Reblog: What happens when you send your N “the letter”

Quote from the Narcissist’s Child:

I have read many reports of the aftermath of sending that heartfelt NC letter that contained a long list of the narcissist’s hurtful behaviours and words. I have never heard of a favourable reaction. Not once have I heard of a narcissistic mother suddenly finding her heart and feeling it squeezed with pain for her suffering child.

What I have heard of…and experienced myself…it receiving a scathing letter in return, full of denial, gaslighting, twisting of the victim’s words, projection, accusations, and outright lies. I have heard of letters full of fauxpologies (“I am sorry you feel that way…”) and verbal attacks, accusations of wrongdoing on the part of the victim, and threats.

I have heard of letters accusing the victim of being mentally incompetent, expressing sorrow and concern for the victim’s children (thinly-veiled threats about the victim’s competence to have custody of those children) and outright threats of ruining the victim’s name in the family and community, even in her workplace.

I have heard of letters in which the NM pretends a breakdown because of the letter, in which she claims to have become emotionally overwrought and her health negatively affected by the cruelty of the victim’s letter.

I have heard of letters in which the NM vows that she will never be shut out and letters in which the NM shuts the victim out. I have heard of virtually anything you can imagine short of promising murder…or making a sincere apology and heartfelt promise to do better.

I didn’t have to deal with N parents, rather N “friends.”  But this is much the same as what happened to me.  In my case, I didn’t actually send a letter, though I did write one intended to be sent to Richard on my death (when his wife Tracy could no longer do anything in retaliation).

See, I thought Richard at least had a heart, that Tracy was the narcissist making him do her bidding.

But I did blog–using changed names–about what happened.  This blog was meant to vent my feelings, work out what happened, and provide a resource for others going through the same thing.

Yeah, well, they found it.  And sent a scathing e-mail which matches everything the above blogger warns of.  You can read it here.

For three years, my Ns have continued to read my blog regularly, yet have never once expressed remorse or admitted to wrongdoing.  And that includes Richard, not just Tracy, telling me that my worst suspicions are true:

That Richard also is a narcissist, not just Tracy.

Now, it has done me some good anyway, because I was able to defend myself to them at last.  I felt stifled from this before.  However, it never got the intended result: their repentance.  (And they claim to be Christians.  You can tell true Christians by their actions.)

Maybe results from such a letter to the N are not as horrific if it’s not your family, or you don’t have a lot of the same friends.  Mine threatened to start coming to my church, but stopped soon after.  I have no idea where they go now, if anywhere.  But if your N has all sorts of connections to your life, I can imagine this being a huge threat:

The fall out was horrific. Family members were lied to. My work place was contacted. I received threats that the letter I wrote would be sent to my friends. I received threats that my children would be contacted and told “what their mother is really like”. Siblings who rely on her financially cut ties. Legal action was threatened. —Anonymous, in a comment

I can’t help wonder if my own Ns threatened me with legal action, accusing me of threatening them with some kind of widespread defamation campaign, NOT because I ever made such a threat, but because that’s what THEY would do.

The blog post is here: What happens when you send your N “the letter” by The Narcissist’s Child

Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge

Should Christians join the Freemasons?  The trouble with a secretive society is that it’s hard to make definite judgments about what it does or teaches.  The Wikipedia article is here.  Still, from what I’ve researched, the charges against the Freemasons are highly exaggerated.

However, various Christian denominations forbid membership in the Freemasons.

What about fraternities and sororities?  Do they come under the common ban on secretive societies?  Should they?

It can be argued that hazing and excessive (often underage) drinking are unChristian, best left alone by the Christian college student.

During my short-lived time pledging a sorority, I was hazed in occasionally humiliating ways, all in the name of “unity.”  (This in a Christian college which forbade hazing.)

How is it unifying for one sister to haze another?  It unified us pledges, but against the actives.

Once, while visiting friends in a sorority living suite, I overheard Sigma frat pledges getting paddled in the Sigma meeting room up above.

And pledges in many such organizations are forced to drink far too much in far too short a time, sometimes resulting in death from alcohol poisoning.

I recommend that Christian students avoid fraternities and sororities which use hazing of any kind, discriminate against non-members, and/or give alcohol to minors.

Here’s one take on the issue from a nondenominational site.

The view of WELS, a very conservative branch of Lutheranism: Membership in Sororities/Fraternities, Organizations: Sororities, Other Lodges

The view of LCMS, which is conservative but less so than WELS: Lodges, Fraternal Organizations and Fraternities, Campus Crusade for Christ, Boy Scouts, Masons

The Orthodox view, which is against Freemasonry but apparently not fraternities/sororities: Masonic Fraternity

The Nazarene view:

We hold specifically that the following practices should be avoided…Membership in oath-bound secret orders or societies.  The quasi-religious nature of such organizations dilutes the Christian’s commitment, and their secrecy contravenes the Christian’s open witness. –p. 46, Manual/1997-2001

 

Written probably in 2006/2007

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

Great news: Walker is out of the race

He’s been at this since long before he officially announced his presidency.  The local papers have been full of accolades from various Republican politicians (even–sniff–Tommy Thompson–et tu?).  I didn’t think he’d drop out so quickly–thought he’d fight (unintimidated) till the bitter end:

Scott Walker drops out of race

Maybe his Koch overlords pulled their support….

Now I no longer fear that he’ll tear apart this country the same way he ripped apart Wisconsin.

Now I just hope we don’t end up with President Clown (ie, Trump).

I mean, seriously?  Donald Trump?  for President?

Every day, I update old posts and pages.  Maybe now I can remove old posts about Walker which were meant to warn the country about him.  🙂

At least half the time, the people I vote for, don’t get elected.  So I have to consider the possibility that a Republican candidate will end up President.

So rather than like SOME people do–crossing party lines during primaries to vote for the worst candidate of the other party so their own party will win–

I hope that the best, not-crazy Republican candidate will be nominated.

It actually brings me joy to discover that I like both candidates in an election.  Especially since our country’s welfare is in the hands of these people we elect.

One down, one crazy to go.

 

 

Epilogue and Apology from My Abuser Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–May 1995, Part 4

Sometime during the next few weeks, I went to Laura’s house with Cugan, and sat down next to a black cat with white patches on her chest and paws.  This cat looked up from her nap and let me pet her while she purred.

Laura saw this cat, Gizu (GEET-soo), took a liking to me, and said, “Want a cat?”

This poor thing was the low cat on the totem pole in this house, and all the other cats beat up on her.  (When I took her away, a different cat took this position.)

She came away from Laura’s with a liking for “beatings” (all the Laura cats had a strange, masochistic streak), but with hatred for other cats and distrust of small children.

When I brought her to Indiana, she was quiet in the car, and took to her new home immediately.  She seemed blissfully happy, with no cats or small children to contend with.

By the beginning of July, I got my insurance clerk job in S–, and new adventures began.  For examples:

Cindy and other Roanoke students worked there with me.  Catherine used to work there, before I did.

I married Cugan (no secret weddings this time).

As I mentioned previously, Phil showed up on my doorstep right before Christmas as Cugan and I packed the car for a visit to Cugan’s family.  My mom and others wondered what he would have done if Cugan weren’t there.  They thought he’d hurt me somehow.  But with Cugan there, he just greeted me and gave me my old D&D character sheets.

Oh, and don’t forget my thoughts as Cugan and I first drove into our new city: Here was a new place with no Peter, Phil, Persephone or Avenger (though I found her again when going on TCB long-distance).

I moved in with Cugan in July 1995, and never moved out again.  So even though we didn’t get married until April 19, 1997, more than two years after we started dating, it feels like we married on July 4, 1995, just four months after we started dating.

On December 9, 1995, I went to a party in my old apartment with my old roommies and other Roanoke friends:

Persephone told me she didn’t realize just how dysfunctional their on-again, off-again relationship was, until her friends started “throwing” new guys at her to get her away from Phil.  They saw how dysfunctional it was before she did, while she was still with him.

She also said that now the girls were staying away from him.

She was surprised I didn’t know that Phil’s brother Dave and his Pearl broke up a long time before.  I recalled Phil saying they’d been fighting just like his parents.

One of the girls at the party, who knew his Pearl, said her friends wondered what Pearl saw in Dave, anyway.  His Pearl wanted nothing to do with Phil, who kept chasing her now that she was free.

There was also another girl at the party, a transfer student, who Pearl declared to be my “replacement” in the group, since I graduated and several of my friends–even in my own class–stayed another year or so.

Ironically, she ended up being my “replacement” for Phil as well, who later dated her, got her pregnant, and married her–but divorced her about 10 or 11 years later, after two kids.

I don’t know the circumstances, just that he claimed on his Classmates.com account that she wasn’t “supportive” of his job in a new city.

In any case, my friends told me various things about Phil and this new girl:

In 1996, they all went to a restaurant one day, she asked to bring a friend, and to their shock, she brought Phil.  She and Phil ended up all alone at their table because nobody else wanted to sit with Phil.

Watching them together was like him and me all over again, but worse, because she’d skip out on sorority meetings and not admit it was for Phil.

It scared them all when I was engaged to him.  Phil had not changed: He yelled at her like they heard him yelling at me.  He wanted his way, only, and that’s it.  He was mean to her.

Cindy considered him a jerk for getting her pregnant, because, since he didn’t believe in birth control, he shouldn’t have been having sex.

Pearl and others tried to talk her out of marriage.  Pearl even sent her a letter about it.

Since this girl was in an abusive relationship before, apparently she thought this one was nice as long as Phil wasn’t hitting her.

I also see through the state’s public access court website that Phil did have some sort of disorderly conduct conviction in the early 2000’s.  There are no details, but there was a victim, and it shows that he was capable of violence.

I met this girl again at another party, given at Mike’s house in February 1996.  She sat beside me on a couch, and talked to me and nearby people about her life story and the places she’d been.

She even said she went to a store with her “friend.  I saw a stuffed rabbit I liked, and he got it for me.”  She thought he was so sweet.

I feared she meant Phil, and really hoped she didn’t.  I felt weird around her, thinking that she had actually gone out with Phil.  Ugh!

I showed off my engagement ring.  Sharon said, “He didn’t give you a bird, did he?” and laughed.

Cindy later told me this girl was so excited to have talked to me, that Phil told her all about me, and talked me up as this wonderful person.  

Cindy felt he did this to control her, by presenting me as so perfect that she felt she had to live up to it.  Cindy said she was also very submissive to him.

I got in touch with Peter and Shawn again.

Shawn used to call on occasion when I first moved in with Cugan; I even invited him to my wedding, though he wasn’t able to come.

He lives just a couple of hours away, but we haven’t seen each other in nearly 20 years.  Once in a great while, we exchange a few e-mails to catch up, though I haven’t heard from him since 2005.

As for Peter, we had both arguments and apologies about new things (religion, mostly).  Peter and I both discovered Goth around the same time.  Now we’re on each other’s Facebook, and once in a while exchange a comment or have a little chat.

As for Phil, on Eastern Orthodoxy’s Forgiveness Sunday in 2007 (February 18), I sent him a message through Classmates.com.  I apologized for giving him a hard time about Catholicism, and also for some things I said in the past which were too harsh.

At the beginning of Lent the next day, he messaged back that he should be the one to apologize: Religion was not really a problem for him, and he said harsher things to me than I said to him.  He said that I and my family were very good to him, but we moved too fast.

He even expressed regret at how things turned out between us, especially now that he was getting divorced.  He said he still wished things went differently and worked out between us.  His mother still told him I was the only girl he should’ve stayed with.

So never give up hoping for an end to bad feelings between people.

How do I think of these things now?  When I’m revising some little bit of my memoirs, I obviously have to channel the old hurt, frustration, etc.  If I don’t, the writing will not resonate as “real.”

But once that’s done–all this again becomes a part of the past.  The hurt, the pain, the embarrassing moments, the desire for revenge–it all belongs in the long-past.

I did not marry Peter, Phil or Shawn; I have had no contact with their families or friends for years; what they did to me once, has nothing to do with my life now.

I might e-mail Peter, Phil or Shawn occasionally, but they’re not a part of my present.

The old angst makes for good stories, and occasionally I can use it when advising somebody who’s going through similar issues.

It’s taken a long time, but I think I may have finally forgiven Peter, Phil and Shawn.

Update 3/29/19: In 2018 and 2019, more information came to light thanks to social media:

I blogged about this here, here, here and here.

Phil’s next, legal marriage, only lasted for about ten years, ending 12 years ago.  In all those years since, he has not remarried–but was about to in July of 2018.  I learned about his new fiancée through Facebook.

But the following August, she revealed that Phil is severely mentally ill.  She said he has Bipolar II, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and other disorders which she did not name.

Her description of him as “wouldn’t hurt a fly,” and her friends’ descriptions of him as this wonderful human being, threw me for a loop because of how he treated me.  But she was beginning to see that “other Phil” that I had known–and said the illnesses were to blame.

They broke up; she said it was a combination of her not wanting to be treated the way the “other Phil” treated her, and him wanting to deal with his mental illnesses on his own.  She said he was on suicide watch.  She was supposed to be there as his friend, but then he “ghosted” her and she felt hurt.

Well, now she has revealed something else.  I’m not sure when she found out about it (November?), but recently she began posting memes about narcissism, liars, and the kind of man who has a string of “soulmates” who they wooed in the same ways with the same words–then tossed aside when they got bored.

(Some time ago, she re-posted a Facebook post he made about her: He listed all the things he loved about her.  The wording was the same as a list he made of all the things he loved about me.)

As she put it, he “checked out” months before August 2018, with “promiscuity” that put her “health at risk.”

So he cheated on her.  (I wonder if he still believes birth control is evil?)  Even this one, could not tame his inner beast.  Even this one, he tired of and threw away.  If she could not, then no one could.  She no longer speaks of his mental illnesses being to blame for his bad behavior.

And I can’t say I’m overly surprised: Remember, this same guy told me he wouldn’t be able to control himself over the summer if I went back home without him, which is one reason why I wanted him to stay with me at my parents’ house.  This guy would praise the physical attributes of every girl he saw out of the house, and every woman he saw on TV inside the house, and say he wanted to take them into the back of his van–then call me possessive or jealous for being upset.  This guy would tell me he wanted a harem, and which girls he wanted in it (including his brother’s fiancée), and then call me jealous.  But when I found myself falling for Mike, Phil became enraged with jealousy and then tried to force me into confessing my little crush to the guy.

If even Doris was not enough for him, then nobody can be.  If even she no longer excuses his behavior because of mental illness, then I have no reason to.  Earlier I wondered if a person with Bipolar and FAS can be excused for abusing and otherwise mistreating another, because that “isn’t really him.”  But it was really him.  It’s not just an illness, but Phil’s character.  Phil is a narcissist and to blame for what he did to me.

It also says that I am not to blame.  I still get little “time bombs” going off in my head when I hear or read something that reminds me of Phil saying I did something bad.  I start thinking, Was I really the one in the wrong?  But this tells me there’s no way I could have brought better treatment on myself from him.  Now there is somebody else, without my input, coming to the conclusion that he is a narcissist.  He hurt somebody else even while she still thought he was wonderful.

Meanwhile, he and his immediate family are estranged.  There have been lawsuits and restraining orders, and a mother who (according to Doris) wanted to keep her son under her thumb, even in middle-age.  I don’t know who’s wrong or right, or even most of the details.  But I see very well what my life would’ve been like if Phil had gone ahead with our planned legal marriage:

Dysfunctional in-laws.  Mother-in-law who Persephone called “Dragon Lady.”  Husband with severe mental illness and narcissism who sleeps around and is abusive.  Best friend of husband who is obnoxious and also husband’s tool.  Husband who can’t hold down a job.  And all this is assuming that we could stay married for long, since he has eventually grown dissatisfied with every woman he’s ever had, even the one he married legally.

So remember: Sometimes that breakup really is for the best, no matter how much you thought you were “soulmates.”

And that’s it for my college memoirs.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

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

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

On Listening to Your Gut (sexual predators, narcissists, abusers, etc.)

On free-range parenting sites (or, as we used to call it, just plain ol’ parenting), you hear a lot about teaching kids to listen to their guts, rather than across-the-board stranger danger.

Because after all, you teach kids to be scared of every stranger, then tell them to be more sociable at a party full of strangers–How is that going to work?

And what about when they need help from the actual predator, and need to speak to a policeman (stranger) or an adult (stranger) walking along the street?

(This has happened to me: A couple of girls came up to me one day as I walked home from work.  They said a man was following them home from school and they needed my protection, so I walked with them until they were safe.)

Instead, the free-rangers say, you teach your child basic safety rules (because you’re not stupid), but also how to listen to his or her gut.  Across-the-board stranger danger just feeds into shyness and anxiety, and keeps a child from getting help when they need it.

From Free Range Kids:

Freely translated from Dutch, the spokesperson of Child Focus says:

“If you teach your children not to talk to strangers, you create a fearful child. They will think that the world is generally a dangerous place with few safe havens.

A child must above all develop self-confidence and inner strength, and it does not happen by repeatedly hearing how dangerous strangers are.

Besides, there are many examples showing that “strange people” do good deeds to children. Just think of those who bring lost children back to their mom and dad on the beach or in a busy shopping center.”

For more on what Free Range Kids writes about stranger danger, see here.

I can see that.  If I didn’t let that old man help me find my way home one day in Kindergarten, I could’ve been hopelessly lost.

Or the time when I really was lost in the city at night, having slipped out while my brother was watching me.  Two people in a car found me and brought me home.  These were neighbors sent by my mother, but I didn’t know them.  If I didn’t trust them, I could’ve fallen prey to somebody far worse.

These were two times when listening to my gut, saved my life.  Safety rules are well and good, but we need more than just rules to keep us safe.

I just read an article about teaching your kids about sexual predators grooming them by gaining their trust.  I can see that, and I have spoken to my son about predators.

But at the same time, the article seemed to heighten anxiety about ANYONE who wants to hug your child.  Is my child supposed to be scared now if a harmless youth leader gains his trust?

Sure predators act kind and caring and gain trust, but so do perfectly innocent people who truly care.  I’ve had plenty of teachers and youth leaders who cared about me, who gained my trust, and became trusted mentors.  They NEVER harmed me.

There has to be a balance.  Our kids need to be able to tell the difference between a predator and an innocent person.  Along with telling them basic safety rules, and to not be scared of telling on a violator, we need to encourage them to listen to their guts.

But we also need this as adults.  As adults, we seem to go the opposite direction: telling ourselves not to be judgmental, so we don’t listen to our guts.

It also reminded me of Richard, when he stayed in my house by himself while homeless: I was never much of a hugger or into physical touch with most people, though I would give hugs when asked for.  But Richard began breaking down my reserve with little touches here and there, until finally he was giving me long, affectionate hugs.

Meanwhile, he also gained my trust, overwhelmed me with attention, made me feel I had finally found a best friend for life.  I was shy, quiet, and desperately lonely for friendship, because I was far from family and college friends, and have NVLD.  I was easily led.  He gained my husband’s trust, too.

If I hadn’t finally confronted him about it one evening, I wonder how far he would’ve taken this.  But he assured me that it was all meant purely in friendship, nothing more, and made me believe that people do this where he came from.

But if that’s true, then why did his wife, Tracy, become so furious when she found out about it?  She came from the same place he did!

Meanwhile, I know another guy who does the same thing, but in full view of his wife, who laughs.  Richard did this when he and I were all alone.

The more I thought about it over the past five years, the more it seemed that Richard was grooming me in the same fashion as a predator.  The same as the person who runs this website, who writes that her former pastor tried to groom her into adultery.  You’ll also note that Richard weaseled his way into my pocketbook as well, yet his financial situation never seemed to improve the entire time I knew him.

I can give another example of NOT listening to my gut, and the trouble it caused: Richard’s wife Tracy, who is very abusive and most likely has borderline and/or narcissistic personality disorder.  (I’m told that her mother has borderline and split-personality disorders.)

I got little hints before I met her–just knowing her from a web forum–that she was not the kind of person I should spend much time around.  She was very volatile and would go off on people on the forum.  Then she moved into my house, and I got to see firsthand what kind of person she is: Screaming tirades at people online, her ex, her kids, her husband….

My gut was SCREAMING at me that I should not be friends with her.  Yet she and Richard both tried to force me–through shaming, punishment, withholding, all sorts of things–to be not just friendly, but best buds with her.

Well, it all ended in tears, after years of her emotional abuse and mean-girl snarks, and then finally all-out verbal abuse and even stalking.  It has taken me years to recover from this trauma.

But then I can tell you another time when I DID listen to my gut, and things turned out well: As I told my son, when I was a little girl, a middle-aged man at my church kept wanting to hug me.

I didn’t even know him, which is probably why I felt weird about this, did not like him, did not want to be near him.  Eventually, he and his wife stopped going to my church.

To this day I don’t know if he really was a predator.  But you know why that is?  Because I listened to my gut and didn’t get too close.  So he never had a chance to DO anything.

But I also hugged and cuddled with Richard’s little girls all the time.  But then, they knew me.

Also, just last night I read about an archbishop who often visited little children at an African mission school; he’d open his arms and they’d rush for his hugs.  The writer saw this as an example of his huge heart.

So just wanting to hug a child, doesn’t make you a predator.  But I had a feeling about that guy at church.

I knew that neighbor was harmless.  I knew that old man was harmless.  I did not know if that guy at church was harmless.

I knew Tracy was harmful, but was forced to ignore my gut, so horrible things happened.

The gut is our friend, whether dealing with sexual predators or domestic abusers or con men or whatever the case may be.  It tells us things even when we try to rationalize them away.

People can argue over stranger danger and safety rules, or whether we should be suspicious of everyone who hugs children and gains their trust, but one thing is for sure:

We need to respect the gut.

 

 

My religion being used to justify hatred–Offends Me

I hear about Kim Davis claiming “religious” reasons for denying people their civil rights.

THIS VERY SAME THING HAPPENED 50 YEARS AGO WHEN BLACKS AND WHITES WERE GIVEN THE LEGAL RIGHT TO MARRY EACH OTHER.  There was huge pushback, and clerks who refused to give them licenses.  They defended this as their religious objection to the law.

Their religious objections are well-known to me, because some people believed the same in the church where I grew up: Basically, they are based on a misreading of a passage in the Old Testament.

God told the Jews not to marry people in the surrounding nations.  This was because the surrounding nations held religious beliefs which the Israelites opposed fiercely, and God did not want them bringing these beliefs into Israel, where–time and time again–it led to the Israelites worshipping other gods.  The surrounding nations, by the way, were often related to the Israelites, so hardly a different race.

This verse was about mixing religion, NOT race, but many base their religious opposition to racial mixing on this verse.

Many people/clerks were against issuing marriage licenses to interracial couples for this reason.  Would we defend these clerks now?

IT IS NOT DENYING US RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TO GIVE CIVIL RIGHTS TO ANOTHER GROUP WHICH IS NOT US.

IT IS, HOWEVER, DENYING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TO DENY ANOTHER GROUP THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS BECAUSE YOU HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS.

A great many people, Christian and non-Christian, do not believe there is anything sinful about homosexuals wanting to marry.  Whether this is because of religious beliefs or lack of, that is still religious freedom.

Trying to take away this right again, is denying religious freedom to those who believe gay marriage is not a sin.

It is against my beliefs for someone to leave his or her spouse in poverty, ignore his children by that spouse, and marry someone else.  But if I were a county clerk, I would still issue that person a marriage license, if they have no legal reason not to marry.

I hear people railing against the Supreme Court for realizing that there is NO REASON for homosexuals to be denied the right to marry the ones they love, too.  There is nothing perverted about wanting to set up a lifelong household with the one you love!  If you don’t want to marry someone your own sex, then this doesn’t affect you.

I hear people saying their religious rights are being eroded.  Er…Your rights have not been touched!  Giving more rights to other groups, DOES NOT take yours away.  Does it take away from the love you have for one child, to love your other children?  No, your love is multiplied.  Rights work the same way.

I hear people comparing Kim Davis to someone refusing to send Jews to death camps.

My husband–a CONSERVATIVE, by the way, both religiously and politically–has been okay for years with homosexuals being allowed to marry legally.  He said, If you can’t tell the difference between giving a gay couple a marriage license and sending Jews to death camps, that’s a problem.

Then I read in the latest newsletter for my archdiocese, a statement accusing the Supreme Court of eroding religious freedom and “inventing” a civil right where none existed.  Of violating God’s laws.  This or another recent newsletter also railed against cities extending anti-discrimination rights to transgendered people, which my city rejected recently.  (Also see here.)

NO!  NO!  NO!

Meanwhile, there is something far more pressing for the Church to deal with: large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees.

My religion is being turned, yet again, into a bludgeon for those who disagree.

This is supposed to be a land of religious freedom, NOT a theocracy.

Then the response is, I have to deal with people who rail against Christianity and think it’s a religion of hate, so they hate ME, too.  I have dealt with many such people, both in real life and online, who have turned into bullies against the group of people they accuse of being bullies.

This is NOT what Christianity is about.  This is:

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.–Isaiah 1:17

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.–James 1:26-27

The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.–Deut. 14:29

 

Abram’s Daughters: Series by Beverly Lewis

Because I have reviewed Christian books which are extremely popular but extremely bad (This Present Darkness and the Left Behind series), it’s time to balance that out with Christian books which are both popular AND good.

I have just spent my summer reading all five books in the Abram’s Daughter series by Beverly Lewis:

The Covenant

The Betrayal

The Sacrifice

The Prodigal

The Revelation

For maybe 10 years, the first two books sat in my unread-book bin, waiting for their turn.  I bought them to finish out my obligation to one of those Christian book-of-the-month clubs, because I cancelled a bunch of book clubs and magazines all at once to save money.

But I have had a large pile of to-read books for nearly 20 years, the individual books changing but the backlog seeming never to go down, despite constantly reading.  These two books were set aside, along with many others.

Then, finally, I decided it was about time I read the books which keep getting set aside.  Next came the first two books of this series.

To think I ignored them for so long!  Before I even finished the first book, I decided my birthday money this year would pay for the last three in the series, because I just had to see this story to the end.

This fascinating, well-written series kept me engrossed all the way through: These Amish girls live quite the soap opera!  Babies out of wedlock, love triangles, miscommunications, a non-Amish doctor whose decision has far-reaching consequences….

Meanwhile, the characters learn what their actions lead to, and how to repent and forgive.

You don’t know what will happen next; just as you think it’ll turn out one way, it veers another way.  Some Amazon reviewers say it’s predictable, but I have no clue what they’re talking about, because I was surprised by each revealed secret (except for the very last one in the last book).

Though most of the passages are in third-person, when we read the perspective of an Amish character, the “voice” is colloquial, with words and phrases such as “wonderful-good (or gut),” “perty” or “beat the band.”  Lewis grew up in Amish country with Amish ancestry, so she can bring in that local color.

One reviewer on the Amazon page for “Covenant” seems to think that the dialect and multiple points of view are “challenges” for the reader.  Say what?  Don’t insult the reader!

I understood the dialect easily, and it provides a rich “flavor” to the books.  Is everyone supposed to talk like 21st-century non-Amish Americans to be understood?

I had no problem whatsoever with the multiple points of view.  They are done properly: Each section has limited point-of-view, and you can easily tell when it changes.  This is a perfectly acceptable means of writing a book.

Do note that the characters have old-fashioned values, including a patriarchal system which expects women to cook, clean, get married, and obey their husbands.  But it is appropriate, because these are mostly Amish characters, and the time period is 1940s-1960s.  So even the non-Amish characters hold to such values.

This also means that, at times, the Amish characters consider things moral that we would be horrified at, such as, telling your friend’s secret sin to the community.

But I tamped down my feminist side in deference to historical and cultural authenticity.  Thousands of years of recorded history show us that it’s much harder to break out of the system you were raised in and believe differently, than it is to just believe this is the correct way.  It’s better than when modern writers put modern, anachronistic attitudes onto characters in past eras.

This was also before the feminist revolution of the 60s and 70s.  To these characters, the fashions of the 1940s and Big Band music were already “wild” and “sinful” enough.  And even in the ’90s, many girls of my more liberated generation still saw getting married and having a family as necessary for happiness.  I hear that this has changed, but we can’t expect these characters of the olden days to feel differently.

However, I couldn’t quite figure out why some of the Amish characters are so focused on “saving” other Amish characters.  These are already Christian believers, so I’m not quite sure what they’re being saved from, or why we’re told they haven’t “found the Lord.”  I do agree with other reviewers that sometimes the preaching gets a bit heavy-handed.  This looks like one of those anachronistic attitudes I complain about in modern literature/movies/TV, only instead of modern attitudes, the anachronism is Protestant Evangelical doctrine.

I also had trouble with the treatment of the girl who gets pregnant by a deceitful, non-Amish boy–like she’s overly shamed for having sex outside of marriage–and by the author.  Her sister seems overly hard on her for it.  But while it’s one thing for the characters to behave self-righteously and think they’re doing right, following the beliefs of their era–the author also seems to agree that they’re acting properly: I got the impression that she has to be the “bad” girl in every way, not just making a mistake but also having an undesirable personality, up until she repents.

But altogether, I recommend this series.  I have spent many delightful hours reading it this summer.

[9/6/15]

 

 

%d bloggers like this: