Richard grows distant and Tracy’s insane jealousy flares up–Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 52

Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

Part 52: Richard grows distant and Tracy’s insane jealousy flares up

On April 26, 2010, I posted on my Facebook, “is shaking her head in amazement at some of the conspiracy theories she’s running across lately….”

Richard replied, “If you look for them you will find them.  Any reason you are looking for conspiracy theories?”

I wrote to my husband, “Since he was the reason–I saw on his wall that he’s into a couple of howlers these days–I didn’t reply.  lol”

Then I wrote to Richard, “You don’t even have to look for them to find them.  I see them just reading my FB news feeds.  😉  ”

Then I wrote to Jeff:

He sent me an e-mail saying I might be interested in a certain website.  I went to it; it was your typical nutjob website, explaining that whole thing about the military vs. civil flags.  I wrote back not to put any stock in it, and showed how just a few minutes of digging refuted it.

Then I saw–either on his wall or in my news feed–that he had joined a FB group that refuses to pledge allegiance to the flag.  Wondering why the heck anyone outside Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jihaders would do that, I checked out the group.

I saw the flag website posted there, along with another website telling how the pledge was written by an evil Nazi socialist who had people seig-heiling to the flag and that’s where the Nazis got it.

Just two minutes of Googling brought up a page which simply described the life of the writer: He was a Christian socialist, decades before the Nazis came to power, who loved his country, and he got the so-called seig-heiling from the same place the Nazis did: the Roman Empire.  Apparently lots of countries did it back then.

Like the swastika, lots of people used it until WWII and the Nazis made them into symbols of hatred.  Then they were dropped in favor of other things; in the pledge’s case, putting your hand over your heart.

Two wacky conspiracy theories that get me shaking my head at why anybody comes up with these things–unless, of course, they hate our country. It sounds like the sort of thing an enemy of the US would come up with to rally the suicide bombers.

I noted that the friends Richard was still kind to, that the other people on his Facebook, that the new BFF who seemed to have taken my place in Richard’s heart (Chris), were political conservatives.

They could be sexual harassers and abusers like the filthy creeps in the IRC chatroom, and harass the person who had done his family so much good, given them money, given them a place to stay, given them food, given them other stuff they needed, listened to and sympathized with all his troubles–and he would still be better friends with the creeps on IRC because they vote conservative!

It was quite all right to abuse and bully that same friend who did so much for them, because she sympathizes with liberals on many things, because she does not think socialism is inherently evil, because she thinks anarchy is dangerous, because she looks on the TEA Party with distrust, because she does not think unions are the Antichrist, because she does not like guns or believe in spanking kids so hard it hurts.

It’s disgusting.

I also notice, from the arguments of various conservatives during the current political climate of 2010-2011, that they’ve begun calling people “victims” for looking at where the problems came from and saying that what’s going on is not right.

It sounds remarkably like Richard calling me a “victim” for believing NLD is the source of my social, driving, athletic and other issues!  (More on this later in the chapter.)

Many months earlier, Richard told me that he hates Democrats.  He also grumbled about compromise and ethics as if these virtues were somehow vices.

I tried to tell him that many Democrats are God-fearing people, including a friend of mine who is a very conservative Christian–but that didn’t sway him.  He said after the 2008 election that he didn’t want to hear about anybody voting Democrat, and made noise about voting to kill babies.

It’s ridiculous to vote against one party for one issue, and vote for a party which allows all sorts of oppression against the poor through letting corporations do whatever they like to make a profit.

I had been an Independent for as long as he knew me, with Democratic leanings on some things and Republican on others.

I suppose if our friendship had lasted beyond July 2010 and into the crazyness of 2011 politics in Wisconsin, when Republicans seemed to declare outright war on the Democrats, it still would have ended, because he and Tracy would have been on the side of the TEA Party and the crappy things the Republicans were pulling, while I would have become a Democrat.

Which would mean, to him, that I was somehow voting for killing babies and removing freedoms, when to me it was about voting for the poor and disadvantaged.

You know, people like him.  I voted Democrat to help people like him in a much larger fashion than I could help one such person (or family) at a time.

I wondered how he could be so hateful toward the police and toward political opponents.  I wondered how he could reconcile this with his religious beliefs–

and noticed that he rarely discussed religion with me anymore.

Whenever he called, he kept talking politics with me.  And he began calling less and less, except when he wanted something.

I missed my religious friend.  We were both on the same religious forum online, but he seemed to be using it for political arguments nowadays; he hadn’t even been on it for a year, according to his profile, which tracks such things.

Some post or profile he had somewhere–probably on Facebook or Todd’s Forum, where Richard returned for a time early in 2010–stated that he was taking college courses, but they seemed to contradict his claim that he was heading for the priesthood.

You see, he told me he still wanted to do that, but why would he need to major in Business to be a priest?

He told me he was majoring in Psychology as a precursor to seminary.  The profile said he was also majoring in Business.

I asked Jeff about this, and it was very confusing to both of us.

He also was telling me so little about his life now, that it seemed I had to find things out via Facebook or forum posts or IRC posts to other people–and what he said would surprise me.

One day in late 2009, on IRC I asked him how things were, he said he didn’t want to talk about it, then I went away for a bit with the IRC window still open.

I came back, scrolled back over what had gone on while I was away from the keyboard–and discovered something quite shocking and devastating was happening to his family.

Something he told these people on IRC, whom he possibly had never even met in person–

but not to me, his devoted friend, who was right here in town and–as it turned out–was able to help him and stop the devastating thing from happening.

Basically, I started to get a strong impression that I just didn’t know the guy anymore, if I ever really had, despite all the long, revealing conversations we used to have about our lives and opinions.  

Strange or shocking things he said to me over time, and things he said to others online, began to reveal a huge disconnect between who I thought he was and who he really was.

It seemed like he wasn’t telling me anything at all about his life anymore, his opinions, anything.

While I kept sending him long e-mails about my own life, things that were going on, funny stories, my hopes, my dreams, my past, church, my opinions on religion and movies and such….

We used to talk all the time about all sorts of things, and he told me all about his life and opinions and such.  You know, like any intimate friendship or family relationship.

Now we were talking about very little.  I didn’t even see him on Facebook chat or IRC, when I used to see him there all the time.

He didn’t call anymore, except when he wanted something; if I answered the phone, he might chat with me for a few minutes, then ask if we could babysit the kids tonight or bring over a cat carrier….

But Richard’s increasing distance was not the only problem.  Tracy was also acting jealous again, just out of nowhere, for no reason:

She ranted and raved at me publicly on Facebook in early June 2010 in a jealous rage because I posted to them, “I’ll miss you dearly, but have fun!”

She posted that they hoped to visit their former state in September, if they could get the money together.  She made no mention of how long it would be.  It would either be all of them, she said, or Richard and the kids.

So I posted, word for word, making no mention of whom I meant, just meaning it generally, “I’ll miss you dearly, but have fun!”

I expected an “oh, how sweet!” in reply from one or both of them.

Richard posted, “Um, it’s only for a week,” which I thought was not only a strange and disappointing reply from my BFF, but rather rude.

Especially considering that these were close friends we saw all the time either in person or online, not distant friends living in some other city or state whom we were used to not seeing, a week could seem like a long time.  So I wrote, “What difference does that make?  :)  ”

Which doesn’t seem like a terrible thing to post.  Or even at all odd.

But then Tracy started scolding me in a wall-o-text diatribe for “making a fuss” over a “man going on vacation with his family for a week,” saying you make fusses over missions trips, other long trips, etc., but not over that!

Wait–WUT?

 

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY INSANE.  TRACY, CRAP LIKE THIS–

TAKING A COMMON PLEASANTRY AND TWISTING IT INTO A DIRTY PASS AT YOUR HUSBAND–

CHEWING SOMEBODY OUT FOR WISHING YOU A FUN TRIP–

IS WHY I CONSIDER YOU CRAZY.

Especially after finding the same wording used on sites supporting victims of abuse.

Shrink4Men calls an abusive woman “the crazy.”  For example, Crazy B**ch the Musical! The Abusive Woman’s Script and Why She Won’t be Different with the Next Guy.  Words like “crazy” and “deranged” are used quite a bit on that site and others to describe abusers.

Lisette of House of Mirrors has posts called Malignant Narcissists are Morally Insane and Malignant Narcissists are Batsh** Crazy.  Lisette refers to malignant narcissists as “deranged.”  She writes here,

It’s all about CONTROL! They are all INSANE! And they ALWAYS project THEIR disturbed mental state onto the victim. It’s classic MN behavior.

This is how we victims of our Cluster B abusers, look on our abusers.  If you don’t want us to call you deranged, then don’t act deranged.

But back to the story.

I, who got off Facebook before she replied, was completely oblivious, expecting my comment to be happily received by Richard and Tracy.

I was watching TV when Jeff told me she snarked at me and he stuck up for me.

Before I saw it, I thought for sure she was just making some tongue-in-cheek joke, because that’s the only thing that made sense.

But when I read it, it was so ridiculous and possessive and obviously not a joke that I–rather than post right there publicly what I really wanted to say, and bring on more trouble–removed my pleasant well-wishes from the thread completely.

Jeff stuck up for me, posting, “But we make a fuss over you guys all the time!”

I wanted to say, “Fine, have a terrible time, then.  See if I care!”  But I figured that wouldn’t be a good idea….

Meanwhile, I saw another friend on Facebook post on another friend’s wall, “I’ll miss you dearly [on your week-long trip].  Have fun!”  And the friend responded, “Aw, how sweet!”  GAH!  I KNEW I DID NOTHING WRONG OR UNUSUAL!

Tracy’s behavior was just so BIZARRE. 

With this combined with all the other rages she kept flying into around that time, was she going off the deep end? 

It seemed that with both her and Richard, I was dealing with a couple of nutcases, Richard politically and her emotionally. 

It drove me crazy, and now both of them were snarking at me and bullying me so much online and off that I didn’t know what the heck was going on.

Richard kept telling me how I should live my life, so I identified with this June 1 letter to Annie’s Mailbox:

Dear Annie: Why do people feel the need to offer advice that is unsolicited and unwanted? Isn’t that completely out of line?

A friend of mine sends me e-mails telling me that nearly everything I do is wrong. I have not asked this person for their opinion.

I am not hurting or offending anyone, and I do not welcome the criticism or want her input.  Ultimately, it is insulting. Why does she know better than I do? — Ft. Wayne, Ind.

In the comments on Annie’s Mailbox webpage, you may note that one person said, When a friendship is harder to maintain than a marriage, it’s time to let it go.  That comment resonated in my head after I read it that day.

I posted on June 13 that my church was doing GreekFest, and

I do have some raffle tickets; unfortunately, because of the post office’s crackdown on a federal law nobody knew about, I can’t send them (or collect money) through the mail. So if anybody wants them, we’ll have to meet up in person.

Tracy replied as if we were morons, poking fun at us for not knowing about this, because the Post Office had been publishing this information on the radio for weeks.

???

Aaaaaaaand…..we’ve known about it for weeks.  The Post Office informed us directly, as it did every other fundraising organization in town, since for decades nobody in town ever heard of this law.  Even the Post Office was not aware of it until now, but sent out letters as soon as they found out.  Your point???

How on earth did her comment even logically relate to what I wrote?  Nowhere did I say that my church only just learned about this today, because it wasn’t true at all.  I merely said nobody (meaning, nobody in the entire town) knew about this before.  As in, during past raffles. 

Is she just reading crap in wherever she wants to so she can make a snark, even when it is totally unrelated to facts or anything a person even said?

It’s also kind of weird because Fond du Lac has no decent radio stations for the under-50 set.  I don’t listen to local stations at all.  It seemed like her snark was mostly directed at me, so–

You can’t expect to reach everybody simply through radio, and it’s pretty stupid to treat someone like an idiot for not hearing ads on stations she never listens to.

I deleted her post, because if she was going to delete my well-meaning posts on her page, which she kept doing, I was going to delete her snarks from mine.

Also, I decided to refrain from posting ANYTHING to her wall–whether replies to posts, “likes,” or anything at all–if she was going to respond to everything I wrote with snarks, no matter what I said or what the subject.

Richard had been posting very insulting messages to me on political posts, as well:

On June 7, I complained on Facebook that I discovered the school sprayed its lawn with pesticide the same day all the kids had a festival outside.  My son told me they were on the grass there at the school.

When a lawn is sprayed, you always see warning flags to stay off it, because it’s toxic.  If it weren’t toxic, there wouldn’t be flags telling you to stay off it. 

And there were flags on the school grounds.

Also, when my condo association sprays our lawns, they send out notes to warn us to keep kids and pets off the grass.  Because it’s POISON.

Other people reacted the same way I did.

Tracy’s response seemed condescending, but surprisingly helpful, and for once Richard’s was worse.

Richard was very condescending, as if talking to an idiot, such as, “I smell paranoia?” and talking down to me, then taking things into his own hands, saying he’d do something I obviously hadn’t done, and calling the school about it.

I resented him pushing himself in like that.

As it turned out, the school said the kids were not on the grass, though this contradicted my son, so I’m not sure who to believe.  Tracy said the school would’ve used a nontoxic kind.  I never heard of a nontoxic pesticide.  Okay, this may be true.

But the condescending and snarky tones they both took with me in response, rather than behaving as FRIENDS would by kindly reassuring me and calming me down, were absolutely insulting.

Also, Richard made comments about dandelions being worse than pesticides, something about splitting a garage floor–even though nobody used pesticides when I was a kid, and people survived. 

I am against pesticides, because dandelions are useful and nutritious herbs, NOT WEEDS,

while pesticides are making lawns more dangerous and hurting the ecosystem.

Seriously, bees are DYING OFF because of this crap.  Monarch butterflies are DYING OFF.  And I can’t let my kid play on my lawn when the condo association sprays it.

Richard could’ve been a lot nicer about it than he was, being reassuring rather than condescending and insulting.  I deleted that entire post.

I was appalled at how they were now both treating me.  

These things also showed, when Jeff and I looked back in July, that it didn’t matter what I did, that Tracy was just looking for an opportunity to go off on me.  

If the 7/1/10 “incident” didn’t happen, something else would eventually have set off her verbal abuse.

originally written 2010-2012

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

Richard goes off the deep end and disses us for not buying into his extreme right-wing politics–Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 51

Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

Part 51: Richard goes off the deep end and disses us for not buying into his extreme right-wing politics

Richard was getting into a form of anarchism, and writing on Facebook in 2010 about how horrible cops are, that we should get rid of the police and defend our own families, weird stuff like that.  He wanted us to get rid of various government-run and necessary programs, including public schools and fire departments.

He thought the government was going to force everyone to take the swine flu vaccine in 2009/2010 (which it never did), and he told me he would refuse.

He said that even if his second daughter died from swine flu, he would be sad, but he would resist the government’s intrusion.

(You’d let your own child die to make a political point???!!!)

Chris also posted about the dangers of the vaccine, but my family took it, and we all did fine.

On or before May 5, 2010, Richard made a strange post on Facebook asking do we really need the police?

I wrote–baffled that he would even say such a thing, since a police force is absolutely necessary to keep law and order and investigate crimes–

“Some bad seeds don’t negate the need for a police force to protect the public. That just flies in the face of all reason.”

Jeff and I both got into an argument with him on the wacky stuff he wrote about not needing the police to protect us, investigate crimes, etc.

Richard later claimed that he enjoyed the discussion, rather than being upset about it.  But I was miffed that he wrote in reply to my post,

Reason dictates that we should have the right to protect and defend ourselves.

When the Police require us to have them do it for us, that throws reason out the door and thus requires us to be subject to their inquiry, searches and seizures, their questioning and their actions upon our liberty all in the name of what you would suggest is “reason”.

You see it as the Police protecting you from the criminals.

I see it as the Police are the criminals I need to be protected from.

Ever been pulled over for no reason, your car searched and you are handcuffed in the back of the squad car, all done without the police answering your question of “what am I being pulled over for?”  Ever have that happen to you often enough to make you feel a bit threatened by the Police, especially when they never give you an answer.

How about having them step into your home unannounced and then start asking questions when all you did was wake up on the couch and see an officer there, and you door was locked, and the questions they are asking is about how many kids live there with you.  Experience this, and get back to me.

I wrote to Jeff,

Apparently now my opinion isn’t valid because I haven’t been abused by the police…..I guess having a desire to be safe and a desire for the well-being of my family (and having common sense) doesn’t give me a right to an opinion…..

 

And Richard said in our real-life conversation at the park a few days later (which would be May 8 or 9, 2010), that (if I recall correctly) he had been arrested more than 100 times.

Er–What?  To both claims–that my opinion was worth nothing because I’d never been abused by police, and that he’d been arrested 100+ times?

For what?  What the heck was he doing to get arrested 100+ times???

He couldn’t claim racial profiling, because he looks like any white guy, and his court records call him “Caucasian.”

If he were black, I would be far more sympathetic.

He is half-white; if his appearance made his other heritage obvious, I would be far more sympathetic.

But he looks like any other white guy.  His hair looks Caucasian; his clothes are not at all “ethnic”; if you don’t know his other heritage, his features look Caucasian.  Nothing about his appearance explains why he’d get pulled over–except maybe if he did something wrong.

When Jeff wrote,

Logic dictates that law enforcement be handled by capable people, and not left to just anyone.

I have had about a dozen encounters with law enforcement professionals from a variety of counties throughout this state, and I have been pulled over multiple times without knowing why.

While circumstances and dispositions varied, I have found police to be professionals doing a job, and when I offer co-operation I find that all my questions are answered in due time.

Richard replied,

I do not find that logical at all. It is illogical to give over our freedoms to a state controlled mafia, whom we neither appoint nor vote for. If we could vote for our officers things may be different.

(State-controlled mafia?  But I thought you liked the Mafia?)

To which Jeff wrote,

If you’re suggesting that some police act in an excessive manner in one way or another – I can see that.  If you’re suggesting that the police need to be held personally accountable for their actions, I’m listening and am inclined to agree.

If you’re actually suggesting that we rid ourselves of a trained police force and instead live in a city filled with 25,000 pistol-wielding yahoos … well, that’s where I draw the line.

I wrote to Jeff on May 6, “I’ve bowed out of this conversation.  It’s just too ridiculous to keep trying to argue the point.”

Jeff wrote to me a short time later, “… and I’m going to leave him alone.  I like Richard, but he’s not a wholly rational person.  I expect something’s happened that has upset him.  Given time, he may get better.”

So much wacky stuff, actually talking about getting rid of the police force and replacing it with everybody having guns to protect their own houses with.  He talked about replacing them with the sheriff’s department, because the sheriff is elected.

But…the sheriff and police have different functions.  Though the biggest difference between the two is that police are for local cities etc., while the sheriff is for the whole county.  So–You want the sheriff’s office to handle all the police work in an entire county???  Talk about inefficiency and backups!

When I wrote that I want to be able to call 911 and get a cop here right away, like the way it is now, he said he’d be able to protect my family himself!

Does he have a siren on his car?  Does he even HAVE a reliable car, or is he, yet again, relying on us for rides?  And how in heck is he going to do that when he doesn’t even answer most of the time when we call?

Just wacky, deranged stuff that flew in the face of all reason, yet he treated Jeff and me like we were being irrational and illogical.

In retrospect, I wonder if Richard was truly becoming unhinged, due to TEA Party and anarchist friends, a chronic state of sleep apnea, taking care of four children, and dealing with a wife who yelled at him all the time and sometimes smacked or punched him….

I came across a site called http://www.copblock.org–maybe he referenced it, I forget–that said the same stuff he did.  He also got very hateful toward soldiers, and both my brothers had been soldiers, one of them even going to war!

Richard said I should cut up my credit card and pay it off (a laughable prospect until Jeff could find a better job after he lost a good-paying job in the recession) because banks were soon going to go to something like 80% interest.

LOL–wut?

That was 2009/2010; here it is 2015, and my rate is still around 10%.

Chris talked about some kind of apocalyptic economic collapse coming in 2010, and how he wanted to buy a farm and live off the land because that would be the only way to survive.

Hasn’t happened.

Well, he moved to a farm.

Richard told me in 2010 that Obama was getting a military force in place around Iran, because he wanted to start a war there. 

Wait–what?

It’s 2015–where is this war with Iran?

The very fact of Obama’s negotiations with Iran in 2015, even against the objections of Congress, proves this to be yet another unfounded rumor.

Yet Chris and Richard called dissenters “sheeple.”

From what I’ve seen on the Net, a lot of this is coming from sources such as Glenn Beck and militia organizations–hardly reliable sources.

Richard’s politics got so strange that I wondered how someone of such high intelligence as he claimed, could fall for these things.  Todd has also wondered this.

Chris was also into the birther and 9-11 conspiracy theories, against vaccines and fluoridation–

–and posted strange things about the Illuminati and New World Order and international bankers running everything and such

–things I hadn’t believed since I stopped watching Pat Robertson back in the early 90s!

(For a sane debunking of such things, see the 5-part The Origins of the Illuminati Myth and the Protocols and the Slacktivist, who connects these things to Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series, since LaHaye was a member of the fanatical John Birch Society.  Also here, here, here,  here and here.  And here and here.)

Chris even began posting about Facebook persecuting users who used the board for political reasons, and joining with the CIA to keep an eye on people.

Meanwhile, Richard told me things like, when Obama started his term, “We’ve woken up in a different America than we did yesterday,” that Obama was doing shady things, the government was trying to take over our freedoms….

He posted a blog in 2009 comparing Obama to a Soviet officer based solely on a striking facial resemblance.

From what I recall, he enjoyed Photoshopped pictures that made Obama into the Joker (the Dark Knight, Heath Ledger version) or some other such horrible thing.

It was disgraceful.

Read here about the John Birch Society, its beliefs, and its connection to Fred Koch.  All these conspiracy theories are here, along with the desire to abolish the Federal Reserve–and the Koch Brothers have been shown to have connections with the current TEA party-backed governor of Wisconsin and with the TEA party itself.  (Also see here and what Koch Industries has to do with the global warming debate.)

The paranoia coming out of both Richard and Chris was insane.  All this Bircher conspiracy crap being spewed out by Richard and Chris was, to them, the “truth,” and people like me who did not believe it, were somehow deluded and (in an allusion to Neo in the movie “The Matrix”) had taken the wrong pill.

Somehow I was “sheeple” and a “socialist” who didn’t believe in or care about the freedoms Richard would die for.

Meanwhile, Richard, with all his claims of intelligence and being able to tell when a politician was lying, was taken in by all of this.

While I rejected it years ago when I woke up to Pat Robertson’s lies and stopped watching “The 700 Club.”

As I told my friend Mike in spring 2010, I knew two TEA partiers, and wanted to be able to tell people that the TEA partiers are not as wackadoodle as the media portrayed them, but sadly, I could not.

I based my opinion on the TEA party on what these two people posted on their Facebook and told me via phone and chats, NOT on the media.  Todd also saw Richard as going off the deep end, and tried to reassure me that not all Libertarians are like that.

These things were not at all what I would want in a priest, who should be far more politically neutral, and is forbidden to run for political office.

I certainly agree with this article, Religious Right Must Not Set Agenda for Orthodox Church.

And I was beginning to wonder if Richard’s interest in religion had been supplanted by his fervor for extreme right-wing politics, that apparently wanted to dismantle government and build some supposed utopia where everybody does whatever they want and has lots of guns to defend themselves with.

And I wondered if this was why he no longer called me except when he wanted something, if this was why he had cooled to me, because I did not believe his conspiracy theories.  No, I did NOT use words like “wackadoodle.”  Those words began popping into my head later on, after I saw the destruction these theories caused in our friendship.  As I usually do when interacting with people (and not diaries), I bit my tongue.

He also told me all sorts of stories about Clinton, Bush and Obama, things which because of his background he supposedly had the inside scoop on.

I believed him, of course, though when I tried to verify these things, I scoured the Net and found nothing.

On the contrary, it seemed that these things may not have happened at all.  He, of course, told me these things were being kept off the Net, and he refused to post about them himself on the Net because he didn’t want government officials showing up at his door.

So these things could have been true, or they could have been tall tales told by a narcissist, but I have no way of knowing either way.

A very telling incident, however, was when he told me, before the 2008 election, about a video with Obama which was appalling enough to change how I voted.

(Though I fixed that mistake in 2012 by voting for the right guy this time: Obama.)

He told a Wisconsin pro-choice group that he would force taxpayer abortion funding, or something like that (it was 5 years ago, so I forget).

I later checked into it, and he never actually did this; it was just stump-promising.

This video did indeed exist, but whenever somebody tells you something like this, you’ve got to see it for yourself.  But when I asked Richard for a link to this video, he got offended at me for not believing him without seeing it!  So I had to Google it.

Richard always seemed to have all sorts of stories about various organizations, even proof that the Free Masons were as shady as people think they are–proof which I never got to see, of course, but which he claimed to know through various connections and personal experience.  This, of course, made him seem even more awesome, back in 2007.

On the weekend, just a few days after our argument on Facebook about the need for police, we had that birthday party at the park, which I mentioned earlier.

I had just gotten through an illness so bad that it scared me for a time, made me afraid for my life, because I rarely got so sick.  It seemed to give me a new perspective on life, just as going through labor had done, with all of its frightening complications: I didn’t want to take crap from anyone, but fight for things to be right.

I felt sad through the whole party, staring out at the lake, feeling like I didn’t belong there, didn’t want to be there, like it was all falling apart.

I was miffed about the way Richard ripped on me during the police argument, and I thought he was angry with both Jeff and me, though he now told us he actually enjoyed the discussion.

But I felt sad, as if I felt our friendship slipping far away and I had no idea why.  Why was he being so mean to me lately?  Why did he only call when he wanted something?  Why was it so hard to get him to respond to e-mails?

Once, Tracy wanted to talk (using her words to tell me this for once).  She called me “buddy.”

I looked at her warily, because it was hardly characteristic of her to call me that.   What did she want?  Was she being sarcastic?

(As I mentioned before, though we got things sorted out a year earlier, she never really lost her snarks and general prickliness–and now she was starting to get bad again.)

originally written 2010-2012

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

How my emotional trauma proves the abuse–and I realize Richard conned me (“Now I’m Being Stalked” Part 5, July 14, 2012)

This post includes an e-mail Richard and Tracy sent me in May 2012, which proves my belief that they are sociopaths.  In it you will see every sociopathic trait–including empty threats and false accusations–and maybe recognize e-mails you have received from your own sociopath.  You will see how they began their stalking campaign. 

This post was originally posted in May 2012.  I wrote it while a baby blogger, and added to it over a period of months, so it badly needed editing.  However, I struggled for a long time to look through this blog post again because of the presence of that e-mail and its tendency to trigger all sorts of emotional reactions: fear, pain, hurt, anguish, rage, etc.

But now I am finally able to do some proper editing, and re-post it.  I want to sticky it so new readers can see it, as I have been doing for months with my old posts. 

It is, however, extremely long, which would take me all night to edit and an hour for you to read, so I will re-post it in chunks.  I have divided the original post into several sections, which I will follow in the re-post.  If you want to see the entire original post, click here.  Now for Part 5.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Warning: The following contains venting of anger, to get it out of my heart and onto the page, to make the story authentic, and to show other victims of abuse that I feel your rage.

I recognize Tracy’s malicious style in that e-mail, from her past messages to Todd and me both, and from posts she’s written to people on forums as well.  But it must have been at least approved by Richard as well.

A certain loathing comes from being betrayed not once, but twice by what you thought was your best friend.

To think of all the times he was so kind and caring to you before, so you thought he was your friend.

But now you discover that it was all an act meant to con you.

Why he would do such an elaborate con, I don’t know.  But I do now see very clearly, from the above e-mail, that he never meant anything he said about “loving” me.

Maybe the act was meant to get various things out of me: concern, a place to stay, food, money, whatever.  Maybe it was meant to get the narcissistic supply he so craves.  But it was all a lie, an act.

How do I know?  After all of Tracy’s unkind words, her snarks, her lies, her power plays, all the behaviors, all Richard’s going along with whatever she did or said about me, without allowing me to defend myself or say I did not deserve this–

Instead of apologizing for his part in things, or getting her to apologize, all I got from them was this b**chy e-mail which

  • twisted my words into all sorts of crazy things which they never did say,
  • denied my right to stand up for myself and go no contact with them,
  • denied that what I actually did say was true,
  • said they did nothing wrong and would not apologize,
  • and said they laughed at my pain.

Obviously they think they’re allowed to throw all sorts of crap at me, but I’m not allowed to stand up for myself.

If he ever actually cared about me at all, then he would have realized just what he had done.

He would have realized that his passivity allowed a Christian sister, and one whom he once claimed to love like a sister (what a lie), to be bullied, hurt, torn apart, and screwed over without remorse.

But no, it was just more minimizing, justifying and defending Tracy’s verbal abuse and constant overt/covert bullying of me.

It is appalling to see behind the mask and discover that you put your love and trust into a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

It is horrifying to realize just how badly you were deceived, just how easily.

A real friend would never stab you in the back and then, when they discover how much it hurt you, twist the knife even further, and then stomp on it until you die.

Beware such friends, and do not grieve when you lose them.  They are not worth it.  Such toxic “friendships” should be grieved just as much as the snake you shot when it tried to bite you, or the mosquito you slapped.

If I’m telling “false facts,” if I’m accusing an “innocent” person, then why have I been suffering for the past two years from the aftereffects of Tracy’s abuse, both witnessing it and being the victim of it–

even going through a period where I must have had Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of the constant rumination, fear, hypervigilance, and memories playing back constantly?

Why did I cry so many tears both during and after the “friendship”? 

Why did somebody on a forum say I sounded spiritually traumatized? 

Why did I feel for at least a year like I couldn’t get close to anyone I didn’t already know, for fear they would turn out to be abusers just like Tracy?

Why have I had so many triggers that–just when I think I’ve put an issue to rest–bring it all up again so my mind would have to go through and process it, figure it out, all over again?  (This happened continuously for at least a year.)

And why on earth would I break off a friendship just like that with someone who was sweet and wonderful and innocent of any wrongdoing, especially since I’m so introverted and shy that I can’t just go out and make another friend to replace ones I lose?

You may ask why I didn’t go to therapy.  There were two reasons:

  1. My husband’s job sucked so bad that I had no resources for therapy, no health insurance, no money, and
  2. I was even afraid of trusting therapists!

Since my friends could only handle so much, blogging (since I had to get my message out somehow) and writing down the whole story, was my only outlet.

To be continued.

 

Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship

newpost

Sacrifices and Sin

In the Old Testament, in the laws given to ancient Israel, animal sacrifices were required.  But they were so that God would “wink at” sins, a purification of the flesh (Heb. 9:13).

They could not remove them from the conscience or transform the person (Heb. 10:4).  They also did not cover everything; certain sins had no sacrifices, so the sinner had to beg God for forgiveness.

Since sins could not be removed from the conscience, even the righteous had to go down to Sheol/Hades, awaiting the day that Christ defeated death and led the souls of the believing dead out of Sheol.  (Did anybody stay behind?  I doubt anyone would want to, but nobody knows.)

Since all have sinned, no ordinary priest could be the sinless one who takes on the guilt of the sinner and atones for the sins of all mankind.

Angry God and Redemption

Our eternal salvation is not just about Christ willingly giving himself as the ultimate sacrifice.  The Orthodox note at least three parts to redemption, while the Catholic and Protestant churches generally focus on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the atonement of our sins:

  1. Christ took on human nature so that we could again take on God’s nature.
  2. Christ atoned for our sins.  He took the punishment and paid the price for them–like a fine or a price set for a slave’s redemption, or freedom–so we could be set free from them.
  3. When he was resurrected, he broke the bonds of Hell and defeated death so we can live forever.

Also note that Christ did this willingly, and that Christ is God himself.  It wasn’t the Father beating up the Son to appease his wrath, nor was it God beating himself up to appease his wrath.

Basically, wrath was introduced into the world because of the Fall, and God’s self-sacrifice ended it.

I’ve read that the concept of the angry god who must be appeased by blood sacrifice is not from Judaism, but from paganism.  That even when Abraham was ordered to sacrifice his son Isaac, the word is “Elohim”–not “Yahweh”–because the order did not come from God at all.  (I read this in a Web theology forum, so I don’t know if it’s correct or not.)

The Orthodox say that God did not have to use this way to save mankind from sin and death, but chose it because it was just and righteous.  God is not at the mercy of some righteous law higher than he; he creates the laws according to his righteousness.

The plan of God for man’s salvation is called the plan of ‘divine economy,’ i.e. divine dispensation.  God the Father conceives the plan, the Son executes it, the Holy Spirit fulfills it and leads it to perfection and finalization. –His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, The Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church

God could have redeemed us in another way, but wanted to demonstrate his love for us by giving up what meant the most to him: his only son.

So there is no reason for you to sacrifice an animal now: It won’t help you eternally, and you have a much better way to be redeemed.

Original Sin

One teaching, though by no means widespread in the modern age, is that unbaptized babies who die go to Hell.  This teaching stems from the Western (European) idea that Original Sin means we all inherit Adam’s guilt.

Many Protestant Christians do seem to believe that babies are innocent, that Original Sin means an inborn tendency to (not guilt of) sin, and anyone who has not heard of or does not fully understand salvation is judged by conscience. There is support for this in Romans, that conscience condemns some and may perhaps save others.

The Eastern Orthodox church says that the Western concept of Original Sin is totally wrong: We do not inherit Adam’s sins.  Since he became mortal, and we are born from his seed, we are also mortal and subject to mortal weaknesses (death, sin, etc.).  Death is seen not so much as a punishment but as mercy, preventing us from sinning forever.

The Orthodox church insists that the concept of a God who must be appeased in the proper way or he will send you to everlasting punishment in a Hell he created, is a Western perversion.

Instead, God is loving.  Even his wrath, justice and judgment are loving, not cruel or discriminating.  Our eternal suffering comes from us (NOT God).

And we cannot say how he will judge those who are too young, mentally deficient, uninformed or misinformed, or of other religions.  We must remember that his justice is “the divine energy which accomplishes man’s salvation”–full of mercy, compassion, love, fidelity, and truth.

The earth too had a beginning and man was created by God’s love. The creation of man and of the universe was not out of necessity.  Creation is the work of the free and unconditional will of the Creator.

If He had so wished, He need not have created us; the absence of creation would not have been a privation for Him. The creature’s love is not one that gives Him satisfaction.  God has no need to be satisfied.  He needs nothing.

God’s love cannot be compared to human love, even as His other attributes such as paternity, justice, goodness cannot be compared to their human counterparts.  God’s love is a love that constitutes a mystery unfathomable to man’s reason or intellect.

God has no ’emotions’ which might create passion, suffering, need or necessity in Him.  Nevertheless, although the nature of divine love remains incomprehensible and inexplicable to human reason, this love is real and genuine and I confess, in agreement with Scripture, that God is love. —I Believe…: A Short Exposition of Orthodox Doctrine

Note that the Nazarene church (in which I was raised) agrees with the Orthodox church on the meaning of original sin:

We believe that sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin.  We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.

We believe that original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually….

We believe that original sin differs from actual sin in that it constitutes an inherited propensity to actual sin for which no one is accountable until its divinely provided remedy is neglected or rejected.  We believe that actual or personal sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person….

We believe that personal sin is primarily and essentially a violation of the law of love; and that in relation to Christ sin may be defined as unbelief. –p. 27-28, Church of the Nazarene Manual, Nazarene Publishing House, c. 1997

The Nazarene church is not Calvinist.  Traditional Calvinists believe, “Once saved, always saved,” and that because of “total depravity” or “original sin,” only God’s predestined chosen are enabled to believe in Christ.

Salvation

The Nazarene church believes that saved persons can be lost if they turn away from the faith.  It also believes that Christ’s atonement is full and sufficient for all human sin and all human beings, and that the grace of God through Jesus Christ is freely bestowed on everyone, allowing anyone to turn to faith and God.

The Orthodox believe that no one is totally depraved, that the image of God is still in everyone, that the Holy Spirit invites everyone to Christ.

You’re not just “saved from Hell,” as some might put it; you’re saved from “sin, death, and evil” (also more in keeping with the Nazarene and Lutheran definitions of salvation).

You receive the Holy Spirit and he begins to change you, make you more like Christ.  Being like God and Christ (in heart though not in substance) is our ultimate goal.  Another word for this is sanctification.

We must make a distinction between modern catchphrases and proper definitions: It’s not, “a believer knows he’s saved from Hell and a disciple knows he’s saved for glorifying God by loving God and people.”

(I’d never heard that definition before now.  Is that another TULIP Calvinism-based doctrine?  Based on my most recent research, it probably is. Apparently TULIP Calvinism says that were are saved from Hell for the glory of God.  In my Nazarene tradition, being saved from Hell was part of it, but the most common thing I’ve always heard is, “saved from our sins.”  As a Nazarene, I grew up Arminian, the opposite of Calvinist.)

A believer is anyone who believes in Christ, has repented of his sins, and is now reconciled to God.  Many traditions include baptism in that.

Being saved from eternal torment (whatever exactly that means) is only part of it, and any conversion based merely on that is based on fear, therefore dubious: If you stop believing in Hell, you no longer have to believe in Christ to feel “safe.”

Discipleship

Discipleship is a “life-long process of learning and living the faith” (Living as Apostles to America by Fr. Constantine L. Sitaras).

Here, we are said to be saved from “sin, death, and evil,” and redemption means “repossession by God”: Spirituality by Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald

The Nazarene church defines discipleship as Christian maturity, a way of life, “the process of learning how God would have us live in the world,” with the ultimate goal of becoming like Christ in character (We Are a Missional People).

These are the definitions I keep finding as I search the Web for definitions of discipleship: lifelong learning, lifelong seeking to be like Christ, obedience to Christ.  As for what you are saved for, Catholics believe it’s for union with Christ/God.  Salvation–Are You Saved? by Katrina J. Zeno

This sounds much like the Orthodox belief as well, since reconciliation with God and taking on his character and eternal life to commune with him is seen as our primary purpose in salvation.

I do see several Protestant fundamentalist sites which say that we are “saved for service.”

It seems the newer traditions look at it as, you are saved to be a tool, while the oldest traditions say you are saved for union/communion with God.

Which one seems more loving and less manipulative to you?  Which one seems like God saying, “Well, what’s in it for me?”

If you are in communion with God, service is something you naturally want to do.  But it’s not the biggest thing God wants out of you.

One site says that we are saved for “a full and abundant life”; some others say we are saved for Heaven.  So now it’s all about us?  I think I’ll go with the ancients on this one.

In all the parts of the Early Church, salvation was “understood as union with God.  This was the primary focus: union,” though this union was seen in different ways by the three main branches–Syriac, Greek and Latin–of the Early Church (Soteriology by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr.).

In questions 1-4, 8, 16-19, and 21, see what the Presbyterian Study Catechism of 1998 says on the subject.

From Belonging to God: A First Catechism, Question 32: “Forgiveness and eternal life with God are what we mean by salvation.”

The Lutheran view is that we are redeemed “from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.”  For what are we saved?  To be Christ’s own, righteous and blameless in God’s sight; to live under him in his kingdom, being freed from the slavery of sin and freed to serve God; to serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, honoring him with our whole lives and rejoicing with him on Earth and in Heaven (p. 131 and 141-2, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House, c. 1986).

Redemption, Atonement, Salvation

I’ve been hearing traditional Calvinistic doctrines coming from my previous church’s leaders for a couple of years now, not just through sermons but through mailings we still get.  [I wrote this webpage in 2005 or 2006.  We had only just left the Evangelical Free Church in 2004, and were still in the PCUSA.  I was researching the Orthodox Church.]

The doctrines probably came from the pastor reading Calvinist theologian John Piper.

Because of the absence of predestination and limited atonement doctrines, we didn’t know they were Calvinist doctrines until recently; we just knew they were totally foreign.

I’ve just discovered (from websites about or run by the Evangelical Free Church of America) that the EFCA does not hold an official stance on Arminianism or Calvinism–which means that pastors in the EFCA are free to be TULIP Calvinists–and many of them are!

And if the PCUSA ever abandons its modern Reformed, moderate theology to return to its strict Calvinist/Reformed roots, we will be right to leave it as well.  As long as they’re only 2- or 3-point Calvinist, if that, we can stay.

It has been said that even Calvin focused quite a bit on mystical union with God, but in TULIP Calvinism, it’s practically absent.

The Orthodox church has a different take on salvation than Protestant denominations.  I will soon describe again the three-step process which Christ took to save us, contrary to the Western view, which focuses on the atonement.  For now, I will mention our part of salvation:

The Orthodox do not believe it happens at one particular time: the altar call, the time of decision, whatever.  In this, they are more akin to Calvinists and Lutherans, who recognize the Spirit’s work in a person before he actually believes.  That makes the altar call useless.

In Orthodoxy, salvation means you’ve been saved, “being joined to Christ in baptism”; you’re being saved, basically being sanctified; and you will be saved at the Last Judgment (p. 348, The Orthodox Study Bible).

Salvation, for Orthodox Christians, is seen as deliverance from the curse of sin and death, which makes it possible for us to enter into union with God through Christ the Savior.

Salvation includes a process of growth of the whole person whereby the sinner is transformed into the image and likeness of God.

One is saved by faith through grace, although saving faith involves more than belief.  Faith must be active and living, manifested by works of righteousness, whereby we cooperate with God to do His will.

Hence, if one is ‘being saved,’ one is on the way to one’s ultimate goal: eternal union with God and participation in the divine nature, as Saint Paul writes. –OCA, Falling Away from the Faith

According to Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr.:

In the Early Church, the Syriac branch saw sin as rupture between God and man; salvation was universal restoration of all things, and between Creator and creation.  It was union, communion, fellowship.  All of creation is offered up to God; peace and Paradise are restored.

The Greek branch saw sin as alienation; salvation was reconciliation between God and man, an exchange which leads to transformation, regeneration.  “Salvation is the establishment of a new creation.”

The Latin branch saw sin as disobedience; salvation was redemption and restitution.  Note the legal emphasis.

To the Greeks, the “economy of grace” was “God’s taking care of the household of faith throughout history.”  The word used for economy, oikonomia, meant a “steward dispensing money for the management of the household.”  The stewards were the Apostles, proclaiming and explaining the Gospel.  The means of salvation included Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection, not just the Cross.

The Latins, who did not have a word for oikonomia, made up their own word, oeconomia, which they “interpreted in financial terms, and not without warrant.”

Latin culture, since it was based in the ancient Roman Empire, focused on “law, order and justice.”  God seems to have been given a position similar to a king or an emperor, that of supreme Lawgiver and Judge.

Paul’s letter to the Romans–using, as he commonly did, terms and understandings of the local culture in order to explain things–used this legal terminology.

So to the Latins, the “economy of grace” was Christ paying the debt of sinners who broke God’s laws and deserved punishment.  Salvation is “legal and economic redemption.”  Christ’s death is the means of salvation and the center of Latin theology–and, by extension, Protestant theology.

Though the Orthodox and the Catholic/Protestant branches all include the Incarnation, Resurrection, and the Cross, and though they all include reconciliation, redemption, restitution, and regeneration, the emphases are different because of the differences between the Eastern and Latin branches of the Early Church. –Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr., Soteriology

The Orthodox do not believe in the TULIP Calvinist or even Lutheran forms of predestination, or that grace is irresistible.  Instead, God knows what will happen, what choices we will make, and predestines based on that–not based on some mysterious or arbitrary choice of his own for his glory or any other reason.

The Orthodox say that the early church did not believe in irresistible grace.

Double predestination, the Calvinist version in which many are predestined to damnation, is pinned on Augustine–not the view of the Early Church or the Church Fathers.  Though St. Augustine is considered a saint by both East and West, he is also acknowledged to have erred in certain writings. –Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou, St. Augustine in the Greek Orthodox Tradition

The atonement is not limited, because God wants to save everyone.  Because of his love, God gives us the freedom to choose or reject him.  He will not force anyone.

This is the same teaching used by Arminians, so can it truly be called “Arminianism”–as if it were a recent heresy?  Shouldn’t we instead reject Pelagianism, with which Arminianism is often confused?

Pelagianism makes salvation purely man’s decision; Arminianism (and Orthodoxy) says that the Holy Spirit brings a person to faith.  The Orthodox and Lutherans alike reject Pelagianism.

(I would suspect that the Orthodox also reject the idea that God plans out for us what spouse, career, etc. we will have.)

For us it is sufficient to know these two clear, understandable, basic precepts:

first, God desires that we be saved, for He loves mankind.

Second, we can be saved, for we are free.

Thus, the will of God and the desire of man make up predestination. God desires, and if man desires also, then he or she is already predestined.

Yes, God, the Lover of mankind, desires that we all be saved. This is confirmed by His three non-contradictory attributes: divine justice, divine mercy, and divine providence. . . .

Even the slightest suffering of Christ had potential to expiate the universal sin. One drop of His most pure blood could extinguish all the flames of eternal torment. His death alone, had it been natural, without sickness, could have saved the entire human race.

Yet when He suffered, He suffered as no one has. When He shed His blood to the last drop, when He died on the cross, enduring such torment and shame, can we possibly think that He did all this to save only part of the human race, leaving the remainder to be damned?

He could so easily have saved everyone. Yet, after such an effort, would He desire to save only a few? Did He expend such a priceless treasure in paying for such a small purchase, did He pour forth all the wealth of His divine mercy just to be benevolent to a numbered few?

NO! The Divine gift is for all! The wounds of Jesus Christ are healing for all. The blood of Jesus Christ is the miraculous ladder by which we all can ascend to paradise.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as ransom for all, says Paul (I Tim. 2:5). One died for all (2 Cor. 5:14).

If He died for all, then He wants all to be saved. “The Son of Righteousness,” we are told by St. Gregory the Theologian, “shown forth for all, lived for all and died and is risen for all.” –Bishop Elias Minatios, On Predestination

Also see: Elder Cleopa of Romania, On the Presuppositions of Our Personal Salvation

Works vs. Faith Salvation

First of all, God does the saving, based on our faith.  We are saved by grace through faith.

Second, we are inspired to do good works as the Holy Spirit works within us to make us righteous.

If we don’t do good works, if we don’t love anyone but ourselves, if we care nothing for obedience to God or following Christ, if we do not repent for sins we still commit, then how can we say we have faith?  The issue is not works vs. faith, but works and faith. –OCA, Grace and Salvation

The works don’t cause our salvation, but are the proof of it.  The Orthodox and the Nazarenes agree that “once saved, always saved” is unbiblical: You can be saved but still turn away and lose your salvation.

But can you be a good Christian, then lose your salvation by stubbing your toe and letting out a string of obscenities?  Or do you have to turn away from Christ and the church to lose your salvation?

The Nazarene church says you have to turn away from Christ, though I have heard of a school of thought which says you have to repent every time you do something or you’ll be condemned.

This school of thought never seemed to predominate in my church, however.  Salvation was seen to happen at a moment in time, but you had to reject Christ to lose your salvation.

With the Orthodox, since salvation is a process rather than a moment in time, it comes out the same: You don’t “apostasize,” or lose your salvation, unless you totally reject Christ.

While some Protestants would say that once a person is saved, he or she is always saved, and other Protestants would say that once a person is saved, he or she can lose his or her salvation,

Orthodoxy, by virtue of its understanding of salvation as an ongoing process of spiritual growth,

would say that one can indeed jeopardize one’s salvation, but that it is not realistic to say that one has ‘lost’ something that one has yet to experience or possess in its fullness. –OCA, Falling Away from the Faith

So, I don’t think they’re saying that you will go to Hell if you are a faithful Christian but cut somebody off in traffic and die.

It is important to continually pray for forgiveness; this is a discipline I started in my childhood, so it is totally familiar to me, even as a Protestant.  Public confession is also included in the liturgies of various denominations, such as Presbyterian and Lutheran.

Continual repentance shows that you are truly interested in following God, and allows God the opportunity to forgive you.

You don’t repent for a lifetime of sins over and over again after your first repentance, but for new sins.  You don’t lose your salvation if you do something, but it does hurt your standing with God.

If you forget something, you won’t stand before God at Judgment and hear, “But you never repented for hitting the cat when you were five years old, so you are now condemned to burn for all eternity.”

Or, “You were a faithful Christian, but you really should have eaten less, held your tongue, and worked at a soup kitchen, so you will now burn in Hell for all eternity.  How could you have been imperfect?  Didn’t you understand what I told you to do?”

The Orthodox Church teaches that we are saved only on the basis of God’s grace.  However, God himself has established conditions for us to receive this grace, namely faith and works–the first of which must be repentance.

These conditions do not earn our salvation, but God nonetheless requires them of us, and this is what the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers through every century have taught.  In fact, it is also what many Protestants teach.” –Fr. John Whiteford and Patrick Barnes, Miles from the Truth: A Response to “Thema: Eastern Heterodoxy”

This article goes on to say that the aim of Christian life is not works–fasting, vigils, almsgiving, etc.–but to acquire the Spirit, which is done through these works.  Also see OCA, Faith and Works.

As we find in Salvation by Christ: A Response to the Credenda/Agenda by Carmen Fragapane, we do these works out of free will, but even our free will is the work of the Holy Spirit.  In the doctrine of synergy, or cooperation with God in our salvation, we do our part because of the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

Even our initial faith is from the work of the Spirit.  Justification and sanctification, “accompanied as it is” by good works, is “totally grace driven” because only God can give us the strength to keep doing them.

As seen above, the Orthodox insist that, though we must work for our salvation, we do not earn it: a contrast with the Roman Catholic teaching of merit, which Luther disputed.

How do they reconcile Paul’s words–“we are justified by faith, not by works”–with James’–“we are justified by works and not by faith alone”?  (Luther did not like the book of James, which contradicted the theology he had built up.)

The answer is quite simple: According to the Orthodox Study Bible, they were talking about two different kinds of “works”:

Paul fought self-righteousness and Christians who demanded that Gentiles follow Jewish laws.  He meant the works of “formal, legalistic obedience,” such as circumcision, observing festivals, etc.

James fought “dead, legalistic Christianity” and faith which merely agrees to Christian doctrine, without living it.  By works, James meant “willed actions flowing from belief, as the life of faith,” such as the Ten Commandments, giving to the poor, etc.  Works and faith are not separated from each other (p. 539, The Orthodox Study Bible).

I see no indication in Orthodox doctrine that we are expected to be perfect in this life.  After all, salvation is seen as a lifelong process.

Neither do I see that we are holier than others because we follow a set of dos and don’ts.  Rather, it’s about discipline, learning obedience to Christ.

The “good works” lists tend to include fasting, repentance, vigils, almsgiving, works of charity–rather than legalistic rules such as, wear your hair a certain way, wear certain clothes, don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke, don’t cuss, tithe ten percent gross and give it all to your local church, etc.

As a Protestant from a Holiness background, I don’t understand the “vigils” or “fasting” part, but even Protestants know about repentance, giving to the poor, and works of charity.  We know they are expected of us.

Other Orthodox “good works” lists I have seen are simply based on Christ’s question at the Judgment, in which he asks how we treated our fellow man: the poor, the sick, the hungry, etc.

The Orthodox say there is no quota of good works which we must fill.  What is important is that we show our faith through our lives and how we treat others.  Our salvation depends on our willingness to do this.

You’ll note that, at the Judgment, Christ divides us based not on how we worshipped or what we wore or what we put into our bodies or how many church programs we headed or whether or not we went on Work and Witness teams, but on how we treated each other. –OCA, Grace and Salvation

Every Christian is called to holiness and throughout the Church’s history there have been true saints; however, saints who have managed to transcend sin and the passions are very few.

The majority of Christians are sinners who are members of the Church not by virtue of a holiness attained, but by virtue of their striving for this holiness and their repentance.

The Church’s task is to sanctify them and lead them to God. In this sense it is said of Christians that they are in patria et in via–in the homeland and on the way, that is, simultaneously within the Church and yet on the way towards her. –Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, The Attributes of the Church

A good explanation of the Orthodox doctrine of synergy and faith vs. works is here.

Also see On the Presuppositions of Our Personal Salvation.

The meaning of justification and sanctification

The understanding of “justification” and “sanctification” is different from the Protestant understanding, as well:

Justification means “make righteous” (which the original Greek supports), rather than just a legal term meaning “declared righteous.”

Sanctification means “make holy.”  They’re basically two sides of the same coin: being made righteous and holy, a continuous process.

The moral law–the part of the Mosaic Law that did not pass away, as opposed to the civil (legal) or ceremonial Mosaic Laws–was given for our benefit, not to make us sinners deserving of wrath.  Through following the law, we receive blessings.

God requires us to be holy because that’s what we’re created for, not so he can have something to hold over our heads.  We also do not have to be perfect to be forgiven.

As you can see under the heading “Justification vs. Theosis?” in Salvation by Christ: A Response to the Credenda/Agenda, Lutheran and Orthodox scholars have discussed justification and discovered their teachings are much the same.  Check out this article if you want a full understanding of the Orthodox view of justification.

If we look at the beliefs of the Early Church for a guide, we find that they looked at the whole of the teachings by Paul, Peter, and James.  And if we read “justification” as “make righteous,” then it has to include acts of charity, prayer, and the like–especially if you want to strengthen your faith.

After all, we wouldn’t consider Ebenezer Scrooge to be saved, even if he were to say he had faith in God.  Christ Himself railed against those who cared nothing for the poor and needy, culminating this teaching in a parable which showed a rich man in suffering, while the poor man he neglected, Lazarus, experienced bliss.

(Both were in Hades, where all souls went.  But their experiences differed because of, and were separated by, the spiritual gulf of their different choices, as St. Gregory of Nyssa explains in On the Soul and the Resurrection.)

The danger is getting faith and deeds out of balance.  Just as we wouldn’t believe Scrooge if he called himself a Christian, we also should not concentrate on good deeds over faith, as if they will somehow get God to love us more.  In the late Middle Ages, the Catholic church overemphasized works, which led Martin Luther to say that salvation is by faith alone.

In the final analysis, faith holds primacy, and that is why the Early Church (both East and West) consciously said one is saved by faith and good works, not by good works and faith.

Just as meaningful doing should naturally flow from authentic being; life-giving good works should spontaneously arise from a living faith. –Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr., Faith and Good Works

Orthodox view of redemption, again

First of all, the reason for the Cross is a bit different.

God is seen as impassive; that is, he’s not stirred to strong passions for evil in the same way we humans are, passions which drive us to defend ourselves or our good name at the expense of rational thinking or love or justice.

He does not hate sinners, as demonstrated when Christ spent so much time with sinners.  He hates sinful deeds–those are what condemn a soul.

And when the Bible speaks of his wrath, that “wrath” is actually the way sinners experience his love and sense of justice–you know, just as with a parent and child.

A good parent loves the child, protects him, and tells him not to do things because they will hurt him, make things difficult for the parent changing his diaper, or will hurt someone else.

But the child does not like being told no, and will act up.  The parent punishes, but not to upset the child or be a tyrant, though the child thinks so.  Assuming the parent is not abusive, this is corrective discipline and loving.

“Wrath” was not meant to be literal, but so the writers and readers of the Bible could understand.  It basically means “consequences.”  Redemption redeems us from sin’s consequences; it heals our spiritually diseased condition.

The way I understand it, though some disagree, the Orthodox do not reject the idea that the Cross redeemed us from our sins.  Make no mistake, it has great importance.  But it is only a part of what Christ accomplished:

Again, Original Sin, as the Orthodox and Nazarenes agree, is not inherited guilt, but inherited weakness.  Babies are not guilty of any sin.  Our own sins make us guilty.

When Adam fell spiritually and became mortal, he passed on his mortality to us.  Three things now separated us from God: our nature, sin, and death.

When Christ was born, he took on human nature so that we can take on God’s nature, or character (not abilities).

When Christ died, he broke through the barrier of sin which prevented the Holy Spirit from dwelling inside humans.

He became sin so sinners could become holy.  Since Christ was innocent, he paid the debt for us and redeemed us, like a slave or someone who owes a fine to a court.  We no longer have to be slaves to sin.

(The Eastern view is that it satisfies God’s righteousness and justice, that it is propitiation, or reconciliation.  The atonement is not just Christ’s death, it is his offering of himself.

(The way I understand it, the Orthodox church accuses the Catholic church of taking the figurative terms of the Apostles and, in the Middle Ages, making them overly literal terms fitting with the Latin view of Original Sin.

(The Latin view of Original Sin is that Adam infinitely offended God, the guilt has been passed to all of Adam’s descendants, and only Christ’s sacrifice could appease this angry God.)

And, most importantly, Christ defeated death by dying, which he had to do so he could resurrect.  When he rose again, he made it possible for us to also rise again and live eternally in new bodies.

(The Latin view is that Christ came to Earth so he could be the sacrifice for our sins, and that the Resurrection shows his glory.)

We are saved not because we say a magical prayer, but because we repent, are baptized, receive the Holy Spirit, and begin the process of becoming like Christ.

Being just like God and Christ is a goal to strive for, though not a goal we’ll reach until the Resurrection.  This is done not just for God’s glory, but so that we may have communion with God.  This is his desire, and inside every one of us is this desire.

So why don’t the translators of our English Bibles bring us such understandings?  The Orthodox claim to have a better understanding of Greek (since they have always spoken it in the Greek branch), and that they have faithfully held to the interpretations of the Early Church.

To Greek and some Syriac Early Church Fathers, the Incarnation had nothing to do with Adam and Eve sinning.  Its purpose was union between God and mankind, a union expressed in marital terms.

To the Latin Fathers, the Incarnation only happened because of the sin of Adam and Eve.  This offended the Eastern church and even some Latin Popes, but after the Schism in the 11th century, it became the official doctrine of the Roman church.  As explained by Stramara in Soteriology,

From the Eastern perspective, God’s desire and reason for the Incarnation was loving intimacy, not punishment for sin.  The Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb, while foreknown by God, was not the primary motivation for the Incarnation.

The East accentuates God’s mercy over God’s justice; the West is vice versa.

According to an Orthodox catechism by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, some Western Medieval theologians came up with the idea that the redemption, or ransom of humanity, was paid to God the Father, that the Fall

aroused God’s anger and that divine justice necessarily required satisfaction: as no human sacrifice could suffice, the Son of God Himself became the ransom in order to satisfy divine justice….

This theory, which rose at the heart of Latin scholastic theology, bears a juridicial stamp and reflects the medieval concept of an offended honour that demands satisfaction.

The Bishop continues that the Eastern Orthodox Church stated in 1157 that the sacrifice was not just to the Father, but to the whole Trinity.

Christ voluntarily offered Himself as a sacrifice, offered Himself in His humanity and Himself accepted the sacrifice as God with the Father and the Spirit….

The God-man of the Word offered His redemptive sacrifice to the Father, to Himself as God, and to the Spirit. —Redemption

For more detailed information, describing not only redemption in detail but also how the Orthodox view the Western view of atonement, see:

What Christ Accomplished on the Cross

Miles from the Truth: A Response to “Thema: Eastern Heterodoxy”

Salvation by Christ: A Response to the Credenda/Agenda

The Ascetic Ideal and the New Testament: Reflections on the Critique of the Theology of the Reformation

The Symbol of Faith: Redemption

Spirituality

(I used to include a link to a thread in a forum, in which Orthodox and Protestant posters debated the meaning of the atonement.  One of the posters was so good at this that I wished I could clip and paste everything he wrote, with phrases such as, “God is not some boiling rage-pot” who needs to vent on somebody, that somebody being Christ.  He also went into the meaning of the Hebrews passages about sacrifices.  However, that forum thread no longer exists, not even in the Internet Wayback Machine.  :(  )

Wrapping Up

Links on Orthodoxy and original sin:

Original Sin

St. Augustine and Original Sin (A)

St. Augustine and Original Sin (B)

Sin

Here is a brief, easy-to-understand article by Fr. John Breck, “God’s ‘Righteousness,'” on the Orthodox views on righteousness, works vs. faith, justification, deification/sanctification/theosis, and original sin.

It says we are saved from death, not as a “forensic liberation from guilt through imputed or imparted righteousness.”  Rather, salvation is “incorporation, by baptism, into Christ’s death and resurrection, such that we ‘die and rise’ with Him.”

Also, “Good works should thus be understood to be a response rather than a means to salvation.  And God’s righteousness should be seen as a gift of loving, merciful, saving grace, rather than as a forensic tool, wielded in the service of divine judgment.” —God’s “Righteousness”

The Orthodox do not say that other Christians are not saved, and they do accept previous baptisms by converts as long as they were done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  (No “Parent, Child and Spirit” baptisms are considered valid, for example.  I heard of such things in the PCUSA.)

But they do say they have the fullness of truth, just as many Christians say that other religions have elements of truth but Christianity has the fullness of truth.

Many Protestants hold some teachings similar to Orthodoxy.  I think that Luther and Calvin had many good things to say as well.

But I also think that the West has,

  • at one extreme, made God into a monster so horrid that it’s easy to see why so many people run to alternate religions,
  • and at the other extreme, made God into a loving but overly indulgent Father who cares more about making you happy than about saving the world (the “Buddy Christ” image).

One extreme is too strict; the other uses snappy catchphrases and McPraise & McWorship music that often talks about feeling good.

One extreme has a neo-Gnostic view that everything of the world is evil, including holidays and rock music; the other extreme has another neo-Gnostic view that we should do whatever we want, even if it means bringing in Pagan rituals and beliefs.

(See Paganism in Our Churches.  You see, there were different kinds of Gnostics in the Early Church: One denied the flesh, the other embraced it.)

The Orthodox church’s insights can help bring us all back into line with true Gospel.  One thing on which they and the liberals agree is that God has been sorely misrepresented for centuries, and his love should be emphasized.

Individual interpretation is the way to confusion; we need to have the church examine theologies and bring them into line with truth.  But finding a church which can be trusted to do this, is another matter.

One abandons all tradition and won’t even recite the Apostle’s Creed; another does not want to change any traditions, no matter if the traditions are from God or manmade.  (This also makes it hard for me to take quotes from the writings of just one denomination.)

The Catholic and Orthodox churches are right that just abandoning tradition has led to our current atmosphere of thousands of denominations arguing with each other.

It’s funny that many of the spiritually abusive cults claim to resurrect the Early Church’s practices.  Many of the mainstream, non-abusive churches also claim this.  Yet these are fundamentalist or evangelical Protestant churches with little resemblance to the Early Church.

The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, has practices and beliefs which have been carried down intact through 2000 years.

Written between 2005 and 2006

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

Cugan breaks up with me–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 2

newpostI’m not sure when I found out that, while I was out of the room one day during Easter Break, Cugan’s parents told him he shouldn’t have a girlfriend while looking for a job.  (He recently lost his job.)  Cugan disagreed, and they argued.

But after that, he began acting distant and easily upset with me.  I knew I couldn’t possibly have done anything, yet whatever I did was wrong.  I’m not going to “throw him under the bus” like Dr. Phil’s wife supposedly did with him in her new book, so I won’t give details.

On Monday afternoon, Cugan drove me back to Roanoke, stopping to get some fast food, which we ate in a S– park.  We had a long conversation; I remember seeing deer off in the distance as I shocked Cugan with accounts of the abuse I’d suffered from Phil.

In the parking lot, he said he had to get back, I forget why.  He almost left me at the Campus Center, but I got him to take me to the apartment parking lot.  I didn’t want to leave him right away, since I couldn’t bear saying good-bye and not seeing him again until Thursday.

That’s only natural at the beginning of a relationship, but he yelled at me for not letting him go right away!  That shocked me, and was uncalled-for.

He sometimes got mad at other times, when I had trouble saying good-bye at night, even though I certainly didn’t intend to stop him from leaving.  I couldn’t understand why he didn’t feel the same way I did about him leaving, or why he would treat me like I was doing something wrong just for not liking to say good-bye.

After all, in the first few weeks/months with Phil, every time he left me at my dorm for the night, we’d spend forever saying good-bye.  He’d wave even as he left.

I expected Cugan to be the same, but instead he treated me like there was something wrong in being sad to say good-bye!

This time, it seemed even worse, and it colored the rest of the afternoon with melancholy and an unease.  I knew I did nothing wrong, so why was he so cold all of a sudden?

Catherine explained that she had the same problem with her old boyfriend, that it was a guy thing, and that guys seem to think girls are manipulating them into not leaving right away, when they’re just mourning the fact that the guy has to leave.

Yeah, it’s crazy, I know.  Guys seem to have a strange tendency to think women are manipulating them when they’re not.  I just don’t understand guys.  It’s like you’re not supposed to show you care.

I talked to Cugan on the phone on probably Tuesday, but he seemed distant.  There were long silences.  I felt very uneasy about this.  He made a date with me for Thursday, but didn’t sound enthusiastic about it.

I told Catherine about it on probably Wednesday, and said I feared he was going to break up with me.  She waved that fear aside.

She told me to make a little card for him, so I worked on it that night.  I covered it in Celtic knotwork on the front, including a yellow snake with a knotwork tail, and colored it with marker.

Around dinnertime Thursday afternoon, Cugan showed up.  We were to get dinner at Burger King.  I went out with him to his car and gave him the card; he sat there reading it.  He later told me that card made what he was about to do, so much harder.  (I was glad to hear that.)

He then said he was breaking up with me because we were too much alike, we had too much in common.  But the way he treated me afterwards was far different from the ways Peter and Phil had acted: He was actually nice to me.  So I knew he was different–which made it even harder to say good-bye to him.

He said, “I may change my mind: I’m always second-guessing myself,” and to call him on Monday, when he got back from an archery trip to Canada with Donato.  He would be gone all weekend.

No guy had ever told me to call him after a breakup.  If anything, they didn’t welcome my calls, or want to hear anything I had to say, even though I had a right to say it.

(I go into much more detail in my private journals, but since he is now my Hubby, I don’t want to put it here on the Net.)

We finally parted.  I took my food inside to the study room, where I could barely choke it down.  I called Catherine and left a message on her answering machine.

I needed to talk to someone, so I asked Sharon to come talk to me.  However, I had a hard time getting anything out, though my tears had abated.  I think I had this weird feeling like things weren’t so bad.  Before I could say much, I heard the phone ring from the bedroom: Catherine.

I told her what happened.  She said about my suspicions, “Well, you were right.”  Then I called Mom.

Mom was mostly cheerful, thinking it wasn’t hopeless and she didn’t think this breakup was going to last.

Dad had a similar attitude.  When I told him Cugan said we were too much alike–which was odd, because Phil and Peter said, “We’re too different”–he said, “I’ve never heard of people being too compatible.”

Incidentally, the date was April 20, 1995.  The day before was the two-year anniversary of the fire in the Branch Davidian compound, in which David Koresh and his followers were killed.  April 19, 1995 was also the day of the Oklahoma City bombing.  I don’t remember if I knew about the bombing; I may not have watched the news that day.

Two years later, April 19 was our wedding date.  We had no idea that it was the anniversary of these two horrible things.

We just wanted an April wedding, the pastor gave us two choices for dates, and we picked that one arbitrarily.  How’s that for irony?

When I first discovered it was the two-year anniversary of the bombing, I wondered if it was a sign not to get married, along with the terrible out-of-season snowstorms that kept hitting whenever we tried to go to Indiana to get wedding preparations done.

(Once, we even had to stop, stay with Cugan’s parents overnight, and reschedule the next morning’s premarital counseling for the week of the wedding.)

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

“Kingdom Come”: Left Behind Review, Part 1–Where the Old Testament Law is Reinstated

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0842361901, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

FINALLY!  After 5 1/2 years, I’ve made it to the end of this series!  It’s hard to believe it’s been so long–I could swear I just started this–But then, at my age, the years just fly by like the snowy owls we have around here: One moment you see it, the next it’s gone.

Now for my final review:

The Millennial Kingdom is described in the early pages.  Now Jesus is in charge of the whole world, and it seems rather Taliban-like: If you don’t get saved by age 100, you die and spend eternity in Hell.  (This does not apply to Jews.)

If you sin, you can get incinerated–or not.

And it seems that the Old Testament Law, which even the Apostles deemed too oppressive to put over Christians, is now back in effect, even the sacrifices and holidays!  Things which the Apostles and other Early Church leaders scolded their flock not to do, are now being done.

And now the Jews are the Chosen People again, and Gentile Christians are the “foreigners.”  What about everyone being equal?

First we have “The Millennial Kingdom,” a chapter which claims to describe what will happen during the Millennium.  Not what the authors think will happen, but what life will be like.  It’s things like [italics mine],

“Everyone will be assigned temporary housing until Jesus reconstructs the earth.”

An earthquake will have caused a residue that makes the entire planet sea-level.

“You may be a stellar student or an athlete or even a bit of a techie, but you will not have to be good with your hands.  You may not be a gardener let alone a farmer, and perhaps you always pay to have carpentry, wiring, or plumbing done around the house.  But in that day God will plant within you the desire–and the acumen–to do all those things yourself.”

How the heck do the authors know these things will happen?  Isn’t this all just speculation?

On page xli, we learn that the moon and sun are “supercharged by the Shekinah glory of Christ,” so you can’t go outside without sunglasses, and even at night it’s bright.  (I wear my sunglasses at night….)  It’s hard to adjust to sleeping in the light.

Sounds like the sun is going into supernova; isn’t that a bad thing, meaning the imminent end of the earth?  But then, at the end of the 1000 years, the earth is destroyed by fire from the heavens and from within the earth (p. 350)–Oh, hey, it IS a supernova!

And it sounds too frickin’ bright, not like paradise at all.  You need the night and its cooling for sleep; nocturnal animals need the night, too.

Also, now everyone speaks Hebrew fluently.  The rationale is Zephaniah 3:9, which says, “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.”

How does that translate to Hebrew?  Why Hebrew and not some other language that’s actually still being used?  Hebrew is not designed for 21st-century life.  I bet their word for “cellphone” is English, not Hebrew!

What’s wrong with, say, a heavenly language?  How is Hebrew better than any other language?  Is it because the Bible was written in it?  The Bible was also written in Aramaic and ancient Greek–Why not one of those?

This version of the Millennium is also not the only one in Christendom.  It’s called premillennialism.  There is also post-millennialism and amillennialism.

Orthodoxy goes with amillennialism, or that the Millennium is symbolic of the time after Christ.  (More info here.)  Then at the end, Christ comes back, there is the Judgment (not a bunch of little judgments as in the Left Behind books), and then:

Thus, in its faith in resurrection and eternal life, the Orthodox Church looks not to some “other world” for salvation, but to this very world so loved by God, resurrected and glorified by Him, tilled with His own divine presence.

At the end of the ages God will reveal His presence and will fill all creation with Himself. For those who love Him it will be paradise. For those who hate Him it will be hell. And all physical creation, together with the righteous, will rejoice and be glad in His coming.

…When the Kingdom of God fills all creation, all things will be made new. This world will again be that paradise for which it was originally created. This is the Orthodox doctrine of the final fate of man and his universe.

It is sometimes argued, however, that this world will be totally destroyed and that God will create everything new “out of nothing” by the act of a second creation….

Because the Bible never speaks about a “second creation” and because it continually and consistently witnesses that God loves the world which He has made and does everything that He can to save it, the Orthodox Tradition never interprets such scriptural texts as teaching the actual annihilation of creation by God.

It understands such texts as speaking metaphorically of the great catastrophe which creation must endure, including even the righteous, in order for it to be cleansed, purified, made perfect, and saved….See full article at The Symbol of Faith: Eternal Life, OCA website

This also contradicts the LaHaye/Jenkins vision of the final end of everything after the Millennium ends and God’s opponents are incinerated: the earth is incinerated as well, replaced with a new one.

I’ve also noted that the Byzantine Empire, the Eastern part of the Roman Empire which lived on after the Western part fell into the Dark Ages, lasted for about 1000 years–then was laid waste by the Ottomans.

Since the Byzantine Empire was Christian, it works well as a literal Millennium–except for the end, of course.  How could God’s Empire end with the evil side winning Armageddon?

On page 7, Irene is in the middle of reminiscing about Heaven: “She was able to describe the very portals of the house of God, a great, cathedral-like expanse where the redeemed of the ages were arrayed in purest white….”

Hmmmm….Last I recall, from The Rapture, they were all nekkid.

Fans of the Slacktivist‘s Left Behind reviews, have joked about the Millennium’s “steaming piles of fresh produce, drenched in butter.”  Well, here they are on pages 2 and 11!

You see, meat is no longer used for food, despite the sacrifices (which are once again started in the Temple) and the eating of perfect meat after Armageddon (see Glorious Appearing).

So veggies drenched in butter are suddenly feasting food….I’m not quite sure I get the attraction….Where’s the cheese dip? the ranch dressing?

On page 13 is a reference to “new wine,” and we soon learn that people drink wine in the Millennium.  But…I thought “new wine” was actually grape juice, according to Evangelical lore, and that wine is evil, so we’re not supposed to drink it at communion?

(Seriously, that’s how I was raised.  It was a huge adjustment to take actual wine for communion in the Orthodox church, because I’d always taken grape juice.)

The hills and mountains now literally drip with “new wine” and flow with milk instead of water.  But….What if you’re lactose intolerant?  Chaim quotes some passage of the Bible where this image comes from.  Yeah….I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be a metaphor.

To be continued.

 

 

Progress Report on Inching Along with Healing Over Cluster B Abuse

archivesI spent Sunday with an old college friend, the one whom I told about Richard and Tracy‘s abuses of their children, and who begged me to report them to CPS.

I updated her on what had happened in the past year since I saw her last.  I recall her being a Psych major; she told me Richard sounded like a psychopath, that Richard and Tracy reading my blog all the time is creepy, that she couldn’t figure out why they would want to. 

I told her about Richard screwing up the forum of a friend of six years, and she said it sounds like he has some issues.  Since she’s known me all these years, she said, “You tend to attract these stalker-types.”

Todd put out a call on his forum the other day to go back to an old browser-based game (Cyber Nations), where you run your own nation, and to start an alliance based on the forum.

I hesitated because Richard and Tracy used to spend a lot of time on that game, until it went down for a while, and for all I know, could still be there.

But I would be with Todd and the rest of the forum, who have supported and believed me during this time.  I don’t know if Richard, Tracy, or the Creep who sexually harassed me, are still there.

But Todd tells me I can avoid game drama simply by avoiding the game forums.  For me it would be a chance to do three things:

  1. Though I hadn’t played this game before, I have played another one like it with Richard.  This would help me put new memories into this genre of online games, ones that don’t involve Richard.
  2. Fight my fear of Richard and Tracy by not letting the dread of their possible presence keep me from things I want to do.
  3. Support Todd’s wish to play a game with the forum.

Also, today I tackled a piece of equipment at the gym which scares me.  When I last tried it last summer, it turned out to be far too heavy for my abilities at the time.  It looks scary, and the thought of trying it again has been daunting.  But today, I tried it again.  Now I’m finally strong enough to do it!

Not only do I want to reverse the trend of weight gain as I age, a trend which continued despite my walking/exercise biking since 1996–but I want to feel strong enough to hold my own if Tracy ever comes after me.

(Or Richard, since I know he’s crazy enough to do it, after he came close to assaulting/possibly killing the woman who evicted him.  Even Todd called him unstable.)

One reason for my fear of Tracy since I met her physically in 2007, is her huge size, towering over and far heavier than petite me.  When she gets angry, it’s even worse, as her size combines with her Cluster B crazy.

But if I keep getting stronger by lifting weights, and improving endurance through cardio, I should eventually feel strong enough to defend myself if needs be.

The physical confidence could also extend into emotional confidence to fight off Tracy and Richard’s psychological mind-games and ability to cause emotional trauma.

As the Fonz once said on Happy Days, you can win a fight without throwing a punch if people believe you are a force to be reckoned with.  (Not an exact quote; I don’t feel like chasing it down.)

 

 

Left Behind Review: Armageddon

Armageddon by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414335008, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

On pages 1-2, we learn the darkness is only over New Babylon, not the whole world.

On page 13, apparently Rayford has changed a lot since the first book: Back then, he just hurried through the suffering people on the tarmac after the Rapture when planes fell out of the sky.  Now, he’s moving through the darkness of New Babylon, surrounded by suffering people, and he’s desperate to help them.

He finds a lady who has the Mark of the Beast, but has always despised it; she’s praying in her agony; on page 16, she says,

“I’ve been praying that God will save my soul.  And when he does, I will be able to see.”  Rayford didn’t know what to say.  She had said herself it was too late.  “In the beginning,” she said.  “For God so loved the world.  The Lord is my shepherd.  Oh, God…”

Too late?  This woman is still alive–It’s not too late!  Whether you believe souls can still be saved after death, they can certainly be saved before death, and she’s still alive!

This screwed-up Left Behind theology makes things needlessly hard and tragic.  Don’t discourage her when she is repentant!  On page 18, we read,

Rayford knew the prophecy–that people would reject God enough times that God would harden their hearts and they wouldn’t be able to choose him even if they wanted to.

But knowing it didn’t mean Rayford understood it.  And it certainly didn’t mean he had to like it.

He couldn’t make it compute with the God he knew, the loving and merciful one who seemed to look for ways to welcome everyone into heaven, not keep them out.

Yeah, go with that, Ray!  No, it doesn’t compute.  But whether this woman can be saved or not, she has become an ally for the Tribulation Force–as long as she still lives.

This is mentioned again on pages 36 as Ray thinks, “But she was beyond help now,” then his “counseling” the woman (telling her she’s beyond hope) on this question on page 40.

But how do you know she’s beyond help?  Just because Tsion thinks so?

And on page 40, when she says, “This hurts.  It hurts worse than the pain from the darkness.  Just learned it too late, I guess, that you don’t mess with God.”  This makes him sound like the Mafia or an abusive person!

On page 23, our newest young lovers, Ree Woo and Ming Toy, want to get married, but everyone tries to talk them out of it.  Everyone, that is, except Chloe, who understands that despite all the hardships of being married and having children during the last year of the Tribulation, it’s all worth it.

And, well, there’s the issue of, you know you only have one year left, there’s no guarantee you’re going to live to see the Millennium, and it’s your last chance to have sex in a religiously-approved union before you die horribly.  Go for it!  Though, of course, the author doesn’t mention this….

On page 45, Rayford and his new friend Otto board an elevator with three executives who–unlike them–can’t see in the darkness.  One executive says to the other that he took the crystal off his watch so he can feel what time it is.

But Otto taps the guy on the shoulder and rubs his thumb against the guy’s watch at the same time, moving the hands.  When the executives leave, Otto laughs that “that was the last time he’ll have the time right.”

Well, that was a dirty trick!  This is our book’s Christians?  Playing nasty little tricks like gremlins?

On page 86, we find Albie in Iran, and that without so many Christians in the world, the cities of Abadan and Al Basrah have gone totally Sodom and Gomorrah-like, with “every form of sin and debauchery” “displayed right on the street.”

You’ve got “bars, fortune-telling joints, bordellos, sex shops, and clubs pandering to every persuasion and perversion teemed with drunk and high patrons.  Hashish permeated the air.  Cocaine and heroin deals went down in plain sight.”

And this is not “the seedy side of town,” but the town itself.  Yeah…Because only Christians are concerned about law and order or morality.  This is Iran, right?  Where is the Muslim influence?

Page 97 is confusing.  Albie, who is in a hurry and trying to make a deal with an old “business” associate who can bug Carpathia’s meeting room, sees a tattoo artist come in the room.  The associate tells him, “She has neither ears nor tongue.”  But on page 97, she speaks to the associate.  What?  Continuity!

On page 102–Bye, bye, Albie.  I liked you.  :(

On page 111, oh, sure enough, there it is: Carpathia’s government is the “New World Order.”  Gotta fit that old conspiracy in there somewhere!

Add the “lady’s” name–Krystall–who is Carpathia’s secretary; on p. 203, they talk more about poor doomed Krystall, saying she

“made her decision, took her stand, and accepted the mark….She’s going to die anyway…and when she does, she’s not going to like what eternal life looks like.  That doesn’t mean we can’t befriend her and be grateful for her help.  Or that we can’t feel sorry that she waited too long to see the truth.”

Argh!  Can’t you at least try to save her?  She’s not even dead yet!  What if you’re wrong and she can still be saved?  Wouldn’t you just kick yourself if you didn’t give her the chance?

There’s more of this on page 253, only with other people who are about to be executed for not taking the mark, three people who “looked miserable” and who Chloe assumed “were among the hard-hearted who may have been desperate to change their minds but had waited too long.”

But–if they’re so desperate to change their minds, they still can!  They’re not dead yet!

On page 273 is an interesting little observation by Tsion: “When people hear the truth of God preached on the Carpathia-owned networks, well, it is like taking the gospel into the very pit of hell.”

Actually, the gospel message was already taken to the pit of Hell when Christ preached there during the three days when his body was lying dead on Earth–and his message included even the people you Trib Force people think are irrevocably damned!  (Since all people of all times were present at his preaching, according to my priest.)

On page 278, Tsion gives a sermon and says to those who have not yet taken the mark, “it may still be too late, because you waited so long.  You pushed the patience of God past the breaking point.”

While he does give some hope that it’s not yet too late, this statement still makes me want to cry out, No!  God is so patient that he even comes to us after death (Christ preaching in Hell).

On page 318–which comes after Chloe has been executed for not having the mark–Kenny hangs onto his father Buck when Buck has to leave.  This is impressive in its poignancy, as we see a child who has lost his mother and doesn’t want his father to leave him, too.

On page 357, Armageddon has begun, and there are actually horses with riders for some reason, even though you’d think Carpathia–with 90% of the world’s weapons, tanks, etc.–would have no need for such primitive tactics.

The “good guys” set up 100 DEW (directed energy weapons) operators, who “fire invisible beams of directed energy at the enemy.  In essence, they heated soft tissue past the tolerance point in less than a second, and if the rider or horse didn’t elude the ray, their flesh would burn.”

On page 364, the DEW operators zap “the black rim of horses and horsemen surrounding Petra.”  George cracks that “Some of that horse meat is probably well done.”  Poor horses.  :(  They didn’t ask to be the horses of the Antichrist; they’re just horses.

Then on page 366, George says, “..wasn’t it fun to attack with the directed energy weapons?”  What–FUN?  Okay, are you Shaka Zulu, enjoying killing?

On page 393, Buck is mortally wounded–while he’s on his cell phone.  So he dies while doing what he loved most in life.  I hope there are phones for him in Heaven.

On page 403, an addendum called “The Truth Behind the Fiction” (which is funny in itself), talks about the rise of China and its possible role in the End Times.

I had to laugh because back in the 80s, the prophecy pushers said Russia was the big player.  Now they’re changing it to China.  Really, the only way you can know for sure is for the End Times to come: Nations rise and fall all the time.

[6/28/12- 7/25/12]

 

Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 1

I got jealous of Krafter sometimes, when we talked about doing things together or at BBS parties: We college students had to make time for homework and he had none.

He went to work and came home; his day was done, and he could do whatever he wished.  We went to school, came home, and spent our evenings doing homework!  Ugh!

It made it hard to plan anything, because we didn’t always know if we’d have tons of reading to do that night.

In probably March or April, my friends told me my ex Phil asked Astrid’s roommate Chloe to breakfast on a Saturday.  I believe this was before April 21.  Before the meal was even finished, however, she got so annoyed by him that she made him take her home.  LOL

In probably April or May, Sharon and I found a preacher on TCB–the same preacher who taught Mike, Randy and me in Intro to Christianity!  He posted messages in the forums, especially the religion forum.

He posted a message once about not liking to teach college-aged students.  I said to Sharon, “Hey!  I was in his class!!”  Sharon replied to his post with a remark about his prejudice.

Some favorite songs, usually alternative: “Starseed” by Our Lady Peace, “She’s a River” by Simple Minds and “December” by Collective Soul.

“Lightning Crashes” by Live was beautiful with an unusual, haunting video.  It depicted a mother dying in childbirth and then becoming a bald angel, and made you want to cry.  Though many videos of the time had already turned derivative and boring, this one wasn’t.

(Note: According to the band, this is a misinterpretation of the video, where the dying woman was completely separate from the childbirth.  But it was a common one, and we all thought the woman was dying in childbirth.)

As Cugan and I picked up Tatiana in M–, just a short distance from MPB (the gaming store), for an SCA meeting one Sunday, she sat in the backseat (which had to be cleared for her) and said she and Nadine just stared at the screen when they first saw it.

Unfortunately, in 2003, I heard “Lightning Crashes” on the radio the same day I went into labor.  Then I had a long, traumatic labor, because my child was nearly 10 1/2 pounds and I’m small.  Even with the epidural, I was often in pain, and finally had to be cut open.  I was frightened, and later felt strong empathy and connection with women who die in childbirth, that moment you longed for causing your death, and you can’t escape.  I’m fine now, but after that, I couldn’t listen to this song for quite some time because it made me cry.

Down by the Water” by P.J. Harvey was lovely and strange.  “Can’t Speak” by Danzig was both a cool video and an excellent metal song.

White Zombie had a new album, which Lima praised in the music forum on TCB.  The debut “More Human Than Human” was wonderful.  Well, except for the opening, which I hear is a woman in childbirth, played backwards–but it sounds like a woman moaning during sex, and always makes me cringe.

****

Soon, shire business meetings would be held every week because of the upcoming M– event, which the shire held each May for the past two years.  This was M– III.

Cugan was the Autocrat, or the one in charge of the event–and the one most frazzled.  I went to the meetings with him, even though M– was on graduation weekend and I wouldn’t be able to attend or help out, except with cleanup.

(Sometimes, I may not have gone to these meetings, since I wasn’t going to be at the event and had to do laundry.)

I even got to see the site, a campground near M–, which had a lake, trails, cabins, a few large, grassy areas for tents and archery and fighting, and real restrooms in the big lodge with its fireplace, main hall, and kitchen.  There was also a dormitory building with showers.  It was modern convenience mixed with camping out.

M– sounded like a lot of fun and I longed to go, but couldn’t, promising myself to go the next year.

Otherwise, meetings were on the first Sunday of each month.  I probably went to one on Sunday, April 2nd with Cugan.  This was at a different house.

Once, as I went down a flight of stairs to the outside, I heard Ayesha say in an excited, happy tone to probably Donato, “Elspeth and Cugan!”

(At the time, I wanted my SCA name to be Elspeth, though later it became Nyssa when I discovered a popular person in our region had the same SCA name.)

Probably at this same meeting, Cugan turned over the Chronicler’s (newsletter writer’s) office to someone else.  Cevantè went up to him, put her hand on his back, and said, “See anything different about him?  His back is so straight now that the burden is lifted!”

****

Probably on Sunday, April 9, Sharon’s birthday, we held a surprise party for her.  My 7th grade science teacher used to sing a certain song whenever somebody had a birthday.  It had depressing but funny lines, such as, “You’re one year closer to your grave.”  I discovered now that this was a popular song in the SCA.  I warned Cugan not to sing it for Sharon, however.

When it came time to get Sharon to the restaurant we planned to take her to, I don’t remember how my friends got her in the car, but I think they told her they were taking her somewhere else.

She was suspicious even before they blindfolded her, and was a bit miffed because she saw me sitting at the computer while everyone else was going to her birthday party.

This just got her off the track, however: Cugan picked me up later and took me to the party.  Charles and Krafter also went.

When we got there and sat down with our friends, Sharon was still blindfolded.  I believe we planned to let her know her location when the cake came.

Krafter started talking about a recent TCB user party; Nobody got into trouble there, just as he often did online.

Krafter said, “If I tried to explain this to somebody who didn’t know about Nobody, they would be very confused to hear, ‘Nobody was there, Nobody was causing trouble at the picnic, Nobody was mouthing off.'”

****

On the 13th or 14th, Cugan took me to his parents’ house for Easter Break.  I had the flu.  It made the rounds in the apartment; for days I watched my roommates get depressed as the flu dragged them down.  Now it was my turn.  By the way, I took a flu shot back in the fall.  😛

Cugan now had a pente board and some colored glass beads, so we played it for a little while.  It bored me quickly, however, since it was just us.

Cugan told me he used to live in Florida until he was about 11 or 12; they left because of the humidity and to be with his mom’s family.  Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the oversized bugs.  I got to see the gigantic cockroa– er, pimento bugs–when we went there for our honeymoon.  Cugan’s grandmother and aunt still lived in Orlando.

Cugan used to go on long walks around the neighborhood all the time, and showed me a park and a wall he used to climb.  There were geese in the park.

We got back, and I realized we shouldn’t have gone on the walk, or at least not such a long one, because now my throat was sore.  Cugan apologized, and made me some hot chocolate.  He was a mother hen over me the whole weekend, and I thought that was sweet.

On Easter morning, we went to their Lutheran church.  The church service seemed very formal to me, and was also strange to me because of the liturgies.

We went a couple of hours away to see Cugan’s aunt, her Filipino husband, and Cugan’s cousins.  One girl was about my age.  Sara was a senior in high school.  The boy was the youngest.

The girls were gorgeous, with their mix of Filipino and German.  In 2006, I found a picture of the eldest girl with one of her children; she was dressed up, and looked like a supermodel.  I said to Cugan, “I’m glad she’s your first cousin and you couldn’t marry her!”

I’d heard a bit about these cousins: Sara was much like Cugan, and he loved to talk with her.  Once, I found Cugan talking with her in her room.  I joined them, since I didn’t want to keep sitting with a roomful of strangers.

I had a lot in common with her: We’d both taken French, we liked Christian music, and we were intellectuals.  In other ways she was a lot like Cugan: She’d say, “Things are going really good, so something bad must be about to happen.”

The family was very welcoming to me, and Cugan’s aunt told me to come back again soon.  Well, that would depend on whether or not Cugan and I stayed together long enough.

Cugan’s parents had two cats and a big, white dog named Sn–.  I believe she was a white Siberian husky.  Sn– kept barking at me because I wasn’t family.

The little black cat, Sh–, was supposed to be Cugan’s, but he moved to an apartment that didn’t allow pets.  The other cat, Zu–, was white with dark and light patches, like brown and white sugar mixed together.

Sh– was nervous with strangers, but Zu– –typically a cat who didn’t like anyone to touch her except for Cugan’s mom, except when she was in the mood–loved me.  She kept coming up to me and wanting me to pet her.  Cugan said that when he went back to his parents’ house the next time, she was probably going to look up at him as if to say, “Where is she?!”

In time, these things happened: Zu– got friendlier, letting people (especially me) pet her, as long as we kept to the proper “zones,” especially the face.  Sn– sat near me one day, and I started petting her.  She let me pet her for some time.  Then she suddenly looked up, realized it was me, got up and ran away.  She started barking to reinforce that I was not family.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

What About Predestination?

The Presbyterian Church (USA) no longer believes in double predestination, or the idea that God predestines some to salvation and some to condemnation.

Even predestination of a Lutheran type–some are predestined to salvation, but no one is predestined to condemnation–is taught, but I’m given to understand that you don’t have to believe it to be Presbyterian.

I believe in a more Orthodox view: God works on every one of us.  He makes the first move.  It is up to us to decide; because he loves us, he will not force us.

This is closer to Arminianism and different from Pelagianism, which puts everything on man’s decision, while God sits back and waits.

Predestination–as in, God determines who will be saved, based on His own unknown reasons–was not a biblical doctrine: It arose in the Latin church, particularly with St. Augustine’s writings.

The Early Church Fathers said that we can’t take texts used to support predestination “at face value without leading to unacceptable deductions about God who is loving and just, and not arbitrary” (Theodore G. Stylianopoulos, The New Testament: An Orthodox Perspective).

St. Justin Martyr and St. John Damascene both criticized the view that God decides who will be damned and who will be blessed, arguing that it would make God unjust.  Apparently, this view of “fate” came from paganism.

Rather, God gave us free will to make up our own minds.  Before the Reformation, occasionally, someone would teach double predestination, and be proclaimed a heretic.  If not for Luther and Calvin, double predestination would probably never have taken such a hold in Christian thought.  (Dr. Daniel F. Stramara Jr., Free Will and Predestination)

In this PCUSA article on atonement, limited atonement (Calvinist) is not mentioned; it is more Orthodox and even says our goal of being is communion with God.

Article on Presbyterians and Predestination

Written between probably 2005 and 2006

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

Could personality disorders explain the mean girls I know?

Something I’ve encountered all my life but just don’t understand at all: people who, for no reason at all, just don’t seem to like me.  I do nothing mean to them, say nothing mean to them.  Just as I have always striven to be nice to everyone, and am just a shy, quiet person, not out to hurt anyone.

But they say mean things to me, take anything I say the wrong way, and try to pick fights.  I’ve encountered people like this as a child, in adolescence, in college, and occasionally in adulthood as well.

I just don’t get what causes people to act this way.

Tracy was like this.  Most of the time I just avoid such people as much as possible, so as not to be near their negativity.  But Tracy and Richard tried to force me to be best buds with her, and you see that blew up.  If I’d been allowed to follow my natural instincts, that never would’ve happened.

One of my teachers in college, and one of my suitemates, were like this.  Just inexplicably had it in for me.  No matter what I did, they picked on it.  I got this “aura” off them, this vibe of bad feeling.

Sometimes girls like this just gave me a bad feeling and made a snark from time to time.  But some of them had a chip on their shoulder and tried to badger me into fights, such as a girl in high school who said she was a witch, and kept attacking my beliefs.  One day, a Jewish girl stuck up for me–not the same beliefs, but she saw I was being attacked unfairly.

In among my group of best buds from college is another person like this.  She even was my apartment-mate when four of us lived together back then.  Something she did to me once–even Sharon considered it intimidation.  And now I see it on Facebook, when this person seems to want to pick fights with me.  She did it again tonight, making some snarky comment out of the blue.  I could swear she was trying to pick a fight with me for some unknown reason.  Over *chickens.*  HUH?  Sometimes I think about unfriending her, except I don’t want drama.

I just don’t get people like this at all.  I don’t get why people would treat others this way.  I also don’t get why my other friends hang around people like that.  Don’t they see the negativity?  Especially when, as a young person, some guy I liked would date one of the girls who picked on me.

Some of these people I tolerate–at least for a time–because they are in a circle of my friends.  But I don’t get close to them, like I do to other friends.

I even put such people into my fiction from time to time.  In high school, I put such a character into my desert island novel, a mean girl who inexplicably has it in for the main character, a sweet girl.

And, of course, this means I can identify with Laura Ingalls, because I deal with my own Nellie Olesons.  But you never can figure out, reading the Little House books (or the recently-released Pioneer Girl), why Nellie and her three real-life models had it in for Laura.

Studying personality disorders at least gives me some idea of what’s going on.

Like, for example, Tracy has borderline personality disorder.  She also apparently is a narcissist sociopath as well.  That would explain her inexplicable behavior toward me.

Then there’s the girl who posted on Facebook, “Parents, beat your children.”  I started getting a “vibe” off her, too, before she posted this.  Then she verbally abused my husband.  She freely posts that she is bipolar.

Another old school friend, I don’t get a “vibe” of her disliking me, but she frequently gets into tiffs with people.  She freely posts that she is borderline, so I’m able to compare her behavior with others I suspect of borderline.

The woman I described above, who tried to pick a fight with me over chickens: She also ended a friendship with another of my best college buds, Mike, about five years ago.  He said she hates children, and well, I can see it in her posts.  Since she posts things from time to time with that familiar “Tracy” feel to them, I highly suspect she’s another borderline.

The only explanation I can think of, is that I’m dealing with people with personality disorders who single me out for some reason I can’t possibly know. 

That they see something I do as offensive, which other people wouldn’t find offensive at all, because their personality disorder screws with their amygdala (part of the brain which regulates these things).

Some of them are more dangerous than others.  Some seem to have personality disorders, but not narcissism, so leaving them alone seems to keep the worst at bay.

But some are also narcissistic, like Tracy, making them dangerous, constantly trying to pick fights with me and carry out smear campaigns.

The best thing I can do is avoid them, don’t get too close–especially since I’ve seen, through Tracy, what can happen when I’m forced to violate this instinct.  Don’t poke the bear, don’t respond when they try to provoke me.

 

 

Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 13

The next day, the 26th, Cugan drove me home to South Bend.

On our way to South Bend, we stopped in Milwaukee in the suburb of Wauwatosa to see Cugan’s parents.  This was the first time I saw them, and I was impressed.  His mom was from Wisconsin and had a German background.  His dad was from West Virginia and still had a Virginian accent.

They seemed like nice people, respectful of each other and Cugan, and glad to see me.  Cugan’s dad seemed like a nut, constantly joking.  This first impression turned out to be true, to my delight.  That was where Cugan got his sense of humor from.

I told Cugan my impressions, and he said that he felt lucky with the parents he had.  I had finally found a guy who didn’t have a dysfunctional home life, and that boded well for our future.

Now that I was at home, I finally felt the loss of my cat Hazel.  I kept expecting to see her.  Mom showed me where she was buried: beside my brother Jake’s garage.  I think a tree or flower was planted over her.

As Cugan and I sat on the couch the night we got to town, my dad also in the room, my other brother left the family room, came over, looked at Cugan, then left, no words at all.  He’s an odd one.

Though I felt secure in my relationship with Cugan with him around, during this week apart, I feared that I’d get back to school and he’d say he wanted to break up.  I even wrote this poem:

Why does the thought of him scare me to death?
Will it last?  Is he half of what he seems?
Will I do something to push him away?
God knows why I feel so terrified:
Failures in the past?
As if love’s a beautiful snake–
Within its coral stripes–venom.
Fear, fear, you beast,
Go away!  I can’t breathe.
Let me be free.

****

I found my middle school friend Josh online again (“Modem Menace” on PanOptic Net), and told him about Cugan.  Just before I returned home, Josh also called me on the phone.  His voice sounded so different and deep.

I found Stimpy and Krafter on AOL, and sent them messages.  Stimpy wrote back about the wonders of the Internet, connecting friends who are many miles apart.

I also read or skimmed many books I checked out of the library on Friday the 24th, and took notes.  These were biographies on the authors I wanted to include in my senior honors thesis: Victorian women who broke away from society’s expectations.

I enjoyed the books, but the account of Louisa May Alcott‘s life was depressing.  Apparently, Little Women expressed what Alcott’s family should have been, but wasn’t:

The sisters were plain, though the one who inspired Amy was the best-looking of them all.  (Though a picture of Louisa, age 25, strikes me as pleasant, not plain.  Not a great beauty, but “normal,” not ugly.  She looks like she’d be your favorite tomboy bud in high school.)

None of them treated Louisa, Jo’s inspiration, very well, and neither did her parents.

Louisa’s father was just awful.  He wanted her to become a little woman and not act so “manly,” so Jo became what Louisa’s father wanted her to be.

Reading Little Women with this knowledge now became bittersweet, because the story was so ironic.

Louisa also wrote sensational stories with murders, chases and melodrama just as Jo did, and these were always her first love, even though books like Little Women were considered much “better.”

(In 1995 or 1996, I bought and read one of these books, A Long Fatal Love Chase, and saw a TV-movie version of The Inheritance.  Neither quite measures up to Little Women, but what do you expect?)

In the February 1995 chapter, I wrote,

Despite one biographer’s thoughts that Louisa May Alcott deliberately took a passionate relationship with Laurie away from Jo and gave her a passionless relationship with an older man–which, to the biographer, couldn’t be passionate because he was much older than Jo–I thought those two had marvelous chemistry.

And come on, a young woman can certainly have a passionate relationship with an older man!  Just ask Celine Dion.

Basically, the biographer (Martha Saxton) suggested that Louisa didn’t allow Jo to marry Laurie because Laurie was too sensual and Jo wasn’t womanly enough.  It was her parents’ criticisms, carried out in the novel on her family’s idealized and fictional counterparts, in a strange psychological punishment of herself.

For an excerpt of Saxton’s work, the part which goes into this, see here.

Another take on this is here.  I was disappointed that she turned down Laurie, but then again, in the 1995 movie, Gabriel Byrne was hot and I totally got that.

****

Since Cugan had gotten me Dido, I wanted to find him a gift, as well.  Mom and I went shopping in a Walgreens one night.  She pointed out some cute, stuffed bunnies.  Though Cugan loved his two March Haire rabbits, I knew he’d think these were cutesy-cute, not just cute, and passed them by.

I found a key chain with a tiny Etch-A-Sketch attached to it, and decided to give him that.  He was glad I passed up the bunnies and got him the key chain.  A few months later, when he started his new job, he put the key chain in his cubicle and labeled it a back-up CAD tube in case the ones there stopped working.

When my parents took me back to college, we met Cugan at Marc’s restaurant in S– for lunch, so they got a good chance to get to know him better.  He impressed them.

One day in Cugan’s apartment, we turned on a talk show with makeovers.  We hated that the women’s long hair was cut and everyone was dressed in professional suits, which Cugan hated especially.  We’ve noticed this since, that makeover shows are too annoying to watch because long hair is always cut when it should be left long.

Through this, I also discovered that Cugan liked my long hair.  He said long hair is elegant.  After Phil’s constant badgering to cut my hair, it was healing to hear two guys in a row (first Stimpy, then Cugan) say how wonderful my long hair was.  Cutting it to please Phil, would have been a huge mistake.

Whenever Cugan came down to S–, he tried to catch 102.1.  He didn’t have an alternative station in M–.  I said to Catherine, “Whatever I like, he likes too–and turns up!”

This was quite a change from Phil, who kept ripping on my favorite kinds of music–alternative, modern metal, hard rock, Christian rock.  He even said once that he would’ve broken up with me for liking hard rock and metal, if it weren’t for a friend of his who liked it!

(The strange thing is, I started listening to a hard rock/classic station in the first place because I thought he liked it, and ended up liking it myself, only to find that he didn’t even like such music.)

****

In late March and early April, Pearl and I read Hard Times by Charles Dickens for Brit Lit.  We were interested in what happened to the characters, but with its lack of the usual Dickensian melodrama (which we loved), it seemed too hard to get into.  It was also very depressing.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?

This is a baffling question which continues to trouble me whenever I read Deuteronomy and Joshua, no matter what explanations people come up with.  The November 2005 issue of Presbyterians Today, in the column “Troubling Texts in the Bible,” dealt with this very question.

This column is not available in its entirety online, though you can buy it here.  Obviously, I cannot copy the article here.  So I will summarize:

  1. In contrast to Yahweh’s (God’s) commandment not to murder–which Jesus Christ expands on by saying that even hating someone is akin to murder–we are told in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua that Yahweh commanded Israel to destroy the Canaanite peoples–in many cases, even the small children and infants.
  2. But “biblical scholars generally agree” that these accounts were written long afterwards, during a time when Israel was disobedient to Yahweh’s commands (the time of King Josiah, according to The New Oxford Annotated Bible).
  3. Instead of being recorded as a human vow made in hopes of victory in battles, it is recorded as God’s command to get idolatry out of the land.  So the text unintentionally becomes a lesson for us on what can happen when we try to justify killing for our own purposes.

The Jewish Study Bible (edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler) agrees that much of Deuteronomy was probably written during the time of King Josiah, and considers the genocide commands to be “an after-the-fact literary compilation rather than an historical portrayal.”

This is because of major variations in how the Canaanite peoples were listed and numbered, the use of the symbolic number 7 (completion or totality), variations in numbers of peoples listed depending on where in the Bible you look, and the fact that the genocide was not carried out except in “very limited areas.”

The law of the ban, or genocide command,

first arose centuries after the settlement; it was never implemented because there was no population extant against whom it could be implemented.  Its polemic is directed at internal issues in 6th century Judah.  Often the authors of Deuteronomy use the term ‘Canaanite’ rhetorically to stigmatize older forms of Israelite religion that they no longer accept (p. 382-383).

Another explanation put forth recently by archaeologists or scholars is that these stories were actually rumors spread around by the Israelites to keep the surrounding nations from messing with them.  Somehow, they made it into Holy Writ.

This article provides citations for this, stating that most modern scholars agree the stories of genocide are “exaggerated, fictional, or metaphorical.”  This is the explanation I most hope to be true–while noting that it is also most likely to be true.

Of course, to accept such explanations, we also have to believe the Bible is true, but not always historically or scientifically accurate.  This belief is supported not only by moderate and liberal denominations such as the PCUSA, but also by the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

According to Scripture scholar Raymond Brown, the awareness of these so-called historical errors moved the Church at Vatican II to teach that the Bible is free from error only in matters of faith and morals and not in matters of history and science (New Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1169).

Brown supports this claim by appealing to section 11 of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), which reads, “we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”

The phrase “for the sake of our salvation” is the key reference used to argue that only those things needed for our salvation (i.e., faith and morals) and not history and science, are free from error. –Karlo Broussard, Is Everything in the Bible True?

 

[Genesis] has nothing to say, for or against, the theory of evolution. Its true lessons are located elsewhere. –Fr. Lawrence Farley (Orthodox), Evolution or Creation Science?

 

The fundamentalist approach is ideological in that it is inclined to defend an absolute position of the plenary inspiration, propositional revelation, and total inerrancy of Scripture regarding all truth–scientific, historical, and theological–beyond the claims and evidence of Scripture itself.

While the intent to uphold the authority of Scripture is commendable, the extremes to which it has led, including a kind of intellectual sophistry and fanaticism, are indefensible. –Theodore G. Stylianopoulos, Scripture, Tradition, Hermeneutics

Another option is to look at these passages from a Jewish perspective I was fortunate enough to receive:

  • The Israelites did not have the option of peaceful coexistence, because the surrounding peoples were ready to destroy them.
  • The commandments were not meant to be taken literally, and in fact were not.
  • The written Torah was limiting; an oral tradition was passed down from God to Moses to Moses’ successors to rabbis.  This tradition helped to interpret the Torah properly.  The written Torah was not always to be taken literally.
  • The Israelites did not destroy everyone, they often fell into idolatry from the influence of the surrounding peoples (with whom they intermarried), and eventually ten tribes were expelled from Israel, never to be seen again.

Others have also noted that, if the Israelites kept the young children and babies alive, those children could grow up to destroy the Israelites out of revenge for their parents.

It’s a tough part of the Bible to deal with, but needs to be viewed from all angles, not just accepted or discarded without care.

Written between probably 2005 and 2006

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church