Anomaly? Perhaps. Trend? Perhaps.
If you have read previous posts you would know that I travel to work-a Chicago Loop location-on the METRA train. After so many stops several of us gather in the vestibule, antsy to get off the train. It is in the vestibule, on a daily basis, that we share the events of our daily lives, the latest front page news, TV programs watched, political viewpoints and so on.
It came as a surprise to me the other day when I learned that three of us four ‘regulars’-a married man in his early sixties, a married man in his late forties to early fifties and a woman also in her late forties to early fifties were each without children. I am the only one of the four who has children.
Another surprise: the three of them along with their spouses-each couple-owned two dogs. They call their pets their four legged children! I had to wonder “Why pets?” and no children, but I don’t ask such questions. Maybe it is a matter of fertility. Or, a matter of fear?
The only clue I gathered was when another woman, a mother, joined us one day. She talked about her kids and her dog. She asked the man of sixty years if he had kids. He replied that he didn’t. “I was afraid for my wife.”
What he meant, I could not tell you. I was left to conjecture: was he afraid for her physical health? Her mental health?
Now, all three train companions have highly positioned jobs. One man is a CPA for a major bank. The other man is a health care manager for employees of a major area hospital. The woman is a VP of an insurance company. She travels over 60% of the time.
So, again, conjecture. Did they choose to be childless to fulfill career paths? Or?
I can not judge their decision but I am curious as to their decision’s formulation and their lack of formula (I had to spit that up, didn’t I?).
Like me you may have seen bumper stickers of the sort “I love my (fill in the blank pet version), it is humans I can’t stand.”
When I see this uncivil declaration renouncing mankind I feel a little rebuffed BUT not to the extent that I would riot or loot or cancel any exam to wallow in shameless emo. I wouldn’t even call Al Sharpton or Eric Holder in to intercede for the black folks included in this public denunciation.
It now seems that anti-human humanism is society’s soup of the day philosophy. What’s important is that animals be anthropomorphized into four legged children.
If you were to listen to my three train companions you would hear that they treat these dogs as children and better. They take their beloved pooches to doggie spas and to doggie festivals where special organic dog food is sampled. I am not mentioning half the luxuries bestowed to the beasts. (“Higher taxes for the 1% will help the poor. So I needn’t go out of my way. Besides, I give when the sad dogs on TV look me in the eye.”)
Don’t growl at me. I am not an animal hater. I have a Parrolet named Henry.
Henry the Parrolet
I have had dogs, cats, chameleons… AND, I have four kids who are human (though there were times when I thought they regressed to being four-legged animals).
The pet over children choice fits in nicely with environmentalists. They seek to stomp out the fires of human passion:“Only you can prevent human existence.”
The ‘’greenies’ spread their irrational fears liberally (e.g., the greenie-propaganda movie “Noah”.). They invoke population control-Malthusian-metric-hockey-stick spreadsheets. They generate CO2 free angst and so bloody on.
And, why, why have kids when life is so hard and so terrible and so there is so much bad in the world and so much work to do to stop climate change (“So many CO2 offenders, so little time”) that will kill us all if we don’t give ALL of our time and ALL of our money to stop it right now and lions and tigers and bears… Let’s let fear itself give us something to fear-a dictum not worthy of you or any generation.
Besides all of the above manmade direness there is the inconvenience of children. You have to feed them, change them, follow them, correct them when they mis-behave (Oh, yes.), take them to Wal-Mart for a Christmas picture, introduce them to the morals you flirt with now and then. And, there is just too much of yourself you would have to give up to have a child.
“I have my studies, my books, my Facebook, my career path to the seventh floor. I have my dreams. I have my “Me, My, I” to look after. First person singular comes first.
This is where pets (and their owner’s bumper stickers) come into view. This is where I am told “Dogs”, on the other paw, “give me their unconditional love”. Yeah, that’s right. You have heard the same thing. Dogs love. Roll the Disney movie. Throw them an organic vegan Milkbone. Walk them with a proud humane cadence. Care for them when ill or itchy. Cuddle with them on your bed…but they are not kids.
Kids? YES have kids! I’ll tell you why but not in smothering detail. You will figure it out.
Here is hint #1: the reason to have kids is connected to the reason for the season-the Christmas season-in case the shelf-elf didn’t remind you what time of the year it is. And hint #2, the reason will involve a new vocabulary word: “kenosis”.
Per Wikipedia, “The New Testament does not use the actual noun kénōsis but the verb form kenóō occurs five times (Ro.4:14, 1Co.1:17, 9:15, 2Co.9:3, Phil.2:7). Of these five times it is Phil 2:7, in which Jesus is said to have “emptied himself,” which is the starting point of Christian ideas of kenosis.”
The word ἐκένωσεν (ekénōsen) is used in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, chapter 2 verses 6 through 8. It is part of an early church hymn that is quoted by Paul:
Who, though in God’s form, did not
Regard his equality with God
As something he ought to exploit.
Instead, he emptied himself,
And received the form of a slave,
Being born in the likeness of humans.
And then, having human appearance,
He humbled himself, and became
Obedient even to death,
Yes, even the death of the cross.
To insure historical usage I unearthed my Greek New Testament and also “THE ANALYTICAL GREEK LEXICON: Consisting of AN ALPHABETICAL ARRANGEMENT OF EVERY OCCURING INFLEXION OF EVERY WORD CONTAINED IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE with a GRAMMATICAL ANALYSIS OF EACH WORD.… I looked up the word transliterated as kenos. As used in Phil. 2:7–”to divest one’s self of ones prerogatives, abase one’s self”
Jesus, Very God, divested himself of his prerogative as God and abased himself to become incarnate.
We have heard it said that “God is love”. We have also heard that “God is eternal”. For love to be love there needs to be an object of love. For eternal God to be Love there must be an eternal object of his love. This means that within the dancing embrace of the Triune God are the eternal objects of each other’s love -the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (JWs, the Trinity is.)
Now, imagine that the Godhead decided to include us humans in their dancing embrace of love. To do so, Jesus, as promised in prophecies of redemption, emptied himself of all his prerogatives as God (an overwhelming surprise for any orthodox Jew) and put on the vestment (the diapers) of created humanity.
The simplest comparison that comes to my mind would be the following: There is a father who is the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation which employs 3000+ workers. The company owns several private jets.
The father comes home, takes off his suit coat and throws it on a chair. He takes off his tie and does the same with it. He then gets down on the floor on all fours to play Legos with his four year-old son-all prerogatives put aside because of love for his son. His ‘position’ is laid aside to be taken up later.
There is something about kids and about divesting one’s self of one’s prerogatives that enables one to be in a relationship and to love another. No one is saying this is easy but it is worth more than what you laid aside.
Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Christ is also a celebration of our humanity, of kids and babies. Imagine God Very God incarnated into our evolved human form and doing so right at the fullness, the bar mitzvah of time! And, come to think of it there is no celebration of Roe v. Wade Day unless, of course, you are Wiccan.
The cross is the nexus of man’s inhumanity to man and man’s sinfulness with a Holy God. Man’s redemption from sin was the outcome. God kept his word to redeem and He imputes his promise keeping righteousness to those, by faith, who believe.
The resurrection of the Son of Man is a celebration of Mankind’s new humanity within the Kingdom of God.
Yesterday as I was jumping off the train onto my home station platform the METRA conductor, a large friendly black man who looks like he could play defense for the Chicago Bears said “Have a great evening everyone. Fifteen days till Christmas! ”We all smiled looking back at his glowing face.
Christmas is the dancing embrace of God with man and man with man and man with himself.
“What Child is This? The slack-jawed shepherds will tell you that a birth announcement proclaiming humanity’s promised Messiah had arrived via Angelic Express. They will tell you that they found the baby who would one day become King lying in a manger. How un-Godlike? Not for the God who laid aside everything to get on all fours and meet you where you are.
Let the miracle of the incarnation inform your decision to have children, whether naturally, adopted and/or fostered in your home. And then let those children become the objects of your love.
In case you are a worrier watch this video: I can’t believe we made it.
My Two Youngest at Pritzker Pavilion