Death comes in springtime

As spring has erupted in color and light, we have watched my mother-in-law reach the winter of her earthly life. She suffered several strokes in March, and her decline has been steep and steady. Death is drawing very close now.

Rick has gone back and forth to Wisconsin, first to comfort his mother and recently to assist his father. On Easter Sunday, we all left our brimming-with-life church service to travel the six hours to say good-bye. We arrived on a gorgeous spring evening, the Wisconsin fields golden in the warm light. During the few days we were there, our children pressed in, bravely sitting with and talking to their much changed Geegee. Through tears, I did my best to model courage in the midst of tender good-byes.

Continue reading “Death comes in springtime”

On reacting and writing slowly

Have you noticed that I’m always behind? I never offer “hot takes” on my blog, only stone cold ones. Sometimes I wait two weeks to discuss an event, sometimes a year.

Lagging behind is not what the experts recommend for bloggers and opinion writers. You’re supposed to respond to events within 24 hours, offering incisive analysis on call.

I have deliberately chosen not to do this. It takes me longer than 24 hours to understand an event—what happened and why. And then I need to mull it over—reading wise commentators, feeling my feelings, praying, and discussing it with people whose perspective I trust.  This is how I discern both truth and wisdom.  Neither one comes quickly. 

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It may not be obvious from this blog, but I am actually an impulsive person. I have strong and immediate reactions that I enjoy acting on. I am comfortable letting my gut lead me.

I have chosen, however, to never hit “publish” impulsively. When I put my thoughts online, I want them to be well-considered. I need to be confident I have thought an issue through from multiple angles, that I have treated the players graciously, that I can stand behind both my opinion and my tone.

And when I have failed in either regard, I welcome feedback from readers. Such failures are far less frequent if I take time to listen, think, and write slowly, however. I save myself a lot of trouble when I am “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

We all know the dangers of a quick tongue. How much greater the dangers of a quick keyboard?

 

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2017.

 

Making sense of the news in the Trump era

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The view from where I sit

Ten days in, it is clear that one of the main tasks of responsible citizens during the Trump administration is to distinguish facts from fiction, hysteria from reasoned analysis. This, of course, is always the task of a responsible citizen, but it becomes paramount with an administration happy to baldy lie about the most trivial issues and a media driven to hysteria by every move the administration makes.

As much as I wish Donald Trump were not President and as much as I doubt his competence, I am unwilling to assume that every single action he takes is abhorrent and wrong-headed. I have neither the emotional stamina to live in outrage for four years nor the confidence that continual panic serves the common good. Instead, I must sort through the facts, do my best to discern the truth, and then pick my battles. Which actions and appointees are tolerable, and which ones threaten our democracy?

Continue reading “Making sense of the news in the Trump era”

How Hidden Figures haunts me

I took my oldest daughter to see Hidden Figures last weekend—a remarkable story that is very well told. It has something for everyone. Math geeks, feminists, space enthusiasts, romantics, justice advocates, history buffs—all will appreciate this movie. My daughter enjoyed it as much as I did.

One aspect of the story haunts me. (Besides the analytic geometry.)  I am nagged by the question, How could all those well-meaning white people not see the injustice they were perpetrating on those African American women? Continue reading “How Hidden Figures haunts me”

If I could have a word with my Christian friends

The year 2016 has revealed many surprising things. Cleveland can win championships! The Cubs can play baseball!

The most significant revelations, of course, have been cultural and political. The racial and geographic divides are even deeper than we knew. There do indeed appear to be two Americas (at least).

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Not surprisingly, I’ve taken some flack for my last blog post. I imagine some of the offense comes from my use of the word repent. As incendiary as it is, I chose that word because of its meaning to turn in the other direction. I believe the Bible when it says that it is never too late to change course.

Christian readers who voted for Trump may feel that I came down hard on them but let Clinton voters off easy. I did not, after all, call Clinton voters to repent even though they voted for (and thus endorsed) a candidate with abortion views more extreme than most of the country’s.

I think that is a fair criticism.   Continue reading “If I could have a word with my Christian friends”

It’s not too late to do what’s right

I tried to vote for Hillary Clinton. I really did. As Election Day drew near, though, I realized that a vote for Clinton would be interpreted as an endorsement. It did not matter that my vote for her was meant simply as a vote against Trump, it would not be catalogued that way.

And so, in the end, I voted for independent Evan McMullin. I understood that I was voting for someone who could not possibly win, but I also understood that votes are interpreted as endorsements, and we need to be very careful with them.

I wish my friends who voted for Trump had been more careful. I understand that many of them intended their votes simply to be votes against Clinton. Perhaps they couldn’t abide her extreme abortion views. Maybe they were tired of progressives’ condescending finger-wagging. They may believe the Obama economic policies have failed to serve the country, and they are fearful of insurance premiums rising even higher.

All of these are reasonable objections in my view. Unfortunately, in the service of these beliefs, my friends also endorsed dangerous and racist views. The intent of their votes does nothing to mitigate their impact. Continue reading “It’s not too late to do what’s right”

My family’s (unarticulated) mission statement

Some families have mission statements. Together, they craft a short paragraph that will guide the family’s practices and shape its ethos. They post the mission statement in a prominent place in their home to remind them of their deepest values and sense of calling.

We are not one of those families. We do not shine when it comes to visionary planning. No, we rock a willy-nilly, go with the chaotic flow, and clean up afterwards approach to life. Yes, my husband does love planning (and research, oh the research), but after fourteen years, I have beaten him into submission won his willingness to go with my haphazard ways.

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Planning and execution do not seem to be our gifts

I realized the other day, though, that we had intuited our way to a working mission statement. Continue reading “My family’s (unarticulated) mission statement”