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?

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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.

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Choosing to live and love (puppies)

North America is being racked by disasters. Harvey, Irma, Maria, José, and now an earthquake, for crying out loud. Which I am. North Korea is firing missiles. The President of the United States is firing ill-advised tweets. White supremacists are gathering force.

The speed and variety of calamities bewilders both heart and mind. Where to focus? How to grieve? How to understand? Where to serve? What to give whom?

These are not easy questions, but they press on us. We must lean into them, discerning our individual calls in the midst of the suffering and the destruction.

For some, the temptation is to withdraw. To shut your ears, hunker down, pretend all is fine. We cannot do this. Too many are suffering and too much is at stake.

We also cannot neglect daily living and go into survival mode. At least those of us outside the disaster zones cannot. We must face our small lives and the large questions with equal tenacity. This is a tricky balance, a dance we must do day-by-day. Continue reading “Choosing to live and love (puppies)”

Why we brought our kids to their grandmother’s deathbed

May began with a funeral and ended with a wedding. We let our kids do both.

Allowing them to participate in the wedding was a no-brainer. Of course they would take the opportunity to be flower girls and a junior bridesmaid for a close family friend. It was an honor and a joy.

Truthfully, we gave no greater thought to the question of whether they would visit their grandmother on her deathbed than we did to whether they would stand up in the wedding. Of course they would.

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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.

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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.

 

Mean Mom: middle school edition

In a few short months, my oldest daughter will graduate from elementary school and become a middle schooler. (Hold me.) In addition to all the perennial challenges of the junior high years—hormones, mean girls, a larger school, kids who party—we must figure out how to navigate social media and smart phones.

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How I prefer she spend her time. Outside, playing badminton.

For the first time in my parenting, I cannot look to my parents’ model or that of my wise friends with older kids. Even five years ago, smart phones were far less ubiquitous than they are today. My cabinet cannot help me here because when their daughters were in middle school, flip phones were socially acceptable. Snapchat hadn’t been invented.  Today, 50% of kids have smart phones in 6th grade and 90% have them by 8th grade.

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