Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Giving

I've never read The Five Love Languages, but i've heard enough about them to discover that i am definitely not a gift-giver (or reciever). For me, material posessions feel too frivolous, too hollow, and too expensive to be a genuine expression of affection. If i find the right gift, i enjoy giving it, but giving gifts is someowhat unnatural for me. And so the gift-giving portion of Christmas can be a little difficult sometimes. It's hard to decide how much to spend and how many people to put on the gift list. Most of the time it's fine, and I do have spurts when i'm excited to spoil someone with the perfect present, but sometimes i just don't feel like giving.

However, during one of my lower gifting moods a few days ago, I realized that giving a gift you don't feel like giving is quite possibly more in line with the spirit of Christmas than I thought. Of course, usually we think that true giving is supposed to be enjoyable. Giving gifts out of obligation or to the ungrateful or undeserving is a vice to be avoided. But which kind of gift was Jesus? Certainly one given willingly, but do we know that he was given gladly? It was nearly more than the Father could afford. It was given to the ungrateful, the undeserving, and to people who would never give a comparable gift in return. God could have chosen not to send Jesus, but it seems like an element of obligation was probably present. I'm speculating about things beyond my understanding, but it wouldn't surprise me to discover that Jesus wasn't a fun gift to give.

So maybe when we have to give to people who already have more than they need, who won't be grateful, who won't give in return, who we really don't get along with very well . . . when the gift is more than we want to pay, could it be that those gifts are the ones that reflect the true spirit and meaning of Christmas? I'm not saying that Christmas is a depressing holiday all about obligatory gifts, but that perhaps when you give a gift that isn't fun, you've really tapped in to what it means to give like God gives. That sounds like something to be blessed for.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Finally fixed it

My apologies to the youth ministry blogring and all its users - when i changed over to blogger beta it deleted the code for the ring links and its taken me this long to get it back on here. Luckily it appears no one was checking up on me. But i didn't escape unpunished - my hit counts have been lousy lately and i assume its partly due to that.
God Bless.

Italian Quesedillias

Ok so this isn't very philosophical, but if one of my kitchen discoveries can be of use to someone else, this is my little spot on the web so i thought i'd put it there. I've discovered that a quesedillia (sp?) made of mozzarella and tomatoes and then spread on the outside with pesto is really good. Kind of a clash of cultures but i like it.

The perfect shredder

So i just opened my mail and my credit card company sent me some checks that they want me to use and then charge me interest for. I thought about shredding them and then envisioned someone taping the evenly cut strips back together and trying to use them. I was getting ready to do it anyway when my puppy walked in the room. Eureka! He's now turning the whole letter into unevenly sized, crumpled, and slighty slobber-dissolved debris.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Just a quarter?

Hello everyone,
I just looked at my salvation army kettle and its still empty. If you could "drop in" even a quarter, it would be awesome. the link is at the top of the page and looks like a kettle :) Thanks!

Social Maturity

So i'm in a class on adolescent development, and we're talking about various stages of maturity in different areas, such as social, intellectual, physical, etc. I'm really wondering about social maturity because i'm not aware of an objective way to judge it. My suspicion is that the average American measures social maturity by observing a subject's ability to "fit in" to society. But is "fitting in" a good measure?

I'm particularly interested in this concept because I was homeschooled for most of my education before college. One of the biggest concerns people have about homeschooling is that they are afraid the children don't get the social interaction that they need to mature socially. I won't argue that social development would occur differently for someone who was homeschooled than for someone who attended a public or private school with lots of other students. And I won't argue that most of them seem somewhat different from their peers upon graduation from high school. But are they worse off than their peers, or just different? (you can probably guess my opinon)

If social maturity is defined as the ability and tendency to conform, homeschoolers are definitely at a disadvantage. But i don't think that's the right definition, and i suspect that, at least when its worded this way, many people would agree with me. So how do we define social maturity?

It's possible that researchers have an objective standard, and if so i'd like to hear about it. But since i don't know theirs, i'll try at my own: Social maturity is an understanding of the social rules and norms in place in a given culture and the ability to use that knowledge effectively.

I didn't say "and the tendency to abide by those rules." i think a person can be socially mature and still behave in ways that are different from and uncomfortable to the people around them. Perhaps an extreme example would be reformers such as Martin Luther King Jr. The key is that they understand those rules and follow them or break them as they see fit. The difference between a socially mature person who breaks social rules and a socially immature person who breaks them is that the mature person is aware of the consequences that will result and has accepted them. The socially immature person breaks the rules and still expects other people to reward them for it.

If this is the case, then homeschoolers do have a disadvantage - they learn the rules slower because of their limited social interaction. Perhaps some never learn all the rules, but can't the same thing be said for non-homeschooled students? I believe most do come to understand their culture as well as the average member of that culture. Few homeshooled students are totally cut off from others, and social rules are also learned from parents. Then as they enter college or work they learn even more.

But i think public- and private-schooled students are also at a disadvantage - I suspect that they are strongly encouraged to always follow the social rules at a young age. (i.e. peer pressure) They don't have a chance to develop mentally and socially before they are forced to learn to survive in a sea of other immature people. They learn the rules well, but it seems it would be harder for them to break them when necessary.

Of course this is all my own speculation. And I know that i'm not able to be completely objective. But i think its a question worth raising, and i'd love to hear if anyone has more light to shed on the subject.