Thirty-one years ago, my wife and I stopped at our voting precinct, cast our ballots, and then went on to Methodist Hospital, where our second son was born later that Tuesday.

The nation got Ronald Reagan. We got Benjamin, by far the better deal.

I find it fun to watch our sons grow up. I enjoyed the rituals of childhood, from reading bedtime stories to making up stories, from sports to science fairs, from church choirs to renewal weekends, from awkwardness around girls to the meeting of lifelong loves.

I admire the young men they are becoming, so skilled, so kind, so filled with enthusiasm for life. Now we have two daughters-in-law adding even more to the mix.

I suppose I should worry about the world we are handing off to them. But I don’t. I think whatever we give them they will make better.

Benjamin loves life. I remember the family charades game, where a visitor had to act out a 17-word saying. She did the second word first — “people” — and in unison Benjamin and I recited a line from Steve Martin’s standup-comic days. Our time was three seconds. She was appalled, and we laughed as fully as the picture above from Benjamin’s wedding last August.


Q: Do you think the politicizing of evangelical Christianity by the Republican party with its extreme social views, even including praise of capital punishment, has damaged the “brand” of Christianity in general?

A: Probably. Comparable grandstanding by progressive Christians also has damaged the brand. So have lazy churches that look only to themselves, and clergy who molest children, and self-avowed Christians who swindle others, and Bible-thumpers who are mainly money-raisers, and cold congregations that freeze out the different, and people who say “God told” them to shoot or hate. The list of those who damage the brand goes on and on. Over the centuries, and still today, Christianity in real life proves our need of faith, if not yet our attaining it.

Fortunately, the brand is durable. One believer who sacrifices for another can undo a lot of negative buzz. Go to the amazing ceremony where Habitat for Humanity hands someone the keys to their new home, and all around stand the everyday Christians who built that house and asked nothing in return. God’s smile at such a moment can send light into many a dark corner.