Video Discussing the Attack on the Capital

I was sent this video yesterday. This is Steve Heimler, who has a YouTube channel (Called Heimler’s History) that teaches AP History. He is a history teacher with a Christian homeschool network and an adjunct teaching pastor at my church. I appreciate his focus on facts, as a historian, and the way the lays out what happens and what it means. Too many people in the broader evangelical camp do not believe in many of these facts. It is important that we, as Christians speak truth and not get caught up in political conspiracy theories. You can read my thoughts on what happen, here

Thoughts on the attack at the US Capitol

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Like many people, I couldn’t sleep last night. I laid in bed, honestly just confused. It is surreal. I thought of all the things I wanted to say. Wrote this post in my mind, you know? Kind of lack reenacting an argument in your head after you’ve had some time. I felt like I had a few good things going. Of course, today, after not sleeping and then an odd day at work, I feel as confused as ever. 

This was wild (which, to be fair, is what the president called for), shameful and embarrassing. You can go here for a pretty good group of pictures. Mrs. MMT and I wondered last night, which ones will end up in the history textbooks. 

I’m not typically an emotional person, but it was hard not feel that way watching this. Our capitol was under siege, lawmakers were being escorted at by secret service members while wearing dollar store gas masks, non-American flags were raised, including the Confederate Battle Flag (something that never even happened during the Civil War) and, perhaps more frightening, flags with Trump’s name on them. 

Cult of Personality

It was a sight to behold. People, with no sense of irony (or, apparently, logic, grammar, history) stormed the capitol building, broke windows/doors to stop a ceremonial democratic process (the definition of sedition), carried a treasonous flag, all while chanting ‘USA’. It was truly bewildering for everyone watching at home, and around the world. We weren’t the only ones confused, it seems, the insurrectionist didn’t seem to know what to do next. Like a dog that finally catches a car, they seemed lost as to what to do with it. I was watching TV live (while on a Zoom call) and you could see people just, milling about. Walking around, taking pictures, stealing things and engaging in general jackassery. 

Their dear leader had held a rally earlier in the day, told them to march to the capital and inhibit democracy and overturn the election. The did just that. Then, well, not much for bit. Then their leader tells them they are special and he is proud of them, and to go home peacefully. They do just that. They actually just walked away. Nothing else happened that night. I guess they are awaiting orders, and again unironically, et. al, posting online that people who wear masks are sheep. 

To their credit, I suppose, if you can say that about sedition, there was no more violence last night or so far today. I honestly don’t expect there to be. Not until Trump gives the order to attack again. If you can stomach the cesspool of Twitter, go look at the comments under hardcore Turmpers such as Pence and Cruz, when they call this a terrorist attack, the ask why they are backing down, they are asking what about the storm, and they are accusing them of turning on America. If you want even more unhinged, look at the replies to Trump telling them to go home. You get some of the same questioning, but no attacks, and then the most loyal try to decipher of the other, less informed, by pointing out that ‘they’ must be regrouping and encourage everyone to go back and wait. 

I don’t know how to describe this as anything other than a cult. This is pure cult of personality. The live and, now actually, die on his every word. They are not America First (while misguided, is at least arguable) they are Trump First. Even worse, they are Trump only. 

Rewriting the Narrative

As they had no plan, there is no coherent narrative coming out of the attack. Once the Capital Building was clearing, the Senate and Congress came back in and finalized the election. Again, this is a ceremonial display. They only count the votes toward the electoral college. The states have already certified. The people voted long ago. People can object, which rarely happens (one person attempted in ’16, but was gaveled down by none other than Biden). Ted Cruz had recently finished his long, rambling speech which said nothing at all and continued the lie of ‘stolen election’, which has been heard in over 60 court cases, in which the Trump team has won one case (election observers were allowed to move from 10 feet away to six, kraken indeed). 

Then the attack happened. Interestingly some of the of the lawmakers changed their mind and decided not to object. They were never willing to stated that they bought of the lies they had been spewing and were only doing it for political theater. Of course, they never explained why they changed their minds. Either you believe, whith no basis in facts whatsoever, that the election was stolen, or you don’t. I doubt we will hear from any. Cruz continues his QAnonsense attacks on democracy during the counting, but today called the attacks terrorist actions. That is some fine tight rope walking.

So, what is the narrative? Claim victory? Not quite. As nothing could happen regarding the election, nothing did happen, other than the counting of certified votes. However, they claim blue lives matter and to be for law and order, so the whole violent sedition, death and destruction thing is a bit problematic. Pretty quickly, these were the lines:

  1. It was a non-violent protest. Well, no. Right now it looks like dozens of officers were injured, 15 of which were hospitalized, one of which is in critical condition (curiously, many of the blue light houses were dark this morning on my way to work, not sure if they are ashamed Trumpers or no longer support the police). This should also dispel the myth that the police opened the doors and let everyone in. Though, there were clearly some shaking hands and taking pictures, but they are easily identifiable, and should be fire and arrested. Even worse, four people are dead. One lady, in her 30s with two kids, was shot by secret service for getting too close to Pence. Which I suppose it what happens when Service and police barricade a door with furniture, point guns at the door and then say if you break the door, they will shoot. She apparently tweeted that she can’t be stopped, before being killed. This is a tragic loss of life for an unbelievably stupid reason. Over night, there are reports for three other deaths, all from ‘medical issues’. Not many details out yet, but it seems like a fellow Georgian, in her 30s, was trampled in the attack, and another person was testing his taser, which he apparently didn’t know how to use, tased himself and had a heart attack.  I am actually skeptical of this one, because it just can’t be real. No word on the fourth death. All tragic and entirely unnecessary and directly caused by Trump. 
  2. So, clearly there was violence, what does that mean? Wasn’t us. It was obviously Antifa (it is always worth noting that according to Trump’s FBI director, all law enforcement, facts, and reason, Antifa is not a group), or Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t matter, apparently, that many of these people are social media famous maga and Q-Anon people, most of which recorded themselves. It doesn’t matter that there are videos of people stating they are taking the people’s house back (I hadn’t heard this term before, I could be wrong, but I feel like that should be the white house), all of which are easily identifiable (from prior posts, years worth in some cases) on social media. Most people have probably heard of Elizabeth from Knoxville. She seems absolutely incredulous that she would be maced while breaking into a federal building to, in her words, start a revolution. 
  3.  Alright, obviously violent and obviously Trumpers, so now what? Kind of a mix of random things, but mostly conspiracy theories and false equivalencies (all at once, even the ones that contradict each other, and why not, especially if 1 & 2 above are both out there at the same time). The former is vast, so I won’t go into them (some include lizard people), other than my favorite – the police let this happen. I literally saw some of my Trumper friends calling for an investigation. Not because of the absence of support that was requested, but because, apparently the absence of police made people violent. Essentially, the police made us violent by not stopping our violence. Poe’s law, y’all. I’ll hit false equivalencies below, since the new, dumber, unwieldy version of wordpress doesn’t let me have a second paragraph with my number. 
  4. Actual honesty? We did it, we caused the deaths, we were seditious, but it is because we are starting a revolution, saving America, stopping the steal, etc. I don’t have much else to saw for that.

False Equivalency

There are two false narratives within this, once is people have objected/not conceded before or, once violence has been admitted, what about Antifa/BLM. The former line might be a little more popular where I am, but I’ll get to that shortly. There were objects to Ohio electors being counted in the 2000 election and some unclear objection in 2016 (mentioned above). No president has even not conceded. Should also be noted that none of the people making the political stunt of objecting  believed the election was stolen or advocate sedition. I might have heard the conceded line more, because Stacey Abrams never conceded. It is beyond me that she is a national media star, but here in Georgia, no one thought much of her. Same as Trump, she telegraphed her play from the beginning, and did what most people expected her to do, ignore the middle, lose, claim fraud, leave Georgia (she isn’t from here) and get a tv show/book deal. That is largely what happened. Quick excruses on Georgia. I do not know how elections are handled in other states, but Kemp was the Sec of State when the election happened. Now, that is a bad look, he should have resigned, but he cannot impact polling locations. Elections are held by local county boards of elections. For the record, I think he won legitimately, even if it had a bad look for democracy to oversee your own election. Back to Abrams, it is true she never conceded, but, I feel like this should be obvious, she never attempted an overthrow of democracy. 

*For an additional side note on Georgia, Gabriel Sterling (the COO of Sec of State for Georgia) has right pointed out that if Republicans had spent less time attack him, Kemp, and Raffensperger (current SoS) and more time getting out the vote, Republicans would have won. The seems to be right, as turnout was down, relative to the main election, in rural areas and by white voters. Also, if many of them were in DC yesterday, they might not have actually been here two days ago to vote in the election, which is a wild thought. For the record, I think even without election fraud nonsense, Warnock still would have won. Georgia has never elected a yankee (Leoffer bought an appointment from Kemp). On a sadder note, Sterling pointed on almost six weeks ago that if the dangerous conspiracy theories continued, someone would die.

Back to Antifa/BLM. People point to their violence and destruction. These actions were condemned by the right (not sure why it changed, if it is wrong, it is wrong) and most of the left. I’ve seen different numbers, but it appears well over 10,000 people were arrested. Not sure if it is the case, but I don’t think law enforcement was forced to kill any of them. No one was trampled. Maybe by those points, they are equal, maybe not, it is debatable. Here is what isn’t, none of them were looking to overthrow democracy. None of them were driven by the president and Q Anon to attack and take over the government. There is a big difference between breaking a window at Target and stealing TV and breaking a window in the Capitol Building to overturn democracy. I don’t feel like I should have to write this.

Christian Response

Not that the basics are out of the way, what should any of this mean for Christians? It is one of the reasons I don’t care as much, am not as deeply hurt by, BLM (again, Antifa is not an organization) is not a Christian group. Other than calls for equality, which are based on general revelation, nothing about them is religious. Nothing, no one says you aren’t a real Christian if you don’t support BLM or that our only moral choice is BLM, most say quite the opposite, actually. Among other aspect of idolatry yesterday, there was a cross and gallows put up on the steps. Think about that. People with ‘Jesus Saves’ flags were violently opposing an election they lost. There were flags with stars and stripes crosses and ichthys overlaid with the American flag. This is the very definition of syncretism. The mob that attacked America yesterday, unfortunately, think they did it in God’s name. They certainly attempt to wrap the rhetoric in ‘Christian language’. There are myriad examples, most people are familiar by now. If you want to see some good reporting/responses, head over the Gospel Coalition. I’ve written about them before, and I’m tired. 

I’m tired, because we are part of this. We as conservative Christians follow these Court Evangelicals and celebrity pastors/political commentators, often uncritically. Albert Mohler, who was a never-Trumper, until his family members were hired by the administration, then he said Trump was the only moral choice for Christians. Then the terrorists attack of yesterday happens, and now he is opposed. Unsurprisingly, though he typically tweets all day, he only had one yesterday (none yet today, as I write this). As I’ve said, he is well known for lying in public, but he this actually shocked me, a report today (behind a paywall, unfortunately) he made the ridiculous claim no one could have seen this coming. As I mentioned above, Sterling predicted death, also there have been actual death threats to all the top Republican officials in Georgia. Even worse, Eric Metaxes held a rally and stated he was willing to give his last drop of blood to overturn the will of the American people.

Mohler will, of course, never repent and his rhetorical flourishes and debated skills are nearly unparalleled, no one will be able to hold him accountable. He should resign from Southern Seminary and if he is actually elected president of the SBC, it will be the end of them. I’m still waiting for CRT to place pipe bombs at both the RNC and DNC headquarters (something that has really been under reported). Which brings me to his buddy, fellow cower-er in fear, and Doctrine of the Trinity denier, Owen Strachan. He was also oddly quiet yesterday and today. He stated months ago that anyone who was ‘woke’, whatever that is, needed to be excommunicated. I wonder if he feels the same about QAnon or seditionist, terrorist or insurrectionist. My guess is no, but of course, I pray for these men, they are influential leaders and their repentance or admission of quilt would be incredible.

Speaking of denying orthodox Trinitarian beliefs, Wayne Grudem. What happened to this man? I’ve written much about him, because I am truly confounded. He has literally stated that he does not believe Trump has told a lie while in office. It is a good reminder that Trump once said he has never asked for forgiveness, because he has never done anything wrong. Technically, Trump said this while campaigning, so I guess Grudem gets to ignore it. Just like the ‘Christian Ethicist’ ignored the man that said you can grab women by the pussy (language!) if you are rich (so sexual assault, and different rules for the rich, if only there were a book that disagreed with this) or who paid off a pornstar to be quiet about their affair or the man who called sitting secretaries of state, threatened them, and told them ‘find votes’, a clear admission of disbelief in fraud (but Raffensperger is wrong for recording it), supported that man and said that morals/character don’t matter for the president (contra prior public statements, the Bible, common sense). 

Where do we go from here?

Am I hopeful for the future? No. Not really. Or, rather, only in the eschatological sense. We will have Trump apologist and enablers and Trump himself, for years to come. I fear the Christian language that goes with it may only get worse (there are Patriot Churches now, their trinity is Trump, guns, and dying from preventable diseases). One problem is that even non-Trumpers still support Trump Republicans. I was talking to a friend just yesterday, who state he had voted for a Trump supporting, election denying Republican in the runoff (one, but not the other). We didn’t get a chance to talk much, but I did find it curious. There are QAnon people at my church community. Who knows? Hopefully, I am wrong. Hopefully repentance comes to those in the church and we stop worshiping Trump. More likely, it will swept away. I full expect a lot of, ‘time to move on’, ‘heal’, ‘come together’, ‘stop the division’. Not talk about what brought us here. Ignore all the crazy conspiracy theories our brothers and sisters go into. No calls for change. If anything, we will go the other way, ignore the plank in our own eye, and spend much of the next four years attacking the nonsense left. 

Outside of the church, I do think there is a longshot hope in politics. Trumpers want to start their own party, to break away from conservatives in the Republican party. I say, let them keep it. The conservatives need to break away and take the middle. The need to reach across the aisle and get the moderate (often pro-life) Democrats, typically the middle of the country ones. If this group happened, I think it would dominate. Democrats don’t want the middle, they don’t want me, they’ve said so and I’m center right, at most. They think they need to keep going crazy, while the moderate Dems blame them for loses. Take the middle make a new party, be the most powerful influence in American politics. Both sides would need them to do anything, and the extremist would be cut off, because they wouldn’t have votes.  

Then I could be done with politics. I think Christians would find their home in this middle. More importantly, I want Christians to rediscover the Bible and read it with the intensity with which they read twitter. That is why, as I’ve said before, I’m dropping some of my current news/political writing to focus on another project. Hopefully, I’ll have more details soon. Unfortunately, a coup attempt warrants some thoughts. 

Thanks if you’ve made it this far. I hope you enjoyed, please feel free to share any thoughts. 

Edit – One of the capital police officers has died; over 40 injured. Also, apparently, the taser thing is real; the guy gave himself a heart attack trying to use it. 

Looks like many are sticking with Antifa (see above, if you skimmed to the bottom). Of course, much talk of moving on, buzz words seem to be – ‘no need to re-litigate’ and ‘healing’. On twitter today, I saw both Russell Moore and Tim Keller attacked (virtually, sadly, I have to note that now) for speaking against the violence. Marxist and Globalist are some of the terms I left off my bingo card. I have even more respect for these guys, because, of course, the left/non-church people who have no idea who they are, are hitting them with ‘too late’ and you are just ‘jumping off a sinking ship’. Y’all, they were never on it, praise God. 

I’ve said it before, but I should note here. Clearly there is nothing wrong with voting Republican. I think the moral issues and problems with Trump makes voting for him questionable, but obviously not sinful. What I completely disagree with, is the all Christians must vote Trump or that he is somehow the Christian candidate  mentality and statement put out by so many Christian leaders. Of course the idolatry of him is sinful, as is QAnon (Gospel Coalition has a great primer on them here). 

Here is the best part, though, some of them will be back in our churches on Sunday. I know some of them have refused because masks wearing is the sign of the beast or government control or some nonsense, but I do believe some will be back, maybe not this Sunday but soon. They are waking up to the realization of what QAnon and Trump are. They are realizing the lies Trump told about the election, that he never cared for them, and that he used them for political gains. We need to welcome them back with open arms. We need to avoid saying anything political, as much as we may want to. They followed a false prophet, and now are coming back to the Truth, knowing that the only true power comes from the risen Christ. We must pray for them. 

Edit 3 – Leaving edit 2 below this one, because of the pictures. Also, this will be the final edit. Another police officer has died, apparently by suicide. No reason know yet. Other officers are still hospitalized, hopefully no more die. It is important to remember that the one who died was beaten to death. I want to link two good articles, one from David French called Only the Church can truly defeat a Christian insurrection, and one from Ed Stetzer about the Evangelical reckoning. Both of these say better than I, what many are feeling now and what needs to happen for use to move forward.

On a lighter note, this post brought me my first troll. In my 6+ years of meandering ramblings, I’ve not had one. It accused me of not thinking and being destroyed by the propaganda machine. No idea if it was a bot or a person, but I deleted and marked as spam, because back in my formative years of the early internet, there was one thing on which everyone agreed – don’t feed the trolls. 

Edit 2 –  A few of these collections are floating around online. I think they are interesting from a historical perspective, especially the photos used. Just thought I’d share. 

 

 

Some Post Election Thoughts

Even though I shouldn’t, because I’m getting really burned out on politics. Some of your are lucky and political ad season is over, but for me, I can’t watch the weather without every add be about the two Senate run-off elections.

I don’t really have much in the way of politics, but there are some Biblical issues I want to get down, as well as a sprinkling of Covid thoughts, mostly because Covid has clearly affected the political climate. It seems to me that Trump would have won again (probably handly) were it not for his epic failure in leadership during this crisis. If you make it to the end, I have an update/tease on where this blog is going (if it continues) in the future).

I don’t typically listen to ‘Christian’ radio channels. Lazy pop rock isn’t really my style (and I get enough bad theology masquerading as ‘experiential worship’ from wannabe rock bands at church), and like old men in the generation before us that switch from music to talk radio or NPR, I mostly listen to podcasts when I drive. However, Mrs. MMT is a big Christmas music fan, on the local station here is only playing that right now, so on our way to church Sunday, that is what we were listening to. As I mentioned above, I’m still forced to hear political ads right now, but one stuck out to me. It was endorsing any candidate, just encouraging people to go vote (seriously it was pretty neutral, no save America/democracy hyperbole). However, the guy in the ad stated that we needed to exercise our ‘God given right to vote’. This is clearly unbiblical.

Now, I think Christians should vote. Just as I think everyone should vote. I wish we had mandatory voting and a national holiday to vote (check out Australia for example). Part of my job is to get people involved in local politics. However, there is literally nothing in the Bible about voting. There is nothing in the Bible about modern governmental or economic systems. We have no ‘God given right to vote’. In His blessing, I was born in a democracy (ish, conservatives are quick to point out right now that we don’t actually live in a democracy and seem to be doing everything they can to prove it) and have the right to vote for various leaders and policies. Yet to think God gave us this specific right is to conflate basic politics. I happen to see the other day, but I didn’t save it, and the guy just teased the data (hopefully a full survey/report) will come out later, but somewhere around 60% of Evangelicals (oddly, I don’t remember him narrowing it to the political category of ‘white’) believe the Constitution is divinely inspired. Think about that for a moment. That would mean that revelations did not end with the Bible, but instead ended with Deist to set up a new form of government. This is straight heresy, y’all, and even more concerning it is about the same percent of Evangelicals (according to Ligoner’s state of theology 2020) that believe Christ is the only way to the Father. Our Biblical literacy is dangerously poor.

A quick digression, radio related, before going back to bad theology and political idolatry. Dave Ramsey was in the news for his $10,000 a plate dinner reception at his estate. Apparently, he told the catering staff that they were not allowed to wear masks to protect themselves. He isn’t a pastor, but he is an influential figure in the Christian community. His Covid denial (we are over 300,000 deaths at this point) and political worship, as well as his disdain for neighbor/others is a sad, seemingly unending confluence right now. I guess a millionaire telling the working class to risk their health to serve them food is a pretty solid way to ‘act your wage’ in America currently.

To the election and idolatry. I’ve been torn on what I wanted to say, if anything, after Biden officially won the electoral college on Monday (the outcome was clear over a month ago, but the Kraken needed to go 1-58 in legal cases first, I guess). Biden in is the president elect of the US. More on what I think that means in a minute, but for now, the denialism that has been taken to a new level. Eric Metexas (famous for writing a poor historical biography of Bonhoeffer and I guess a radio host) state that he would die for Trump and overturning the election. Again, think about that for a minute. Who is he worshiping that he would die for a failed politician? I thought things couldn’t get worse than the FBC Dallas choir writing a song called ‘Make America Great Again’ and then signing during a Sunday service (which was broadcast on Fox News).

Of all people, Beth Moore called out Metexas for his idolatry. She was roundly attacked, including people ‘cursing her womb’ (she helpfully pointed out she previously had a hysterectomy, so people could save themselves some time). The lead person attacking her appears to be a self proclaimed atheist who thinks she is married to Dr. (according to some conservatives right now, he can’t say this) Russell Moore (president of the ERLC, the SBC lobbying/political arm) and Southern Seminary grad, whom he says is corrupt and liberal. This is who evangelicals are following right now. Again, think about this.

Metexas and others also held a bizarre rally blowing red, white, and blue shofars, calling themselves a Jericho March. As I was working on this Michael Horton wrote a piece in TGC which says better than I would, read it here, but these are a few highlights:

On Saturday, December 12, a bizarre rally was held on the Washington Mall. Shofars were blown. A flyover from Marine One was cheered by shouts of praise to the Messiah (evidently distinguished from Jesus). My Pillow founder Mike Lindell shared prophetic visions of Donald Trump.

Beth Moore sounded the alarm, and David French offered wise analysis. Rod Dreher, who just published a book decrying left-wing totalitarianism, wrote that he “began to think that all of this is the right-wing Christian version of Critical Race Theory, and various doctrines held by the woke Left.” Dreher was struck by how enthusiastically evangelicals seemed to participate in the inter-religious festivities. An American-born Israeli man received permission from his Orthodox rabbi to break Shabbat to blow his shofar and another, red-white-and-blue-decorated “Trump Shofar.” Roman Catholic representatives invoked the Virgin Mary and the saints.

He points out Moore, that link has a good summary of the issue, and French (who I believe is not Evangelical, but a conservative Christian who writes on conservative politics for a living) and Rod Dreher; both pieces are worth reading. Dreher is interesting, I think (and hopefully, I’m correct) that he is overblowing a concern of the coming Totalitarian from the left. Oddly, I first heard him promote his new book on the subject, Live Not By Lies, on Albert Mohler’s podcast (you can read my thoughts on Mohler’s turn here). At the time (as of yet, I don’t know if he has changed his opinion) Mohler was denying Biden won the election and supported Trump sending in troops to ‘swing’ states to overturn the election. The irony was apparently lost on him, which isn’t surprising considering his recent article on the cult of celebrity (which made good points, but was written by a man who supported a reality TV star for president).

Read Horton’s article, I think that is all I want to say on that. I do pray for those who worship Trump, that they will repent and turn back to the church. Their insularity is becoming worse and many are project. A popular talking point now is that if you attack a politician, you must be worshiping politics.

As I said above, we have no ‘God given right to vote’, but we do have a God given mandate to pray for our leaders, even if we don’t like them. So, I intend to pray for President Biden. Just as I prayed for Trump, that he would buffet the far end of his party (something God has chosen not to grant us), I will pray Biden hold the center and not give in to promoting some of the radical nonsense of the far end of the Democratic party and some of their supporters. I am interested to see how he will handle the pandemic and what he deems ‘essential’. It is somewhat moot, related to churches, as the Supreme Court has stated we cannot be closed down. I hope that he will take a more reasonable approach than other ‘blue’ state governors, those who nonsensically deemed bars, strips clubs, and casinos essential, but closed churches and elementary schools despite the latter two’s importance (I’m obviously biased for church) and ability to open safely (far more safely than the former three).

I suppose that is it for now. As always this was longer than I anticipated. I’ll try to do better next time. Though, to give you some insight on the future of this blog, there may be no next time. Almost certainly this is my last ‘political’ or current event post. I intend to post one more book review and then a reading challenge or year in review type post. Then it may be the end of MMT. I’ve spent over six years meandering through topics, listlessly posting with various frequency, I believe it may be coming to an end. I am working on another project that will likely launch early next year. With that, I don’t know what this may become. Perhaps just book reviews and long form thoughts on theological or Biblical studies, or perhaps shuttered entirely. Stay tuned for more, as I (as always) don’t even know what I’m doing yet. As always, thanks for playing along.

Covid Thoughts: Misc. 1

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist), the inexplicably controversial idea of wearing a mask, and the experience of grocery shopping.

I had planned to do a ‘Misc’ when all of this was over, or winding down, which I had hoped would be mid summer, but things are only getting worse and it seems all the work we did in spring has been wasted with our hasty ‘re-opening’, making all the early economic damage for naught. So, I figured I’d go ahead and list a few short thoughts as they come.

  • We finally know someone personally who has Covid. Some time early last week a friend of mine from church, and member of the community group I lead, woke up with the common symptoms and went to get tested. He has not yet heard his results. A few days later, his wife became sick. Interestingly, her results are already back, and she tested positive. He tells me it was much worse than any flu and that his was considered moderate, especially for his age group (late 50’s).
  • I went to church on Father’s Day. It was odd, but good. The worship leader was hit with come emotion to actually hear responses during the call to worship. I counted about 40 people in the room (it holds about 450 and we limited it to 75 people, all the chairs in ‘pods’ and everyone was required to wear masks). There was no childcare, so it was mainly people with older kids (teen+). Only one of the elders (because they are old). So, maybe only one person my age, and he was alone, as was the elder in attendance, and we were the only three to come alone. I had expected to see more fathers there.
  • We’ve been gone the previous two Sunday’s visiting Mrs. MMT’s family, but I go back again this Sunday to run sound (if not, she would have gone). With cases spiking, I wonder what attendance will look like.
  • The trip was nice, everyone quarantined so that we could have a bubble with her parents and sister’s family. It was surreal, and you could almost forget everything was happening. In fact, I did. I had to make a quick run to the gas station the day before we left, and just causally walked in with no masks. Then I saw the check out area had plastic covers and the attendant was wearing a masks. Unfortunately, it made me look like one of those people, the ones that don’t wear masks because of their ‘freedom’. It was also hard to leave, there was a layer of sadness thinking about going back home, having to wear masks. I even hugged everyone, twice in some instances (typically, a head nod from across the room is sufficient physical interaction for me).
  • Schools. It is the only thing we are thinking/talking about some days. The risks are extremely low for Sprout to be infected, and still quite low for her to spread it. We are also low risks, but then we could spread to others as well. It is hard to balance with the educational/emotional/psychological impacts of her not attending in person. Or the near impossibility of doing school with her while we work (which neither of us is doing form home anymore). It is also a lonely feeling. Inexplicably, my division (eight people) her office (six) has no one with kids at home, just a few empty-nesters and mostly people who have no children. On top of that, we live in a rich area, so most of the women in our church don’t work (or at least not full-time). So, we are struggling to have anyone to talk to about two working parents during this time.
  • I wrote about rhythm early on, but a new one has been forced on us. I work in a public facility and my office is one of the most outward facing, so most of my people in the office three days a week, I’m in four, by only seven to noon, then switch to get the kids. Mrs. MMT’s boss decided that even though there was no policy requiring being in the office every day before the pandemic, now there need to be. It is wild to see just poor leadership, but not unexpected I guess. You learn a lot about who people truly are during a crisis. I’d lay it out, like I did previously, but our scheduled seem to change every week or two, and school is only three weeks away on top of the other uncertainty. Also, it seems unavoidable at this point that we will shut down again, probably in six(ish) weeks, would be my guess.

That’s it for now. I have a few more longer posts still to come, and probably another misc or two. Everyone stay safe out there and wear a mask.

 

BLM, Protests, and Removing Confederate Memorials

I’ve gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something about all that is going on. However, I didn’t feel like I had much new to add to anything, and then there was the somewhat confusing message of people were maybe not supposed to write things last week. I am supportive of Black Lives Matter and the protesters (Mrs. MMT and I have been trying to figure out a way to go to one while juggling the kids), and removing Confederate names/flags/statues.

I wrote about Black Lives Matter and the police almost four years ago, so check that out if you want further thoughts from me. I also wrote about removing the Confederate Flag (with little more detail here, but that goes pretty tangential) and I would extend those thoughts to statues and base names (I didn’t even know Benning and Bragg were Confederate Generals).

I’m not sure I have much more to add, then what I’ve already written. This, again, was one reason I was hesitant to put anything up. But then a good friend of mine wrote something on his blog (it is good, go read it), so I felt I should at least do something. I think the writers at the Gospel Coalition are feeling the same way, so they wrote a short post that refers back to an older, longer one, about Confederate monuments and whether Christians should support them.

This may be naive, but this time does feel a little different. Maybe we are making some more progress and taking a few more strides. Hopefully, I won’t have to write another post in another four or five years, but I doubt it. There are still people who are in denial that there even is a problem. Think of all the officers (like Officer Karen) that keep talking about how they are being singled out, or categorized all as one group. The tone deafness of these complains is mystifying, this is basically what black people have been saying for decades. I think people noting this irony is actually helping to change some minds. Public support seems to be growing that there are more problems than we’d like to admit and we need to remove memorials. That is encouraging, but on the other hand there is often a rush to support gun laws after a dozen or so children die, but then we don’t do anything. We have to keep praying and doing what we can to move towards more equality.

Covid Thoughts: Grocery Store

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist), and the inexplicably controversial idea of wearing a mask. Today’s entry is pretty short and to the point, the experience of grocery shopping.

20200529_084703This is me about to head to the grocery store today. Obviously, still wearing a mask, but have dropped wearing gloves as they have been shown to be unhelpful and the risk of surface contamination is must less than originally feared (this is how science work, hypothesis based on existing conditions and prior knowledge, then tested against updated data). You can also see that I have, unfortunately, not been able to get a hair cut yet.

The first drip during the pandemic was odd. We usually go to the store at the end of the week, so this was a full week of people being at home. I didn’t wear a mask, but had gloves, and when I cam back home, I took my shoes off in the garage and went straight upstairs to put my jeans and shirt in the laundry. I took a travel pack of Clorox and we also whipped everything down before putting it away.

As most of you know by know, there were massive shortages of many things, and then went a few returned, limits were placed on most. Some of the shortages or other issues we ran into:

Toilet Paper – This is the most famous of the shortage, and one that was pretty much stabilized. We were told to stay inside for two weeks, so people started buying 10 and 20 packs of paper. It took a few weeks for people to realize that they had bought nearly years worth of paper. Luckily, third party sellers (Amazon) stopped allowing people to sell them (as well as banning hand sanitizer) and most grocery stores stopped returns. As of today, which is the end of Week 10 as I’ve counted it, Aldi has had single ply packs for about three weeks, and I haven’t seen any in Publix. With one exception, and I don’t know the exact time. It was maybe Week 5 or 6, and I was there fairly early for some reason, and they were unloading all the toilet paper, I asked the guy for the biggest pack they had. He told me the limit was two, and asked if I wanted another. I told him, I didn’t want to be one of ‘those people’, but he said they fact that I cared meant I wasn’t, but that I should take another anyway, because so they would soon all be gone again. We haven’t even finished the first pack, so I feel good about that.

Baby Wipes – This might not have affected too many people, but the same jackassess who took all the toilet paper, also took a all the baby wipes. Normally, I suppose I wouldn’t care, but I happen to be quarantined with two infants, so this really started to piss me off. Luckily, as a gift, my mom bought me a giant pack (over 1,000) of wipes, and around the same time I found the toilet paper, I also found a three pack of wipes (as in three containers of 100 bound together) and grabbed two of those.

Paper Towels – This was another thing that was hoarded, and I’m not entirely sure why, unless they were back up toilet paper. All the stores were instantly out, and it wasn’t until around the time I found toilet paper did they have them again. I don’t know what normal people do, but Mrs. MMT uses paper towels like a villain from Captain Planet, so this was a huge issue for us (except it really wasn’t, we just used cloth napkins to eat and old washcloths to clean).

Hand Sanitizer/Soap/Clorox Wipes (and bleach for injecting) – This wasn’t really a big deal for us. Of course, all the stores were cleaned out instantly. People were hoarding hand sanitizer and then trying to sell it on mark up (this jackass is my favorite story). I wasn’t too worried about this, for two reasons, I read a story early on about the ridiculousness of sanitizer being empty while soap sat on the shelf (it was soon gone, but I grabbed a pack first) and we happened to have a few of the foam ones from the hospital. Also, we somewhat randomly (long story) had a few triple packs of full containers of wipes and maybe 10 travel packs.

Meat – This has been the wildest one. The first week, there was pretty much everything. It was right before St. Patrick’s, so I grabbed two corned beefs (they last a long time, I have one in there now that is use by the end of June). The next week I went, there was nothing. No meat at all, Aldi had a curtain over the section. The next week had some ground beef and dark meat chicken, so we smoked a bunch of wings. Publix was the same; this was the pattern for about a month. Close to Easter, there were a few hams, so we grabbed some of them, and pork was back, so I smoked shoulder. Still no white meat until maybe Week 8. Everything seems back to normal now, but warning of shortages(ish) are coming. The first problem was people hoarding, not it is not being able to process all the meat due to the amount of people out sick. I’ve read a few things that said we have plenty of meat, it just may not be the cuts (or not cut at all, like whole chickens) that Americans are used it. Of course, prices could always go up; which then makes all the right-wing ‘free-marketers’ want government investigations into ‘gouging’.

Bread – Most of the bread we eat comes from the Publix bakery, which seems to have no issues, at least in our area. Early on, all the sugar bread in the middle isles was gone, as were hamburger/hotdog buns. Maybe Week 3, Aldi had no bread at all, but I think that was a logistical/shipping issue. Bread hasn’t been an issue.

Frozen Fruit/Veggies – When this thing started the Nuggets were eating baby food, which for us means veggies blended up. So, I did hoard a little when it came to frozen veggies (especially whatever the ‘California mix’ was, which was cheap and they liked it) and grabbed a couple of bags of frozen fruit. Aldi always had some, but Publix until week 4 or so, was almost completely out of veggies. Have you ever been to a liberal city in a red state? People there are always quick to smugly point out that they are ‘blueberry in a tomato soup’ or something along those lines. That is kind of how it is where I live, but with it being South/Not South. The northside of this metro is basically Ohio or New Jersey. So, all frozen veggies were out except: butter beans, black eyed peas, okra, cut okra, collards. At least we were set.

Formula – When this started, we were going through about three containers of formula a week, so I’d usually grab four to have a little lead time. Sometimes Aldi only had three, so other weeks I’d get five or six. However, a few weeks in, they put a limit of two. I put four in the buggy anyway. I figured I could explain that I had two babies (show pictures if needed) and they’d understand. They did understand, and were sympathetic, but the limit is actually in the system; they literally could run the extra. It wasn’t too big a deal, I’d just hop back in line and buy the other two. Luckily, we are off formula now.

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Eggs/Milk – Of formula and straight into three to four gallons a milk a week. Luckily, by this transition, there was no more limit (though Aldi, due to how good the price it, usually has a four or six limit, I don’t remember which). There was never a shortage of milk. There was a fun on eggs maybe a week or so after the run on meat. We go through two or thee dozen a week, but never had issues, except the price has almost doubled. Still cheap and easy, though.

Beans/Pasta – This one was another that had a big run, then limits, though some of the limits have now been relaxed or removed. We are usually pretty well stocked with these, especially dry beans. Legumes are a staple for us and we eat them more days than we eat meat, and always use them to supplement meat. Similarly, we make a lot of soups with beans. They are also perfect for the Nuggets. All of our kids started on butter beans and it is one of their favorites (and mine) now. Luckily, they never went out of stock, and my parents grow them, so no issues there. Dry pasta seems to be back, but fresh or specialty is still short. It is more perishable, so I wonder if this is a logistical or change in production focus situation.

Medicine – When this first hit, people really started grabbing all the Advil and Tylenol because that is what doctors where telling people to take to treat themselves at home. This wasn’t too big a deal for us, though the first few times I went to the store, everything was out, brand name and generic. The only problem we had was that all of the children’s medication was out as well. There was no Motrin and only one generic Tylenol the first time I went out. This was problematic because both of the Nuggets had ear infections.

That is about it for the weird waves of things being in and out of stock. The Nuggets transitioned to eating solid foods and out of formula since this has started. Sprout went from eating two meal a day at school to all at home and likewise Mrs. MMT went from having business lunches almost every day, to eating them all at home. People often look at me like I am hoard, due to what feeding a family of five three meals a day, seven days a week looks like.

I’ll have only one pack of chicken, but four gallons of milk, three to four dozen eggs, three to four bunches of bananas (breakfast for the Nuggets, good for PB&J for Sprout), three to four bags of grapes (just because Mrs. MMT is crazy), and usually a 10 pound bag of potatoes, among other various things.

I admit I was nervous at first, and did try to load up our freezer. Then for the first maybe four or five weeks, I’d buy thinking in terms of having food for two weeks, but go every week, that way we had some lag time, just in case. I also doubled our supply of dry and canned beans. Things seem generally normal now, and I’m not too worried. I think the food supply has stabilized, and the hoarding/rush buying has stopped. I’m sure there will be blips and other issues over the next few weeks/months. I stopped taking a list around Week 3, because meals would just be whatever they had, but things are normalized enough now, that I’ll probably take one next week.

Somewhat related, the liquor store was always full; despite all the jokes wondering why there was a run on toilet paper but now booze when we were now all stuck with our wife and kids all day long. The clerks would make jokes about needing to see ID, despite the fact that I was wearing a mask. In my ID, I’m clean shaven with also buzzed hair. My hair now is easily over 6 inches long and I have a beard, which I didn’t trim for the first 6 weeks, so I pulled down my mask once and they guy agreed he wouldn’t recognize me either way. One of the Publix people appreciated me being willingly to pull down the mask, he obviously had been fighting too many people about it. Twice at Aldi, I was told they ‘knew’ I was old enough (mid-30’s, so that’s fair), but I asked why. One told me because I laid the wine bottle down on the conveyor belt (instead of up, which falls) and the other because I made a dad joke. I thought that was pretty funny.

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This was before I received any proper masks (I use this for fishing), still used gloves and a grocery list, and, of course, before my hair was too crazy. It was really been an odd time.

Covid Thoughts: Masks

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, and about spending time with my daughter (there is also a follow up if you want to hear her playlist). Today, I have a few quick thoughts about wearing masks. This wasn’t originally going to be its own post, but just a bullet point in the miscellaneous posts I’ve had ongoing to be published at the (hopefully near) end. I’m writing this May 22, which is the end of Week 9 of quarantine (as I count it). A few weeks ago, the idea of wearing a mask was fairly common place, but now, almost certainly fomented by Russian bots, it is a divisive issue. As unfortunately often happens, Fox News conspiracies spill over into ‘opinion’ within the church, so that, now, masks have become an point of contention in churches returning to in person service. I’ll come back to that, but first my original masks thoughts, why there is(was) legitimate confusion, why I decided to write more (a terrible article I read), and how I think churches should respond.

Masks are terrible. They are incredible annoying to wear, I have way more respect for the healthcare works and others who have to wear them all day. Around Week 2 of everything the CDC was still saying we didn’t need to wear masks. Their reasoning was based on flu research, and the fact that most people wear them incorrectly, and the concern that wearing a masks would cause you to touch your face more. I was actually discussing this with a neighbor the day before they changed their recommendation (she was thinking of wearing one to the grocery store). The few trips I had made to the store, I just wore gloves, as did most people (though a few wore masks), and we cleaned and wiped down everything we brought into the house.

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However, the next week I followed the revised guidelines to go to the store. Interestingly, they have since stated not to wear gloves (not because they are ineffective, but due to the false sense of security and people are now not washing/cleaning their hands; and touching their face/adjusting their masks with the gloved hands). I was slightly early in adopting wearing one (not yet half the people at the store had them). I didn’t actually have a true masks. I had originally planned to wear the particle masks you might wear when painting or when cutting the grass (I don’t have allergies, but when we are in a drought it gets quite dusty), however we didn’t have any more in the garage and I was certain the hardware store would be out, so I wore the next best thing I had, a fishing buff. It is light and fairly comfortable, making it easy to wear. Here is a picture of me heading to get groceries new the end of Week 3 (I’m hold sanitation wipes and a grocery list).

A week or so later, masks became seemingly ubiquitous, almost everyone at the store had on (which made most people stop wearing gloves). Articles about how to wear them popped up on most news site; informing me that the buff wasn’t a good idea. Homemade masks proliferated, and my work even provided most of us with our own masks. Unfortunately, they were all mediums, which fit perfectly, in some sense, and looked kind of cool (gave me a Sub Zero/Mortal Kombat look), except it was so fitted, that I couldn’t talk. That is more or less fine for running to the store, but was problematic for work. Luckily, Mrs. MMT’s mom randomly decided to send us a few masks she made her self.

meeting

This is a picture of me wearing a masks at a public meeting (held virtually, but there were other people in our conference room). It was a formal meeting, so I’m wearing a jacket, but also the masks. It was incredibly annoying. The meeting last almost four hours, with no break, in which I had to interact, talk, and read out loud, all while wearing this thing. On top of that, I need glasses for distance (such as looking at a screen across the room) and talking fogged them, making them almost useless to wear. This was taken Week 7, in which it was normal to wear these. People had homemade one with fun colors, or that matched their clothes, or (of course) your football team.

That all changed some time last week. It started with an article I saw someone post. This was from a respected Christian site, from a good writer, but it really bothered me and I was frustrated by where this was posted. It started off well enough, as brothers/sisters in Christ, we are going to have some differences in going back to in person church. Is it too soon or too late, or about right? How man people to let in at a time? These are serious issues, not just for church but for life in general. It is a true problem of economics versus public health. For instance, my state was the first and most reckless to open. I thought it was a bad idea, and may well still be, but it has been three weeks now and our hospitalizations/deaths (which have at three to four week lag) have been flat.

But then the article goes on to make an idiotic use of false equivalency, whether or not to wear a mask at church. Unlike the balance of health/economy, there is no balance here. The CDC recommends you should (though the WHO doesn’t recommend universal wearing) and has advice on how to wear and even make them, experts think it is important to do what we can, some even think that if 60% of people did we could end this thing. There is obviously a lot of confusion, especially as recommendations change and new data/studies come out. Even what I linked is about a month old, even more recent studies have shown the importance of wearing a mask, though it might no do a whole lot for you, it is about protecting others. Yet, even that leads to the idea that I protect you, you protect me. In the end, it does do more for you, just not directly. So, sure in some sense, the efficacy could be debated, or how it protects is misunderstood.

That isn’t what wasn’t the reason stated though, there was a quick thought of ‘living in fear.’ As in some people would think those wearing masks are afraid (despite the fact that you would be loving that person by protecting them from you, while they disrespected you and your family by being careless). Then, Mrs. MMT was talking to an old friend, and while this friend is often a walking Fox News talking point, her husband works at a hospital and a close relative has gone in and out of remission with cancer for over a decade. Her friend dropped the ‘living in fear’ line on her. Despite her husband wear masks and protective clothing all day, coming home, undressing in the garage, putting the clothes straight to the wash, and showering. Or the fact that her relative, and occasionally those around her, wear masks after chemo treatments due to her being immune-compromised.

I hopped on the cesspool that is twitter (which I typically just use for book reviews and sports) and found this talking point everywhere, including protesters comparing masks to slavery, rape, and of course Nazi’s. Apparently it is tyranny to not potentially cause people to die. This is really a fascinating and disturbing trend. I don’t crush a six pack then drive 100 miles an hour without a seatbelt because I ‘live in fear’. I didn’t vaccinate my children (even the anti-vaxx people don’t use ‘fear’ nonsense, they just don’t understand/reject science) because I ‘live in fear’. People don’t go through chemo or take medicine or wash their hands because they ‘live in fear’. These are all just practical, common sense ways of living life and protecting yourself and others. Also known as loving your neighbor. Jesus says, go the extra mile if someone ask you to go on and to give someone your coat also if they ask for a shirt. Are we seriously now saying, as Christians, that we won’t wear a piece of cloth on our face for an hour to protect our brothers and sisters and their families?

I wish that were more rhetorical, but the answer is clearly ‘no’. An issue in America is that both liberal and conservative ideologies continually end up with the ‘self’ (the individual) as the most important thing. As Christians we don’t believe this. We should be serving others, thinking of ourselves last. But right now, on my end in the conservative Christian world, we are saying ‘no’, ‘no, my individual rights and freedom and comfort are far more important than your well-being or the care of others’. As always, I’m too long winded and this is longer than I thought, so I’ll wrap up now. I was happy to hear from a few Catholics that I work with that their churches will be requiring masks when they open (could be a diocese thing) and that even my parents’s conservative SBC is asking for masks. I’m still not sure what my church will do, but I know if these are not part of the guidelines, I will not attend.

 

 

 

 

Covid Thoughts: Time with Sprout

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, what Sundays and at home worship looked like, today I want to note a few things about spending time with my daughter.

Sometimes I catch her dreamin’ and wonder where that little mind meanders. – Little Miss Magic

I remember hearing on a podcast, though I’m not entirely sure which one, but I think it was one of the Financial Independence ones, that roughly half of the hours you will ever spend with your child will happen by age eight (give or take a few years, I don’t remember the exact age). Which sounds wild at first, but it kind of makes sense. Teenagers don’t want to spend time with their parents, then they leave the house, and you have good, quality time after that, but really only a few hours every few months, or less. Of course, infants are just always there, but it isn’t really the best time. Anyway, I tried to find the article or whatever it was they were referencing, but to no avail. Then I found a few articles about naming children and really went down a rabbit hole when I should have been writing this post.

I ramble to bring up this point: I’ve been thinking about that ‘fact/stat’ often, recently. It dawned on me a few weeks ago (maybe Week 3 of Covid Quarantine), that this is probably the most time I will ever spend with Sprout, certainly it is the most time I’ve spent with her so far in her short, little life. As I mentioned in my ‘finding rhythm‘ post, she and I spend about an hour and a half every morning together, just the two of us. We usually walk, somewhere between three and five miles, all over our neighborhood and the trails in the wetlands and parks that it connects to. The trails take us by a creek to a little river, and many of the sidewalks on the larger streets boarder HOA property that has trees we climb.

She has learned how to identify deer (I had her draw some, and it was surprisingly accurate), raccoon, rabbit, and dog tracks; we followed some frog eggs through a few stages of development until the puddle dried up and they all died (that was a little disappointing, I think seeing frogs come out would have blown her mind); she can name about four or five birds (we’ve even been tracking a mama bird, named Gwenivere, build a nest and hopefully we’ll see eggs soon; she is either a mourning dove or a northern mocking bird, I’m leaning towards to latter due to the thrasher tail) and maybe 10 types of shrubs and trees. We’ve also ‘learned’ to use binoculars and maps. The seasons have changed from winter to spring to summer during this as well, so we’ve gone through bare trees on the trails, to everything blooming, to all the leaves being full and green. I think that has been a fun thing for her to track and see.

We’ve seen a surprising number of deer, I think our highest in one day was 11, and for some reason she seems to want to keep a running tally to tell my dad. We’ve seen a few snakes and fish. The other day, she decided to search for snails. She told me she was betting at finding them because she was paying attention. I told her it was because she was closer to the ground. Which, while hilarious, she didn’t understand. I’ve also tried teaching her the different types of animals, such as birds versus mammal (eggs vs. milk, because half my life revolves around trying to find groceries). You forget what things kids don’t know, like when I told her humans were mammals, she asked me what humans were. We’ve also baked a few different kinds of bread and started a garden.

I feel compelled to teach her things, but as a book I recently reviewed points out, play is far more important at this age. I also feel the pressure to make this a fun time, because she is not in school and doesn’t really have anyone else to play with and, as I mentioned above, this will be the most time I ever spend with her. Other times I wonder if she will even remember this time. There are days that I am excited because I don’t know what to do, and other times when I just really don’t want to have the same walk, to see the same things, to play the same games for the fourth day in a row.

Sprout is pretty wild. She is loud and friendly and full of personality. She has been called the ‘mascot’ of our church and I think she knows more people there than I (certainly more know her). Even in school, the other classrooms knew who she was. Most of this is her personality, she (as is apparently common in little girls) talks incessantly. Well, there are some times she isn’t talking, but if she isn’t, it is because she is singing (we were recently down at my parents and during lunch she was eating her sandwich while humming the whole time, my parent were laughing, but I didn’t even think to notice anymore). It is also physical, she is fairly tall for her age, but she also has giant, wavy, blonde hair. It has been mid back since she was about 2.5/3ish, so when you see her from behind, she is 25-33% hair. The combination of this leads to a funny visual as we walk down the sidewalk and so many of the other neighbors out walk, especially, women just look and laugh (even more so if they hear the stories she tells).

So, I don’t really have anything profound or interesting to say about either children or parenthood (both great, though), but in true journal format, I will just list a number of incidents or things she has said that I want recorded for my own enjoyment, and maybe you will like them as well.

First, her little ticks and ways of talking (maybe these are common, but I don’t care):

  • When it rains a good deal, the creek and river run pretty high, which she has concerns will ‘oversplode’.
  • When we wander off into the woods, the says we are going to go ‘splore’ and puts her hand to her head, as if shielding her eyes from the sun, and pans her face, as if spanning the horizon.
  • She merges the words hopefully and actually, and uses them as emphasis or transition words (the way people incorrectly use ‘literally’) and says, ‘hopecually’.
  • Excurses – I will fix these pronunciations, but I do enjoy them now. When she was maybe 3/4 she couldn’t say yellow, it was something like ‘le-to’, but it was cute and we let it go, maybe longer than we should, but corrected it when other kids were confused. 
  • We have been working on her excitability and that things all kids do where their little brains get rolling and their mouths can’t keep up. She’ll get wound up, put her hands up and say, ‘Hold on, let me collect my thoughts’ take a deep breath and then, ‘what I would like to say to you is…’
  • Similarly, a few times when she has started to get an idea, she’ll say, ‘I think I have a thought’
  • Like most children (I assume), she doesn’t quite understand how contractions work. So, she doesn’t know that ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ are similar. It ends up something like this, I will say I don’t want to do something, and she will say, ‘why do you don’t want to do it?’
  • The ‘happy and you know it’ song. For one, she says, ‘if you very want to show it’, but what’s more, she seems to have made up her own verse. At least I’ve never heard it before. I whistle too much, and we do this song as we walk often, so she came up with, ‘if you’re happy and you know it, give a whistle’, then waits for me to make noise, because can’t whistle.

Next, funny stories or other things she has told me:

Most people with small children know they take a very long, long time to tell any story. I like to joke that she can tell me the plot of a 12 minute PJ Masks show in an hour. One of my favorite ones she has told me was about a ‘dream’ she had (she conflates dreams with thoughts/wishes/fantasies/something like daydreaming). It involved a motorcycle that she designed in which she road around with her eponymous doll.

Her motorcycle was pink in the front, blue in the back and had her and her ‘doll’s name’ on either side. Also, the motorcycle had a seat for the doll. It also had doors, and four wheels, and a seat behind them. I explained that she just invented a car, she told me it didn’t have roof; I told her about convertibles. The motorcycle also had a radio that played her favorite songs, which were – Frozen Songs (she also told me there should be an Elsa doll that sings all the songs from both movies; if this doesn’t exist, it is a pretty good idea), ‘Mommy songs’, ‘Fire’ songs, Piano songs, and finally ‘pizza songs’ (these are Irish pub songs, long story). Maybe I’ll make a play list with all these. She started her description of this ‘motorcycle’ right as we left, and had not finished it’s description or features by the time we arrived back home over an hour and half later.

One of our neighbors cut down a nice tree in his front yard, a day later not only did another crew come out to cut another neighbor’s tree, but, as we walked, we saw the same crew cut maybe five other houses’s front yard tree down. She told me they were the bad guys from the The Lorax (book), she couldn’t remember the ‘onceler’. Except they were worse, because the didn’t even make Thneeds.

It has been raining a lot and we walk through the flood plain, so she has been learning about stormwater management and that some of the water becomes what we drink. So, she told us that when she grows up she wants to be a wastewater treatment engineer, make jelly, and be a mom.

I caught her dramatically counting with her hand (think the way refs do during boxing) as we were walking. I figured out later she was practicing holding her breath and was counting.

On one walk she was point a fake baby toy remote at trees, then waving her hand up and pointing somewhere else with the remote. She was pretending to relocate the trees to places she thought would be better.

She also had another similar ‘dream’ about her and her best friend from school, that took a good 30 minutes to tell me. The both had little powerwheels type ‘trucks’ that are the John Deere front load tractors that Lowes sells.  I’m certain she did not actually dream this, but I have no idea how she remembered those things, she saw them probably six or nine months ago.

Which kind of leads to some of the sadder parts. She often talks about her friends. Yesterday she listed off all the people from school she missed and how she wanted to go to their house to play or have them here for a sleepover. She tells me that the sickness makes her sad and that she wants to go back to school. At least a few times a week she asks me when the sickness is going to be gone. I really have no answers for her, I just tell her, ‘hopefully soon, but it’ll probably be a while.’ Schools have been canceled for the rest of the academic year. She is supposed to start Kindergarten in August. I am hopeful she will, but skeptical of what it may look like. Unlikely to be the fun milestone it usually is. So, that is about it. It certainly is an unprecedented time. When I’m stressed, I do try to look on the bright side and think about all the time I have to spend with her right now, all our exploring and experiences, all the conversations, all these moments I have with her, that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ll end with some of her chalk artwork.

 

                 

Covid Thoughts: Sundays and At Home Worship

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

I shared recently what it was like trying to find rhythm, which was excluded what Sundays and at home worship looked like, so I’ll do that today.

Before the quarantine, we typically left for church around 9:15 and returned home around noon, ate lunch, then had community group at 1:00, which usually lasted to 3-3:30 depending on how things went. We do a rotation of group, then just the girls, then group, then guys, with the fifth Sunday either being off or a party.

We were one Sunday into Meaning of Marriage, so when our church made the decision to go online for service on March 15, it worked out well, because it was going to be the girls meeting. So, we switched to a video call for the girls, figuring we’d do guys the next week, and then maybe we’d be meeting again in person. That obviously hasn’t happened, as I write this on April 25, tomorrow will be the seventh straight week of not meeting in person. Our new rhythm is rotating girl/guys video call, as I didn’t think we’d be able to really have a discussion as a group over video. This also means the ‘meetings’ have been shorter, usually only about an hour.

So now our days look something like this: sleep as late as the Nuggets will allow us (usually 6:30-7:00), have breakfast and hang out as a family: 9ish Nuggets go down for a nap (though tomorrow we’ll try to push them a little so they will sleep through service), Mrs. MMT and Sprout clean the house while I read or do some other chore; Service is at 10:00 more on that below; 11:00 Nuggets are usually up and service is over, go for a Bottle Walk (in which we’ve run into our pastor a few times, because he wishes he could live in this neighborhood) and then eat lunch before the call at 1:00; Glorious Quiet Time from 2:00 to 3:30, then another Bottle Walk, then just hang out before dinner, family devotional and bedtime.

We have much more time with our immediate family, but no time with our community group or church family (except those that live in this neighborhood).

At home worship has been…interesting. The first Sunday (March 15) did not go as planned. Our church decided to do a Zoom Webinar where the lead pastor would make announcements from his home, our adjunct preacher would give a short message from his home, the Chair of the Elder Board would give the (previously scheduled) update from his home, and then Mrs. MMT was tapped to sing a few songs and play the piano. As we had announcements and the service was only going to be an hour, she was going to sing two songs between announcements and the sermon, and then one at the end while people took communion at home.

We spent almost two hours the day before doing a run through, testing lighting and testing a microphone to see what would pick up the best, and how people could hear both her and the piano well. Then Sunday came. She starts the first song, and about a minute into it, Zoom drops us. We wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t had my phone also running as a participant. Our pastor comes back on to say we’ve been dropped and gets ready to move us to the sermon, but then we are back on. Obviously, just some glitch, so she starts the song again. Then, about a minute into it, Zoom drops us again. Both of our phones are blowing up with texts. Hers was from her friends with words of encouragement such as ‘so sorry, I know how hard you prepped’ or ‘sounded beautiful while it lasted.’ I just had texts from jackasses with things like ‘get it together’ or people who apparently thought we didn’t have internet. Guys versus girls, right?

Anyway, we were on the phone with our lead pastor while the sermon was going on and decided that we’d try again, but with no video, in case it was bandwidth. So, she was still able to sing during communion, and it worked out pretty well. A few people took video and sent it to us. The next week, they decided to stream from our church building, but it was all at once, and the bandwidth couldn’t hold and many people either had a lag or the video dropped. Finally, the follow week (March 29), they split it into to streams at different times and there were no issues.

We’ve not had Sprout in service yet, so our at home worship was the first time she has been with us to sing songs or listen to the sermon. She sings as much as she can, and actually knows some of the hymns. Even if she doesn’t know the song, she tries to sing along because she enjoys it and considers herself a good singer. I find it difficult to sing, one because her cuteness make me laugh, but also Mrs. MMT is a trained singer and can sing out like normal, but be able to lower her volume. I cannot do that, so it is either me singing loudly, over the two of them, or me trying to turn the volume down, but that devolves to something like quite talking (somewhat) in tune. She also likes to sing the harmony, but unfortunately, I often don’t know the melody.

Sprout can’t quite make it through the sermon, despite it being shorted to the 15-20 minute range. So, we’ve given in and allow to her play on a tablet during the sermon, before the last few songs. I actually wish the sermons would be longer, if not back to the full length, but I understand trying to keep the whole service to an hour, plus I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to try to preach to an empty room (or one with four or five people). We don’t even make it through a whole service before we have to get the Nuggets, so I’d miss it either way. We take communion before a final song and the benediction. I know the in home communion is controversial (or even not allowed in some denominations), but our church does it every Sunday, so I appreciate attempting to keep that rhythm. (It feels a little weird opening a bottle of wine before 10:00 A.M., but if the pastor says so…) That is not to say that it is the same. It isn’t, and I miss going to place to worship with other people. I’ve already about worship during separation, while lacking, it is our only option.

Our church has also posted some kids worship videos. It is really geared for just over Sprout’s age, so it doesn’t work very well for us, but I have heard great things from people who have kids that age, that know the songs and movements with most of them. We’ll try them anyway, especially on rainy days when we can’t walk after service. This usually ends up with us watching other songs, typically Wolves at the gate.

              

That is Sprout dancing to one of the songs, in the other picture, we can just barely make out her Ukelele, while she plays along with the song, and, yes, those are maracas she brought so that the Nuggets can also join in the fun.

Sadly, Easter was spent at home. We did have a successful Zoom call with Mrs. MMT’s sister and family, her parents, and grandma. We had a fairly diasterious video call with our community group, which includes 14 adults and seven kids (all under five, with four less than a year old). Then a nice video chat with my parents before watching that opera guy sing from a church in Italy and having a huge Easter lunch.

So, that is about it. Sundays feel empty, compared to how we used to spend them. Worship is falling into place, but also lacking and a reminder of our call to be together, but we continue on and remember the anticipation our coming reunion with our brothers and sisters, and our future hope of worship with all Christians together with Christ, forever.

 

Covid Thoughts: Trying to Find Rhythm

Recently I started writing down thoughts and events that are happening during the Pandemic. Then I read a story at the NY Times about Why You Should Start a Coronavirus Diary. So, I’m breaking out a little of what I had written into categories and then expanding a bit. I usually write book reviews, or try to have solid content on Theology or Biblical Studies, or even occasionally wade into how I think a Biblical Worldview should influence political thought, but I had never really thought about just writing down in Journal format (with one exception). This is somewhat ironic, as the word blog is a portmanteau of Web and Log (diary).

I’m a putting it all into one word doc and saving maybe for my future grandkids or something, to understand the day to day, from our families view, of what life is like right now. I’m posting it here, in case anyone else finds it interesting or relates. We are also interviewing Sprout in video form, maybe for her grandkids, so she can say in her own words what life is like dealing with the ‘sickness’. I was fixing our neighbors fence about an hour ago and she told me the world is no fun right now. Obviously, I won’t post a video of her here, but I’d recommend if you haven’t heard of that idea yet, to record a few quick thoughts of your kids, or even yourself, you should give it a try.

So, here we go. I figured I kick off with our attempt to settle into a routine, and what that looks like now(ish).

Most decisions about what work would be like were made around (somewhat ominously) Friday, March 13. Most schools in the area, including out district, were closed for two to three weeks, which would then lead into Spring Break (the first full week in April). The city in which I work has generally poor leadership, especially compared to our peer cities; most of which had announced their decisions to close until either April 4th or 12th. We knew that Mrs. MMT would be working from home, but I went to work each day the following week not knowing every day whether we would be closed that morning, later that day, the next, or not at all. So, we knew Week 1 (March 16) would be a daiseter for Mrs. MMT, who is the Director of Communications for her organization. She would need to lead crisis communication while trying to manager a five year old and two 10 month olds. Including, potentially, as it was still unclear, having me work late (9-10 PM) on Tuesday for a public meeting. We were the last city to postpone such meetings.

As expected, it did not go well for her, so that I ended up taking time off and not working any full days in the office the rest of the week. We did finally close City Hall (for one week) on March 20th. This meant Week 2 (March 23), we’d all be at home. Work for me was fairly light. I had a few emails and phone calls, but I think most clients and others expected we’d all just sit tight for a week or two, so I had the feeling that most people were just holding off. Mrs. MMT’s work continued at a pretty frenzied pace. Most other people I know were generally working from home as best they could, but many people saw it as just some time off, expecting this to be a very short situation.

We would sleep in, generally waking up around 6:30, which is more or less when all the kids started to wake. I would check email and follow-up with anyone as needed around 7 (my usual time to start work anyway). The Nuggets nap from 9-10:30 and 1:30(at least the first two week, now it is 2:00) to 3:30. We also have Sprout do some quiet time in her room during this second nap. During the first nap, I would take Sprout at for a walk in the trails and parks around our neighborhood (there is a floodplain with a creek that leads to a small river that provides us with roughly four miles of trails). I dawned on me about two weeks in, that the hour and a half I spent one on one with her every morning was the most time I’ll ever spend with her, more on that later.

Week 2 somewhat fell into place, with a loose structure, but Week 3 (March 3) was terrible for me. I have often have trouble sleeping, with occasional bouts of insomnia, and it hit me this week, probably due to the lack of structure in the day and the growing fear of the pandemic and how it might affect us. It became nearly impossible not to lay awake a night thinking about these things. It would manifest in one of two ways, either be unable to sleep until 1-2 A.M., or go to sleep but wake up around 3-4, and be unable to go back to sleep. I write more about that later as well.

Week 4 (April 6), we went back to setting an alarm and getting up every morning at 6. I actually got up every morning and went for a run (it was probably in the mid 60s). Unfortunately, our motivation waned the following week  (Week 5, April 13), and we went back to sleep after the alarm. It also decided to drop down to the 40s, so I had not motivation (which was always lacking anway) to run. However, during these two weeks, we kept the general times of me working at 7, 12, quiet time(ish) and 5. As work remained somewhat slow, and I was struggling mentally, I got the idea that I would use quite time to challenge myself with something (maybe more on that later, but includes a few days of studying Biblical Greek). My work load picked up this week, as my office provided me with a laptop that has the applications and software systems I need to do more of my job.

I write this on Friday the 24th of April, the end of Week 6 (April 20). I should hear in the next few hours whether my office will be open on Monday. I anticipate ‘no’, however our Governor has taken the most aggressive ‘re-open’ (whatever that means) stance, including the idiotic and dangerous plan of dine-in restaurants and movie theaters. All this despite the fact that he closed schools for the rest of the year. However, in a surprise move, the Mayor for the city for which I work, was interviewed on CNN and stated disagreement with this opening plan. I do expect to be back in the office in the next few weeks.

Our Saturdays have generally been the same as before, with the exceptions of hanging out with people or going anywhere (expect one park trail, before they closed). Sundays are completely blown up as we are isolated from church and our community group, (more on that later). Other complications and events during this time include doing Good Friday and Easter remotely, and without family; and one of the Nuggets (Hawk) getting an ear infection (his fifth in three months), and despite being prescribed an antibiotic that cost nearly $90, he had another one within five days. So, he has to go to the pediatrician, twice, during a pandemic. We would also see a specialist (ENT) with both Nuggets (where we found Cheeks had some hearing loss) and they both ended up having tubes places, more on that later. We also experienced our first Tornado Warning, and had to get everyone up and downstairs at 1:30 A.M. the morning after Easter. These things do not help with sleep.

This (as always) turned out much longer and more narrative than I expected, so here is our routine for posterity.

6-8:00 A.M. – I wake up, bike/run (or occasionally attempt bodyweight exercises), get dressed, grab coffee and start work. Mrs. MMT has coffee and occasionally a few minutes of quite to herself before checking email on her phone before kids. Sprout and Nuggets usually up around 6:30/45.

8-9:00 – Make sure everyone is fed and dressed. I attempt a few emails (and as of Week 6 some plan reviews) in the kitchen.

9-10:30 – Nuggets take their morning nap, Mrs. MMT works hard (until 10:00, which she has a Zoom staff meeting), Sprout and I head out into the woods.

10:30-11:00 – Sprout and I return and wake up the Nuggets, Mrs. MMT finishes her Zoom, occasionally has a follow up phone call or other work to do, then we head out for a walk.

11-12:00 – Generally the time frame of our walk, typically 45 minutes or more, if we can. The Nuggets have their bottles and Sprout walks/rides a scooter/bike. This is the easier, more enjoyable (also cooler) walk and we shoot for two to three miles. Return, disembark the Nuggets.

12-2:00 – Nuggets and Sprout play and we get everyone fed. I email and cover plan reviews as needed. Mrs. MMT occasionally has to get some work done. We switch off between who is in the kitchen with the kids and who is in the office doing work.

2-3:30 – The Blessed Quiet Time. The Nuggets nap and Sprout goes to her room, where recently she has actually been napping the whole time (she hasn’t napped at home in three years), we are not sure if this is physical tiredness or boredom, though they do take naps in Pre-K. This is the most productive time of work for us.

3:30-4:00 – Similar to the 10:30 timeframe, wrap up work (we usually get off at 4:00 anyway, back in real life), and prep for Bottle Walk Number 2.

4-5:00 – Shorter walk, maybe a mile or mile and a half. Hotter, more crying.

5-6:00 – Kids play, we hopefully finish up the last of the emails, I make dinner.

6-8:00 – Dinner, Nuggets go up 6:30/45 for bath and stories before bed, games (checkers, Shoots/Ladder, Sleeping Queens) with Sprout until she goes up at 7:30ish for stories before bed.

8 – Finally finish up and emails, calls, plan reviews needed that day. Try to get some reading in, and then either watch an hour show or maybe two half hour show (Mrs. MMT’s mom shared their Netflix with us at the start of quarantine). Eventually sleep before starting all over again the next day.

Saturday is essentially the same, except much less (sometimes no) work related activities. Sunday will be a post on a whole post itself.

So, that is it. Routine’s are important, even more so right now, not only for your productivity, but especially for your mental health. Maybe ours will help, or least be somewhat amusing. I’ll have more of my Covid thoughts over the next few weeks. Thanks for playing along.