THREE YEARS AGO: Losing Your Best Friend: Or, Narcissistic Webs?–The abuser refuses to feel remorse

Dealing with abusive friends: My Story of Psychological Abuse, Part 4

Part 3: Tracy: the narcissistic borderline abuser–and seeing her hang out of a van window

The abuser refuses to feel remorse

There were times, shortly after the blowup, when I told Jeff I thought I was supposed to go to them and try to patch things up.  But he’d say, “NO! SHE needs to apologize, not you!”  He got furious with me for even thinking I had anything to apologize for.

To this day Tracy has expressed no remorse, guilt or repentance over what she did and said, which tells me very clearly that she’s not worth trying to be friends with.

In fact, when I tried a month later to patch things up, she said snottily, “You’re the ones who ended it and unfriended us on Facebook, not us,” and how Jeff had “stormed in” to their place (as opposed to her “rational” behavior, I suppose?).

Then, without any sort of apology for her rage episode, she started going on and on about all the supposedly horrible things I had done–things which were actually harmless, or things which I had actually been manipulated into with Richard’s lies.  But she twisted them into something else entirely.

I kept trying to apologize and bite my tongue, but she did not relent, did not let up.  I showed Jeff the e-mails; he got angry and said, “Oh baloney!” at what she wrote.

He said while she reacted one way to things I had done, he reacted completely differently, that I didn’t deserve how she treated me over it.

She obviously didn’t care about the truth, but only what she wanted to believe.  So there was no point in trying to set her straight.

She refused to believe that I could act with pure intentions; she refused to see how she contributed to the problems.

She did the exact same thing two years previous with Todd (see below), who also found it maddening.  So there was no reason to think she might be persuaded of the truth.

Also, she went over–yet again–things which were harmless, but which bothered her, so they hadn’t been done for more than two years.  Yet she talked as if they constantly happened!

All I actually did was have a different philosophy and opinion to hers of what is okay behavior.  All her bullying is not going to change that.

Then she wrote that there were even more things I supposedly did wrong.  She wanted to tell me these things in person–or else I’d never be allowed to so much as contact Richard.  I was forever barred from him–no Facebook, e-mail, or speaking to him–unless I allowed her to yell at me.

My mother called this very manipulative.  Jeff was adamant that I should not let her do this.

(It is the same manipulative tactic used by cults, such as stories coming from Mars Hill Church in January/February 2012: Former members were shunned by all the other members.  The only way to stop the shunning was to submit to either heavy-handed discipline, or meetings with leadership.  In these meetings, they’d face interrogations about why they’re leaving the church.  Who’d want to do that?)

I had no idea what else she could possibly be upset about.

But I was sick and tired of being blamed for everything, of being criticized by both of them for every little thing I did, of being expected to change everything about my natural personality to please her.

(Like being very quiet and shy, probably selectively mute.  I was supposed to change this, rather than her accepting me the way I am–which would have allowed me to stop tensing up around her, in turn allowing me to open up to her.)

While she was allowed to have her way in everything, and I was expected to sit back and let her be as nasty as she wanted.

And whenever she did something hurtful or Richard was inconsiderate, I was expected to just “deal with it.”

Also, I saw what a “conference,” as she called it, with her was like:

Two years earlier, she pulled Todd into such a “conference” on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) because of what he did on an Internet game.  She accused him of a power grab, working against her and being childish–when, in reality, he had been putting himself out trying to help her.

For hours upon hours, she yelled at him and made accusations.  Meanwhile, he tried to tell her the truth.  But she refused to listen to anything he said, ripping it apart instead.

When–out of frustration–he finally broke down and began to say bad things himself, she used this against him, and turned Richard against him as well.

Jeff saw nothing good coming out of a “conference” with her.  He did not want to allow it, not when she first demanded it of me, nor a month later when she insisted on it again.

I did not know what supposed “behaviors” of mine were still left unsaid, what I did that was so horrible she couldn’t just let it go.

Her complaints were two years old and worn out already with retelling over the years.  They had long since been dealt with.  She said nothing new, and I knew of no other thing that could possibly be left to say.

Yet she insisted there was more.

She was not excluded.  In fact, she was nearly always included in our get-togethers, especially since she did not allow Richard and me to even go out for coffee.  So why did she keep saying I hadn’t “befriended” her enough to be allowed to go out for coffee etc.?

We invited her over for holiday dinners with the rest of the family.  We went to their house to play Dungeons and Dragons with her and Richard.  I invited her to do a movie night with me, but she never took me up on it.

I gave her things she desperately needed but couldn’t afford.  I lent her my mixer, gave her fresh garden tomatoes, things like that.  I occasionally paid her little compliments, or suggested local web forums.  I gave her a lily cut from my garden.

Jeff said I behaved just fine when we were all together.  He had no clue, either, what I had supposedly “done” that upset her so much.

Part 5: I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet

Index:

  1. That elusive bosom friend
  2. The evils of jealousy
  3. Tracy, the bullying, abusive wife
  4. Tracy: the narcissistic borderline abuser–and seeing her hang out of a van window
  5. The abuser refuses to feel remorse
  6. I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet
  7. Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural
  8. Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone
  9. Hoarder Houseguests
  10. Details of Tracy’s abuse of Richard and the children
  11. Tracy crazy-makes me
  12. Tracy refuses to allow cool-down period or apologize for verbal abuse
  13. Richard–though not the reason for the breakup–is also violent and volatile
  14. You say, “Shouldn’t you easily get over this a**hole?”–Here is why I could not
  15. Richard the Mafia thug, potential lady-killer, child beater and child choker
  16. Was he an abused, cringing husband–or a narcissist weaving webs around me?
  17. Struggling to get past the abuse
  18. Contemplating the evils of jealousy and abuse
  19. No epilogue of healing–yet
  20. Help from Shrink4Men

THREE YEARS AGO: Losing Your Best Friend: Or, Narcissistic Webs?–Bullied for being shy and quiet

Dealing with abusive friends: My Story of Psychological Abuse, Part 5

Part 4: The abuser refuses to feel remorse

I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet

But I have always resented being treated like my shyness and quietness is some kind of “choice,” when it’s been ingrained in me since birth.  I’ve always been adrift in a world with social rules and requirements that I did not know or understand while all my peers did.

I always wondered how other kids seemed to just know what to say or do, or why the kids made fun of me all the time, or what I did that was so strange, or how other kids were able to sound outgoing and make their voices just the right level of loudness.

If you say, “They don’t just know what to do or say all the time, either–they’re just winging it,” well, I didn’t have the ability to “wing it,” whether it’s a social requirement or keeping up with conversation, and it never even would have occurred to me to do so.

I’ve always struggled even with simple greetings.  It’s always been very hard for me to warm up enough to someone to talk freely to them.

While Tracy did everything she possibly could do to push me further and further into my shell, then blamed me for not being open and outgoing with her.  And got Richard to help her do it, as he talked to me like I was just imagining my social problems and could change them any time I truly wanted to.

They basically stuck a sheep in with a wolf and forced the sheep to befriend the wolf, threatening that the wolf would eat her if she did not.  Then blamed the sheep for being wary of the wolf, blamed the sheep for every bite the wolf took of her.  This is bullying!

Richard used to be nice to me, even called me the most awesome person he knew, and his “dear, sweet Nyssa.”  But whenever she was around, he became highly critical of everything I did or said.

With both of them, it didn’t seem to matter what it was, from big things to little things.  But whatever I did, whatever I said, my tastes, my hatred of gory movies, political stances, childrearing, marital practices, it was all “wrong.”

(I got plenty of lectures on how I was wrong for disagreeing with Richard politically.  Which is one reason why I want nothing more to do with his political persuasion, TEA Party, where such an attitude is common these days.)

Even things I posted on Facebook were “wrong.”  It was bad enough getting this kind of bullying from her, but Richard doing it was heartbreaking.

He would actually lecture me about why I was wrong to do or say whatever it was, while she would just make fun of me.

He even complained that because I didn’t like mob movies or gory movies or action movies, he couldn’t show me all these great movies.

But if I don’t like such movies, and won’t enjoy them, then what is the point of showing them to me?  Watch them with your guy friends!  Show me something I will like instead!

His reasoning for criticizing me over this was very selfish.  Even Tracy got after him for it!

She pushed me further into my shell by being nasty to other people, verbally and sometimes physically abusive to Richard and the children in my presence, making fun of me all the time, treating every single thing I did as either a slight against her or some horrible, awful thing.

She even ripped on me to her mother one day when she knew I was right there in the bathroom, with half-truths.  (I was too feeding them vegetables!  The kind of stuff they wanted was far too expensive for feeding eight people every day, while they provided no financial help at all.  And that week’s menu was made up while we were cleaning up the lice they brought into the house!)

She ripped on things that were none of her business.  (Who cares if Jeff did the cooking instead of me while our son was small?)

She angered and frightened me constantly.  When Richard’s online friends–who I believe also hung out in 4chan (which spawned Anonymous), and found goatses (links to hardcore porn) to be funny–started making fun of me and making disgusting comments about my genitals, she came in the chat room and began joking around with them and invited them to her house!

The incident was sexual harassment and traumatized me, yet she treated it lightly.

(Then a year later, when I complained to Richard because their names kept coming up in conversation and he had invited them to his house again, he sent me a nasty e-mail.  On the phone he said I was “being ridiculous,” the stuff online “isn’t real and I thought you knew that,” and told me to “get over it.”  This guy wanted to be a priest?)

She pushed me further into my shell by making fun of me for putting bug spray and sunscreen in a backpack and taking it into the backyard with me so I wouldn’t have to run into the house for them from my comfy chair.

She pushed me further in by going into a bizarre, jealous rant over me wishing Richard a fun trip and saying I’d miss him.  And by ripping on me about a Facebook post about Greekfest raffle tickets having to be sold in person.

These two things–which I believe happened in June 2010–made me decide to stop liking her posts or saying a word about any of them, because I was sick and tired of her either snarking on or deleting everything I said.

Then she blamed me for not being open, friendly and outgoing with her, which was one of her biggest rips on me the day of the blowup.

Part 6: Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural

Index:

  1. That elusive bosom friend
  2. The evils of jealousy
  3. Tracy, the bullying, abusive wife
  4. Tracy: the narcissistic borderline abuser–and seeing her hang out of a van window
  5. The abuser refuses to feel remorse
  6. I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet
  7. Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural
  8. Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone
  9. Hoarder Houseguests
  10. Details of Tracy’s abuse of Richard and the children
  11. Tracy crazy-makes me
  12. Tracy refuses to allow cool-down period or apologize for verbal abuse
  13. Richard–though not the reason for the breakup–is also violent and volatile
  14. You say, “Shouldn’t you easily get over this a**hole?”–Here is why I could not
  15. Richard the Mafia thug, potential lady-killer, child beater and child choker
  16. Was he an abused, cringing husband–or a narcissist weaving webs around me?
  17. Struggling to get past the abuse
  18. Contemplating the evils of jealousy and abuse
  19. No epilogue of healing–yet
  20. Help from Shrink4Men

THREE YEARS AGO: Losing Your Best Friend: Or, Narcissistic Webs?–Richard gets too friendly

Dealing with abusive friends: My Story of Psychological Abuse, Part 6

Part 5: I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet

Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural

Tracy’s other rip was on things which Richard had originally done.  Some of them at first freaked me out, so he convinced me they were perfectly fine and normal, natural things for platonic friends to do.  He, my guru, taught me that Americans are too uptight about those things.

I knew I was too reserved, I’d experienced the openness of SCA culture, and I had a girlfriend who for years had been trying to get me to open up more to people.

Jeff also saw these things as harmless.

No, it was nothing “illicit”–basically things like hugs, using a shoulder for a pillow, going for coffee, or even talking in the parking lot, innocent things that close friends or siblings could do.

I always keep Jeff informed on my friendships, not out of compulsion, but voluntarily.

There was no affair, no professions of love, no sneaking around, none of that.  And, to be honest, Richard had not aged well, was morbidly obese, and had poor hygiene, so he was not sexually attractive.

I also did not want to leave my employed (and in much better shape and hygiene) husband for him, and end up living dirt-poor.

Neither one of us had any intention of taking it beyond platonic friendship.

But “Tracy” talked as if the things above had all been my idea from the beginning, and treated me like some skanky ho.

To me they were completely harmless, now that Richard had woven his web on my NVLD gullibility and naivete, and made me believe whatever he told me, no matter what the subject (such as, that there would be martyrdom of American Orthodox believers in our lifetime, because of Obama’s election).

They also hadn’t been done for more than two years because we found out they upset her.

But her rules and requirements (as noted here) kept changing back and forth, back and forth, and were applied without any prior warning.  So I never could get a handle on what they even were.  They were apparently deliberately placed so high that I could not meet them, and she kept sabotaging them.

She even got angry when I did something to help her, which Richard had begged me to do, and which I thought would make her happy.

So it was impossible to please her, and she kept punishing me for it.

It did not feel like an equal relationship as friendships are supposed to be, but a constant attempt by Tracy to subjugate and control me, a power struggle, probably because I recognized her abuses of Richard and the children for what they were.

The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous.  Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome

The above certainly applies to me, since I kept copying what Richard was doing as a guide to what was okay for me to do, but then got treated like some kind of slut for it.

I got the impression Richard wasn’t explaining to her that these things were his idea in the first place.  See, he kept reporting to me how she would b*ch about me for doing or wanting to do them–even though these things were only done a few times, and never again after she complained.

It reminds me very much of Shawn from college, a “friend” who kept luring me and pushing me to do things I otherwise would not have done, and then afterwards treated me like a cheap whore who had lured him.

Yet in Richard’s case, these were just little things like wanting to go out for coffee, talk in the parking lot about my husband losing his job and me wanting a friend to cry to, or falling asleep leaning against a friend’s soft shoulder.

Going out to a nearby restaurant for ice cream, falling asleep on my shoulder, and giving me long, sweet hugs expressing his gratitude and friendship, had been his idea from the beginning.

He reassured me they were perfectly fine, nothing to worry about, all meant in platonic friendship, all perfectly innocent, things he does with people all the time.

Nothing even close to what Shawn got me doing, yet I was treated by Tracy as if it were, and by Richard himself as if it had been all my idea and what on earth could I have been thinking.

It’s very confusing, because I see my other friends doing all these same things and nobody treats them like cheap whores.

But Tracy seemed determined to make sure I felt like one for doing or wanting to do things that were harmless–

Even for wanting to get coffee with my best friend.

Even for wanting to chat with him about music for a bit while we were roommates, without her hovering over us like we’d start making out if she turned her back on us.

Even for wanting to go out in the parking lot for a few minutes with Richard so we could talk over the many problems that had arisen.

(I was astonished to see her actually give Richard an icy glare one night during our roommate days.  He looked at her like she was going to beat him up, just because I asked him–in front of her, so hardly sneaking around–to go outside with me for a few minutes to talk!  Then she insisted that she be nearby in the parking lot while we talked!  It’s as if she expected us to start doing the nasty if she left us alone!)

I feel manipulated by Richard, that he identified my gullibility and naïvete and preyed on it, then let me drown in Tracy’s fury.  The best lies are mostly true.  It makes me very angry with him.

Part 7: Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone

Index:

  1. That elusive bosom friend
  2. The evils of jealousy
  3. Tracy, the bullying, abusive wife
  4. Tracy: the narcissistic borderline abuser–and seeing her hang out of a van window
  5. The abuser refuses to feel remorse
  6. I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet
  7. Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural
  8. Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone
  9. Hoarder Houseguests
  10. Details of Tracy’s abuse of Richard and the children
  11. Tracy crazy-makes me
  12. Tracy refuses to allow cool-down period or apologize for verbal abuse
  13. Richard–though not the reason for the breakup–is also violent and volatile
  14. You say, “Shouldn’t you easily get over this a**hole?”–Here is why I could not
  15. Richard the Mafia thug, potential lady-killer, child beater and child choker
  16. Was he an abused, cringing husband–or a narcissist weaving webs around me?
  17. Struggling to get past the abuse
  18. Contemplating the evils of jealousy and abuse
  19. No epilogue of healing–yet
  20. Help from Shrink4Men

THREE YEARS AGO: Losing Your Best Friend: Or, Narcissistic Webs?–Tracy’s need to control everyone

Dealing with abusive friends: My Story of Psychological Abuse, Part 7

Part 6: Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural

Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone

Tracy seemed to think that I would react the same way she did in her place.  But no, I would act nothing like that:

Jeff has many good female friends whom I barely know; I trust him with them.  I don’t need to hover, don’t need to “approve” them, don’t even need to meet them.  And if something raises an eyebrow, I’d ask him about it without blaming.  He would then reassure me, and that would be that.

If I saw some girl fall asleep on his shoulder in a bardic circle around a campfire at an SCA event, I would just think, Hey, it’s the SCA, and people are friendly here.  Or the girl is passed out drunk.

In fact, when we were first going out, he had a friend who I was sure did not like me, even though I tried to befriend her.  But I let him go off and talk with her, because it was not up to me to allow or deny him talking with his friends.  He just did it, and I said nothing about it, because it was not my place.

I feel that marrying has made no difference in that, either: If she came around again now, I’d have no objections to him talking to her.

And Richard allowed Tracy to behave irrationally, to control him, to treat me in a manner I did not deserve–

rather than stand up to her and say her behavior was wrong and insulted their hostess and benefactress–

the one who had shown her friendship, by being so kind to them both as to let them stay in her house and find jobs in a new state.

Tracy kept trying to tell me I was wrong for wanting to chat with my best friend without her hovering, but I was not.

For one thing, Richard and I were Internet/phone friends for two years already before I even met her, and for two months in person, watching movies and chatting for hours.

To suddenly tell me that I was behaving “inappropriately” by wanting to continue doing this, that “everybody” knows this, was ridiculous, crazy-making behavior.  It was changing the rules on me in the middle of the game.

It was making a behavior a “sin” when it never had been a sin, for the purpose of labeling me a sinner.  And not because I really was one, but because it pleased her to make me seem like one.

For as long as we knew each other, she kept treating me like I was the problem, but I was not.

When, while they lived with us, she overheard me telling Jeff privately about her icy glare at Richard and all that was going on, and that Tracy was possessive and controlling (her behavior infuriated him), she got furious with me.

She told Richard I was manipulating Jeff.  She made Richard think there was something wrong with me for not behaving as she wanted me to.  She influenced him to actually accuse me of disrespecting and insulting her even though I did neither.

She began ripping on me to him or her mother on the phone when she knew I would overhear.  She began driving a wedge between Richard and me by constantly going on and on and on to him about my horrible lack of character.  She began making his life miserable as long as I was in it.

My mother told me that Tracy needed to grow up.

Jeff noted that Richard showed no empathy, no desire to see another side of things.  He couldn’t get him to see that Tracy’s treatment of me was insulting.

This lack of empathy has continued for all the time I’ve known Richard in person.  I also tried to get him to understand that Tracy was pushing me away and into my shell with her nastiness, that I couldn’t be blamed for that, but he just refused to see it.

Part 8: Hoarder Houseguests

Index:

  1. That elusive bosom friend
  2. The evils of jealousy
  3. Tracy, the bullying, abusive wife
  4. Tracy: the narcissistic borderline abuser–and seeing her hang out of a van window
  5. The abuser refuses to feel remorse
  6. I hate being bullied for being shy and quiet
  7. Richard gets too friendly–then convinces me this is normal and natural
  8. Tracy’s irrational jealousy and need to control everyone
  9. Hoarder Houseguests
  10. Details of Tracy’s abuse of Richard and the children
  11. Tracy crazy-makes me
  12. Tracy refuses to allow cool-down period or apologize for verbal abuse
  13. Richard–though not the reason for the breakup–is also violent and volatile
  14. You say, “Shouldn’t you easily get over this a**hole?”–Here is why I could not
  15. Richard the Mafia thug, potential lady-killer, child beater and child choker
  16. Was he an abused, cringing husband–or a narcissist weaving webs around me?
  17. Struggling to get past the abuse
  18. Contemplating the evils of jealousy and abuse
  19. No epilogue of healing–yet
  20. Help from Shrink4Men

On The Purpose-Driven Life

I tried reading this.  My husband tried reading this.  We both quit because of all the misquoted and mangled Scripture and misrepresentations of the Gospel message.  Translations were used based on which one made the exact point the author wanted to make.

You want to know your purpose?  Read the Bible, plain and simple.  It tells you how, more importantly, you fit into God’s purposes.

I’d find you a good Orthodox critique, except that–not counting the Protestant converts who rip it apart on Orthodox forums–it seems to have fallen under the Orthodox radar.  I guess they’re too busy reading Fr. Seraphim Rose, the Church Fathers and the Philokalia instead of fluffy Protestant pop psychology.  So here are some Protestant sites:

A site that critiques PDL in detail: PDL by Tony Capoccia

An Evangelical Lutheran review: Partners Book Reviews by Lawrence R. Wohlrabe

A Lutheran (Confessional/Missouri Synod) review: PDL Sells 20 Million Copies by Reclaim News

Another Lutheran–Missouri Synod (LCMS) review, on the radio show Issues, Etc.: http://www.issuesetc.org/resource/archives/purpose.htm

A review from the point of view of Baptist/traditional Presbyterian (PCA) Reformed theology: Book Review–Rick Warren’s The PDL by Tim Challies

In the last link, this writer also notes Warren’s

carelessness in his use of the Bible.  He continually removes Scripture passages from their proper context in order to make them suit his purposes.  He carelessly applies promises to the reader that clearly do not apply.  He also distorts or changes the meanings of certain passages to make them say what he wants them to say.

What’s even more disturbing to me is that I have heard pastors preach sermons doing all these things.  I have read accounts from others that their pastors do the same.  This is one reason why we left the Evangelical-Free church.  Has this become a common trend in modern American churches?

The Orthodox answer to Purpose-Driven Life (though not intentionally so): Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life

Written around 2005/2006

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

 

On The Message Bible

It’s not the actual Bible!  It’s merely one man’s interpretation of the Bible.  It often is quite different from the actual Bible!  Please stop using it in everything: sermons, CCM magazine article series that basically are ads for The Message, books, etc.

I recommend the Orthodox Study Bible.  It’s supposed to come out in Old and New Testament form next Pascha (Easter), and it’s supposed to include a translation of the Septuagint.  Ooooooh!  [Update 1/24/15: It came out in 2008, and is available on Amazon and here.]

Also, I hear that Orthodox believers are supposed to avoid such paraphrases–not surprising when they tend to come from an Evangelical viewpoint.

Written around 2005-2007

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

 

ONE YEAR AGO: How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 2

Phil feared my parents didn’t like him so much anymore.  I didn’t want to believe it, but they did complain about him at the dinner table while he was off at work, and grumble about something he was doing or not doing. They seemed more and more irritated with him all the time.

****

Once, Phil admitted that he didn’t like to be wrong, said that men don’t like to be wrong, even when they are wrong.  But my dad wasn’t like that, and Phil acted as if he should keep being right.  He projected this onto me, accusing me of doing it.

Of course, I had faults of my own; I was still young, and did not understand many things about men and effective arguing.  But this did not excuse Phil’s emotional, verbal and sexual abuse.

Though it took some time for me to recognize it, his treatment of me fit the necessary traits for abuse, not just “borderline abuse” as I called it for a few years.  It wasn’t everything on these lists, but a good share of them:

http://www.lilaclane.com/relationships/emotional-abuse/

What is abuse?

(I also give many more links here.)

Remember the traits listed in these links.  They will come up again and again over the next several chapters, and you will recognize them.  All the articles list various things Phil did, but to simplify, the last article’s section on Overt Abuse is a basic list of what he did, bolding the traits I remember:

The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring (“silent treatment”), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.

Going further in that article by Sam Vaknin, Impossible Situations can also fit the tricks he played, pretending to talk and act in his sleep and the big “subconscious” hoax, fitting the requirements I bolded:

Impossible Situations

The abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed.

The abuser makes sure that his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, wrought. The abuser generates his own indispensability.

After all, if you are intrigued by supernatural, psychic or psychological phenomena and your significant other begins displaying such things, you won’t want to leave him, because any other guy seems boring by comparison.

I don’t know if Peter did this, too; I can’t say one way or the other, because he did believe in UFOs, ESP and other psychic phenomena, and could have actually believed what he told me about his psychic abilities, our Link, and his ninjitsu training.  Or it could all have been an elaborate fabrication, as some people believed.

Another means of Phil’s Impossible Situation is obvious: our secret marriage.  Since I believed in the lifelong bonds of marriage, he had an easy way to hold me: Every time he screwed up, I decided to forgive him, so I would not divorce him and “commit adultery.”

I was the one who came up with the idea for a secret marriage, not him; for him, the idea and the means of control dropped into his lap, just the same as Clarissa throwing herself into Lovelace’s protection when her family tried to force her to marry the “odious Solmes.”

(As an aside, the last link‘s sections on Impossible Situations and Control by Proxy are the basic plot of Clarissa.  Also, the Abuse of Information section matches the character Scott in my novella All Together Now, part of the Lighthouse collection.)

The Control by Proxy section also applied in September, when Phil used his friend Dirk as a tool to control me:

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding.

He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target.

He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

In 2006/7, I found an article which discussed the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships.  It’s not about low self-esteem or lack of assertiveness, as many people might think.

I disagree with the advice given out by some of our advice columnists and popular TV counselors (like Dr. Phil): It’s false that you “teach people how to treat you,” that continued abuse is your own fault for staying in the relationship.  That’s victim-blaming.

No one is to blame for abuse except the abuser.  If it were so easy to pick up and leave, the abused spouses would have done so long before.  Sometimes, the abuse worsens if you try to leave, and you could end up dead.

In my case, it was a combination of the marriage vows and “honeymoon periods,” or times when the abuser apologizes, the abuse stops and everything seems wonderful.  According to this website, “the moral courage of targets is demonstrated by their ability to withstand abuse for months, and sometimes years, but still remain determined to resolve the conflict.”

Many of the reasons listed here are similar to why a spouse will stay in such a relationship.

****

Over the months of our relationship, Phil often said he was a woman trapped in a man’s body.  One Sunday afternoon in the van on the way to church, he started talking all macho.  I don’t remember now what he said, but I said in disgust,

“You don’t sound like a woman trapped in a man’s body.”  I said he sounded more like one of those macho men he always harangued against.

He said in a temper, “Okay, maybe I am one.”

I didn’t like that, of course, because I didn’t want a macho man.

At least once when I wanted to get something I needed, or that we needed, he refused and chided me for not driving there myself–no simple task for many of us with visual-spatial and other learning disorders: Driving and its visual bombardment scares me.  I get lost easily, and then panic, especially going somewhere I’ve never been to before.

It seemed that practically every day I was in tears.  Mom sometimes noticed my red eyes, but said nothing.

More and more often, Phil yelled at me, I defended myself, and he disappeared into the guest room, stonewalling me.  This bugged me to no end.

It seemed like, in his eyes, I could never be right or disagree with him over anything.  It was like he thought he had to be in control and I had to submit, and he’d get upset if this didn’t happen.

During the spring semester, Candice heard him yelling at me in Krueger lounge, and didn’t like that one bit.  (She told me this a couple of years later, after I’d long since forgotten what he yelled about.)  Now it happened more and more often.

Of course I don’t remember now what we argued about, but I do remember arguing at least part of the time about sex, whether or not to have it some night, whether or not it would be anal or oral, and that we’d also argue about religion.

He didn’t like that I refused to convert to Catholicism or say “obey” in the marriage vows.  (When we said them before in our secret wedding, he tried to prod me into saying “obey,” but I didn’t do it.  And I wasn’t going to do it legally, either.)

We probably argued about moral issues as well, and underage drinking may have been one issue.

There was the issue of when he was to get up in the morning: He slept until two p.m., so he had no time for breakfast (besides a Little Debbie snack cake), a shower or brushing his teeth before work.

We had no time together before he left, and he wouldn’t do any of the things he could only do in the afternoon (like getting his brakes checked).

I’d want to be with him after a long evening with my parents, and he’d want to be alone.  I expected that he wanted sex every night, just as before, and he seemed to want it all the time.  But how did he tell me different?  Not with some gentle, loving explanation, but with a spat-out, “Not every night!”

I’m sure there were other things, things I no longer remember.

St. John Chrysostom said “a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.”  While “the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them” is “appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage” (p. 72, On Living Simply).

Chrysostom says they are obedient to each others’ needs and feelings.  He also said that a harsh master, using angry words and threats, causes obedience but not attachment in a slave, who will run away the first chance he gets.  “How much worse it is for a husband to use angry words and threats to his wife.”

Chrysostom goes on to describe the situation that, even in our modern age, still plays itself out every day: a husband shouting, demanding obedience to his every whim, even using violence.

But this treatment turns wives into “sullen servants, acting as their husbands require out of cold fear.  Is this the kind of union you want?  Does it really satisfy you to have a wife who is petrified of you?  Of course not.”

Such behavior may make the husband feel better for the moment, “but it brings no lasting joy or pleasure.  Yet if you treat your wife as a free woman, respecting her ideas and intuitions, and responding with warmth to her feelings and emotions, then your marriage shall be a limitless source of blessing to you” (p. 74).

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

 

 

 

TWO YEARS AGO: Why Not to Rush a Victim’s Recovery From Abuse

Insensitive remarks from others are quite common when victims of abuse try to share what’s happened and the pain of recovery.

But many people who have (thankfully) never been abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, or sexually often ask: “Why can’t you just get over it. Why can’t you just let it go already.”

The answer is simple: it’s impossible and defies science. Even if the last blow was inflicted weeks, months, or even years before, if the victim/survivor has not reacted, the last blow continues to inflict pain as if it happened seconds ago.

The act of communicating what happened IS a necessary REACTION to the ACTION of abuse. Allow your friend to communicate what happened. Do not judge your friend. Do not tell your friend to move faster or get over it faster.

It may take many days, weeks, months, or years of communicating the story before peace is found, because I believe the length of time a person suffers alone in their pain is proportional to the amount of time needed to communicate the pain and suffering.

If they suffered alone for 20 years, it may take 20 years to purge themselves of the pain. If they suffered for 6 months, it may only take 6 months to purge themselves.

Recovery should never be rushed or forced. Like grieving the death of someone you love, the process is different for us all.

–Read more at Newton, Pinball and Abuse–Oh My! by Paula Carrasquillo

 

FOUR YEARS AGO: Left Behind: The Mark Review–Part 6 (Last)

 

Previous Parts

On page 308, we read Rayford’s thoughts that:

But if there was someone who seemed healthier more quickly than most, it was Hattie.  The irony of that was not lost on Rayford.

Fewer than twenty-four hours before she became a believer, she was suicidal.  Months before, she had admitted to any Trib Force member who had the endurance to debate her that she understood and believed the whole truth about the salvation gospel of Christ.

She simply had decided, on her own, to willfully reject it because, even if God didn’t seem to care that she didn’t deserve it, she did care.  She was saying, in effect, that God could offer her the forgiveness of her sins without qualification, but she didn’t have to accept it.

But once she finally received the gift, her mere persistence was wearing.  In many ways she was the same forthright woman she had been before, nearly as obnoxious as a new believer as she had been as a holdout.  But of course, everyone was happy she was finally on the team.

Poor obnoxious Hattie.  Even becoming a believer doesn’t stop her from being obnoxious.

Rayford finds her doing a womanly task–changing the baby–and asks if she has a minute.  She says, “If this guy is drowsy, I’ve got all the time in the world, which–according to our favorite rabbi–is slightly less than three and a half years.”

Just a harmless joke that anybody might make, but Rayford thinks, “Hattie isn’t as funny as she sees herself, but there is something to be said for consistency.”

Yes, there is something to be said for consistency: Ray is still condescending to this person whom he once wanted to pork.  Love them, then devalue and discard them–Dang, Rayford sounds like a narcissist!  Knowing what we know about him, yeah, “narcissism” fits him like a glove.

Anyway, Ray hems and haws a bit before finally getting around to saying that he needs Hattie to do a favor that has to do with Chaim.  She says,

“Isn’t he the best?”

“He’s great, Hattie.  But he needs something Tsion and I don’t seem to be able to give him.”

“Rayford!  He’s twice my age!”

Oh, geez.  She’s redeemed yet still she’s painted as the whore!

The “favor,” by the way, is for her to transfer some of her new believer bounciness into Chaim.  In a nonsexual fashion, of course.

On page 312, Buck, who is impersonating “Corporal Jack Jensen on behalf of Deputy Commander Marcus Elbaz [Albie],” is watching as prisoners in the detention center are made to choose between the Mark and the guillotine: “Buck watched the process, despairing at the masses who ignorantly sealed their fate.”

Yes, Buck watched as the masses ignorantly sealed their fate.  They’re ignorant, yet this seals their fate?  They can’t possibly change their mind later if they got a mark they didn’t actually fully understand?

Somehow I think that God would snatch souls out of Satan’s very grasp, even if Satan had a signed contract saying they were his.  Not to mention, you would think that Buck would at least try to stop the proceedings, maybe quietly pass out some Chick Tracts.  (Everyone loves Chick Tracts!)

But then his phone vibrated–woowoo!  I bet Buck loves having his phone on vibrate.  Then his phone shows how much it loves him back.

On page 339, Tsion once again deceives his readers with the false security of Once-Saved-Always-Saved, telling them that once they decide for Christ and get God’s seal on their foreheads, or accept the mark of loyalty to Antichrist, “[Y]ou cannot change your mind!”

And that he believes that when his flock is forced to make public their beliefs, choose for God or the Antichrist, they will be “unable to deny Jesus, unable to even choose the mark that would temporarily save our lives.”

I bet this would be news to the Early Church.  Not only did the Epistles warn us to stay steadfast in the faith, that we needed to work hard to stay Christians, but many people were turned away from re-joining the faith after having chosen loyalty to the emperor over martyrdom.  People are weak.

On pages 342 to 343, Tsion basically invents a way of explaining Exodus 32:33 to fit with once-saved-always-saved: When Moses asks God to blot his name out of God’s book rather than punish the Israelites for their many sins, God says he will blot out of the book whoever has sinned against Him.

Tsion comes up with the idea that this is referring to the book of the living, and that the book referred to in the New Testament is the book of Christians.  He has no sources to base this on other than “my contention” and “to me”–and having to make the Bible conform to Calvinist doctrine.

This is not the traditional view of the Book of Life, rather, that it and the Book of the Life of the Lamb (which Tsion says is referred to in the New Testament) are one and the same thing: a roster of the righteous, out of which to be blotted means (physical and spiritual) death.

The Talmud and the Book of Jubilees also refer to a Book of the Dead, where the wicked and their deeds are recorded.

Tsion’s version is not one I’ve heard of before: Growing up in the Nazarene tradition, I always understood there to be one Book of Life with the names of the redeemed, not two separate books, one for the physically alive and one for the spiritually alive.

With his lack of cited sources, or even a reference to any tradition, Tsion appears to have invented this solely out of his own head, and with some prooftexting, in order to fit with his contention that none of his flock need fear choosing the Mark over salvation out of brown-underpantsing fear.

R. Kruspedai said in the name of R. Johanan: Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate.

The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death.

Said R. Abin, What text tells us this? — Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

‘Let them be blotted out from the book — this refers to the book of the wicked.

‘Of life — this is the book of the righteous.

‘And not be written with the righteous’– this is the book of the intermediate.

R. Nahman b. Isaac derives it from here: And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written, ‘Blot me, I pray thee’– this is the book of the wicked.

‘Out of thy book’– this is the book of the righteous. ‘Which thou has written’– this is the book of the intermediate.

Talmud – Mas. Rosh HaShana 16b, translated into English with notes, glossary and indices under the editorship of Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, B.A., Ph.D., D. Lit., Soncino Babylonian Talmud

I see I’m not the only one to have noticed this strange teaching of Tim LaHaye’s:

Scripture-Twisting in the LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible

The Book of Life: One Book or Two?

On pages 348 to 354, we read about a kid, Chang, who doesn’t want to take the Mark, is a believer, resists all he can, but is forced to take the Mark by his father.  But underneath the Mark can still be seen (to other believers) the cross of Christ.  So it’s not all-or-nothing after all?

At long last, I have finished book 8.  I’m halfway through the series (I think)!  On to book 9….

[5/4/11-6/22/11]

 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Left Behind: Assassins Review–Part 2

 

Part One

On page 168, I’m troubled by Charismatic ideas, and clichéd phrases: Tsion feels that “the Lord suddenly impressed deeply upon my heart that I should pray for someone in danger.”

Any such talk of “impressions” immediately makes alarm bells go off in my head, after the time I spent deceived by Charismatic ideas.

Then we read Rayford’s two prayers, which contain the clichés “I covet him for the kingdom,” “I agree with my brother in prayer” and “your supernatural hedge of protection.”  Do we really need to read these prayers?

By page 170, the spirit steeds have been killing for some time now, snorting the plagues of smoke, fire and sulfur which are poisoning many.  We read,

In their wake, the leonine steeds left bodies.  Some jerked spastically before freezing in macabre repose.  Others writhed ablaze until death brought relief.  Or so they thought, Mac mused.  In truth, the victims passed from one flame to another….

Even from behind and far away, Mac found the horsemen and their mounts dreadful.  They hovered inches off the ground but galloped, trotted, stepped, and reared like physical horses.  Their riders urged them on, stampeding people, buildings, vehicles, wreaking destruction.

I’m getting tired of reading about all the death and destruction.  Yet on page 167, our heroes Mac and Abdullah (two believers in the Tribulation Force) hope the horses stick around long enough for Mac to see them.

Earlier, we learned that Christians who did not believe in the Rapture ended up in the One World Faith.  Now, on page 172, we learn from Tsion’s latest Web posting that

While many have come to faith after being convinced by that horrible judgment [the demon locusts], most have become even more set in their ways.

It should have been obvious to the leader of the Enigma Babylon One World Faith that devotees of that religion suffered everywhere in the world.  But we followers of Christ, the so-called dissidents–enemies of tolerance and inclusion–were spared.

On pages 173 and 174, we see that the symbolism of Babylon in the ancient prophecies has been lost on the authors, who take it as the literal geographical Babylon.  However, Babylon was a ruined city long before Revelations was even written, and it was likely a veiled reference to the Roman Empire.

Pages 174 to 175 make you wonder how on earth the world survived before the Christian era, how any societies managed to keep law and order.  Apparently, the loss of all the premillennial dispensationalist Christians will lead to unbelievers who

will insist on continuing worshiping [sic] idols and demons, and engaging in murder, sorcery, sexual immorality, and theft.  Even the Global Community’s own news operations report that murder and theft are on the rise.  As for idol and demon worship, sorcery, and illicit sex, these are actually applauded in the new tolerant society.

It seems that no other religion is capable of keeping such things in check, not even Judaism or Islam.  Or any of the multitudes of religions which teach its adherents to be kind to others.  I can just see that: sorcery, idols and illicit sex rampant in Saudi Arabia.  Or Buddhists turning into raping, killing machines.

On page 176, Tsion says, “If you think it is bad now with millions having disappeared in the Rapture, children gone, services and conveniences affected, try to fathom life with half of all civil servants gone.”  What services and conveniences are affected?  He still has electricity to post his blogs, there are still hospitals, grocery stores….

Ending his blog, he writes,

I would not want to be here without knowing God was with me, that I was on the side of good rather than evil, and that in the end, we win.  Pray right now.  Tell God you recognize your sin and need forgiveness and a Savior.  Receive Christ today, and join the great family of God.

Receive Christ today or you will die horribly!

On page 179, we meet Dwayne Tuttle, a Christian–er, Tribulation Saint–pilot who briefly confronts Fortunato.

Mac had called for a Mayday after an assassination attempt, to which Dwayne responded; Abdullah and Fortunato are with Mac.  Dwayne makes it clear that he believes Nicolae to be the Antichrist.

He says to Fortunato, “But I don’t mind tellin’ ya, I feel like I’m aidin’ and abettin’ the enemy.  Personally, I’d leave you to die, but God’s gonna get you in the end anyway.  Read the Book.  We win.”  Later on, he says, “Much as I’d like to kill a couple of your staff, I promise I won’t.”

???  What happened to helping and loving your enemy? the Good Samaritan?

On page 187, Buck needs a new identity to help him travel to Israel without getting caught by Global Community forces.  So he goes to see Z, who has been helping local Christians get fake IDs.

Z has a file full of information on various people who are now dead.  He finds this information by sneaking off with the wallets of people killed by the “smoking horses,” before GC gets to them.  Vultures!  And what does he do with the money and credit cards?

On page 197, Chloe tells Rayford, “[The Tuttles are] going to handle a huge South Sea area for us.  That they were close enough to hear Mac’s Mayday is nothing short of a miracle.”

Rayford replies, “It’s a contact straight from God.”

Yep, deus ex machina for sure.  Which works great in real life, but strains believability in fiction.  Unless, of course, it’s an ancient Greek play.  (Actually, even then it got critics.)

On page 203, we finally begin to see more of what’s in the Antichrist’s head–not just manipulative strategies, but his connection to Satan–as he prays,

O Lucifer, son of the morning!  I have worshiped you since childhood.  How grateful I am for the creativity you imbue, O lion of glory, angel of light. I  praise you for imaginative ideas that never cease to amaze me.

You have given me the nations!  You have promised that I shall ascend into heaven with you, that we will exalt our thrones above the stars of God.  I rest in your promise that I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.  I will be like the Most High.

I shall do all your bidding so I may claim your promise to rule the universe by your side.  You have chosen me and allowed me to make the earth tremble and to shake kingdoms.  Your glory will be my glory, and like unto you, I will never die.  I eagerly await the day when I may make plain your power and majesty.

Okay–either he’s reading a scripted prayer such as you might find in a prayer book for Satan worshippers, or he’s speaking this way off the cuff.  And who the heck talks like that these days?  Apparently Satan’s minions speak just as stiltedly as the Christians–er, I mean, Tribulation Saints–in these books.

To be continued.

SIX YEARS AGO: Left Behind: Nicolae Review–Part 3

 

Previous parts

Now for the little details in the book:

Final tally for number of times “Buck was struck” appeared in this book: three, on pages 104, 203 and 289.  Four if you count “he was struck”; unfortunately, I didn’t record the page on which that occurred.

By page 213, I was sick of all the little platitudes the book’s Christians kept using to cheer each other up and on.  For example, on that page alone, we see “The Lord will make a way somehow” and “Yahweh is the God of the impossible.”

Even Tsion Ben-Judah is full of platitudes while grieving over the deaths of his family: “I know my Redeemer lives” and “I know that He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it” on page 204, and “The joy of the Lord is my strength” on page 206.

If my husband and child had just been beheaded, spouting out platitudes would be the last thing on my mind.

Then the little group of Tsion, Buck, the homicidal Michael and a few of his homicidal Witness friends have an impromptu prayer circle which seems far more like a Charismatic prayer meeting, with Buck falling prostrate on the ground.

On page 216, they all become prophets, with the Spirit of God “impressing” on them what they are to do next.  These are dangerous elements of Pentecostal teaching which have misled many into thinking that we can all be prophets.  Such impressions are far more likely to come from our own selves or, even more dangerous, from demons playing with us.

The prayer circle is disordered and seems designed to evoke an emotional response, a spiritual high, which is more likely to be psychological than of God.  Father Seraphim Rose has even argued that Satan is at work in such environments.  I don’t know if this response is psychological or Satanic, but it’s far better to use the prayers that have been given to us by the Church, and not try to get this spiritual “high.”

On page 217, we see that Buck–who only two years before had known almost nothing about Christianity–is catching on fast to Christianese, ending the prayer with that Evangelical catchphrase, “amen and amen.”  How many times have I heard those catchphrases–Father God, amen and amen, and countless others….

I once read about such phrases in a Chuck Swindoll book.  He–a member of the Evangelical Free Church–joked about how often Evangelicals use certain phrases in group prayers, “meaningless repetition,” “tired, overworked words and phrases” such as,

For starters, I dare you to pray without using ‘bless’ or ‘lead, guide and direct’ or ‘help so-and-so’ or ‘Thy will’ or ‘each and every’ or any number of those institutionalized, galvanized terms.  I dare you! –(p. 316, Man To Man)

The irony on pages 234 and 235 was not lost on me, since former President Bush was popular among Evangelicals.  On this page, we discover that Nicolae’s Global Community peacekeeping forces “are restricted by no conventions or rules”–meaning a car can be searched without a warrant–and the use of torture to get information is implied.  Ah, so GC uses Bush’s playbook!

On p. 252, and many other places in the book, we see everyone talking more or less the same: Rayford and Buck call Chloe “hon,” Rayford calls Amanda “hon,” etc.  There are many terms of affection out there, different people use different ones, and “hon” just doesn’t seem to fit for Buck and Chloe’s generation.  These books are weakened not just by twisted theology but by poor writing!

I keep feeling like the Christian characters in this book don’t talk or act like normal people.  For example, on p. 277-8, Loretta doesn’t just set out snacks, she expresses “her delight in offering hospitality as her service to the Lord.”

Also, Tsion Ben-Judah waxes philosophical in a long paragraph about the deaths of his family, and then the others pray.  Keep in mind that his pain is still fresh.  In real life, would he be praying “for relief from bitterness and hatred” or giving in to it for a time?  The others put hands on his shoulders and pray; in real life, wouldn’t they hug him?

On pages 306-7, we find more platitudes, prayers, Tsion’s “grieving wisdom,” kneeling at the drop of a hat, and a constant stream of Christianese as if the characters each swallowed a Bible.

These characters do not seem real; it feels like I’m watching one of those poorly-produced and poorly-acted movies that I used to have to watch at church and church camp.  And yet Jerry Jenkins writes books on writing, occasionally gets featured in Writer’s Digest, and owns the Christian Writers Guild!

On page 283-5, we finally read about how Rayford and Amanda “fell in love”:

In summary, when Amanda first speaks to Rayford about Irene, Chloe suspects her of “having designs on Rayford.”  Rayford is put on his guard, but soon realizes that she “was cordial to him, but never inappropriate, and never–in his mind–forward.  Even Chloe eventually had to admit that Amanda did not come off as a flirt to anyone.”

Instead, she becomes a “servant” to the church, spending her days working at her career and her spare time working for the church doing all sorts of things: “cook, clean, drive, teach, greet, serve on boards and committees, whatever was necessary.”  Rayford admires her spirit but doesn’t think of her “that way.”

There is such a huge lack of sexual tension in this story that one wonders how in the world they quickly fell “desperately in love” when they finally decided to spend time together (as friends, mind).

But then, God forbid that a widow flirt with anybody, let alone a widower, or have any thought of a crush until Rayford finally says it’s okay!  What on earth would be “inappropriate” about a widow flirting with or “having designs on” a widower?  And “forward”?  What is this, 1950?

As I said, these characters don’t act like normal people, and all the Christian women magically become paragons of virtue and service–while Hattie is a whore with no “depth.”

In Rayford’s thoughts on page 283, he speaks of a “lifelong relationship and bond” shared with Irene and not with Amanda, even though in book 1 we got the strong impression that he didn’t even like Irene.

Then he feels guilty for already being closer to Amanda than he ever was to Irene.  So is he bonded more to Amanda or to Irene?

And why does he keep referring to Amanda as “handsome” as if she were an old woman, when she’s only in her 40s?  Better grab a cane!

Since Hattie is a whore with no depth, she must be converted.  On page 285 we read that Rayford “felt he should maximize every legitimate opportunity to persuade her.”

Poor Hattie–He’s not your friend, there to listen to you and help you as you try to pull away from Nicolae’s lack of love for you, he just wants to wear you down until you convert (and he’ll use worn-out business terms like “maximize”)!

On page 295, Rayford tells himself that she’s “not a dumb woman,” yet she sure gets portrayed as one in these books!

Rayford tries to talk her out of aborting the Antichrist’s child–which must surely feel to him like Doctor Who trying to decide whether or not to carry out the commands of the Gallifreyan Time Lords to go back in time to the Genesis of the Daleks and destroy all the Daleks while they are still helpless globs of skin in the laboratory.

After all, the Daleks would become ruthless dictator pepperpots spreading out to all worlds, yelling “Exterminate!” while massacring thousands of innocent people and trying to rule the universe.  But they would also cause treaties and peace among enemies who had to stand together to fight the Daleks.

If you had the chance to abort Hitler, would you do it, even though at that time he was just an innocent child?  Or would that make you no better than Hitler?

Hattie, however, says,

Sometimes you have to look out for yourself.  When I left my job and ran off to New York to be with Nicolae, I thought I was finally doing something for Hattie.  Now I don’t like what I did for Hattie, so I need to do something else for Hattie.  Understand?

Well, no, because her reasoning reads rather like the “dumb woman” portrayal we’ve been seeing all through these first three novels.

Rayford “understood all too well.  He had to remind himself that she was not a believer.  She would not be thinking about the good of anyone but herself.  Why should she?”

Because, after all, she’s not a believer, so of course she’s only thinking about herself!  Duh!  Of course she wants an abortion!  [Insert eye roll and head shake here.]

Rayford goes on to try to persuade her on pages 296-7.  Did I just find a tract about the abortion issue?  Because this sounds like rhetoric, not like compassionately dealing with a real person struggling with an unwanted pregnancy.

He talks a lot, uses logic, but listens very little, and makes no offer to help raise the child.  He basically lectures her like a naughty little girl, for living with a man and getting herself knocked up.

It’s no wonder he does not persuade her.  It’s no wonder she clams up and just wants to get away from him.  On p. 384, we discover that even Buck is unwilling to raise the child of the Antichrist.

To be continued….

On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts

Most denominations seem to agree that God speaks to people in a still, small voice.  But I don’t think He uses Pat Robertson-style words of knowledge/wisdom that you sit there and actively seek.  The techniques sound like New Age meditation to me, and I don’t trust that it’s always God speaking.

I’ve heard that the Early Church Fathers teach to beware of things you think the Holy Spirit is telling you, until you reach an extremely high level of spiritual discernment which is beyond the reach of most people.

A website on such things has a good rule of thumb, to just let God decide when to speak and how: Demonology, the forbidden subject.  The “possessed” section is a good place to start (“How does one get possessed?”), but the subject is mentioned here and there throughout the webpage.

Considering the trouble that these “sign gifts” have gotten me in, such as making me think God wanted me to marry guys who were totally wrong for me, these days I’m wary of anything that even sounds like them.

Now, where does Pat Robertson get these words of knowledge from?  I’ve wondered about this for some time.  One possibility is that he has a familiar spirit.

Or, it has been charged, he and Benny Hinn get them the same way stage hypnotists and stage psychics get their information on audience members: Benny Hinn: Healer or Hypnotist? by Joe Nickel

(And Pat Robertson has been called a prophet?  My only excuse for believing what he said back in the 80s and early 90s: I was a naïve teenager who believed anything Christian adults told me!  I began to lose faith in him when he prophesied that Bush would win in ’92, and Bush lost to Clinton.  That showed him to be a false prophet (Deut. 18:21-22).)

This webpage not only describes many different denominations in their own words, but also describes faith healers Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff as fakes.

My understanding is that biblical references to words of knowledge/wisdom are about knowledge and wisdom on spiritual matters, not about getting little messages on what career you should have or something that’s going on in another town.

Pat’s teachings on words of knowledge/wisdom said that everybody could get them (the prophecy version), and over time “your track record will improve.”

He’d sit there during the daily 700 Club prayers, and say, “Somebody’s being healed of blindness,” or “Somebody who needs $5000 will get it.”  Not only did he claim to be hearing these things from God in his spirit, but his co-host shared in these words as well.

Unless someone calls in with a story of a healing, you don’t know what’s really happened.  I always wondered why I never got one of these “words.”  He’d say someone was being healed of nearsightedness, but it never meant me.

Why would the co-host participate in this?  I suspect the co-host is innocently following along with her svengali Pat, but is actually getting these “words” from herself, not from God–since it’s hard to tell the difference between a “still, small voice” and yourself.  The power of suggestion is strong, especially from a charismatic leader.

Some webpages on Pat’s “words of knowledge”:

700 Club video of Pat’s word of knowledge connected with a healing of ear pain

Pat Robertson Explains Faith Healing

Let Us Reason Ministries quotes,

A former employee describes Robertson’s “Word of Knowledge” performance in James Randi’s book, “The Faith Healers:” “There was nothing “mystical” to understand; it was simply “statistical”. Robertson’s little faith-healing procedure is a charade — he simply “calls out” an illness and predicts its cure, and with millions of viewers the statistical probabilities are that someone will have the disease named and that they will naturally recover. People put their faith in the belief that God speaks to Pat. (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.201)

While I don’t agree with James Randi’s cynicism he has spoken for the numerous people that watch and can see through the antics that are presented as genuine Christianity and the power of God.

“(Gerry) Straub relates a non-miracle he witnessed while still a believer in the ministry he worked for. He describes Robertson, at the close of a “700 Club” videotaping, shaking hands with members of the studio audience:

“He stopped when he reached a man sitting in a wheelchair … Pat … laid hands on him as everyone prayed for healing … at Pat’s urging the man stood up. The people cheered as the man took a couple of very shaky, small steps. While everyone applauded God, I feared the man might fall.

The next day we showed the nation the miracle (on the “700 Club” broadcast). I simply wanted to know if the old man in the wheelchair was permanently healed by God or if he temporarily thought that he was healed.

A few weeks later I had an assistant track down the man’s family in order to see if the cure had lasted. He had died 10 days after his visit to [the Christian Broadcasting Network]. We reported his “healing” but not his death. (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.201)

How The 700 Club describes these words:

Q: Your Word of Knowledge on The 700 Club brings healing to so many people. I love to participate in your prayers. Can I learn to receive words of healing from God, too? There are several people in my church who want to bring healing prayers to others. Where do I start?

A: You bet you can get a Word of Knowledge. These gifts are for everyone who believes.

The unique thing about the gifts of the Holy Spirit is they are given freely, and they are given at the point in time of baptism. So don’t go around saying, “I don’t have this gift.” You have it.

What you need to do is start practicing how to use it. So go into the meeting, and when you’re in a group, a prayer meeting, or church meeting, ask God some questions. He’s waiting for you. “You have not, because you ask not.” So ask Him, not for the gift, because He’ll say, “Well, I’ve already given that to you.”

Ask Him, “Who do you want to heal today?” Or “What sickness do you want to heal today?” Or “Do you have a Word for me for this person?” One of my favorite Bible verses is, “Many are your thoughts, O Lord, towards us.” I can’t even number them.

Ask God, “What’s one of your thoughts for this person I’m praying for? What do you think about them? What do you want me to do to encourage them?” And realize it’s encouragement, comfort, and exhortation. It’s not judgment. Judgment isn’t part of that gift. Anyway, there is a whole lot to that. –Bring it on: Sickness and Healing

I have found no evidence of sweet Sheila Walsh (Christian rock/pop star in the 80s and now with various ministries) deliberately setting out to deceive the American public.  In fact, I keep finding bloggers who hate Robertson but loved Sheila.

The Lutheran church (which is not into such terminology as “God laid on my heart,” “such-and-such is on the heart of God” or “God coming into the room,” as written by Don Matzat in the Promise Keepers article noted above) also says that Christ meets us through Word and Sacrament.

It says that any spirit which uses another vehicle (such as a “meditative altered state of consciousness in order to make contact with God”) is from the devil (Don Matzat, paraphrasing Martin Luther, The Intrusion of Psychology into Christian Theology).

For more on the Lutheran view, also see Gifts of the SpiritThe Charismatic Movement and Lutheran Theology Part 1,  and The Charismatic Movement and Lutheran Theology Part 2.

Luther’s Small Catechism states that,

The Scriptures do not teach, however, that God will necessarily give all Christians in every time and place special miraculous gifts.  The Holy Spirit bestows His blessings according to His good pleasure. . . .

In popular English, the word charismatic describes a dynamic person, highly emotional worship, or claims of special miraculous gifts.

But the Greek word charisma means simply ‘gift’ and refers, for example, to Christ’s whole work of salvation (Rom. 5:15-16), to eternal life (Rom. 6:23), and to being married or single (1 Cor. 7:7). –(p. 151-2)

The Orthodox view of the gifts of the Spirit: The Holy Spirit and His Varieties of Gifts by Rev. George Mastrantonis.  The article contrasts the New Testament gift of tongues with the modern Charismatic version.  Quotes:

The gift of the ‘utterance of wisdom’ means the deeper understanding of the Will of God and mysteries of salvation; the ‘utterance of knowledge’ means the good sense of knowledge; ‘faith’ means the supernatural achievements through the Spirit; ‘healing’ means the ability to heal various sicknesses; ‘working of miracles’ means supernatural achievements; ‘prophesy’ means the miracle in the form of preaching; ‘ability to distinguish between spirits’ means being able to distinguish between good and evil spirits by which various spiritual expressions exist; ‘various kinds of tongues’ means the gift of speaking in many dialects of which the meaning is known only to him who speaks them, not even an interpreter; ‘interpretation of tongues’ means the ability to interpret the language of the speaker of ‘tongues’ to the people who do not understand what is being said….

The ‘speaking in tongues’ in the New Testament as described above is far different from the new glossolalia, tongues movement, of today. Although the word, glossolalia, is a term which was lately adopted, in the 19th century, the phenomenon of speaking in tongues is very ancient, as mentioned before.

The difference is that in the past, and especially in the Bible, the speaking in tongues was the speaking of a human foreign language, which could be understood directly or through an interpreter. Glossolalia today has another meaning entirely.

Nor should it be associated with the Pentecostal Church, either. This new movement of glossolalia of today started in 1960 with an Episcopal priest in California. This movement has flourished, but not without opposition.

The point of this movement of glossolalia is that the ‘tongues’ are not human languages, but inarticulated speech. Some claim it is gibberish foolish sounds; others say not.

All agree that from a linguistic point glossolalia is not a human language, for one cannot identify any positive language being spoken, and there is no evidence that the glossolalia contains actual speech.

Despite the claim of the members of this movement, they cannot provide any case to stand up under scientific investigation.

Another good Orthodox article: Speaking in Tongues/Miracles by Fr. John Matusiak.  Quotes:

Concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit and specifically speaking in new tongues, I offer the following observations: While the Orthodox Church does not deny this gift in any way, it does acknowledge that this gift is rarely given, spontaneous, and only evident in cases of need….

If everyone speaks the same language, what is being revealed? If what is uttered is not intelligible to the hearers, what is being communicated?…

If it is a way of showing who in a congregation is filled with the Holy Spirit and who isn’t, it constitutes heresy, for the Holy Spirit is everywhere present and fills all things, including those individuals who have been created in God’s image and likeness yet who reject the very notion. Scripture is very clear that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are never to become sources of personal pride….

With regard to miracles, surely there can be no end to the age of miracles, for God is present everywhere and at all times in the midst of His people. This in itself is a miracle.

If, however, by miracles we are referring only to physical healings, flashing lights, unexplained phenomena, and the like, then we may very well be disappointed. Christ Himself condemned those who continually wished to see signs, or miracles. And Scripture is clear that even those who witnessed miracles with their own eyes often rejected that which they had experienced.

There’s a bunch of information here about charismatic sign gifts, from one Orthodox writer’s point of view (Fr. Seraphim Rose): Charismatic Revival as a Sign of the Times.  (Keep in mind that this is one writer; it is not the “official Orthodox view” to be so scathing of Protestants and Catholics, or of Christian rock.)

It can be said that the Charismatic Movement is actually a rebirth of an old heresy, Montanism–and it has also been said by Charismatics that Montanism was “a revival, not a heresy!”  You be the judge:

History of sect from Pentecostal point of view

Wikipedia description of Montanism

The Pepuzians or the Montanists

Catholic Encyclopedia article on Montanism

An Orthodox Priest’s view of Montanism

This article by Cooper Abrams explains how speaking of tongues, as practiced in charismatic churches, is nothing but gibberish.  It also explains how suggestible people can be in church:

Clearly, some people are more susceptible that others to having a what can be referred to as a psychological experience. For example some people are easily hypnotized and others are not susceptible to suggestion.

Some people are more emotional than others, which means that some can control their emotions in a greater way than others.

A crowd of people can be stimulated or emotionally whipped up. It can be easily observed at rock music concerts, sports events, and rallies of all sorts.

Rhythmic music, singing, and/or chanting can have a great influence on people and strongly effect their emotions. Some preachers preach in a rhythmic style and can captivate their audience.

All these common experiences show that people can be stimulated mentally to act in unusual ways.

I used to know a guy with a deep, sonorous voice which easily charmed me.   He knew how to hypnotize, and also used to be a Foursquare preacher, who was very popular, rising in the ranks, and could have become a famous TV preacher if he wanted to.

But his lifestyle had been full of sin, even in Bible college, and he told me that he faked speaking in tongues for the congregation!  I thought he had since repented, only to find he was probably a sociopath.  This is a real-life example of the danger congregations are in.

Written around 2005/2006

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