A few weekends ago, my sons and I went to see Bee Movie. I have a few brief thoughts on the film eventually, but first a thought or two about fatherhood:

In many ways, I was "born again" (again) on May 12, 1999 (the birthday of my first son).

The act of being a father to my two boys fundamentally changed my perspective on life.

I am a history teacher by vocation--and an historian by avocation. However, I did not truly understand the interconnectedness (the true power) of history until the birth of my sons.

An example: in the Stephen Spielberg film, Amistad, slavers fall upon the protagonist of the story, (we know him as Joseph Cinqué). The kidnapping proves violently disturbing--but, for me, the most bone-crushingly brutal shot is the one in which Cinqué's son, who does not witness the scuffle, sees only an empty frame where his father should be. They boy registers a slightly confused expression as to why his father is no longer visible; he is unaware that dad is gone for good. But we know, of course, what he does not.

The boy's face never fails to hit me like a sledgehammer. True, Cinqué has lost his freedom--but the much more profound tragedy is that a son has lost his father. Who will protect, teach, and love this boy? In that one scene, we begin to comprehend the enormity of the slavery holocaust, the catastrophic hole in the fabric of West African society that greatly exceeded the mere loss of individual liberty.

One other example: understanding the love of God.

The metaphor of God the Father is ubiquitous throughout the Bible. However, the analogy has virtually no meaning to anyone who has not experienced parental love, which is quite impossible to understand fully from a child's point of view (the object of the love). While I knew all my life that my parents loved me, I had no idea what that all-consuming, self-sacrificing, life-giving brand of higher love meant until I experienced fatherhood.

"What father when his son asks for a fish would hand him a serpent instead?" Before parenthood: a pretty bad one? After parenthood: Ah, I understand now. The Parable of the Prodigal Son: my voice cracks, my throat constricts, and my eyes fill with tears reading aloud the story, as I imagine the unspeakable joy of the father when he first catches a distant glimpse of his lost child coming home.

What does this have to do with Jerry Seinfeld?

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