All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!



What is normal?

There are a lot of ways to answer that question depending on how it is approached.  The social sciences define normality one way.   A statistician defines it slightly differently.  Erma Bombeck defined normal as a setting on the clothes dryer.

Some time ago our church had an evangelism campaign.  That effort brought into our church some people whose background was radically different than our normal church members.  The person I spoke to yesterday was one of these folks with the radically different life experiences.  I'm going to call that person "AP".  (Anonymous Person)

AP had a messed up childhood.  Followed by a messed up adolescence.  Which resulted in a chaotic young adulthood.  During AP's life the state was involved.  Due that involvement AP became institutionalized in the sense of expecting social workers, programs and whatever bureaucratic initiative was en vogue to "fix" or "improve" AP's life.

AP has now spent about 10 years in church and even married a life long church member.  During that time AP would seek out advice from other church members and ignore it.  It didn't matter what the subject was, money, child rearing, relationships, etc.  AP wanted advice but when that advice didn't fit AP's view of "normal", it was disregarded.  This created some conflict at church. 

Most folks are happy to help out with a listening ear and a bit of advice.  When the person asking for advice goes out and promptly does the opposite, its a bit of a slap in the face.  When AP would go back and want to talk about how things were an absolute train wreck the people who listened patiently before, were less than enthusiastic.

That became AP's pattern.  Ask advice.  Ignore advice.  Experience train wreck. Wonder why people weren't as friendly about talking about the absolutely predictable train wreck.  Experience people pulling away.  Rinse and repeat.  Add to that cycle some complaining about how being married and earning an income disqualified AP from getting all the social welfare services previously enjoyed and you get the picture.

Well, not the whole picture.  AP was growing in faith and love of the Lord.  One other thing, AP could be counted on to help out with just about any and every project at church.  Sunday school, VBS, taking the teens to a youth rally or bible camp, AP was game for any and all church related activity and would pitch in.

Good heart, willing to help, growing faith and predictable drama and personal upheaval.  That was AP's new church normal.  Recently AP experienced another train wreck.  In fairness I don't know how anyone, including AP could have seen it coming, at least not without a lot of information that most folks wouldn't have.

This last train wreck involved one of AP's kids.  This situation is causing AP to question the previous "normal".  It's taken several years but now the reevaluation of "normal" is under serious consideration.

As humans our world view is a big part of what we call normal.  As long as things are going along the way that we expect there is no reason to change course.  As long as there is no real discomfort, there is no reason to question "normal".

Unfortunately we see this truism mostly in its absence.  It's easy to look at a situation that is sub-normal and see the deficiencies.  An organization, such as an employer, that has a sub-optimal management or operating structure is easy to spot, from the outside.  The same holds true in government, formal education and a host of other human endeavors.  Discomfort and pain is almost always a requisite for humans to object to what they have come to expect as normal.

The enlightened man seeks a higher state of normal.


  1. About the time I was clicking "publish" it occurred to me that some people have a much higher tolerance for pain both psychological and physical than others. I'm not sure how to work that in except to say that after years of conditioning AP has a very high tolerance for psychological pain.

  2. Susan8:53 PM

    Res, I am going to have to think about this one. I spent almost 2 years supporting and helping my dearest long time friend through some really bad stuff myself. It isn't easy Res. But I can tell you, you have to have persistence, a stubborn streak a mile wide, and a Godly love filled heart to help this person. I am here to tell you, it can be done. But it takes a large and loving helping hand from above.

    Every email response I sent my friend was preceded by a prayer of let me help her find her way. AP may never tell you about that childhood, other than the barest minimum. But it sounds like you have a teachable opportunity here.

    When abused kids suffer from years of emotional beat downs and manipulation, it takes all the love in your heart to crack that barrier and reach them. Question is, do you and your fellow churchmen want to do this? From what I can tell in your post here, you folks are having a hard time relating to this normal of AP's. That is not unusual for folks raised in a normal and loving family like you were.
    But AP is missing a lot of the "tools" that you have that you don't even realize you have. It takes a lot of repetition before people like AP will believe you are telling the truth.

    I hope for AP's sake that you all can crack through that wall they put up. It sounds like AP is well worth the effort Res. You also sound like the kind of guy who is willing to go that extra mile too.

  3. I've got more information about the situation than I care to know. I think that AP has finally come to a point where there is enough motivation to make the change.

    Changing your world view is very hard. If that happens, and I think it is, AP's life will take on a whole new meaning and direction.

    1. Susan9:40 AM

      Yes indeed, it is very hard. Even for us who grew up with a routine childhood. Imagine how hard it is for somebody who grew up without all the mental and emotional tools that we got naturally from our decent childhoods?

      I wish I was a better writer sometimes. Because I can relate to this situation more than you could ever begin to imagine. Yes, you might feel very overwhelmed by all that information. But if you all are intent on helping this person through the crisis, it is going to take all the God given patience you can muster.

      Just imagine Jesus walking around on earth when he did. He probably felt the same way that you and I do when faced with that kind of overwhelming situation. Imagine if God had chosen today for Jesus to perform his mission on earth. The distaste he would feel would be palpable wouldn't it.