Like Jack, we think can hold two things in our mouths at once, but actually that’s a fantasy. We can’t taste the food while thinking about what we need to do later. Our mouths may be moving and the food might be swallowed, but there’s no awareness of how the food tastes. Instead, we’re switching back and forth between the planning and the tasting, like a dog going back and forth between a bone and a toy, not content to do just one thing at a time.
Lately, I’ve begun to see my fascination with mirrors as the result of an impulse more fundamental than vanity. Mermaids traditionally carry mirrors as a symbol of their duality. As an adopted child, I, too, lived in the borderlands between two worlds. I didn’t grow up physically resembling my family and didn’t see much of a correspondence, physical or otherwise, between myself and the disturbingly homogenous population of the conservative town in which we lived. I secretly harbored suspicions that I had been dropped into northern New Jersey by sadistic aliens. Or perhaps I had been abandoned by a princess who couldn’t raise me because of an evil spell — the very sort of princess who might have a magic mirror.
That said, what I have also long maintained — and what seems increasingly evident as we move into the heart of the 2012 campaign — is that the style of opposition, its specific form, and its particular content are too often embedded in a narrative of white racial resentment, white racial anxiety, and a desire to “other” the president in ways that go well beyond the politically partisan. It is not that criticisms of Obama are quantitatively racist, per se, but rather that they are qualitatively so in too many instances; a distinction, yes, but one that does not alter the underlying reality.
Let me explain what a plane ride is to me: FREE TIME. I’ve downloaded or packed at least two books for this. I might even have a People magazine to get caught up on my news. If you look closely, you’ll see not one child in tow. I am going to sit there for two or four hours, and not one person will ask me to tie their skates or cut up a peach or count how many days till her “birfday” (149). It’s like a vacation and while, yes, sad and pathetic, this is my life and that’s the end of it. Have I ever put headphones on and acted like I was listening to music so I didn’t have to talk? Maybe.
Robertson touts his ministry to orphans but unfortunately his concern for orphans only extends to something just past “I wish you well; keep yourselves warm and well fed.” When Christians only concern themselves with the feeding and clothing of orphans we sadly “double down” on the trauma and abuse they may have suffered. Everything we know about child development tells us that orphanages are not sufficient for the proper raising of children. The Psalmist declares that “God sets the lonely into families.” We know that when children are not raised in families, more often than not, they grow up lacking the attachment skills necessary to navigate life. When someone lacks the ability to attach to family, they have an even harder time knowing how to attach to God. If Robertson hopes to inspire his viewers to the “pure religion” of caring for orphans and widows, he MUST call them to more than feeding and clothing them. That means we most certainly must take these children into our homes.
I fear these recordings may get dismissed because Jars of Clay has a fairly entrenched brand conception. People outside of the general church community may not seek this record out. And since the themes of the record are very far from evangelical Christianity, the church community will most likely not embrace this record. Which, on one hand, is a relief. I am pretty weary from years of pretending to be more of something than I am. I am tired of carrying evangelical expectations on my shoulders. I have never been so sure of my faith that I was able to find a true home in the church communities where we played most of our shows. Our particular style of writing and the perspective that we have written from has not been an easy fit into an artistic community that has such a massive agenda and only a single idea of how that agenda gets accomplished. I don’t fit there. I may have at one point. I did grow up as a youth group kid wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Jesus on it. I did drive a car with a “Christian” bumper sticker on it. And at one point, I was sure of who God was, and how God operated. But I am not that way now. And so it is impossible to write from that old version of myself. I am in the middle space.
While an individual adoptee holding their [original birth certificate] in their hands is an immense victory, States with discriminatory access policies are still exuding negative messages about being adopted. In turn, this still impacts adoptees overall. Adoptee Rights is not just about holding an OBC in your hands; it is about how that State recognized an adoptee’s right to do so. It is about each State viewing their adopted citizens as equally human as all other citizens. Why? Because a name from birth, access to original identity, and knowledge of one’s original ancestry and culture are basic human rights.
An affinity with Ayn Rand is something I came to expect from my atheist father — who, inspired by her writings (and the disco-era bestseller Looking Out for Number One), emptied our family’s bank account, abandoned his children, and drove off into the sunset to “self-actualize” in 1984. Not a terribly surprising script. What does surprise me is when I hear fellow Christians try to reconcile Rand’s utter selfishness with the teachings of Jesus.
What a challenge that is for all of us as parents, no matter how old our children are or when and where they go to school or how shy or outgoing they may be–encouraging them to find beauty in their surroundings, even if we are not there to point it out. As we get ready for the rest of the week and the four school drop-offs we face in the next four days, I’m thinking about opportunity. For Lainey, of course, it exists in the classroom, through the insecurities, and moment after moment at school when she continually recognizes ways to be happy and learn and make friends and find reassurance in her own abilities. For me and Brett, that opportunity exists at home–in seeking creative ways to talk about school, to role play scenarios of timidness and confidence, to prepare her every night and every morning to give it another shot.
The exclusive brandishing of the impoverished of Africa, India, China or South America in the media, classrooms, and, yes, the Internet, represents a prioritization that I find unhealthy and even ethically problematic in terms of the kind of lessons it teaches our children and the general public about poverty. It doesn’t just objectify the individuals we brandish to our children and casually say, “Oh, this one’s from China,” but it also robs the impoverished of our own nation of their dignity by rendering them invisible – much like the swiftly swimming shadows beneath the choppy waters of the beach in my hometown.
The PPACA is important. It’s vital. When a bug can bring down your family, when there are people who are willing to take away the shield that could prevent that, when we as a country have become so small and stingy and mean that we cheer the idea of ripping medical care away from fellow citizens, offering nothing in its place but sanctimony and self-righteousness… What are we? We’re not a country. We’re not a community. Oh, no. We’re a zero-sum game. We’re the state of nature. We’re animals, gobbling down as much as we can, as fast as we can, swatting away the weak.