Sunday, September 30, 2012

"The Conflict" by Elisabeth Badinter

I one day hope to be adequately prepared to present a sermon series on gender and identity. In preparation for that time I am studying Scripture in addition to reading Christian and secular books on the topic. I'd like to be as in touch with our world's views of these issues as I am Scripture's so that I can clearly and competently connect the two. It is my observation that most Christians (myself included) are not adequately prepared when discussing these issues due to ignorance of Scripture and ignorance of other worldviews. This book "review" is the beginning of many on this topic. [If you're here simply for updates on Angela, I apologize as this blog serves many functions and this post disrupts the flow of her updates.]

I just finished reading, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women by Elisabeth Badinter.  Badinter is a philosophy teacher at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and has authored a number of best sellers relating to feminism. Her voice is an influential one and her teaching/writing pushes a feminist agenda.

The main thrust of this book is the belief that “reverence for all things natural glorifies an old concept of the maternal instinct and applauds masochism [pleasure in being abused or dominated] and sacrifice, constituting a supreme threat to women’s emancipation and sexual equality.” (p. 167)

She argues that in the 1970’s women fought and earned new-found freedoms/rights in society.  These rights were born through cultural changes/acceptance (singleness as a viable option, women in leadership, etc.), scientific discoveries (birth control, better formula for babies, epidurals, etc.), and philosophical/political changes (legalization of abortion). She observes that since this era the feminist agenda has gone backwards as culture has emphasized a more natural agenda (due to breastfeeding advocates; child development philosophies, etc.) on top of other factors. Some of these other factors would include government family policies that hinder women staying in the workforce; a slowing economy (leaving less-skilled women unemployed); and children of 70’s moms who felt neglected by their career/rights-driven mom and now want to do things differently than her.

She also spends a lot of time developing the idea that returning to an old maternal instinct of mothering results in a lot of pressure on mothers in addition to a mom’s other desires (seeking fulfillment in other avenues of life… career, art, etc.).

She also observes that “the individualism and hedonism [the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life] that are hallmarks of our culture have become the primary motivations for having children, but also sometimes the reason not to. For a majority of women it remains difficult to reconcile increasingly burdensome maternal responsibilities with personal fulfillment.” (p. 2)  “In a civilization that puts self first, motherhood is a challenge, even a contradiction.” (p. 13)

Badinter’s bigger picture/agenda is summarized well in the opening to chapter four, “The irony of this history is that it was precisely at the point that Western women finally rid themselves of patriarchy [control by men of a disproportionately large share of power] that they acquired a new master at home. Women had achieved financial independence as well as control over whether they had children or not: they had no reason, it seemed, to continue to confront men’s power. Yet, thirty years later, there is no denying that male denomination exists.” (p. 96)

Overall the book’s thought process is a bit fragmented and negligent in discussing the merits of other worldviews related to this topic. Its tone leans more to being a rant rather than an objective analysis of sexual equality in modern motherhood.

I don’t have time at the moment to respond in depth from a Christian worldview to her observations, so I will simply file her thoughts away for processing later in the aforementioned sermon series. The purpose of me placing this on my blog is more for my own filing than for public consumption… that being said the issues she raises are prevalent, so if it gets you thinking and searching the Scriptures for God’s perspective on these issues then great!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Surgery Recap

Well, we didn’t get the news we were hoping for yesterday, but there was good mixed in with the bad. The surgery ended up being much shorter (4 hours) than expected (6-9 hours) due to the high number of small tumors (less than 1 cm) on her small intestine. The surgeon felt that to cut out the entire intestine affected would be of great risk to Angela’s life. He discovered one section that was only a week or two from becoming completely blocked by tumors (which would have required an emergency surgery anyways). They removed that portion of her small intestine and that is the part (along with the long incision) that will require some recovery time. She’ll be able to return home in a week, which we are excited for as we miss our kids very much, and then will finish recovery at home.

Her prognosis is months to a year without chemo and months to years with chemo. We’ve talked with many experienced doctors and even a naturopath doctor that specializes in cancer about alternative options, clinical trials, and the too-good-to-be-true claims on the Internet, and have resolved that there isn’t much earthly hope for Angela.

Through out all of this, and especially on days where earthly news is so difficult to hear, we are even more grateful that every day in Christ is a good day. No matter what happens to us, the Good News always outweighs the bad.

We are also very grateful for loving family and friends. We have received many little notes of encouragement and support. We have been blessed with a place to stay within walking distance of the Hospital and a lovely couple who are such gracious, faith-filled hosts.

I’ll close this post with a couple excerpts from some of our support team:

Catherine Dagneau wrote this yesterday:
“The night before last, as Eugene and I were walking and praying, one of us said, "Poor Angela" and immediately I got the sense that this was not the correct perspective. I had previously shared with Clint and Angela that I felt convinced that this painful journey that they had been called to walk was going to be very powerful in the growth of the Kingdom and for our church. So that evening, I felt the Spirit saying, "We don't say, 'Poor Paul' when we read about the hardships he endured: the violent attacks, the shipwrecks, the imprisonments. We say 'Brave, heroic, obedient Paul' as he forged ahead for the sake of the Gospel." So I now say, "Brave, heroic Angela" who is called to walk such a dangerous, frightening path. Then this morning, I was feeling so small and powerless after the news of the returning cancer, which seems to have a mind of its own, and like a storm, cannot be tamed by the hands of man. How humbled we are in the face of a hurricane! All pride drops off. Our best ideas and efforts are of no effect. All of a sudden we see ourselves as we are and we see God as He is- our only Hope. We cry out. We grab a hold of him and wrap ourselves around his legs and we cling to him for our safety. He is Almighty. He has the power to still the storm. But sometimes He allows the storm to continue.

After all this thought, I picked up my Bible to continue my reading of Acts and today's passage was Acts 27 (Paul’s shipwreck). Brave, heroic Paul as he obeyed his calling! Imagine the emotional roller coaster he was on! The Spirit told him they should not sail- it was too dangerous- but despite Paul's warnings, the powers that be decided to set out. I'm sure Paul must've thought, "This is it then. We will die." But his mission was not yet complete. Though the storm destroyed the ship, it did not destroy the Gospel mission Paul was on. In fact, it became part of the evidence… evidence which glorifies God to this day!

How brave and heroic Clint and Angela are in this storm! So humbled and powerless; so dependent on their God to see them through. Take courage in this: God had forewarned Clint last fall that hard times were coming, just as He warned Paul of the storm. As shocked as we all have been with each turn of events, God is not.

Church, now more than ever we need to be earnest and diligent in prayer for them, just as the early church supported Paul with their prayers. And Clint and Angela will be strengthened to endure this trial and Parkside Church will grow in faith and love and God will be glorified in unimaginable ways. Let us be faithful!

My cousin, Tanya, sent us some encouraging words and Scripture:
Don't be discouraged.
"You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you."

Don't quit.
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable (about the persistent widow) to show them that they should always pray and not give up."

Surrender to God.
"Do not LET your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

Be thankful.
"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

This is not over.  We have so much more than "earthly hope".


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Surgery Tomorrow

After some tests and orientation on Monday then some medicine today we are ready for Angela's surgery. It's happening tomorrow (Thursday, September 27) at 7:30am. The surgery will most likely be 6-9 hours long. Thank you to all the folks who are praying for Angela. 

We spent the last 36 hours visiting family in Vegreville, AB (home of the world's largest Psynka Egg). It was a nice brain break from the medical world. On the way back to Calgary we stopped at the world's slowest Tim Horton's (Vegreville) and Starbucks (Springs Rd in Airdrie) then I broke my diet and had pulled pork poutine in the CrossIron Mills Mall (as far as malls go, that one is pretty sweet).  Angela has to fast today in preparation for her surgery so I've taken on her daily calories.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Do Hard Things

Just finished reading "Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris. I had heard many good things about this book and borrowed it from a colleague. While I didn't find any of the concepts revolutionary, the uniqueness of this book is that it is written by teenagers for teenagers. The authors challenge teens to arm themselves with wisdom and live differently than the norm.

I recommend every parent and teenager read this book. The perfect combination may be a parent and grade seven student going through it together.  It's good for parents because it will challenge their view of the adolescent period and change their goals for their son/daughter.  It's good for teens because it will ask life changing questions.

Here are some quotes from the book:
"By choosing to use our teen years for strict training, we can choose to set direction, develop character, and build momentum for an amazing future." (p.50)
"Without a doubt, pushing yourself to do more than is asked, expected, or required is nearly always a lonely choice." (p.89)
"Habits like working hard, maintaining a positive attitude, living with self-discipline and integrity, and serving others brings benefits to our lives now and pay enormous dividends in the future -- if we do them faithfully." (pp.127-138)
It's written by Christians and is Biblically based. The authors use lots of illustrations and stories to make the concepts easy to understand and fun to read.

You can buy the book here:

Calgary Bound

Things have continued at a fast pace, but there has been a peace through it all. Angela and I are gearing up for her surgery in Calgary next Thursday. We head out this Sunday afternoon.

We had a potluck dinner with our Church Elders last night. It was really nice to take a break and enjoy a meal for once. Dave shared something that was on his heart... to start asking others the question, "What can I do for you?" It's one of those questions that we like to ask, but at the same time hope others don't take us up on it. This really resonated with me not only personally, but for us as a Church. Over the next few years we will need to begin asking this question a whole lot more... I think this is what many Churches (including ours at times) have stopped asking others. Our Church needs to be known more for what we do for others than what we do for ourselves. Our Elders also prayed for Angela, our family, and our Church in earthly and heavenly languages. It was an encouraging time.

I'm looking forward to being with our Church family this Sunday. We've missed the last two gatherings and we'll be missing the next few as well. Some people find "going" to Church every week an obligation, but it is the highlight of my week. I love singing songs of praise, sharing in the Word, and knowing the testimony and beauty of God's purposes for all who gather.

I will be away for most of October so Pastor Dave will be our interim pastor for the month. He and our Elders will be available to bring pastoral care and leadership to our Church.  They already provide the majority of care to our Church family, so I don't think it will feel any different.

In other news, I have been eating healthy for five weeks (except a Triple O burger last Friday and our Elders dinner last night). I have lost 23 pounds and have appreciated an increase in health (no heartburn and more energy) and greater maturity in learning better self-discipline. In the months to come I will continue to eat healthy and add more exercise.

Last weekend, Angela and I went up to Rockridge Canyon for PLBC's annual Fall Retreat (see above photo). It was a great weekend filled with praise, ministry, rest, and relationship building. We also had three Parksiders serve on our volunteer work crew: Dave, Raelyne, and Faith. They scrubbed pots, prepped meals, and cleaned up. Isaac was the Retreat's "Minister of Fun" leading great group activities to foster fun and community. All of our Parksiders served smashingly well... great attitudes, great work ethic, and great skill.

I will keep you updated through this blog while we are away in Calgary so you can be aware and know how to pray. We appreciate your prayers so much... it's the most practical thing you can do for us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Surgery, Scans, and September

Well, we have Angela's surgery date: Thursday, September 27th. It's sooner than expected due to a cancellation that bumped us up. We'll be going up on the Monday or Tuesday before for some pre-surgery meetings and tests. Our local oncologist also ordered a bone scan for today in preparation and as a precaution.

Combining scans and preparing for surgery with the busyness of September and things are anything but slow. At PLBC we've moved in a record number of residents and welcomed our largest freshman class. This weekend is our annual college retreat.  It's busy and exciting at the College right now.

Last weekend we zipped over to Courtenay to celebrate with Northgate Foursquare Church (my home church) on their 75th Anniversary. I was humbled to share some thoughts on Psalm 23. I was moved by the humble beginnings, sacrifice, and faith of the planting pastors of this Church. Their church planting budget was $60 and the first offering totaled 27 cents. One by one people came to know Christ and 75 years later we look back and see a huge history filled with 'wondrous things'.

I just listened to Pastor Dave's sermon from Sunday and found it very encouraging. I've also been enjoying reading through Acts again and hope you are too! I've been finding re-reading Acts very encouraging and it almost makes me want to go through it again as there is so much in there that we skimmed over (we'll leave for another time).

Now that school's back in session, Isaac and I are driving in together most days and I enjoy his company and our chats. Ruby's enjoying kindergarten and Charlie's getting used to his best friend gone for most of the day.

Have a great week/weekend and thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer is Over

Is anyone else glad that summer is over? I love the fall. I like perfect temperature days, crisp evenings, and routine. However, looking into the future, not much about this fall will be routine for us. Ruby starts kindergarten and soccer. Charlie starts "hockey" lessons. Angela's surgery in Calgary will happen most likely on October 12th. And I'm on a not-so-fun diet! All new things for us.

The summer has flown by and as always I make the mistake of setting too many goals. I was supposed to have a bathroom reno done, trim painted, and a number of work projects all wrapped up. Oh well... next summer.

I really enjoyed Isaac's message today. He challenged us by Paul's example in Acts 27 to be people who take our experience and openness to the Spirit's leading so that we might bring hope into real life situations. We also began our Acts Challenge today ( and hope that many of our Church family respond.

It was great having Tony back from holidays and leading us in worship. A friend of his ripped it up on bass and the drummer was particularly handsome today (you're welcome, Vince).

I read Acts 1 today and was struck by the humorous picture painted in verses 9-11. So often we spend our time calling out to God, looking to Him, wondering what He's going to do next, but God simply wants us to be obedient with what He's asked us to do right now. Let the rest happen as God determines. I think this might add to some theological truth in the expression, "so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good."  However, there is also an aspect to that expression that makes it entirely incorrect.

After our service today, we raced home and ate ants-on-a-log then drove into Surrey for some errands for the College. Costco was packed with lazy shoppers. I could write a book about the way in which people become totally detached from their surroundings when they get behind a grocery cart. I bought one of those big sirloins to cut into steaks for a student leadership dinner at the College tomorrow... I can taste it now.

This week will be crazy at the College. It's our Orientation Week which means it's simply one big event after the other. Lots of logistics and a lot of fun. On Saturday we're heading over to the Island for a short trip. My home Church, Northgate Foursquare Church in Courtenay, is having its 75th Anniversary on Sunday and I'm looking forward to being a part of the celebration. I have so many good memories from my 18 years spent growing up in that Church family. Much of who I am today and the love I have for Christ and His Church was founded and shaped in this Church family.

I hope you have a great week as you bring the hope you have in Christ into the real life situations you will face.