The Cowardice of Hiding from Home or: Dissipative Structures in Space and Time

An Audio Reading of the Essay:

SUMMARY: This is a short essay. The aim is to help you start thinking about how to get to work in your home. We’re here to give you tools to make you think and read. Make a habit of reading and thinking, while it’s still legal. 

RULE YOUR HOME WELL.

A brief semi-introductory note about “the times.

Right off the bat, something has to be said this week (this week being the week after the ongoing election that will kick us off into the 2020’s, the “Coughing ‘20s” if you will). Christian, make every effort not to be more concerned with the election than the state of your home and your church. That’s what the media wants. You need to think about the things you can do and do them. Do what you can where you can, you have a civic duty (if you’re an American) to vote and be informed in doing so. But remember the other 67% of the equation I just mentioned. Just because we don’t run the state, doesn’t mean that Christ isn’t King or that we’ve lost the Church and the Home. Keep it that way. Christ is King, and your church and home must reflect this.

We are to know the times, and specifically, be men who know the times (1 Chron 12:32, Esther 1:13). Not only are we to be men of time, we’re to be men of space. We don’t live in a void. We don’t live in a vacuum. We need to know, but we also need to do. We aren’t postmodern leftists who can’t “know” anything and can only “do” (2 Tim 3:7). The postmodernist knows nothing and merely incites chaos, in faith that nothing will beget something. For that you need a father to bring order. Specifically, the Triune God of scripture. We must both know (orthodoxy/doctrine) and do (orthopraxy/practice). Yes, these are troubling times. But we must also remember what our work is. The Reformed Operator remembers that we don’t set the conditions of the Battle, we fight the battles in service of the mission. Rain, snow, fire, loss of communications, mass casualty- it doesn’t matter. No matter the elemental conditions we still fight, because our fight is not necessarily matter, it is a spiritual war. In fact, we know that when things get their worst, Christians fight their best. You persecute us and the chaff goes with the wind. We also know who wins the cosmic war. Don’t stop fighting.

1. SPACE AND TIME (and a bad theology of work)

As is often the case, good cosmopolitan consumer, you’ve been lied to. You’ve been sold a bill of goods. The lie that, the home is a human parking space. You’ve been catechized to believe that leisure time is any time that takes place in the space where you’re not working. C. R. Wiley asserts that often homes are merely “glorified parking spaces.” This is a genius assertion if you consider the implications for a moment. A vehicle that sits too long, eventually collects dust, spawns leaks, won’t start, and becomes rusted. You aren’t called to be a rusting truck in your home, oh king of your home parked in a chair staring into the void. Every screen you own, whether it’s in your home, pocket, study, office, or bedroom is aimed at parking you in a space, but the question is what are you doing with that screen in that space and that time? 

 We’re indoctrinated to believe that leisure is inherently passive and inactive, the current theory being that you earn leisure, aka “doing nothing” by going to work. You do this by coasting through space and time in neutral. As Joel Webbon often asserts “neutrality is a myth.” Being in the space (the living room or home) somehow gives you a right to do nothing when you walk through the threshold. The problem is time doesn’t stop when you enter the living room through the threshold. We don’t live in a void, remember? That threshold being the threshold of your home. Your living room is a place, a place to be lived in. It’s a place to be brought into order. Your front door is not a portal to leisure. It’s a portal to working, keeping, and resting. It is for serving the living God. How you do so, I leave to you for the time being. (We’ll be doing an episode and guide for family worship this month, fear not!) 

A wise platoon chief once told me, “as husbands, and especially as fathers, once we go home the other job starts.” At the time, I was a selfish, lazy, disordered mess in my own home. I worked extremely hard at “work” and did next to nothing at home, usually playing video games or watching something. I observed something troubling, and a tendency trending in me. Sometimes I’d see men of incredible renown on the battlefield sitting around in platoon spaces for some “email” or “tasker” that would never come because they didn’t want to go home. They didn’t want to see their wife or kids. Those men, while courageous in certain spaces, were cowards at home. They weren’t willing to build and fight in their home. Our culture indoctrinated them to believe that they have no value in the home. It’s just a parking spot for their body. A whole group of warriors who could fight well, but they didn’t know how to build, and eventually everything they fought for collapsed under its own structural decay. They were good men, but they weren’t good husbands and fathers. 

As husbands and fathers, we must lovingly maintain order. This is a call for every man. A vocation that is inescapable. Bad theology makes bad men, who produce bad work, and produce bad children. Bad roots, bad fruits. We have to remember to follow through, to see things to their finish (more on this soon).

2. ORDER AND THE DISSIPATIVE STRUCTURE

Put on your thinking caps for a moment. This principle is incredibly helpful.

 In a fallen world, we must assume entropy. Entropy being simply the degradation of matter and energy over time. As Christians, we are being conformed to the image of Christ daily (progressive sanctification) we are spiritually tending toward order. We also know that physically, things are the opposite. Gravity and time have undeniable impacts on our physical wellbeing. While Christians are not materialists (who believe that matter is all that matters), we also know that we do need to do things in a physical world, and that those things we do have value. Both now and in the future. 

We need to see order as a dissipative structure (as Jordan Peterson points out in one of his lectures). We need to see it like we see that tornado in the Tang (astronaut orange kool-aid). When you take a spoon and put it into a cup full of water and start stirring in a Tang mix (or stirring just the water), a twisting funnel appears in the water as you stir. It’s fun to watch the water tornado form as you act on the water. But take the spoon out, stop stirring. What happens? We see that water returning to its dormant state, the Tang twister disappears. The once visible structure is gone. That dissipative structure (the twister) is no more. That is order in a fallen world. Without God’s rule, there is no order. There is nothing. 

Allow me to illustrate this. Awhile back, in God’s Providence, I purchased a set of Power Blocks (best investment I ever made) and an adjustable bench that my wife and I could use to work out. When I work out, I sweep the patio area. Every day. What will not shock you is that every day, that patio gets dirty. Each day I get up and that porch is no longer well swept and in order. The order I imposed on my porch has disappeared. I must act to maintain that order on my patio. This is a wonderful reminder of how woefully and infinitely inadequate we are compared to the God who formed the universe. The Holy One who upholds its very existence. Things left to themselves, decay, degrade, and deform. They do not become more ordered. Remember entropy? We serve a Holy God who cursed his crowning creation and the cosmos as a result of the disobedience of Adam. But the Triune God of Scripture was also merciful in freely giving a covenantal cure for the curse- Christ. God brings order from order and maintains order. Order will not be spontaneously generated; it must be created. Order requires an acting outside force, it doesn’t appear stochastically. This is where you come in, head of the cosmos known as the domicile, lord of a household, servant and lord of your home under your prophet, priest and King, Jesus Christ.

This is what you need to see. Order is work, and it is commanded of you. Regardless of where you are, your work is a vocation. Vocation simply means a call. You will fail, and you will fail often. But it’s better to try and fail, than to rust and fail. It is not enough to maintain mere order. A cleanly swept porch is no replacement for a wife and children who are faithfully taught and loved by their husband or father in the word, prayer, catechism, fear and admonition at home. Improve your baptism! But don’t stop there. Start there. With faith, repentance, and worship of the Triune God of Scripture.

That is merely the starting point to courage at home. It does you no eternal good to clean your damn room and still be damned. You will merely have a cleanly swept room that is a dormitory for dumb doctrines, the devil, and his demons. But, if you are in Christ, you can reflect the Triune God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit in bringing order to your household. This is a loving, covenantal order. Meaning taking part in your duties at home, and not merely viewing your home as a vacation spot for bingeing time away in a comfortable space (in space and time). You need to work and keep, men. Both spiritually (in Christ) and physically (from Christ). Don’t get complacent. Don’t get lazy. Don’t get soft. Don’t get filthy. Don’t get rusty. Get some grit, lead your family and bring order to your home. Be salty. But bring Christ, not just external cleanliness. Jesus didn’t criticize the pharisees for external cleanliness, he criticized them because it wasn’t in faith. Work hard at keeping the dissipative structure in your home a visible structure. Lest it dissipate and chaos rule. It is always Christ or Chaos as was once said. Which one is spilling out both into, and from your home? 

3. ONE IN SEVEN

Amidst the simple and ridiculously difficult literal cycle of seven 24-hour periods we need rest. 6 literal days of hard work, in every breath we draw and everything we do by, with, and through faith. We need to rest, to take liberty as the military would call it. To take leisure, meaning to take “license”. It’s a creation ordinance to rest in Him on the Sabbath. For the Christian this leisure comes as the first day of the week, the wellspring of the week from which we work. The Sabbath is now the Lord’s Day. The place where we rest in Christ’s finished work and worship the Triune God. When you think of leisure, may it always be leisure that glorifies God. We rest by worshipping that we might work. How wonderfully reflective it is that God’s gracious gift to us each week is rest that is followed by working from that rest. May you do this with all your might.

The key to the Lord’s Day is looking at Hebrews 10:24-25:           

  24      and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

  25      not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.[1]

We’re to gather and stimulate or “spur on” or “irritate” one another to love and good works. Good works and love are a living part of a dissipative structure. They are rightly ordered by God’s work, and without them we will become stagnant, filthy and rusted. With my cards on the table, I am trying to stir you off of your couch. I’m trying to get you to work with your family. In your home, in prayer, in service to the church. Instead of “stimulate” the ESV translation uses “stir up.” Like that tang tornado. A dissipative structure. Think about how to do that in your brothers in Christ. We are to stir the pot, to whip up holy zeal. This is good and right and clearly is a part of our day of rest.

Resting is to be one day a week, and that rest is in worship to God. Remember that we can work but only as a gift. Start looking around and build structures, build your home so that you’ll be able to go forth from that home and build on the cornerstone. Work and Keep those dissipative structures that are in your control, given to you to work and keep by faith. There is chaos out there but bring order to your home. You can only do this from the solid foundation of Christ. Everything else is chaos- as Christ Himself would call it, Dissipation (the Greek word is Crapula Luke 21:34). It’s hard to work when you have a mind filled with crapola, so fill it with Christ and get to work. Don’t be a coward, stir each other up and get to work everywhere for the King. 


MEMENTO MORI

-R.O.->

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