Posts in Susan’s Musings

(Days of) Awe Inspiring

October 3rd, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 35 comments

The Jewish calendar resembles a jigsaw puzzle more than it does a collage. Holy days do not stand alone, but are linked to other dates in the calendar so that we are constantly being propelled to the next notable date while still retaining fumes from the previous one. Even this chock-filled time of year with Rosh HaShana (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Tabernacles) and Simhat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah) doesn’t spring up in isolation, but is connected to an earlier summer date of tragedy that is strongly linked to a lack of brotherly love among the Jewish people. Indeed, as we head to the Day of Atonement which falls next Wednesday, we are reminded that God does not forgive sins between man and man; those we need to take care of directly with the injured parties.

If we are tuned into the power of this time of year when all mankind is judged, our sensitivities are heightened. This gave even greater power than usual to the news story I saw this morning. You can read the details yourself, but here is a brief synopsis. Just over a year ago, in a terrible tragedy, off-duty police officer Amber Guyger shot and killed her neighbor Botham Jean when, according to her,  she mistakenly entered his apartment instead of her own and shot him, thinking he was an intruder who threatened her.

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Defending Justin Trudeau???

September 24th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 87 comments

I am a bit nervous about publishing today’s Musing and so will issue the following disclaimer: I am not trying to be provocative. I simply want to ask an honest question. What exactly is wrong with dressing up as someone of another race? I’m not even sure what the word blackface means and I don’t know that anyone else does either.

I used to think that  the word meant a vaguely insulting parody of a black-skinned person in the manner of Al Jolson in the movie, The Jazz Singer. (Disclaimer #2: I haven’t actually seen the movie, but that is my understanding of it.) I’m sure there are dozens of images in movies from the 1920s that would be unacceptable today. I get that. But the assaults on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Virginia Governor Ralph Northam using that word, confuse me. Let’s be clear. I do not agree with either of the men’s politics and would not vote for them if I was an eligible voter in a race that included them. Nonetheless, I despise the idea that disagreeing with someone politically, even vehemently, means that you should try to destroy them personally. I also object to combing through people’s pasts and judging them by standards that didn’t exist at that time. However,  I’m even having trouble understanding why today’s standards see what they did as offensive.

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Does Financial Independence Sound Appealing?

September 18th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

I may not be exactly the audience the Wall Street Journal’s money advice for those starting their careers is targeting but, nonetheless,  I was interested in what they had to say. Five successful business individuals wrote short pieces sharing their wisdom. I recognized names like former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and I had heard of the companies that these professionals lead like Land o’Lakes or a subset of Merrill Lynch. There was only one  exception – Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble.

Ms. Herd stood out on a few fronts. Not only did I have no idea who she was or what her company did but looking at the drawings of the featured three women and two men suggested that she was the youngest of the group. Most importantly, her advice was of an entirely different type than everyone else’s.

If, like me, you aren’t familiar with Bumble, it is a dating app. Its unique property is that it gives women sole control of the first point of contact. What interested me, however, wasn’t the company but its thirty-year-old founder and CEO’s advice. You could file all the other respondents’ advice under the category of financial literacy. They included concepts like understanding debt, valuing savings and measuring job opportunities by looking at growth potential and skill acquisition as well as salary.

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Love Yourself – Forget the Neighbor

September 12th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 32 comments

The impetus for this Musing came from two disturbing clips I heard on National Public Radio’s This American Life program.  Each on its own is minor, but I wonder if, together, they do represent a larger issue.

A little background. My preferred exercise class is a twenty minute drive from our house. This travel time is perfect for listening to podcasts and This American Life is in my rotation. Each week’s episode has a specific focus and listening for few minutes usually tells me if it will be a worthwhile investment of my time. The show gives me insight into the lives of Americans I might not otherwise meet and topics  I might not encounter.

Two of the shows I recently heard revealed a common problem. It didn’t have to do with the topic of either show, but each show included a throw-away statement that caused me to gasp. Both shows were repeats having first run a few years ago, but I doubt that the troublesome attitude has improved over the intervening years.

The problem was insufferable self-centeredness. Most troublesome was that the hosts interviewing each of the individuals involved didn’t seem in the least bit troubled. They seemed to accept their subjects’ words as perfectly reasonable and possibly even amusing.

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What about Socialization

September 5th, 2019 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 31 comments

Today’s Musing is actually a triple-header. It was inspired by an Ask the Rabbi question. In order not to make that answer too long, I intended to follow up with a Practical Parenting column. Finally, I decided to bundle all my (our) reflections  into one Susan’s Musing.

Here is Dave’s Ask the Rabbi question and our answer:

Greetings Rabbi and Susan,

I’m a long-time listener and grateful beneficiary of Ancient Jewish Wisdom, the Podcast, Thought Tools, Susan’s Musings and your books.

My question is in regards to the most recent podcast on “Dealing with Death.” In it, Rabbi, you mention that most mass-shooters are basically lonely men; unmarried, childless, disconnected, involuntarily celibate, etc. I completely agree. However, you mention that if these men were more connected to family, friends, sexual relationships, etc., the problem would be virtually resolved.

When I heard this, I couldn’t help but think about homeschooling. As a homeschooler (which as I understand your family did also), I often find myself defending our decision to homeschool against naysayers who argue that my children will not receive the necessary social skills they’ll need to function in society. Usually, it goes something like this: “You’re sheltering your children; they’ll never make any friends being cooped-up in your house all day.” Surely they’d receive all their “necessary social skills” in public school. I was the product of a GIC [Government Indoctrination Camp] (one of my favorite acronyms or yours, I must tell you) and will never be an apologist for them. In retrospect, it seems that being forced to go to a place with thousands of my peers every weekday provided harmful “over-socialization” if there is such a thing.

I remember from my school experience is that there wasn’t much learning going on. Instead it was an utter fashion show. I spent every day being hopelessly obsessed with girls, the latest loud music and my own popularity. Now twenty-five years removed from high school, I can’t think of even one life-affirming or life-enhancing connection that remains.

Still, it seems that homeschooling is antithetical to your point about mass-shooters needing more connections. Is this a legitimate disparity, or one of life’s many paradoxes? Furthermore, I’m sure you and Susan heard the same objection to homeschooling. How did you defend your decision?

Thank you again for all you and Susan do. It is more valuable to Christians like me than you might ever realize.

Dave

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Values Change – So Let’s Change Values

August 29th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 41 comments

We are coming to the end of a week of Grandma Camp, where I have been  doing crafts, playing games, reading stories and enjoying the company of five charming young ladies. I have had little time to write. Instead, I’m going to throw out an idea without elaborating on it, in the hope that you will mull it over, discuss it and draw your own conclusions.

An unsurprising, yet still disturbing, poll  this week revealed that younger Americans value patriotism, religion and having children substantially less than their elders and less than their elders did at their age. What do they value? Tolerance. (It is worth mentioning that a strong argument can be made that college students and those in their twenties today constitute one of the least tolerant generations in decades.)

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Come Out Fighting

August 22nd, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 46 comments

A funny thing happened on the way to last week’s Musing. Actually, it wasn’t funny and neither is it rare. My thoughts, the ones that seemed so organized in my head, did not translate well onto paper. What was unusual was that the deadline for publishing the Musing loomed so close last week that I had to abandon my efforts.  Instead, I took one part of what I wanted to say and built the Musing around that, specifically my conviction that any gun control legislation must be linked to legislation that attacks a sacred cow of Democrat politicians. Otherwise, any changes will be a disaster for both the country and the Republican Party.

I’m going to try again to expand my ideas. Some of you were appalled that I might even consider red-flag legislation. I am aware of the potential abuse of those laws and how dangerous they could be. However, I do believe that refusing to discuss those laws or other gun-control measures puts conservatives in a losing situation. Those concepts sound so eminently reasonable to any voter for whom 2nd Amendment rights are not a priority. Faced with a picture of mourning families and media that only presents the side of the story that fits its agenda, many citizens cannot even imagine what there  is to discuss. 

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Dear Senator (Lindsey) Graham

August 16th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 56 comments

Dear Senator Graham,

I’m going to get right to the point. Do you remember how during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings the veil over your eyes lifted and you realized that some of your esteemed colleagues on the Democrat side of the fence were willing to use vile and underhanded methods to achieve their goal? Keeping another Trump nominee from getting on the Supreme Court was so crucial that they trampled honesty, integrity and the Constitution.

Many in the media and many in Congress have spent every day since President Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton doing whatever they could to get him out of office. Millions of dollars have been wasted , government institutions have been badly damaged, flagons of ink have been spilled and venomous and vicious words have been hurled like grenades  trying to undo the last election. I’m not positive you and some of your long-time colleagues understand that you are as hated as the President. So are those of us  who voted for him. Some of you may wake up every day saying, “If only we had a more diplomatic president with more gravitas, this extreme hatred of conservatives and Republicans wouldn’t exist.” Please, please channel back to the Kavanaugh hearings and realize those views are mistaken.

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Nothing Positive on the Horizon

August 8th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 31 comments

If you watched the recent  Democrat debates, you could be forgiven for thinking that the United States of America is beset by an evil and malevolent force, the National Rifle Association. Candidate after candidate spoke of the NRA as a dark and sinister organization responsible for violence and death. 

In the week after the debates, two tragic mass shootings, not to mention other “regular” gun deaths, spotlighted these remarks. As I write these words, my membership renewal notice from the NRA is on my desk.

I’d like to explain why I intend extending my membership. Of course, there is no amorphous blob “THE NRA.” It is a membership organization that represents millions of Americans. We are hunters and non-hunters, old and young, male and female, and made up of individuals belonging to many religions, colors, ethnicities and backgrounds. 

Here’s the salient point: Leftist media and the Democrat candidates on those stages present a picture of  a spectrum with kind, loving people who intelligently support gun control on one end. In this mistaken view, the opposing side must be made up of cruel, hateful and stupid people who support the NRA.  (Alternatively, and since casting millions of Americans as Deplorable didn’t seem to work so well last election cycle, they present the NRA as if it has a life of its own, rather like Athena who sprouted full-grown from Zeus’ head.) 

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Guest Musing: Could Refraining from a Physical Relationship Cause Harm?

August 1st, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 37 comments

I was sorry to read about Josh Harris’ impending divorce and his move away from Christianity. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, in 1997, as a young man, Josh wrote an influential book about courtship called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. He then served as a pastor for many years. Every divorce is sad (even when necessary) and when children are involved this is even more so. Similarly, it is disturbing to hear about anyone moving away from a relationship with a faith that has so much to offer.

I thought that there was a great deal of insight in I Kissed Dating Goodbye, though over the years I have heard pushback against it. Josh Harris even repudiated his own writing. As I see it, people can twist any idea, taking it to an extreme or misusing it. That doesn’t necessarily make the original idea valueless.

My husband and I were proud, a few years back, to publish a book by Jerusalem-based relationship expert, Gila Manolson. Her book explored the physiological and psychological effects of touch and why and how prematurely introducing touch into a relationship can be a mistake. I asked Gila to comment on the response of those who married before sleeping together or possibly even kissing (most unusual in our day) and then, when their marriages did not work out as planned, claimed that they would have done better had they, indeed, shared a physical relationship before their wedding night. What follows is her response.

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