Month: June 2013

“Forgive me, son”: A Father’s Day reflection

Half Dome 3 boys on baseIt’s painful to say.  

Much harder than, “I’m sorry”.

I don’t say it enough.

But when I can manage to squeeze it out of my lips, things usually get better.  

“Forgive me, son.”  

I said it to my younger son a few days ago after I had come down too hard on him for a minor mistake he had made.

I’m probably unique in this regard, but it’s much easier for me to focus on wrong things others do, than on any possible minor problem I might have.

According to Jesus, my perspective is a bit off.  “If you (speaking of earthly fathers) who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matt. 7:11).

Jesus thinks I’m evil.  That’s a nice thing to reflect on for Father’s Day.  Fathers are evil.

But if I am evil, as Jesus seems to believe, then I’ll probably sin against my sons occasionally.  Perhaps even more often than that.

If I’m sinning against my sons, then I probably should get reconciled with them, as Jesus also recommends (Matt. 5:25; 18:22).

Jesus said that even evil fathers manage to give good gifts (bread, fish) to children.

The best good gift that I can pass on to my sons is the ability to say not just “I’m sorry” which is good, but “Forgive me, son” which implies that I’ve done something wrong.

Being evil, sin happens.

When was the last time you said, “Forgive me” to someone?  Or perhaps you aren’t evil, like me?

My son Nathan and I like to sing “Cat’s in the Cradle” (Harry Chapin) to each other. (“When you coming home son?” / “I don’t know when.”)  I probably wouldn’t recommend that as a father-son tradition.

Jesus versus Muhammad II

My son Noah’s AP World History class did a May Madness competition between 64 of the supposedly most influential individuals in world history.  Each student represents an individual then argues against their opponent for who has had the most influence on World History.  For more details of the first 5 rounds, click here.

jesus-and-muhammadI left you yesterday just as I had announced who was in the Championship match: Jesus versus Muhammad.  Noah was Jesus.  His opponent had a second character, Benazir Bhutto (first female prime minister of Pakistan) whom she got into the Elite Eight.  She was good.

(The reason I didn’t give the result yesterday wasn’t to leave you in suspense.  It was late and I was tired.  At that point a sequel seemed like a brilliant idea.)

This debate was structured differently than some of the previous debates, with questions from the class.  Some of the questions seemed to favor the founder of Islam, “Which of you had more impact while you were alive?”

They both made good points.

Muhammad talked about how he united the Arabian peninsula.

Jesus countered by pointing out that his followers united Europe.

Muhammad said his was the world’s most rapidly growing religion.

Jesus spoke about how Christianity was the world’s greatest religion.

Muhammad talked about 1-2 billion copies of the Koran.

Jesus said there were 6 billion copies of the Bible.

In the end, the class voted and… Muhammad defeated Jesus (in this debate).   

Afterwards, Noah was a little discouraged that he didn’t win, particularly with Jesus.  He said he forgot to make some of his key points (e.g., dating A.D.).

I reminded him of how well he did.  In Nate’s class 2 years ago and in the other class this year, Jesus lost in the 1st round.

But more than the fact that he took Jesus to the championship, I told him that I was proud of him, proud that he had argued for Jesus.  I’m sure there were other Christians in the class who picked before him (Noah had the 17th pick), but they didn’t do what he did.  Noah chose Jesus.  I pray he continues to choose Jesus for the rest of his days.

What arguments would you give for the significance of Jesus or Muhammad in World History?  

Jesus versus Muhammad I

Our younger son Noah (16) is taking AP World History.  The AP exam was a few weeks ago, so they wind down the school year with May Madness–64 of the supposedly most influential people in history battle head-to-head over 6 rounds to see who will be crowned the most-influential person of all time.

The teacher selects many of the individuals, but she allows students to nominate people, many of these are recent, popular selections (Beyonce, Ken Jeong, George Lucas).  The students then draft the person they want to represent.

Noah got the 17th pick.  Muhammad was picked first in his class.  Noah was surprised that Jesus (one of the top seeds) was still available, so he decided to follow Jesus.

You’d think Jesus would have to be the overall favorite, but recent outcomes suggest otherwise.

1) Students in Noah’s class clearly didn’t Jesus was influential since the first 16 selectors skipped him.
2) In Nate’s class 2 years ago, Jesus lost in the 1st round to Socrates.  Nate made it to the Elite Eight with Pericles.  He also beat Gandhi as Hitler.  We felt bad about that one.
3) In the other section this year, Jesus lost in the 1st round to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates won overall.  Technological idolatry?

jesus-and-muhammadI guess that makes Jesus a dark horse (not literally).

First round: Noah went up against Ken Jeong (The Hangover).  It was a beat-down, Jesus-style.

Second round: Noah against Confucius (The Philosopher).  This one was close, but Noah didn’t turn the other cheek and defeated his second Asian opponent.

Third round: I would have thought this one would be easy against Osama bin Laden (The Terrorist), but it was a tough battle between OBL and JC, with the Christ coming out on top.

Fourth round: The girl who picked Muhammad had 3 people in the Elite Eight, including Benazir Bhutto (The First Female Prime Minister of Pakistan), and she was good, so she made this one close, but Jesus still defeated his second Muslim opponent.

Fifth round: Noah was torn on this one since he was born on May 4 (“May the Forth be with you”).  He decided to do and not try.  Victorious Jesus was over George Lucas (The Director).

The Final: Jesus versus Muhammad (The Prophet).  Jesus was a bit tired since he had already defeated the creator of Star Wars a few minutes earlier (the semis and finals were both today), but after a short nap in the boat, he was ready to take on his biggest rival among World Religions.

I’ll post the winner tomorrow.

But doesn’t it seem like the global story of the last twelve years has been Jesus versus Muhammad?

Votes for Convicts, Step-in-time

Last week, I watched “The Constitution, with Peter Sagal” on PBS with my family.

They interviewed a woman from Kentucky who had to fight for thirteen years to get the right to vote. While the fact that she was a minority and a female could have prevented her in the past from voting, those weren’t the reasons she had to fight for the right to vote.  She was a convict.  In numerous states, including my birth-state, Kentucky, convicts lose the right to vote.

I can understand not allowing people currently serving in prison to not vote (although, you could argue they should still be able to vote), but to exclude people from voting who have already served their time, makes no sense at all.

The female convict on the PBS show was working to benefit her community in many ways.  But it still took her over a decade to vote.

Votes for Women step-in-time

Jesus talks about proclaiming good news to the poor and release to the captives (Luke 4:18; quoting Isa. 61:1).  He also says when we visit people in prison, it’s like we’re visiting him (Matt. 25:36).  While Jesus never says we should allow convicts to vote, he certainly wanted them to be empowered.  Giving them the vote would seem to be consistent with Jesus‘ priorities.

Although, it’s hard to imagine that getting convicts the right to vote would be a popular political issue.   We’d need a slogan.  Here’s where Dick Van Dyke could help, “Votes for convicts, step-in-time“?

(DVD takes a lot of slack from the critics for his accent in Mary Poppins, but the guy was a solid actor, a good singer, a great dancer, and a hilarious comedian.  I’d like to see those critics dance on a rooftop like him.  Why pick on him for his accent?)

What do you think?  Should convicts have the right to vote in all 50 states?