Family Values

Our family looks a lot like what they call “traditional”, mom and dad and four kids, we gather around the dinner table I’d say four nights a week on average and sit down and eat a meal together just like good old Ronald Reagan said we ought to, if we want to make America great. That was the example my parents set, it brings us all together when we eat as a family.

We sit down and we ask each child what their successes and their sayings are from the day at school. They’re still learning to accept the fact that each day brings with it at least some sort of small success, and a good saying can be that. A little piece of humor or poetry, you know? Something you said that was smart, or witty, or worth repeating in any way.

If my wife and I have any values at all, the first one is that each child is loved, and as they grow up it’s not going to matter what choices they make in life, they’re still going to be welcome at our table. But there are certain things expected of you when you sit to eat here. You’re expected to be grateful to the Creator for something, and you’re expected to give respect to the cook, and you’re expected to make sure that everyone else has enough. If you come to the table or even walk into the kitchen with some lesser attitude on any of those three items, you’re going to be asked to check your attitude at the door. And I mean literally. The other day, one of my sons came home from school to rummage through the fridge, then whined at my wife about how someone had eaten the last cinnamon roll, or some such nonsense, and I told him to go back outside, check his attitude at the door, come back in, and speak to his mother with respect. We aren’t strict, authoritarian parents. There are only a few behaviors that get you dismissed, but they are serious, because they destroy the culture we’re building, and bring everyone down. But when it comes to breaking bread at our table, you’re always going to be welcome, so long as you come with respect, thankfulness, and generosity towards others. It’s never going to be about their lifestyle, it’s about their attitude. A bad attitude at the table is like a virus, and I don’t want you sneezing on my plate. There’s a word for saying no to people who come to break bread and think they can bring the hate, too, and that word is “Excommunicate.” Definition: To remove from the table of communion. You don’t get to eat with us, clown, because you’re dragging us down.

And that’s why I’m calling for the immediate and unequivocal excommunication of the hate nation. I don’t care if you call yourself a Christian and read the Bible every day, hater, you’re not part of the church is what I want to very clearly say. You don’t get to sit down and eat with us when you bring that attitude through the door. I’m not really talking to anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a Christian, but the so-called evangelical voter block is making it clear that they’re ready to let anyone near know that what they hold dear is founded on this fear that makes their world a tight little comfortable bubble of hatred, and I personally excommunicate you, I ask you to go back outside, check your attitude at the door and knock.

Just go outside, change your attitude, and knock again. Jesus said if you knock the door will be opened, so there’s not really that much required. Respect, thankfulness, generosity.

When Jesus says “learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice” that means that no matter what your grandpa did in World War One or Two or Five, to sacrifice for this nation, means very little if you think it gives you the right to keep it all to yourself like a child who takes the last three cookies.

And let’s make sure to understand this isn’t about a certain candidate and his particular plan, because I realize that once he loses, which looks inevitable, we’re not over the hump. We still have a problem, and there are plenty of people who are attending a Christian church on Sundays who are fueling that fire, and it’s time for the rest of us to stand up and say NO. You don’t have a place at this table right now. Haters, I excommunicate you. I won’t eat what you eat. I won’t march to the drum that you beat.

Excommunication, man, it’s not for life. You can ask my wife – my kids know how to correct their attitude. They understand when they’ve been rude, and they eventually come around because you know what, when they sit down and eat with us they don’t just get food. They get loved. They get to be part of a family that’s more than just the kids, the wife and me. And when they get sent out, we all hope they’ll come back soon. It’s not the Wild West at high noon, I’m not saying there’s not enough room in this town for the both of us; in fact, I think there’s room for quite a few more at this dinner, but if you spoil it for everyone, we’re going to ask you to leave; it’s sad, because we all end up thinner.

Just go outside and check your attitude and knock, and we’ll be glad to invite you back in. But until then, you’re not welcome.

Update: I’ve spoken with Pastor David Araujo of Iglesia Del Buen Pastor this morning (3/30/16). He was kind enough to bring to my attention a concern in our community about this blog and the church building pictured with it. Some community members felt that perhaps this blog was an attack on that congregation. Pastor David has been a guest in my home when some good friends of ours were here to talk with a group of us about Christian-Muslim relations. I know pastor David and his passion for peacemaking among many cultures. I realized immediately what the misunderstanding must have been. David encouraged me to leave the picture of Iglesia del Buen Pastor up on the blog, because as I explained to him, I simply felt it was a beautiful photo of a beautiful building.  We have a mutual desire for diversity, not for a society based on hate and fear. I hope that it is clear that I do not want more walls. I want fewer ones. But the walls that keep the snow out while the congregation of Iglesia del Buen Pastor are worshiping are good and beautiful and welcome walls to me. Just to be clear, my intent is not to excommunicate the people of this fine congregation! I celebrate even more their presence here because Pastor Araujo was willing to come and bring this concern to me! What a great example of peacemaking in action. Thank you, Pastor. The last thing I would want is for a misunderstanding of this magnitude to go unaddressed. These brothers and sisters are exactly the kinds of people about whom we should be saying “do they have enough?” Pastor David is welcome at my table any day of the week!


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The author lives in Goshen, Indiana with his wife and four children. He is self-employed as a leadership coach working with business executives, writers and other artists, and spiritual leaders. His clients enjoy business growth, increased vision and purpose, work/family lifestyle balance, and freedom from writer’s block.

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