Happy (now belated) Birthday to Dr. Laura! I listen to every new minute of the Dr. Laura Schlessinger show, thanks to podcasting...and OCD. I have made no secret of that. And I also make no secret of generally agreeing with her and seeing that she's doing a lot of good for a lot of people, including me.
Every so often, though, I have my quibbles and questions.
Listening to Tuesday's show, I had these observations...
1) A wife used the magic words in complaining to Dr. Laura about her husband. She mentioned he plays video games. That's always enough for Dr. Laura to dismiss a guy's manhood and side with the woman. If the caller had said her husband watches movies, watches television, plays Solitaire (actual cards, not on a computer), reads pulp fiction, tosses horseshoes, collects bottle caps... that would all be OK. But Dr. Laura has a thing about video games and technology in general. For example, she frequently tells people, especially adult males, that they should not have Facebook accounts... even though she invites people to comment on her show's Facebook page. If they don't have it already, her staff should post instruction on maximizing Facebook privacy so that she could refer people to that information and thereby not have to be contradictory in telling them not to have Facebook pages.
2) In relation to the above-referenced call, in which the young couple was childless and had been together since they were 16, I noticed that Dr. Laura's advice actually may contribute to the statistics she cites about the divorce rate of people who marry the person they've been with since teenagers or marry someone with minor children. I perceive her position is that having children together is a much stronger deciding factor than marital vows, at least in one direction: people who have children together should stay married (and get married, if not already), provided we're not talking about an abusive person/substance abuser, etc. The marital vows don't seem to carry much weight if there are no children. If someone "made a mistake" by marrying someone who isn't being a good spouse (perhaps he plays video games?) then her position, as I perceive it, is that the promise/vow was a mistake and it is OK to break that promise or revoke that vow, lest the person stay in a bad marriage or have to get some things sorted out moving forward. I suspect Dr. Laura's biggest fear is that they will have children together if they stay married, and then the children will suffer, and so she advises they divorce rather than running that risk.
If everyone in these situations (or who blended families and is having the typical complaints) followed the advice and divorced, the divorce statistics would then be reinforced. It becomes self-fulfilling.
3) Sometimes she tells people to do things as though everyone makes at least as much income as she & her husband do/did... "Get a lawyer and..." and live in neighborhoods like the ones she does. "Put the kid in a pram and go running." Kind of hard, risky, or impossible to do in certain neighborhoods. I know, I know... she'd tell them to move. But again, that assumes they have the cash to do so. She is, rightfully so, into prevention, so her advice would probably be not to get pregnant if you're living somewhere like that to begin with.
4) The biggest thing that prompted me to blog about her show again is that she increasingly sounds like she's gone Deist, if not Atheist. I don't include "Agnostic" because she said on yesterday's show that Agnostics are just gutless Atheists. She's still decidedly socially/politically conservative, with certain exceptions (although yesterday's show once again demonstrated that calling her "anti-gay" is a vicious lie or incredibly ignorant). She has spoken and written about some of her religious journey in the past, considering herself Jewish by birth to her father, but not practicing until some questions by her son led to them becoming Orthodox, and then some difficulties and disappointments with people/organizations (according to her) resulted in her no longer identifying as Orthodox. She even has at least one tattoo now.
Her statements, in content and tone, have been noticeably different lately when a caller says something about God being involved in their life or someone else's life. In the more gentle moments, she simply states something like "I don't think God is going from person to person and saying 'you get this, you get that'." In the more forceful moments, it is something like "I don't think God cares about that" or "Oh, so you think God protected your kid from getting sick but made another kid sick" or things like that. Guessing, I suspect this recent tone has something to do with watching a good friend of hers die of cancer, which of course is a terrible thing. Cancer sucks. Watching people die of it sucks, unless they're unusually evil people. I don't know if Sandy Hook or other events have contributed to this, but it is at the point now where she is more or less treating the attitudes of some callers (or the people her callers are talking about) as delusional or narcissistic when it comes to God (and some of them may indeed be).
Christian theology does describe God as imminent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign, and personal, and Christians (anyone who has been born again by repenting and following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) as having a personal relationship with Him. It is in keeping with that understanding that Christians give credit to God for every good thing, think God cares about everything in their lives, and that He is involved in their lives. Surely, a God powerful enough to create the universe is not incapable of being involved in our lives.
I understand that, Dr. Laura, apart from being baptized in a Roman Catholic ceremony when she was an infant, does not identify as Christian. The question I'm asking, and I realize it isn't necessarily any of my business, is what is she now? Deists believe, more or less, that God is Creator and that otherwise stays out of things (for now, anyway). Pantheists (such as Hindu believers) believe God is all/in all and.or all is one.
When answering a caller about which traditional Protestant denomination's church her family would attend, Dr. Laura said "I don't think God is in one of them and not the other." and that He's in all of those buildings. that really doesn't shed any light on her personal beliefs about God, because someone could believe that God is nothing but a mental concept and say that. Dr. Laura went on to reaffirming her priority that a family have unity in their religious practice, saying "as long as you're doing it together I'm happy." She didn't say why this time, but from past statements it is for the sake of keeping the family together and the children grounded and part of a voluntary community. So, again, we see she doesn't have a belief about God that includes a strong conviction that people have a certain theology. Her goal is not to spread her theological beliefs or religious practices, but help people of many different faiths.
I would very much like to see Dr. Laura, or anyone else, find joy in being a follower of Jesus Christ. Yes, there's evil and pain in this world. No, it doesn't mean that God is absent or either unloving or limited in power. We're not going to fully understand the why of everything, at least not this side of eternity, but we can know that He is there, and that He cares, and that ultimately, everything will turn out for the best. Regardless of whether or not Dr. Laura agrees with that, she has a great show and does a lot of good for a lot of people.
UPDATE March 13, 2013 Example: During yesterday's third hour, Dr. Laura said "I don't think God cares about your marriage." She went on to cite kids dying of cancer and other common objections to the idea that there's a God is who is, at the same time, involved, omnipotent, omniscient, and loving. She said God is busy. She also, however, supported having faith in God.