Confusing Good and Bad

I am in shock. Granted this is not the, “Did you hear that Canada just invaded the U.S.,” or, “The banks just closed their doors and the government isn’t making good on accounts,” type of shock, but it is nonetheless intense.

This source of my angst seems innocuous: Good Housekeeping magazine. While I was growing up, my mother always read Good Housekeeping. When I got married, she purchased a subscription for me. Many times, we compared which stories we particularly enjoyed and discussed recipes. One of the hardest telephone calls I ever made was cancelling her subscription after she died. That call made the loss real in a tangible way and I found myself on the floor bawling while coherently trying to give the necessary information.

A few years ago when there were a bunch of back issues I never had the time to read, I let my account lapse. A few months later, I started it again. My life simply felt a little incomplete without that monthly
mail.  Despite the fact that I was finding fewer articles interesting and that I didn’t always care about, or even recognize, the ladies gracing the cover, I received a lift when a new issue arrived. There were still pieces that I enjoyed and recipes I clipped. What there wasn’t – until the July 2013 issue – was anything that made me shout out, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

July’s edition features a story titled, “Why It Feels So Good to be Just a Little Bit Bad.” The article, however, doesn’t explain the psychology behind the feeling, but rather urges, “being just a little bit bad.”
As I read the ten examples given for ways that women could fulfill this advice,
my jaw dropped until it could have given me a pedicure.  I didn’t have a problem with all ten; I did
have a problem with many of them. (Despite God’s not contacting me directly with His opinion, I am pretty sure that He’d have a problem with many of them as well.)

Number one, “Gossip,” rubbed me the wrong way, but compared to number two, “Flirt with a man who’s not your husband,” it seemed downright Pollyannaish.  In a society where trust and commitment are steadily eroded and where children and adults suffer so much from marriages that either don’t take place or end, how can taking any steps to feel sexy with someone other than your spouse possibly be beneficial? Pardon me, but the example given, of making eyes at a waiter when your husband takes a
bathroom break or winking at the UPS guy, sound asinine at best and dangerous at worst. Keeping excitement and romance alive within marriage is a lifetime challenge, and not one that flourishes by ‘practicing’ on random people.

I’m fine with a, “spend the day in your PJ’s,” suggestion for one day a year and some of the other options, but I see too many of the ten as destructive and antithetical to happiness. Anyone who knows me or even knows that my husband and I produce a resource titled, Perils
of Profanity: You Are What You Speak
won’t be surprised to hear that I disagree with the words, “sometimes you just have to toss an F-bomb.”

A few years ago, I read two fascinating books, each one written by a former editor of The Ladies
Home Journal
Edwin Bok (editor-in-chief from 1889-1919) helped propel the magazine to prominence. His autobiography, The Americanization of Edwin Bok, provides invaluable insight into yesteryear’s America and the power of women’s magazines. (Many thanks to Musings’ reader David Altschul for alerting me to this book.)  After 21 years as editor-in-chief, in 2005, Myrna Blyth wrote a controversial book called, Spin
Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the
Women of America
The title is self-explanatory. Perhaps these books sensitized me as to how much
influence each monthly issue of a popular publication has. While I don’t expect magazines to sound the same as they did in the 1880’s, 1950’s or even the 1980’s, July’s Good Housekeeping suggests a game-changer in that periodical’s philosophy.

Is the Good Housekeeping of my youth completely gone? At the very least, a tug of war
for the soul of the magazine is taking place. Have you noticed this type of
evolution in items you read and have your reading habits changed in response?
I’d love you to join the conversation by telling me your thoughts.

34 thoughts on “Confusing Good and Bad”

  1. Hello Susan, Thank you for saying what needs to be said. I gave up magazines years ago. Nice to see others fighting for decency in their families. Our country is being slowly de-moralized and it’s painful to see this in the younger generation. We need to keep speaking up for morality, decency and never quit teaching our children to be Godly. It all begins at home.


    I ordered Redbook magazine a couple of years ago and I was astounded at the content. Never again. It is no wonder that many young women dress and act they way they do. They are bombarded with this trash. Needless to say I cancelled the magazine.

  3. Dianne DeEulio

    Dear Susan,
    Enjoy your wonderful musings.Some have made me smile,some have amazed me, and some have made me pound my fist and say “that’s right!” The “Good Housekeeping” article is,well, just more evidence of an eroding culture turing away from the God of Abraham and His devine principles. What to do? Don’t stop praying for our country! He hears!


    really susan? july 2013 issue? how about way back when women’s lib liberated us from family values to their own values…we were tricked into thinking we had been freed to be our own person…when in fact we were just thinking like another group of values imposed on us via women’s mags/media…you shouldn’t have let your script lapse…

  5. The current unfortunate plight of our nation stems from years of planning and implementation by those determined to destroy our heritage, our economy and our spiritual foundations as well. The Trilateral Commission, the Bildebergers, and the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) merge forces to neuter America’s independence and freedom. The current destruction of the middle class began with NAFTA and GATT. Obamacare simply places the nail in the coffin.
    While I agree with your political sentiments, I find We the People (Americans) far behind in the battle for America’s soul. Only a true miracle will awaken hope for restoration to previous liberty. Were all Americans to stand up today with the fervor to overturn this damning socialistic agenda and throw off this government with the goal to provide new guards for our future security settled on mounting a fierce revolution, unless the military stood with the people, the revolution would do little more than provide the needed excuse for the planned death of millions of Americans by those determined to implement the one world government!
    Our only hope at defeating satan’s legions lies in true repentance and determination to cry out to the Lord God for the salvation of our land!
    As you say, opinions matter little in these days, and what I have expressed are mine! But here’s the thing, if a person gets winded walking 50 yards on flat ground, you know something’s wrong. He should change doctors. America’s sickness manifest itself in a number of ways. 1. PSAT scores are way down compared to other nations around the world. 2. The middle class no longer thrives. The few surviving stragglers soon to be washed away amid the flood of Obamacare red tape. 3. God no longer takes first place in the national conscientiousness. Evolution rules. Creationism pales a distant second. Consequently abortion continues to take the innocent lives of 4,000 people a day! 4. Congress cares nothing for the people. 5. the Supremes find reasons to circumvent the constitution instead of upholding its obvious protections against governmental interference. 6. America’s president ran twice knowing the constitution denied his candidacy. The press covers for him. 6. The Federal Reserve continues to bleed the nation dry by loaning the funds on which the nation runs from money created out of nothing and paid back with interest. (Inflation). Thus, creating a ‘sheering field’ for the IRS to fleece people like sheep.
    Would that we could change ‘doctors’.(Throw off such government and provide new guards for our future security.) But like the man who can’t walk 50 yards without getting winded, America could well expire before the change takes place. That’s why I say, repentance and sincerely crying out to God will effect the restoration of our freedom and secure the blessings of liberty for our children and grandchildren.

  6. Thanks to all of you who are joining the conversation! I am getting a huge kick out of hearing from so many of you. Isn’t it strange that with magazines struggling to be profitable, they can be so out of touch with their core constituency?

  7. Dear Susan, Thank you, a thousand times, for your Musings. I enjoy them so very much. As a 64 year old female, I keep thinking this shift is because of my age, but I find it difficult to find magazines that I enjoy anymore. Reader’s Digest may have one laughable joke. I too, used to love Good Housekeeping but stopped reading long ago. I gave my life to Jesus Christ when I was 47 so that abrupt change in my likes and interests made an abrupt turnaround. I used to love magazines but when I take a free issue to my daughters-in-law, maybe, thankfully, they aren’t interested. They are also stay at home moms, as I was. I hope your article changes many minds on how women can be good Godly women. I know it helps me. Thank you so much, Sher

  8. Saturday Evening Post has also made some slow evolutions that have caused me to rethink renewing the subscription.

  9. Catherine Riley

    Frankly I am not surprised anymore, look at what is on t.v. and what you now see at the movies the video games the magazines etc, it all spells out “It’s ALL ABOUT ME” and the heck with what it might do or be doing to others. It has become cool for girls/women to duke it, just look at the female reality shows. Is it really any wonder that now they are telling women it is ok to be flirts! Maybe it’s time for the folks at Good House Keeping to be re-taught the true meaning of what GOOD HOUSE KEEPING means… As for me and my House, we shall stay in Keeping with the LORD..
    Thanks Susan

  10. Diane Rinehart

    Dearest Susan. First off, I adore you and admit to always reading your post first. I had to quit Good Housekeeping years ago. As they embraced society over moral values, completely took Christ out of Christmas, and sold their brand of inane superficiality, I bid them adieu. I miss the issues of substance from years ago. Thank you for sharing your insightful wisdom. Never stop! Blessings, Diane Rinehart

  11. I think the problem which produced many offenses is “socialization”. They say the reason for not closing K-12 schools and teaching every child by home school or online is the “socialization” that comes from mixing children of God and children of the Devil in public schools. Unfortunately the result is often lowering the standards of Godly children and rarely raising the standards of the Devil’s children. Some of the Godly may boast they can preach better than famous TV personalities but in practice they might share Bible wisdom for a week or two then revert back to being demons, sometimes masked by being positive or happy but cruelly terminating communication with those who expose their sweet lies by contrasting them with Truth. Schools have merit over computer education if the student is spiritually linked with the teacher inspiring dreams which when written down get A’s. That spiritual education can happen as it did for me, but for those outside of the spiritual into the social, they might as well learn at home instead of exposing themselves or others to psychological diseases that produce stupidity. School can work for kids who have a spiritual life from God but is a sewer for those without, allowing their souls to be contaminated by the bad.

  12. Whenever I bring what I see as the erosion of values that keep a society from extinction (i.e. Rome, Egypt,Greece) to anyones attention I usually get a look of disbelief. Worse many just do not care. As a child in the fifties we were encouraged to strive to be better, to be a good and loving wife and mother, and to guard our lives from bad outside influences. Never thought I would have to put GH on my X-rated list.

  13. Danielle Perkins from Texas

    Dear Mrs. Susan,
    I am perplexed as to what degree we should let cultural changes affect us. Certainly the slavery tolerated in Biblical times is no longer tolerated to our advantage. The subject of homosexuality being practiced openly in our society conflicts me. I am against abortion, period. Somehow I don’t believe “following our hearts” should be the bottom line. But many of the former dogmas of religion I find to be without love for each other. I really need an anchor.

  14. Today, we don’t need to be taught how to be worse in our behavior but to be taught how to have more integrity, honesty, and civility. I don’t purchase magazines but love looking at the covers in the supermarket to see just how far down they will sink. We live in a cultural cesspool and apparently Good Housekeeping isn’t cleaning it up but helping to keep it dirty. I remember my mother reading that magazine for the recipes as well.

  15. Dear Mrs. Susan, I respectfully disagree that staying home with one’s children is a struggle – it is a choice; and from that single choice all other decisions concerning the family are based, even if it means little to few “extras” that society has come to depend on. If I could do it, believe me when I say, ANYONE can do it. I am not wealthy, not highly educated, just committed to this assignment – committed to care for this family that God has graced me with.
    We don’t need Good Housekeeping or any other secular publication to tell us who we are or how to fulfill our God-given role(s). It’s when we look to outsiders to tell us about ourselves that we run into trouble. Sarah never had Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey or anyone else and she brought forth an entire nation!

  16. I am appalled and concerned that we are advised to throw out our spiritual beliefs, morals, decency – I could go on and on and still not express myself as well as you, Susan, have in your Musings so I thank you for saying these things for me.

  17. I don’t read magazines like this, but it sounds as though “Good Housekeeping” has morphed into “Cosmo.” Neither one really empowers women, even though their schtick is supposed to be “liberating.” The only thing it seems to liberate women from is self-respect.

  18. Dear Rabbi, your Thought Tool on Caves reaches us just after yesterday’s TCT broadcast featuring the same, that a cave is a place of awakening and transformation. It is nice to have the same electronically! Congratulations on your Thought Tools facelift!
    Dear Ms. Susan, your recent observation on Jerusalem is thought-provoking. Numerous cities are built upon the riverbanks to encourage human commerce, but in effect they are founded upon shifting sand to advance the shifting sand of human desires.
    Jerusalem built upon the rock is a mighty metaphor indeed, of the city erected upon Divine order, like the house built upon the rock, that will stand when others built upon the sand will wash away. That Jerusalem is a focal point for three faiths is massively inconvenient and perilous. May your prophecy prove correct, that those who serve God shall inherit the city and those that do not shall surrender it.
    As for the confusion of good vs. evil, thank you for raising high the moral compass above the seductive and perilous enticements of today’s popular press. Having now lost both my parents, I can comment about the loss of your mother. I am sure you have noticed, once the acute grieving phase is past, that our parents will never really leave us.

  19. Susan, like you I was shocked at the suggestions for being bad – ironically flaunted by a magazine called “Good Housekeeping!” What kind of good house are you keeping by flirting with a man who’s not your husband, cursing and being profane, and spreading information that tears down other people? Oh, my – could we have just broken at least 3 of the 10 Commandments right there? Of course, it pretty much boils down to the first one: “You will have no other gods before Me.” When we start (or should I say, “persist in”) putting ourselves, our own selfish interests, and our own definitions of feeling good and being happy ahead of being the people God would have us be, then we ourselves become our gods. No wonder we find it so easy to disobey the laws of the One True God. No wonder our national leaders find it easy to destroy life and the sacredness of marriage. No wonder America is disintegrating before our very eyes.

  20. as a young bride and mother in the 50s and 60s i enjoyed several women’s magazines. But by the end of the 70s, i had quit looking at several…by the 80s only Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens… as they began to lean toward ‘celebrityitis’ and weirdness,i lost interest, and quit reading any women’s magazine.. the occasional one i pick up in the doctor’s office verifies my decision…it is dificult enough to fight celebrity hero worship, i refuse to support any newspaper or magazine that opposes Biblical standards..there ARE ‘absolutes’, no matter what political correctness would have us believe..and there ARE consequences…

  21. Sondra Abernethy

    I no longer subscribe to women’s magazines. I disagree with many of their articles and find nothing of value for the subscription price. Perhaps it is that I have aged, but that does not account for what I consider the lowering of the moral bar. Ethics and morals as given by God do not change.

  22. susan gilliland

    Susan, I couldn’t agree more. The sad thing to me is the total desensatation of the next generation. Skip and I have gotten to where all we want to watch is the safety of the Classic Movie Channel. I thought it was pitiful when the latest excitement in the news was rhe mom who said she regretted staying hone with her kids. That was my greatest joy in life. Hold on to your hats ladies. I am afraid it is only going to get worse. I will always be greatful for the old fashioned values my mom instilled in me and I am instilling in the next generation

  23. I enjoy Reader’s Digest. I discovered it about a year ago, maybe longer, and I find it clean, with articles that give me info I don’t have, and has inspirational short stories about humans overcoming the odds. I have not thrown them out. There were hints on dealing with veterinarians, and with ER staff. . . It has humor that I get, unlike the late TV programming (which could be the subject of a different article if you compare the clean humor of Johnny Carson with the likes of Bill Maher, and other comedians who are mean, vindictive, bullying, cruel, mocking, derisive, demonizing, sneering, unfunny, and water carriers for the Democrat party which has taken a hard left turn), plus I hear that the Obama administration has plans to have the NBA and other sports leagues sell Obamacare to the public, which is part of the totalitarian aspect of this administration which never leaves one alone in any venue and is always pushing their agenda down your throat. I gave the Reader’s Digest as a gift this year. I hope that mentioning it does not mean that the Left will choose to target it, as something 7.25″ by 5.25″ by .25″ that they overlooked in the USA, and I hope they don’t think that overlooking it is too large a space for them to have overlooked, and have this administration focus its Justice Dept. and its DHS and its NSA and its FDA and its USDA and its EPA and its NOAA and its IRS on them. Let’s hope they don’t start offering subsidies to magazines thereby making them reliant on federal funds that come with strings attached, and regulations, to enslave them, like the Feds did to universities; and this administration jumped into student loans whose interest rate terms one will need a finance degree to decipher, and a bunch of other alleged giveaways.

  24. Hi Susan, Thank you for your musings. Today I read your “musings” on contemporary magizines, the same day I got the news about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ban on Gay marriage in my home state of California. I seem to see a pattern here. By the way, I really enjoyed “Perils of Profanity:You Are What You Speak.” Several years ago I read a little book by Francis Martin called “Hung by Your Tongue” which I also liked. When you said that you seldom recognized the ladies on the covers I had to laugh as that is of course a generational thing. I thought of the line in a movie called “Peggy Sue Got Married” in which Nicholas Cage’s character had been dating a much younger woman and when asked how that was working out, he replied something to the effect that it didn’t because she thought that the “Big Bopper” was a hamburger!
    I appreciate that you have the courage of your convictions. Your efforts are not wasted.

  25. Secular magazines are just that, secular. Profane is usually more like it. Readers Digest was never Kosher. I don’t think there’s a venue today online or offline that is kosher. Even LinkedIn has its perils. We do what we have to do but that’s about it.

  26. Thanks for the plug, Peter. I have to admit that my husband and I, too, publish our resources to promote our own beliefs. But we don’t pretend otherwise. It amazes me how newspapers and new shows pretend to be unbiased – and I think many of the people working for them sanctimoniously believe that.

  27. Lynn, I do feel sad that my daughters have to struggle to stay home with their children. It is barely a choice when one income is rarely enough to support a family. We created that atmosphere; it wasn’t automatic.

  28. Hi Susan:
    I can definitely identify with your sense of shock upon seeing Good Housekeeping’s July issue.
    I’ve recognized for many years that there’s something about exercising control over other people that fulfills a deep passion within some human beings.
    One very insightful book that discusses this is titled The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture by prolific American writer David Mamet. Mr. Mamet goes so far as to postulate that the very reason people decide to get into the newspaper business is in order to promote THEIR OWN political point of view.
    And of course, we understand from our wonderful Rabbi (and your husband) that politics is nothing less than the practical application of our values system.
    So, there’s no surprise from these quarters. But I am always shocked and even outraged when I see what is in truth the overt manipulation of the American “sheeple”. By that metaphor I refer to those unfortunate people whose souls have yet to become moored to the rock of Holy Scripture. They are easily led, plied, molded, and shaped by those whose passion it is to do so.
    All the more reason to keep telling the truth about God, His Scriptures, and the wisdom of the ancients that is OUR fervent passion. We may end up like Noah and his children, and if so, we’ll do so “on the bone of the day”. (For those who may be as yet uninitiated, please see Rabbi Lapin’s 2-CD set The Gathering Storm for an outstanding explanation of that powerful Biblical expression.)
    [How’s that for a little shameless advertising?]

  29. I loved Better Homes and Gardens for many years but back in the 90’s I notice them becoming very politically correct, which I am not, and soon canceled my subscription. I really wish someone would explain to my what was wrong with how things were in past? What was wrong with families staying intact? Mother’s staying home to be homemakers? What is so terrible about having a moral baseline? I would love to have been able to live that life and not the one where it was expected I find a career to make me happy! Certainly they were simpler times and I would take them in a heartbeat over what we have today.

  30. You ask,” Is the Good Housekeeping of my youth completely gone? ”
    If we look further, it appears the whole culture we grew to depend on is completely gone taking everything in the name of decency and decorum with it.
    Perilous times today; Tom S. in Tn.

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