Happy 2nd Birthday Ana Grace!

Anastasia Grace McKinzie, Happy 2nd Birthday!

We are so proud of our first little girl. One year ago we were celebrating your safe and healthy arrival to us in Memphis, TN. Since then, you will have moved 6 times (including our move to Miraflores today)! With all the transitions our family makes, we are so blessed to have an easy-going little girl. We are excited to see you as a big sister to Maggie Kate. We hope she can learn from you. Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Newborn Anastasia Grace McKinzie (and you kept every bit of that hair!)

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March 23, 2008

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2 Years Old!

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Happy 2nd Birthday Ana Grace!

The Gospel of the Ignorant, Part II (Attitude)

One of my best friends told me over the phone than Part I came across as hoity toity. This is highly ironic, but I’ll not deny that I planned such a reading to some degree. I like irony. The title of the series is designed to be provocative, but it relies on a bit of tongue-in-cheek hoity toitiness to achieve that. Moreover, it presses my point if readers are challenged to grapple with the substance of what I am saying despite the perceived tone. It is intended to be facetious, however, so let me clarify. I am sincere when I say that the failure to communicate is a serious shortcoming, and the burden does not lie on an audience to scale some academic’s ivory tower just hear human language. By starting Part 1 with a personal note, I seem to have committed a tactical error. I did not intended to say, “here’s how people criticize me, and now I will react and tell them why they are wrong.” I intended the opposite: to say, “my perspective comes from the academics side of the dialogue, and I know that I can err on the side of verbosity and information overload.” That is an error. But that admission in itself does not deal with the issues I go on to discuss. In other words, I am not writing out of emotion. I’ve been thinking about these things for a while, and it was time to put them in writing. With that little preface, lets move on to Part II. NOTE: I had this section written before my friend’s phone call.

Those who take personal offense at the insinuation that they might be ignorant perhaps misunderstand the word, for it is far from a critique of intellectual capacity. Ignorance is not stupidity; it is merely the lack of information with which we are all born. The number of things I am ignorant about far outweighs the number of things I am not. It’s the nature of my existence as a finite being. Some people do not take this fact in stride, however, and their reaction is one of the things that most contributes to the unrepentant ignorance of the church, I suspect. I am talking about insecurity and defensiveness. If your reaction to a discussion, class, or sermon that is deep, academic, or technical is to lash out defensively or critically regarding why it is unhelpful or unnecessary, you may want to consider that ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of. It is something to overcome. I start with this particular hurdle to repentance because it usually employs arguments from the other hurdles (discussed later). This is a disposition or attitude problem. Without addressing the heart, it is pointless to deal with other issues. If educated people have displayed arrogance or condescension, do not blame learning itself. Although academics are so prone to snootiness that we might think there is a necessary correlation, it’s not true. Theyre just sinners in need of grace. In fact, humility is the basic requisite for learning. The best teachers are the best learners, and pretentious teachers are the least effective. The point is: Dont assume that just because someone is throwing around new words or pushing a foreign concept that they are trying to use insider-speak or make you feel dumb. That does no justice to all the humble, kindhearted academics who want to make you an insider, because your informed opinion matters. And the simple fact is that most people who learn a lot in their area of expertise don’t learn anything about pedagogy; they are ignorant about how to present their ideas in the most learnable fashion for us outsiders without compromising the idea in the process. The same applies to theology, so be gracious! And if you have a specialty in pedagogy, consider starting a ministry to theologians.

Another attitude problem is laziness. Learning is work, and many people don’t want to put in the sweat and tears. This is certainly so for people who use up all their sweat and tears on their jobs and families. It’s understandable that laborious learning about God has no appeal in that circumstance. Many people come to Wednesday night service, for example, with a forty yard stare. But this is mental fatigue, not laziness. The need for repentance comes when there is opportunity for study but it’s just easier not to do, or perhaps it’s too boring. In my experience, the number of people who actually do the reading assigned for a church class is atrociously low, and it gets proportionately lower as the difficulty of the reading increases. This is not because most people truly just can’t find the time, and it is certainly not that they happen to find less time when the reading is more difficult. It is that the mental discipline of study, like so many other disciplines, is optional for most Christians. It may take significant amounts of time, rereading, forced concentration, contemplation, and caffeine, but learning new vocabulary, new concepts, and new modes of thinking is a vital part of spiritual growth. To choose not to because its difficult is lazy at best.

Then there is selfishness, which often comes in the guise of concern about spiritual health: its about whether I’m getting something out of it. Beyond the point that having my cup filled isn’t the primary (to say nothing of only) standard by which we must judge sermons, classes, etc., there is the point that God probably wants you to get a better cup just as much as have it filled. If the newness or difficulty of a subject causes me not to get something out of the class, it is not a signal that I should find something easier. On the contrary, the truth is precisely that the challenge will be the most nourishing, beneficial something you could get. If I continue class after class, for example, to get nothing out of it, it’s most likely because I’m not putting in any effort beyond showing up and expecting it to be a matter of listening and leaving (granting, of course, that there are such things as bad teachers and useless classes). Although I hear Christians talk enough about the sacrificial nature of discipleship, areas such as study often fail to reflect the talk. Is it possible that dying to self might be lived out in the discipline of learning?

Next: Part III (Assumptions)

The Gospel of the Ignorant, Part II (Attitude)

AG—Back to School 2009

Ana Grace had a great first day back to school. Her teacher is Miss Erica (which I will have to get a picture of). Miss Erica is very sweet and bubbly from what we can tell. She told me that Ana did not shed a single tear the whole time, and she was very impressed that I packed an entire plum for her–Ana eats plums whole now (peel and all) and LOVES them. Greg and I felt really good about her first day.

While she was at school, we got to experience the joys of Peruvian life. Greg needed a specific document in order to sign the lease of our new apartment. We waited in line for about 30 minutes and talked to a man that told him what he needed to do: go to the national bank and deposit two different amounts of money into two different accounts. We waited in line at the bank for about 20 minutes and got our receipts. Then, we had to print off our own forms (these places save so much money because they don’t make copies for you and don’t print their own forms for you). Luckily, we have some good friends (another missionary couple) that live in walking distance from the buiding we were in and allowed us to print off the forms. We head back to the building, wait in line about 40 minutes, and see the man again with everything he told us to get. Then, he instructs us to make copies of Greg’s passport, the forms with his stamps, and the receipts. We head across the street to make the copies (the lady has to make a killing off of doing what she does) and then take the forms back to the man. Whew! Mission accomplished. Greg can now legally sign our contract for our new home. It is now time to pick Ana up from school.

We hope your morning was a little more productive than that!

Pictures of Ana’s first day:

Unfortunately, Ana has gotten into the habit of sleeping until around 8 am. This is what I found when I went in to wake her up for school.

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First Day Smiles in her Camembert Uniform

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Walking to meet the Smith Family. We all rode over in the team vehicle.

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Playing with her BFF, Shaye. They are in two different classes this year.

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This is Ana’s very first time to have a sucker. Miss Erica gave it to her before we left. I felt like it was well-deserved.

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AG—Back to School 2009