"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

06 March 2014

Kids at the funeral....

My middle child is the "new kid" at his school. Longtime readers of this blog know that we've homeschooled the kids until the middle one went to school for the first time this year. So he's the new kid, new to schooling in general, making his way through sixth grade. It has its ups and downs.

One of the downs early on was a seventh grader who seemed early on to be a good candidate for "nemesis"... I pictured him as big and bully-ish the way Middle Boy described him. Or perhaps just insecure, as the year wore on. Certainly Middle Boy's early close-calls with school discipline tended to involve this kid. They had two classes together; it was two too many.

Oddly enough, Middle Boy became friends with this "other kid"... kind of tentatively at first and in the way of middle school boys not always on solid footing but not shaky ground exactly either. Fine. Live and let live, maybe even have a little fun along the way. No problem.

Ex-Nemesis's grandfather passed away this week. When the announcement came through the school's email list, I figured it would be good for Middle Boy to go to the funeral home calling hours, sign the book, say something nice, offer a prayer. In and out, ten minutes. And learn a little bit about caring for others, pastoral graces, life and death. It was actually on Ash Wednesday. A fitting time.

So off we went to the funeral home. Middle Boy was not entirely sure about this plan, which took us a whopping two minutes out of the way on the commute home from school. I reminded him that this was a pretty lousy-minimal offering we could make, all the while squelching my own introverted dislike for the fact that I hadn't even met Ex-Nemesis, let alone any other living (or otherwise) soul I would see at this event. Also squelching, as life and ministry often call me to do, my innate dislike of the awkwardness of funeral home calling hour pleasantries. I admitted to the boy that this is an awkward thing to do, but we do it for others. Noble. Yea.

I reminded The Boy how kids he didn't know eased his experience when his grandmother passed away. It was a rainy day for a funeral and a friend's kids (who had never met my kids, etc.) took it into their heads, or maybe my kids thought of it first, that it would be a good idea to run outside in the rain in the church parking lot while the unsuspecting adults were at the reception. The well dressed grandsons of the deceased returned a half an hour later, dripping, soaked. Frankly, their grandmother would have been delighted by the antics, and the kids were glad of the break. Maybe we all should have run in the rain.

But I digress. On this note, we meandered into the funeral home. Ten minutes, in and out. We can do this. He signed the book. He scanned the room for his friend. He went awkward up to him and I have no idea what he said. They chatted for a while. I, sensitive to the needs of middle schoolers to occasionally appear to be self-sufficient orphans, made myself scarce. Ten minutes went by, twenty. Ex-Nemesis apparently showed The Boy where the cookies were kept. They made plans to rule the world. They took a walk into an unused chapel. My son was the break from all the boring adults.

Before I left, I met the other boy's mom. She thanked me for coming and said my son had given hers a much needed break. It was nice to meet another middle school mom, even under the circumstances. The boys have a lot in common and had some quality time together. Middle kid got a cookie in the deal, even though it was Ash Wednesday. And I hope he did learn a little about caring for others.

So much for ten minutes, we were there most of an hour. I'm glad we went. Even to embrace the awkward.

02 March 2014

Am I a Hypocrite for Loving Google Earth?

Let me be clear, I've ranted for years about Google's invasions of privacy. Google has spied on our houses, mined our internet data, linked accounts we've never known we had, and eroded our privacy step by step. I've been quoted as saying Google is evil. I hate Google. Really.

Until the whole NSA data mining scandal broke and Google managed to walk above it all.

And frankly, I have a weakness in my argument.

I love Google Earth.

Really, I do.

I use it to scope out vacations before I take them. Today I took an skyview of the Wigwam Motel, a politically incorrect little collection of concrete cones on Route 66 where I hope to stay on a family vacation this summer just because we can. I used it last year to scope out Seoul. I use it to revisit Ganghwa (my most favorite spot in Korea) and Greece and other places I'd love to go back. I didn't finish with them, I want more.

I use it to snoop North Korea and parts of Africa and Russia and Europe and Israel and other places I would love to go, but for whatever reasons money or politics or religion, right now I can't.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not spending huge amounts of time on Google Earth, though the thought is tempting. I discovered recently that there's even a setting where you can look at some cities (Rome, Athens) with a historical view and see the reconstructed monuments. But its a great tool, when I'm reading about a place, to see what it looks like to walk those streets.

So I wonder, am I a hypocrite for loving Google Earth? Which value do I hold more dear, information or privacy? I'm honestly not sure. Or maybe like the peeping tom of the internet age, I value my privacy and your information... who wouldn't?

Maybe I should give up Google for Lent... or maybe I should give up hating Google for Lent... I guess I have three days to decide.