End Times and Christian Zionism

To find a good interpretation of Revelation and other End-Time prophecies, you must look at the Church’s accepted traditions, not newfangled ideas (such as a Rapture before the Tribulation) which popped up in the last few centuries.  One good source is the Orthodox Study Bible.

Challenging Christian Zionism shows how Christian Zionism hampers the peace process in the Middle East.

A review of Left Behind,Fundamentally Unsound” by Michelle Goldberg, has a similar philosophy.

Glenn Scherer argues that “Christian right-views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment.”

This link from the Presbyterian Church (USA) describes Christian Zionism and includes many links on the subject.

This page from Cornerstone Magazine explains how Christian Zionism demonizes certain nations and disrupts the peace process in Israel.

This Catholic website explains, in the “Interpretation” section near the end, how the prophecies of the Beast have been fulfilled in the first century, in the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire.

Catholics, as well as many other Christian denominations, also believe in amillennialism.  Amillennialism would explain why John the Baptist and Christ kept saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  It was also the traditional interpretation of the Church: Though a few early Church Fathers and writers believed the Millennium was to be a literal thousand years, this was not the dominant belief.  In fact, it was rejected at the Second Ecumenical Council (p. 627-628, The Orthodox Study Bible).

This site describes the various interpretations very well.

Eastern Orthodoxy rejects dispensationalism.  Here is an Orthodox writer’s view of premillennial dispensationalism.

Here is the Orthodox view of Revelations.

Also see Left Behind–What is Rapture? by Dave Elfering.

And The $666 Question: How to Interpret the Omen? by Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos.

And, on page 13 of the June/July 2006 issue of the Orthodox Observer, “Revelation Also Speaks to Contemporary Christians” by Fr. Angelo Artemas.

 

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

 

Carolyn Hax: Deciding when to call the police/CPS; Seeing abuser again; socializing with abusive spouse of a friend

Carolyn Hax has a good response for a common problem:

I realize there is a sense of crossing a Rubicon when calling the police or child-protective services on a parent — of putting them in “the system,” of possibly doing more harm than good. I also understand why this sense is often enough to keep people from making the call.

At the same time, if these kids are in crisis, then it’s every witness’s duty to speak up.

Read her response here.  In my own case, I knew someone who works “in the system,” so I asked her for advice.  But if you can’t do that, Carolyn has some good ideas.  Another thing you can do is to ask Social Services/CPS for advice before making an official report.

I especially like Pace1’s comment:

Please do not talk yourself out of what you instincts are telling you about the likelihood that this woman’s kids are likely experiencing at least emotional abuse at the hands of their mother. You cited two instances of red flag behavior.

Please also don’t think you’ll get more clarity “talking” to the kids. Kids in abusive homes are often very good at keeping the “family secret” of abuse. They may display a lot of love toward their abusive parent because kids will attach at any cost in order to survive.

Kids are often convinced the treatment they receive is deserved because they are bad–a belief often reinforced by the abuser because abusers are unlikely to take responsibility for their behavior. Please err on the side of protecting the kids. A call will most likely initiate an investigation, not an immediate removal….

In another thread of the comments, someone asked,

I have a question: if you were sure, absolutely sure, that you knew someone who had abused a spouse or a child, could you “forget” that enough to socialize with them in other contexts?

Maybe its just me (and I would need to be absolutely sure of the abuse part), but if I *knew* that someone had committed physical, verbal or emotional abuse against a family member, that would make them someone I would ~ based on my own morals ~ not want to socialize with.

The general answer: NO.

Exactly.  That’s why I could not easily socialize with Tracy and resented being forced to.

I also like this comment farther down:

Someone I hurt owes me nothing. I owe them. And the first thing I owe them is the right to assert enough control over themselves and their choices to go forward. I can be ashamed of my own conduct; but I don’t get angry or hurt if someone exercises their God-given right for self-determination and chooses to avoid me.

But abusers do: abusers get *angry* and *offended* when people don’t let them be dominant. They convince themselves that they are entitled to be/act the way they are/do. And because there is no real guilt, no remorse, the pattern endures.

The mere fact that Grandpa is still in the middle of the drama shows that he hasn’t changed. And if he can’t hit with his fist or his belt, he can mindfrick her with his presence and the gaslighting of pretending that nothing is wrong and she’s making a big deal about everything.

You can decide to forgive a rattlesnake for being a rattlesnake, I guess. But you don’t let it get within striking distance of you, that’s for sure.

Several people in this thread “get” why abuse victims do not want to even be in the same room with their abusers, how the abusers try to maintain power over them, and just being in his presence can trigger the cycle.

This cycle, and abusers trying to maintain power by forcing their presence on me where they could continue to psychologically abuse me, is on display in the e-mail my abusers sent me last year.

 

 

 

So now it’s time for my son to start sex ed…..

4th grade, already, they start it around here.  And they’ve been doing it for 30 years.  My own school, 30 years ago, had no such formal training.  My teacher one day separated the girls from the boys, and told us girls why she requested a new pad machine for the girls’ bathroom (one of our 9-year-olds had already started her period).

Then she showed us the boys’ bathroom, because it had become a fad for girls to go in there.  She wanted to de-mystify it, while it was empty, so they’d stop doing that.  (I never did it.)  I did wonder why the boys didn’t have doors on their stalls; wouldn’t they hate being seen doing their business?

Now, we did have a day of movies etc. in some middle school class.  I believe birth control was discussed to some extent.  And we did have a bit of a talk in biology class in high school.  So we weren’t completely without sex ed.

But my ex Phil gave me the impression that his school in Wisconsin had more formal and extensive training, which he then used to show me how ignorant I was in thinking certain sexual behaviors were sex.  (Actually, they are sex, but I believed him because of his fancy sex ed training, and put myself into risky situations, trusting him.)

It looks like the local schools have more formal training than we ever got where I grew up.  They have special teachers trained to do this, and start in 4th grade already.  They don’t go into detail at this age–it’s mostly about puberty changes, bathing, deodorant, that sort of thing–but they have special classes and videos.  Then in middle and high school, they go into more about the sexual aspect.

I’m in favor of sex ed in schools, because I remember vividly what it was like going through puberty in elementary and middle school, how the kids teased each other, that one 9-year-old girl actually did have sex–and because I don’t want any other girls to be led by some selfish boy who claims fancy knowledge, to get her to do things she otherwise would not do.  (“No, no sex before marriage!”  “But THAT’s not ‘sex.’  Sex involves penetration.”  Next thing she knows, she’s pregnant even though she never had “sex.”)

The failure rate of abstinence-based education is very telling, as is the rate of premarital sex even among Christian teenagers/young adults.  I don’t want my boy to get some girl pregnant because of lack of knowledge about how to avoid that.  I intend to make sure he knows that all the other “non-intercourse” sexual practices are indeed sex, and many can lead to pregnancy–or to the act itself, which then leads to pregnancy.

But still–The thought of my little 9-year-old going through puberty and sex ed, when I could swear I just brought him home from the hospital a week ago–Where did the time go?

 

 

Should bloggers reveal the names of their abusers? Should I reveal mine right here in a big expose’?

Why do we have to keep everything a secret?  Why are our ‘secrets’ considered embarrassing? Why are we protecting our abusers? What’s wrong with a good ol’ public hanging?…

Nowadays everything happens behind closed doors. And on top of that, victims aren’t supposed to talk about it. …Why are we being judged for what others did to us?–Prozac Blogger, “Why are we the ones that hide the truth?”

Prozac Blogger no longer blogs, at least not about his abuse.  He wrote in the post/comments that he was afraid his dad would find his blog, and proceed to “wipe the floor” with P.B. with his high-powered lawyers.  So he kept his identity secret.

But then, one day last year, he finally got the chance to confront his abusive father, and cut him out of his life for good.  After that, he felt healed at last, took down most of the blog, and started a new one which revealed his own identity, but was about various things, such as politics and his own short fiction.  (He was a porn star!  Who knew!)

From that, anyone who knew him could figure out his father, so I guess he was no longer afraid, even though he didn’t give his father’s name.  But now, I don’t see P.B. anywhere when I search.  I had to get the above link through the Wayback Machine.

When Savannah Dietrich was raped,

The public humiliation culminated this June, when her assailants struck a plea deal on charges of felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism that Dietrich felt amounted to a “slap on the wrist.” And the court had an order for Dietrich, too: Don’t talk about it, or risk 180 days in prison and a $500 fine.

First, Dietrich cried. Then, she logged online. “There you go, lock me up,” she tweeted to a couple hundred Twitter followers, outing her assailants by name. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”

These men had made their assault on her public. Now, they had convinced a court to keep it all under wraps. “If reporting a rape only got me to the point that I’m not allowed to talk about it, then I regret it,” she wrote in a note on her Facebook wall. “I regret reporting it.”  –Amanda Hess, Slate.com

Read the rest of the above post for details of how various girls have used social media to expose their rapists–and the fallout they received for it.  But Hess sees them as brave, fighting to make a change despite the odds.  After all, exposing rapists and abusers online is risky, especially if you can’t point to a settled court case.

If your rapist was convicted, or your abuser is sitting in jail for years for choking you, then you can’t be guilty of libel.  But if it’s not proven, or if it’s verbal/emotional abuse or a general pattern of behavior, then you are on riskier ground if you reveal names.

Julie Anne Smith was sued by her former pastor for blogging about spiritual abuse she experienced from him; she won.  Alex Grenier was sued by his pastor father for blogging about severe physical and sexual abuse committed against Alex and his brother Paul, by Bob Grenier.  The ultimate fate of this case is still up in the air.

I understand why they used real names, but that put them into treacherous waters from the very beginning.  However, it has given other victims of spiritual abuse a forum, as they discover they’re not the only ones abused at Beaverton Grace Bible Church or by Bob Grenier.  Other spiritual abuse victims of other churches are also speaking out on these and other blogs.

As you can see in this post, in which I published the DARVO e-mail sent to me by my own abusers, they apparently had some crazy idea that I was going to go on some kind of public campaign outing them to the whole city.

I never said or “threatened” that I would, and I have no clue where they got this idea; it must have been their own paranoia speaking.  (But then, Tracy has shown a tendency to read in things that aren’t there.)

Or, as I figured at the time, maybe they were jumping on the fact that I wrote–in a post written long before they ever found my blog–that I would have to talk to the priest if their church merged with mine, to get his help dealing with the situation, and form a contract which would keep them from harassing me at church.

No, the only thing I told them was to either apologize or stay the **** away from me, and don’t contact me.  No threats, period; they pulled that “threat” concept out of their backsides, then proceeded to give me an actual threat.

No, I had already told my friends and family what happened, reported my abusers to CPS for the many instances of child and spousal abuse I witnessed, and told my priest what was going on so he could advise me, all before my abusers even found my blog.

I named my abusers to my friends and family, who include people here in town.  I no longer hesitate to use their names when speaking of them on my Facebook.  But my Facebook wall is closed to the public.

This was all the public “outing” I ever intended to do, and all of it is covered under our precious First Amendment.

I used my blog as a tool to get everything out in great detail, something my friends would not have the patience for, so that I could heal and maybe help other abuse victims in the process.  But all names and identifying details were changed, I even removed pictures from my website/blog and Richard’s comments on my blog from 2009, and I had no intention of ever revealing these things on my blog.

Besides, posting their names here would be vengeance, not justice or a healing tool.

“Justice” was telling my priest and family/friends.

“Healing” was writing about the abuse, venting all my anger, and then beginning to transfer it to the written words and out of my heart.  “Healing” is seeing others read my posts to help their own healing, sometimes even downloading a copy.

Putting their names on a blog so future employers could Google it–that’s vengeance.  “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.”  Not MINE.  (Besides, if I ruin their chances at getting a job, I ruin their chances of ever getting the means to move the heck away from this town.)

Now, the state publicly posts court records; I have nothing to do with that.  That, they will have to contend with.  Richard ruined his own chances of ever becoming a priest, and can’t sue the state for posting his criminal records.

I have seen all sorts of different abuse blogs in the past few years.  Some have never given the names of their narcissists and/or abusers, such as Tina Swithin and Whispers of God, but have still been threatened with or actually hit with lawsuits.

Some have given real names; the results have been mixed.  Princess Fi tried to go through legal channels, but it had been decades since her parents sexually abused her, and the police finally dropped the lawsuit.  She posted the names of her abusers online, but she lives in the UK, where the police forced her to remove the names.  Swithin has never actually been sued, and still blogs.

Christina Enevoldsen has been public about her abuse experiences in her own town for years, and even was threatened by her own mother with a lawsuit, but that never happened.  Other bloggers on Overcoming Sexual Abuse use real names as well.

[Update 12/20/14: After this post was written, Enevoldsen revealed that she was indeed sued by her mother–and won.  She writes about it here.]

Bloggers on Emerging from Broken use real names.  Though I think for the most part the bloggers are using their own real names, not naming their abusers.  Of course you can figure out who that is if you know the blogger, but the general public wouldn’t know.

Paula’s Pontifications does not give the name of her narcissistic ex.

Exposing the name of your abuser is a huge risk.  I don’t advise it, because changing names and identifying details should keep you from being successfully sued–especially if the abuse cannot be proven in court, such as verbal abuse or narcissistic mind games.

If your arm has been broken and the police are aware of this, or if your abuser has been convicted of sexual abuse or rape, you may be able to get away with exposing names.  But otherwise, take care.  It’s bad enough to be abused in the first place, without getting sued as well.

See Intimdation of Abuse Bloggers and Dealing with Gaslighting Legal Threats for more on this subject.

 

More evidence of NVLD: doing miserably on an all-logic IQ test

I just took an online IQ test.  Shortly in, I knew I was in trouble.  Normally, I score quite well on these things: 140s, gifted range, which I know to be correct because my teacher called me gifted, and had me put in a gifted school in 3rd grade.

But this thing is all frickin’ logic, so I only got 114 on the European measure (it was something like 100 on the US scale; I didn’t save the results).

Just like I also didn’t do so well, about 20 years ago, on a test which was heavily math, even though I still scored highly on it (130).  A more balanced test a year later gave me high results (150).

From what I can gather, this test appears to be a kind of performance IQ evaluation, since it mostly involves completing pictures, and people with NVLD have a discrepancy of at least 10 points between verbal and performance IQ.

For those who don’t know, Verbal IQ is basic arithmetic, vocabulary, etc. while performance is picture completion, block arrangement into shapes, etc. In other words, performance tests non-verbal capabilities.–Wrongplanet poster

 

People with NVLD:

Rourke (1995a) has also identified deficits in executive functioning as among the primary impairments in NVLD (Strang & Rourke, 1983). Executive functions include such higher level abilities as abstract reasoning, logical analysis, hypothesis testing, and cognitive flexibility, or the ability to “shift gears” mentally.

The ability to focus, shift, and distribute attention, organize information into memory to aid learning and remembering, and otherwise regulate thought processes are also examples of executive functions.

Although similar etiologies have been proposed to explain both nonverbal learning disability and executive dysfunction (i.e., impairments of subcortical white matter), poor performance on measures of executive functioning are not always found in children with NVLD.

There is no clear data to indicate how frequently executive functioning deficits occur in the NVLD population. It is the author’s experience that such deficits are common in more severe cases of NVLD and quite rare in more subtle cases.  –The Syndrome of Nonverbal Learning Disabilities: Clinical Description and Applied Aspects by Michael A. Roman

Trouble “shifting gears mentally”: oh, definitely.  I always hated that at work, when the phone rang while I was in the middle of a task.  Even as a housewife, it still happens, and I hate that, too.  My mom also noted this about me when I was a kid.

NLD children find it difficult to learn from past experience, deal with novel situations, internalize feedback, and understand cause and effect relationships; all of which requires information processing and generalization skills.

Thus it would seem logical for children with NLD to experience more difficulties with analogical problem solving tasks that require processing and transfer of knowledge from one situation or context to another.

I am very detail-oriented.  I am very smart in certain areas, and while I did do better than my peers in regular math and science classes, there is a huge discrepancy between what I could do in math and science, and what I could do in language-based classes (English, spelling, writing, literature).  (Just look at the 30-point difference between my logic IQ and my usual IQ.)

I never fit in with the “regular” kids or with the “smart” kids, because the other kids had all their subjects in the same level (regular, honors or advanced), while I was split (regular for math and science, advanced for English).  I knew this because I heard them talk about and saw which classes they were in.

So it’s not that I struggled when put into a class which matched my abilities; it’s that there was such a huge discrepancy between my abilities for each subject.  You’ll note that in between regular and advanced, we had an honors level.  I tried honors for each subject; in math and science, I did poorly in middle and high school, so got bumped down to regular.  In English, I tried honors, but found it too easy.

Maybe, one day, I’ll have thousands of $$$$$$ to finally get this diagnosed.  But for now, this is all I can afford…..

For me, it’s awesome to know there’s a legitimate cause of the problems I had in school, socially and in other situations throughout my life.

It’s puzzling why your teachers call you smart but you struggle with things the “average” kids do easily.  Knowing it’s a learning disorder, and that even smart kids can have one, means you’re not a freak or weird after all, and that you don’t deserve those baffling criticisms people would make of you that you knew weren’t true, but couldn’t figure out why they said that about you.

Before you think I got teased because I was smart, or that it’s common for gifted kids to be seen as “weird,” I got teased BY THE SMART KIDS.  I got called “weird” AT THE GIFTED SCHOOL.

Many children and teens with an NLD had medical problems during their mother’s pregnancy or birth. Some of the common pregnancy and birth difficulties are:

  • very long labor at birth
  • having the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck
  • premature birth or low birth weight
  • serious infections as a young infant

Hmmmm….My son had the first two….

 

 

 

Fighting the Darkness: Coming out of the darkness, or, life without narcissists

Last night my husband, son and I went to a showing of Young Frankenstein in an old-fashioned theater in Sheboygan, Stefanie H. Weill Center.  Beautiful theater, with balconies, curtains, ornate moulding all over the walls, you know the type.  The ceiling was made to look like the night sky, complete with realistic stars.

Here is a link to a picture of that auditorium.

Here are more pictures.

And to watch this movie on the big screen, with other people laughing, and your good friend of 20-some years right beside you…. Catherine was there, along with another of our old friends, and another couple as well.

It was so…wonderful.  To be with people who do not cause drama.  Who have jobs, but are not the type who are so ambitious that they use, step on and discard others on the way to the top. Just normal, laid-back, Midwestern geeks.

And during the whole movie, I could feel that inner joy, that love of life, that had been buried for so long.

This is normalcy.  This is what I missed for so long when the toxins from Richard/Tracy’s abuse were still in my spirit.  This is life without drama queens and narcissists.

Life is good again.  The toxins are finally getting flushed out.  The darkness is finally going away.

I am healing at last.

My son’s pet flock of finches

My son now has a “pet flock” of finches. Not only does he have his two spice finches, but there’s a flock which will sit on the fence and watch the house. Then when he gives them bread, they swoop down before he’s even done. They’re so fat now that I’m surprised they can still fly. Sometimes, bunnies feast as well; yesterday, a chipmunk nommed on the bread.

 

Article “Domestic Violence Strikes Home”

Agnesian HealthCare Domestic Violence Program Coordinator Tiffany Wiese said many victims are often hesitant to call police because they fear that their abuser will retaliate against them.

“Until our systems become more consistent in dealing with abusers through prosecution and rehabilitation, victims will probably continue to be fearful,” Wiese said. “Victims should report in order to hold abusers accountable and keep their families safe, but the reality is that this may put the victim and their family in more danger.”

Many victims of domestic violence stay in a relationship out of fear, said Lindee Kimball, executive director of Solutions Center of Fond du Lac. Last year Solutions Center assisted 225 victims of domestic abuse.

“Victims try to leave their partners about seven times. They go back thinking things will be good for a while,” said Kimball. “It’s all about the power and control that the abuser exerts over the victim. They think it’s easier to go back and deal with it, hoping it won’t happen again. The scariest part is when they do leave. The abuser hates the fact that the victim is taking that power back. That’s usually when something happens.”

….Under Wisconsin law judges don’t know if domestic abusers own firearms. And if an abuser lies about owning guns or ignores a court order to turn them over there is often no follow-up and no penalty.

….Last year a relatively high number of children — nearly 25 percent — were killed by their fathers or other adult male household members.

“The male abuser knows what’s dearest to a mother — her children. They know they can hurt her most by taking them or harming them,” Kimball said.

….The Fond du Lac Police Department launched an enhanced victim follow-up protocol this summer led by the Domestic Violence Intervention Team. Officers accompany victims to meetings with counselors/advocates at Agnesian HealthCare or Solutions Center to obtain additional information or offer counseling services victims may need following an assault.

….Kimball said friends and neighbors can also assist domestic violence victims, especially those who try to hide the abuse.

“After Nicole Anderson died, many folks started second-guessing themselves, wondering if they had missed signs of abuse. If you’re friends with someone and you suspect abuse, don’t be afraid to ask them because just maybe they’re waiting for you to ask so they can open up that gate,” Kimball said. “And if you think someone is being hurt address it, don’t ignore it. It might be too late next time.”

Domestic Violence Strikes Home by Colleen Kottke

 

“The Regime”: Left Behind Review, Part 3 (also goes into narcissism, and shyness)

 

Previous Parts

On page 242, Chloe is described as “suddenly on the phone to her girlfriends all the time…”  LOL, how quaint, a phone.  This book was written in 2005, so the authors have no excuse!  Don’t they know kids these days would rather use their computers and text messaging to communicate with each other?

On page 247, we finally find out information we could’ve used back in the first few books: how th’ heck Rayford, just another airplane pilot, ended up the pilot for Air Force 1.  Turns out he saved the lives of his passengers in a dramatic near-miss with another plane which missed the instructions from the control tower.  And he was in ROTC.  So he ended up on the reserve list for Air Forces One and Two.

The time to explain to us how Rayford and Buck ended up in their high positions, was in the first few books, not now!  Sure the whole back story could wait, but summaries would’ve been helpful.  Otherwise, we just have Buck who never actually bucks much of anything or writes, either, and Rayford who suddenly becomes the pilot for the Antichrist.

Now we even find that Rayford and Tribulation Forcer Abdullah already knew each other, as on page 271 and after, Rayford becomes a consultant on arming commercial planes against terrorists.  On page 276, we find that Rayford is supposed to become a friend to Abdullah (“Smitty”), who is painfully shy, so that Smitty will open up to him about his ideas for arming planes.

On page 258, Rayford asks Irene, “VBS?  What’s that?”  She describes Vacation Bible School.  Now come on, why would Rayford not know what VBS is?  Lots of different kinds of churches host VBS and post signs all over the place, not just Fundamentalists!

On page 259, Irene complains to him about their church, saying,

Our church dances around the truth.  We sing, we read a few verses, pastor Bohrer doesn’t so much preach–and he never teaches–as much as he just shares thoughts.  Like a homily.  Listening to him is like reading those inspirational books full of partly true but mostly made-up stories of long-lost kitties finding their way home, orphans teaching some curmudgeon a life lesson, an elderly woman–“

Hey, wait a minute.  Like a homily?  What’s wrong with a homily?  Catholic and Orthodox churches often do short homilies rather than sermons; my priest can pack quite a bit of hard teaching in one ten-minute homily.  Heck, it’s better than what I had been getting in Evangelical churches as of late, because it skipped the prooftexting, theological errors,  skits, etc., instead getting to the heart of Christianity.

She complains that their church doesn’t get into the “real truth,” the “hard truth.”  Yet, in 2007, even in a Fundamentalist church–the Nazarene church where I grew up–I found a skit, a dinky Scripture reading which was then used to make some vague point about life rather than hard theological truth, and all the things that Irene here complained of.

This is not a “liberal” problem, but one that fills churches all across the spectrum, where “purpose-driven” Evangelical churches (the ones that teach the theology you find touted in these Left Behind books) do what feels good and gets people in the pews.

Even where I found preachers teaching in long sermons full of theology and sin, they used paraphrases such as the Message Bible, the theology was wrong, the Scriptures were prooftexted (i.e. pulled out of context to make a theological point).  I had to leave Evangelicalism and go to an Orthodox church, to find good, hard, Biblical and theological truth–in ten-minute homilies.

To my pleasant surprise, on page 276 when Abdullah is described to Rayford, the authors “get” shy, quiet people like me:

…[Abdullah] has a lot to offer in the way of ideas, according to his superiors.  He knows a lot, thinks things through, and is far and away their best pilot. The trouble is, he’s quiet and apparently painfully shy.  He’s best in one-on-one situations when he has learned to trust someone.  He suddenly becomes a fount of information.

They have put him in uncomfortable situations with dignitaries, diplomats, and the like.  He clams up.

We don’t want you to fake or manufacture anything.  We just want to see if you can become his friend.  And while that may take some time, you understand that terrorism is not on anyone else’s calendar or clock.  If this guy has as much to offer as we think he does, we need to start mining it.

Rather than force or shame him into opening up, they work with his natural temperament.  Bravo!  I can attest to the failure of trying to force a shy, quiet person to start talking, and then blaming that shy person for “not trying hard enough.”

On pages 291 to 292, Abdullah explains Muslim ritual prayers to Rayford.  Instead of appreciating the beauty of the prayers, Rayford finds them “terribly ritualistic and depressing,” reminding him “of his own feeble attempts at religion: the obligation to go to church when he could and guilt when he found excuses not to.”  It probably wouldn’t help to tell him that the Muslims got prostration from the Orthodox Church, some branches of which still do prostrations in services.

On page 310, now we get to see Cameron in action, the star reporter–unlike during the entire series before the prequels, when he barely seemed to care about his job.  The Slacktivist especially gets after him for never actually doing his job.

Nicolae’s narcissistic sociopathy is also finally showing up.  No more do we read that he’s evil, while he promotes peace and other things generally considered good; now we know that he truly is the kind of evil which hides itself behind goodness.

For just one example, on page 364, we read, “Nicolae had learned the art of humility.  Or at least of appearing humble.”  One huge red sign of narcissism is claiming to be humble.  (My ex-narc-friend Richard actually wrote on his Blogger profile that he’s humble.)  A truly humble person will never say so, or think so, because he’s too humble to think he’s humble.

But during the rest of the series, we were often told he was evil, while he tried to promote peace and harmony among all.  We should have been shown his pathology in a more convincing manner, such as getting into his head, because oftentimes very few people really know what’s going on in the head of a narcissist.  Only going into the heads of the Tribulation Force, was very limiting, often leading to questionable choices by the “good guys”–such as working for the Antichrist–so we can listen in to his private conversations without changing point-of-view.

I feel cheated because we are getting so much background information and rich characterization that was sorely missing from the rest of the series.  A scythe should have been taken to much of the series, cutting out all those boring phone conversations about logistics, sermons, and repeating what we already knew.  Then there would have been plenty of room for this background info, interspersed throughout maybe three books instead of twelve.

On page 366, Cameron notes that his coworker Lucinda is very religious, with Christian “artifacts” (picture of Jesus, etc.) in her office; he’s met other Christians at work, but “most were pretty laid-back about it, almost secretive.  It was as if they knew they were in the minority and didn’t want to look like weirdos.”

Um….Being a “person of faith,” as he terms it, I, too, wouldn’t talk too much about it or post a bunch of Christian stuff in my cubicle or office.  But I wasn’t hiding my faith, nor did I fear looking like a “weirdo.”  I was just at my job doing my work, not proselytizing.

I do believe the placement of Chloe’s skepticism in this paragraph is deliberate:

But on the negative side Chloe seemed to think the world revolved around her, that she answered to no one, and that she knew better than anyone else anyway–in particular, her mother.  She believed only in what she could see and touch.  To her God was okay as a concept, but He certainly didn’t really exist, not as a person.

I think atheists would object to skepticism being equated to teen-age self-absorption.

On pages 368 to 369, and 371, we find a power struggle between Irene and Chloe: Irene wants to dictate whether Chloe goes to church, and where she goes to college, even threatening to not pay for college if Chloe doesn’t go to church until she leaves home!  But Chloe has full scholarships, and wants to go 2000 miles away to Stanford, also against her mother’s wishes (it’s “too far”).

Fortunately, Rayford mediates, getting Irene to back off and let Chloe make her own decisions.  He doesn’t understand Irene’s trouble with Chloe, or with her going to Stanford; he’s proud of Chloe, considers her an ideal daughter.

The basic problem is that Chloe doesn’t want to follow Irene’s religion.  Since Irene loses that fight, she “had grown chillier than ever.”  It’s the classic problem of a parent not wanting to let go of her child, who is now nearly an adult and needs to make her own decisions.  I’m on Chloe’s side in this one.

On page 385, we find more clumsy dialogue: Buck says, “I am always busy, and though you are more than twice my age, you are busier than I.”  No contractions, and “busier than I” instead of “busier than I am” or “busier than me”?  These authors have no feel for how people actually talk.  It’s one thing to write that way, but even English majors and writers don’t follow precise grammar in speech.

On to the next book.  This is almost done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[9/2/13-10/1/13]

 

On venting to others about husband/wife, ie, how Richard put me into an impossible position

This article by Carolyn Hax, published this weekend, brings up the question of venting to others about one’s husband/wife.

Reading this and the comments, and remembering the situation with Richard/Tracy, brings up some conclusions.  I don’t want to keep going on about that situation anymore, especially since (after I finally successfully blocked them) my stalkers seem to have dropped off the face of the earth.  But this is an important point that applies to all marriages, and my situation illustrates that.

The “nutterati,” as she calls her commenters, note that if you want your family member/friend to get along with your significant other (SO), then DON’T complain to this person about your SO.  Look for advice, maybe, but don’t just vent and paint them horribly all the time.  You could just be having normal relationship arguments, nothing abusive, but now your mom/friend thinks you’re married to a controlling jerk.

If you’re having real problems and this person could indeed be abusive, then going to friends/family can be helpful.  But most of the time, it’s not abuse.

Richard used to come to me all the time with stories of how his wife was abusing him and the kids.  Then he turned around and expected me to be buddies with her, or else she wouldn’t allow me to be buddies with him.

But how can anyone be buddies with the person who is abusing her best friend?  It just isn’t possible!

If Tracy really was abusing him and the children (and I did see examples of it myself), then he should’ve left her.  If he wanted me to be friends with Tracy, and/or if he was lying/exaggerating, then he should never have told me about the abuse.

But because he told me, and I could not be friends with my best friend’s abuser, he put me into an impossible position: loyalty to him and my principles, vs. pleasing his wife so he and I could be friends.  Then after putting me in this position, he allowed his wife to rip me to shreds.  I became the scapegoat he sacrificed to her.

This is no position in which to put your friends/family.  If you’re being abused, go to your friends for help, not just to vent.  If you’re not being abused, then keep your mouth shut, except to ask for advice and different perspectives on resolving the issue.

No, Tracy, if you’re reading this, I was not “wrong.”  Your husband made it impossible for me to be friends with you, especially as your own actions confirmed what he told me.  No friend can withstand pressure like this.  Stop making me your scapegoat, and work on your marriage.

 

 

 

Reblog: STOP CHILD ABUSE!

From Stop Child Abuse by MizzBlondiiee:

DO NOT ABUSE YOUR KIDS!
DO NOT HIT THEM IN THE HEAD!

…ONE simple smack in the head in just the right way or right strength can simply cause eye damage around the eye muscles. Or cause the child to lose sense of hearing or even suffer memory and cognitive learning loss.

 

 

“Surviving the Cycle: UW-FdL Play Tackles Domestic Violence”

From an article about a play raising awareness about domestic violence:

Nate Zimdars of Ripon plays “Brett,” the character who is an abuser in “Surviving the Cycle.”

He describes it as an eye-opening experience and says many people turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Often they don’t recognize certain behaviors as abusive or they see it as an issue that doesn’t affect them.

“Stereotypically, abuse is seen as physical or sexual — emotional and verbal abuse is often ignored,” Zimdars said.

“I have seen several friends and acquaintances go through verbally and emotionally abusive relationships. I myself was in a brief relationship where I was subjected to verbal abuse. To me this is a very real issue that this play is doing an excellent job of highlighting.”

Kimberly Fleming from Horicon plays “Chandra,” a verbally abusive girlfriend to one of the sons.

“I think Chandra is a very distinct character — one that is believable. The fight that goes on between Chandra and Jeff is actually one that I have seen between many couples,” she said.

Surviving the Cycle

 

 

“The Regime”: Left Behind Review, Part 2

 

Part 1

On page 143, we find more of Irene trying to get Rayford to change churches….Geez, when I began looking into Orthodoxy, my husband said he would go with me if I chose it–but I could tell he didn’t want to.  So I released him from his promise so he could go back to the Lutheran church, after we spent several years trying to find one church we both liked; I became Orthodox on my own.  I do not push him like Irene does.

She has to realize that conversion from one church to another cannot be made lightly, that it has to be desired by the heart, not badgered.  Rayford also has to realize that he can’t ridicule and force her into staying in a church she does not like.  My college memoirs speak of my ex Phil trying to shame me into becoming Catholic because “otherwise we can’t get married,” even though I was staunchly Evangelical.  St. John Chrysostom has some good words on the matter:

It is as if Paul were saying, “If your husband is not contentious, it could very well prove to be worthwhile if you stay with him.  So stay, give him advice, persuade him of the truth.”  No teacher is so effective as a persuasive wife.  

Notice, however, that St. Paul doesn’t forcibly impose this idea, and demand that every spouse, no matter what the circumstances, attempt to persuade his partner in this way; such a demand would be too burdensome.  On the other hand, he doesn’t recommend the whole situation to be dismissed as hopeless (Homily 19 on 1 Corinthians 7). 

However, he says that if your unbelieving husband tries to force you to violate your beliefs, beats you, picks fights, it’s better to separate, and better to let the unbelieving spouse leave.  So you see he advocates gentle persuasion for a spouse who is open to it, but not forcing your beliefs on the other.

On page 153, we see the natural outcome of henpecking your husband: He starts looking elsewhere for solace.  He starts driving home a hot stewardess, Hattie, whom we already know from the post-Rapture books.  We read, “He was certain he had never had as beautiful a woman in such close proximity.”  Not even his ex-girlfriend, who was hot but self-centered?  Hasn’t he ever, in his entire life, driven home a beautiful friend, or sat next to a beautiful girl in a class or church, or had a beautiful teacher?

This next part is not related to theology, but I was pleasantly surprised to find, on pages 164 to 167, the answer to what happened with my car years ago: Buck and his best friend Dirk are stuck on the side of the road after an engine lock-up: Buck has not been paying attention, so the car runs out of oil and overheats.

[S]uddenly all the gauges lit up, the dashboard lights went out, the headlights dimmed, and the car shut down.

Back at my first job after college, I was forced to drive because my job was in the next county, out of range of public transportation.  I also had an old beater, because I couldn’t afford anything better.  The oil began leaking, so I kept oil cans in the trunk, and tested it every time I filled up (which was every few days).

Despite my diligence, on the way to work one day, in terrible wintry weather, my car suddenly began slowing down right on the highway!  I couldn’t get it to behave, so I pulled over to the side before a catastrophe happened.  This was the mid-90s, when a few people had cell phones, but I didn’t get one until 2007.  So until a sheriff’s car came by, or somebody took pity on me, I had to deal with it myself, knowing almost nothing about cars, and being scared of driving.  (Situations like this did not help the fear.)

I had no clue what happened, or how to fix it, but since I knew how to deal with oil and had an oil can, I tried that first.  After dumping in two quarts, I got back in–and my car was fine after that.  I always wondered what that was all about, but here, in an unexpected place, I found my answer: an overheated car, apparently out of oil, and engine lock-up.

Irene’s conversion has somehow made her automatically proficient in Christianese.  Just on page 177, for example, she uses such terms as, “soak up real Bible teaching and preaching” and “I’m starving to death spiritually.”  It must have been implanted in her brain along with the salvation.

Also, remarkably, her conversion has somehow turned her–not into an obedient and submissive wife, since she keeps badgering Rayford about converting and arguing with him over the funeral–but into a wife who wants to be obedient and submissive.

Didn’t Irene grow up sometime in the 21st century, when the culture has moved away from that whole man-the-head-of-the-household thing?  I can’t imagine Rayford’s (most likely) liberal church insisting on such things.  That’s far more easily found in the Fundamentalist/Evangelical churches.  Liberal churches tend to celebrate being open, welcoming, affirming, allowing homosexuality, women breaking barriers and being preachers, that sort of thing.  Yet from what Irene says here, Rayford expects to be the head of the household, and expects the woman to submit:

“Right now everything in our marriage is how he wants it.  There’s no real give-and-take….And if he’d just give me an iota of consideration, I’d be more than happy to let the rest of my life revolve around him.  Something tells me, though, that he’s got the wrong idea of what it means to be the head of the household.”  “Hey,” Jackie said, “even Christian men often miss that.”

Once I get through gagging over making her life revolve around a man, I sputter again over the “even Christian men.”  What do you mean, “even”?  Are you suggesting that the 21st century American culture-at-large–probably at least a few decades from now–would still be forcing that outdated idea on wives?  This is 2013!

By the time the events of this book supposedly take place, marriages–if they still exist outside religious groups–will probably be even more egalitarian than they are now.  Rayford’s concept of the woman doing whatever he wants, should be long since dismissed as archaic.

The following pages try to make Christian marriage sound more equal than the concept that wives are subservient because God says so.  Basically, you submit to each other, the husband is responsible for his wife’s spiritual health, he should treat her right, etc. etc.

Which is a great improvement, and sounds like what I heard in Evangelical churches around 2000.  It isn’t about the husband getting his way all the time and deciding where to go, what to do, what to eat, etc. etc.  He’s supposed to honor her and listen to her concerns and input, not terrorize and abuse her.

However, the husband still gets to make the decision if they “come to loggerheads over some important issue.”  I’ve also seen in the post-Rapture books that even Chloe would get sassy but ultimately submit because she’s “supposed” to do what her husband says.

And saying my husband is responsible for my spiritual health, makes me sound like a child who can’t take care of my own spiritual health.  I can’t imagine letting my husband make spiritual decisions for me, or tell me what to do.

You’d think someone of Irene’s generation, would fight tooth and nail against any sort of control by her husband.  That even a housewife like Irene would insist on more to life than having it “revolve around” Rayford.

Cameron then goes to his mother’s funeral.  His sister-in-law, Sharon, cries through the whole thing–which would be understandable.  But we learn that it’s not for grief of her loss: Cameron’s mother was already a Christian, but not Sharon’s kind of Christian, not properly “saved.”

Sharon constantly badgered her to get “saved,” and got rebuffed again and again.  Cameron’s mother finally said enough is enough, and she’ll stick with what makes her comfortable.  To which Sharon “got into making sure ‘you’re not comfortable now but burning in hell later.'”

I’m not a bit surprised that they “barely spoke for more than six months.”  But then Cameron’s mother got cancer, and they were close again, “but there was no indication that Mrs. Williams had ever received Christ.”  So Sharon was now distraught for fear her mother-in-law was now “burning in hell.”

What?  But she was already a Christian, right?  Why would she be burning in hell?

On page 217, Irene refers to Rayford’s church (and her own, though she desperately wanted to switch to New Hope) as a “country club of a church.”  What kind of church is this anyway?

On page 218, Cameron is back at Princeton, “finding it hard to concentrate on finishing.”  This seems understandable at first, because his mother just died, his mommy, his first beloved–until we find it’s because he can hardly wait to start his new job.

What?  I can understand being excited for a new job, but dang it, his mother just died of cancer!

To be continued……

Left Behind Novel “Rapture” Portrays Child Abuser as Godly Woman

I’m currently reading the Left Behind book “The Rapture” for my series of Left Behind reviews.  My reviews and the Slacktivist describe the bad, ungodly behavior of the Christians in the books.  But what I read last night, really burns me up:

A good Christian woman, Lucinda Washington, middle-aged, who is not afraid to show her faith and is respected by all, is also Buck’s favorite colleague, a mentor of sorts.  After witnessing the dramatic, supernatural defeat of the air forces sent to decimate Israel, he comes to her office looking for answers.  He plops down in a chair with his feet on the desk and she says,

“If you were my son I’d whup you upside the head, sitting like that, tearing up your spine.”

“You don’t still smack Lionel, do you?” Buck said, peeking at the photo of the smooth-faced youngster [he’s 12].

“Can’t catch him anymore, but he knows I can still take him.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse me, this isn’t set in 1950, but in 21st-century America, some indeterminate time after the present, right before the Rapture–and the book was written in 2006.  This barbaric practice should be universally condemned as child abuse by the time this book takes place.  It’s already illegal in some places.  And even 100 years ago, people knew that smacking kids anywhere on the head is dangerous.  I go into this in great detail in these posts:

Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, and  …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!

And this is the woman we are supposed to admire as a great woman of God?  A FRICKIN’ CHILD ABUSER????!!!!!

Here and here, I describe how two narcissistic “friends” turned out to be child abusers, whom I eventually reported to CPS because I could not get through to them, and who then threatened and began stalking me for calling them child abusers.  One of the things they did which most enraged me, was smacking their little kids in the head.

I also unfriended some old high school classmate a while back for advocating beating children on her Facebook status.  Then, a few months ago, unfriended (and eventually blocked) a girl in my social circles who said parents should beat their children.

Now, after all that, and enduring the stress and emotional anguish of being threatened and stalked for calling this child abuse, I’m supposed to read this “Christian” book and accept that a godly woman would abuse her child by smacking him upside the head?  I’m supposed to like this character after knowing this?  She’s just another hypocrite like the rest of the series’ Christians!

 

“The Regime”: Left Behind Review, Part 1

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 141430577X, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

And we trudge ever on to the end of the series….The funny thing is that character development–so sorely lacking in the other books–is finally here: We see Carpathia’s sociopathy in action.  We see how Buck became a star journalist.  We discover that Rayford was tapped as a potential pilot for Air Force One long before Carpathia needed a pilot.  It would have been helpful to know all this way back in the beginning of the series, where we wanted to know these things but were denied.

And on we go to page 15.  Irene and Rayford are arguing, yet again, over religion, because even though they’re both Christians, Irene has decided the family church is not Christian enough.

Rayford sees her personality change, and that she’s turned into a zealot.  He says, “What’s the difference between a zealous Christian and a zealous terrorist who believes God or Allah or whoever has told him to bomb buildings or kill people?”

Irene says, “Well, for one thing, have you ever heard of a terrorist attack by a born-again Christian, claiming God told him to do it?”

So Rayford throws the Crusades in her face, instead of saying, Why yes, I have: Just Google “abortion clinic bombings.”  Christian terrorism does actually exist.  So while Rayford is being mean to Irene, lumping her in with terrorists, both of them are also using faulty arguments.

On page 34, he recognizes that his “perky blonde daughter” reminds “him of himself” with her intellect and questions, yet his “many dreams” have been pinned on his son….Why no dreams pinned on Chloe?  Is it because she’s a girl?

On page 54, Irene goes to visit Rayford’s mother, whose mind has been going.  Irene says to her, “Mom, do you ever pray?”

Ray’s mom says, “Why, yes, of course I do.  I pray every day.  I am a Christian, you know.”

To which Irene wants to retort, I know you think you are.

ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Of course, Irene soon discovers that Ray’s mother really is a Christian because she read her Bible and found out she had to have Jesus in her heart.  But just because her view of Christianity was different from Irene’s, Irene was so quick to believe her not a true Christian!

Being a true Christian is about believing in and following Christ.  You can do that no matter what church you go to, whether you believe in infant baptism, saying the sinner’s prayer, or whatever.  You can behave like you follow Christ, or behave with no morals or values or compassion, no matter if you go to a liberal UCC church or a little Bible church.

On page 110, we learn that Buck “eschewed the standard who, what, when, where, why, and how inverted-pyramid formula and got to the point in the first paragraph.”  So–You mean his stories don’t have the necessary facts for the reader to know what’s going on?  I hate news stories like that.

On page 112, we read that Buck “had been lounging in the editorial office, gassing with a couple of photographers”–What the heck is gassing?  Are they smoking weed?

On pages 135-136, an aide at the health-care facility where Rayford’s father is, tells Irene that he led Mr. Steele to Christ.  He called in the code blue as Mr. Steele died; before the crash cart came, the aide told him to get right with God.

He did the whole Evangelical routine, asking do you know you’re a sinner, do you know Christ died for your sins, etc. etc.  Mr. Steele says he has already prayed and accepted Jesus into his heart, when Irene told him how.  (Mr. Steele has Alzheimer’s, and is not always lucid enough to respond to Irene.)

Um, are aides allowed to do this?  And how would he know if Mr. Steele was a Christian or not?  What gave him the idea he could assume?  Or does he do this to everyone he finds dying–which, again, brings up the question, is this allowed?

On pages 137-138, Irene and Rayford argue, yet again, over Irene’s sudden zealousness.  She begins by saying, “I swear, if there is no mention of your father’s faith during the eulogies I’m going to say something.”  To Ray’s, “Don’t embarrass me or the pastor,” she replies, “It would embarrass you to have people know that your father was a true believer?”

Um–What the–Why is it such a big deal to put this into the eulogy that she would embarrass people over it if it’s not there??!!  The argument continues:

“A deathbed convert is more like it, Irene.  After your browbeating and that Filipino kid’s badgering, what choice did a confused, dying man have?  Anyway, he’s already known in this church as a true believer for a lifetime.”

“This won’t be doing justice to your father.”  This was the last thing she wanted to fight over, but it was as if she couldn’t help herself.

“Just promise me you won’t do anything weird, Irene.”

“You’d consider it weird if I merely told the truth?”

“I’d be humiliated.”

She pressed her lips together and shook her head, despising that she felt so weak.  “I won’t humiliate you, Rayford.”

“Thank you.”

“I do wish your mother could be here.  You couldn’t stop her from telling the truth.”

“Depends on your idea of truth,” he said.  “People would pass it off as the ravings of an Alzheimer’s patient.”

“But I would know better.  And so would you.”

“You know what I think, Irene.  The truth is my dad has always been a Christian.  He didn’t just get religion before he died.”

Then during the funeral, instead of crying over her loss, she weeps “throughout the service” because

[w]hile all the familiar Scriptures about death and rebirth were employed, nothing that was said explained them or brought the point home.  Mr. Steele was revered, but there was no mention of his coming to a saving belief in Christ, no mention of his ever repenting of sin and putting his faith in God.

But why would there be mention of this, when he was a lifelong Christian and everybody knew this?

This reminds me of my time in an Evangelical Free church, during which I felt bad for my Lutheran husband because people kept saying Lutherans weren’t really saved.

Lutherans baptize babies, you see, and have confirmation, rather than telling people they have to say the sinner’s prayer and convert even if they’ve been born and raised in the Church.  I was also taught this growing up in a Nazarene church, that Catholics, Lutherans, etc. weren’t really saved unless they did the sinner’s prayer, because they did it “wrong” by baptizing babies and calling them Christians.

I do seem to recall mention made, during his funeral, of my own grandfather coming to Christ right before he died.  There is nothing wrong with speaking of the religious faith of the deceased.

But Irene will not be satisfied with less than a bludgeon-over-the-head fire-and-brimstone sermon saying that Mr. Steele lived his life in the wrong church, not truly believing, until he did things the way her church said it needed to be done–complete with calls for the mourners to repent of their sins before it’s too late.

This is not what a funeral is for!  It’s easy to see why Rayford was turned off to her brand of Christianity.

But his not being Raptured with her sends out a strong message from the authors: that even if Christians turned you off to the church, no matter what reason you’re not “saved,” God won’t look on your heart, won’t have mercy on you.

And all because you didn’t believe in something, the truth of which is impossible to prove in this life.  And even because you were in the wrong church.

To be continued…..

 

Another website on toxic people in the church

Ingrid Schlueter writes about toxic relationships on her blog.

From this post on enablers:

The trial of child molester Jerry Sandusky gave the public a glimpse of how desperately evil enablers can be.

Jerry’s wife, Dottie is Exhibit A. Despite cold, hard evidence of her husband’s brutal sexual abuse of children, some of which took place in her own home, Dottie stood by “Jer.” She stood by him even when it meant throwing their own son, Matt, under the bus.

Matt had the temerity to testify about his own father’s abuse. This, to an enabler of a toxic spouse, is unacceptable. Truth telling children must be abandoned and demonized. “Jer” was more important to this pathetic excuse for a woman than the fact that her man had destroyed the lives of countless children to satisfy his depraved lust.

When a father or mother turns on adult children and behaves in reprehensible ways towards them, and the spouse and sometimes adult siblings hunker down in silence, refusing to stand by the victim, they are part of the team of destruction. For professing Christians to behave in this way beggars belief.

A number of times, I have seen pastors or Christian leaders go under for behavior like gambling, adultery, porn or other kinds of abuse, with their enabling spouses clinging to their arms. These women, nearly always, were aware that things were going on, but rather than stand boldly and firmly for truth and for the victims, clung to their “Jers” and watched innocent people go down instead.

This has happened to Alex Grenier, who witnessed his stepfather brutally abusing his mother, yet she stands against him for speaking out against the abuse.  The whole story is on his blog, and it is heartbreaking.

This also happened to me, when my best friend Richard told me all about the emotional, verbal and physical violence committed by his wife Tracy against him and the children, and I witnessed some of it. 

But because I believed him, and spoke out, Tracy became my enemy, smearing me to him, until he finally threw me under the bus and stood against me. 

Now he is my enemy, too, because he enables her when she does this to people (not just me but many others), and stands behind her even when she verbally abuses, damages and chases away his closest friends. 

Because I spoke out, he turned against me, even though I spoke out against the things she did to abuse him.  (The whole story is here and here.)

Ingrid also writes that the enabler of an abuser should be like Abigail in the Bible, who refused to do what her evil husband demanded, and

That is the only right response of a spouse to a toxic person. Failure to do this is to become complicit with the Destroyer. It really is that simple. Evil triumphs when Christian spouses enable sin instead of taking a principled, godly stand. Standing for what is right is never easy, but if we really follow Jesus, we have no other choice.

This is exactly right, and what I tried to express to Richard.  But because he continues to enable her, he is also an abuser.

This is also why I felt a prick of conscience every time I clammed up over some instance of abuse by Tracy, and why I felt led to speak up about the abuse.  This is also why I was finally scapegoated by them, and psychologically and verbally abused until I finally said ENOUGH.  Because I was the Abigail who spoke out and even reported them to CPS, I became their enemy.

It does not have to be this way: They could repent.  But they choose not to.

More posts:

Toxic people are defined and ruled by their Luciferian pride. They will never humble themselves and admit wrong because, in their own minds, they have no problems. The problem is always, always with everyone around them who fails to meet their expectations and insatiable desires.

Toxic people are known by the turmoil they create around them. Whether it is a family member, spouse, co-worker, fellow church member, neighbor or someone else, these people are able to inflict considerable pain in the people they hurt.

They are not happy unless there is drama and intrigue and strife in progress. They seem to take pleasure in creating chaos where there is peace, and in hurting those who are otherwise happy by finding their weakest, most vulnerable area. In my experience, there is sometimes almost a supernatural ability to sniff out an area of insecurity and to put the knife into that tender spot with glee.

…..When we give abusive and vicious people permission to repeatedly sin against us without consequence, we enable them to sin. There are some times when the best thing we can do for that openly sinning person is to part company with them. When we do this, we deny the person the further opportunity to sin against us. This helps us to forgive them and cut off further chances for the enemy to take advantage of the situation.Dealing with toxic people

 

The hallmarks of this kind of ministry are unbalanced messages (much Law and no grace) and a track record of destroyed relationships. Anyone in any kind of church or para-church ministry is going to make enemies. I am talking about a consistent pattern of unreconciled personal issues with others that results in persistent, malicious conduct. (In Phelps’ case, outright Satanic hatred for others.)

Attempts at reconciliation with such people are greeted with contempt and further attacks. Years ago, I sent one such individual an apology over my tone in our disagreement. An hour later, my fax machine spit out two full pages of personal attacks that were way, way below the belt. (I guess the man wanted me to have a hard copy, so he faxed it.)

I realized that moment 10 years ago what is confirmed today: He doesn’t want reconciliation. In fact, these toxic religious people consider it a sign of their own rectitude that they DON’T reconcile with their antagonists. That would be unbiblical compromise. And so the self-delusion goes…

As Christians we are told in Scripture not to “strive”, to live as much as possible in peace with all around us, and to be “tender-hearted, forgiving one another.” So how, with this biblical teaching in view, do we handle things?

I will start answering this question and continue it over into my next post. When you are in a situation with a professing Christian who has engaged in a pattern of abusive and malicious conduct, without remorse and without willingness to reconcile, you need to protect yourself from them. It’s that plain.

When your heart craves peace and reconciliation with someone, and you take that humble heart to the other party only to be effectively cursed and further abused, you are taking what is precious and casting it before dogs.–Dealing with toxic people part 2

This is precisely what happened when I tried to initiate peace and reconciliation with Richard and Tracy.  And this is why I walked away again–and was accused by Tracy of needing to “grow up” because I refused to take any more of this abuse.  Even worse happened when they threatened a lawsuit (see here).

Ingrid also explains how Christians MUST walk away from such people, because engaging them, even trying to get them to see the error of their ways, disturbs our peace in Christ.

Another helpful post on dealing with toxic people is here.  It goes into more detail on steps we can take to reduce the toxins, even when forced to continue dealing with such people.

This post speaks of narcissists in ministry.  It reminds me of what I’ve seen over on Julie Anne’s blog; she wrote about being spiritually abused in Beaverton Grace Bible Church, only to get sued by the pastor there–who then began his own blog when he lost the suit.

 

 

 

Furious at the Judgment on Nonie’s Morning Sickness (My Five Wives)

This is NOT something you can ever understand until you have walked that mile. Morning sickness is not the same, and I don’t want to hear about how “bad” it was to vomit a couple times a day over a month or so. I don’t want to hear about only “being able to eat crackers”. I would have given my right hand to keep down crackers most days. These are things I am not supposed to admit in polite conversation – but HG is not a polite illness. It is callous and horrible and takes women and babies from our lives.

This is NOT morning sickness. This is not a pregnant woman being a drama queen or lazy. This is not something a few crackers before getting out of bed can fix. Or ginger. Or what ever else is in the normal bag of tricks for morning sickness – I tried them all. This is a truly debilitating illness in every possible way. I hope that next time the world hears of a mother suffering from HG their advice will not be “suck it up.” –Mama Bice, HG: More than morning sickness

I go trolling the Net and Facebook for comments on TLC’s polygamy shows, “My Five Wives” and “Sister Wives,” hoping to find fans discussing things that get me curious.  But instead I find so much judgment that I can’t believe it.  People keep seeing all these dreadful things that I just do not see when I watch these shows.  They make all sorts of horrid pronouncements about the character and behavior of the various people on the shows.

I just don’t see those things at all.  I see happy people going through the normal trials of marriage, but multiplied because of all the wives.  I see normal people with normal behaviors.  I don’t see weepy, sad, whiny, mean women at all.  I see normal reactions by women with various temperaments, to situations which are unusual for most Americans, probably edited for the screen to make situations more “dramatic.”  Remember, drama keeps viewers.  Normal, day-to-day stuff which does not cause anybody to weep, would be booooring, and viewers would run away in droves.

I believe the people who post those things are just “hate-viewing” the shows.  I believe they are queen-bee-style bullies, mean girls, because of how viciously they react whenever somebody calls them out for what they say.  Remember, the people in the show can read what they write.  I believe these commenters just plain don’t like polygamy and are seeing things that aren’t there, because of their biases.

But the latest judgment and ridicule has just gotten to me so much that I had to blog about it.  Especially since it revealed to me just how much ignorance is out there on severe morning sickness.

Nonie on My Five Wives is suffering from morning sickness.  We are told that it is debilitating and severe.  None of the wives or the husband appear to judge her on it.  They are the ones dealing with her, after all, not the viewers, yet none of them has complained about it.

My heart instantly went out to her as she dragged through the day.  I thought her behavior was understandable for someone who probably feels like she has stomach flu that lasts for months.

Yet so many people around the Net are calling her a “drama queen” and accusing her of being lazy, playing it up for sympathy, that sort of thing.

Well, excuse me, have you EVER had to deal with this?  Not just bad morning sickness, but hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)?

HG is NOT just “morning sickness.”  Women who get this are NOT “drama queens,” “lazy” or “playing for sympathy.”

The term has not been used on the show, but I have posted about it on their Facebook page.  Nonie’s behavior makes me strongly suspect that’s what she has, especially since the other wives don’t judge her for it.  Also, none of the commenters know, either, if it’s HG, since the name has not been used.  But “severe morning sickness” has been used, the term those of us who have had it (but without knowing the proper term), would call it.  Without knowing for sure, those commenters should certainly not judge her.

I do NOT see her “whining” about it “constantly,” as many have accused.  I see someone struggling just to keep her head up.  Her head is probably dizzy, and most people would also struggle.  I am impressed because she at least gets dressed and brushes her hair; obviously she is skipping makeup.

My fury at people’s bizarre cruelty, led me to Google the Net for more about HG.  Princess Kate has dealt with it; people even mocked her in the media, even though she was hospitalized for it.

Charlotte Brontë DIED from HG.

I missed this during Princess Kate’s first pregnancy, since I don’t watch The View, and was so far removed from my own experiences (in 2003) that I wasn’t paying attention.  But The View was inundated with angry messages after trivializing the princess’s condition.

Other sufferers of HG also complain that their plight is trivialized by others: family, strangers, even doctors and nurses at times.  Because HG is so rare, and most women experience morning sickness, people apparently think you just throw up and then feel fine.  That these women must be whiners, or not want their babies, or they’re lazy drama queens.  That anyone can just deal with morning sickness along with a job, other children, housework, etc.

Wrong-o.

Warning: This is graphic, because I see other blogs about this are just as graphic, if not more so.

HG is so severe that your “morning sickness” never goes away.  After you throw up, you still feel sick.  Nothing stays down; eventually, you start puking up bile because there is nothing in your stomach.  You begin to starve, and lose weight rapidly.  If you are not treated early, you can end up with an IV pumping in fluids, and taking expensive medication usually used for chemotherapy nausea.  Which upsets your insurance company, who begins paying for less and less of it.

How do I know this?  Why am I so upset?  Because I went through it myself.

When the first bout came on, I thought it was stomach flu.  I spent all my time on the couch, unable to hold my head up.  I could barely take care of myself when my husband was not home.  Multiple times vomiting per hour went on for days, even after nothing was left in my stomach.  The slightest movement of my head made me sick, so I was afraid to move.

How many days it lasted I don’t recall, just that I had to take unpaid leave from my job because I couldn’t handle anything: food, smells, even walking to the bathroom.  I could not take a shower without getting sick.  I could not do housework at all.  I’m not a lazy housekeeper: My diligence has been noted by many.  I can’t stand lying around all day, either.  This was forced on me by my condition.

This is like the worst stomach flu you have ever had, which had you crawling on the floor, camped out in the bathroom, or lying in your bed, never letting up even right after you have just vomited.  Only it does not go away in a few days.  Would you call someone a slacker, drama queen, or whiny for staying in bed all day for the stomach flu?

A package of Target clothes arrived while I was sick.  Even the sight of that made me sick.  I’d think of the beautiful clothes inside, and feel sick.  I was forced to return them, because even saving them for later was impossible.

As the days passed, I began thinking, “I’m so hungry!” in plaintive cries, because I had no nourishment.  I lost weight rapidly.  I even thought about abortion, even though I oppose it, because I feared my life depended on it.

My doctor took me seriously, and when all the other remedies did not work (I even threw up the Emetrol), he prescribed Zofran.  Almost immediately, I recovered enough that I got up and cleaned the house.  The next day, I went back to work.

Far longer than you’re supposed to get morning sickness, I still had to take the Zofran.  I would try to get off it because it was getting harder and harder to get the insurance company to pay for it, and without insurance it would be $500!!!  But then I’d start puking again, and have to go back on it.

The symptoms finally abated later in the pregnancy, in the fifth month, I believe.  I went off the Zofran and did not vomit again.  But I still often felt nauseated.  Even the newspaper and computer smelled so weird that I could not be near them for long.  I kept thinking I smelled a gas leak, even though professionals came in and confirmed there was none.  Fortunately, though, I was well enough to keep up with the housework and other things.  My mom was surprised at how much energy I had in my final months of pregnancy.  If not for early intervention, things may not have gone so well.

All the symptoms finally went away after the birth.  My son was large (10 lbs 6 oz), but healthy, so I have no complaints about using Zofran during pregnancy.

But there are many women for whom even Zofran and other medications are not enough.

This is no laughing matter.  This is not just weak women who can’t deal with morning sickness like everybody else does.

Nobody made fun of me or accused me of whining, so this is not personal.

My anger is for the sake of the many women who have been treated like “It’s all in your head, you princess, so get out of bed and make dinner for your hungry kids.”  (And, well, the effects of heightened smells can often make it impossible for a pregnant woman to cook.)

Some other websites and blogs on this:

Like Ressler, she now had other children to care for. But she was so sensitive to smell — and scent was so distorted to her — that she could not bear to be near her daughters. “Their skin smelled like old, and their breath smelled like Korean food,” Kemp remembers. “Their diapers sent me over the edge.”

She abandoned a looming book deadline, hired two babysitters to cover the hours when her husband was at work and sequestered herself on the third floor with a 24-hour IV nutrition line. Every night, she says, her family “ate sandwiches in the basement. They were not allowed to cook anything. If they cut an onion, I could smell it three flights up.”

…Kemp gave serious thought to terminating the pregnancy. “My doctor told me, ‘Some people abort at this stage. If you can’t take any more of this, you can abort.’” After spending time on message boards filled with fellow sufferers — some of whom had terminated, others who did not — she decided to continue with the pregnancy. –Lisa Belkin, Kate Middleton’s Pregnancy Sheds Light on Rare Condition

 

 

Given the Gawker mandate to be glib and ruthless, whether or not they know what they’re talking about, I won’t pretend to be shocked by a dashed-off remark in Monday’s post on Kate Middleton’s pregnancy:

The Palace also reported that Kate was admitted to the hospital today with “hyperemesis gravidarum,” which is what they call regular old morning sickness when you are a princess.

Nor, for more or less the same reasons, was it surprising to watch the ladies of “The View” dismiss the duchess’s condition with a flurry of bubbly interruptions, ignoring a nurse’s earnest response to Barbara Walters’ half-hearted question about whether HG is serious: “It can be,” the nurse said sheepishly. (In an open letter to the duchess, HG sufferer Betsy Shaw gives Kate “permission to slap” Walters.)

I have no idea whether Kate has HG or not. But the fact remains that it can be a brutal, crippling condition that goes largely ignored and untreated, partly due to its overlap with ordinary pregnancy sickness and partly to our attitude toward suffering and the suffering of pregnant women in particular.

…Some days are good. [My wife] can have a conversation, manage a strained laugh, maybe even take a walk. She’s still nauseated at every moment, but maybe she makes it through the day without vomiting. Which does happen. Other days, and these tend to be strung together, she can barely sit up, and just the effort of having a conversation makes her shudder and rush to the bathroom, retching all the way.

Even the quality of the vomiting is different. Violent and persistent, it can often resemble drowning, particularly when it becomes so painful and scary that it’s interrupted by moans and cries. Last month, I forgot to eat breakfast before taking some vitamins and found myself over the toilet. After a few terrible minutes of nausea the pills came up and I felt better almost immediately. A few minutes of nausea. One of the cruelest parts of HG is that vomiting provides zero relief; you feel just as bad as the moment before. –Evan Derkacz, True Story: My Wife Has HG

 

Less than a week after Thanksgiving, I ate the last meal I have eaten up to this point. I was seven weeks pregnant. Three days later, I was hospitalized for 11 days. During my hospital stay I was given IV fluids and several of the medications most frequently prescribed for HG — Zofran and Reglan — through my IV. One day after several nurses attempted eight times to put in a new IV, the doctors decided to give me a PICC line, essentially a permanent IV in my upper arm, since it was obvious I would need long-term IV hydration and medication.

Although I was still unable to eat more than a few bites of food at a time, and only occasionally would they stay down, I was discharged. Now at home I receive home health care where a nurse visits several times a week to check on me and change the dressing on my PICC line. I am also on a pump that gives me a continuous flow of Zofran through a subcutaneous needle inserted in my stomach. Because I have a strong needle phobia, my husband has to stab me with the needle every other day, as well as administer the different bags of medicine and fluids because I am too weak to change them myself.

I have two daughters, ages 4 and 19 months. HG has taken me from them, although they do not understand why. Mommy lies in bed all day and cannot play with them. I can barely muster up energy to read a book before bed with each of them, although I try to do at least that to stay close to them. –Alexa Davidson Suskin, What it really feels like to have HG(I especially recommend this article because she goes into graphic detail, far more than I did, about what exactly is suffered)

 

Just because you’re a duchess doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be miserable. Pregnancy is a blessing, yes, but no one can feel blessed when they can’t keep even a sip of water down. Be patient with yourself. The gratitude will return and that baby will know you love him or her, despite all your misery.

It’s perfectly normal to feel like tearing the eyeballs out of every well-meaning, yet clueless, person who advises you to eat crackers, drink ginger ale, try Sea-Bands, crystalized ginger, lemonade, gentle exercise, etc.

It’s also normal to be haunted by thoughts about termination: Hearing your doctor tell you she can make you feel more comfortable but cannot actually take the HG away, the only thing that can make it go away is to not be pregnant, can be a heavy, heavy burden.

Take the drugs the doctor offers and try your best not to feel guilty about it. We all feel guilty about it. And know that many of us who have survived HG report back that, despite our worst fears, our babies are perfectly normal and fine. Just fine. — Betsy Shaw, Dear Kate: I feel your HG pain

 

Most affected women have numerous episodes of vomiting throughout the day with few if any symptom-free periods, especially during the first three to four months. This leads to significant and rapid weight loss, dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, and nutritional deficiencies often requiring hospitalization.

If prolonged or more severe and not treated promptly, these can lead to kidney or liver damage. Numerous complications, some of which can be life-threatening are possible without adequate medical intervention. –Her, Diagnosis

 

Also, this website has information and support forums for HG sufferers.

This episode of Dr. Phil describes HG.  I missed this when it aired, however, because I no longer watched the show in 2007.