Review of If Souls Can Sleep by David Michael Williams

One of our local writers has recently published If Souls Can Sleep.  From the book description:

First he lost his daughter. His mind may be next.

After years of being haunted by the day his little girl drowned, Vincent faces a new nightmare — one that reaches into the real world and beyond the grave.

If Souls Can Sleep introduces a hidden world where gifted individuals possess the power to invade the dreams of others. Two rival factions have transformed the dreamscape into a war zone where all reality is relative and even the dead can’t rest in peace.

More information on the book is here and here.

From the press release:

The 350-page paperback captures elements of science fiction, fantasy, suspense, and metafiction, covering such disparate topics as Norse mythology and neuroscience.

 

“After years of focusing exclusively on sword-and-sorcery fantasy, as both a writer and a reader, I made it my goal to write something very different. I wanted to create a book I had never read before, something very unusual and unique,” Williams said.

 

“It was time to take a risk,” he added.

 

While categorizing “If Souls Can Sleep” can be tricky, Williams sees the mashup of genres as a strength because the story has something for readers of many backgrounds. He describes the narrative as complex yet accessible, peculiar yet relatable.

 

“This book has no shortage of paradoxes. I tried to break the rules without ending up with a broken story,” Williams said. “Fortunately, early feedback suggests the experiment was successful.”

 

“If Souls Can Sleep” will be published through Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, on Jan. 30. The book is currently available for preorder as a paperback at Amazon.com and as an e-book through the Kindle Store. Other e-book formats will follow at various online retailers starting in May.

 

“If Souls Can Sleep” serves as the first book of The Soul Sleep Cycle. The sequel, “If Sin Dwells Deep,” is scheduled for a fall 2018 release, with a third installment, “If Dreams Can Die,” slated for spring 2019.

 

Williams is also the author of The Renegade Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy comprised of “Rebels and Fools,” “Heroes and Liars,” and “Martyrs and Monsters.” He is a 1999 graduate of UW-Fond du Lac and a 2001 graduate of UW-Milwaukee, where he studied creative writing. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin, one of the state’s oldest writing collectives, in 2005.

 

His website, https://david-michael-williams.com, features a blog about his fiction and the craft of writing.

Publishers were interested, but couldn’t figure out how to classify the book to sell it, because of the genre-bending.  But if that’s so, then the market must have gotten too restrictive over the years: I’d say “sci-fi/fantasy” works fine.

Also, don’t be scared off by its being self-published.  This book is professionally done, well-written and well-edited (though it could have used one more run-through).  It reads quickly and holds the reader’s attention all the way through.  The characters are well-rounded.  And the concept–Who hasn’t wanted to explore the dreamscape as if it were more than just visions in our own heads, as if we could go there to visit friends and even departed loved ones?

Reading over some reviews–One person found it hard to get into at first, but I was pulled right in.  Maybe it depends on what you’re into.

Details on how to buy the book are here.  And yes, there will be more books later: It’s the beginning of a series.

 

Advice columnist says: No, you don’t have to join your spouse in abusing others

What to do if your wife is abusing someone you love?  I’ve written about this myself, years ago, in my story about being abused by a narcissistic couple:

Just as obeying our parents is good except if they command us to do evil, the same is true with sticking up for our spouses.  While it is good and right to stick up for our spouses and stand by them, if our spouse is doing or saying something abusive or evil to anyone, then it would be evil for us to stick up for them and stand by them.

This means you, too, Richard: It was evil for you to allow your wife’s evil treatment of me, and you became its participant. —Bullying an Introvert and Probable NVLDer, written 7 or 8 years ago

And I wasn’t the only one Richard helped Tracy to abuse.  He did the same to his own friend Todd, story here.  And yes, Todd also dropped the “friendship” after that, so eventually we were able to console each other on being put through the same crap from the same couple.

Recently, Carolyn Hax got a letter on the subject, in this case a man whose wife has been verbally abusing his family.  He feels torn, wondering if the marriage contract means he’s duty bound to pair up with his wife and help her abuse his own family.  Hax says heck no.  Some quotes:

You need to protect your family of origin from your wife. Preferably in the moment, not after the fact. Wow. If I could, I’d demand that you “step in and defend” your sister, with your wife in the room.

 

Is your wife as abusive to you as she is to your family?

This is yet more validation for my own feelings on the matter, how I was treated by that n-couple.  It is also helpful for anyone in this situation.

You can find the column here.  You can also find it on the Washington Post website, but I don’t have a link because the paywall prevents me from going there often.

 

“Betty, Girl Engineer” and 1950s sexism: Repost from 2016

In general, I love the old 50s sitcom Father Knows Best.  It’s funny, and it even pushes the boundaries at times, such as one episode which addressed prejudice against Latinos, and another which showed Betty fending off a date who felt entitled to get more from her than she wanted to give.

But occasionally, it gets on my nerves with the old sexism.  For example, Father joking about Mother’s “womanly” manipulations to get what she wants, because apparently she’s not supposed to just come out and ask.

Though if you watch other media from that time period, such as movies or sitcoms, you soon discover that not all the women portrayed behaved like this.

For example, on Donna Reed, Mrs. Stone is very much against women using manipulation to get what they want.  She comes out and asks her husband for things.

The wife on Make Room for Daddy is a housewife, and occasionally submissive, but she can also be very fiery and fights back when she thinks her husband is unfair.  She and other wives also feel threatened by a new Asian bride, because they fear their husbands will expect them to wait on them hand and foot.  They soon learn that the bride is the way she wants to be, and that their husbands like them the way they are.

Alice Kramden does not strike me as the kind of person who would use feminine wiles for anything.  She’s not submissive at all.

Zelda Gilroy decides that she’ll have to be the one to work, because she’s brilliant, while Dobie Gillis is just plain lazy.

Of course, Lucy Ricardo is the epitome of manipulative and scheming females, though–in a crossover episode of Make Room for Daddy–we discover that Ricky won’t have her any other way.

As for how real women acted, I bet there were as many differences back then as there are today.  The women in the media are “types,” some more real, some more idealized.

Back to Father Knows Best.  In one episode, tomboy Kathy learns to become a Proper Girl (TM) because that’s the only way boys will want to date her.  She learns how to manipulate because that’s what girls do.

In one of the last episodes, Betty, the oldest and almost done with college, applies for a job; a young man also applying, shames her for trying to take away a job he needs for his career.  (Maybe she needs it too!)  In the end, she decides what she really wants is to be a bride, not the job.

Last night, I saw “Betty, Girl Engineer,” which I also saw back in high school.  Yeah, it annoyed me then, too, but I forgot what all happened.  Last night refreshed my memory.

A good summary is in this blog post by Shereen.  Basically, Betty goes through aptitude tests at school which show that she’d be good at engineering.  She comes home, all excited about this career choice.

But everyone at home laughs at her, like this is just one of Betty’s silly little whims, because girls don’t belong in engineering.  Father even chides her for thinking she can handle higher math such as algebra and trigonometry.

She signs up for a work-study position surveying, but is shamed out of it by the supervisor.  However, instead of telling everyone where they can stick it, and following her dreams, she succumbs to the brainwashing, puts on a dress, and the chauvinist pig supervisor becomes the latest in her long string of boyfriends.  Father even encourages the chauvinist pig to lecture Betty out of her silly dreams (since apparently girls need to be taught by men what to think).  She ditches her silly whim of being an engineer, and becomes a Proper Girl (TM).

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Over on the IMDB page on this sitcom, somebody brought up sexism in the show, but got shamed by everyone else for complaining about it.

[Update 6/14/17: The forum page appears to have been removed from the site, so the link no longer works.  However, someone posted a review of the episode the same time I posted mine here.  Read the other review here.]

Apparently, from the comments I read in that thread, if it happened 50 years ago, you aren’t supposed to look at it with a “modern lens,” but just accept it as “the way it was.”  And apparently, old shows are much better than godless modern ones which present fathers as goofballs etc. etc.

Hm.  So, then, when I read, say,

The Sun Also Rises and everybody rips on Cohn for being Jewish, or

The Great Gatsby where they see a couple of rich young black men and dismiss them as a couple of uppity “bucks,” or

Trilby with all the author’s prejudice against Jews, which he clearly states and then throws into the slimy character of Svengali, or

–any old book or movie in which blacks are dismissed as simple-minded,

I’m supposed to just say, “Oh, that was another time and it would be wrong for me to look at it from the lens of our modern times.”

Hm.  I’ve been critiquing various forms of media all my life for sexism, racism, and the like, without feeling I was being unfair just because it was written/filmed a long time ago.

What about the people who lived in those times and had to suffer from the sexism and racism which was so acceptable back then but not now?

If women in the 50s were perfectly happy being housewives and not following their silly, childish dreams of becoming engineers/scientists/etc., then why did we have the feminist movement just a short time later?  Why did so many women in the 60s and 70s sound so unhappy with their lot?  Yes, many women did and do want to be housewives, but many don’t.

Even back then, there were women who wanted careers.  Women weren’t just perfectly content to follow one path until Gloria Steinem came along and convinced them otherwise.  No, this was percolating for a long time.

For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that she helped Pa out in the fields, and didn’t just help Ma in the house.  She also wrote that she refused to say the word “obey” when she married Almanzo in the 1800s, and he said no decent man would want her to.

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman way back in 1792, arguing that women were only overly emotional because they weren’t given proper education or opportunities for careers.

George Sand–a woman who took a man’s pen name to be taken seriously–was certainly no conventional housewife.

In Jane Eyre, we find this passage:

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.

Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot.  Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth.

Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a constraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.

It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex (p. 129).

My Honor’s thesis in college was about women writers of Victorian times wanting to break out of society’s restrictions on them.  It was titled “I’ve Stopped Being Theirs,” a line by Emily Dickinson, whose poetry revealed an intense desire to decide her own fate.

While researching, I discovered that even Little Women seemed to be Louisa May Alcott’s ironic attempt to whitewash reality with what society said women “should” be.  Her own family was nothing like the Marches, and she was more like Jo, yet she–like Jo–was told by others how she “should” act.

(Maybe I should pull out that old thesis and post it here?  Of course, it’s quite long, because that’s required of theses.  I may have to chop it up and edit it.  But it was good enough to get an A and be filed in the school library as an example for others!  😀 )

In fact, I wrote this thesis–and became a feminist–after my experiences with a very sexist ex, Phil, who tried to force me into an old-fashioned, submissive role, even while chiding me for wanting to be a housewife.  (Doesn’t make sense, I know.  But also demonstrates why my feminism is NOT the kind which tells women they should not be housewives.  On the contrary, I believe in letting women decide for themselves.)

Also, in the early decades of the 20th century, women were already starting to break out of society’s restrictions: women doctors, women scientists, women journalists.  Remember Marie Curie?  In fact, when the Nazis took over in Germany, they forced not just Jews but many women out of their jobs, because they thought women should just be housewives.  (Their preaching on this turned around and bit them on the butt later, when the women were too content being housewives to want to help the war effort.)

It has been common for decades to hear about the “idyllic” 1950s.  That everyone was religious and everyone knew his/her place and was happy.  But if that were true, then where did the unrest of the 1960s come from?  If life were perfect, then who but an idiot would want to turn everything upside-down?  Why were there riots?  Why were there marches and protests?  Where did the feminism come from?

No, that feminism didn’t start in the 1960s.  It started centuries earlier.

Instead of looking at this as, “You can’t judge a 1950s show with your modern lens,” how about we say, “Yes, this is an example of the rampant sexism that inspired women to rebel in the 60s and 70s.  This is how tough our mothers/grandmothers had it.  Look what they had to fight against!  Let’s appreciate what they went through.”

Also see:

 

Oh, what a shame: Repost from 2017

We had to cut down a cedar bush-tree in our yard.  It was tall and big and a favorite of all sorts of birds.  A flock of finches has been gathering there for weeks, chattering away and pooping all over.  I put out leftover bread, they swoop in and pounce on it.

But the trunk was rotting away, putting the house, garage, etc. at risk.  And the condo association wants to replace the fence; the tree was in the way.  Certainly good reasons to get rid of it.

But now they just finished cutting it down, I looked out there, and–

I feel so exposed.  😛  I’m used to the big bush-tree hiding us from the neighbors.

Ah, bush-tree, I will miss you.

And now I expect the flock of finches to give us the stink eye.

Richard’s past in the Mafia–and his plot to kill the apartment manager: Repost from 2010

I knew bits and pieces of Richard’s past, which I thought were all behind him now, tamped down by religion.  But other things came out that showed his own violent streak, appalling ideas of what is “justified” behavior in certain situations, things that violated Christian principles, violent things that made my hair stand on end.

One thing was, that if his wife ever cheated on him, it was okay for him to assault the guy.  We watched The Apostle, during which Richard said that if his wife cheated on him, he’d take a baseball bat to the guy just like Sonny did.  This statement chilled me to the bone, and I told him he should never do such a horrible thing.

Another time, we were chatting on the phone and he made comments to the effect of, if he found his wife in bed with another guy it would be okay to commit murder.

I was amazed that a pious Orthodox Christian who wanted to be a priest, would say such incredibly wrong things.

According to the Annies in their March 11, 2011 column, threatening to kill guys who sleep with your wife is controlling and manipulative.

Also note what the Highlander said about this issue in the sixth-season episode “Justice”: A man (Armando) killed his wife and her lover after finding them in bed together.  The wife, Elena, was the adopted daughter of an Immortal, Katya, who now wants revenge because Armando was acquitted at his trial.

Duncan says to Katya, “Killing’s not the answer….The emptiness you feel won’t be filled by anger.  Or revenge, or hate.  Armando’s death will just leave you feeling emptier.”

In another scene, when Armando says he loved Elena, Duncan says, “So much that you killed her?”

Armando says, “You weren’t there.  You didn’t see them!  Castillo was my protege.  He was like a brother to me.  With my wife.”

Duncan says, “So they had to die because you got your feelings hurt.”

Armando: “No.  There was no thought.  No plan.  The courts understood.  It was a crime of passion.”

Duncan: “It was murder.  And you beat it.”

This episode may be fiction, but the lesson it teaches is real: Crimes of passion are still crimes, still murder.  And no one has that right, not even a wronged husband.

This is what Orthodoxy teaches.  Anyone who claims such a right has no right to be an Orthodox mentor, whether as a spiritual father, informal mentor and friend, or priest.

There were a lot of revelations the first couple of weeks of June 2009.  On June 1, I learned about the hypnotism.  A little more than a week later, we had the revealing talks that both shocked me and (I thought) fixed everything.

In the middle, on June 5, I learned that, some 20 years ago, Richard’s girlfriend and best friends were in Mafia families which smuggled jewels.  They made him their “goomba.” 

He hung around with goombas, or thugs, who witnessed and spotted while somebody retrieved stolen items or got information “in a not-so-friendly way.”

The Russian and Italian mobsters had nicknames for him, which I won’t name here for safety reasons.

Since it involved jewels, not drugs, he felt he did nothing criminal–or which should be criminal, according to the Constitution and free market principles.  He never “killed” anyone while doing this goomba stuff.  

He ran these jewels between L.A. and Las Vegas.

Not only that, but he openly and freely shared it, did not see it as a secret.  He was surprised I didn’t already know about it.

He didn’t seem at all repentant about helping the Mafia

The Mafia! 

Dangerous people, the kind who would kill a toddler!  Especially being involved with them as a Christian:

In Sicily, the birthplace of Mr. Rizzuto’s Mafia, some Church leaders have called for a tough stand. This summer, Bishop Antonino Raspanti said convicted mobsters would be refused a funeral, declaring:

“Being a Christian is incompatible with having links to Mafia organizations.” —National Post

Richard justified it by saying his mother knew about it and didn’t seem to care, he did this while at Bible college (!), and he did worse things when he worked for the government.  He said Clinton’s government did terrible things that nobody knows about (which I won’t divulge here without proof other than his word for it).

But there were these hints at illegal activities when he was a Mafia thug, and it didn’t sound so harmless to me.

All this was in an IRC conversation, most of which I printed (the first part, unfortunately, vanished before I could print it).  I like to remember what I can about my best friends, save Internet chats and e-mails, as a personal diary.  I used to print up ICQ chats with friends.

However, I did not see this as cool, like I did the hypnotism: It was startling, shocking, baffling.  How could he not see this was wrong?  Still, it was part of my BFF’s history, and worth remembering.

Now, I see it as proof that I did not imagine this conversation.  In 2012 I thought maybe Richard was pulling my leg–but then Todd spoke of Richard’s past as a “mobster” and “mook,” gave me more details.

The next day, Richard called and said they were being evicted, that he was furious with the apartment manager.

He made it into a personal offense, and had some ideas about why.  But it was probably because they trashed the place, left cigarette butts all over the yard in front of their apartment, were unreliable with the rent, and kept having domestic disputes.  

(He told me a couple of months before that they had been “at each other’s throats” for more than a month; somebody could very well have reported this to the manager or the police.)

He said he was going to kill the apartment manager while she was in her office, do it so she’d never see who it was, “And I’ll make it look like I was never there.”  Because of his past as a Mafia thug, he knew how to do this.

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

Wha–Wha–WHAT?

This pious, righteous guy who wanted to be a priest, whom I saw as my spiritual mentor, was telling me all this???!!!

I cried, “It’s my duty as your friend to talk you out of this!”  I tried and tried, and begged, “Talk to your priest before you do this!”

He chuckled and said, “I’ll talk to my priest after I do this.”  Then the kids did something, or his wife wanted something, so he had to hang up.

While I was still reeling from this and thinking what the–

He called back again. “My wife won’t let me do it,” he said.  She told him to use his words to persuade, which he’s so good at doing.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  If he had gone through with this horrible deed, I’d have to call the police.  It was my duty to warn the police before he did it, or legally I’d be an accomplice, and that woman’s blood would be on my hands.

I thought these things were in his long-ago past, that he was sorry for his past violence, that he was now sweet and gentle and wanted to be a priest.  But this…?

It was quite baffling the things both Richard and Tracy either said to me or did in front of me, apparently confident that I wouldn’t call the police or CPS:

Richard told me things like this, and violent things his wife did.

Tracy whacked her little toddler on the back of the head right in front of me, began spanking and screaming furiously at two children who did nothing wrong, right in front of me!  Didn’t she realize I could’ve called the police on her for this?

Didn’t either of them realize that when Richard told me he put his children in the closet once, that when Tracy abused her children right in front of me, if I couldn’t convince them these things were wrong, I was honor-bound to report them to Social Services?

If they did these things in front of me, what did they do when I wasn’t around?  Since I lived behind closed doors with them for a month and a half and Tracy controlled herself well enough not to punch Richard, but he told me she whacked and punched him about a year later, this showed she could control herself around me.

Richard became so closed-off about his life, that it’s entirely possible–or probable–that things were much worse at home than he ever told me.  I’d see them once a week or so, getting cutesy with each other, being mostly controlled–though not controlled enough, because Jeff and I both noticed things that looked very wrong.

But I knew very well what I had seen and what Richard told me.  I kept hearing over time that things were hidden from me.  It makes you wonder what else was hidden.

Not only were they hiding things from me, but my own family had done this as well, hiding a huge chunk of my parents’ life from me while my brothers knew all about it.  When the truth finally came out, it was devastating, shattering the image I had always had of my father, of the values taught in my family.

Now here it was being done again, with Richard and Tracy hiding things from me.  How could anyone not turn paranoid in this situation?

(The incident involving my father was also a bonding experience for Richard and me, as far as I was concerned.  Even though I e-mailed my college friends about everything ever since I left college, instead of talking to them, I called up Richard and told him everything that was going on, all the secret things that I didn’t feel I could tell others.

(He and my priest were my two confidantes outside the family.  This was during Lent 2007, before I even met Richard in person.  That’s how close we got before we even met.)

 

Different kinds of abuse–same feelings: How Mark Driscoll reminds me of Tracy, Phil, and others (Repost from 2014)

Originally posted March 11, 2014:

One reason why I read blogs and articles of all different kinds of abuse, is that I find the reactions of the abuse victims are the same everywhere.

Of course you’ll have differences here and there: Being molested by a parent is not the same as being psychologically manipulated by an ex-boyfriend, for example.

But everywhere you find the same common themes: loss of trust, hurt, pain, confusion, longing for the abuser to acknowledge the abuse and make up for it.

The other day, I read this account of narcissistic abuse and a smear campaign at Mars Hill Church:

My Story by Jonna Petry

Her husband was a pastor with the church for a time, until he was abandoned and smeared by Mark Driscoll.

In this and in other stories I’ve read about abuse at Mars Hill Church, I was struck all along by things that sounded very familiar, in my own experiences with narcissistic abuse, from exes (especially Phil) and from Richard and Tracy:

  • A person/place who at first seemed like God’s gift to you.
  • Pressure to conform.
  • Shunning someone you are told is bad.
  • Abuse and getting kicked out for questioning, disagreeing, speaking up about problems.
  • A person who throws tantrums and verbally abuses you for the slightest offenses, even when the offense is only in his own mind.
  • A smear campaign.
  • Others encouraged to shun you.
  • A kangaroo court in which you have no real chance to defend yourself.
  • Others put through the same abuse if they stick up for you.
  • A “conference” which is meant not to hear your side or your grievances, but to coerce you into agreeing that the abuse against you is justified.
  • A refusal of the abusers to admit they’ve done anything wrong.  As Driscoll and his henchman wrote to Jonna and her husband, “We still believe we have done nothing wrong.”
  • Begging others to help, but no one will.
  • Discovering this abuse is a pattern, that it neither began nor ended with you.

The hurt, pain and confusion as you long desperately for reconciliation:

In shock and heartbroken, Paul and I tried desperately that first half-year to bring about some level of reconciliation.

We so longed to be restored to our friends, to have our name and reputation exonerated, and to have peace in our relationships.

This had become our family that we loved and served and ministered to as our own dear children and as brothers and sisters. These were our dear friends.

How could they do this to us? Words do not adequately describe the shock, horror, betrayal, and rejection we felt. The weight of the loss was excruciating.

The PTSD and shaking of faith:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated.

I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children.

If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.

I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork.

I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right?

But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this?

Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone uses their power within a framework of spiritual belief or practice to satisfy their own needs at the expense of others. It is a breach of sacred trust.

Christians are commanded by Jesus to love one another. When that is projected, articulated, enjoyed and then treacherously betrayed, the wounded person is left with “a sense of having been raped, emotionally and spiritually” not by a stranger, but by someone who was deeply trusted. (See Recovering from Church Abuse by Len Hjalmarson)

At the beginning, Jonna wrote,

This past summer I saw the movie, “The Help,” and a seed of courage was planted in my soul. One of the last lines of the movie:

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do.  But it can start by telling the truth. No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that, I felt free.”

This story is an earnest attempt to speak the truth in love that freedom and new life may flourish.

At the end, she wrote things which encourage me to continue telling the story of Richard/Tracy–and express the same hope I hold, that one day my abusers will recognize their abuse and change:

In Acts, Chapter 20, the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesian elders to pay attention and guard the flock.

This admonition, along with the mounting stories of abuse and misconduct coming out of Mars Hill Church, has added to our conviction.

We believe that to remain quiet now would be unloving and disobedient to God. As my husband stated earlier–if we fail to remember our history, we leave it for others to re-write. And, unfortunately, some of that has occurred.

And, in Mark’s own words from his book, Vintage Jesus:

“People are not perfect. As sinners we need to be gracious, patient, and merciful with one another just as God is with us or the church will spend all of its time doing nothing but having church discipline trials.

“It is worth stressing, however, that we cannot simply overlook an offense if doing so is motivated by our cowardice, fear of conflict, and/or lack of concern for someone and their sanctification.

“In the end, it is the glory of God, the reputation of Jesus, the well-being of the church, and the holiness of the individual that must outweigh any personal desires for a life of ease that avoids dealing with sin biblically.

“Sometimes God in his providential love for us allows us to be involved in dealing with another’s sin as part of our sanctification and growth. It is good for us and for the sinner, the church, and the reputation of the gospel if we respond willingly to the task God has set before us.”

What happened to us was very wrong. The way it was publicly described by Mark and the elders at the time was completely exaggerated and deceptive. The way the media and blogs have since reported on it has many holes and errors. Now it is open and plain to everyone.

If Mark and the organizations he leads do not change, I fear many more will be hurt, Mark and his family included.  To not speak is to not love or care and shows no thought or consideration for those who have been wounded and those who will be in the future.

We are witnesses. There is a pattern. There is a history. There is an ethos of authoritarianism and abuse.

Mark is the unquestioned head of Mars Hill Church and the Acts 29 Network. His elders have no way to hold him accountable. Those under him likely fear him and want to garner his favor so they don’t dare say nor do anything that might anger him. This is tragic.

Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots.

Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do.

We are all in this together, no matter what kind of abuse we suffered, or from whom.

We did not deserve it, and need to learn and remember this.  We need to put the responsibility for the abuse, and our subsequent hurt and pain, where it belongs–on the abuser–and take none for ourselves.

And we need to NOT look at each other and think, “I got it worse than you, so why should I bother with your story and pain?”

We also need to learn from each other, take courage from each other to speak up and tell our stories, and heal each other.

 

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