Month: June 2013

“The Rising”: Left Behind Review

The Rising by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0842361936, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

Now we get into the prequels of the Left Behind series.  I’m getting rather tired of the series, having been reading/reviewing them since 2008–but the first prequel actually held my interest.  Well, mostly; some parts dragged.

But the story of the Antichrist’s parents, and how his mother (Marilena) was first accepted by Satan’s minion (Viv Ivins) and then rejected in a horrible fashion, is fascinating.  It’s a psychological thriller.  Why couldn’t all the books have been like this one?

There are two stories going at once: Alongside the story of Nicolae’s birth and path to adulthood, is the story of Rayford Steele’s childhood, adolescence and college years.  While Marilena’s story gets more and more intriguing, Rayford’s story is the less-interesting bit which you want to wave aside to get to the good part.

But then Marilena’s story ends, and Rayford–a college kid–gets caught up in a bad relationship while confiding in Irene (his future wife).  Then it finally gets interesting, with a love triangle.

I do have a few quibbles:

On page 33, 9-year-old Rayford has dinner at a friend’s house.  His friend’s father asks him to say grace.  Ray says the prayer every child says: “God is great; God is good.  Now we thank Him for our food. Amen.”

Perfectly normal, right?  But the other kids all laugh at it.

They laugh?!

Even their father finds something wrong with this prayer, saying,

Is that how your father prays over a meal?  I mean, I’m just curious.  It’s a child’s prayer.  Uh, you’re a child, but you’re becoming a man.

YES!  He’s a frickin’ 9-year-old CHILD!  My thoughts echo Ray’s: “What in the world was it with these people?”

Ray asks if they want him to pray like his father; they do; so he says, “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.  Amen.”

But even that common prayer does not satisfy them: “Ray got the impression that Bobby and his parents were again amused but had decided not to humiliate him further.”

Ray certainly does not want to recite his bedtime prayer in front of them, the classic “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

I’m not entirely sure if we’re supposed to sympathize with Rayford about this wacky, rude family who picks his common, classic prayers apart (showing why he rejected fundamentalist Christianity), or with the wacky family dealing with such a “badly-trained” child.

But it’s clear that the wacky family considers Ray to be “badly-trained” and spiritually lacking because he prays these same prayers which *I* prayed every single frickin’ day until my adulthood, in a fundamentalist Christian family which made sure I was trained properly.

Prayers which I have taught my son and which he still prays at 9 years old.

I don’t do the “truly thankful” prayer, but I’ve heard it often, and I can’t fathom why this family has a problem with it–or what on earth kind of prayers would satisfy them.  We never do hear the family’s version of a “proper” prayer.

But this dinnertime humiliation is not enough: The boy of the family, Bobby, badgers Ray about his prayers later on, too, saying, “That’s how you pray at your house, eh?…And it’s those made-up, rhyming prayers?”  Yes, and that’s probably how the kids pray at most other Christian houses, too!

Then Bobby starts getting after Ray, saying that if he doesn’t do the Sinner’s Prayer he’s not actually a Christian–the usual thing which is used to beat Catholics/Lutherans/Episcopalians over the head with how they’re not really Christians, even though they’ve been raised in the church, baptized, confirmed, and truly believe in Christ.

On page 47, we go the other way.  Ray tells his parents what happened, and his dad jumps right to,

Holy Rollers.  Wouldn’t surprise me if they were snake handlers….Some people, some churches, just take everything a little too far.

They take every word of the Bible literally, believe Jesus has to crawl inside you, that you have to bathe in His blood.  If the Bible says you can handle poisonous snakes if you trust the Lord, they do it just to prove the point.

Okay….So now we jump from wacky family who ridicules a child for saying a child’s prayer, to knee-jerk dad who thinks every fundamentalist is a snake-handler.  It’s no wonder Ray turned away from religion, only going back to church for the sake of his own children.

I hope this is the point the authors are trying to make, that we are supposed to see the wacky family as overzealous.  That we aren’t supposed to think they were right to be overzealous and ridicule a 9-year-old’s prayers.

On page 339, when Irene and Rayford are engaged, he wants sex but she doesn’t before their wedding, even though it’s a while yet until they plan to marry.

She’s not a virgin, but she’s also not a Christian, so it’s not clear why she wants to wait so long–except, of course, to make them act like Christians without actually being Christians, the same as with Buck, the 30-year-old man-of-the-world who was also a virgin before becoming a Christian.

Her only explanation is that she wants to wait.  Keep in mind this is set in our future, not in the 1950s, so the sexual revolution and acceptance of premarital sex would have long since happened.  For Irene to be so steadfast for so long without a well-defined moral reason, especially when she’s had sex before, is not realistic or believable.  After all, once you’ve had it, you begin to crave it if you don’t have it again for a while.

So when she continues to resist–and won’t even go beyond the occasional hug or peck on the cheek–heck, she won’t even hold his hand!–you have to wonder if she’s not actually attracted to him.  Is she secretly gay?  No, in the future, it’ll be okay to be gay.  Maybe she’s just as much a gold-digger as Ray’s ex-girlfriend, then.  It seems like the author wants Irene to be a Christian before she even becomes a Christian!

On page 342, we discover that Rayford’s parents “Having married late and waiting to have Rayford, his parents were already pushing seventy”–Considering that Rayford and Irene married in the spring of Rayford’s senior year of college, and the ages of the parents were “pushing seventy” within a year of the wedding, they had Rayford when they were both around fifty–HOW?  The authors are aware of the normal age of menopause, right?

On to the next book!  Just three left!


Links to help for abusive friendships

There’s plenty of help out there for abusive romantic relationships, but what about friendships?  Here are some links:

Friends with a Narcissist

What makes a friendship abusive?

Coping with a verbally abusive friend

Joyful Alive Woman’s “My 32-year friendship with H – A Woman with Early Narcissistic Injury and Many Narcissistic Traits”

Scroll down to ‘A “Christian” Abuser in Action’

I have had two abusive friendships.  The first was Shawn; story here.  The second was Richard and Tracy; story here (summary, which leads to the book-length version if you are so inclined).

Shawn and I eventually came to peace, but Richard and Tracy have been stalking me for the past year; you can follow the stalking story starting here, and especially here.

I Have Won this Game with the Narcissists

I have watched vigilantly, but there has been no sign of my narcissists on this new version of my blog.  They haven’t even bothered to use other computers/wireless connections.

They were obsessed with checking my blog at least once a week for some ten months, often more than that if they felt particularly vindictive, and getting around any blockers I put up, defying me every time I told them to go away, by checking even more often.

I saw them read the post that I had moved to Wordpress; I even saw in their search terms that they tried to find my new blog, but ended up back on Blogger.  But they have not made it over.

I changed some of my blockers so they were still powerfully blocked, but I could see if they’re still trying to come in; there is no sign of them.

I have won this game.  They threatened a lawsuit but I did not give in; I did everything I said I would, and kept the blog up; the lawsuit never came.

They are gone from my blog.  My mind is strengthening against them.  My body is getting stronger as I push its endurance and lift weights.

Maybe this is why they checked my church’s service schedule this week: They want to put a fright into me again, since the blog no longer works for them.  I do admit to fear and trepidation as my next service looms closer, just 10 more hours away.  But I have to force it down and go anyway.  I have to ignore them.

Tina Swithin had her own encounter with her narc ex recently: He had moved far away, which was great for her, but moved back again recently.  He has been showing up everywhere she does.  She wrote,

2. Tuesday morning I dropped the girls off at school and headed to the coffee shop where I work while the girls are in school. I swung the door open and there he was perched at a table reading the newspaper.

My heart started pounding and I turned and fled to my car. I was angry at myself for my reaction. Why did I let him do this to me?

This morning, I decided that I would not let his presence affect my life. I plan to go to my coffee shop and work just as I always have.  He should be the one who feels uncomfortable, not me. —Seth is Back

She “gets it.”  But she is also fighting back.  Narcs want to control us, for their amusement; let’s not let them.

[Update 6/1/15: My stalkers did not come to my church’s service after all.  This was only a temporary respite from them on my blog, but there has been no more trouble from them, no more threats, no more nasty messages–and no more sign of them at church.  They are in town, but I don’t see them around.  Seeing them in my stats also has not bothered me for ages.  So I still say I “won.”]

An Awesome Resource for those who suffer from narcissists in the church

Grace for my Heart by Pastor David Orrison–someone who “gets it.”

For example:

I think narcissistic friendships are weird. Because they don’t have the structure of marriage or family or work, these friendships seem to be in constant flux. I hear this regularly.

At one time the relationship is very close, very dependent, almost intimate, and the next time the N is distant and uncaring. I suspect this is because the N must really play the game in a friendship.

A dating relationship has certain expectations and can lead to commitment. A marriage is a firm commitment. Families are families and work is work.

In these relationships it is much easier for the N to abuse because the victim/supply is stuck. It takes courage and willpower to break off the relationship. Most of the time, the N finds ways to drain the willpower away.

But a friendship means that the N has to use his/her ability to manipulate a person’s thinking and emotions. The friend can simply walk away.

So the N has to try to bind the friend using whatever weaknesses or openings the person reveals.

This is why Ns often seem to easy to talk to. They learn your secrets. It is why some present themselves as victims in pain. They appeal to your compassion. Whatever it takes to break through your normal defenses and get you committed to them.

Those of us on the outside look at a story like yours and wonder why you would ever continue such a relationship. It seems easy and obvious to us.

But inside the relationship, the N has twisted your thinking and made you doubt yourself. The abuse you suffer is your own fault, you think. The difficulty of the connection is because of you, you think.

This is the skill of the N, mind games. —Comment by the author on Friends with a Narcissist

Yes, this is EXACTLY how it was with Richard.


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

My 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.

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.]