Show and Tell

I miss this part of school. What is the adult version of show and tell? At this point, I have no idea, but the word 'and' seems important to me. Since this is a blog and since the internet is loaded with people sounding off, we currently have no shortage of 'tell'. 

In fact, that's part of my concern. I have read in recent weeks some articles and blogs from Christians about Christians and the tone is, well, unloving at best, hateful at worst. For many readers, this will be nothing new, but the language tells me something about the 'show' part. The other day, my daughter caught me singing one of my new favorite songs and burst out laughing. 

"Daddy what are you doing?"

"Singing this cool song," I replied. 

And then, the fun part came that was a bit unexpected. My daughter wanted to join in and learn the song. So, my little fantasy rock and roll stint turned into an impromptu show and tell. We danced around the room belting out the chorus (I only taught her the chorus as it was easier than the entire song) and something interesting happened. I actually learned more of the song by trying to teach her the song. Now, this isn't a new idea or brain surgery and some would remind me of how elementary such an idea is (to which I say, duh, my daughter's in elementary school), but the thought remains the same for anyone claiming to be a Christian in an interconnected and globalizing world. It is often only when you try to teach another person that you find out what you truly understand or truly know.

In some small way, maybe that's one of the great benefits of the information age; we now know, in part, that we don't know much. But, as we process life together, as we attempt to teach new ideas, we'll be the better for it. A life changing moment for me in my own Christian walk came in the early 90's when I was teaching in China, the summer before my senior year in college. A devout Buddhist student sat down with me one afternoon and asked me to explain the Christian faith. I told him I would do so on one condition: he would explain the Buddhist faith to me. So, for several hours we talked about Jesus, Buddha, and life. We walked in and out of Buddhist temples nearby and looked at Bible passages together. In short, we played 'show and tell' and I remember that day very well. Let this simply be an encouragement to return to something many schools have dropped and many schools of thought are missing: let's show AND tell.

By the way, in case you'd like to join in on the little exercise with my daughter, here's the music video to the song we sang. Be sure to twirl around when you sing 'that planet earth moves slowly'.... we even found that twirling around in slow motion with our arms stretched out worked really well....

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Talking about Girls with my Son

Recently, my son and I were driving home from my office (actually I was driving and he doesn't work with me; I forgot my phone charger) and we began a conversation about girls. No, not that kind of conversation, hopefully we're several years from THAT conversation, but on this day, my son actually started asking me about the girl he was listening to.

"Daddy, I really like this song, who is it?" 

The song was by Regina Spektor and so he asked if I knew her, to which I replied, no--she's a Russian born singer, who came to the U.S. when she was a little bit older than you. This fascinated him, so I continued. She took piano lessons for a long time and God gave her this amazing voice and now lots of people listen to her. Do you want to take piano lessons?

"No, but can I listen to another song like this one?"

Immediately, I am both excited that my son digs my cd collection, but a bit frazzled as I am playing a compilation and it's the only Regina Spektor song I have on this cd. I don't even pause to be dismayed at his absolute disinterest in music lessons, which upon further reflection stings a bit. So, I click the track over to Ingrid Michaelson. What do you think of this?

"Daddy, this lady can really sing too. I didn't know you liked all these girls.Does mommy know you like these girls?"

Yes, mommy knows, but mommy doesn't care. Mommy only listens to modern worship music and is a walking version of the Hallmark Channel. I have played mommy all these girls and they never seem to register. Finally, someone in our family gets it. Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor have these haunting voices and outside of trying to make a construction site in Manhattan sound more peaceful, they can do little wrong in terms of getting a lyric stuck in your head. Does mommy know about these girls? Ha! You are talking about these girls, right buddy? You are referring to the women in the cd player, right? I am now insecure, so I ask what he means.

"Yes. They sound pretty and mommy might like them," he says in a way that comforts me and excites me again. But, mommy doesn't like them. And I tell my son, that mommy doesn't like them. He is silent. So, I click over to the Smiths on the cd. He says nothing during the whole song. This happens a lot when our whole family is in the car and I play the Smiths. I am still not sure why this happens.

But when Sarah McLachlan comes on, he once again reiterates his support.

"Mommy should listen to this woman too; I like this song."

But, mommy doesn't like this one either. She likes Darlene what's her face and Hillsong and K-Love radio and a host of others I don't really listen to. And in my mind, I am wondering why there is such a thing as listener supported K-Love when I can hardly find the Smiths or R.E.M. or the Editors or Franz Ferdinand on the radio anywhere on planet earth. Satellite radio can't even pick up what I listen to. So, I think Sarah McLachlan and Ingrid Michaelson is pretty mainstream and again, those haunting voices. Even my son hears the beauty in those haunting voices, how can my own wife miss it! And it's at this point in my mind that I will refrain from going any further, because to explain fully why mommy listens to K-Love and why daddy is belting out "all these buildings and mountains...." by the Republic Tigers, will be approaching the fringe of THAT conversation and he's too young for that now. Besides, this is our bonding moment and for this one ride home, we're both smiling while Beth Orton finishes her chorus. Maybe there is such a thing as world peace.

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There’s something about a father’s love that is pretty special.  I was reminded of it today as I spent Father’s Day Eve with my own dad hitting golf balls.  I was reminded again this evening at Church when my pastor preached on our Heavenly Father’s love for all of us.  And I was so very grateful of my earthly father’s and Heavenly Father’s love for me as I witnessed members of my church family seek out the blessings their Heavenly Father gives, that their earthly fathers were unable (or unwilling) to articulate.  


Our Pastor, Mike Erre (also a Conversant blogger, by the way), painted this picture from another pastor at our church:  imagine a father, sitting alongside his son or daughter, looking them in the eye and saying, “Out of all the little girls in the world, the blond ones, the brunette ones, the short ones, the tall ones, the ones that can run fast and jump high, or the ones that can’t, the ones that are serious, or silly, out of all those little girls, I would choose you.  If I had to do it over and over again, I would choose you again and again.”

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