Paul's Passing Thoughts

Christmas, Family, Life, and Church According to the Dohses

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 17, 2013

ppt-jpeg4Most people who read here know me simply as “paul,” but I am Paul Dohse, one of the “Dohse” family. In case anybody hasn’t noticed, the world is a crazy place, and mostly perplexing to the reasonable soul. This week, amongst the craziness that is unavoidable in this world, the word “family” came up often.

Perhaps there is not a word that is used more loosely. The usage found most incredulous is employee as “family.” The Olive Garden restaurant used to have a commercial that said you are family while you are eating there: “When you’re here, you’re family.” Motorcycle gangs are often touted as family also. Many claim that the mob or some street gang is the “family I never had.”

So, is “family” a company, an Italian gathering of gluttony, or a criminal enterprise? I think it is something much deeper. I think God wires family within us. Family must be defined by watching it over time. Family is a mystery—something deep, it can only be defined by what it does.

However, some elements of family are evident, and that’s where the confusion comes in. Families supply a need, or a perceived need; for example, money which leads to confusing a job with family. A residual need supplied by an entity does not make a family. A family is a refuge that enables one to stand against the world.

And, I have learned something about families by examining the Dohses. We have something to add to the conversation. I have noticed that some families act different from our family, and I wondered, “why?”

Many things make up the Dohses, but I think since I do not have the rest of my life to fully evaluate us, as would be the necessary discipline to evaluate any family comprehensively, I will choose the most prominent place in view at this time. I think what primarily makes the Dohses the Dohses is the Whistmans, my grandparents. A family forged by an orphan named Elwood who had little family.

Now, I will describe their motif, but we must go deeper; what forged this motif? They were just simply always there. Their little plot of land in a secluded area of southern Ohio was a refuge away from the world—if family, no reservations required. And though counseling was always available from my grandmother—no qualifications required. My grandmother was a woman of deep convictions; God is a Democrat and she would never back down from that fact, but if you were family, you could be a Republican, and many of us are. Really, she set that standard for the Dohses; you make your position known and then you get on with being family. Besides, the hope of “I told you so” always lingered in the future.

No qualifications, only hope of a better future. As a young person, I often lost touch with my grandparents, but sometimes needed a refuge, a time away from the world. I would simply pack a bag and throw it in whatever I was driving at the time. Arrival time had to be planned for 7pm, this set the scene that was as sure as the setting and rising of the sun. The clanging of the gravel driveway aroused my grandmother from her chair in front of the TV, on channel 3, and my grandfather would remove the pipe from his mouth and ask, “Who is it?” My grandmother would stand at the door and announce who was arriving. Upon walking in the door, the conversation was a continuation of the day before, whenever that was. It was 25 steps to the guest room with the suitcase, and then 15 steps to the leftovers being placed on the table: rabbit, fried potatoes, beans, marinated cucumbers, chicken, and without fail, “I’m sorry that there isn’t much to eat.” No reservations needed.

Importance of family was forged into my grandparents by life itself. My grandfather was an orphan, and married into my grandmother’s family of seventeen siblings. During those times, the formation of a large family required the courage of love. They laughed together, worked together, supported each other, and mourned together when one of their own was struck down by the world. Their family, our family, was spared no category of tragedy. My mother, as a young girl, would go to the post office daily to check the posted list of fallen soldiers during WWII. Our family members were on that list too many times. My grandparents were a perfect symphony of one rescued from loneliness into the different seasons that come part and parcel with family. Hence, family was invaluable to them.

What good is any narrative about family without a juicy confession? This isn’t off-topic, and I will explain. Being a Dohse has taught me about another entity that uses the word, “family” loosely. That entity is the church. It shouldn’t be that way, that’s not what God intends, but it is. Since becoming a Christian in 1983, the church has taught me life’s most important truths, but it has never been my family. I have observed this mystery called “family” over the years and drawn a conclusion: The Dohses are a family, not the institutional church.

Why is this? It’s because Christians are not thinkers. This problem started in the Garden. God created Adam and Eve, and they talked with God face to face. Then the serpent came along and convinced Eve that thinking for herself was a bad idea.  And the institutional church also thinks the same. You are not able to reason directly with God, you need a spiritual expert. The key to revival in the American church is the thinking Christian. When God said, “Come, let us reason together,” that wasn’t a memo given to the institutional church—He is talking to you. Until Christians figure that out, the claim on family is no more relevant than the same claim posited by Wal-Mart. As a Christian, and in the darkest hours when the world sought my life, it was the Dohses that spared no sacrifice in giving me refuge. It was the Dohses who did all they could, it was the Dohses who left everything on the field except that look that said, “if only I could do more.”

Church is a family as long as you agree with them. Yes, truth is important; the love of truth defines a Christian for God is truth, but Christian truth in our culture is defined by the traditions of ecclesiastical experts and parroted by lazy thinkers obeying the commandment that supposedly thunders from Mt. Sinai: “THOU SHALT NOT THINK FOR YOURSELF!” The gospel of oligarchy produces a family that is best defined by a used car salesmen—you are family while you are buying a car from him.

The Dohses also hold forth some valuable examples that are residual. It is a family of people who have always sought to focus on something bigger than themselves. This is helpful. Failure seems to be somewhat irrelevant; the goal is what is relevant. This eliminates a lot of pettiness. Yet, I must confess, the loyalty motif among those of different religions, politics, race, and sexual preference, in essence, the Dohses, is still a mystery to me.

Recently, my wife of three years, Susan, and I have endeavored to blend her family with the Dohses. And that’s who we are, at least to the degree that I can make sense of it. We are opinionated because we think for ourselves, we are diverse, at times very annoying, but always there. No reservations needed.

So, this Christmas is a major holiday, an opportunity to recognize family, not cheap substitutes that don’t have to live with you. This is the day we raise our glasses for a toast, and say, “Us against the world.” And somewhere grandmother is with us in a spirit born of a time when the world launched a blitzkrieg against her family. And she approves.

And this is my vision for my family: that we will all live together in eternity—you know where I stand. And this is my vision for what people in our day call church: that thinking Christians would stand, and these two would kiss: family and truth.

In both, the hope of a better future, Christ in us, the hope of glory.


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6 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on December 17, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


  2. A Mom said, on December 17, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    “When God said, “Come, let us reason together,” that wasn’t a memo given to the institutional church—He is talking to you.”

    Yes. There is no earthly intermediary. Amen!

    “Failure seems to be somewhat irrelevant; the goal is what is relevant.”

    Keep on keepin’ on, Paul & family! God bless you during this celebratory time of year, our Savior’s birth. And throughout the coming year. How you have blessed many! 🙂


  3. A Mom said, on December 17, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Spiritually, we do not sit under the authority of any man or over anyone else. We endeavor to discuss Jesus Christ & the scriptures without control, coersion, manipulation. Jesus Christ (& His commands for life = love God & others as ourselves) is free to all – to take or leave.


  4. paulspassingthoughts said, on December 17, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Thanks, AM, the same to you as well, thanks for your kind words.


  5. Lydia said, on December 21, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    The institutional church ripped my family apart. The declaration was that no negative truths could be uttered about it since “we all sin”, So no matter what the celebrity philosopher kings did, we are to overook it because God is doing great things. And they are not Calvinists! Through all of this, I have learned that Augustine is alive and well in Evangelicalism. It is just a different focus/method. You see, nothing is more important than the institution, its image and continuance. Not even your own family. But there are some things we cannot overlook if we are true believer. I often think of Jesus who told us who HIs real family is. And I am safe with THAT family even though it seems to be quite small.


  6. A Mom said, on December 24, 2013 at 4:50 AM

    I hear ya, Lydia. That’s heartbreaking. Yes, nothing is more important than the institution. And I have seen firsthand it can help you get what you want, if you have authority in the system. This is not following Jesus. Thank God for the minds & efforts of those who worked to create the internet. And thank God for spiritual watchmen & watchwomen on the wall bloggers! And for those who continue to comment! 🙂


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