It is a rather amazing fact that the more science learns the harder it is to deny a Creator. We are now able to look inside the womb in ways that have never before been known. What is being revealed is but a confirmation of those words penned a very long time ago, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalms 139:14). What the author, King David, clearly understood is being underscored for us now through science. And if the case is so clearly made then it demands of us to reassess what we believe to be true about life and ending life though abortion. This is, as Alan Keyes so often states, an absolute moral imperative. But before the issue can become an imperative for our society it must become one for us as individuals. I hope you will consider this while watching and listening to this video.
Sep 30 2011
My mom passed away on September 19, 2011. This is the eulogy I gave at her funeral a few days ago.
Here is a photo of my folks with my first child, about 24 years ago. That beautiful baby, Kira, has grown up, of course, and is about to give birth to my first grandchild in a couple of months.
My mom was born Lois Leone Mumford on July 4, 1915 in Clam Falls, Wisconsin, to Grace Harvey Mumford and Wellman Mumford. Rumor has it that in my mom’s earliest years, she thought the fireworks celebrations were in honor of her birthday on the 4th of July.
Lois was the second oldest of four children, with an older brother, Loyd, and two younger sisters, Elsie, and Lillian. Lillian is still living, in Wisconsin.
Lois loved music as a child, a very natural thing since her father was a violinist and her mother was a pianist. One of her favorite songs as a child was “Can A Little Child Like Me, “ which we’ll be hearing in a moment, sung by Elyse Shackleton, my mom’s youngest grandchild.
At the age of 14, Lois met her future husband, Loren Shackleton, age 17, at church.
Lois’s family lived 10 miles outside of town, and there was no school bus service in those days. In order to finish high school, Lois completed her junior and senior years by living in the home of a woman with two children who needed housework to be done, and help with her children, so that Lois could live in town and attend high school. She was obviously a very determined young lady.
Lois and Loren were married on October 26, 1934, by Pastor Paul Shrock, at the home of the Mumford family. The relationship of the Shackletons and the Shrocks lasted for decades. I recall staying in their home when I was a child.
Loren and Lois worked in ministry for many years, starting with Christian radio broadcasting in 1937 with Melvin Miller (I still have a “business card” of sorts showing the broadcasters), and then pastoring in Stanley, Wisconsin, starting in 1939. With an interruption for attending college, they pastored together until 1968, in Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and New Mexico.
My sister Mary Lou was born to them in 1940. My brother Tom arrived in 1947, and I broke into the proceedings in 1951.
For many years after moving to Arizona in my last year of high school, Lois was the organist for the Tempe Church of God.
It’s impossible, of course, to state all the ways that my mom impacted me. All I can offer for now are some snapshots.
She started my musical training with a few months of piano lessons in the 1st grade. I complained a lot about how much my upper back hurt when I had to sit at the piano bench, so she let me stop. But both parents encouraged me to start the trumpet in our school band in the fourth grade, and that decision set the, uh, tone of my life in many ways. She accompanied me in countless performances, patiently learning piano parts for all kinds of music for contests and other occasions.
I still remember a chocolate shake she bought for us in the train station in Chicago when I was a small child, just her and me, on the way to Wisconsin to see her mother. It’s amazing what memories we create for our small children, and how much they will remember little things.
When I was twelve or so, I began banging around on the piano again, just out of curiosity about how chords worked, counting the half steps between the notes that made different chords and so on. She noticed, and showed me something called a “dominant 7th chord.” I didn’t know it at the time, but she had given me an early music theory lesson, and I was off to the races learning about harmony and melody. I’ve spent nearly all my adult life teaching music theory, in one form or another, and it traces back to her. Both she and my dad were endlessly patient while I played the same chord progressions over and over, getting their sound and function into my ear.
In the Kansas City area, where we lived when I was 13 to about 16, I was an up and coming trumpet player, playing in all kinds of school groups, jazz bands drawn from the city’s high schools, and so on. In addition to continuing to accompany me, she and my dad drove me to dozens of rehearsals and performances all over town. They usually sat in the front row. I have the impression that my dad didn’t always like the music I played, but she genuinely did. Her tastes were always a bit broader than his. On more than one occasion they drove me half-way across the state, so I could play a 5 minute solo for some contest or other. She would accompany, and he would offer opinions on how well my trumpet was tuned up before the performance.
I recall one trip in particular across the Kansas City area to a performance of a jazz band I was in. My dad wasn’t along on that trip. There was a huge storm, complete with something that looked like ball-lightning on the light and power poles as we made our way through the downpour with almost no visibility. She just kept on going, determined that I would get there in time to perform.
I recall at about age 13 or 14 coming home from school one day, and finding her crying (and trying to hide it) over a letter from my brother Tom, then a soldier in Vietnam. My mom was a praying person, and I know that she and my dad always covered their children in prayer.
Because my folks pastored at relatively low wages up until my senior year in high school (when my dad got a job teaching 5th grade in Eloy, AZ), they didn’t have enough income to send me to college. Even after financial aid, there were still going to be costs, and my mom took a job as a proofreader in the local newspaper in Casa Grande, AZ. Her spelling and grammatical skills were excellent, and I’m sure she rescued countless verbally incompetent reporters from their just rhetorical desserts, while paying for me to go to college at Anderson University in Indiana.
During my dad’s last years, she did an amazing job of caring for him, finding ways to get healthful food into him, getting him to medical care, and generally supporting him. I have to say, I have rarely seen or heard of two people who seemed more made for each other. Yet they were very different people. I think that, with God’s help, they grew together in the mysterious way that couples do when both spouses are seeking God’s presence in their lives. A lot of marriage counselors might have been well served by throwing away their theories and interviewing my parents.
When my mom was about 80 or so, she decided she wanted to learn how to use a computer. For the young people here, how many of you think that at the age of 80 you’re going to learn how to use a complex technology that wasn’t yet invented when you were 50 or so? But she brought typical Lois-style determination to the task, reading thick manuals and help screens, asking questions until she knew how to do what she wanted. Until her recent decline in health, when it got to be too difficult for her to get to her computer, we generally exchanged email five or six times per week. Some of these emails were closer in length to essays than text messages, if you get my drift. We discussed a great many topics.
After her stroke at age 87, she typed one handed, and the emails got a little shorter…. Though not always! As her vision got worse, her family gave her a larger monitor, and she kept on going. Since her hearing had deteriorated as well, and making phone calls was nearly impossible, email became our main way of staying in touch.
My mom dealt with her stroke in typical Lois fashion, with courage and determination. I used to say she was the “special forces” of retired people, as I saw her doing her exercises, trying to stay as independent as possible, doing as much for herself as she could. No Navy Seal works harder or is more determined to succeed in the mission. She did her best to manage every detail of her own life, even giving my sister Mary Lou advice to give to the hospice nurse near the end of her life on earth.
Mom was a voracious reader, and her granddaughter Tammy kept her well supplied with large print books. She watched C-Span, and knew more about the political controversies of the day than a lot of people.
My mom was what might be called the genuine article. She was trustworthy to a fault. More people than you might imagine found her to be a safe person to talk to. She simply did not betray confidences. She looked for the good in other people, again nearly to a fault. She found joy in many simple things, from ice cream to reading to table games. I never saw her put on an air (though a few times she did put on the dog, for a family celebration). If you needed to talk for a bit to someone who loved you and accepted you, a good strategy was to go visit my mom.
Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” As far as I was ever able to see, that described my mom pretty well.
Oct 25 2010
Jul 30 2010
You tell me who is practicing hate speech here.
Imagine if the roles were reversed…
If the speaker was a gay minister, speaking gently of our responsibility to pray for our unfortunately confused brethren who don’t understand that Jesus was for gay marriage, saying that tactics of intimidation aimed at straight people are wrong, and the speaker was being shouted down by conservative bible-thumpers carrying signs saying things like “Gays hate God” or some such, you’d have seen this all over the evening news.
But the intolerant Left almost always gets a pass.
Jun 18 2010
No, this isn’t yet another global warming expose. The question here is simple: DO Children of lesbian parents do better than their peers?
The children of lesbian parents outscore their peers on academic and social tests, according to results from the longest-running study of same-sex families.
The researchers behind the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study say the results should change attitudes to adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples, which is prohibited in some parts of the US.
The finding is based on 78 children who were all born to lesbian couples who used donor insemination to become pregnant and were interviewed and tested at age 17.
The new tests have left no doubt as to the success of these couples as parents, says Nanette Gartrell at the University of California, San Francisco, who has worked on the study since it began in 1986.
Compared with a group of control adolescents born to heterosexual parents with similar educational and financial backgrounds, the children of lesbian couples scored better on academic and social tests and lower on measures of rule-breaking and aggression.
A previous study of same-sex parenting, based on long-term health data, also found no difference in the health of children in either group.
“This confirms what most developmental scientists have suspected,” says Stephen Russell, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “Kids growing up with same-sex parents fare just as well as other kids.”
1) The story doesn’t say if the children of lesbian couples were compared to hetero-couples who stayed together the entire time. It doesn’t say what criteria were used to eliminate couples as the study went on. Surely they didn’t continue to “count” couples that broke up well before the study was done. Or did they? They mention a “93% retention rate,” without saying what the criteria were.
2) I read the study that is referenced and down-loadable here. Take a look at the site, and the study. It is clear that there was a very strong agenda from the beginning. More to the point: there is no mention of the “control adolescents” in any level of detail. In fact, they appear to have used something called the ” Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth”, and there is no info about whether that represents a cross section of American youth (with many single parent families, sadly, in the modern world, as well as many divorced and separated ones). If it does indeed represent a true cross-section of American youth, with all the disfunction averaged in, it may indeed be possible that lesbian couples who stay together produce a “better” outcome in some measures than the “norm,” when the “norm” includes so many in very bad situations.
3) What is clear is that they did not compare the outcome of adolescents from married heterosexual families who stayed together throughout the study to adolescents from lesbian parents who stayed together throughout the study. Instead, they used a “scale” that makes it essentially impossible to directly compare having two lesbian parents in the home for all of childhood with having two heterosexual parents in the home for all of childhood, in the same economic and social class, etc. The
” Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth” appears to include people from all social classes and family situations…. how else could it be “normative”?
4) The study admits that the lesbian couples involved had the financial resources to seek donor insemination, which already puts them, economically, above the average American family. As we all know, economic status often affects the outcome for children, including academic performance and social adjustment.
5) And now, a critical point: sperm donors are genetically a cut above, on average. The role of genetics in intelligence and personality is less and less disputable, even among the former adherents to the “blank slate” theory of human development. How to eliminate the fact that the father of every child in the lesbian parent sample was certainly more intelligent, successful, and well-adjusted, than the average father of the children of the ” Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth”?
What is needed is an actual control group that eliminates all the other variables. So, if you could get anyone to do this, here’s the way.
Start with 100 lesbian couples and 100 hetero couples, of the same average age, social status, educational background, etc. Try to select couples that seem likely to stay together… if you can figure that out. Maybe use only the ones who met on eHarmony’s website. Just kidding… I think.
Try to identify hetero couples where the man would be an acceptable donor to a typical “sperm bank.”
Then track the couples and their children through 20 years and see what happens.
Until something like this is done, “research studies” like the clearly agenda-driven one reported here will continue to persuade those who simply want to be persauded, and be ignored by the rest of us who can read, and have some idea about what research does and doesn’t prove.
May 28 2010
In The Difference Being a Parent Makes, Al Mohler makes some interesting observations about Steve Jobs’ decision not to market “porn apps” for the iPad:
Political scientists and sociologists long ago came to the realization that one of the most significant indicators of political behavior is parenthood. Those who bear responsibility to raise children look at the world differently from those who do not. In fact, parenthood may be the most easily identifiable predictor of an individual’s position on an entire range of issues.
Parenthood by married parents both living at home is an even better predictor. Single mothers still go pretty left as an average, on a range of issues, reflecting in how they vote, among other things… but Mohler’s point isn’t without weight.
Now, along comes Steve Jobs to prove the point. Jobs, the Maestro of Cool at Apple, recently engaged in a most interesting email exchange with Ryan Tate, who writes the “Valleywag” blog for the gossip Web site, Gawker.
On his initial email to Steve Jobs, Tate complained about what he described as a lack of freedom in Apple’s approach to the approval of products for its “App Store” for iPods, the iPhone, and the iPad. “If Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company?,” Tate asked. “Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with ‘revolution?’ Revolutions are about freedom.”
Apparently, Tate was upset about some of the restrictions put in place by Apple. Among those restrictions is a ban on pornography.
Steve Jobs threw Ryan Tate’s definition of freedom right back at him. Is Apple about freedom? “Yep,” said Jobs, “freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’.”
One of the interesting dimensions of Steve Jobs’ leadership at Apple is his habit of answering selected emails personally. It appears that Ryan Tate’s complaint got under Jobs’ skin. It is even more apparent that Jobs’ response irritated Ryan Tate.
“I don’t want freedom from porn,” Tate asserted. “Porn is just fine.” Jobs sent back a remarkably insightful retort, informing Ryan Tate that he “might care more about porn when you have kids.”
Even if Jobs decision is “pure business” and not based on a personal preference of his own, namely not to market easily available porn apps to kids, it is still remarkable that he was so transparent in his observation that Tate might feel differently about the matter if he had kids.
Young people are all about freedom. They want to do what they want to do, and they don’t want to be told different. Of course there will be exceptions, but the pattern is clear. For this purpose, I consider most adults before late middle age who have no children to be “young people,” again with many exceptions. I simply observe that you aren’t really a grown up, in most cases, until there is someone in your life whose welfare is WAY more important than yours, and for whom you are chiefly responsible. I include in the list of “grown ups” many people who really, really want children… but for some reason can’t have them. And also, it’s fair to include in the list of “grown ups” those people whose lives really are mostly about service and caring for others, priests, ministers, etc.
If you don’t have kids, and think you belong on the “grown up” list, fine, I won’t argue with you. But I think it’s a fair observation that parenthood changes you. It reforms the habits of your mind. You find yourself looking at a great many aspects of our culture through an entirely different lens, one which is focused on the welfare of someone for whom you are responsible, and whose outcomes matter enormously to you. You find that your freedom seems less important to you than your kids well-being.
You may notice that much of the freedom you so prized in your unfettered, pre-parenting state is now less than worthless to you… and further, you may find that a culture that encouraged you to exercise that freedom now seems threatening to your children.
I know a lot of people who lived pretty “free” lives, right up until they had kids. And then, one day, they saw something on TV, something that had never bothered them before, took a look at their child taking it all in…. and changed the channel. And then blocked it. And then went and looked in the mirror and wondered about themselves.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that parenthood makes you start thinking about eternal things a bit more, even if you hadn’t been too concerned about it up to that point. If you really, truly love your children, sooner or later you’re going to wonder how you’d handle it if one of them predeceased you. And that makes you start wondering what meaning their life would have had if they died young. And that opens the door to serious consideration of all kinds of very important questions.
God has ways of getting our attention, even if we’re hard of hearing.
And a little child shall lead them.
May 17 2010
This is Sam, short for Samson. Sam is not particularly strong. He has the IQ of an underachieving gerbil.
I suppose I should be careful in criticizing this worthless accretion of canine protoplasm. My mother-in-law really loves Sam. I have no idea why. I suppose it could be sheer, unmerited grace. Sam is not a Calvinist, although he thinks my mother-in-law is God.
Sam was limping today, so we hauled him off to the vet when we could find no obvious injury to the foot he wasn’t walking on, the left rear.
It turns out, $450 and 7 hours later, that he has a broken toe, etiology unknown but recent, like in the last few hours. I’m guessing he tried to see if he could fly off the top of the dog house, Clark Kent style, and instead of landing on his head, which wouldn’t have hurt him in any discernible way, he landed on a middle toe.
Or, alternatively, the two canine ladies he lives with, named Cassie and Maggie, played just a little bit too rough this morning.
I’m not sure I knew that dogs had toes. I thought they had paws.
In any case, Sam is being introduced to the glories of modern chemistry. In the photo above, he definitely has that Woodstock look, don’t you think?
Here he is definitely inhaling:
Sam is now an inside dog for the next month or so. He’s supposed to really take it easy, not challenge the toes, etc. To aid in the achievement of this doubtlessly noble goal, the vet gave us enough pain-relieving downers to ameliorate the suffering of dozens of faculty meetings.
Sam, of course, does not attend faculty meetings, though I have occasionally speculated that his intellectual peers may be in attendance.
Nor, as you can see from the photos, is he feeling any pain.
You should see him walk in that whole leg splint. He looks like Rudolph Nureyev after a stroke, trying to do a Fouette.
Not that we would be able to detect any diminished mental capacity if he did have a stroke. Goldfish have longer memories.
Come to think of it, this whole thing may have started with a Grand Jete off the doghouse.
Nov 29 2009
So, today is my birthday. I went and played keyboard for the first service at church, then got out before someone caught on and tried to sing to me.
Since my age for the entire last year was a prime number, I guess that means that I am now, uh, past my prime.
To make me feel better about it, some friends, colleagues and students sent me nice birthday greetings on facebook. Some were of the normal “Happy Birthday, Shack!” variety. A couple of them got insulting and called me Dr. Phil.
One even thanked me for teaching her music theory and music technology, which she now uses in her life more than she expected. That was nice, one of the best birthday gifts a person could give me.
One former student from way back seemed to find great joy in astronomical allusion. We eventually decided that as long as I live, the galaxy will keep spinning ’round, with all black holes kept tidily in their places. Or maybe that’s an astronomical illusion.
My 94 yr old mother sent me email asking how long the university will allow me to continue to teach. Nice, mom. Real nice.
Then my cousin told me about all the family members she’s seen lately that I haven’t.
It’s always your family that knifes you in the back.
And then there were the nerds. Lots of nerds. For example, a fellow faculty member sent me this birthday greeting:
sol-sol-la-sol-do’-ti, sol-sol-la-sol-re’-do’, sol-sol-sol’-mi’-do’-ti-la, fa’-fa’-mi’-do’-re’-do!
I think that last do should be do’… but I suppose I’m quibbling.
A music major from three decades back, who then worked as a DJ or something at a radio station in Alaska for a time, sent me this:
It took some time to decode that one, since it has a couple of errors in it (the 9–7 sequence should be 12 — 9, and the 2–7–5 sequence should read 2–0–7–5), and it assumes that “0″ is the fifth scale degree… but what can you expect from someone who moved to Alaska? Hey…. I wonder if he ever met Sarah Palin?
But I digress.
Then there was the current student, a jazzer, who couldn’t resist sticking in a suspended, altered dominant voiced as a Neapolitan major 9, +11, 13 chord over the dominant root, where it would conflict with the penultimate note rather seriously, so he changed the melody down a half-step, the only remaining problem being that the root of the Neapolitan isn’t the ideal melody note against all that extended color. He seems also to want my birthday to be over very, very quickly, though at least he wished me many happy returns.
I am often accused of employing inappropriate logical tools to issues of values, theology, philosophy, etc. That may be what was behind the next birthday greeting, which I think may be a subtle insult suggesting that I think only in black and white, with no room for shades of gray, nuance, etc.
01000111 01000111 01000001 01000111 01000011 01000010 01000111 01000111 01000001 01000111 01000100 01000011 01000111 01000111 01000111 00100111 01000101 01000011 01000010 01000001 01000110 01000110 01000101 01000011 01000100 01000011
I’m not sure what to say about that, other than that the apostrophe confused me for a moment… I actually had to consult this table. In retrospect, it was obvious, of course…. the apostrophe was to indicate the upper octave of “G”.
I’m reminded of a sign on my office door, graciously donated to me by a faculty friend. It says:
There are only 10 kinds of people. Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
As for accusing me of binary thinking, all I can say is this: either today is my birthday, or it isn’t.
Based on the available facts and logical conclusions to be inferred from them…
I choose to believe that it is.
UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me by a friend on facebook that, while I can do binary arithmetic, I can’t do third grade decimal arithmetic. To wit: last year, my age was NOT a prime number. And neither is this year. Next year IS… I think. I no longer trust myself.
Perhaps the logical question is, will I be completely overwhelmed by senior moments (or senior hours) even BEFORE I have passed my prime?
I suppose time will tell.
Jun 21 2009
Today, as she was turning into our church parking lot, my mother-in-law was rear-ended by a 16 yr old girl (in her 2nd crash, already… probably on her cell phone). My 11 yr old daughter was in the car with her, sitting in the front seat for the very first time…. just as well, it may have protected her a bit. I think my mother-in-law’s car is totalled, but no obvious injuries today, although I’m expecting she will have some stiff muscles and aches tomorrow. This happened on Father’s Day, of course, and so I spent most of the day so far dealing with the crash, getting the car towed, etc.
It is a happy day. No one was seriously hurt.
For some reason, this all reminded me of a post I wrote last year about this time, and because I have nothing really better to say, I’ve linked to it here.
Today I sat in church with my 10 yr old daughter. Her mom is usually playing the piano, and so my daughter often sits between her grandmother and me. That way, we can both hear her sing. I don’t think the small vocalist knows that we sometimes just listen to her. She probably just thinks we’re tired by the second verse, if she thinks about it at all. Sometimes grandma and I make eye contact. We both know what we’re doing. We don’t talk about it.
Now, not to knock the sermon today; it was great, on Psalm 42. But attention can drift. I expect somebody dozed off during the Gettysburg address, or while Paul was waxing eloquent about unknown Gods. Especially while Paul was going on about unidentified deities. So my mind can wander now and then.
But partway through, I noticed an odd looking purple pen in my daughter’s hand. I don’t know where she got it.
She took my arm, and prepared to write something on it. I thought, oh great, now I’m going to have ink on my arm… But Dads will do anything for love of a child, pretty much, so I let her write. She seemed to write a short word, but apparently the pen wasn’t working… No ink, I supposed, or it was dried up or something.
I shrugged to her, and returned my attention to the sermon. She was doing something beside me, but I wasn’t paying lots of attention… Kids get squirmy in church sometimes, and she wasn’t making noise. Then she tapped my arm, until I looked down. She had turned on a small light on the end of the funny looking pen, and was shining it on my arm, the miracle of “black light”. In kid-scrawl letters, my forearm said, all in lowercase, “dad”.
I know this is probably silly, but the moment took on a luminescent meaning for me. There we were, father and daughter, bonded in many different ways, each partly defining ourselves in terms of the other. She was naming me for what I was to her, and applying the label… But only she could read it. And she wanted me to see the label, too. It was our secretly acknowledged non-secret.
Being metaphorically minded, I could not help but reflect on the invisible bonds in our lives. These chains bind us as surely as titanium steel twisted cable, as unexpectedly powerful as light-weight carbon fiber-reinforced Kevlar. We can stretch our bindings. But they’re still there, drawing us together.
As a father, I have tremendous freedom of action, befitting the responsibility that is mine. There are a thousand ways to be a good father, and about a million ways to be a bad one. It may be odd to say, and it is not usually expressed this way, but I am also her servant, working for her and for the One who put her in my charge, for a little while. Perhaps it is good for servants to wear invisible identification.
Her yoke is easy.
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