Blog Archives

Father’s Day

Call me an unreconstructed softie, but this post by Chance Scoggins could cause the fall of precipitation on the faces of even the most hardened of Dads. (HT: Vicky Beeching.)

Well, OK, not everyone; one commenter on Facebook described it as

Complete mush and the usual patronising Internet twaddle that gets over emotional people interested. Thank goodness there’s plenty of love in my family without this ‘Barney The Dinosaur’ drivel.

While that guy returns to his Chuck Norris DVDs and his Mark Driscoll books, I’ll tell you why it touched a nerve with me. Yes, there is some gooey stuff in the article, like the point when Mr Scoggins’ little daughter says, “Daddy, when I was still in heaven, I wished for a Daddy like you.” But give the little lass a break. It may be inaccurate, but hear the heart of a small girl who feels utterly safe with her father.

It’s like this for me. I didn’t get married until I was 41. I had had the odd girlfriend and one broken engagement, but mostly I was the kind of man who attracted the “Let’s just be friends” response from the fairer sex. For me, it was never a case of when I got married, but if I got married. And then to marry at an older age meant lengthened odds in the parenting stakes, and shortened odds in the disabled baby stakes.

For a long time, I’d wanted to be a Dad. I have a sister and no brothers, and I felt that strange male desire to keep the family name going. I would have felt like I was a failure if it hadn’t happened. I know that’s irrational, but that’s how I felt. I wanted children, and I especially wanted a son. For different but equally strong emotional reasons, my wife wanted a daughter.

As some of you know, we had a daughter, and then a son. I never knew how much I would adore having a daughter, and I don’t think my wife knew how much my wife realised how much she would love having a son. I love having a son, too: we have a common understanding. It’s great to go to football and cricket together, or watch rugby. I love the fact that he has inherited my talent for Maths. My wife gets on a wavelength with our daughter, and I see them connecting in special ways, too.

Childbirth is precarious, and we certainly saw that with our two. Both were born by Caesarean section. In our daughter’s case, it was an emergency section. Debbie was a week and a half overdue, and was taken into hospital to be induced, but little or nothing happened. The medical staff increased the hormones being pumped in, hoping this would bring on labour, but all that happened was that our daughter’s heartbeat started going all over the place. We went to theatre quickly.

In our son’s case, we had booked an elective section for health reasons with a supportive consultant, and were relieved to have done so, because the cord was around his neck. We could have lost either of our children at birth.

So I never care on Father’s Day whether Debbie has organised big presents from the children, because nothing can beat two blue eyes looking into mine and saying, “I love you, Daddy. You’re my real Daddy, my only Daddy, not a step-Daddy and I won’t have another Daddy.”

Inside, I blub. Even though I too can’t bear Barney the Dinosaur.

Happy Father’s Day.

Stephen Holmes On The Church And Social Media

I’m not sure who I saw refer to this recent video, it might have been Vicky Beeching. This is an interesting seven-minute interview with Dr Stephen Holmes of St Andrew’s University. I’d be interested in your views.

A couple of the points for conversation that struck me were these:

1. Dr Holmes says that the church is often slightly behind the curve when it comes to adopting technology. This is my experience, too. We cannot adopt things as wholeheartedly as people like me would like to, because inevitably several of our older members do not have access, and we don’t want to treat them as second-class. However, that also means we lag further behind in contemporary means of communication. And like it or not, one of the things the Christian church is about is communication.

Furthermore, I even find among many Christians who are connected to the web that they are reluctant to embrace a lot of social media, with the sole general exception of Facebook. Sometimes it seems we are only using electronic technology as a new form of typewriter.

2. What about his point that it’s only in recent times that our culture has been so private? There is a lot of nervousness about the way privacy is broken down in social media, but Dr Holmes suggests near the end of the interview that we are merely reverting to the way society once was, and that such openness is a good thing. What do you think about that?

Here is the video:

My Unfunny Valentine

Vicky Beeching has written a great blog post, ‘Why I struggle with Valentine’s Day‘. In it, she shares some of the reasons (and not just the obvious ones) why she, as a single woman, finds 14th February discomfiting every year.

She talks about the privileging of eros love over other forms of love, and its reduction to fairy tale, fantasy and sentimentality. And to that, as one who peruses Valentine’s cards every year, I would add, its reduction to crude lust. There is much more in her post, and I commend it to you.

I submitted a comment, and I’d like to relay it here. I feel like someone who sees both sides of the coin on this one. Yes, I am married, but ‘the man to whom this miracle happened was over forty years of age’ – I was 41 when I married Debbie. Even now I have to put an annual recurring appointment into my diary to block the evening of Valentine’s Day, otherwise I accidentally schedule church meetings or pastoral visits. I can assure you, that does not impress my lovely wife.

And indeed I remember the way in which being a single adult in the church means being treated as second-class, or being viewed with suspicion, those whispers about what my sexuality might be supposedly just out of my hearing. The one time in my twenties I received a Valentine’s card it was an unfunny joke by a young woman at church.

The one time during those years that Valentine’s Day meant anything to me was while I was at my first theological college. That morning, my Aussie mate Steve led chapel worship. “Good morning,” he said, “and welcome to morning prayer on Valentine’s Day.”

“This,” he continued, “is the anniversary every year of the day Lynda and I lost our first baby.”

Of course I would never have wished that experience upon them, but for the first time I heard someone who understood that 14th February was painful for many.

If you love someone, I hope your Valentine’s Day is good and beautiful. But let’s be good news for those who will have a sick feeling in their stomachs.