A Year of Morning Thanks
Speaking of Faith, a weekly radio broadcast on National Public Radio created by American Public Media, has featured discussions the last two weeks on America's peculiar marriage of religion and politics. Two weeks ago, Krista Tippett featured Amy Sullivan, a Time magazine correspondent, an evangelical Christian and political liberal. This week Ms. Tippett spoke to Ron Dreher, who writes for the Dallas Morning News, a Christian political conservative not always at home with the Christian right.
The political atmosphere is so heavily charged right now that I'm sure many would disagree, but I found the two programs extraordinarily helpful in a ton of ways.
Just one. Dreher says that the difference between Christians on the right and Christians on the left is that the former tend to honor what one believes, while the latter honor how one comes to believe what one believes. To liberals, the quest is all; to conservative, the precept is all. Interesting and, I think, helpful.
Here's the way I look backward. The watershed events in my life concern my children growing up. We just spent a sweet chunk of the weekend in Oklahoma, where my son is a grad student; we came back thrilled. He's doing well, and the young lady he's been seeing for a year, we think is a gem. Our daughter lives here, very happily and very busily, with her husband and two great kids. We've got it pretty good.
That's not the point. The watershed events in my life happened when it became perfectly clear to me that we can't and don't clone ourselves, that our kids have their own lives, that just because they're ours doesn't mean they make decisions or choose to behave or determine what they believe in a fashion that replicates their parents' ways, just as I didn't. My children--and they're doing well--have taught me the greatest lesson I've ever learned: that I'm not so blasted smart. Maybe that's why I'm not as interested in precept as I am in the pilgrimage.
Sometimes I see parents of young children in church, and I remember what it was like for me, standing there in a pew, kids beside me as I tell myself that this whole parenthood thing was a piece of cake. Then my kids got minds of their own, just like I once did. Life got more complex than it seemed when they were my responsibility. I became far less sure of my positions on just about everything. How I got to where I stood was of far greater interest to me than simply where I stood.
If Ron Dreher is right--and I think he is--then listening to him this weekend has helped me to understand why I am where I am. And, as Aristotle says--and Calvin remembers--"the whole humility of man consists in the knowledge of himself."
So this morning, I'm thankful for a radio program I heard yesterday on the way back from a great weekend visit to our son, a program that helped me better understand myself. Oh, yeah--and a wonderful weekend.