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It’s May and that means we are having a baby

May 6, 2014

We are having a baby sometime this month. I’ve always known he could come early, but I’ve just envisioned him coming on or after his due date (as most first babies do). So, until recently, it has been something way out in the future. I knew that it was going to happen, but it felt so far in the future that it has been tough to fully grasp.

But not anymore.

Now he is coming. This month. Guaranteed.

And that makes it real. Like – I’m constantly making sure the car is gassed up, the bag is all packed, and my phone is always on me – real.

home alone screaming

Over the course of the last 9 months, many thoughts and emotions have run though my head. For the most part I have been extremely excited, but there has been a part of me that was scared. Not scared of labor or taking care of a baby, but scared of raising a person. It just seemed like such a daunting task. And still does. But over the course of the last week, I have realized how excited I am about being given the responsibility of raising him, because in doing so, I get to teach him all the things I wish I had known.

I get to teach him to find his identity in Christ. I get to point him towards Christ in every aspect of his life, teach him what it means to believe into Him, and that in Christ, he is a saint, not a sinner and that his life is actually Christ’s life, and because of that he doesn’t have to strive to become “like Christ”, because he already is. That because all of God lives in him, he has everything he could ever need. That believing in Christ is not about following a bunch of rules, commands, or regulations, but about following a person who is still alive.

I get to teach him critical thinking skills. About how to respect everyone and yet to be able to think critically about what they say and not to accept it just because they are in a position of authority.

And I get to teach him about how to treat women. This conversation a father will one day have with his son regarding this issue is exactly what I want to say to my son:

There are two views regarding a woman’s dress code that you will be pressured to buy into. One view will say that women need to dress to get the attention of men. The other view will say women need to dress to protect men from themselves. Son, you are better than both of these. A woman, or any human being, should not have to dress to get your attention. You should give them the full attention they deserve simply because they are a fellow human being. On the other side, a woman should not have to feel like she needs to protect you from you. You need to be in control of you.

Unfortunately, much of how the sexes interact with each is rooted in fear. Fear of rejection, fear of abuse, fear of being out of control. In some ways, the church has added to this. We fear each other because we have been taught the other is dangerous. We’ve been taught a woman’s body will cause men to sin. We’re told that if a woman shows too much of her body men will do stupid things. Let’s be clear: a woman’s body is not dangerous to you. Her body will not cause you harm. It will not make you do stupid things. If you do stupid things it is because you chose to do stupid things. So don’t contribute to the fear that exists between men and women.

I’m not telling you to not look at women. Just the opposite. I’m telling you to see women. Really see them. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart. Don’t look to see something that tickles your senses, but see a human being.

I can’t wait to be able to have these conversations with my son.

stephen-colbert-excited

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Charts that aren’t helpful

November 11, 2013

Welcome to another exciting edition of charts that just aren’t all that helpful.

An article on Breitbart has been making the rounds lately. The article purports to show a correlation between high gun ownership and low homicide rates. The article does this by showing the following two charts:

gun_ownership

This chart suffers from a few issues. The legend and coloring simplify things too much. Groupings such as 30-50 guns per 100 people is a very wide range. In a country of 50 million, that can be a difference of 10 million guns. Also, it doesn’t take into account how those guns are stored. For instance, in Australia, all guns kept in the home have to be locked up, not so in the United States. So the chart doesn’t really tell the whole story.

homicides

The major issues though are with this second chart and the connection that is drawn with the top chart First, unlike the top chart, the bottom chart does not indicate the year the data is from. For instance, the rate of homicides per 100,000 people in the US was 5.7 in 2007. The rate did not drop below 5 until 2010 when it hit 4.7. Second,  every country is colored in, even though the UN data is incomplete for many countries. So, it looks like the chart mixes data from a variety of years which isn’t kosher. Third, the legend is completely skewed in such a way as to make it seem as if the United States has an extremely low homicide rate.

How you ask? Let’s take a look at the data.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime maintains a list of homicide stats for countries around the world. Below is list of countries, the homicide rate per 100,000 people, and the homicide count from 2007:
Australia: 1.2 (255)
Canada: 1.6 (539)
France: 1.3 (826)
Germany: 0.9 (757)
Japan: 0.5 (574)
Sweden: 0.6 (30)
United Kingdom: 1.4 (733)
United States: 5.7 (17,128)

Same information, this time from 2011:
Australia: 1.1 (244)
Canada: 1.5 (529)
France: 1.2 (743)
Germany: 0.8 (662)
Japan: 0.3 (442)
Sweden: 0.9 (81)
United Kingdom: 1.0 (540)
United States: 4.7 (14,612)

So, according to the chart, the United States is on par with other developed nations, including Canada, most of Europe, Australia, and Japan. However, when we look at the data, we see that it does not bear this out. The US has a homicide rate of 5.7 or 4.7 (depending on the year) while no other country listed above goes over 1.6. In 2011, the US had a homicide rate of 4.7 and over 14,000 deaths while the next closest country in the list above, Canada, had a rate of 1.5 and only 529 deaths.

Thus the whole “more guns equals less crime” theory just doesn’t line up with the data. In fact, for developed nations, the lower the rate of gun ownership the lower the rate of homicides, just look at Japan. It has a population of 127 million, there are only 0.6 guns per 100 people, with a homicide rate of 0.3 per 100,000. Not just that, but look at all the countries in the top chart that are green and that are also green in the bottom chart. There are quite a few and yet the article makes no mention of this phenomena.

This is yet another example of a chart being manipulated to prove a theory and people not questioning whether or not the underlying data supports this view.

Kareem on boys becoming men

October 24, 2013

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a list of 20 things boys can do to become men, including:

6. Fight your fear of the unknown.

We all have a tendency to hate what we don’t understand, whether it comes in the form of different food, different cultures, or different ideas. There was a Yale study in which researchers examined the brains of people as they were presented with proof that an opinion they held was wrong. MRIs showed that when those people immediately rejected the new evidence, their brains released an addictive chemical that made them feel good. In that way our own bodies are actually encouraging our ignorance and fear. Fight that impulse. Becoming a man means growing, learning, and understanding—not cowering under a blanket with a handful of comforting notions.

(By the way, don’t confuse physical bravery with intellectual bravery. It’s easier to jump out of a plane—hopefully with a parachute—than it is to change your mind about an opinion. Acts of physical bravado will give you an initial rush, but exploring a new culture or examining a new idea will mature you and make you the kind of person others will be interested in.)

16. Question authority.

Respect your elders but don’t think them infallible. Teachers, parents, relatives, politicians, and well-meaning guys like me really do want what’s best for you. But we aren’t always right. Even when presenting supposed “facts,” people can be misleading in an effort to manipulate you into being who they want you to be or doing what they want you to do. History is filled with politicians misrepresenting “facts” in order to convince the population to back rash policies. Teachers sometimes aren’t caught up on the latest research. To be your own man, you will have to make up your own mind about things.

17. Get smart.

Making up your own mind doesn’t mean “going with your gut,” “listening to your heart,” or any other such clichés, however. That’s the lazy man’s way of avoiding the work that comes with developing an informed opinion. Want to express an opinion about the election, the death penalty, or gay marriage? First, do your research. Don’t rely on biased sources. Your goal is to find the truth, not just confirm an opinion you already held. Every time you express an uninformed opinion, others will dismiss you as a child, someone who can only parrot others’ opinions. A man knows how to educate himself in pursuit of truth.

Critical thinking is a skill that is sorely lacking today. People too easily accept what they read or hear and too often we don’t recognize the systems in place in our lives that prevent us from realizing that we have accepted as truth something that we haven’t ever truly questioned.

I also think every single one of these 20 items can apply to both boys and girls. There seems to be nothing really gender specific about any one of them.

Introducing Mercy Child

August 2, 2013

I should have waited until Monday to post this so it could be titled “Music Monday” (for the alliteration), but alas, I couldn’t wait.

So, my good friend Erika Chambers recently got together with a couple of her friends, Madeline Lewis and Kyle Aaron, and formed the musical collaboration that is Mercy Child. They just released their first single, Closer, and yesterday they debuted the music video for the song. Check it out:

I met Erika soon after I moved to Nashville. I credit her with introducing me to Americana and I am much indebted to her for that. In fact, she introduced me to amazing duo that was Eastmountainsouth. In 2010 she released her debut album, light at eventide, which is one of my all-time favorite albums. You can listen to (and purchase) the album here. She also has a fantastic single called, Hope, Won’t Disappoint Me, which she wrote while her sister was battling cancer.

I anticipate only good things coming from this group.

A look back

July 29, 2013

A few days ago I posted my 200th blog post, which I didn’t even realize until after the fact. Since then I have been thinking about the posts that I have written over the course of the last almost 3 years.

That curiosity led me to go back and read through many of my old posts. Doing so reminded how much has changed in my life since I started this blog. I will write more about that later, but for now, I picked out a smattering of posts (yes, I said smattering, it’s a funny word) that represent the topics this blog deals with and that some people new to the blog might not have seen.

Supporting a group because they are Christian

A radical experiment in empathy

People will never forget how you made them feel

More than soccer

The danger of a single story

My trip to Syria (or what happens when you anger the travel gods)

Popularity contest philanthropy

Sticks and stones

3.2 million dots

Community life in the Body of Christ: viewing shame, vulnerability, and worthiness in light of Him

Everyone has a voice

Why I didn’t buy my wife a diamond wedding ring

Seeing things differently