Christian Family Banned from all Shopping Centres

It’s nearly December, which means no more shopping centres for my family and myself until Christmas is finished.

We begun this self-imposed ban a couple of years ago, when we were feeling sick and tired of the commercialism and hype that shopping-centres bring to Christmas. Not to mention the crazed mobs!

Our original agreement was that we wouldn’t step foot in a shopping centre in December again. We’ve kept it fairly faithfully for a few years now. Combined with trying to think more about the gift of Jesus to save the world, it has been a positive experiment for us. We have been getting some cute family photos in the nativity setup they have had at St Paul’s Cathedral the last two years. No Santa photos for us. We try not to be legalistic about it. Under special circumstances exceptions can be made!

We don’t expect others to have to follow our example, it’s just our little game.

We enjoy shopping most of the time, but the net effect of the ban for us is that we do get less caught up in the hype of the shopping season. Combined with the fact we don’t watch much free-to-air TV, we like to think it helps stop the spread of affluenza.

Book review: “No Sex Please, We’re Parents”

I recently finished reading “No Sex Please, We’re Parents – How your relationship can survive children and what to do if it doesn’t”, by Melanie Roberts-Fraser and Oliver Roberts (published by ABC Books, 2007).

What a controversial title about three important topics of great interest to myself and many of my friends! The book is the result of 150 questionnaires, as well as some interviews with parents of young children.

The basic premise of the book is that if you are not careful, your marriage will crumble under the extreme pressure of babies and parenting. That it is easy to become part of the 20% of marriages that will fail before the first child turns 5. That little children are marriage-killers. All of this would be terribly alarmist, except for the fact that it is true! For this point alone the book is a helpful wake up call, possibly even worth giving to grandparents, caring friends and anyone you want to guilt into giving you some free babysitting!

It is fascinating for me, as a Christian reader, to look through the many quotes from parents that are littered through out the book. It’s full of gems like:

I had no idea that becoming a parent essentially meant giving up my relationship with my wife” (p6), “One day I looked at everything I had – a house, pool, boat, wife, children (that was the order I looked at it) – and I thought: ‘I’m so unhappy I’ve got to get out.’ So I did.” (p12), and one couple talking about “getting their marriage back” after their oldest child went to school by “getting drunk again… we’re returning to us and the things we always used to do” (p58).

Unfortunately the book is largely observational, and reads more like an long high school essay than a researched book. The authors never seem to ask the “why?” question, and so neglect to deal with any actual issues of philosophy or worldview such as:

  • What is the ideal balance between parenting and marriage?
  • Does one serve the other? Which? How do you decide?
  • Why are we failing so badly at this?

The lack of thoughtful ethical reflection includes obvious issues such as:

  • A lack of critique of the failings of Western individualism
  • Misunderstanding of what marriage is (a life-long covenant or something to fulfil needs? Can you really decide when “it has ended”? (p238))
  • Misunderstanding the value of motherhood (the glory of raising God’s image bearers or a mere economic injustice?)
  • Misunderstanding the priority of marriage over parenting
  • Misunderstanding the purpose of parenting (to train godly character and discipline foolish sin or simply to survive with your new cute accessories?)
  • Misunderstanding the purpose of sex (Mum’s body belongs to who? Do pay packets really make women more sexually attractive? (p163))

Without proper analysis of the underlying worldview issues the advice given in the book is shallow and nearly always falls back to: don’t try to be perfect, communicate better, and remember to relax and have a laugh. The book adds nothing to the ongoing public debate on child-care and the balance of women’s career and motherhood. It quotes dozens of lazy, irresponsible, selfish, acquiescing husbands without outlining anything even remotely like the ideal of husbands self-sacrificial servant leadership and initiative taking.

In the end the book is plain sad that it ends on two chapters on how to get divorced and what your “rights” are. The book’s “medicine” is simply another symptom of the disease of selfish individualism. The book encourages parental realism but it fails to ask any significant ethical questions about the meaning of marriage and parenting and Western lifestyle. Parenting and marriage are the toughest challenges you will ever face. Being so, they require much better advice than the shallow suggestions on offer here.

Name announcement

Just a quick update about our new baby girl. Her name is: Charlie-Kate Louise Schuller.

Charlie – after the 19th C Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon – a great stirrer and earthy lover of God.

Kate – after Katherine Von Bora the godly runaway nun who became the wife of the reformer, Martin Luther.

Louise – after Lois, the baby’s maternal grandmother, and the bible teaching grandmother of that early church leader, Timothy.

Wayne, Helen, Josiah, Jemima, Lydia, Charlie-Kate.

New Baby Girl

Dear Friends,

We are happy to announce the birth of the fourth heir of Cair Paravel, of which all thrones are now filled.

Time: 9th October 2006, 11:56am.
Weight: 4.17kg (9lb 3oz)

Helen is doing well, she is a champion. The baby’s first feed was very good. The labour was about 8 hours.

She is staying a Frankston hospital and resting. No visitors please until 4:00pm Tuesday onwards (give me a ring first to check if all is ok).

Please don’t send any presents, not really needed.

The Apostle Paul said: “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). May God’s power be displayed through the life of this child, so that through both her strengths and weaknesses Jesus Christ will show himself to be glorious and sufficient.

Tired + smiling,
Wayne, Helen, Josiah, Jemima and Lydia

A photo when she is 10 minutes old:

First cuddle with Mum:

Some nice closeups:

I am tired!

Christmas 2005

Praise God for the sending of his Son, Jesus Christ the boss, king, saviour, and coming judge of every person.

What a busy and exhausting month!

Among the busyness, we got our photo taken in the nativity scene at St Paul’s Cathedral (opposite Fed Square):

Better than a photo with Santa! In fact Channel Nine were there doing a news story that involved shots and interviews with us. You can download the digital version of the news item here (40 meg!) – this version contains extra interview footage that wasn’t shown on channel 9. (let me know if you have problems viewing this mpeg video file)
Our kids have really got into the Christmas story this year, they play-act with our nativity set non-stop. Here is what it currently looks like:

She Who Has A Name

We have named our new daughter Lydia Rachel Schuller. She is named after the Lydia in the early Christian church. Read the story in Acts 16:11-15. Rachel is named after the wife of Jacob in the Old Testament. In a nutshell: God’s people began with Abraham (2000BC). Abe’s son was Isaac, Isaac’s son was Jacob. From Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel. Read the story in Genesis 29 and onwards.

(We weren’t originally going to go with another Bible name. In fact at one point we worked our way through the names of the women in the first round of the US Tennis Open. So she nearly ended up with a Russian name!)

5 minutes old:

After 48 hours:

Jemima and Lydia:

Josiah will make a good father one day:

Jemima is enjoying lots of cuddles:

A New Baby Girl

We are thankful to God to announce that Helen gave birth to a baby girl at 6:40am this morning (10th September 2004).

What a long night! Helen worked extremely hard and is recovering well. Praise God for his gift of new life, and for another image bearer to bring glory to him. We’re extremely grateful for the quality of hospitals and public maternal care in Australia.

The baby was 3.94 kilograms, 52 cm long and she is fairly sleepy (as expected).

We haven’t given her a name yet. Submissions are welcome, but the parents decision is final! 🙂

This is almost a smile:

What a relief for Helen after such a long wait:

I was very tired also:

She needs a name (we are not sure who Dave is):

Wasgij Warriors

Helen and I recently completed Destiny Wasgij 1 + Destiny Wasgij 3. We had already completed Destiny Wasgij 2 on holiday in Sandy Point last year.

The first time it took us about 30 person hours (we were on holiday!), but we have improved that time by many hours on the next two. We are getting good at jigsaws together! Josiah has memorised his 20 piece Thomas puzzle, so we upgraded him to a 25 piece Tonka jigsaw. He struggled with it for a few hours, but now he can do it very easily.

The only question left now is whether we attempt the 8 original Wasgij’s or find a different way to spend free time together!

Old Schuller’s Web Site

December 2003:

We are enjoying a nice holiday after a busy and hard year. Wayne has finished his four years of full time theological training at Ridley College.
For the last two years we have been involved in the local church of St Mark’s Family Church Reservoir West.

Photo in Cranbourne Shopping Centre carpark
Josiah and Jemima on their favourite step

Our house from behind
Wayne's beloved shed

August 1st 2002

Jemima Ruth Schuller is born!

February 20th 2001

Josiah Lucas Schuller is born!

April 1999

Marriage! Helen Pratt becomes Helen Schuller.