment, the sun never shown directly through any of the windows and I missed that. Living in a house is so nice.

It’s been an odd week, full of blessings and sadness. Every day I wake up in this quiet, pretty house, in this relatively safe country. I feel privileged. And then I sort of feel guilty. After all, I’m not yet running for my life from people whose only goal is to kill me. It was a sad week as I thought about how many thousands of people have died from plague and war. Yesterday, my older brother and his two oldest girls came over and chatted for a while. In the course of conversation, my brother remarked that North Korea is starting to fold. It’s sort of a mess and they won’t be able to hold it together much longer. To my great sadness, my young, teenaged niece remarked, “Seems like every place is a mess right now.” How true. And if it’s not a mess now, seems like it will be shortly. What a world she has inherited.

How merciful God is. How merciful that He has not ended this story of the world yet. He is not willing that any should perish (eternally) and that all should come to repentance, even those killing minorities in Iraq. I would not make a good god. I would squash them like so many bugs over there. In fact, pretty much everywhere would get a leveling, since we’re all pretty awful when you come right down to it. But God is as patient and longsuffering as he is holy and full of wrath. How that works, I don’t really understand. While we pursue our sin, He pursues us. He keeps after us for years and years, giving us chance after chance to forsake our wicked ways and follow Him.

In the meantime, I have been trying to focus on good things. (I have a tendency to see all the bad and none of the good and behave in a morose fashion.) Here are a couple of neat things that happened recently. As I am always excited at spotting wildlife, I’m always on the lookout for places I can walk quietly and happen upon animals.  There is a railroad crossing less than a block from my house. The other day, I followed it to the office of Duke Street Productions. Following the train tracks shaves quite a few minutes off my time. Anyway, as I was walking there, I heard a rustling to my left. What looked like a small dog ran past my peripheral vision. Instead of disappearing, though, it turned around and looked at me for about ten seconds and I realized it was a coyote. So there we stood, staring at each other. Then it ran into the brush and vanished. Last night, I took the train tracks in the opposite direction and came across four deer—three bucks and one doe. They just stood there like perfectly carved statues while I walked towards them, and they didn’t run away until I had passed them. I’m interested to see what else I can find along the tracks in the future.

That is all for now. I must get to work on my latest Union Gospel Press assignment.

New House!

The crew in Ohio...
Me and our leading lady from The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club in Ohio.

Last week was sort of a blur. There was a trip to Ohio to visit some filmmaking friends, there was a ton of packing to do, there was a church performance at the end of the week that I was involved in and then there was the move on Saturday. On Sunday, I got sick and was a bundle of nerves, exhaustion and emotion. Monday and Tuesday weren’t much better. Serves me right, I guess, for trying to pack so much in. Oh, well. My nose is only slightly stuffy today.

The whole crew!
The whole crew!

But now we’re moved in! There’s still a lot of organizing and unpacking to do, but the hard stuff is done for the most part. My brother’s house is so lovely. I love the room I have here. It has two big windows and a beautiful view of the green back yard full of trees. Today, I met the across-the-street neighbor, Irwin Rushke. (Hope I spelled that right.) He’s an elderly gentleman that sells fresh produce from his front yard.

Moving day!
Moving day!

His property is pretty much a giant garden full of fruit trees and rows and rows of plants. Quite obviously, I’m taking advantage of that opportunity. I bought home-grown potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and summer squash. I put one of the tomatoes to my nose and took a nice, long whiff. It smelled like a real tomato. I’m grateful for Aldi’s cheap prices, but their produce is awful. Meijer’s isn’t much better. I think I’m going to like it here.

My room before improvements.
My room before improvements.

Last week’s visit to Ohio was encouraging. It was so good to see so many film makers all together, being nerdy and creative and concocting grand schemes. The neat thing is, most of those grand schemes probably won’t stay schemes—they’ll turn into movies that you and I will get to watch. Nifty people, those film makers.

My room after improvements
My room after improvements
The living room...so pretty.
The living room…so pretty.

In other news, Conciliar Post published an article of mine called Imagine. I hope you’ll take the time to read it. I don’t mean to brag, but it’s probably one of the best articles I’ve ever written and concerns subject matter that I’m extremely passionate about. So, have a read and tell me what you think about it!