Answers to your questions about Christianity (and everything): Q&A Day

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of th...

"I am now the most miserable man living. ... To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me."Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Search engines leave a tantalizing trail of breadcrumbs showing what question first brought readers to this blog. Today, some short Q&A based on those crumbs:

  • Christian songs for when you feel like a failure. A subset of the “I feel like a failure” questions. Songs I don’t know about. But some really great Christians and really great leaders have gone through times when they felt like failures. Read the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

Or Lord Winston Churchill, who carried Great Britain through the travails of World War II:

“I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.”

Your enemy is not the feeling of failure. It is the living of failure. Choose to live the life God has put in you.

  • Why do most Christians fail in school? I’m not sure “most” Christians fail in school, but I do know some reasons that some Christians fail in school.

They treat their time at school as evangelism time instead of learning time.

They assume an oppositional stance instead of attempting to “submit to the governing authorities” and “pray for all in authority.”

They “claim their rights” to activity space and activity fees instead of being “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

They fail science because they refuse to present the answer the teacher wants PLUS the one they believe.

They fail history because they insist on presenting a “Christian nation” view which doesn’t hold up. (Quick quiz: How many states continued to have tax-supported churches after the Bill of Rights was approved, and which denominations got state funding?*)

  • Can Cherokee men have multiple wives? Not now, but there was a time when polygamy was accepted among the Cherokee part of of my ancestral line. One ancestor had three wives; one of his sons is reported to have had nine. This makes for a great many cousins.
  • Am I living the life I created? Christians don’t believe this. We can play our hand well or poorly, and God teaches us how to play and instructs us moment by moment what to do with the cards that are in front of us. But this particular fallacy, “you are living the life you created,” carries us all the way to blaming people for their illnesses and disabilities: “Was it this man who sinned or his parents that he should be blind?” Jesus himself said not to make such assumptions.
  • Family life in the 1950s. By far, this is the top interest of people who find this site via search engines. The decline in household income we are currently experiencing has returned us to the 1960 household income average (in constant dollars). During that time, our TV models of American households included:

The Honeymooners, starring Jackie Gleason as a bus driver and Art Carney as a sewer worker living with their wives in crowded tenement housing;

Leave It To Beaver, where advertising executive Ward Cleaver’s two sons shared a bedroom, the entire family shared one bath, and if there were daily errands to run, June reminded Ward to do them on his way home from work in the family’s one car.

It’s ironic that our “nostalgic” television view of that era today is through the lens of an advertising agency (Mad Men) where people behave more nearly as they did in the era’s Peyton Place soap opera than in a typical community.

At the same time we are looking nostalgically to that period for views of the family, our nostalgic personal views of that era forget that the nuclear family is an anomaly. Nuclear families exist in America because suburbs and Social Security happened at the same time. Starting in the late 1940s in the US, adult children and their parents ceased to share homes, businesses, child-rearing, and all the benefits and challenges that these joint enterprises entailed. Most of the world does not understand us. Most of Christian history could not imagine us.

What questions would you like us to answer? More “answers” posts to come!

* Quiz answer: Puritanism (Congregationalism) was tax-supported in  Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The Church of England (which later separated as the Episcopal Church after the Revolution) was tax-supported in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. If you want to argue a “Christian nation” perspective, this is much stronger grounds than the number of times that the Founders named “God” or “the Creator” in their documents.

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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