Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So, How's Your Summer Been...

Hello to my once faithful readers who must have assumed my untimely death, because surely I have no other excuse not to have blogged since May 2010! Apologies, apologies, dear readers. I have no excuses, so I will not insult you with "I'm so busy...My life is crazy...I'm homeschooling three kids now...blah, blah, blah." You've heard it all before (except that homeschooling thing). You know I am a fickle blogger at best, so I say "Love me for who I am and don't expect anything else from me!" Okay, now I sound all 1970s Love Story and "Love means never having to say I'm sorry" and that is SO not where I am right now.

Where am I, you ask (besides residing in my usual place called Crazy Town)? I am in the middle of what I am dubbing "The Summer of Exegesis." I'm calling it that because I like the word; it's new to me. It means "an explanation or a critical interpretation of a text." (If you already knew that, you are smarter than me and I admire your vocabulary prowess!) I also like that it has Jesus in it, as in ex*uh*Jesus. But it's also a fairly accurate name for my summer. I am knee-deep in Lutheran Doctrine, Theology, Hermeneutics, and basically all those other Latiny terms that mean, "What do I believe, and why do I believe it?" Lovely readers I am "full to bursting" with everything I am trying to cram into my brain right now about theology. I know I've come to this Lutheran doctrinal party a little late, having been a Lutheran almost 17 years now, but I am now completely fascinated with it all. Really. Fascinated.

Lutherans know what they know and know why they know it. This makes them confident (some might say cocky) about what they know. Funny thing is I am married to one of the most confident men on the planet. He knows what he knows and knows why he knows it and that is that. If he had not been baptized into the LCMS, he would certainly have had to seek it out. (For the uninitiated, LCMS means Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which basically means real confessional Lutherans, as opposed to the kind that say they are Lutheran, but do all manner of things that are un-Lutheran, which I am very sure IS a real word.)

Back to "My Summer of Cramming My Brain Full of Theological Teachings and Wonders." I've been doing this by reading some great blogs here, here and here, watching some funny, satirical, and yes, instructional videos, and hearing some great, albeit really crazy in delivery - not doctrine - sermons, and taking a Sunday School class that's using Lutheranism 101 as a starting text. There is so much out there and so much to learn I'm ashamed I haven't taken the time or interest to learn it before.

You could say I sort of fell into the Lutheran church, as in I met a boy, fell in love, he had a great church, and the rest as they say... But that wouldn't exactly be accurate. I was looking for something different than the Southern Baptist Church I'd been brought up in. I'd been told one too many times that I was going to Hell for questioning beliefs and asking, "Where do you find that in the Bible?", and I'd decided I'd had enough of that. (No offense to all my Baptist peeps out there. You know I love you!) Although I didn't much care for church, I still believed that Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so I knew I needed to go to church, but I wasn't really looking.

In fact, I wasn't going to church at all. Now, back to that boy I met. We'd been dating for a few months and I said, "Hey, I really want to start going to church again, since I've been a totally lapsed Baptist the whole time I've been in college. My roommates and I visited the Presbyterian Church, but I really don't think a PC(USA) church is for me, so..." And he said something like "Church sounds good. I should start going again, too. You want to go to a Lutheran Church with me?" And seeing as how I was totally crazy in love with him already and would have quoted Ruth to him about 'going where he wenteth', I said "Sure, I'd love to." And off we went.

*As an aside, I had never even heard of Lutheran before I met my hubby. Remember, I was a smalltown, East Tennessee girl. The first time he told me he was a Lutheran, I said a silent prayer that went something like, "Please, God, let that be normal Christian." And then I asked him, "Is that like a normal Protestant church?", which I thought sounded better than, "Is that real Christian or something weird?" And then he of course rolled off the couch laughing at me. In my defense, I knew that Martin Luther had started the Reformation, I just didn't know there was a church named for him. And I figured just because it was named for him, didn't mean the church was still a traditional Christian church, remember that other type of Lutheran I mentioned?*

What this story illustrates is that God, in his divine mercy, saved me from my ridiculous self. I do NOT recommend falling in love with someone about whose theology you know nothing. I'm fairly certain it smacks of great sin! Did I mention God had mercy on me? I'm so thankful my hubby was raised by godly parents who took him to church every week and raised him "in the way he should go." As parents we are already praying for the future spouses of our children, and of course we hope those spouses are Lutheran, or at least very close to it!

So why all the interest in doctrine now after having joined the church, been married in it and having baptized three babies in it? Well, it all comes down to homeschooling.

I haven't posted a thing on here about homeschooling, but we have recently finished our first year of homeschooling using the classical method. What's the classical method you ask? Well, that depends on who you ask. For me, it's teaching my children like children were taught for hundreds of years before the invention of public school. It is heavy on English grammar and writing, Latin, the Great Books, science and math and all of it wrapped in a Biblical worldview.

That last part about the Biblical worldview is where all this theology comes in. As much as I have come to love the LCMS, it is not exactly homeschool friendly. It doesn't publish homeschool curricula, and since it's not a huge denomination, there are not individual LCMSers out there publishing curricula either. So, that means I've been using books which have a slightly different theological slant to teach my children. Therefore, I've had to read them, figure out what we believe that is different, and then explain that to my children. It's a little daunting. Most of it is obvious - infant baptism, which Lutherans believe in, versus believer's baptism, which Evangelicals believe in. But other differences aren't so easy to spot and taken all together, they could really change how my children view Law and Gospel. And that I don't want to mess up. So I'm praying for grace and asking God to give me wisdom and discernment, and then I'm studying everything I can, so I don't mess it up. Now you know the reason for the "Summer of Studying All Things Lutheran."

And I think my children have noticed. How could they not with me watching animated videos with computer generated voices and a pastor on Youtube who has samarai swords as his background? And I don't know if it's because of some things they've heard or if it's just because of their ages, but I'm starting to get some hard questions. The one I got yesterday was "Mommy, why in the Bible did God's people lie?" And believe you me, my middle child will not let you off with "Sin" as an easy answer. No siree, that one is quite the deep thinker herself, so I started explaining to her that we are saints and sinners, which thankfully we had just covered in my Sunday School class, so it was all still fresh, but I'll leave that Q&A session for another post...

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