Wednesday, January 16, 2008

6 Months and 2 Years

Yesterday Nora turned 6 months old. It is amazing how fast it has gone, but all parents say that don't they? She is more fun everyday and is so cute it is regoddamndiculous. This past weekend she really laughed for the first time. Instead of her normal excited squeal she had a steady stream of hee-hees that had the Happynatress and me in tears. It was so cute we broke down and got a video camera, not we just need to figure out how to work the camera.

The 18th will be two years since Mom died from brain cancer. I had almost a year to deal with the loss of Mom before we knew Nora was on her way. I remember thinking how happy she would have been for us and I know she would have been a great grandmother, as I got to see her with my niece and nephew as they grew up. I suppose I will always feel a bit sad that I waited to have a child as long as I did and that Nora will never get to meet her grandmother.

I think of Mom quite often as I interact with Eleanor as I find myself using the same phrases and playing the same games. As I was growing up she taught me to think for myself and to not be afraid to challenge the status quo, even when she was the status quo. Although we butted heads at times one of her main concerns was that I had thought out my position. When we disagreed she would listen to my reasoning and if not except it, she would respect it as my conclusion. I hope to raise my daughter to be an independent thinker as this is one thing I will always have from Mom.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Joel Osteen is a Flake

It has taken a while to get back into the swing with the Oregon trip for xmas and my Buckeyes laying another egg in the National Championship Game. But I've been catching up on my reading and I just read this article about Joel Osteen's new book on the Slate. I've seen him before but I've paid as much attention to him as any other mega church preacher, which is next to nil. I was interested now because my Dad's new girl friend gave him a copy of the book to read. Dad has always been a Christian and gone to church, but his new lady is way churchy. So I was a bit concerned about Joel's message. From what I can gather other than being a ridiculous cheesedick there isn't much to worry about in his message.

It sounds like his message, in this book at least, is a mix between a generic self improvement book and The Secret. He suggests that God wants us to have good posture and to learn to smile on purpose. Which while it seems silly God would care isn't bad advice for anyone. Even I, as a person who slouches and usually has a scowl on his face, would have a hard time arguing with these points. What is rather disturbing to me is how active God is in helping Joel just because he is a good positive person.

For it turns out that the divine hand turns up everywhere, at least in Joel Osteen's life. God upgrades his reservations to first class on a long international flight; God spares his car in a water-planing wipeout on the Houston interstate; God allows Osteen and his wife/co-pastor, Victoria, to flip a property "for twice as much as we paid for it" in a once-sketchy Houston neighborhood; God swings a critical vote on the Houston zoning board to permit Lakewood to move to its mammoth Compaq Center digs—and God even saw fit 35 years earlier to ensure the engineer who designed the ramps leading to the Compaq Center provided easy parking access for Lakewood.
This is the line of thinking that really bothers me about Christians. Good things that happen in our life are not due to hard work, smarts, determination, or even luck they are all examples of God working his magic in their lives. They act as though they are powerless to change their life without the help of an outside influence. Many Christians sell themselves short, which maybe should be a surprise when the basis of their religion is that we are all sinful evil beings from birth. Call me a crazy optimist, but in most cases people have all they need within themselves.

The other obvious problem with the idea of God working so intimately with everyday things in your life is what about the bad things that happen. Did your aunt die in a car crash because she wasn't positive about God? Why does God not care about starving children all over the world, but helps Joel Osteen flip a house for a huge profit? If we give God the credit for the good, how does he not take the blame for the bad, or get a shrug for the mundane?

Dad's lady friend is all about God working in her life. In fact, "God brought her and dad together. It is truly God working in their lives." Which is fine if they believe it, but I could have sworn it was that brought them together. Oh well, to each their own, until they start asking about Nora being baptized/going to church I can leave it alone. And as far as mega church preachers for my Dad to follow, he could do a lot worse than Joel I suppose. Anyone have any thoughts on Joel?