Saturday, April 10, 2010

Salter-Harris Type II

So 12 year-old Claire broke her leg, her fibula more precisely, while roller skating with friends. I guess she cried a bit when she got to the car, but not much. Her friends didn't realize how badly she was hurt. Minutes later Lisa noticed the swelling and took her to an urgent care facility close to our home. Claire wasn't crying a few hours later when I arrived at the orthopedist's office. Except for the swelling on her ankle she appeared completely normal. She was actually laughing at my jokes as we waited to see the doctor. When she heard that her recovery would take 4 to 6 weeks, she chuckled, "Oh! My life is ruined!" When she realized that her injury wouldn't interfere with summer swim team (an activity for which she feels trepidation), she laughed again, saying, "Oh! My life is ruined!"

I was glad that Claire did not succumb to fear when she realized she was hurt. I'm glad she didn't really whine. I'm glad that she was tough enough to endure the pain and even to crack jokes about her injury. I know she's in pain. The doctor prescribed hydrocodone, but as of this writing Claire has been content with Ibuprofen and Tylenol. She doesn't want to be groggy because tonight she's playing games with friends. I know she hurts, but she's setting it aside for something that's important to her. I'm glad Claire can be tough.

In today's culture, tough is underrated. Street thugs are tough, but we bourgeoisie are acclimated to environmental controls 24x7x365. We're overly medicated and overly adjudicated. We might be educated, but we needed a nanny to be adequately administrated. Now that we're subjugated, we want to be liberated.

We're whiners. We listen to whine radio during the day, and each night we watch people complain about this, that, or the other on what we consider reality TV.

Claire will heal just fine, so I propose an ancient remedy to our modern whining problem:

At all times rejoice!
Continually pray!
In everything give thanks!
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (AB)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vehicular humility

After dinner, we walked to the park to see if we could find enough wind to fly the new kites Lisa bought for the girls. Each kite had a moment of glory, but the intermittent breeze deflated our ambitions. We came home not too disappointed, but not exhilarated either. On the way to the park and back we passed, an old orange AMC Gremlin that has been stranded in a driveway for a few weeks. It's apparently someone's project car. For those who are too young to recall the Gremlin, they are ugly.

As a teenager, I was much more interested in sleeker designs. Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros, or Pontiac Firebirds and GTO's captivated a portion of my imagination that a Gremlin never could. The paint colors on the Gremlins were faddish but painful. Lisa and I talked about our youthful memories of Gremlins until I blurted out, "I used to drive an orange Datsun pickup. That was my first lesson, in vehicular humility."

Before I could say, "Well, maybe not," Lisa was shaking her head saying, "No, I don't think so!" She remembered the "Gold Bomb." I knew it as a 1967 Chevy Impala with the three-on-the-tree shifter and a 283, not even a 327, although my grandmother drove an Impala with a 327. When I was 16, I drove her car to work in the cornfields near Bethany, MO. Racing other teens back to town proved the virtues of the small block V8, but my 283 never topped 95 mph, and it took a mile to reach that speed. I could drive my dad's Volkswagen van nearly that fast, as Lisa and a Lenexa, KS police officer can attest. He went airborne over the top of a hill catching up to me. That rear-view mirror image is forever etched in my memories of not-so-great ideas.

The 1976 Datsun pickup was probably the most atrocious vehicle I ever owned. Before we moved to Iowa in 1996, Lisa sold it to a group of non-English speaking migrant workers for $250. Somehow she managed to communicate to them that if they wanted the truck, they had to take the camper shell, too. Several piled in and the ones in back held the "topper" in place as they drove away.

We've purchased new cars a couple times. In 1996 we traded in our first new car (a 1994 Saturn SL2 five speed), for a 1997 Saturn SL1 automatic. Cara drove that car to Maryland to college in 2003 and used it as her sole means of ground transportation until recently. Lisa drives it now, though she doesn't venture far from home.

When our used Ford Explorer became too expensive to repair, I downsized to a 1994 Saturn SL2. The fabric headliners in both our old Saturns are pinned to their backing and they each have quirks. Nevertheless, with regular oil changes, and minimum maintenance, we intend to drive our old Saturns until it becomes impractical. In the mean time, I'm thankful for my cost-effective ride to the office each day. My automotive priorities have changed. I realize that new cars become old cars but not until a lot of money is wasted.

After our reminiscing about clunkers we've driven and the vehicular humility we've experienced, it occurred to Lisa that we have a good role model in this regard.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

Matthew 21:1-5 (NIV)

Upon this rock

In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan analyzes the sexual abuse scandal that plagues the Roman Catholic Church. In my opinion, any institution that places men in authority over the vulnerable will incubate abuse. Whether it's a church, the Boy Scouts, Yearning for Zion, a school, or some other surrogate family, predators are drawn to opportunity. That is why Christ denied his apostles human authority over men in Matthew 23:8-12. They could serve, but they could not rule. The church is to be different than the world; it should not appeal to predators.

Within her commentary, Noonan quotes or rather misquotes Matthew 16:18, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." There are two common misinterpretations of this verse and Noonan falls for both of them. The first false assumption is that Jesus promised to build his church upon Peter. In the Greek, Peter is petros, or stone. It is masculine case. The rock upon which Jesus promised to build his church is petra, feminine case. The difference is the difference between a pebble and Ayres Rock. The immovable stone upon which Christ would build his church was not Peter; it was something else in the context. This is a case of a mistaken antecedent exacerbated by the inadequacies of translation. Let's digress . . .

For what was Jesus praising Peter in this passage? "Blessed are you Simon Bar Jonah; for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my father, the one in heaven." Matthew 16:17 (AB) What was it that the Father in heaven revealed to Peter? Peter's confession, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." Matthew 16:15 (AB) Herein we find our immovable stone, the Father's revelation of the son! and the confession of life-changing faith! Peter's confesses that which all believers must consent, "[Jesus is] the Christ, the son of the living God." Likewise, 1 Corinthians 3:11 tells us there is no other foundation than Christ.

Noonan further misunderstands Jesus' next statement, ". . . and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." There is no semantic justification to presume this means the inevitable success of a human institution. Hades, often translated hell in English, was distinctly different than Gehenna, the place of final judgment. Hades was the place of the dead. To say that the gates of Hades would not prevail against the church was an allusion to Greek mythology in which the gates of Hades were guarded by Cerberus, a three-headed dog. Cerberus prevented the dead from exiting the gates of Hades.

When Jesus said that "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against [his church]," he was not promising the survival of an institution, but rather the resurrection of the dead to those who believe. This promise is not institutional, it is personal. It is the hope of eternal life for all who believe.