Though the context is different, this article’s point about how we are unhealthily drawn to the extraordinary was precisely what I had in mind when I wrote about a couple I often see at a local Starbucks. In any case, here is the author on parents’ expectations today:
More recently, parents seem to be increasingly anxious that there just isn’t going to be enough — enough room at good colleges or graduate schools or the top companies — for even the straight-A, piano-playing quarterback, and we end up convinced that being average will doom our children to a life that will fall far short of what we want for them. As Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work and author of the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” (Hazelden, 2010) said, “In this world, an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life.”
And that’s a problem. Because “extraordinary is often what the general public views as success,” said Jeff Snipes, co-founder of PDI Ninth House, a corporate leadership consulting firm. “You make a lot of money or have athletic success. That’s a very, very narrow definition. What about being compassionate or living a life of integrity?”
Serendipitous, fortuitous and historical:
Henry Dawkins was always a bit of a scoundrel. In the spring of 1776, he finished a long prison tenure and was let back onto the streets. Although free, he was not a changed man. Dawkins continued committing crimes. His knack for law breaking, however, inadvertently saved the USA…
Ron Avitzur knew his project was doomed. By the time his bosses cut the cord in August 1993, his team was actually relieved. The graphing calculator program they’d been working on for new mobile devices had finally been shelved, and they could all move on.
Most of his fellow programmers were reassigned to other projects within Apple. The company offered Avitzur a job, too, but it didn’t interest him. Avitzur, then 27, had been freelancing at tech companies since he was a student at Stanford—to him, the work wasn’t worth it if it wasn’t interesting. And what interested him was finishing the graphing calculator program that had just been canceled. But his ambitions were greater than that—Avitzur wanted to make the graphing calculator work on the new PowerPC computer that Apple planned to ship in early 1994.
The young programmer knew the project had merit. Everyone he mentioned it to exclaimed, “I wish I’d had that in school!” If he could just get the program preinstalled on the new computer, teachers across the country could use the tool as an animated blackboard, providing visuals for abstract concepts. The program could simultaneously showcase the speed of the new machine and revolutionize math class. All he needed was access to Apple’s machines and some time.
Consider that “male mystique” that most boys in our culture have always emulated and it’s easy to see how so many boys become troubled. Men and boys are expected to be strong, independent, competitive, aggressive, stoic and invulnerable. Despite some gains in awareness of the problem, this cultural expectation continues to prevail and, in one way or another, influences our boys every day. Their penchant for aggression and competition is regularly exploited by the media. Just by watching television, a boy will see men portrayed as bumbling idiots, crude Neanderthals, lecherous predators, rigid automatons obsessed with power and violence, narcissistic and arrogant athletes and entertainers, or maybe just mindless airheads who have no clue. For many boys, this is all they have to look to for role models.
So how does this all add up? Today’s boys need thoughtful nurturing and support more than ever, but a great many are lacking in this regard. Too many children are born to people who don’t have their own lives together enough to provide for them physically and/or psychologically. As a result, a deep-seated rage often develops. Such boys will be considered successful if its ramifications are generally considered socially acceptable – such as participation in violent sports, exploiting others for the compulsive accumulation of wealth and power, defiantly blocking the progress of legislation in Congress or producing gory and sadistic movies. But when the rage breaks through in street shootings and murderous rampages, we are horrified.
Over the last few years, I have walked with two friends in particular through the bitter betrayal of a divorce they didn’t want. I wrote a few years ago on Pariahs and our subtle way of avoiding divorcees in conservative churches because they threaten our prosperity gospelthat we don’t even realize we believe. I had dinner this week with one of those friends, and she shared such wisdom with me that she had me writing notes on napkins so I wouldn’t forget.
Her burden for herself is to not waste her divorce. Does that sound odd or controversial? Our strong churches often preach on solid marriages and healthy relationships. Divorce care seems more the function of liberal churches we perceive as having a low view of the sanctity of marriage. Yet I know many godly women with a high view of the sanctity of marriage and strong convictions from Scripture on the covenant relationship between a husband and wife who find themselves there. Their high view of marriage and Scriptural convictions magnify the shame they feel! They need divorce care more than ever.
Eric McKiddie on the lessons we can learn from Holmes that we can then apply to how we do bible study. An interesting piece for sure, but just as some of the readers have commented, McKiddie would have done well to clarify that efficient, rationalistic approaches to bible study isn’t the be-all-end-all.