Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Return to Fatherhood

After attending a talk by Father Bryce Sibley at LSU last night I have some observations. That children 2 or 3 years old would have an idea or construct about God does not surprise me at all. The fact that there is some kind of research that backs it up is reassuring but it was already one of those things I took for granted. I recall an exercise where toddlers were asked to draw pictures of God and it was amazing the conceptual images being drawn. I would like to give you my personal observation being a father and parenting four children over last 28 years or so. I think this would lend itself to the more practical side of the issue rather than the philosophical side. Children have an awe and wonder of the world. That would seem to be a logical, genetically programed characteristic of children since one must learn to survive and at that point in life practically every experience is a new experience. So how does that wonder and awe get sapped out by the time kids are teens and preteens? Three areas I will point to: parents, schools and the secular culture. There is a natural maturation process as one's ego (Freudian term for those not familiar) begins to form and a child reasons that they are an entity unto themselves not merely a child of their parents. There is a propensity to turn inward and to recognize that one has certain abilities, beliefs, and identities. The first problem that arises in sapping the wonder and awe is poor parenting. This is understandable since this current generation of parents have been trained and educated by the secular culture that has everything backwards. The culture portrays dads as bumbling idiots and to further the problem we have metro sexual males who join in on the feel good nurture nonsense. A father's role is a unique role. He stands as the pillar of morality, security, strength, and learning. He is the complement to a mothers loving, nurturing, and gentle ways. A father has some of these characteristics but they are tempered and reserved. One of the greatest insights that I have as a father is recognizing how God the Father may think about me, his child. I know what children do. I know children are the greatest joy in the world. Children can make you angry, they can bring frustration. They can also take you to the height of happiness. They can disappoint you, they can make you proud. They can seem as though you're not there, they can also be the most loving presence in your day. I often have a good laugh over how I must be behaving in the eyes of God the Father. Some times I sheepishly approach Him about something stupid I have been doing. Sometimes I think He's the greatest Dad in the universe. Sometimes I forget about Him. Sometimes I need Him badly. I always know He's there. He is the pillar of morality (as Jesus says to be perfect as the Father is perfect), security (my Refuge), strength, (my Rock) and learning( the Eternal Wisdom). The second problem we have is the education system. I will limit my rant, but here is the problem in a nutshell - God has been removed from the classroom. Unless you understand all the wonderful knowledge of the unfolding universe is from God, who is the source of all truth, goodness, beauty and wisdom, then you are left with an antiseptic view, a cold and one dimensional view, and in which this void has been replaced by the new Religion of Science. Finally, there is the secular culture. The best description I can give is this; a large rotary sander that is used to strip the paint off a car. That is what the secular culture does day after day. It strips away any of that the joy, wonder, and awe of of our child-like view of the universe. It is really like a multitude of sanders coming at us from all sides. So what can we do? We can start with parenting and retraining as to what the role of a father is. Parenting should always be the first and foremost responsibility of a father. More important than work and career. More important than recreation. More important than anything else besides God and your spiritual life. The responsibility of raising a child is an enormous one, but the rewards are beyond any description I have. The only other thing I can add is this. We need to preach, and preach it loud and clear: YOUR LIFE IS NOT ABOUT YOU. We are God's creation. Our purpose is to know, love and serve Him period. When we grasp that concept, we begin to reinstate the child awe and wonder which is already in us. We can do all philosophizing we want but we have return to that precept that HE IS GOD AND WE ARE NOT. We are not orphans but heirs to His Kingdom.

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