Posts by slapin

Elections are coming

October 19th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

There are a number of times in the past that my husband and I voted for third-party candidates as a way of sending a message to the GOP elite. They didn’t get the message, by the way. We weren’t alone and ignoring what we were feeling is what led to the election of President Trump.

This year, however, with elections coming up, I would vote for any Republican candidate, including ones I distrust and dislike. Things are so volatile that I don’t know if there are any foregone conclusions and the danger of giving the Democrat Party any more control is present and real.

The Gosnell Movie

October 18th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 25 comments

I did not want to see this movie. Despite its PG-13 rating, I knew that it would be distressing. How could it not be? Dr. Kermit Gosnell was a prolific abortionist sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. He was convicted for (among other things) murdering three infants and of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient at his clinic.

The reason that I am posting this as a Practical Parenting column as well as a Musing is that I recommend you take the parental guidance part of the movie’s rating very seriously. I would not have wanted to see this movie when I was pregnant or nursing. If my child’s youth group was going to see it, I would try, at a minimum, to see it myself first and decide if it is appropriate for my child. In Hollywood’s world, gore and violence are routine, so to them this movie may seem unremarkable, but the subject matter is mature and the visual impact is powerful.

The Gosnell trial is relatively recent history and the movie’s producers make clear that most of the material is drawn from transcripts and police reports. I knew of the trial and how unprofessionally the press tried to ignore it. It was a fight to produce the movie as well, and there is no question that there is a strong cultural attempt to suppress it. Each and every person who acted in or worked on the film is a hero because there will be ramifications to his or her career.

The movie is gripping. I am not qualified to write a review that talks about the acting, directing, musical score or other aspects. I can only say that the movie touched and disturbed me deeply. Concern that this might happen, of course, is exactly why I didn’t want to see it.

So, why did I make myself view it? I did not see it to pat myself on the back for being pro-life. Kermit Gosnell was not on trial for performing legal abortions. He was either a very disturbed or a very evil man – probably both. I know caring and good people who support abortion. None of them would defend his actions. To say that his clinic was unsanitary is a gross understatement. He reused instruments intended for single use, had unqualified teenagers dispensing anesthesia and drugs and killed babies who were born alive. Indeed, he was convicted precisely because he broke the law.

If that is so, why is it so important to so many news outlets, newspapers, media influencers and politicians that people not see this movie? I think it is because Kermit Gosnell is not the only bad guy in this story. The government of Pennsylvania, its politicians, health department and social services failed the women of that state, especially low-income minorities. Because they saw abortion as a sacred cow that must not be questioned, they did not carry out inspections or respond to complaints. Laboring under a false, sanctimonious belief that nothing must prevent women’s access to an abortion clinic, they all but guaranteed that women would be abused. Were it not for the relentless political pressure of the pro-choice movement, Kermit Gosnell would have had his medical license revoked. Were it not for the importance of abortion to secular society, Gosnell’s practice would have been closed. The records make clear that nail salons received more scrutiny than abortion clinics. Had Gosnell not been protected in this way, lives would have been saved.

This movie is disturbing as well because, today, abortion is light years away from how it was understood in Roe v Wade.  Abortion today is a widely accepted and celebrated culture. Furthermore, science, in its understanding of the fetus and its ability to treat newborns born prematurely, is worlds away from 1973. The description of legal abortions in the trial was unsettling. 

Very few people today actually look at abortion with rational and probing minds. It is a sacred sacrament of the Left, not open to debate. The good people I know who are pro-choice will need to ask themselves and answer serious questions if they see this movie. Not questions about Kermit Gosnell and his actions, but tremendously uncomfortable questions about the entire pro-choice movement and about legally sanctioned abortion. No wonder so many want to keep this movie under wraps.

As an adult citizen of a country in which abortion is legal, I felt obligated to see this movie. I believe that any honest pro-choice individual who squirms at the current suggestion that having an abortion is a reason for pride or a wonderful rite of passage should see Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer (an unfortunate subtitle in my opinion). Despite the reservations I expressed at the beginning of this Musing, I would use every bit of parental pressure at my hands to make sure that any college-aged student or older child of mine saw it.  Because of cultural repression, that isn’t going to be easy. That, in itself, should encourage all principled and open-minded people to make the effort.

On another note: I am friends with many of you on Facebook. Due to changes on that platform I will now be posting my Susan’s Musings, Ask the Rabbi (and me!) and Practical Parenting posts on my new page instead. Find out when there are new posts by following me here.

*    *    *   *
Do you know where abortion makes its first appearance in the Bible?
What was that first murder about anyway?
Answer these and other questions with
The Genesis Journeys Set
8 audio CDs; 4 study guides

ON SALE NOW

Genesis Journeys Set

S

A

L

E

Genesis Journey Set Instant Download

Still Mothering: An Update

October 16th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting 6 comments

Almost six years ago, I wrote:

My baby came home. O.k., as a third-year medical student, he isn’t technically a baby. He isn’t even technically my baby as three younger sisters arrived after him. And he only came home for four days. But any mother reading this knows what I’m feeling.

There seems to be so little I can do for my children now that they are grown. It filled my heart to be able to cook his favorite meal, prepare his bed with clean sheets and pick him up at the airport. Forgotten is how tiring it was to prepare nutritious meals every night, to do constant laundry (though from about the age of nine my children were responsible for their own clothing) and to be the on-call chauffeur. Also forgotten (almost) is the exhaustion of sleepless nights when he was an infant, the disgust at his joyful eating of slugs in the back yard as a toddler and even my fright and annoyance when as a teenager he almost drove my car off a cliff.

At least when he was younger I could take care of him. I could nurture the illusion that I could keep him safe. For a few precious years my kiss or hug cured most ills; my attention fed most needs. Even later, when my touch wasn’t quite as magical, I could welcome his friends to our house and expose him to books, various skills and nature. Not so today. As much as I would like to smooth his path, I cannot produce his soul mate. I would do more harm than good by contacting the powers-that-be and explaining to them why he will make a fabulous doctor and they should give him his first choice of residencies. I can’t spare him the pain of maturing or save him from his, altogether human, mistakes.

I do what I can. First and foremost is prayer. A distant second comes grabbing whatever opportunities I have to feed and nurture him. For which I am most grateful for the past few days.

An Update:

The third-year medical student was accepted to the residency of his choice, finished that training and is into his second year of serving in his specialty. There remained little I could do to ease his way over that grueling path.

His soul mate didn’t show up quickly. To our delight, she did appear, though as the young couple lives thousands of miles away, we don’t see them as often as we wish. When my husband was invited to speak for a wonderful business located near our children, we joyously accepted.  This past Shabbat, our son and daughter-in-law graciously welcomed my husband and me into their home.

Our son has been grown-up for a long time now. His choice of career means that many times a week he makes decisions that severely affect people’s lives. His father and I have been in awe of his maturity. What a thrill it was to see our lovely new daughter join him, care for him and cherish him and he, her. I’m still praying, but now it is for two, not one. And while we enjoyed having them as guests a few weeks ago, there was a special pleasure in being the guests ourselves, for which I am most grateful.

Book Recommendation: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

October 14th, 2018 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Reading Recommendations No Comment yet

I get a thrill every time I read a book that prods me to grow a bit, makes my day brighter or grants me a portal into a world different from mine. When a book does all three of those things it is a definite winner. It gets bonus point if I can share it with the young people in my life and watch it expand their horizons.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is such a book. Since it came out in 2012, many of you have probably read it already and/or seen the movie version. I was a late-comer to the fan club since I tend towards classics, but I came across it recently and I want to share my delight.

Wonder tells the story of fifth-grader Auggie Pullman, a boy born with a severe craniofacial deformity. Because of health concerns and repeated operations he has never been to school, and now that is about to change. The book is divided into sections that tell of his entrance to school through his own eyes and then through the eyes of his “normal” sister, her boyfriend and her estranged  childhood friend, as well as from the perspectives of some of Auggie’s classmates, whose behaviors range from kind to bullying.

This book is more powerful than a hundred anti-bullying slogans or lectures. Aside from humanizing a boy who looks different, it respectfully shows the challenges of children (and adults) dealing with something drastically different from what they usually meet. The various perspectives provide a  tremendous opportunity to realize that others see the world differently than we do.

This book and its sequels are recommended for ages 8-12. I disagree. I would suggest ages 8 through adult. Certainly, it can be invaluable for teenagers. This would make a great book to discuss as a family, especially if parents can do more listening than talking. It is one of those books that we can only hope stays with us long after we finish reading it. 

Ladies and Gentlemen

October 11th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 38 comments

Something has been troubling me throughout the #MeToo movement’s ascendancy and I’m sure that I am not alone. That our modern society has a problem in relationships between the sexes is not in question. Neither is the fact that historically there has been a power imbalance that allowed bad men to harm women more easily and frequently than bad women could harm men. This isn’t only a question of social and economic mores but also deals with the reality that, in general, women are physically less strong than men and, of course, are the ones who get pregnant. Despite the attempts of ideologues to deny it, most of us also acknowledge a reality of psychological and, for want of a better word, soul differences between men and women that leave women more vulnerable.

The #MeToo movement has done a service by exposing the extent of despicable treatment towards women that many of us, male and female,  were truly unaware of or dismissed as an unfortunate but unchangeable part of life. I am not speaking here of unquestionable breaches of the law such as putting knock-out drugs in a woman’s drink and then raping her. I’m also not speaking of complaints that are ludicrous like a woman claiming sexual harassment because a co-worker compliments her haircut. When we include those types of extreme instances in a general discussion we miss the opportunity to actually improve society.

What I would like to do today is to react to calls I’ve seen for men to behave respectfully. I am all in favor of respect. However, I do think that addressing men alone misses the complete story. Unless we want to advance the idea that women are helpless, incompetent and passive creatures, we need to demand an accounting on the distaff side as well.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is to view the #MeToo movement as a male/female issue. In my mind, there are and always have been moral men and women who treat each other well and there are and always have been immoral men and women who look to take advantage of members of the opposite sex. (Of course, history up to the present shows that interactions between people of the same gender are frequently less than upright, but that is not today’s prominent issue.) There are both men and women who respect themselves and those who do not.

Anyone who thinks that all men should be accountable for each other (being male, particularly a white male means you are privileged and as such deserving of being punished even if it is an injustice) or that all women are accountable for each other (we must believe all female victims) has to be willing to talk about enablers and manipulators (for the purpose of this Musing, I’m leaving aside liars).

A few months back, I heard an episode of NPR’s This American Life that featured a female reporter interviewing young men in Australia. It seems that it is considered a “game” there for a young man to run into a group of young women near the beach and slap one woman’s backside. The reporter was appalled and tried desperately to explain to a one of these men in particular what was wrong with his behavior.

When he said that the women didn’t object she pointed out that perhaps they were afraid to respond negatively. That was a good point. However, he countered that about 20% of the time, he ended up with a hook-up for that night and that more frequently than that he heard the “chosen” female boast about her attractiveness to her mates.

I have never been to Australia and don’t know the culture there. But this doesn’t seem to me to be a situation for which men bear sole responsibility.  As long as there is a plus side that is delivered by a fair number of “victims,” the responsibility has to be shared. It is perfectly plausible to imagine a responsible male chastising this young man and being accused of being a prude by both the young man and a number of the girls in the vicinity. Perhaps the females sometimes saunter in certain locations to get exactly the response our callow youth is willing and eager to deliver? How is he to learn which women want to be treated like that and which do not?

Shortly after my husband and I were married, he was asked to deliver a speech to a group of women, (not obviously Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist or atheist) on Christmas Eve. Why one would ask a Rabbi to give a talk on Christmas is obvious if one is looking for an available religious leader. But why were these women available?

Their organization – and I kid you not – was composed of women having affairs with married men. They told my husband that Thanksgiving and Christmas were the hardest days of the year for them. Other days each woman might believe that her boyfriend was leaving his family; on holidays they knew that to be a lie. Now, exactly how many men would be having adulterous affairs if no woman allowed herself to get involved with a married man? If women truly cared about other women enough, adultery would just about disappear.

We navigate a complicated world. Women and men are both unique individuals as well as belonging to numerous groups, one of which is dictated by gender.  Each behavior we choose affects others associated with us. This does not mean we should be interchangeable in the eyes of the law (in other words reprisal attacks) nor in other people’s eyes. But it is ludicrous to pretend that in our day and age men and men alone are responsible for women being mistreated, let alone when that word is not clearly defined.

It is not blaming the victim to suggest that if more women acted like ladies, the upside of being a gentleman would be greater.   The responsibility for more respectful discourse and behavior between men and women falls on everyone. If close to 50 years after the debut of Ms. Magazine women feel so victimized, perhaps both genders need to rethink which “reforms” led to a better society and which took us in the opposite direction.

 

  *    *   *    *
3 books for the price of 2

The Thought Tools Set

Please pray, email and phone

October 5th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 4 comments

Now is the time to step up to the plate. Please call and email as many Senators as you can. Thank Sen. Manchin for standing against bullying and for civility. Plead with Sen. Collins, Flake and Murkowski to reject the politics of personal destruction and the assumption of guilt until proven innocent. Of course, pray, pray and pray that our country has a future.

Our Teacher, the Judge

October 4th, 2018 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting 4 comments

As I wrote in my post, Insecurities of a Homeschooling Mom, for many years I had a nagging worry that I might be depriving my children of a truly great teacher such as the one I had in fifth grade. That concern wasn’t enough for me to stop homeschooling. After all, there were many other considerations and the stories I was hearing from friends with children in school reminded me that those teachers were few and far between. Still, the niggling worry lodged in the back of my mind, moving into a more prominent position whenever I was disappointed in my own teaching.

When I had already been teaching for a few years, I received a hug from Heaven reminding me that teachers are found in all sorts of places. My husband returned from a conference and informed us that he had invited a fascinating man he had met there to join us for Shabbat dinner. Our table was rarely without guests and my young crew (aged 1-11) took the news of this new arrival in stride.

(more…)

The Betrayed Conservative Woman Syndrome

October 4th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, Susan's Musings 108 comments

Like many others, I have been extremely emotional about the accusations surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I am pretty sure, based on past history, that some readers of this Musing will agree with me, others will violently object to my words and a number of readers will remove themselves from our email list. I could easily write about something less controversial. I am not doing that because I think that our country is worth fighting for and sharing my thoughts is my way of doing that.

As always, whether you agree or disagree, as long as your words are polite (and follow a few other basic rules) your comment will get posted.  It is rare for us to delete a comment. So, if you disagree and your emotions are running as high as mine even if in another direction, I would appreciate the opportunity to hear them. We can only grow and expand our understanding when we talk to each other.

For a few short years, mothers possess mythical powers. We can sit at a traffic light with our toddlers and know exactly when to tell them to say, “Change light change,” to make the light turn green. We can announce that it will rain after lunch, go to the park in the morning, and then cozily sit inside reading books in the afternoon as they marvel at how we control the weather. We magically pull out a new box of cereal from the pantry when the old one is finished. Of course, our children soon grow a bit and learn that the only power we used in all those cases was that of observation.

I’m delighted that Lindsay Graham reacted to Democrat politicians with anger and disgust during the Judge Kavanaugh hearings. Orrin Hatch too has found his voice. At the same time, I ask, “What took you so long?” You see, I am one of the women Republicans are supposed to represent in Washington DC. And I, along with millions of other conservative women, have been angered and disgusted for decades. Mostly, our ire has been directed at Republicans for leaving us undefended and unrepresented. Where were your powers of observation until now?

(more…)

Encounter with a liberal-leaning neighbor

September 28th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 8 comments

We have a neighbor with whom we have a congenial relationship. We exchange greetings when we pass and keep an eye on each other’s apartments.

We don’t know this neighbor’s politics, but if we had to guess my husband and I would assume that she swings left. The day after the Kavanaugh hearings we met her outside our building. “Hi. How’re you doing?,” was our admittedly perfunctory greeting. That unleashed a floodgate.

“I am so upset,” she said. “That’s why I’m pacing up and down here. I was in tears yesterday.” Without exchanging a word, my husband and I telepathically exchanged thoughts: What do we do now? If she starts ranting about how awful Republicans were not to believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, do we let her know our views on the matter or do we just get out of this conversation?

She continued. “I have been a victim of sexual abuse and I know when a woman is lying. I can’t believe the way they have tried to destroy a good man.” Our neighbor then said that she is a supporter of Planned Parenthood and, although an Independent, has often voted for Democrats. “I will not vote for a Democrat again and I am praying that Judge Kavanaugh gets on the Supreme Court.”

How many unreported tales like this are there around the country today?

Pray for America

September 28th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 1 comment

The Senate Kavanaugh hearings, ostensibly to seek justice, were a disgrace for America. Pray that God turns it into an opportunity for people to see how corrosive hatred is and how fragile is the veneer of civilization. We need a reformation.

Sign up to receive our AAJC newsletter and our free weekly teachings!

Sign Up Now!

Follow AAJC on its new Facebook Page!
X