One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat,
But Lord, they are too big for feet.”
“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.
“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.
“Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”
This poem was taken from rec.humor.funny on 20 February 2000. The moderator’s note reads “[Note – circulating anonymously – ed.]”. It is, of course, written as a counterpoint to the allegory Footprints in the Sand (authorship disputed).
A number of Christians that I shared this poem with have chosen to take offense, shocked at the idea that God might not be a helicopter parent who endlessly coddles us humans despite our recalcitrant selfishness.
I cannot countenance a god that is a wishing well. Endlessly begging God for favours when life becomes inconvenient requires no faith. When we see a spoiled brat we do not say, “Oh, see how much faith that child has in his parents.” We feel sorry for the child, knowing that the parents have robbed him of learning basic self-reliance, and therefore he will have a difficult life ahead.
The Greek verb “to have faith” — πιστεύω (pistevo) — is an active verb. To walk in faith is an act that requires us to face our fears, take action, and grow through the experience. We then have acquired the skills and tools to tackle the next segment of the trail of personal excellence. This is a process of incremental self-improvement under the tutelage of a master guide whose own feet have worn smooth the roughest rocks along the trail.
I was pointed to transcripts of what appear to be a five-part series of interviews between an author, Richard Eyre, and a national talk show host, Glenn Beck. (Update: I didn’t realize until now that I’ve taken a class from Mr. and Mrs. Eyre at a writer’s conference. From how scantily I know them, I’m not surprised that a book like this came from Mr. Eyre. A blog promoting the book can be found here.)
After reading the interviews I’d like to read the book. Having not read the book yet, but only the interview transcripts, they appear to be similar to some conclusions that I’ve come to previously.
The following are simply thoughts that are coming to my mind after reading the interview transcripts. I look forward to reading the book and what harvest it might provide. At this time I’m fleshing these out so that they’re understandable. I apologize that they’re largely mental notes that I wish to jot down.
In other words, each “deceiver” is a building block for the alternatives.
The “letting go” part is not an abandonment of the principles of control, ownership, and independence. It’s an abandonment of the notion that these principles are the End (or even an End). It’s an abandonment of our emotional attachment to them. It’s an abandonment of our old paradigms and moving to a higher level of maturity, one which frees us from the level of “I” to “us”.
Casting off our ties to lesser things in order to achieve a higher level of personal growth are an ancient part of our Western heritage. It overlaps heavily with the old Zen teaching in Japan (before it was castrated by those with political power who felt threatened by it).
Some people have wondered whether it’s appropriate to teach “girl” skills like cooking, cleaning, and sewing to boys. To me, this is not about politically correct notions that men and women are completely interchangeable with the exception of some “plumbing”. It’s about survival skills and self-respect.
I’m not pleased with the low number of kids entering their years of majority not being able to fend for themselves on a basic level. Yes, diets of cold cereal and microwave pizza are expensive and unhealthy — that’s a given — but on a deeper level I see it as a manifestation of an uneducated human. Acquiring food, clothing, and shelter are foundational skills for a person to be able to lay claim to some degree of independence. Take away the luxuries of modern convenient living, and they’d grow desperate.
Some have argued that modern conveniences make these skills obsolete, but what are the results of not knowing one’s way around the kitchen? Reliance on pre-packaged foods. Not knowing how to clean or do laundry? Living in filth and chaos. How, then, is this progress of the human over the previous millennia? Our ancestors would be dumbfounded at our collective ignorance.
The good news is that these skills can be acquired with a little effort. Cooking is the trickiest, but with a few basic principles one can become competent, even pretty good. The key is to find the inner strength to fail through one’s ignorance. Mastering new skills opens up new worlds of understanding and self-respect. This self-education process, when made a habit, allows one to grow out of dependence into an adult mentally.
I feel grateful and fortunate that my mother taught me to cook, clean, and sew. Cleaning can be a grind, and sewing is something one does in an emergency — but I can do it just as willingly as I can shoot a gun, paint a building, paddle a canoe, program a computer, or chop wood. It didn’t throw me into “gender confusion”.
I can’t force my children to learn, or obtain wisdom, but they’ve been eagerly soaking up these skills by associating with my wife and me. When they’re adults we’ll see how much sticks. 🙂
Update 2008-12-08: Fixed typos.