Posts Tagged ‘ Christian ’

Intelligent Design: Love from a Scientific Perspective

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Nine months.

If we were restricted to only see the world in terms of science, where would love fit into that picture? I guess it could be said that love, along with all other human emotions, is ultimately necessary for not only procreation but also the desired human interactions that help move us forward as a society. Carpenter ants and sea horses do not need to feel anything emotionally in order to survive and multiply, but we humans, being much more complicated, are not devoid of personalities or the need to feel needed by others. We need love.

So somewhere in the evolution from fish to ape to man, love randomly showed up in the genes and proved to be fit for survival? It sounds pretty miraculous to me…

That’s why, along with the Jewish actor/political commentator Ben Stein (The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and the Christian actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), I am a devout advocate of Intelligent design.

In other words, I reject the popular and politically correct theory of evolution and/or The Big Bang Theory. Instead, I believe that man was literally created by God, from dust, as it is explained in the book of Genesis- in six literal 24 hour days.

What about dinosaurs, though? After all, men could not have survived alongside vicious, giant lizards.

Interestingly, The Book of Genesis explains that in the beginning, God gave the herbs and plants for the people to eat. It wasn’t until ten extremely long generations later (people lived centuries long back then) when Noah and his family exited the ark that God told mankind A) that animals would begin fearing man and therefore, B) that people should now starting eating animals as part of their diet.

Therefore, I believe for ten long generations, people and animals of all kinds coexisted, all living on a vegetarian diet. Radically, I believe the world is around 10,000 years old; not millions or billions. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of Intelligent design. Feel free to read another blog post I’ve written on it; or google “Intelligent design” to learn just how “out there” I really am.

Simply put, I believe that love is just simply too miraculous to have randomly showed up on its own. I believe that love did not evolve, but instead was created and given as a gift from God to man; so that man would share it. For me, thinking about love from a scientific perspective only points me to one simple idea: love is part of God’s intelligent design.

The love I share for my wife and son comes from God; not chance.

Unexpected Bonus!

It has never been more appropriate than right now for me to give away a free copy of the brand-new, just released, children’s book, Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love.

The book seems to encompass the artistic sophistication of a classic Caldecott Medal winning book along with the multi-ethnic oneness of Sesame Street. It’s a nostalgic return to the good children’s books I read as a child growing up in the Eighties, but with a modern accent. I believe this book would especially be ideal for parents who have not yet raised their children in a particular religious household, but who are now more interested in doing so; the book would serve as a great transition into teaching them about God’s love.

Now, as to the one lucky winner who will be mailed a copy of this book, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many weeks old my son Jack was when we gave him his first haircut. Make sure you send me an email (nickshell1983@hotmail.com) with your name and mailing address so I’ll know where to mail it.

Need a hint? Use the search box on the right side of this screen.

Excerpt from the back cover of Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love:

“Willie Juan and Ana’s home is always full of neighborhood children, laughter, and love. One day, while enjoying Ana’s most delicious sopapillas, Willie Juan asks a most curious question:

‘Little friends, what is one thing you think Abba will ask you someday when you are in heaven?’.

Through their answers, Willie Juan’s guidance, and a few giggles, the children learn that God cares about the details of their lives and that all good gifts- from hummingbirds to homemade sopapillas- come from Him.

This book will help kids discover how deep and wide and endless is the love of God. A love so BIG that no matter what, they will always be smack dab in the middle of it.”

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Where Simple Faith Meets Complicated Reality

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Eight months.

Is The Dadabase a “Christian blog?”  That’s a good question.  The answer is yes; in the sense that I am narrating my version of fatherhood from a Christian perspective.  The answer is no; in the sense that it is not directed specifically for a Christian audience and that the majority of my posts do not contain an explicitly spiritual theme.

While I do sporadically splice in quotes from the Bible, I intentionally do not use quotation marks nor do I list the Biblical reference where they came from.  Because to me, these ancient teachings are intertwined into my thought patterns.  So I don’t see a need to separate them when I write.

love writing for Parents.com.  I am so appreciative of how much they value the realness and authenticity of all their bloggers; free of censorship.  I can truly be me without having to ask myself, “Was that too Christian of me to say that?”

Basically, if it relates to and ties in with my life as a dad and a husband, it’s fair game.  The Dadabase is simply an unfiltered reflection of what goes through my head as an unseasoned parent and an everyday guy who just happens to be of the Christian faith.

But while technically I do have complete freedom of speech here, I also believe in using my freedom to write content that is relevant to the majority of readers and not becoming consumed with promoting my own agendas to the point they become a distraction.

As a Christian, I sometimes struggle with the assumption that my viewpoint will largely be perceived by the general public as politically incorrect, representing an old-fashioned mindset that is typically unwelcome in mainstream media and entertainment.

I’m not referring to a reluctance to use the name “Jesus” instead of “God” or “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays.”  Instead, it’s stuff like when I mention that my son has a soul, that I am spiritually responsible for him, that I pray for him to one day know Christ like my wife and I do, and when I matter-of-factually state that there is a heavenly kingdom awaiting us after this life.

Even more so, I am overly aware of the bumper sticker that reads, “Jesus, save me from your followers.”  I recognize that for some, the word “Christian” has a stigma connected to it, associated with words like “judgmental,” “prideful,” “arrogant,” and “bigot.”  I realize how easy it can be to determine the integrity of an entire group based on their loudest, most hypocritical examples.

I know I am not expected to be perfect, but I am expected to be different. Yet in the most basic ways, as a parent, I still represent the way many moms and dads feel; Christian or not.

A slightly reoccurring phrase I  have seen in comments that readers leave on this blog is “It’s like you’re reading my mind…”.  Despite having different preferences in our parenting techniques and styles, most of us share the same basic desires for our children.  It doesn’t take being a Christian to want to positively re-brand fatherhood or to be vulnerable enough to admit that I fell in love with my son gradually, not instantly.

Last month my wife helped teach 3rd grade at Vacation Bible School.  The theme was “Where Faith and Life Connect.”  That’s one of my themes too; as a human, as a writer, as a guy who has to go to a real job during the day just like most other people, and as a parent.

Yes, my faith is the most important thing to me.  But it’s not all I talk about. In fact, whatever the next Dadabase post is about, I’m sure it won’t mention anything about God or Christianity or any overt spiritual themes.

Just as the familiar blue skies eventually intersect with the mysterious outer space, so do my everyday life events overlap my intangible Christian faith.

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Man’s Constant Awareness of His Need to Provide

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Six months.

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For a nostalgic guy like me, it can be very difficult to “live in the moment.”  And that’s not a good thing when it comes to being present in body, mind, and spirit as a husband and father.  Not to mention,  it’s sort of impossible for me to stop thinking about how I will provide for my wife and son.

In 1996, while most other 15 year-olds were listening to cool alternative grunge bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, and Stone Temple Pilots, I additionally had something they didn’t have: a cassette tape of the first album by The O.C. Supertones.

You’re probably familiar with hearing someone say “I grew up really Jewish… bar mitzvah, the whole deal….”  Even if it was simply Seth Rogen on Conan who said it, you understand the concept of “growing up really Jewish.”

Well, I “grew up really Christian.”  I learned to play the guitar in Junior High because I led the music for my church’s youth group on Wednesday and Sunday nights.  Every summer I went on a mission trip to a different state or country, doing repairs on widow’s homes during the day, then participating in drama and singing performances at city parks in the afternoons.  (Yes, I had a trendy W.W. J. D? bracelet.)

And while DC Talk was the coolest Christian rock band back in the those days, I also was a huge grassroots promoter of The O.C. Supertones- the main Gospel ska band of the ’90′s.

Jewish Italian

Last week as I felt like listening to nothing but all of their albums back-to-back, a line from their song “Unknown” stood out to me.  I have been listening to that song for 15 years but it finally made sense to me at a time when I needed to hear it most:

“Killing ourselves faster than fast; living in the future, living in the past.” I haven’t been able to shake the thought of how constantly I do just that:  I participate in the self-destructive behavior of either A) dwelling on how I should have/could have/would have done things differently in my past, if I was able or B) dwelling on how much better life will be a decade from now when my problems will hopefully have worked themselves out.

I realize that with all the positive vibes I constantly send out in my daily writings here on The Dadabase, I may sometimes make my version of being a dad and husband seem easier than it actually is.  And perhaps it seems that Jack never causes any stress for my wife or I.  But despite my optimism and quirkiness, my life is as normal as they come.  I encounter the same basic stresses as all other dads and husbands.

Admittedly, I question some of my past decisions and actions.  And I seriously wonder about my future; financially.

The Dadabase

Since moving from our secure jobs in Nashville before Jack arrived, we now live on a much smaller single income, with a kid.  Yeah, the thought of money stresses me out big time. Living here in Alabama now, I can’t provide for them the same way I used to.  Money sure isn’t everything, but Nashville’s good economy definitely eased things in my mind.

As I am wired to do, I ultimately feel responsible for providing for my family. So I question the version of myself who a few years ago led me to make the decisions to get me here today.  And I often fantasize about a future time when I won’t feel the stress that I am feeling now.

Of course, my making a habit of mentally time traveling is not a good thing. Because if I keep going back far enough, I may fantasize about a time when I had no real responsibilities and no family of my own.  And it is nothing but counter-productive and selfish to subconsciously covet the 21 year old college version of myself who made money by selling egg rolls and Hot Pockets from the mini-fridge in my college dorm.

The weight of my responsibilities is constantly on my mind.  Will I be able to care for my family?  Am I good enough for them?  Should I have gotten something other than an English degree a decade ago in college, so I could be assured I’d make enough money to be the breadwinner at age 30?

This is an honest, vulnerable look into a guy’s brain.  I’m never unaware of my need to provide. Never.

Other men have greater or less financial concerns and decisions to make.  But still, as men, we are perpetually terrified of the realistic demon who reminds us that nothing we can do is ever enough.

It’s a matter of reminding myself that that even the ravens, who don’t even sow or reap, who don’t have storerooms or barns, are still fed. And I am much more valuable than a bird.

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Jack’s Baby Dedication: Faith and Parenting

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Six months.

A few weeks ago on Mother’s Day, my wife and I had Jack “dedicated” at our church.  If you are not familiar with this Protestant practice, a “baby dedication” is a public ceremony where the parents of a new baby promise, in front of the pastor and the congregation, to grow up their child in the faith.  As Jack’s parents, it is our responsibility to lead and guide him in our own moral and spiritual beliefs.

My son will not be left on his own to figure out who God is and why we believe that God’s love is the reason for our existence. Sure, Jack will have to make up his own mind when he gets old enough, but my faith is so crucial to every fiber of my being, that as a father I believe that one of the most important tasks I will ever have is to teach my son about the next life, as well as, teaching him to love others as himself in this life.

While I do value the public act of dedicating my son to the building up and growing of the heavenly kingdom we believe comes after this earthly life, the private version happened before he was even born.  As Jack was still in the womb, I prayed for him. And now that he’s here, I continue to pray for him. After all, I believe that I haven’t simply brought another life into this world, but that I am also responsible for bringing another soul into existence- a soul I am unmistakably accountable for teaching what I believe is the meaning of life.

Whether you have been following my daddy blog since the beginning (April 13th, 2010) or whether you just recently started tuning in thanks to Parents.com picking up my series, something noticeably undeniable yet decently subtle in my writing content is the intertwining of my family’s everyday life events and our Christian faith. According to Wikipedia, nearly 80% of Americans identify themselves with Christianity (from Catholic to Protestant, and everything in between).  So I would assume that nearly 80% of readers will identify with me when I write about my faith.  For the other 20%, who have a different religion or maybe not one at all, please know that I welcome you just as much to The Dadabase.

Because no matter which faith we call our own, something we all have in common is that we are parents.  We have children who we are trying to raise the best we can.  And just like the faith of our choosing, so parenting is also a journey.  By no means do I have my faith 100% figured out- I’m being humbled and broken down more everyday, and therefore maturing as a believer.

Just like, as a parent, I’m learning as I go.

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God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Six months.

There is a reason why the sentimental song “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys  is always playing in the back of this dad and husband’s subconscious. Truthfully, I have to acknowledge that the days of my life are ultimately numbered; as are my wife’s and son’s.  And that’s why I just can’t take one single day for granted.

If I’m being really honest, I might have to admit the song has at least made my eyes water more than once or a few dozen times, but only because of the deep and heavy subject matter that it always makes me think about. And I may or may not be the only person who has the same kinds of thoughts when I hear the song; I don’t know.

It ranked #25 on Rolling Stonelist of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Released in 1966, the song was one of the very first pop songs to reference God in its title, though it was not necessarily a religious song.  No doubt about it: “God Only Knows“ by The Beach Boys has remained one of my favorite songs, ever since I first heard it twenty years ago on the 1991 episode of The Wonder Years, entitled “Heartbreak.”

While its nostalgic mood and melancholy emotion are what have always grabbed me, it wasn’t until a few months ago when my wife and I decided to watch the entire series of HBO’s Big Love (via Netflix) that I began to consider the value of the lyrics.  The show features “God Only Knows” as its theme song, so a few times everyday for a few months, I was exposed to the powerful song.

It’s very possible to love “God Only Knows” without actually understanding the meaning of the lyrics.  Admittedly, the lyrics do seem to be a bit confusing and conflicting. For example, the first line is, “I may not always love you but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it-I’ll make you so sure about it.”  Up until recently, I just assumed the speaker was doubting the future of his relationship with the woman he loved at that point in his life.

But the only conditional phrase in the sentence is “as long as there are stars above you.” The reference is to the love of his life still being alive.  If the stars are above you, you are on Earth. If the stars are below you, you are in Heaven.

So as long as the two of them are still alive together on Earth, he will always love her. Because despite the grandiose idea that two people can romantically love each other forever and be married eternally, the popular rabbi Jesus taught his followers that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.” Though it’s difficult for me to grasp and to deal with, I realize I will only romantically love my wife in this life, not the afterlife as well.

So much hangs on that phrase “as long as there are stars above you,” when looked at from an eternal (and Christianized) viewpoint.  I want to be married to my wife forever, not until one or both of us dies.  So when I think about how my romantic love for her is limited to this life and this Earth, it makes me sad.  And the song “God Only Knows” always points that out to me.

There is one other particular line in the song that I thought was peculiar: “If you should ever leave me, though life would still go on believe me, the world could show nothing to me so what good would living do me?”

My interpretation is that the lyricist is saying suicide would not be an option for him if she died before he did, but in essence, life would lose its flavor and he would have to essentially find a new purpose in life.  Because she is his life.

I think about that concept; probably nearly everyday.  Yes, I have been blessed with my ideal wife and one magical son, but for how long?  I don’t sit around and worry myself sick about them, knowing that any of us could encounter an accident or random freak medical condition or unseen poisonous spider bite.  But in the deepest of subconscious ways, there is a part of me that does always worry about something happening to them, or myself.

I just can’t imagine my life without my wife and my son.  Yes, my eyes are watering as I type these words.  So what can I do?  I can make sure through my actions, communication, time, and presence, that they know how much I love them. That they are truly, literally the world to me.  With or without the stars being above us.

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