Fatherless Child

Barack Obama has experienced the defining trauma of our culture: He has been abandoned by his father.

Read that linked article for an account of a truly evil man, whose son–to his credit–is responding to the emotional devastation he felt by trying hard to be a good father to his own children.

The syndrome of growing up without a father in the home has devastated the African-American community–so much for the charge that Obama is unconnected to the black experience–but it is also a growing devastation among divorce-prone whites.

The ill-effects of not having a father in the home–or of having a father in the home who is utterly unconnected to his children, which is much the same thing–have been thoroughly documented. They include the “hyper-masculinity” that sends boys to gangs in search of male role models and that lead them act out their macho fantasies in violence. Also the “hyper-femininity” of girls, leading them to sluttish dress and promiscuity in a sad effort to make themselves wanted by a man.

It does not have to end this way, as we see with Obama and many more. Other male role models can step forward to help fill the void. And God Himself in His Word gives many provisions and promises to the “fatherless,” to the point of promising Himself to fill that role: to be “the father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5).

But of all vocations, THIS is the one, arguably, in most need of restoration today.

My Blogroll is Up

Notice the Cranach blogroll below and to the right. This is a somewhat unique one, since it mostly consists of the blogs that are run by this site’s readers and commentors. If you are intrigued by someone’s comments, see if they have a blog and get more.

I also transferred MOST of the “community blogs” from the old site at WORLD. Again, some of the links were dead and some of the blogs were apparently discontinued, with no posts except from long ago. If you were on that roll and have an updated location, send it by putting up a comment on this post. Also, most of those sites have not updated their links to this new Cranach site! Let’s follow the Golden Rule here, folks, so link unto my site as I have linked unto you.

And I am aware that this roll is not complete. If you are a reader and want your blog included, post a comment with your link here and I’ll probably add you.

But also browse through these blogs. You are likely to find some you really like. Interestingly, they are not always about theology and culture, though many are. Some are about science, education, high-tech, and just life. That is to say, they are have to do with the doctrine of VOCATION.

The Vocation of a Coach

Kansas lost to Missouri on Saturday, marring their undefeated season and shot at the national title. But still, that the Kansas Jayhawks came out of nowhere–being completely unranked at the beginning of the season–to having had a legitimate shot at the national championship is a testimony to coach Mark Mangino.

The massively obese coach is a football genius, just as the massively obese Nero Wolfe is a detection genius. Mangino has specialized in raising teams from the dead. He helped turn even Kansas State into a good football team while he was on the coaching staff. Then he served as the Offensive Coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners. Back in the 1990s, the Sooners, gutted by NCAA program and recruitment penalties, were mired in mediocrity. They went through several hapless coaches before bringing on today’s Bob Stoops. He, in turn, brought in Mangino, and in 2000, the Sooners–pretty much unheralded until they crushed a powerful Texas team–won the national championship.

Now Mangino is the head coach at the University of Kansas, and he again worked his magic. (Nebraska should be taking up collections from school children to lure him there.) You have to remember that teams like Kansas do not have the benefit of all of those blue-ribbon recruits that the powerhouses do.

“He is doing what Bill Snyder did,” said [Mark] Stallard, who wrote “Tales From the Jayhawks Gridiron.” “Take three-star players and coach them into four- or five-star players that Texas A&M or Texas overlooked.”

COACH them into five-star players! Taking someone of modest ability and TEACHING him to be great! That is the sign of a first-rate coach, a vocation that, we sometimes forget, is a subset of the TEACHER.

Mark Mangino

Atheists’ Thanksgiving

Chesterton said one of the saddest things about being an atheist had to be not having anyone to thank when you feel truly grateful. So do atheists celebrate Thanksgiving? Yes, they do. This guide for non-believers encourages atheists to celebrate the day by thanking farmers and modern scientists for the abundance they make possible. What is missing (besides the doctrine of vocation, in which God gives us our daily bread and our Thanksgiving feast through people like these an others) is the even deeper gratitude for being, for just the joys of simple existence. I still feel sorry for the atheists.

House Blessing

Well, we finally bought a house and, after a year of upheaval, are settling into our new location in Virginia. Our pastor offered to do a house blessing for us, so we had that this weekend. We had some people over, and the rite had everyone traipsing through the house, with Bible readings and prayers appropriate for each room: the entryway (hospitality), the living room (positive conversations), the bedroom (rest and peace), the study (wisdom), the family room (the “whatevers” of Philippians 4), the kitchen (daily bread), even the bathroom (reminders of baptism; the cleansing of the Holy Spirit).

It was a wonderfully meaningful service. As someone who attended commented, “it reminds us how Christianity relates to ordinary life.” Exactly! That’s what the doctrine of vocation is all about.

The Myth of the Evangelical Crack-up

One of our Patrick Henry College students scored an internship at Slate, the big and influential online magazine. Recently, he actually wrote the lead, front-page story. I’ll link it to his byline: David Sessions.

First of all, how good does an openly conservative Christian have to be to get an internship with “Slate”? Second, how good of an intern does he have to be to write a lead story? Third, how good does the college have to be to prepare a young Christian to get that kind of internship and to be able to write that kind of story?

Anyway, David argues in his story that all of the mainstream media stories on how Christian conservatives have lost their political clout are wrong. David did a little research (which he learned at PHC) and found that the mainstream media has been saying this for EVERY election, and that it has ALWAYS taken Christian activists a while to get behind any particular candidate.

David also offers insights into the new generation of Christian political activists. They do NOT believe in establishing a theocracy (a notion that many “Slate” readers use to scare themselves at night). They are not even as conservative as many pundits assume (which is not necessarily a good thing).

David cites the influence of Reformed theology among many younger activists as something that minimizes the legalism and theocratic impulse, putting more emphasis on God’s grace rather than setting up a militant kingdom on earth. I would add, though, that the theocrats also grow out of a particular Reformed tradition. But there is indeed another strain of Calvinism that opposes that emphasis. (Some of its critics accuse his adherents of “crypto-Lutheranism”!)

I’m not sure I totally agree with David’s diagnosis that evangelicals are not cracking up. But what do you think?