Brett Kavanaugh’s Narcissistic Rage episode, DARVO, and why we don’t speak up

The Kavanaugh debacle is triggering for many women.  Seems like every woman in my Facebook/Twitter feeds is being triggered.

And in a case that–for now–is he said/she said, how do we tell who to believe?

First of all, reporters have been doing more work than the senators apparently, digging up alumni and evidence all over the place.  For example, see the following:

Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s compelling story here.

Kavanaugh accuser’s friend says she has told him she needs more than one exit from her bedroom

A classmate who originally said that the incident with Ford was well-known at school, before retracting

The classmate’s original Facebook post on the subject

Affidavit from Accuser #3, accusing Kavanaugh and friends of predatory behavior

Kavanaugh Classmate Tears Into His ‘Blatant Lying’: I’ve Witnessed Him ‘Stumbling Drunk’

How we know Kavanaugh is lying

Old friend of Kavanaugh’s claims that his depiction of himself is a lie

As I watched the opening statements yesterday for both Ford and Kavanaugh, I paid close attention to their body language and demeanor.  Because yeah, I may have trouble with such things, but I’ve been studying narcissism/sociopathy for years now, and how to spot a predator or an abuser claiming to be the victim.

Ford was timid, terrified, quiet, on the verge of tears.  Like someone who has been attacked and traumatized and is scared of it happening again.  Even Fox News commentators and even Trump are saying she seems credible.

Kavanaugh, on the other hand, was on the attack: loud, raging, gesticulating, snarling.  Complaining about how this affects him–but never a thought to how it has been affecting Ford.  Instead of welcoming a full investigation, he evades the question, and derides the whole fact-finding process–a process which, if he’s innocent, should exonerate him.  Cold, dead eyes and a terrifying snarl.

Images of Kavanaugh are subject to copyright, and I don’t have $300 to pay for the rights to use one, so I don’t have images of him to clip and paste here.  So click on these links instead:

https://goo.gl/images/3aRGdB

https://goo.gl/images/cJ1T6G

https://goo.gl/images/aKwngR

https://goo.gl/images/e7AKoj

And then look at this:

Brett Kavanaugh's Narcissistic Rage episode, DARVO, and why we don't speak up 1

Genchi.info

And then this:

Brett Kavanaugh's Narcissistic Rage episode, DARVO, and why we don't speak up 2

Genchi.info

 

Look familiar?

Kavanaugh’s snarls are not the face of an innocent man defending himself/his family from attack.  They are the face of a predator whose prey has just exposed him.

My post on DARVO has been getting a lot of hits the past couple of days, especially after it was shared by somebody on Facebook.  It quotes Jennifer J. Freyd, who writes,

“It is important to distinguish types of denial, for an innocent person will probably deny a false accusation. Thus denial is not evidence of guilt. However, I propose that a certain kind of indignant self-righteousness, and overly stated denial, may in fact relate to guilt.

I hypothesize that if an accusation is true, and the accused person is abusive, the denial is more indignant, self-righteous and manipulative, as compared with denial in other cases.

Similarly, I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior.

This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of lawsuits, overt and covert attacks, on the whistle-blower’s credibility and so on. —Violations of Power, Adaptive Blindness and Betrayal Trauma Theory

DARVO means deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender.  It was done to me by Richard and Tracy in their e-mail here.  It was done to me by my abusive ex Phil.  It has been done countless times throughout the ages to victims by abusers and sexual criminals.  This frightening power play keeps countless victims from seeking help, as well, because they are terrified of what will happen to them.

One of the excuses used to not believe and to attack Kavanaugh’s accusers is that they didn’t say anything before.  That there should have been a police report if it really happened.  But girls and women who are victims of sexual assault or harassment are often too terrified to tell anyone.

If you want to know why they’re so scared, just look at accusations made against Ford:

“She shouldn’t have been at a drinking party.”

“She was going around in a bathing suit.”  (1, it was one-piece, 2, a bathing suit or bikini does not mean “rape me,” and 3, it was covered by her clothes.)

“Why was she in that room?”  (She just wanted to go to the bathroom, but got pulled into a bedroom.)

“Look how long she took to tell!  She’s just doing this for political reasons.”

She’s being blamed.  She’s being accused of lying.

Just like happens countless times when victims do speak up.  So often, we just stay quiet.

I never told my parents anything that happened to me in school, either.  My mom didn’t know that I stopped wearing dresses to school because a couple of boys lifted up my skirt and laughed one day.  My parents didn’t know that my high school ulcer and TMJ came from boys sexually harassing me in class and in the cafeteria.   They thought that going to classes about stress relief would help.

They didn’t know that–similar to what happened to another accuser, Ramirez–one of the boys pulled out his penis and put it next to me on the table as I ate my lunch, that I think I felt it brush my hand, though I refused to look at it, that the other boys laughed.

They didn’t know how one time, in the line to leave the cafeteria, the boys were harassing me so badly that I crumpled up against the wall to try to protect myself.  I don’t even remember what they did or said.

I also didn’t tell teachers about this.  I was too shy, too terrified of strangers in general, even though my friends were witnesses and told me to tell.

(That’s why friends should do the telling and not leave it to the traumatized victims.)

My parents didn’t know that my ex Phil tried to force me into anal sex, making me feel raped at least once, or that he forced me into oral sex when he hadn’t even bathed.  And no, I never reported it.

No, I don’t remember every detail.  I don’t remember who the boys were in high school, or what all they did or said.  But I remember it happened.

And I do remember exactly which teacher ridiculed and sexually harassed me in class.  There were witnesses.  But I never even thought to tell the principal.  I just switched classes the following semester.

As for Phil, I told a few friends some of what happened.  I don’t remember telling them everything.

I told his new girlfriend, Persephone, about it.  I hoped she would be appalled that her boyfriend would rape a girl.  Instead, her dismissive reply seemed to suggest that if I were telling the truth, and weren’t just being hysterical or hyperbolic, maybe even looking for attention, that I would report it to the police.

But I was too terrified to tell the police.  There was no physical evidence, so how could I prove it, for one.  (And this is often the case.)

For another, I didn’t know if a rape charge would hold up in court since I had agreed to have sex–I just had not agreed to have anal or oral sex.  I also didn’t want my parents to know we had had sex, because they were fundamentalists who didn’t know about our spiritual marriage, and were definitely against me having sex before marriage.  Even when your parents are not abusive, a combination of old-fashioned ideas and parental disappointment can be frightening.

Another reason to stay quiet is hearing “Get over it already!”  I’ve been seeing a lot of this in reactions to Kavanaugh’s accusers, when even WOMEN have been saying, “It was 36 years ago!  It was just a touch!  How can she not have moved on?”  or “All teenage boys grope!  Who cares?  It’s not a big deal!”

(You don’t forget.  You don’t move on.)

I had my own version of this a year after Richard’s friends sexually harassed me in a chat room.  He saw the whole thing, and how vile their words and behavior actually were.  Yet his wife treated it like it was nothing at all, and then Richard tried to mansplain me into believing that I was being “ridiculous” for still being upset over it (and over his continued friendship with these people) a year later.  He said it “wasn’t real” and he thought I understood that.

The only one being “ridiculous” here was Richard.

The Kavanaugh hearings are triggering for many of us because we see our own traumas being relived in the accusers, our own fears realized as the accusers are treated just as we were, or as we feared we would be treated if we spoke up.

We see nothing changed, even after decades of feminism and then the #MeToo movement.

We see men treating the hearings as a charade, even going into self-righteous tirades about it: not just Kavanaugh, but Lindsey Graham as well–who seems to have conveniently forgotten how Merrick Garland’s appointment was blocked by the Republicans.

And there was absolutely no legitimate reason to block Garland, while Kavanaugh’s temperament and character have already been proven to be narcissistic and dangerous.

Because yes, what we saw in Kavanaugh yesterday is known as narcissistic rage.  This happens when a narcissist or sociopath is called out on their crimes.

So I believe he is guilty.

Conservative women “more attractive”? How patriarchal of you!

Last night, I read a blog post by Libby Anne which reminded me of something I’ve been hearing lately: the concept that conservative women are just automatically “more attractive” than liberal ones.  As in, a liberal might be good-looking, but the conservatives are drop-dead gorgeous.   From that blog post:

Notreally: Good for you, fire, that Sancty can never be serious. I mean how can a liberal be drop-dead gorgeous? Beautiful, maybe, but not gorgeous, only conservatives can be gorgeous.

Farris’ use of the word “liberal” reminds me of how I saw it used growing up in a conservative community. This fixation on liberals not being able to be actually physically attractive—not like conservatives—is getting repetitive.

Not only does this have entirely no basis in fact–our political beliefs have zero to do with the genes which make up our appearance–but it is very patriarchal.

I wonder if this is why the Left Behind books portrayed Verna Zee–the token liberal who gets terribly abused in those books–as wearing “sensible shoes.”  Because apparently, taking good care of your feet is unattractive, so only libs would do it.

Today, last night’s blog post clicked in my head, bringing back to mind a comment the ex-friend Richard once made on his Facebook years ago.  In those days (and probably still now), he was into the new Tea Party and anarchism.  A woman on his Facebook posted something agreeing with these viewpoints.  He replied that many men would find her views very attractive (I can’t give you an exact quote).

That response bugged me.  A lot.  But now I know exactly WHY it bothered me:

Because you have here a man telling a woman that her political views make her “attractive” to men.

Because they are man-approved.

Because liberal views make you unattractive to men.

Because this is obviously the most important thing: not why a woman has those views, but whether or not they make her sexy.

In other words, you have here a man telling a woman how to think.

Richard used to do that to me a lot, too, trying to tell me how to think about everything from my church not being “Orthodox” enough, to wifely submission, to spanking or screaming at or swacking children, to whether or not I have NVLD, to how I should react to being sexually harassed.

And exactly why did he think it was his business to tell me, to scold me when I didn’t agree?  Obviously because of his patriarchal attitudes.

It reminds me of the attitudes I describe here, men telling a young girl in the 1950s whether she should become an engineer or a housewife, rather than letting her use her own brain and make up her own mind.

Geez, I’m so much better off without this guy hanging around anymore.  How was I so blind?  Must’ve been the spell narcissists put you under.  (And yes, he really did hypnotize me, according to him.)

But yeah, this idea that a woman’s “hotness” relates to her political views?

SO not attractive.

 

So Phil, my abusive ex-husband, is back in the hospital….

I wrote recently, here and here, about revelations about my ex Phil.  To sum up, Phil–my spiritual husband in college, who turned out to be very emotionally and sexually abusive, with a pattern of broken, abusive relationships, story here–was engaged for a third time.  (After me, he was legally married to another woman for ten years.  It has been about 11 years since their divorce.)  I found out about her one day when looking at his Facebook profile, trying to find out why his own sister filed a restraining order against him.  I will call the latest fiancée, Doris.

I checked out Doris’ profile a couple of months later–and learned that Phil was diagnosed as bipolar in 2010.  He hadn’t been taking his meds for some time, so brain cells were being destroyed–and the effect on his behavior was too much for her.  They mutually broke up.

I forgot–because Doris didn’t seem to know for sure at the time, and at that time, mostly posted about Bipolar II–that he also has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).  Instead of Bipolar II, she has been posting lately about FAS.

I had no idea his mother had been an alcoholic.  I knew she smoked a lot when his brother was born, so they all joked that it affected his brain, because he talked like it was missing a few cells.  I also knew that the brother drank too much as well for a time, leading to an accident, leading to him losing his license for a while, so Phil kept having to drive him around.  But I didn’t know about the mother’s alcoholism.  There was nothing physically unusual about Phil; in fact, instead of short, he’s 6’5.  Yet his mother drank enough that it has affected Phil his entire life.

Now, originally, Doris pinned his bad behavior on the Bipolar, calling him Bipolar Phil.  But lately she’s pinning it on FAS.  From what I’ve learned about Bipolar since, that seems more likely, because Bipolar is not supposed to be a cause of abuse.  FAS, on the other hand, is linked to all sorts of terrible behaviors which cause trouble throughout the person’s life.

For example, I’m learning that Phil has not been able to hold down a job for long.  Years ago, when he posted about the divorce from Wife #2 on one of those websites that link up classmates, he blamed it on his wife.  He said she refused to “support” him by moving to the city of M– when he got a teaching certificate and a contract there.

Being a math teacher was supposed to bring him stability–yet he hasn’t had a job for a while, and was about to go into a new line of work when his brain went haywire.  What happened to teaching?  A check online reveals that he still has a certificate, so why can’t he do that?  In any case, FAS is linked to job instability.

FAS is linked to trouble staying in relationships.  Phil’s exes seem to be able to find long-term relationships, while he himself is not.  I found a new guy shortly after our divorce, and have been married for 21 years.  Wife #2 found a new guy shortly after the divorce, and has been with him for 10 years now.  Phil found Doris a few years ago, but they’re no longer together.  Admittedly, I don’t know about Phil’s dating life since he divorced Wife #2, but obviously nobody lasted long enough for him to marry her.

FAS is also linked to suicide.

A few days ago, Doris posted that Phil’s mother was bothering both her and him about some petty matter (I won’t go into detail).  It reminds me of Phil’s girlfriend after me, Persephone, calling his mother “Dragon Lady.”

Then a couple of days ago, Doris posted that Phil is back in the hospital, “on watch.”

I googled “on watch,” and “suicide watch” came up.  😮

And this all reminds me of how upset and sad I was when Phil broke up with me, all those years ago.  I thought he was the One.  He was handsome, and we had been passionately attracted to each other.  In the beginning, he seemed nice, sweet, caring.  He was goofy.  Talented.  Smart.  A geek (a good thing).

Doris wrote, How can she easily move on from someone who said such sweet things about her?  He said the same things to me, so I can relate.

During the months after the breakup, he did a few things which suggest that he would’ve tried to get me back, if Hubby-to-be were not already there.  After divorcing Wife #2, he told me that he and his mother both thought I was the one girl he should’ve held on to.  But by then, I had been married for 10 years.

Well, just think: If we had stayed together, this all would have been MY life: turbulent, Dragon Lady mother-in-law, unable to keep a job or even a profession, living in an apartment instead of our own house, and mental health issues which could lead to me being a widow at age 45 because of suicide.

Heck, even Doris couldn’t handle it.  And she is still where I was about 24 years ago.

It makes me appreciate my husband more, despite the ups-and-downs we’ve been through.

At first, Phil blaming his behavior on Bipolar seemed to me a way to manipulate Doris into thinking she should stay with him.  But the FAS makes it more likely that his behavior does indeed stem from a sickness.

Of course, there is the usual question: How far should you blame behavior on a disease, and how much should that person take responsibility for?  Maybe it wasn’t him being Evil, but him with a sickness.  And maybe he knows it wasn’t my fault when–or even if–he remembers what he did to me.  It does make it easier for me to forgive him.

And worry about him.  After she posted that–and a bunch of Vaguebooking posts about angels and death and what looked like a memorial to Phil–I freaked out a bit.  It sounded like somebody she loved had died.  Had he already–??!!

But a couple of days later, I see no death notices in the M– paper, nothing on his family’s FB profiles.  On Doris’ FB I see a lot about positive thinking, and moving on, and her experiences trying to date again, and sadness about the end of the relationship with Phil–but nothing about him doing anything to himself.  So maybe he’s still physically okay.  Mentally–another story.  Doris posted that he’s “fighting for his life.”

On FAS and whether it can co-exist with other disorders:

RESULTS:
Eighteen of the 25 subjects had received psychiatric treatment. The most common axis I disorders were alcohol or drug dependence (15 subjects), depression (11 subjects), and psychotic disorders (10 subjects). The most common axis II disorders were avoidant (six subjects), antisocial (four subjects), and dependent (three subjects) personality disorders.

CONCLUSIONS:
This study suggests that adults with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects suffer from substantial mental illness.
Mental illness in adults with fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects.

 

Alcohol use during pregnancy can cause permanent structural, neurological and functional impairments to the developing fetal CNS. …Functional impairments can include attention and impulse control problems, hyperactivity, learning disorders, memory deficits, and disorders of communication and executive functioning.

Red Flags for Referral:

    • Adult was raised in foster care or adopted
    • History of chemical dependency/child protection
    • Adult has received many diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, etc.
    • Adult is easily distracted, hyperactive, inattentive, impulsive
    • Adult consistently displays extreme behavior (aggression, emotional instability)
    • Adult has been involved with the criminal justice system
    • Adult gives inconsistent answers to questions, or can repeat a rule but fail to follow it
    • Adult makes the same mistakes repeatedly
    • Adult displays difficulties in holding a job

…Adults may also have many other disorders that come from living with FASD without support. Because FASD can look like many other mental health diagnoses, adults may go undiagnosed for the primary disorder: FASD.  Common misdiagnoses for individuals with an FASD include ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Psychotic Disorders, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder. —FASD: Identification and Diagnosis

 

According to researcher Ann Streissguth (1996), mental health problems are experienced by 94% of individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).  One of the hallmarks of FASD is poor impulse control.  In many cases an impairment exists that warrants a formal diagnosis of Impulse Control Disorder (ICD). …Most individuals with FASD have symptoms of one or more Impulse Control Disorders.

…Impulsive behavior seems to have an underlying pre-disposition which may or may not be related to existing mental health or medical conditions but research over the past decade has stressed the substantial co-morbidity of Impulse Control Disorders with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, and with other specific impulse control disorders.

…Some Major Mental Disorders are often associated with impulsivity while the individual is in a psychotic state. This is particularly true of Bipolar Disorder where the impulsive behaviour is most often associated with the manic phase.

Impulse Control Disorder are often present in a number of specific Personality Disorders, primarily borderline, anti-social, narcissistic, and histrionic. Impulsivity in the form of risk-tasking behaviours, sexual promiscuity, gestures and threats of self-harm and other attention-seeking behaviours. They are less prevalent in avoidant, dependant, obsessive compulsive personality and other disorder types. —Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Impulse Control Disorders

 

But then I found this post on a forum:

Sorry, but if this person was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, that is organic brain damage….

His behavior, no matter how bad, is due to this, not mental illness or borderline. If a person has fetal alcohol syndrome, they were PHYSICALLY damaged before they were even born and will need lifelong caretaking as they don’t understand right from wrong which is WAY different from borderlines, who do and can learn to change. A FAS person can NOT change.

Also, doctors who don’t “get it” often diagnose it as something other than the obvious. That is sort of the same as borderline (the only thing that is). I was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar, never borderline. Same happens with FAS and meds usually do no good. Regardless of whatever else he may be diagnosed with, his brain damage is his main problem. I have to wonder about any doctor who gave somebody with FAS a dx. of bpd.

Beating up this poor man is not the same as taking on a borderline. It’s like picking on somebody with Alzheimer’s for behaving badly. This is a disabled individual who is not going to respond to psychiatric treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome does not go away nor can it improve. ….fetal alcohol syndrome is nothing even connected to borderline. You will lack the right connections in the brain to make good decisions with FAS.

…Fetal alcohol syndrome has Swiss Cheese thinking…you can remember something one day, forget it the next. You can’t concentrate due to brain damage. You are an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s due to the alcohol syndrome.

…[T]he biggest problem with this person isn’t borderline or any personality disorder or any mental illness…he victimized nobody on purpose. He is the victim.

I think it’s important the people understand there is a big difference between any personality disorder and the victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. —Posted here

Doris is calling it FAS, but the information I find suggests FAE, because of Phil’s lack of physical deformity or retardation.  In any case, it is possible that his behavior can legitimately be blamed on this.  In which case, as mentioned above, blaming him for it can be like blaming a person with Alzheimer’s.  Except that he seemed too rational to me, his actions too calculated, to be blameless….

Also see:

Abusive ex Phil has a new bride

Is this why my ex Phil was so abusive?

A couple of notes: Spanking and No, the new girlfriend did NOT change my abusive ex

Abusive Ex: Blame it on him, not mental illness

Reblog: Subtle Signs of a Killer: Non-fatal strangulations point to future homicides

The following article, written by Brian Bennett, is very informative about strangulation and research done in recent years.  Some quotes:

An idea was promulgated for decades that there must be external signs of injury such as marks on the neck and/or petechial hemorrhage in the eyes when strangulation occurred. It was believed that without those injuries the assault could not be proven and likely did not occur. This idea is far from the truth.

 

It can take as little as five pounds of pressure for six to ten seconds to render a person unconscious. … Signs and symptoms known to be associated with strangulation now include a raspy or hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, vision changes, fluid in the lungs, vomiting and involuntary loss of bladder/bowel control.

 

If a person loses consciousness because the brain has been starved of oxygen then there is permanent brain damage.

 

In reality, the act of strangulation itself is a lethal act regardless of an offender’s intent. It tells us that the offender has a propensity to use lethal violence and I would argue also demonstrates a mindset that lethal violence is justifiable against anyone. If an offender is willing to harm their intimate partner, child, vulnerable adult or anyone using strangulation, then they can kill anyone….

A study of 300 “choking” cases by the Family Justice Center Alliance in San Diego and Institute on Strangulation Prevention showed that a woman who is strangled even once is 750 percent more likely to be strangled again and 800 percent more likely to be killed later.

 

Research is showing that many of the domestic mass shooters in the U.S. also had a history of domestic violence and strangulation prior to their mass killings.

This worries me because my ex-friend Richard strangled his own step-daughter, who was only 9, until she passed out.  He, by the way, was some 400 pounds at the time, according to court records.  She reported it herself, which must have taken amazing courage–and there must have been physical evidence.  Since so many incidents don’t have physical evidence, and this was the following day (IIRC), Richard must really have pressed hard.

The information in this article makes me worry that 1) he could do it again, 2) he could murder somebody, 3) she had permanent brain damage from this, and 4) his step-daughter could end up with some guy who chokes her again.

Especially since he used to do stuff for the Mafia and once told me his plans to kill an apartment manager.

Especially since, in an e-mail to me, Richard and/or Tracy jeered at me for “not having all the facts” in this case.  Um…Exactly what “facts” make it okay that you strangled your daughter?  Even if they become so-called pillars of the community, I know what kind of people they really are: the kind who would minimize strangling a child and threaten and make fun of and stalk the person who discovered the truth.

But back to the article.  Lots more good information is in the article here.  I encourage you to read it if you’re with an abusive spouse/parent/caregiver/etc.

 

Careful out there: Another abuse site is no longer safe

…Well, unless you ascribe to their particular form of Christianity, which is rather strict and exclusive.

I won’t name the site/blog here because I’m not interested in blog wars or public shaming.  But I will describe what’s going on so you can keep your eyes open.

For years, I’ve supported and occasionally read another site which ministers to Christian victims of domestic abuse.  For years I’ve been totally on board with the concept that churches often make things worse by telling women to stay with their abusers and “submit.”  That is dangerous and needs to be called out.

For years there have been many good things on the site/blog, and I’ve been on their side when other bloggers/preachers try to tell them that they’re not biblical enough, that they’re wrong, that those wimmenfolk should just shut up and submit to their husbands and preachers.  Or that the site is just spreading gossip or some other charge which is meant to shut up victims and make them feel like sinners.

Well, the blog has taken a disturbing turn of late, after a changing of hands.  I can understand a personal blog or a church-run blog taking a hard line on doctrine; they understandably are from a particular point of view.  But the site I speak of, while run by Reformed believers, is a ministry that was originally to all the churches, not just one kind of church.

But now, not only does the site hold to Reformed (ie, Calvinist) theology, but if you don’t agree with it, you’re treated like a heretic–and your comments are suppressed.

For years, I hadn’t read there very often because I’ve moved on for the most part from my own abusive experiences.  Usually I looked at it when I checked how my Blogroll page was working, and saw an interesting blog post title.  So I knew there had been a changing of hands, but not how it affected the running of the site.

I noted a series of posts criticizing a preacher for how he was trying to reform abusers, but that’s fairly typical for abuse sites.  Abuse sites often complain of anger management or counseling having a naive view of how to handle abusers.

But then the blogger began criticizing his particular salvation theology.  (Sounds like he’s Arminian–which, by the way, is how I was raised.)

Imagine my surprise when the following happened:

A few weeks ago, the site owner/blogger posted on some new doctrine (ESS, or Eternal Subjection of the Son) which has been making the rounds in Fundamentalist circles, which s/he takes issue with because of how it affects marital relationships.  Since I’ve been Orthodox for the past 12 years, I haven’t been following what the Protestants have been up to so much, so wasn’t familiar with this.

The blogger began by stating that classic theology is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.  As an Orthodox believer, this got a little twitch going:

Careful out there: Another abuse site is no longer safe 3

That is, that little “and the Son” is referred to as the Filioque, which, rather than being classic, was a much later addition to the Nicene Creed–and has been one of the many sources of contention between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism ever since.  You see, it causes a change and imbalance between the members of the Trinity.

Now, I could turn that into a cheeky comment meant to be humorous, and be done with it.  But I suspected that little Filioque was the source of this ESS doctrine, so I went Google-digging.

In a short time, I found a few websites which discussed how this doctrine came from the imbalance caused by the Filioque.  For example,

Roman Catholicism, in its zeal to defend this error has merely transferred an old Arian subordinationist argument concerning the Son, to one about the Spirit!  The irony here is filioquism is ignorantly touted as some response to Arianism, while foolishly making the very same argument the Arians did about the Son and applying it to the Spirit- that He is a product of will.  On top of that, it is touted in their dogmatic manuals, everyday apologists and classic Catechisms.  To admit this to be in error is really the collapse of the entire edifice (which is already happening anyway). –Jay Dyer, Filioquism is Arian Subordination Applied to the Spirit

As you can see reflected above, they also explained that ESS is actually a revival of an old heresy from the early centuries of the Church, called Arianism, long-since condemned after all the trouble it caused.  Heck, even Santa Claus slapped Arius for saying that the Son is not equal to the Father.  The Nicene Creed itself was a response against Arianism.

Since–rather than being a cheeky comment–this actually supported the blogger’s contention that ESS is dangerous heresy, I posted about it.

Also, by posting about doctrine, you could assume that the blogger wouldn’t mind some theological discussion.

I’m used to lively theological debates and discussions online, either watching or participating in them, or–in some cases–starting them.  (No, not as a troll, but to challenge people’s assumptions and get them thinking.)  Usually, forum and blog moderators let them go, only stepping in when somebody gets abusive.  And I am the sort of commenter who never gets moderated because I don’t get abusive.

So imagine my shock when I got an e-mail from the blogger, informing me that s/he would not post my comment.  Why?  Basically, because it spoke of the differences between East and West, i.e. challenged Reformed doctrine.  S/he told me to e-mail the site’s preacher, who knows more about the Filioque.

Oookay….So instead of the lively discussion I hoped for, or little sidenote in a discussion on a blog post, I’m supposed to e-mail a preacher one-on-one about the Filioque?  It sounded like a trap to me, like he’d be teaching me “proper” doctrine, which of course, is Reformed, not that heretical Orthodoxy.

Careful out there: Another abuse site is no longer safe 4

And this is right after I read in this post by Lucky Otter about bewaring of narc-run blogs:

4. The group bans, blocks, or insults people who are self aware borderlines or narcissists — and those who challenge the status quo.

…8. If the owner of the group is religious, they are dogmatic and intolerant of other religious points of view or those who disagree with their religious beliefs.

(Please note: I am NOT implying that the blogger is a narcissist.  Just pointing out that this behavior can be perceived as spiritually abusive–and that it raises up alarm bells.)

I quietly took the blog out of my Blogroll, regretfully, since it appeared that my Orthodox beliefs were not welcome there.  Then I tried to move on and stop thinking about it.

Then I read another blog post, posted last night, on a totally different blog, run by a preacher who also ministers to victims of narcissists and abusers.  I’ll call this OtherBlog.  In the comment section, one person mentioned the Reformed blog.  The OtherBlogger noted that, of late, since the blog changed hands, he could no longer recommend it because of an over-concern for doctrinal purity.  The commenter wrote that she had noted some odd posts in the Facebook group.

So I went over to the Facebook group for the Reformed blog.  Sure enough, over the past couple of weeks, the blogger has been putting up some very troubling posts.  And when people disagree with the blogger’s doctrinal viewpoints, they are argued with, even silenced–while saying that it’s not the same as silencing people.

For example, the most controversial post, calling out Billy Graham as a heretic to watch out for, because he once said that maybe people who never heard of Christ can still be saved.  The blogger complained about all the posts that started coming in, defending Billy Graham or saying that we can’t just say all those people are going to Hell for not believing in something they never heard of.

My gosh, this all smacks of the very kind of Fundamentalism that I’ve been speaking out against on my website for some 14 years, the kind I’ve been actively running from ever since I encountered Reformed theology in an Evangelical Free Church in 2002 or 2003.  This is why, ultimately, I became Orthodox: because it was as far from Reformed theology as you can get.

I see Calvinism as the source of much spiritual abuse and other kinds of abuse as well.  I could’ve been Presbyterian or UCC, except they, too, are connected to Calvinism, despite being very liberal denominations now.

Purity culture, domestic abuse, child abuse–it all goes back to Calvinism and the extremes to which it can go.  Puritans were Calvinists.  Jonathan Edwards was Calvinist; re-reading his sermon years later about sinners in the hands of an angry God, I was horrified by the kind of god he portrayed.

Evangelical churches have been getting infiltrated with Calvinism for years now.  You can read in the comment section of, say, Spiritual Sounding Board about how people have been spiritually abused by this.

My husband felt spiritually abused by the Reformed theology of the E-Free Church we attended for several years.  It didn’t start off Reformed, but began sneaking in Calvinist theology over time.  We finally had to leave because of the damaging doctrines.  Story here.

Even the church I grew up in, which was Fundamentalist and very restrictive in those days, was not Calvinist, and did not say that people who never even heard of Christ are going to Hell.  There was allowance made for what you know.

Even Pat Robertson didn’t say that the unreached were eternally lost.

St. Paul even wrote that people who did not know the Law but lived according to the Law written on their hearts, could be saved.  An article in the Orthodox Study Bible points this out.

So saying they’re all going to Hell–No, that’s not biblical, no matter how it’s wrapped up in flowery words about how such draconian rules are actually Loving and Good.

Such views of such a tyrannical god are–according to Alexandre Kalomiros–what drive people out of Christianity altogether.

So no, I can’t support a site which now insists that part of “helping” people overcome abuse is to insist they follow “proper” doctrine which is not only (according to Orthodoxy) heretical, but spiritually damaging.

Another point: Aside from doctrine, you also have views of what is proper practice, what is sinful and what is not.  Here I deviate from Orthodoxy because I believe that too much reliance on tradition over people, is how you end up with a Pharisaical church.  I will support Orthodox doctrine to the death, because it’s not just the oldest but also the most loving doctrine I’ve ever seen.  But LOVE must be the driver of how you treat people in all things.  In other words, don’t condemn the same-sex couple who wants to get married, don’t condemn the transgendered, don’t enforce the extremes of Purity culture, etc. etc.

From what I’ve seen the Reformed blog become–I would be rejected there because of this, too.  I would be doubly rejected as a heretic now: because I’m Orthodox in doctrine, and because I’m progressive in practice.

I get the impression–since others have already tried–that trying to explain this to the blogger will get nowhere.  But I can warn my readers to take care where they go for spiritual support after abuse.

 

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