Sunday, December 25, 2016

Manly Things in the Kitchen

Wife: "Dan, there's some man paraphernalia over here [in the kitchen, to clean up/put away]"

Husband: "what kind of 'man paraphernalia'?"

Wife: [looks at items left atop the microwave, where the paper towel roll lives]
"Squirt jars?"

Friday, December 9, 2016

Some Ingredients Not Included

Aldi is a place to find many wonderful and oft unusual items. Knock-off Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a good sign; I'm the kind of guy who isn't picky about the name on the box so long as there's the requisite amount of sugar-per-serving.

DIY almond bark... That's a step farther down the dark alley. It's not like Aldi is Ikea--I expect my plastic-wrapped chocolate to be pre-assembled, even at a quirky discount chain like Aldi.

What separates my encounter with the almond bark construction kit from my other Aldi encounters is that there didn't seem to be any almonds in the package--neither slivered, nor sliced. It was, so far as I can tell, a package of baking chocolate with carefully-targeted packaging, expertly placed among holiday decorating and baking paraphernalia to attract unsuspecting novice almond-bark-makers.
I don't know if that's brilliant or diabolical.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Four blue eyes.

Baby onesies scrubbed with dish soap and lying out to dry in the sun.

The sink full of dishes, then empty, then full again.

Two brown beds (one of them pink) and a play mat with a tiny baby in the mirror and a very frustrating dangling acorn.

An imagination littered with thoughts about history's corpses and corpuses, and a blinking cursor on a white page.

What a small world it was this week. But an infinite one.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


My first year in high school debate (which was, incidentally, also my last year), the topic was campaign finance reform.

It was true, as Thane used to say in his expository speech in those days, that "the way to tattoo something into your audience's brain is to say it over, and over, and over again. The way to tattoo something into your audience's brain is to say it over, and over, and over again. The way to tattoo something into your audience's brain—"

You get the point.

Back to campaign finance reform: there was a team whose affirmative plan had something to do with publishing information about donors. I don't remember the details of the plan. What I do remember was that throughout the 1AC and interlaced throughout the rest of the debate, the affirmative speaker would say, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

Also that same year, and also in an expository speech, one of the prizewinners from the Point Loma college team talked about all the microscopic beings who share our bedding, and how to eliminate them. The dryer, she said, was highly effective. As was sunlight.

So it is that what I remember most from that first year of academic policy debate (other than "The way to tattoo something into your audience's brain is to say it over, and over, and over again..."—which, now that I think about it, was actually from the second year) is that sunlight has extraordinary cleaning qualities.

I haven't had much opportunity to put this knowledge into practice. (There was that one time in Dahiyyat al-Rashiid when I dragged my mattress out onto the front porch, to Amber Tracy's chagrin, convinced that it was infected with bedbugs. But I never knew if that worked.)

Until motherhood.

Now I use the sun almost every day (or did, until we found a brand of diapers that holds its own most of the time). And it truly is amazing, wiping out stains so quickly that I think that, if I were able to stand still long enough, I believe I could watch them fade.

Sunlight, you've lived up to your hype.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

life is living in an apartment

I do not always want linoleum floors.
But I keep them clean.
And I smile to see them freshly mopped.

(Also: this)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christ for All

We often don't ask of Christ at all, which is the great mystery of generosity and humility. 

Christ offers all, but to receive is to humble ourselves--even to destroy ourselves. 

A gift presumes. To acknowledge generosity is to make ourselves subject to the giver; "thank you" is at odds with "I could have got along very well on my own, I didn't need your generosity." 

The burden of Christ's sacrifice is heavy. Not even the burden of carrying one's own cross could be so heavy as to accept that Christ gave everything for us. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

strange the plain things are

Incarnation is finitude, limitation. 

Especially for God. 

I think of Philippians 2—"though [Christ] was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself"—or of John 1—"the Word became flesh and dwelt among us"—with both "dwell" and "among us" speaking of not only temporal and physical limitation, but humility and empathy.

That kind of limitation was what I was thinking about when I first started thinking about parenthood and incarnation. In the weeks since Eva was born, I have felt limited, even reduced. She doesn't need (for the most part) my intellect or my accomplishments or my sense of humor. She doesn't need for me to brush my hair. She needs milk, and warmth, and someone to change her diaper. Like God, I thought, I have humbled myself and accepted these limitations. I felt validated, even while reading Fisher's article.

Now it is true that the fact of the Incarnation does lend sanctity and dignity to these things we do in our bodies. Giving milk to my baby is not irrelevant; it is not beneath me or detached from the rest of God's design for me. His plans for me are plans for this body, and the fact that it is a female body, now a mother's body, is an intentional detail in that plan. 

God did not merely work out a cosmic transaction for our salvation. He came and inhabited a body, joining with Adam and all of us in all of the weakness and fragility of human life, joining with us in life and death.

So, yes, the Incarnation does imbue embodied activity with a certain type of sanctity.

But Jesus came as the baby.

What Eva needs from me feels limiting to me, but the truth is that I can leave her on the bed and go downstairs and wash the dishes if I really want to. I can even leave her alone in the house and take out the trash. I can put her in the carseat and drag her along with me to get things done. Or I could ignore her altogether.

Eva can't do any of those things. She is truly helpless. She fully relies on us for everything. She cries for milk and smiles when she knows it is coming. An hour later, she does it again. She is needy, and she doesn't resent that neediness.

It was a mistake to focus on how much my powers were limited as I cared for Eva. Things like the thrush or a really bad night remind me that I am just as helpless when it comes to the basic things as I am when functioning at [what I perceive is] my full capacity. 

To see myself as the baby helps me to focus on God's care and provision instead of on my hardship or humiliation. This is where my mind needs to be.