I have been upset for about a week after reading in the appendix of a Christian book on motherhood the author’s words of advice on plastic surgery (she has had at least one surgery, and offers advice from her own plastic surgeon on how to select a plastic surgeon). I was horrified. How does plastic surgery fit into the Christian’s life? (And how does a discussion on plastic surgery fit into a MOPS book about being a mom?)

I have scoured the internet to find words of wisdom on the topic, to get a definitive Christian position, and today I realized I am looking in the wrong place. I need to look at God’s word.

First of all, let me say, that if you are saved by the blood of Jesus, you are covered with immeasurable grace, as am I, and our screw-ups, mistakes, and even rebellion, can be forgiven. In addition, surgery to correct some disfiguring condition is not what I am discussing.

What I found on the internet is that there are Christians using all kinds of Bible verses to both justify and condemn plastic surgery. (One Christian woman in a panel discussion questioned how her teenaged daughter was to find a mate if she did not make herself as attractive as possible, even using plastic surgery, if necessary.) In short, to those who want to advocate plastic surgery, grace allows it, and we need to make ourselves attractive to be winsome Christians; those who oppose it cite admonitions to be self-sacrificial and not proud, and to use our God-given resources more wisely, like to spread God’s word, or to love the poor.

As followers of Christ, how then shall we live? What is our focus to be? Are we dancing up to the edge of wordliness, asking what is okay, what we can get away with, trying to justify our self-centeredness, or are we so preoccupied with being more like Jesus that we just don’t have much time to look at how the world, even our brothers and sisters in Christ, are doing things? (And, by the way, if we weren’t watching so much television, looking at so many magazines, following so many Hollywood celebs, where would we have gotten these notions about beauty and aging anyway?)

I think this falls into the Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (ESV) category, “these things” referring to what we shall drink, what we shall eat, and what we shall wear (and plastic surgery and our appearance also kind of loosely falls into that “what we shall wear” category, doesn’t it?). How I need to look, over all, can be left up to God, can’t it? I’ll still highlight my hair, put on my makeup, and shave my legs, but you see, all of these things are temporary, daily maintenance sorts of things, and I just don’t think that having someone cut your skin to pull it tighter, or sucking fat out, quite falls into the same category.

(By the way, the Christian woman who wrote the book on motherhood advocating plastic surgery indicated that surgery was one of the “options available when no amount of stomach crunches” would “do what you really want to have done.” After Googling pictures of this woman, I can say, with confidence, that she certainly doesn’t appear to be someone who has done very many stomach crunches.)

The Proverbs 31 woman “laughs at the time to come” (v. 25, ESV). She is way more preoccupied with taking care of her family, and honoring God and her husband by how she lives her life than she is with vanity about her appearance.

Caleb, Joshua’s right-hand man, was described in Numbers 14:24 as having “a different spirit,” (ESV)” and following God fully. Caleb says in Joshua 14:10-11, “Behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.” (ESV)

This strength described by Caleb sounds like the kind accompanying glowing, good health. When I take care of my body and am in reasonably good shape, I don’t think about getting plastic surgery or about changing this or that about my body. Do you? If we live lives constantly seeking God, and care for our bodies as the temples that they are, we will have far less time to devote to the pursuit of vanity, because we are spending our time actually doing something worthwhile! Seeking God, and living our lives in a way that honors him, I believe, will make us glow from the inside out!

As a woman who has struggled with weight problems and body image my whole life, if I can trust God with my body, anyone can.

I’m so glad I have some hot sauce, fresh salsa and sour cream to make this big bowl of crow I’m eating this morning more palatable. How did she win? It doesn’t make sense—that many polls aren’t wrong and I can’t bring myself to believe I live in a country where the Wilder effect (in which people tell pollsters they are undecided or plan to vote for a black candidate and then actually vote for the white candidate) still exists.

So my husband and I started our own optimistic analysis, in the midst of our, “I can’t believe Obama lost” slump.

The conclusion?

It was the tears. Come on girls, how many of us haven’t turned on the tears in an attempt to get out of a traffic ticket? When you’re young and cute (Hillary isn’t) the tears work well on men; apparently when you’re old and tired, they work on women. Hillary took 47 percent of the female vote in New Hampshire, compared to Obama’s 34 percent. In Iowa, the female vote was startlingly different: Obama soundly beat Hillary by winning 35 percent of the female vote to her 30 percent. Yes, there are certainly demographic differences that contributed to the difference, but this seems like too big of a swing to be purely due to that. It was the tears, which she used masterfully to manipulate the women of New Hampshire. Bone-tired and road-weary, Hillary cast herself as an overworked, aging Everywoman, relating to overburdened, tired women everywhere. This Everyman/Everywoman theme is something she’s been slow to grasp, but this year, we want to feel like our presidential candidate is one of us. To use her husband’s now clichéd phrase, we want to know that she feels our pain. And her tearful “share and care” session let us know that she does. Or at least that she wants us to believe she does. I believe it was a sham, an emotional manipulation the likes of which we haven’t seen since Steel Magnolias. The question that was asked before her public display of emotion did not really fit her answer. A 64-year-old freelance photographer asked her how she kept going, and who did her hair, and received the now famous response. This was a prepared outburst, waiting in the wings for an opportunity to be presented. It looks like it worked.

Women of America, I know a lot of you loved Steel Magnolias, but please don’t fall for this again. If Hillary was really an emotional, touchy-feely woman, we would have seen it in her post-Lewinsky interview. These are just crocodile tears.

Michele Franks

Mark Shields, on the MacNeil-Lehr Report the night of the New Hampshire primary, talked about one voter he had spoken to who was trying to decide between Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. He said that the voter “saw virtues and values in both of them.”

This is the thing the pundits are missing—the inexplicable reason for the soaring popularity of both of these candidates: Partisanship is dying off among us regular folks—we are focused on the person, not the politics. I like Bill Kristol; I have watched him on Fox for years and eagerly read his debut column in The New York Times today, and then found myself becoming angry when I read him dissing Obama because of his leftist politics. I felt like he was saying he didn’t like a friend of mine, a guy who I might not agree with about everthing, but who is a stand-up, honorable guy who doesn’t deserve a bad rap just because you don’t agree with him. NBC’s Brian Williams discussed the difficulty reporter Lee Cowan had being objective when covering Barack, and described seeing “middle-aged women just throw their arms around Barack Obama, kiss him hard on the cheek and say, ‘You know, I’m with you, good luck.’ And I think he feels it, too.”

I have a been a pro-life Republican most of my life, and I love Barack. His words mesmerize me. When I read stories about his rallies to my husband, I cry. We talk about his vision, his charisma, his inspiration, how seven years ago he was so broke his debit card got declined (did this ever happen to George Bush?) and his wife shopping at Target and saying that the only reason their student loans are paid off (ours aren’t) is because her husband had two best-selling books. He is one of us. He was raised by a single mom, didn’t see his dad much (me either), knows how to use technology (is a master of using it in his campaign), and is thoughtful and contemplative. I don’t get the impression that his answers are canned. He has become Everyman.

I think the thing that a lot of pundits are missing is that many of us just don’t care about, and are even angered by partisanship. We are free thinkers, and after all of the divisiveness of the 90s, we all just want to get along, to rally behind a hero, to cheer for the same team. We are weary of all of the finger-pointing and angry words—we want to feel the love, baby.

Newt Gingrich said awhile ago that if the country wants therapy, they’ll elect Barack Obama. Well, Newt, maybe we do. After all of this country’s collective dysfunction over the past few years, we want to heal, to feel good, to trust someone again, to believe that someone with a passionate poetic voice could lead us all on to be “happy warriors.”

Michele Franks

musingmom.wordpress.com

Hillary, honey, come on—are you dense? The snarky statement you made this weekend that “you campaign in poetry, you govern in prose,” showed exactly just how out of touch with the American people you actually are. We are looking for a little poetry, and by the way, Barack Obama could prose circles around you! Even John Edwards, whether sensing his campaign’s ultimate demise, or (despite his denial) jockeying for a VP slot, has jumped on Train Obama, as was evidenced by the ABC/Facebook debate, in which he zinged you with the words, “I didn’t see these kind of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead. Now that’s she’s not, we hear them, anytime you speak out for change, this is what happens,” after you sharply criticized Obama.

The likability campaign didn’t work. We don’t like you. We don’t want to have a beer with you, a cup of coffee with you, and we are sure glad not to have been one of the people whose door you hiked through the snow to knock on in Iowa.

Just like your Tammy Wynette-like Stand By Your Man support of your lecherous husband, you will not let go of your tired “Ready on Day One,” strategy, even if it is not what the American people are pining for. Here’s a tip: IT’S NOT WORKING. YOUR POLL NUMBERS ARE DROPPING. You are not even trying to adapt your campaign strategy to what the American people are obviously looking for. America’s favorite pundit extraordinaire and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me panelist Mo Rocca called your boilerplate spiel plodding and uninspired and went on to describe your weary posse: Bill looking miserable, and Madeleine Albright “looking more and more like Aunt Clara from Bewitched.”

The reason Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are doing well and you and Mitt Romney are not can be neatly summed up in the words of a song from the Broadway musical Damn Yankees which I have altered a bit for the occasion.

Coach:
[Spoken]
See boys and girls, that’s what I’m talking about. Being the leader of our country is only one half skill, the other half is something else…..something bigger!
{sung}
You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start
You’ve gotta have hope
Mustn’t sit around and mope
Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear
Wait’ll next year and hope
When your luck is battin’ zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door,
There’s nothin’ to it but to do it
You’ve gotta have heart
Miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Before the cart
First you’ve gotta have heart

Hillary, you have no heart. If you want to be our president, you gotta have heart. Thanks for playing, and entertaining us with a few more months of Clinton dramatics before exiting, stage left. But like Ferris Bueller said at the end of the movie, it’s over. Go home.