When the light bulb went on for me: resources for this moment

I remember the moment I first began to understand.

It was 1999. I was in a training session for new InterVarsity staff that was focused on “Multi-ethnicity and Racial Reconciliation.” Led by a diverse team of senior staff, we had spent three days studying the Bible and listening to leaders of color. I trusted these wise elders; I wanted to learn.

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Warming up to run for Ahmaud Arbery on May 8th, 2020 with our quarantine housemate, Enoch

So, I asked my honest question: “If America is still racist, why don’t I ever see it?” The white man leading the training answered me simply: “Because you’re white.”

A lightbulb went on for the first time.

It’s embarrassing now to admit how plainly I needed this spelled out to me. All along I had been open to believing that racism was still active in the U.S., but I expected to experience it myself if it was true. As though racism is an equal opportunity societal ill. Continue reading “When the light bulb went on for me: resources for this moment”

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Supporting those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

I communicated yesterday with several ER and ICU doctors and nurses in my circle. These are the people on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. They had very clear ideas on how all of us can help right now.

In order of importance:

  • PRAY for every medical professional you know: for their protection, their strength, and their sanity. Pray also for their families; it is scary to watch your spouse head into danger every day, and scary as they potentially bring germs back into your house.
  • If you bought face masks for your personal use, donate them instead to your local hospital. You do not need them – they do! Because private citizens are hoarding them, our hospitals are running out of these critical pieces of protective gear.
  • Do not injure yourself or do anything that would require medical treatment. Our hospitals cannot deal with normal medical issues right now. Schedule your heart attacks and strokes for later in the year. Wink.
  • Do NOT go to the hospital if you have non-emergency symptoms. If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, stay home and call your primary care doctor or your state hotline to ask about getting tested.
  • If you want to do something practical, drop off purchased and sealed food at your local ER. These must be individually wrapped and sealed so that they can be easily wiped down. You should only give things like granola bars, bottled smoothies, and bananas. No homemade treats right now. Do not enter the ER – just hand the boxes of food to security or front desk staff.
  • Offer to help with childcare for the kids of medical workers. Medical staff must work right now, so they may need help caring for their kids who are off school. Assess your own risk factors, though, before bringing additional (possibly infected) people into your home.

 

Medical friends, please comment below to correct anything I got wrong or to add more ideas.

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My kids and I made these this weekend to send to medical professionals in our life. We washed our hands before, during, and after making and sealing them in envelopes.

Love in the time of COVID-19

In the last week, I have been thinking hard about the two institutions I help lead: the Goetsch family (as Mom) and Huron Hills Church (as board Vice Chair). I believe it is incumbent on every institution leader, no matter how small, to ask what public service they are called to do at this unique moment.

Everything I have read has led me to the conclusion that if we want to “flatten the curve,” every institution that can must shut down as soon as possible. And, realistically, the smaller the institution, the easier it is to do so. So, the small ones must take the lead. At this moment, every gathering that is canceled and every individual that self-isolates can make a difference in whether this virus overtakes our hospitals at a rate they can handle or swamps them way beyond their capacity. Continue reading “Love in the time of COVID-19”

Regarding Black History Month

For the past two years, I’ve decided to wile away the dark months of deep winter by diving into a personal learning project for Black History Month. Elsewhere known as February.

I light candles in the fireplace, grab a blanket, and plunge into books by African Americans on less celebrated aspects of American history. Because my syllabus contains some dense reading, I try to start in mid-January at Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

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Last year, I was enjoying myself so much that I extended my learning into March. Here’s what I read: Continue reading “Regarding Black History Month”

Regarding Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court, sexual assault, and false accusations

Like many of you, I have been watching the coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination-turned-fiasco. I have read the particular accusations against him and the many, varied responses to them. I read this coverage with a slight partisan perspective as someone who appreciates Constitutional originalism and as someone who has concerns about a society that permits the killing of its unborn, and yet…I’m troubled.

I am concerned by the very serious accusations against Kavanaugh, and I am distressed by the responses to them.

I believe that there is more at stake in this moment than the nomination of an individual to the Supreme Court, no matter how important that is. How we handle sexual assault allegations, how we speak about women, what we expect of young men, and how we handle investigations into accusations of years-ago crimes that by their nature delay reporting of them—all of these questions are in play. We would do well to slow down, listen closely, and think deeply.

Continue reading “Regarding Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court, sexual assault, and false accusations”

Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot

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I have become convinced that white, American evangelical Christians have a major blind spot. I say this as a member of this community, reflecting on my own people.

Very often, we evangelicals do not see power. We are blind to power dynamics in the world and blind to them in the Scriptures. We cannot assess whether power is being used ethically and justly because we do not notice it is being used at all.

Here’s one way to test the teaching you’ve received and the lenses you’ve been given: were you taught that David’s sin with Bathsheba was primarily sexual? Or were you taught that his sin was the way he abused his power?

Continue reading “Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot”

On MSU and leadership

The President of Michigan State University, Lou Anna Simon, resigned from her position yesterday. She was pressured to do so by those who have watched Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse victims give statements on what they suffered at MSU and other gymnastic facilities. The leadership of USA Gymnastics is under similar pressure, as it should be.

Simon submitted a six paragraph letter of resignation to the MSU Board of Trustees. After stating that “[t]he survivors’ accounts are horrific….tragic, heartbreaking, and personally gut-wrenching,” she goes on to say,

As Nassar’s legal journey to prison was drawing to a close, more and more negative attention was focused on Michigan State University, and on me.  I am pleased that statements have been made by Mr. Fitzgerald and Board members about my integrity and the fact that there is no cover-up….As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable.  As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.  I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.   Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first.  Throughout my career, I have consistently and persistently spoken and worked on behalf of Team MSU.  I have tried to make it not about me.

You know what this ain’t?

LEADERSHIP.

Continue reading “On MSU and leadership”

What in the world happened to Laura Goetsch?

Is she still thinking about such things? Has she given up veering wildly from the weighty to the frivolous?

My faithful readers may be wondering this since it has been 42 days since I published a post. And that was a short, frothy one.

Rest calmly, dear ones. I am still frolicking in the frivolous and seeking wisdom for the weighty. Truthfully, my days are bulging with both laughter and lament. As I imagine yours are, too.

I have needed to devote most of my words, imagination, and hours to church leading and to parenting this fall.  That’s where my best wisdom and deepest prayers are most needed right now. It has been hard but satisfying work.

So, for the foreseeable future, this blog will remain a bit quieter, though not entirely silent, I hope.

If you find yourself craving my quips, tales of imaginative children, or lackluster fair-to-middling dazzling photos, your best bet is to follow me on Instagram. I post photos and short paragraphs there several times a week. I realize that many of you, dear readers, are not on Instagram, but I’d like to gently whisper that perhaps it’s time to join the cool kids.

For now, I’d like to leave you with proof of one of my personal convictions, namely: Orange cats are the best cats. Meet Max, the cat who lost the library but won the internet.

And a few pics from life in Goetschland:

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Current favorite “sport”

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When we tried to decorate for Christmas

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My life in one picture

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2017.

Things I’ve learned in 15 years of marriage

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Rick and I celebrated our 15th anniversary last week.

Here’s what it looked like: the dog and I were driving home from dropping the kids off at school when I spotted a familiar figure walking down the street. Remembering the date, I pulled over and wished him a Happy Anniversary. He came over to the driver-side window and gave me a kiss. I went home and re-financed the mortgage.

Fifteen years is a long time in a life and in the world. When we were married in 2002, wedding invitations were always cream colored, George W. Bush was president, and no one had ever heard the terms “social media” or ISIS. Half the country still had landlines. Everyone else had flip phones.

We ourselves have changed, too, in these years. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Goetsch is not, in fact, a lateral move from Carlson.

Continue reading “Things I’ve learned in 15 years of marriage”

The insufficiency of “consent”

IMG_2291I had just turned 22 when the big Bill Clinton scandal broke. I remember a phone conversation with my dad at that time in which we disagreed on the relative guilt of the parties—he argued, if I remember correctly, that the preponderance belonged to President Clinton. I argued that Lewinsky and Clinton shared near equal culpability. After a bit, my dad concluded the conversation by saying, “Laura, I think you may be too young to understand.”

He was right.

I was too young, too inexperienced in the world. Here’s what I did not understand: power.

Continue reading “The insufficiency of “consent””