Sunday, June 16, 2013

The F Word

Samuel MacNair was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1699. His father, James MacNair, was driven from Scotland into Ireland during the persecution, in the reign of Charles II of England. Samuel MacNair married Anna Murdock, and with his family and father-in-law, then 80 years of age, came to America in 1732 and landed at Bristol, Pennsylvania. They passed the first winter in an old schoolhouse around which the wolves howled at night.

One of the sons of Samuel MacNair, also named Samuel MacNair, was born September 25, 1739. He married Mary Mann. He died April 20, 1816 and was buried at Abington Cemetery, near Philadelphia. He was survived by six of eight children born to the couple.

The grandson of Samuel MacNair, Samuel MacNair III, was born October 10, 1772. He married Cornelia Van Artsdalen. He died March 3, 1848, and was buried near Hartsville, Pennsylvania. he and Cornelia had seven children- four boys and three girls.

Samuel MacNair's great-grandson John MacNair was born in 1804. He married Rachel Service. He died in 1893, and is buried at Neshamany Church, Hartsville, Pennsylvania.The couple had eight children.

Howell MacNair, the great-great-grandson of Samuel MacNair, was born in 1848. At one time he was a tax collector and justice of the peace in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He married Hannah M. Hoover, a distant relation of President Herbert Hoover. Howell and Hannah MacNair had seven children- Marie, Helen, Charles, Arthur Stanley, Adeline, Irvine, and Howell Raymond. Irvine MacNair was a justice of the peace in Bucks County as well, for 63 years. Howell MacNair died in 1912.

Arthur Stanley MacNair was the great-great-great-grandson of Samuel MacNair, born September 28, 1881. He married Sue Green on November 3, 1911 and had two children- Arthur Stanley MacNair, Jr., and Helen Elizabeth MacNair.

Arthur Stanley MacNair, Jr., the great-great-great-great-grandson of Samuel MacNair, was born on August 7th, 1913. He married Marjorie Dawn Morgan on February 24, 1939. The MacNairs had three children, Richard Stanley, Barbra Eleanor and Evelyn Jean. He died on March 13, 1996.

Richard Stanley MacNair, the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Samuel MacNair, was born on February 7, 1943. He married Mary Louise Finch on July 24, 1965 in Mancelona, Michigan. They had four children- Sean, Marc, Dawn and Darcie.

Sean Lawrence MacNair is the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Samuel MacNair. He married Laura Louise Hall Rose on August 8, 1998.

And the ninth generation removed from Samuel MacNair, Samuel's great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, made his appearance on February 2nd, 2000. And barring some miracle or major advances in the healing of autism, Matthew Stanley MacNair may be the end of the line.

I'm a father, just as Richard is my father and A. Stanley was his and Arthur was his and Howell was his, all the way back to the first generation to come to America, Samuel. Samuel had a father, and it goes all the way back to the beginning, to the day when God created Scrapple and shoo fly pie and saw that they were good. And regardless of popular opinion, fathers are important. I might not have an ability with math if my father hadn't encouraged his kids to do the puzzle magazines. He might not have a good grasp of words if his father hadn't have been a learned man. A. Stanley was a minister, Arthur was a salesman; Howell was a justice of the peace, Irvine was too. Things get passed on between father and son that have an effect on the next generation.

The struggle for that next generation becomes finding their place while respecting what has gone on before. Scrabble isn't my thing. My father the career military man begot a son who has no desire for the military. My grandfather the Baptist begot my father the eventual Catholic. And so on and so on.

Matthew Stanley MacNair is my son, and Rebecca Evelyn MacNair is my daughter. With both of them having autism spectrum disorder, I wonder sometimes how they will grow up. Will they get married? Will they have children of their own? Will either of them like double anchovy pizzas, or will they be a traitor to their genes and like beets and liver? Will they be baseball fans and readers and lovers of good music?

That has yet to be decided. Fatherhood is alternately a responsibility and a crapshoot. You take in all the advice, but ultimately you just roll the dice and hope they land well. I try my best, my father tried his best, and his father before him. It's not as easy as it looks. Fatherhood may be a profanity to some, but it's something I take very seriously.

In the eight generations that Sean’s ancestors (that’s what he calls us all) have lived in this country he can lay claim to 256 grand-parents. Blood lines and genes of 250 people are a part of his makeup. His features are half MacNair, half Finch, but along what pathway came each of those attributes? Why is he interested in spelling and his brother Marc all wrapped up in dinosaurs? Rhinos I could understand, but why the allosaurus? Something of all that mob of progenitors continues in my grandchildren, and I have no way of knowing who contributed what. But I do know my grandson. He is Sean Lawrence and there is not another like him anywhere. He has, as do you and I, a sense of self as utterly differentiated from any other self.
---Arthur Stanley MacNair, Jr., late 70’s

Friday, June 07, 2013

An open letter to Pastor Paul Endrei, Senior Pastor of Church on the Rise, a church for the whole family... NOT

Dear Pastor Paul;

I received your postcard advertising the Slammin' Kidz Daze water fun event at Church on the Rise. It sounds like a lot of fun if I were a kid. I have two children, so it would be a lot of fun for them... but I need to back up a bit.

My wife and I attended Church on the Rise for three years, from 2010 to 2013. In that time you had a ministry for special needs children called Special Blessings. This is the main reason why we attended the church. It was staffed by a few volunteers who, although their numbers were few, were devoted to the children under their care.

I wanted to see that ministry grow. The fact that it even existed was an anomaly in the church world- churches just weren't in the habit of taking care of autistic children, or children with other disabilities. It showed me that you were concerned about making a place for all children, and their parents too.

Special Blessings soon became the church's best kept secret. It was never promoted. There was never any mention of the ministry from the pulpit or in the bulletin. When they lost a volunteer, there was no attempt to recruit from the large number of members of the church. Sure, they would have needed some training, but that wasn't impossible, and it was something I would have gladly helped with. I came up with ideas. I filmed a video asking for volunteers while at the same time making the ministry sound attractive. Nothing.

In late January my son had a meltdown at church in which he kicked a volunteer and bashed his head against the concrete. After this incident Special Blessings was put on hiatus pending further review. We waited. And waited. And waited. No response was forthcoming from the church. Finally my wife and I just said "that's it." We wanted to be in church, but we couldn't wait around for the administrative wheels to turn when it was obvious that the Special Blessings wheels had been squeaking for awhile and had received no grease. Finally I received news that the volunteers had resigned, sensing that action from the church was never forthcoming, and the ministry was dead in the water.

You are missing a huge harvest field here, Pastor Paul. There are many, many families who can't attend church because the children's ministries are either unable or unwilling to accommodate them. Church on the Rise is a large church with many members. Surely, with a creative presentation, more volunteers could have been recruited. You could have been the leader in an area in which the church at large is sorely lacking.

I received a postcard from the church this week advertising a water play event for children that sounded like a lot of fun. Giant water slide! Inflatables! What kid wouldn't like that? You have always gone all out to provide fun things for the children, and you have obviously put a large portion of the church's budget towards that end. I certainly don't doubt that you care for children.

If you had only apportioned a sliver of that amount to a special needs ministry. If only you had included it in the bulletin once every six months. If only you had shown the video I created, one that your children's minister promised me would run, and kept promising me week after week even though it became obvious that you had no intention of running it. Was cutting the time of the service by one minute and 33 seconds that important?

The school year is over now, but I would like to invite you and any member of your staff to come visit Murray Ridge School in Elyria when school starts up again. Talk to some of the staff. Meet the children. See what kinds of needs parents such as myself are dealing with every day. Get a sense of what your church could accomplish with a little effort.

If you aren't willing to make the effort, then take "Church for the whole family" out of your promotional materials. You aren't a church for the whole family. You don't mean it.

If you reject my children, you reject me.