Saturday, 1 February 2014

Inheritance and rubber boots

The dunnocks have begun their mating displays here now: 1 ball of fluff & feathers bouncing around behind another small bird that appears to be playing half-speed kiss chase.

I noticed this as I was tidying away my Wellington boots, or it would be more accurate to say the Wellingtons I have been using since I was about 12 or 14. They had been my fathers, and have been in existence as long as I can remember, even having his initials - AE - written in with red pen. Ben has used them too, so they really have been in use by 3 generations of our family.

I wonder if he will acquire & keep them when he moves out, like some of the tools I took and have been passed on to him too?

I wonder what else we pass on to our children.

My mother asked for a years subscription to Christianity magazine for Christmas and, true to her nature, has been passing them on to us with the commendation "they aren't stuffy at all", which is true.

There's something very striking about them - they conform to the spirit of this age in that they carefully avoid teaching anything solid, reliable, sound. Instead they examine issues with a view to provoking questions in the reader, and where there is a question of doctrine they very carefully present a range of views from middle of the road evangelical to liberal (in the couple I've read there was no conservative or moderate orthodox view expressed from the 3 carefully selected commentators).

Sure it's great to ask questions, but this is like the carefully philosophically blind trying to help other blind people explore their blindness. Makes me see why there are so many, many christian books published these days. I keep having come to mind the scripture where Jesus described that generation like children in the marketplace, with each one calling out their preference, but the others not taking any notice (I appreciate that's not the classical understanding of this passage, yet it seems to fit).

There was a review of 2 books on a similar topic, one of which was described as bombastic in the manner it provided answers for living, while the other was described in glowing terms as intelligent and nuanced for the way it asked questions. Interestingly, while the reviewer felt able to approve the book without strong answers, it was that one with the answers that was apparently going to be used to work with a mens group.

What kind of inheritance do we want to pass to our children?

While it's always good to ask questions and to be able to speculate, there needs to be answers, guidelines by which people can live by, rather than only a further series of questions with the underlying suggestion that as long as it seems OK to you at the time then it's good and right. Someone said to me in church last week that we had changed from hearing "this is how you should be living" to "this is how you can live like you should". I don't want to pretend to either have all the answers or that we even can know them all, but a nuanced ability to ask deep and meaningful questions is never going to help you to live well if you do not discover solid answers that result in action.

We as parents have a responsibility to live out the answers and to teach them to our children so that they have an inheritance that brings life and peace.


  1. I agree with you for the most part.

    I do wonder, though, how much difference teaching answers to our children makes a difference. It seems that each generation reacts in some way to previous generations. To generalize, my generation of evangelicals reacts against my parents' generation for their staunch fundamentalism, for instance, which had all the answers and had no time for mystery or nuance. So we tend to hang on to the questions and tensions more than they would have. My kids' generation may react to that with looking for firmer answers.

    As I say, I'm generalizing and just asking questions ;) . There's always a spectrum in these things.

  2. Thanks Marc, and sorry not to catch up sooner.

    And I agree with your comments about the next generation - heaven knows I rejected plenty my parents tried to do for me. At the same time though, the good things that were put in did bring fruit, and as an older adult I really appreciate them. Also if you give children understanding then they can make sense of the answers and questions those around push at them, but if all they have are more questions themselves, what basis do they have for a future? It's what I despise about post-modernism mixed with Christianity: always asking, never able to know, buffeted by every whim and fancy.

    Maybe there's enough mystery in the charismatic - the breaking through of the power of God into reality here and now - that I don't need the old myths and fables of religious mysticism?

    I'm being serious though. And I also have come to know what you mean about fundamentalism - the kind of thinking that will take a random scripture and apply it without consideration. The idea that a rock providing water followed the Israelites through the desert for 40 years etc. I was like that once, as a 16, 17 year old new Christian who grew up in a Baptist church and had no understanding of who God really was, but was willing to go along with the out of context, made up stuff.


Play nice - I will delete anything I don't want associated with this blog and I will delete anonymous comments.