We are left, I suggest, with the question of how to break the lethal cycle of acquisitiveness. And so, in the context of our more general discussion, I wish to situate the tenth commandment in the context of the fourth commandment on Sabbath. Sabbath is the practical ground for breaking the power of acquisitiveness and for creating a public will for an accent on restraint. Sabbath is the cessation of widely shared practices of acquisitiveness. It provides time, space, energy, and imagination for coming to the ultimate recognition that more commodities, which may be acquired in the rough and ready of daily economics, finally do not satisfy. Sabbath is variously restraint, withdrawal, or divestment from the concrete practices of society that specialize in anxiety. Sabbath is an antidote to anxiety that both derives from our craving and in turn feeds those cravings for more. Sabbath is an arena in which to recognize that we live by gift and not by possession, that we are satisfied by relationships of attentive fidelity and not by amassing commodities. We know in the gospel tradition that we may indeed “gain the whole world” and lose our souls (Mark 8:34–37). Thus Sabbath is soul-receiving when we are in a posture of receptivity before our Father who knows we need them (Luke 12:30).
Not a good picture, but today I put up the birthday present Pamela gave me this year. It’s a lamp post to put at the entrance of the 60 acre school forest behind our house. Once the snow arrives it will be very narnia-ish.
Seemed appropriate to set it up today since the 29th was Mr. Lewis birthday.
I had a friend a long time ago who always ended up in the center of whatever group photo was being taken. It wasn’t really a big deal and to my knowledge nobody really thought about it, until one of the group of friends pointed it out and then it became obvious that this person always arranged for himself to be at the center of the photo. Just finished a service project and wanted to take a group photo. Bam! There he was in the center of the photo. Attended a wedding that this person only knew tangentially. Pow! He would suddenly appear right beside the bride and groom smiling away. It wasn’t a big deal … because someone has to be in the center of the photo and this person was a fine person so no one cared if he wanted to be in the center of the photo. Still it was very obvious that he always wanted to be at the center of the photo.
There are, however, people who have to be in the center of every story and the center of all attention. These people need to take everybody else’s good event or accomplishment and somehow turn it into something that praises themselves or belittle the current thing by pointing out how much better something they did was. Leith Anderson described these people as “chip stealers” because they are always trying to take the credit and steal people’s “chips”. I wrote about “ministry poker chips” here.
I witnessed this recently with someone having a conversation with Pam. The conversation started about something that Pam had done. Eventually this person joined in the conversation and directed Pam’s accomplishment back toward himself. Of course, “good” husband that I am I didn’t recognize this until a day later when I was mulling the dialogue over in my head because something didn’t feel right. So all I could do was fume over the fact that the person had turned Pam’s accomplishment around to focus on them and regret that I hadn’t turned it back to Pam.
Anyhow, watch out for those “center of the photo” people. Most of them are probably pretty nice but I few are down right nasty. Avoid allowing those “nasty” ones to steal the center of your photos, but you probably don’t have to worry so much about the nice ones.
SIDE NOTE – The 2017 Deer Hunting Season is over for me. I didn’t get anything this year because 1) everything I saw was just out of my comfortable shooting range during bow season, and 2) i passed up all the deer I saw at the beginning of the season thinking that I would see something bigger later. I didn’t. Next year I’m shooting the first deer I see … even if it is the size of a Chihuahua. The good news is that I finished 3 books and started a 4th (Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Letters from Prison“) during gun season.
I’m really just posting these photos here on the blog more as an advertisement for a company I believe in, Pheasant Pines. We Terrell’s have been going to Pheasant Pines for years to get our yearly Christmas tree. We even used to be an advertising photo on their website a long time ago. One of the things I like about them is that they support a local charity each year with part of the proceeds from their tree sales. This year the charity they will be supporting is Evergreen Community Initiatives (ECI). For you threads you will know ECI as the group that runs the Place of Peace meal that we regularly participate in and several of us go to and help at each week.
Anyhow if you don’t have a place from where your family and/or friend-amily purchase your Christmas tree, I would recommend trying Pheasant Pines. They are awesome and you will be supporting ECI with your purchase. If you have a place and like them stay with them. Building a family/friend-amily tradition is the thing that I want to encourage most.
As for how the Terrell’s do Christmas tree cutting we have traditionally had a very strict work order. The order is:
Pam picks the tree
I cut the tree
Adam drags the tree to the vehicle
Noah places the tree on the vehicle
We find that this order leads to a smooth overall Christmas tree acquiring process. We had to modify things a little this year because Adam could stay past Thanksgiving day (we missed you buddy).
Best part of this year was a fluky thing. I cut through the tree trunk with the bow saw, and apparently did it so fast that the trunk fell on itself and reminded standing without any other support. If you look at the fourth picture closely you will see the bow saw on both sides of the tree trunk.
Noah and me following Pam as she finds the perfect tree. She is the master of this. We have very well defined jobs. Pam picks the tree, I cut the tree, the boys (or in the case Noah) drag the tree to the car).
My job is to cut the tree down.
It was Clive’s first Christmas tree trip. As you could probably have guest he was a huge hit. People literally chased him down to pet him.
You can’t really tell it from this photo but the bow saw is on both sides of the tree trunk. I cut straight through the trunk and it continued to stand up without any support.
Every year Pheasant Pines picks a charity to support. This year it is Evergreen Community Initiatives. Yet another reason you should go there.
Sometime when Adam and Noah were really young the Terrell family started going to a Thanksgiving day afternoon movie (I know we were doing this by at least 1999 because I remember us going to see Toy Story 2 with my parents). Yesterday we went to see Pixar’s latest movie, Coco.
The plot references the Mexican holiday of Día de Muertos (which is why I immediately texted Eric G afterwards to tell him to take Natalie to watch it). The main character, Miguel, deals with the ramifications of his family’s past while trying to chase his future. He does this by meeting and interacting with the past family members whose choices have influenced his present. There are several scenes of the dead walking around and “interacting” with the world of the living. In the movie the dead are still with us.
First, you should go see it. The movie is really good.
Second, it got me to thinking about the dead still being with us. I don’t mean this in some strange ghostly sense. Nope, I am thinking of the influence of our past family members on our present lives. For good and for bad. I have relatives that I have never known (because they were generations ago or they were gone) who have influenced my present life. The movie did a great job of showing this.
The main character, Miguel, is a child and the movie shows how his great, great, grandfather and great, great grandmother shaped his life. I’m not spoiling anything here but the plot revolves around the way the family lives out the choice that the great, great grandmother makes concerning music out of her anger concerning the great, great grandfather’s choice to be a traveling musician. That simple choice influences the way four generations of the family live their lives. This family’s dead relatives are still walking around them during their daily lives.
This is true of all of us in real life, for good and bad, even if certain family members’ were absent. For example, my biological paternal grandfather’s choice to run out on my dad, aunt, and grandmother shaped a large part of my life even though I only met my dad’s father once. My mom’s dad didn’t make such a choice. He wanted to be there with his family. Sickness made the choice of leaving for him. He was so sick that my parent’s wedding was moved up so he could know that my mom was married before he passed away. He was way too sick to attend the bumped up wedding. I never met my mom’s dad. My mother’s dad’s absence shaped my grandmother, and parents’ lives, and thereby my, Pam’s, and our kids lives’. The circumstances of both my grandfathers’ absences are why I have fishing lures that belong to my mom’s dad and nothing that belonged to my dad’s father. The dead still walk with us.
Our present lives and choices are shaped by the lives and choices of those who went before us, and our choices and lives will shape the lives and choices of those who come after us. Therefore, it is our responsibility to consider how our behavior is shaped by the past so we are able to continue what is good and helpful, and change what is harmful for the future. As I have previously written several times – The dead still walk with us.
The Terrell family is a family of traditions. Pam has a coworker who often jokes that if we do something once we turn it into a tradition. She’s not far from wrong. We love traditions. What I like about traditions is that they are a good way of reinforcing beliefs and behaviors that we, as a family, want to encourage.
The church has known this for millennia, and therefore developed many such traditions. Several of the traditions from our church practices can be adapted to use during family time. The pastor in me (who often decides that he must take control) wants all of our “thread” parents to regularly do some wonderful traditions with their little ones to help them grow up experiencing more of Christmas than just gifts.
Here are a few classic Advent traditions that I recommend for adjusting to family use:
Advent Calendar – Pam and I used an advent calendar with the boys. our was a story book advent calendar (this one right here). Growing up we would read the boys two stories before bed each night – one Bible story and one children’s book. During Advent the Bible story would be the story book from the Advent Calendar. We loved the calendar and the story of Advent that the storybooks told each night. It was an easy way to make sure we focused on Jesus each night during the Christmas season.
Chrismon Tree – Basically a Christmas tree where are the decorations are based off of religious symbology. My first experience with a Chrismon tree was at First Baptist Church in Carthage, Missouri. Every year FBC would decorate a Chrismon tree on Christmas Eve as a way to talk with the kids about the Christmas story and early Christian history. It was always a wonderful worship service. You could setup a small Chrismon tree in addition to your family Christmas tree and allow your kid(s) to make different Chrismon ornaments to put on the tree. Thanks to Pinterest you can find Chrismon ornaments here.
Jesse Tree – This is what we will be using during our last worship gathering before Christmas. Our kids will help us do this by creating and decorating some ornaments to hang on the Jesse tree. The Jesse tree is very similar to a Chrismon tree but it starts with the Old Testament (the root of Jesse – Isaiah 11:1) and remembers all the messianic prophecies pointing to the Christ. You can get a free Jesse tree kit at this link.
Advent Wreath – we’ve been doing this in Tapestry with our lamps for years and will do it again this year. You can easily adapt an Advent wreath to family use. Put it at the center of your dinner table and explain the meaning of each candle each week. Then maintain the correct candle for each meal time of the week. An added benefit of this is that it will encourage your family to eat at the table (if you need to encourage that behavior). You don’t have to buy an advent wreath. You and your kids can make it yourself. Here’s an instructable describing how to make several different types of advent wreaths.
There are plenty of other Advent traditions that you can adjust to working within your family. What is important is not so much what you do but that you make a conscious effort to help your kids to understand Who Christmas is all about.
Advent starts Sunday, December 3rd (not this Sunday but next Sunday) so now is the time to thing about such preparations.
The good news is that I read a lot during deer gun season each year and in the six years I have been doing this (I was raised with a dad who loved to dove hunt but refused to deer hunt – because he had been aimed at once and hit with buck shot another time – which, in my opinion, are good reasons to avoid deer hunting) I have averaged getting a deer every other year. I believe the reading helps me to do what I actually want to do – which is harvest the weak and the stupid.
I realized today that part of what I like about being involved in the Wisconsin deer gun season is participating in the cultural element of the whole thing. I have been around hunting most of my life, but I have never been around any culture that is as focused on the deer gun season as Wisconsin is. Wisconsinites loves to hunt for deer. Seriously, there will be deer strapped to car roofs and in truck beds & trailers all week. Deer hunting is an excused absence from school. I like being a part of the cultural phenomenon.
Also, as I have written before, I enjoy all the cool things of nature that I get to see while I am deer hunting. Today that include a bald eagle flying VERY low across a field, a falcon dive bombing and catching some prey, and finding owl pellets in one of the tree stands that I sat in. How cool is that?!?!?!
No I didn’t see a deer that I wanted to harvest. I did watch two young does wonder across a field 30 yards in front of me and if it had been later in the week I may have taken one of them. Right now it is early in the week so I let them walk on. I am fairly sure these two would qualify as “weak and stupid” and therefore will quite possibly make themselves visible again and again. If not that’s no big deal since my average of every other year would indicate that I’m not due for a harvest this year.
SIDE NOTE – I think I must have done something to offend Erig G because the tree stand he recommended I sit in was the most uncomfortable tree stand I have ever sat in. He must have been getting me back for something. I just don’t know what.
I am not opposed to guns. I am, however, opposed to some people who own guns who are reckless with those guns. This article details one such person
He removed the magazine, cleared the chamber, and showed the gun to some of the men in the church. He put the magazine back in, apparently loaded a round in the chamber, and returned the gun to its holster, Parks said.
“Somebody else walked up and said, ‘Can I see it?’ ” Parks said. “He pulled it back out and said, ‘With this loaded indicator, I can tell that it’s not loaded.’ “
He pulled the trigger.
“Evidently he just forgot that he re-chambered the weapon,” Parks said.
The gun was lying on its side on a table. The bullet sliced the palm of the man’s upward-facing hand, then entered the left side of his wife’s abdomen and exited the right side, Parks said.
There are some basic rules concerning handling a gun. The first of which is “the gun is ALWAYS loaded”. ARGH!
Here’s the general list of gun safety rules:
The gun is always loaded
Never point the gun at something you are not prepared to destroy
Always be sure of your target and what is behind it
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target