Richard rips into me publicly and I suspect our friendship is all a fake–Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 53

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

Part 53: Richard rips into me publicly and I suspect our friendship is all a fake

Since Richard had successfully convinced me into Orthodoxy, he joked to me in 2007 (and told Todd) that he was going to turn me Libertarian as well.  He often spoke about politics with me.

He also often joked to my husband that he would influence him out of Lutheranism and into Orthodoxy.  It was a common joke between the three of us.

But then on June 10, 2010, he posted on Facebook a link to a political (Libertarian) broadcast and said be warned, they might convert you.  I joked that “If I can resist you, I can resist anybody!  😉  ”

I expected him to laugh at our running gag.  But instead he let loose on me publicly with scathing words, saying,

*sighs*  I do not try to convert those who are not willing to change, or see the need to change. Take no offense, but you like Socialism, or portions of it at least so I dont even bother with politics with you. At most I wil complain about something but that is not ‘converting’ you.

Personal Liberties to me are worth dying for. Some of those Liberties is pointless to ‘convert’ you with because you take them lightly, disagree with people having such liberties or the loss of such liberties does not affect you.

But to me, if anyone is hindered in their Personal Liberties, I too am hindered because it is wrong to impose moral or ethical laws upon a society which constrains people’s personal Liberties, and also someday it will be me that they will go after.

(Ever notice that when people say “No offense,” they’re about to say something extremely offensive?)

What is this, more gaslighting?  What about the many times you called me up and I hoped to talk about religion or life or other fun stuff and all you wanted to talk about was politics?  What about getting mad at me because I “liked” that the city council president helped keep Mercury Marine in town?

Is that why you hadn’t been calling me lately unless you wanted something?  And what’s with insulting your BFF right in front of everybody on your friends list??

I wrote for him to geez, lighten up, it’s a joke!

He made me sound like some selfish jerk who doesn’t care about freedom unless I’m affected by it, which is completely false.  I’ve always loved my country and its liberties, and supported the idea of fighting to keep them. 

I don’t know where on earth he got all this crap from about me–unless, of course, he got it from the usual Tea-Party-style rhetoric demonizing liberals, and applied it to me as guilt by association. 

While I joked sometimes about being “socialist” based on some online political tests, the truth is I don’t want the government running all our businesses, which is what “socialism” really means.

But the truth is better summed up by the Slacktivist, who argues here that Ron-Paul-style “individual liberty” means, for example, the liberty to discriminate against others in a place of business, or for the powerful to steamroll over the powerless:

If you believe in civil liberties, then you will believe that things like the Civil Rights Act, DADT repeal, marriage equality, hate-crime protections, Ledbetter, etc., are necessary and vital to ensure than non-majority individuals will experience some measure of the freedoms that the powerful enjoy.

If you believe only in individual liberties, then you’ll oppose all such measures as Big Government meddling that restricts individual freedom (including the freedom to discriminate).

If you believe only in individual liberty, you can even find yourself in the absurd position of defending the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision as some kind of principled defense of the freedom of speech.

If you believe in civil liberties, then in your view that decision is clearly one that gives free rein to the powerful to exercise their rights against the powerless, and thus you will believe that government action is justified to protect the rights of the powerless from being trampled by the powerful.

The basic distinction is that an advocate of individual liberty mainly perceives of the government as a potential threat to individual liberty, whereas an advocate of civil liberty also sees a vital role for the government in constraining the liberty of the powerful to inhibit the liberty of the powerless.

The two perspectives overlap quite a bit — both would agree, for example, that torture and indefinite detention by the government are utterly unacceptable — but they also diverge far too dramatically to be used as interchangeable terms.

So because I support the Civil Rights Act, am I now “against personal liberties”?

I wrote to Jeff, who was at work,

So…..Not only could he not take a joke, but I’m a Socialist (which is a bad word to Tea Partiers and Republicans lately) who doesn’t care about personal freedoms?

And what’s this about not bothering with politics with me or not trying to convert me?  What about the many “You’re Libertarian and just don’t know it” comments and constantly talking about political things when we we’re chatting?

Hmmm….Is this why he doesn’t call me anymore except when he wants something?  😛

Seriously, I get so tired of getting criticized for everything I do, say or think, from the both of them.  He used to love talking with me, but lately he doesn’t even call and barely answers any of my e-mails.  It’s not friendly behavior.  It’s heartbreaking.

Jeff saw the post and said that I said nothing to deserve it, that Richard’s post made him look bad, not me.

The next day I saw Richard online and tried to discuss things with him, find out what was going on and get things resolved, tried to get him into chat because I didn’t want to talk about it via e-mail. 

From what I recall, all I said was that I had some things I wanted to discuss and please come into chat, which would work better than e-mails. 

But he threw up defenses, was very nasty to me, and shut me down before I even had a chance to say what was bothering me.

I was miserable for days because I didn’t know the status of our friendship anymore.  

I sat at the computer crying over these things, and said to Jeff,

“Are they really my friends or is it all just a facade?”

I told Jeff I felt bullied.  He said, “It’s because you are being bullied!”  He said I had done nothing wrong and I wasn’t crazy.

On the 13th, I wrote to my pastor friend Mike (the one who, above, Richard called an “idiot”), whom I’d known and been close to since college, to vent.  I wrote,

I’m feeling bummed out at the moment….I have these two friends, married couple, who live here in Fondy.

The guy’s always giving me unsolicited advice in such a way that it’s less like “I think this would help you” and more like “I know better than you do and everybody should do it this way!” 

And it’s about things which really don’t make a difference to anyone what I do, like whether or not I should go into the bathroom when Jeff is there.

This is annoying enough.  😛  He also has this tendency in political matters to think that his way is the way everybody should go, that all Christians should agree with him on not voting for Democrats, etc. (even though he is NOT an Evangelical).

This is the friend I mentioned recently who’s getting all into the TEA party thing, and now anarchy as well.  I read his posts on Facebook and think, “That sounds more like some weird conspiracy theory than the truth.”

But I don’t normally say anything, and when we’re on the phone or in person, just kinda nod here and there.  For the most part I’ve been keeping my political opinions to myself.

Lately, his wife has turned critical with me, ripping on me for things that don’t really matter.

She posts on Facebook that they’re going on a trip in September.  I post that I’ll miss them and hope they have fun. She posts this really weird, snarky message in reply.  WTH?????  Jeff and I looked over it several times and saw no indication that she was just teasing me.

Meanwhile, I see OTHER people posting about short trips to Disneyland or whatever, and their friends saying, “I’ll miss you.  Have fun!” and not getting snarked at for it.  I just don’t get it.  Jeff doesn’t get it either.

On Thursday night, I made a little joke on Facebook and the guy started going off on me, pretty much saying I’m a Socialist who doesn’t see the need for or doesn’t care about freedoms he sees as necessary and would die for etc. etc.

Jeff saw it and said that I did not say anything to deserve this, that he made himself look bad, not me.  Jeff is not just a “yes-man,” so if he thought I said something I shouldn’t, he would tell me.

And I don’t think my friend really knows my political views, because I keep most of them quiet around him, so I don’t know why he thought he knew them so well.

I already wondered if the real reason he doesn’t call much lately is not busyness, but politics.  This really made me wonder if TEA Party politics has come between us.

On Friday I tried to discuss things with him, find out what’s going on and get things resolved.  But he threw up defenses, was very nasty to me, and shut me down before I even had a chance to say what was bothering me.

I’ve been miserable ever since because I don’t know the status of our friendship anymore.  Jeff says I haven’t done anything wrong and I’m not crazy, the both of them are in fact bullying me.

Jeff hopes that things will turn out to be all right.  He tries to reassure me.  He says that they’re under a lot of stress lately, so much so that we can see it when we visit.

It’s true: Jobs are scarce, they’re lower-income, a large family in a small run-down rental.  He has sleep apnea which keeps her awake.  She snaps at the kids all the time, she and her husband snap at each other….They even do it in front of us, which makes me extremely uncomfortable and nervous.

We’re hoping it’s the stress, that the doctors will finally figure out how to fix the sleep apnea so they can sleep, that things will calm down and they’ll snap out of this.

My friend used to be nice to me, said he loves me like a sister, etc.  He said that just a few months ago [around April 1].  He used to apologize when he upset me.  Nowadays, he treats apologies like annoyances that he should not be “forced” to make.

At times I just want to shut myself up somewhere away from the world. 

I keep hoping to make a connection with someone at church who’ll be as close and dear to me as my friend has been for so long, because I don’t know if I can trust him to stick around or not. 

There was once a close platonic bond between us, but he’s changed so much in the past year or so [which, by the way, is how long he’d been involved in the Tea Party] that I’m not really sure what’s the real him. 

It was at least endurable until this past week, but now I just want space from him for a while.

It’s all very distressing and depressing.  :(

My friend replied that the problems were probably less about me than they were about things going on in Richard and Tracy’s own lives.  He said that

rational people would not treat a good friend the way they are treating you….

Don’t lose too much sleep over your friends. It’s probably nothing you did.  It’s most likely all theirs to deal with.

They may choose to throw your friendship away, but that is their choice. It may hurt…but it is their choice that only they get to make. You can’t make them stay your friends. You can merely pray for them, and ask God to take care.

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 

 

 

 

I feel increasing coldness from Richard and Tracy as I “unfriend” their Republican candidates and “friend” Obama and Feingold–Tracy’s Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 54

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

Part 54: I feel increasing coldness from Richard and Tracy as I “unfriend” their Republican candidates and “friend” Obama and Feingold

As I noted above, Richard used to say “Sorry” for things so often and so freely that it got annoying.  Now, getting him to say sorry for anything was like pulling teeth; meanwhile, he was hurting me more and more all the time.

I also noted that he and Tracy seemed to begin snarking at me on Facebook (and in real life) around the same time I “unfriended” their political choices and “friended” Feingold and Obama.  You could see on your news feed when somebody friended a candidate, so they must have seen me friend the “evil” Democrats.

I had grown tired of the things Ron Johnson and Scott Walker were posting, which seemed far off in left (or, rather, right) field: wacky, delusional stuff.  This was before the November 2010 state election nominees had been chosen.  Johnson was even against science!

I realized their reality was just as skewed as that of the Tea Partiers’, so to vote for the good of Wisconsin, I had to vote for the Democratic candidates.

Johnson and Walker, by the way, won the election–and Walker began causing turmoil in the state by stripping long-held rights, balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and teachers, slashing money to the schools, taking away the ability of counties and cities to balance their budgets without cutting essential services, and refusing to listen to thousands who protested his draconian measures.

He refused to do things that would help Wisconsin, such as taking federal money to expand Medicare or allowing the high-speed rail system to be built. 

He tried to remove everything that was good about this state.  What he did was absolutely disgusting and it infuriates me still.

And this was the guy who Tracy, one day, recommended that I “friend” on Facebook.  Blech!

I saw some of it in his Facebook wall, though I had no idea just how demonically he would act after elected.

Many of my Wisconsin friends were appalled when he started this up, especially teachers who realized how much money was about to be taken from their already meager paychecks.  Don’t believe the myths about high-paid teachers which the Republicans tried to push on us during that time.

Our fine senator Feingold was out after almost 20 years, which caused Jon Stewart to shake his head in dismay.

Many times since the late 90s, I had written Feingold on human rights issues through Amnesty International, only to find that he was already working on that very issue.  His platform was sound, his record impressive, especially his work with McCain.

He won his debate with Johnson, resoundingly, making Johnson look like an idiot.  But he got pushed out by the wacky Tea-Party platform of Ron Johnson.

I could not believe how insane my normally sensible state had become in the 2010 election and after.

But back to the spring/summer of 2010.  Richard kept making snarky little comments about things I posted on his political posts.  It really ticked me off because he was putting politics ahead of friendship, and making his Facebook page so much into a political forum that I couldn’t even play with him like I used to or he’d get snippy.

What happened to playful little posts between friends?  What’s all the seriousness?  What happened to you using this page to reconnect with family and friends and play games and chat?

Make another page devoted to politics, or at least warn a person that your Facebook page has turned into a sterile political platform rather than a fun place to play with your friends and family!

He complained to me about his political “friends” (probably not actual friends, but political connections) complaining about my posts.

I was offended that anyone would react in such a way on what is supposed to be a lighthearted social networking site, to a guy’s friend behaving as friends do with each other on Facebook.  I wanted him to tell them off, not complain as if I were embarrassing him or annoying him.

I was also greatly offended when, after having a little disagreement about the President in a thread on one of Jeff’s posts, he told me that one of my oldest, dearest friends was an “idiot.”

From the conspiracy theories and wacky websites Richard was posting, I half expected him to hole up in the woods with an arsenal, to defend ‘Murica.

But apparently, because I believe in good sense, not relying on wacky websites or rumors, not hating or doubting the Christianity of people who voted for the other side, and compromise and respect for the other side, I’m a socialist who doesn’t care about the freedoms he would die for?

In fact, I lost a great amount of respect for Richard and the Tea Party, because this was how they were treating their opponents on both sides of the political spectrum, while taking on a whole lot of ideas that sounded like they would dismantle everything that made our country a great and safe place to live (unlike many other countries): police force, fire department, public schools, that sort of thing.

But anyone who disagreed with him, or with Chris, was now a socialist, a statist, sheeple.

Hoping to influence him, on March 25, I posted on my Facebook wall a link, How to Debate Politics Like a Gentleman, taken from the Art of Manliness website, on the need for civil debate in political discourse.

Richard certainly had been behaving as if his opponents were morons for disagreeing with him, something this webpage spoke against.  In fact, pretty much everything this webpage spoke against, I saw him doing.

But he just took my post lightly, posting jokes instead of taking it seriously.  He didn’t seem to care about gentlemanly discourse, which I considered a terrible attitude for a Christian man to have.

I realize I’m also venting here with words like that, but after several years of watching the madness out of the Tea Party, I throw up my hands at any attempt to disguise what I see there.

There was a time when Republicans were more sensible, but not since they allowed the Tea Party to take them over.

The Rush-Limbaugh-wing of the Republican Party has always been full of insult and manipulative rhetoric, but at least you could ignore them when weighing candidate platforms.

The Bush-era Republicans seemed more evil than moronic as they justified the worst parts of the Patriot Act, and used weasel-words for torture.

However, back in 2010, I still tried to temper my words when discussing the Tea Party, especially with friends who were in it.  Instead I would basically nod and bite my tongue with Richard and Chris.

Even now, I ignore every bit of Tea-Party or Republican ranting I see on my Facebook wall or hear from relatives, because I don’t want to get into it.  But here in my blog, I’m saying how I really feel.  😛

But back to the story.  This political nuttery also seemed to correspond with Richard and Tracy becoming short and snippy with me as well on various occasions, and with each other when we were visiting, and leading into the big blowup between us and them.

The way they, especially Tracy, behaved about the big blowup, a personal matter, violated all the rules on the webpage for political discourse.  It made me think that their political vitriol (both were involved in politics and skewering the other side) was now spilling into their private lives as well.

I felt that if they had taken my posts more seriously and the need for civil discourse on any matter, this blowup never would’ve happened.

In fact, during that phone conversation in late spring 2010 about the sexual harassment issue, Richard defended rudeness even to friends,

defended just saying “deal with it” when somebody has a problem with something you’re doing,

said he was too apologetic to people and didn’t want to do that anymore,

defended the trolling and occasional vitriolic posts Todd did on Internet forums.

So I told him, “I’m an introvert.  Deal with it!”  But of course, he didn’t.  I guess other people have to “just deal with it,” but he never does.

It just blew my mind.  I thought he was a better person than this.  I thought he was a pious Christian who understood the need for civility and showing love for your neighbor.

Now I began to feel like he should never join the priesthood, because the ones guiding us should have wisdom, humility, patience, love.

Like my priest, the one who Richard told me had driven people away from the local church by being too “ecumenical.”

Another baffling thing: I forget when this happened, but one day he told me that the people he hung out with back in their old region, would consider Jeff and me “prudes” because of the “small” number of people we slept with before marriage.  The way he talked, I was not sure he disagreed with them.  Wait a minute, I thought he was a Christian?

Also, along with the political divide, I may have offended his narcissism on Memorial Day, when we had them over for a cookout.  He started talking about how he used to play some card game with the crew of Drew Carey.

I said in a sarcastic tone–having heard so much of his name-dropping over the years–“So, you know them, too?”

He looked at me and said, “Whaaat?”

In the last month or two of the friendship, with the way Richard started treating me, and the drama that I could tell was going on at his house, it seemed like Richard was taking the things that Tracy did, or things that he himself did, and somehow projecting them onto me.

Tracy created drama with him, so if I was upset about something and tried to bring it up with him, I was creating drama–when I was just trying to kindly and respectfully work out the problems that were now arising.

He accused me of things that he himself did, of things that Tracy did.

Like, for example, he complained about me complaining about things so long afterwards that he couldn’t remember them (one of the things he said in the last part to shut me down before I had a chance to talk to him).

But I tried to deal with problems with him as soon as possible, while I kept hearing from him, complaints that Tracy had of me, about things I couldn’t remember happening, because they had happened weeks or months before!

Also, I was often stymied by Tracy’s ridiculous “rules” and Richard’s lack of response to me, whenever I wanted to sort something out.  I just wanted to see him in person and talk to him the way that works, but always came up against roadblocks.  Yet here he was pushing the blame onto ME for things not getting worked out quickly.

When I finally got him to talk about his nasty e-mail to me, he referred to “the drama” going on at his house.  So yes, the drama at home was coloring his interactions with me, even though I had nothing to do with it.

Also, the “drama” that Jeff and I both saw, was further proof that pregnancy hormones may make her even more jealous than usual, but they certainly don’t cause her to be abusive–despite Richard using this as an excuse for her rages in early 2009.

Jeff and I knew her for two and a half years, and she was only pregnant for nine months of it, giving birth in July 2009.  She was not pregnant after that.

Having no job could not be an excuse either, because when these things were going on in 2010, her youngest child was nearly a year old and she’d been working full-time for months.

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 

 

After Breakup: Phil’s Return and Trolls–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 3

newpostBut back to the breakup.  I had Chaucer class with Catherine the next morning, Friday the 21st.  As soon as she had the chance, she said to me, “Guess who called me right after you hung up?”  It was Cugan, and he sounded like he’d been crying.  I won’t say what they talked about, just that it was encouraging.

I have never understood the male aversion to women using letters to fix relationships.  Pearl also used letters to try to deal with problems, and these days everybody uses e-mails.

It seems a perfectly legitimate method, even recommended in the Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus book.  It seems better than calling, because people cut in before you finish speaking, and you can work out exactly what you want to say.  It can be hard to get someone to meet with you, and even then, you can get nervous and not say what you wanted to.  A letter solves all these problems with communicating, so I have no clue why guys hate letters so much.

But I didn’t want to deal with yet another guy getting freaked out by the very sight of paper in his mailbox.  I still started work on a list of things to say, since Cugan actually allowed me to call him.

I don’t remember if stuffed gargoyle Dido made me cry or was a comfort to me, something to hold.  I do know that Cugan later told me he feared for poor Dido after he broke up with me: Would I do something to him?  I didn’t, of course.  Catherine said to that, “Did you tell him you’re not vindictive?”

I don’t think I cried all that often, however.  I was upset and sad, but had reason to hope that this time things would be different than they were the last times I went through breakups.  And if they weren’t, I could go to Brad.

I had broken up with Stimpy and told Brad I made my choice, only to have the man I did this for, break up with me.  I was all alone now.

I thought about going back to Stimpy, but I couldn’t because I knew it would never work out.  I broke up with him for a reason.  I didn’t think he’d take me back, anyway, that he wouldn’t appreciate me treating him like I could just walk out and back in at will.

As for Brad, I thought about writing to him and saying things didn’t work out like I thought they would.

I changed my tagline on TCB to, “Oh no not again.”  I told Ish what had happened, too.

As I worked that afternoon, Phil came by and hung around by the circulation desk while Astrid’s roommate Chloe and I worked there.  He put his books and Big Slam Dew on the counter and said Persephone had been trying to get him to go here and there.  I forget where.

I thought it was strange, especially since they were not dating anymore, and I didn’t know why she’d care where he was.

He kept talking and joking with us.  I now realized just how annoying his jokes could be.

I didn’t want Phil back, even though at the moment we were both free; I wanted Cugan.  But in a way I welcomed him being there, because he distracted me from sadness over breaking up with Cugan.

Chloe kept making pointed barbs, and I made a few, too.

The Roanoke play for April 20 to 22 was “Hedda Gabler,” which I didn’t see.  Phil was in it.  He and I debated if it was “GABE-ler” (which I got from my World Lit teacher, the hot Wesley) or “GAHB-ler” (which Phil said).

Finally, one of the library clerks came over and complained about him being there for so long.

Phil said, “These girls might want me here.”

I said, “I never said that.”

Phil appeared upset, whether with us or the clerk I’m not sure.  He left within the minute, taking his Dew bottles and books with him.

Sounds like Phil took for granted that I was waiting for him to come back to me, and this was his wake-up call.

Over the weekend, Friday or Saturday night, I went on America Online (AOL) to forget my problems for a while in the Christian Fellowship chat room.

First, there or in some other chat room (probably Starfleet Academy), some guy kept IM’ing me, or sending me instant messages, while I tried to answer other people’s questions in the chat room.

I didn’t know who he was, but he kept telling me to call him on the phone.  I didn’t want to call him, and his persistence made me wonder if he was an Internet stalker.

He gave me his number as proof that he was okay, but it still didn’t convince me.  I also didn’t want to call some stranger long-distance in the wee hours of the morning.

Because his IM’s kept delaying my replies to other people in the chat room, they told me to do certain things to block his IM’s.  But before I could decide whether or not to do this, I found my connection cut off.

I’d heard of AOL users doing this to new users, and I wondered if the IM’er had done it.  I re-logged on, and stayed online this time.

That night or the next, the Christian Fellowship Room was pleasant for a time.  I hoped these people could cheer me up, though some said a few too many “praise Gods” for me and seemed a bit unreal.  But I liked it there, and figured it was the best place I could go.

Then some Internet trolls came in and began to stir up trouble.  They were non-Christians, or more like anti-Christians, trying to get a rise out of the Christians.

One of them said he listened to devil music–alternative–including Nine Inch Nails, what do you think about that?

I typed in, “I listen to NIN.  I identify with the line of their new song ‘Hurt’ which says, ‘Everyone I know goes away in the end.'”

This guy typed back, “My gosh, you DO listen to NIN.”

One guy came in and was merciless.  It was very late now, so the number of people in the chat room dwindled.  He was verbally abusive; when I gave him no reason to be upset with me, he made one up.  I don’t know why he had it in for me.  As well as I can remember, here’s what happened:

One person I’d already met online before was in there, Cybrmonkey, a nice guy.  Someone thought this name meant he believed in evolution.  This guy was more liberal than many of the people in there, but he believed no less fervently than they did.  I liked talking with him.

At some point, someone asked me for my real first name, and I gave it.  The abusive guy, whom I’ll call the Abuser, said it was the same name as his grandmother.  I think I was in there as Estrella.

Apparently some question about current events came up, and I must have said I hadn’t heard about that yet.  The Abuser said I should just go look at my neighbors’ newspaper.

Considering it was late at night, my neighbors wouldn’t have a paper outside their door no matter if I lived in a dorm or in the suburbs, so this made no sense.

Probably for safety reasons, I didn’t want him to know I was on a college campus, so I simply said my neighbors probably didn’t have a paper anyway.

(Unless they bought a USA Today from the box outside the Campus Center, it was unlikely they would have one.  There were papers in the library for anyone who wanted to read them, and there were even foreign newspapers, such as German and Chinese ones, so the Asian and Bulgarian girls in the next apartment might not even bother having their own subscriptions.  But if they did, I wouldn’t be able to read those, anyway.)

The Abuser said, “You probably don’t even know your neighbors,” and went on a harangue about how awful I was to not know them.

Considering I lived on a college campus, knew one of the girls next door, had plenty of friends, and my neighbors changed every year, this was silly to me.  I don’t remember if I said much of anything about it, though.  I just let him make a fool of himself.

The Abuser liked Cybrmonkey, probably because he was more liberal, but hated me, probably because I was more conservative.  Someone asked a theological question, and I gave a possible answer, which I thought was very intelligent and well thought-out.  The Abuser wrote, “Go to bed now, Estrella.”

I wrote, “I’ll go to bed when I want to, and not when you tell me to.”

He wrote, “All right.”

I’d been thinking about going to bed soon, but because of what he said, I decided to stay up a while longer.

The Abuser cried out at one point, “I can’t believe you have the same name as my sweet grandmother!”

I had no clue why he talked to me this way.  He didn’t know me, and I didn’t ridicule him, harass him, or in any way treat him bad.

I wrote, “Why are you treating me this way, when I’ve never done anything to you?”

I don’t remember if he gave me an answer.

I finally went to bed, long after he told me to, disgusted with this guy and wondering why in the world he would want to harass anyone like he did me.

That’s when I began to learn that there are many creeps in cyberspace.  Sure I encountered mean people on BBS’s before, but the size and lack of restriction on the Internet gives them a huge playground unlike what they found on BBS’s.

I didn’t learn until later that they’re popularly called trolls, or that the best way to deal with them is to not respond to them at all.

Though I was sad that weekend, I wasn’t as depressed as other break-ups had made me.  This may be because: I was still stunned; we’d only been together for a little over a month; there was a very good chance that on Monday he would want me back; and even if he didn’t, there were others who would.

The Three Musketeers, the recent Disney version with Charlie Sheen, played on Roanoke-TV at three p.m. on Saturday.  (This was the movie I planned to see with Phil on our first date, until he showed up too late and we saw Cool Runnings instead.)

Though I was sad and didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have, especially the romantic parts, I still liked it.  (I later saw it with Cugan, and it became one of our favorite movies.)

One or two of my roommates watched it with me.  When the young king appeared with his new queen, Pearl or Sharon said, “I wouldn’t want a guy who’s prettier than me.”

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

The Uncreated Energies of God: An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the West

newpostCheck this out.  It’s amazing, and sometimes even changes how familiar verses are to be understood.  Yet it is biblical, since I checked my Greek New Testament and found the word energeia where this article says it is:

The Uncreated Energies: The Light and Fire of God by Peter Chopelas

Another webpage which describes how these uncreated energies save us: Why I Cannot in Good Conscience be a Protestant

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

Fighting the Darkness: Slightly shaken at church today

archivesRichard and Tracy’s church closed a while back.  Occasionally, the people from there come to mine–well, except Richard and Tracy.  I have no idea where they go these days, if anywhere.

Something I’ve dreaded for a while, finally happened today: A visitor from their church asked if I still hang out with them.  “No.”  He asked, Where are they living these days?  I said, “I have no idea,” then got away as quickly as I could.

It’s true: I have no idea.  For the past year, they’ve been checking my blog using two different IP addresses at the same time.  It’s weird, because one residence is supposed to have one IP for every device hooked up to the Net.  These don’t appear to be work IPs.

Before, they used the same cell phone for both, but nowadays (after switching service providers) they use two entirely different computers, with two entirely different IPs.  These IPs are fixed, not changing more than once in a great while.

I know the two IPs are connected because they used the exact same search phrase–“nyssa hobbit blog nlvd”–with both IPs, in the exact same order, and NVLD spelled wrong for both.

One IP consistently comes from Fond du Lac, but is rarely used.  The other one, various trackers show it coming from all over the country: a little city on the other side of the state, Madison, Georgia, Minnesota–then last week, Fond du Lac!  This week, it’s back to Madison.

And they’re no longer in the phone book.  So I can truthfully say I have no frickin’ clue where those people live these days.

And apparently, this guy from their own church doesn’t know, either.

But yeah, it left me shaken for several minutes.

[Update 5/29/15: Tracy alone is back in the phone book, but I discovered the address is old.  They are still here in town, though, having moved yet again.  Also, that very same IP which has traced all over the country, now traces to Fond du Lac.]

I sense another wave of narcissistic attack coming my way…..

archivesMy stalkers have been blocked from my blog since late March, when I moved it to self-hosted WordPress.  I could see them going to the old blog often, until my plugins were fixed so that all visitors are redirected here–where my stalkers’ IPs are blocked.

I’ve seen no sign of them here, or trying to come here, for weeks, so I hoped they were going to stop trying to bug me.  I haven’t seen them at my church since August, or on the street since January.

I have been coming down off the constant feeling of threat and trauma, beginning to relax, beginning to get over what I’m quite certain was a form of PTSD.

They know how I feel about the things they did.  They know I know about Richard’s child abuse conviction, and that I have documentation proving my claims of their abuses of me, the children and Todd, as well as documentation proving they’ve been stalking me online for months even though I’ve posted for them to stop.

They know I consider them hypocrites and fakes.  They know I’m not going to back down and beg for their forgiveness for them treating me like crap.  They know the priest knows all about our situation, their threats, their abuses, and that they were stalking and frightening me, because I went to him for help.

They know I consider them both narcissists, and do not want them anywhere near me.  They know I will call the police again if they contact me again.

So I began to hope they’d never show up at my church again.  Especially after a post I wrote to Richard which said he can end this war by apologizing and having a chat with us on Forgiveness Sunday, which offered him forgiveness, said that it was about resolving our differences in a biblical manner so that I could take the Eucharist with him–

–but said if he was just going to keep defending what he did and what was done to me, then walk away because we have nothing to say to each other.

He never responded, so I hoped to never see him again.

As the webmaster for my church’s new website, I can see the traffic coming in there as well.  Today, I saw a very familiar IP address on the church’s website–looking at the service schedule.  I see they have another cellphone (an iPhone).  (You’d be amazed at what Google Analytics and Statcounter pick up.)

My husband wondered, a couple of months ago, if blocking them from my blog would lead to them showing up at my church again, to annoy me that way.  You’ll note they don’t try to apologize and make peace; they don’t leave me alone when I tell them to (which is why I had to block them); they only try to intimidate and annoy.

Why would they even want to visit my church?  If they can afford two fancy, expensive smartphones, which my engineer husband can’t even afford, then they must have found well-paying jobs which make gas prices no longer a concern.

So why come to a church they never even liked, which is too “ecumenical” for them, too “Greek,” and had the gall to tell them there’s a kid’s play area in the basement?

(They hated my church so much that they started going all the way to the next county for church instead!  They couldn’t afford the gas then, either, but they kept going there and did not come to my church at all, even though we were friends then.)

If it’s to annoy me–then why on earth is that so important to them, especially a year after their threats?  Just leave me alone already!

They know very well that they are not allowed to contact me, or I will charge them with harassment.  It will be very interesting to see if they plan to make some kind of trouble at church.

I can’t just stop going, especially with my responsibilities there and my son going to Sunday School, but as they say, Forewarned is Forearmed.  The key is to ignore, ignore, ignore.  I hope that blocking them from this blog, and ignoring them at church, will lead to them getting bored and going away.

Life is nothing but an invisible war of control that the Machiavellian MN is determined to win. They never back down, they never give-up, and they never seem to lose their sadistic drive to triumph over others any way they can.

They are the predators of the N clan. They predate on others with the intent to cause harm. And they don’t need a reason to do it. Malignant narcissists are motivated purely by MALICE. They are the cat and you are the mouse and life is a game of fucking with you until they decide to eat you.

And they love the game playing, they never want it to end because that’s where they get to do the real feeding–tormenting you and watching you squirm. –Lisette, “Malignant Narcissists Feed Off Your Pain,” House of Mirrors

I read recently that when you start to heal, the narcs come back for another round.  I wish I could remember where that was; I think it was on one of many narc abuse survivor blogs…..

My ex-husband has been on a public relations campaign at church since I left him.

Leaving him after almost 30 years of marriage was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and when I go to church, I see him being Mr. Wonderful, and at first he was so pitiful that people were angry at me.

Amazing because I am the one who was more involved, I’m the one they really know. But they are believing him.

I don’t want to change churches because I grew up in this denomination and it suits me, and because my kids go to this church, and because I have been the more involved at our church all these years.

To him, everything is a game that he must win…and I must lose. Much of the time it looks like that is happening. He’s good at this. (Joy)

You could leave the church and then return later, when he is gone. Just don’t let anyone know of your plan. And you could just stay and hold your ground. After all, why should he dictate this area of your life as well as so much of the rest? But the fight is hard and draining. You have to be healthy to get through it.  (Blog Author)

I finally went to the head pastor who was supportive and “got it” I think almost immediately. Once the Elders were informed, they also got it. I have finally received care and validation, and my husband has been repeatedly asked to leave. He refuses, blames me, says he has done nothing to repent of, lies about me and has continued to come.

It has been so very hard to continue, but I was the one that was involved in the church body life, not him. You’re right Joy, it’s all about winning with a N personality. My husband must “win” and drive me out and take away this support.

My journey has been mind-boggling. God’s tender, merciful Love is the only thing that has kept me alive. I am so broken; our children are broken. Hope is so hard to sustain, and yet I know He is able to restore.

Evil and cruelty are always a hard storm to weather, but mental manipulation is beyond the pale. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.  (Rita Cizek)

There is no excuse for excusing an abuser. Abusers do NOT belong in church. Abusers need to be exposed, and the abused need to be healed.  (Penny)

–Comments from The Christian Narcissist by Grace for My Heart, someone who “gets it”!

[Update 10/29/14: To my surprise, despite their checking out my church’s service schedule, the narcs never showed up at my church after all.  Since their own church has been closed for at least a year now, they must have found somewhere else to go–if anywhere.]

 

 

Obsessed With Old Shows From Childhood–The Hunt Continues

I have always been obsessed with retaining as many memories as possible throughout the years.  I still remember things that happened when I was only a year old.

I keep diaries, journals, letters and e-mails to try to hold onto those things, not forget them, from a childhood desire to do one better than Laura Ingalls Wilder, and remember/write down everything that ever happened to me.

Maybe it’s a fear that if I lose these things, I lose myself.  Maybe it’s just in case I ever get stricken with amnesia.  Maybe it’s to help with story and memoir writing.  Maybe it’s so that if there is no afterlife, I will still live on in that form, my experiences and dreams and imaginings not lost to time.

In any case, part of that is remembering old shows and movies.  Some of them have been easy to identify and track down, such as The Red Hand Gang and Time Bandits, which I overheard my dad watching one night after I was supposed to be in bed, but it sounded dang interesting.  Or the Thief in the Night series, which I saw in Sunday School the summer of 1991.

But many have been much harder to identify, since even others who watched them with me, can’t remember them.

Ever since I was five years old (when it aired), I’ve been haunted by memories of a show my brother watched, with a girl in a frilly dress being thrown to a spider-like creature in a wood full of mist, thrown by a man suited in such a way that I thought he was a vampire.  I then went to take my bath, and in the suds I acted out the scene with my hands: one hand as the spider, the other as the girl.

It haunted me so much that I put a version of that scene into my book The Lighthouse, and into a piece of unpublished Labyrinth fanfiction.

There was also a witch running a hotel, a Frankenstein, and a vampire, along with others.  But when I asked years later, my brother could not remember what it was, even though I could swear he had a poster of the vampire on his bedroom wall for years.  (What did that poster say?  Come stay at the Horror Hotel?)

In the 90s, I thought it was Dark Shadows, until I actually watched DS all the way through on Sci-Fi Channel in 1995-1997 and discovered that it was not it.

For years, I have searched, and finally, I have found it:
The Krofft Superstar Hour with the Bay City Rollers

The girl was named Barbie and wore an old-fashioned dress.  The guy who threw the girl to the spider, was Dr. Deathray.

It was actually two shows, “Horror Hotel” and “Lost Island,” segments of The Krofft Superstar Hour.

It just figures that the insane world of Sid and Marty Krofft, who also made many of my other childhood favorites (which I do happen to remember, because I still have a Krofft show comic book), originated these two shows that have haunted me all these years.

Unfortunately, I keep searching the Net, but any videos which have been posted of Lost Island, keep getting pulled for copyright violations before I get to see them.  And there are no episode guides such as I found for all the other Krofft shows some 10 years ago.  So I still haven’t seen that spider creature again.  ARGH!

One episode, but not the “spider” one.

The Internet has made tracking down these shows still puzzling, but much easier.  In the olden days (ie, pre-Internet), you had to wait until the show/movie came back on TV to find out what it was.

Such as, the 1978 movie with the turtle which has haunted many Gen-Xers: The Bermuda Depths.  My brother (same one) watched it twice, and its disturbing images of a satanic nymph (Jenny) with green eyes and a monstrous turtle stayed with me.  But when I asked my dad what it was, he thought I dreamed it.

Then in 1991, I saw it again, while at college–and that it wasn’t near as good and scary as my memories.  Jenny didn’t seem quite as evil, and what happened to the cave scene?

I remembered watching the 70s version of the Mickey Mouse Club, and some of the segments (such as one of the girls in a dream sequence that she was Alice In Wonderland), but I did not make the connection to a cartoon of a Betty Boop-like character being captured by Martians.  For all these years, I thought it was a Betty Boop cartoon, but could find no trace of it.

I don’t remember how exactly I found it, but a year or so ago, I finally tracked it down on Youtube: “A Comic Look at Mars,” a cartoon segment of the MMC first aired when I was three and a half years old.  It was so wonderful to see it again and feel that burst of recognition.  Oh, yeah, I forgot about that scene, but I remember it now!

It’s no longer available on Youtube, unfortunately, but at least I’ve watched it twice and shown it to my son so he can remember it.  But one part of the cartoon has a secretary turn into a character who dresses much like Boop, and fight the Martians who have captured her.

The scene with the Martians turning into bugs, gives an eerie chill of recognition as I wonder if that inspired a nightmare, my parents and I in the kitchen, trying to get on a platform to escape an infestation of bugs, but my dad falls off and the bugs kill him.

Then there was a version of Cinderella where she has short brown hair and they sing, but the fairy godmother is actually an eccentric kleptomaniac, which I saw as a small child.  I finally found that one a few years ago: The Glass Slipper.

Then there was a movie shown on TV around the same time; about 35 minutes into it, the ship’s crew kills a plesiosaur, which they then eat.  I thought the captain saved some of its cells in a bottle.

My mom also served us all some grape jelly on crackers as we watched the movie in the family room, and we ate as this part came on.  I very easily connect food with gross things and then can’t eat it, which is one main reason why I don’t watch gross horror movies.  I connected the jelly with the plesiosaur’s supposed cells, got grossed out, and couldn’t eat jelly for a long time afterwards.

Turns out I also saw the end of this movie as a teenager, with my brother, noting at the end that the two characters who survived exchanged vows before God since there were no ministers and they were the only modern humans around.  I remembered this scene whenever I wrote stories about people on desert islands who wanted to marry, and a few years later, with my fiance/spiritual husband Phil.

But I must have missed the first 40 minutes, since I didn’t recognize the movie which put me off jelly for years.

Maybe a year ago, I finally saw it on TV and identified it: The Land That Time Forgot, 1975 version.  And those cells did not belong to the plesiosaur, but to the water they were sailing in.  If only I understood that when I was a little girl, maybe I wouldn’t have been put off my jelly and crackers.

There was a movie shown at my church when I was little, with a guy who gets killed, but in the last scene is in Heaven and says, “That was my first life.”  Finally, in July of 1992, they showed the movie again and I remembered what it was: Ordinary Guy.

Pity the acting was so terrible, typical of Christian movies of the time–and this got awarded Best Film of the Year 1981 by the Academy of Christian Cinemagraphic Arts.

But unfortunately, some movies and shows still elude me after all these years: My parents watched them on TV when I was small, so probably 70s/very early 80s.

In one, a girl, her mother and sisters dressed in the style of the 1600s; the girl goes to them and says she has discovered they can all go to Heaven.  But the mother says no, we’re going to Hell, and hands her a ticket to Hell.  They go into the gateway, maybe a tunnel, and give the guard their tickets.  In Hell things are not what they expected, as they get whipped.

What the heck was this trippy movie, and why can’t I find it?  Was it some old Christian movie shown on channel 46, our local Christian station?  Was it a Ron Ormond movie?  (I’ve scanned the videos for his movies, but they don’t appear to be it, even though the guard dressed much like the Commies in If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?)

In another movie, a comedy, some turn-of-the-century scientists/inventors take a rocket back in time (very steampunk-y).  They crash in the Neanderthal days, and one woman tries to eat one guy’s pocketwatch.

Another was a 1970s TV miniseries, with a married woman being stalked by a vampire who keeps biting her, but she doesn’t remember.  She only knows that if she’s bitten three times, she’ll become one herself.  I remember her seeing two bites in her car’s rearview mirror, and gasping.

You’ll note that it’s mostly the strange movies and shows which I want so badly to remember.

Please, Internet, don’t fail me.  Maybe by 2022 I’ll have them all identified.

And if anybody knows what these movies are, please post in the comments!

 

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

I’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)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship

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.”

Another webpage which describes the Orthodox view of salvation and atonement: Why I Cannot in Good Conscience be a Protestant

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

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)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993: