From Orthodoxy in Dialogue: Trouble in American Orthodoxy

The blog Orthodoxy in Dialogue recently criticized the standard conservative Christian response to legal abortion.  The more I read this blog on various issues which are big in politics and religion today, the more I see kindred spirits:

For a while, back in the early 00’s, I was becoming more and more liberal.  But I also wanted to find out what the original Church believed about various theological issues and practices.  That led me to Orthodoxy, which led to a period of time in which I was much more conservative about many things.

But then I realized I was, in a sense, being brainwashed:

First there was the very persuasive and charismatic person who first suggested Orthodoxy to me: Richard.  He was a convert from the Foursquare Church; time eventually revealed that he’s also a narcissist.  Not sure if he’s malignant or not, but a lot of those narc traits are there.  He did a LOT of talking to me about Orthodoxy: not just about its beauty, but about the many things which the local church did wrong because it wasn’t “Orthodox” enough, and how I was wrong for not being “Orthodox” enough.

Then there was the constant presence on the Net (where, in the early days, I spent most of my time with Orthodoxy) of “Netdoxy” and “Ameridoxy.”  Orthodoxy has been getting a lot of converts in recent decades from American Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches.  I wanted to get away from Evangelical/Fundamentalist influences, but many are bringing them into Orthodoxy.

OID’s most recent post,  Notes from Underground, describes this phenomenon as a peculiarly American “mob mentality,” where you get attacked for disagreeing with the prevailing views of the group you’re in.  You see it in politics; you see it in discussions on social issues; you see it on narcissism forums; you see it within Evangelicalism; you see it on Orthodox forums on the Internet.  This is one reason why I stopped going to such forums some years ago.

Anyway, I finally began to break away from Netdoxy and, with it, away from the conservatism which had been pulling me back in.  I began to move back toward liberalism.

But by this time, I had already become a full Orthodox Christian, so it wasn’t as if I could just pick up and leave.  I still saw many things in worldwide Orthodoxy (as opposed to Ameridoxy or Netdoxy) which were refreshing and did not hold to American Republican politics.  For example, the Ecumenical Patriarch actually believes in climate change and working to get along with Catholics, Muslims, and others.  But the more I examine issues such as abortion and gay marriage, the more I agree with liberals–which means a huge disconnect with official Orthodox positions.

This has made me wonder if I should’ve stayed in a liberal Protestant church all those years ago.  I’ve often wondered if I’ll be allowed to stay Orthodox, if at some point I’ll be excommunicated for my views, especially now that I’ve discovered an Orthodox friend is LGBTQ–and I sympathize rather than telling this person to change.

But finding OID is reassuring.  Finally, I feel like, if there’s room for the writers/editors of OID, there’s room for me in Orthodoxy.  Maybe I can still stay in, rather than leaving all the richness of Orthodox tradition.

Anyway, OID also has insightful posts on abortion and how the usual “Right to Life” response does nothing at all to stop abortion, while pro-choice policies have actually caused a huge decrease.  In the past I posted a link to a blog post by someone who is now atheist and made the same points, but I suppose some Christians may not give her any credibility because she’s an atheist.  Well, here’s a Christian saying many of the same things.

Basically, that money on marches is wasted, when it could be spent on helping women afford contraception or afford to raise a child, leading to fewer abortions.  That when abortion is against the law, women die along with their babies from backroom butchers and coat hangers.

The response OID received to these posts was enlightening–but, sadly, not surprising: Orthodox women were grateful.  Orthodox men were furious.  And Netdoxy attacked it as well.

Chew on that for a bit.

Here are the posts on abortion:

Abortion, Contraception, and Christian Faith

Another January, Another Celebration of our Moral Superiority

 

 

 

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Don’t smack your kids: Research into teenage football concussions

Several years ago, I ran posts showing that smacking kids on the back of the head is not good “discipline,” but physical abuse.  These posts have been some of my most-read ever, still getting hits every day.

I became so passionate about the subject after being emotionally traumatized by a couple who pretended to be my friends, but were really narcissists using me: Story here.  One of the traumatizing things they did, was to smack one of their kids–a toddler who was small for her age–on the back of the head, then laugh about it later.

I wrote about it on my website as a way to vent and purge the trauma.  They found it and accused me of defamation and “false facts,” even threatened to sue….So I ran several posts showing that smacking kids on the head is not only physical abuse, but harmful to the brain.  I haven’t seen any more threats from these people.

Now, I haven’t seen them on my blog for three months now, so I don’t know if they’ll ever be back here again.  But the question of brain injury from smacking is still important to me.

Now we have new evidence that yes, hard knocks to a child’s or teenager’s head are indeed harmful, even if they don’t lead to more than a “bell ringer.”  For one thing, the term “bell ringer” is no longer used medically, being replaced with the term “concussion.”  No longer do they speak of “mild concussions.”  You either have a concussion, or you don’t.  Bell ringer, mild concussion, it’s all a concussion now.

But does this apply to smacking a kid on the head as punishment?  It’s not a 200-pound linebacker slamming into your head, but think about the size of an adult vs. the size of a toddler, and how hard that adult could potentially hit the kid.  Isn’t it possible that a large adult could easily hit a child far harder than intended?  Or if the adult is furious–just how hard might that adult hit?

Then there’s the size of the couple who traumatized me.  Both were large people–the man was 6’4 and 400 pounds–and I got the impression that both of them smacked their little kids.  Imagine the force one of them could easily put into a smack.

Not only this, but an article in today’s newspaper explains that even small hits that don’t lead to concussions can lead, when repeated over time, to brain injury:

In an interview, Omalu said even hits not deemed to be concussions can be dangerous. Every time there is a blow to the head, he said, the brain suffers microscopic injuries. The brain does not have a built-in capacity to repair these injuries, meaning such “subconcussive blows” can accumulate.

There is no safe blow to the human head,” Omalu said. “Every impact to your head can be dangerous. That is why you need to protect your head from all types of blunt force trauma. A helmet does not make a difference.”

Research released this month from Boston University confirms Omalu’s worries about subconcussive blows. By studying the brains of deceased teenagers who had played football or other contact sports, researchers found that blows to the head — even if there were no symptoms of a concussion — can lead to the early stages of CTE, a degenerative brain disease. Signs of CTE were detected in the brains of three of the four research subjects.

…CTE has been linked to memory loss, impaired judgment and impulse control, aggression, depression, increased risk of suicide, Parkinson’s and dementia, according to the Boston University CTE Research Center.

…Borland believes the study’s focus on diagnosed concussions also will not account for subconcussive hits, which have been found to have negative effects on the brain. Nor will it yield the true number of concussions in the sport, given estimates developed by researchers in 2014 that less than one in every 20 concussions is reported by college football players.

No Such Thing as a Bell Ringer: UW players downplay concussions as evidence of trauma aftermath mounts

Another reason this issue is important to me has nothing to do with the abusive couple.  This goes back to college, and an abusive fiance, who was my spiritual husband.  No, he didn’t abuse me physically, though there were signs that would happen if we stayed together longer.  He did slap the girl who came after me.

But one day, he, his brother and his brother’s fiance, took me to the county fair.  One of the first rides we went on, was a spinning box.  I don’t remember how it happened, or even if I knew, but somehow, I hit my head while it was spinning.  Then, of course, the ride was still going, so the box kept spinning for a minute or two.  Finally, it ended, we got off–and I had a terrible headache.  I felt nauseated, and asked my fiance to take me back to his house to rest.

On the way past a first aid station, I asked if we could stop there, but he laughed at me like I was being ridiculous.  On the way home, everybody talked about going dancing that night.  They invited me along, but I said no, and I got upset that my fiance would even think about going there without me when I’d been injured.  I felt like I needed someone to care for me.

What response did I get to this?  That I was being unreasonable.  A party pooper.  That I didn’t want my fiance to have fun.  And no, this didn’t just come from my fiance: All three of them accused me of this.  Said I never wanted to go dancing with him (which was a lie, because I went to several dances with him, and liked dancing).  Said that because of me, he stopped going dancing every weekend–even though he never asked me to go dancing on the weekend, except for a few school dances, and he never even mentioned that he did this every weekend.  And of course, my fiance reported back to me what all they had said.  All three of them made me feel like an abusive, controlling bitch who didn’t want my fiance to have any fun at all–all because I had hit my head on a ride.  And what did his brother say?  He blamed me for getting hurt.

Several years later, when researching concussions, I realized what had happened to me was a concussion.  All the literature I read, a medical professional I consulted, and my now-husband, agreed that these people had treated me abominably.  That I had a concussion which needed to be properly tended to, but nobody bothered, nobody cared.  (I was two states away from home, so couldn’t go to my parents.)

The whole story of that episode is here.

So yeah, I have a personal interest in this.  It doesn’t matter to me if you’re dealing with teenagers playing football, or kids getting smacked by their parents, or somebody getting hurt on a ride: Concussions matter.  The brain has to be protected.  But even with such a high-impact and dangerous sport as football, the risk and treatment of concussions is being treated like it’s nothing.  So you have people like my ex-friends, thinking they can smack kids around and it’s not abuse.

This crap needs to stop.

For my other research on this, see Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, Another site giving the dangers of slapping kids upside the head, and  …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflections on Fire And Fury

I don’t want to get into a big, long treatise on politics, but give a few general impressions after finishing Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury:

First of all, his view of Trump is not a mastermind trying to be the next Hitler.  It’s more along the lines of what Howard Stern said many months ago, that Trump just wants to be loved.

The trouble is that Trump–in the Wolff portrayal–is so dim-witted that he fails at this and doesn’t know why, then lashes out and makes things worse.  And that he’s terribly unfit for the Presidency and his whole staff knows it.

Turns out that even as a business leader, he faked his way along.  He doesn’t have the acumen or the patience to read or listen to the kind of full, detailed explanations and reports that you’d expect a president to need to function in his post.  Wolff says that despite bragging that he’s a great negotiator, Trump is actually a terrible negotiator.  And many of his staffers are incompetent as well, knowing nothing about politics.

Instead of having some plan in mind for taking down the press, free speech, etc., he seems to bungle into making outrageous attacks on the Constitution.  He doesn’t realize what he’s doing, just wants to get back at somebody who upset him, or he’s just rambling about something he knows nothing about, or–in the case of NFL knee-bending–stumbled upon a way to stir up crowds at his rallies.  Because he can’t stand boring a crowd with a dull prepared speech; he needs cheers, love, adoration.

What makes this even worse is that when the leader of a country is unfit, somebody tries to step into the vacuum and be the real power behind the throne, the puppet master.  And that’s exactly what has happened, with various forces–alt-right, establishment Republicans, moderates–trying to take over, and fighting amongst themselves.

Another problem is that getting rid of Trump one way or another–impeachment, 25th Amendment, resignation–wouldn’t fix the problem.  If anything, his election and nominal presidency have brought into the open problems which have been there for some time.  For example, the alt-right/white supremacists.  They’ve been emboldened, and aren’t likely to just slink away if Trump is taken out of office.  Wolff says that Richard Spencer specifically intended to link the movement with Trump in the Charlottesville rally.

Then you have the establishment GOP.  They don’t want to impeach Trump because he’s their shot at finally getting their policy wishlist.  The GOP doesn’t serve us, hasn’t for some time; they serve the corporations.

Just look at Wisconsin: The media stopped paying much attention to us after 2011’s furor over Act 10 died down, but we’re still suffering not just from the effects of Act 10, but from having the GOP in power.  They’ve gerrymandered their way into keeping and holding onto power, so much so that a court ordered them to fix it.  But instead of fixing it, they decided to fight, costing us more money.  We’re lagging behind other states; I hear of some great economic recovery, but here in Wisconsin, companies still suffer and talk of closure.  Walker refused the aid offered by the government for implementing the Affordable Care Act.

We had a non-partisan watchdog group keeping an eye on the state government, but because it investigated Walker, the GOP government shut it down.  A GOP Supreme Court ended the investigation, saying there was no wrongdoing, despite mountains of evidence saying the opposite.  Now the GOP is going after the people who were involved in the investigation, slandering them so publicly and fiercely that their targets are talking of lawsuits.

This is separate from Trump, existed before Trump, and will still be there after Trump.  Trump is a malignant narcissist, but he alone will not bring us into fascism.  No, the GOP as a whole, working together, and using him as a tool, can bring us into fascism.

As the last page of the book describes Bannon’s view,

The Trump presidency–however long it lasted–had created the opening that would provide the true outsiders their opportunity.  Trump was just the beginning.

And yes, Kelly hates Trump, just as we all suspected.

And who is the person having a rumored affair with Trump?  Wolff said to read between the lines.  😛  At first I thought it was Hope Hicks, but her affair was with Lewandowski, and Trump seems to treat her more like a daughter.  And yes, that means saying she’s the best tail Lewandowski will ever get, because you know Trump talks about his real daughter like that.  Which is also disrespectful to Lewandowski’s wife, who should be the “best tail” he’ll ever get.  <eyeroll>

Is it Nikki Haley?  In the epilogue are some hints that it might be her.  But I still suspect Hicks.

Wait–Despite all the complaints that he was careless about facts, he had *three* fact-checkers.  So yes, it was fact-checked.

And, oh yeah, I’ve downloaded the other Fire and Fury, the one which people kept downloading by mistake: a book about Allied bombings on Germany during WWII.  This actually ties right in with the novel I’m writing, so it’s research.  🙂

Having the same name as Wolff’s book, led to a sudden jump in sales for a book which hadn’t received a whole lot of attention before this.  A very confused review–saying why do liberals love it so much when there’s nothing in it about Trump–even made it to Stephen Colbert (watch here).  That review is no longer there, so I think the confused reviews have all been weeded out.  🙂

 

 

 

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Neo-Nazis Infiltrating Orthodoxy

“Why is a symbol of my faith being used alongside Nazi and White Nationalist symbols, and what is American Orthodoxy going to do about it?”

This question was asked by Arthur Hatton after taking a picture of a rock painted with neo-Nazi–and Orthodox–symbols.  It’s published in this post–WHITE SUPREMACY IN THE AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ASSEMBLY OF CANONICAL ORTHODOX BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA–by Orthodoxy in Dialogue.

Neo-Nazi and Confederate sentiments have been making their way through the Orthodox Church, a small but disturbing minority, going directly against everything Christ ever stood for.  OID wants the leadership of Orthodoxy in America to clearly condemn white supremacy and racism before this poison does any more damage.  And anyone can still sign the open letter by e-mailing OID.

And of course, the neo-Nazis have responded with a post by Matt Parrott of the Traditional Worker Party.  (The name draws from the original German name of the Nazi Party.)  In a hate-filled post, he makes himself and other white supremacists in Orthodoxy into some kind of martyrs for the cause, puritans fighting the heretics of “Ameridoxy.”  You can read it on the OID website here, along with OID’s response.  That’s better than linking you to the original post, which is on a Nazi website.  😛

For example, Parrott writes,

The Toronto School of Theology’s vibrant and very ecumenical community is calling on Orthodox clergy to go on a hysterical witch hunt for absolutely any and all clergy who may have the slightest anti-globalist or pro-Southern sympathies. Co-signatures are reaching into the hundreds as layman and clergy alike scramble to get their name on the list of people less likely to find themselves strapped down to the lynch mob’s cucking stool.

And also,

May the first man who attempts to deny communion on account of race be excommunicated.

Hold up. Wait a second. That stupid list [ names signed to the OID letter ] actually is a handy list of folks who are guilty of precisely that. Start with excommunicating and defrocking them. … The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests and bishops, and I will stomp on each one of them on my way to hell and back to win this war for the universality of Christianity in the West.

Apparently, this TWP group would find my feminism and desire to see equality for LGBTQ in Orthodoxy to be much, much worse than their racism.

Their words made me want even more to sign OID’s letter.

The TWP even has the crazy idea that Confederate symbols weren’t seen as “super racist” at all until a couple of years ago.  Er…..I’ve seen Confederate symbols as “super racist” as far back as the 1970s/80s, when I was a child.  And so have countless others.  In fact, I’m amazed that it took so long for Southern states to wake up to how many people see the Confederacy as “super racist.”

I see this stuff popping up here and there, and start wondering if my ex-friend Richard, the guy who led me into Orthodoxy, has anything to do with any of it.  He’s only half-white, so hopefully the other half and his mixed-race child keep him from joining the racists.  But I can’t be sure, because I remember how he became militant Tea-Party in the last year or two of our friendship, back when nobody had heard of the Tea Party yet.  I remember how he hated Obama, and how his militancy strained our friendship until it finally broke in 2010.  I wonder if he’s a Trumper now.

I hope he has nothing to do with these “Orthodox” neo-Nazis, but who knows.

And of course, it’s because of Trump that these neo-Nazis are so bold these days.  They think they have a chance to take over American sentiment now.

 

 

 

 

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Some good links on Narcissism

This one questions whether or not a narcissist is doing it on purpose–saying that if he really means to hurt somebody, it’s probably anti-social (sociopath), not narcissistic.  I found this interesting because it counters the common claim on many sites that the narcissist does it all on purpose to hurt and use you.  Maybe the Narcissist Sociopath does, or the Malignant Narcissist (basically the same thing), since narcissism there co-exists with sociopathy/anti-social disorder.  But lower-level narcissists would basically be highly sensitive–at least, to their own needs, not to yours:

The way a narcissist’s brain works can help unravel whether they mean to hurt their partners or not

There is disagreement in the comment section over the advice in the following article, because you basically stop standing up for yourself, and commenters believe this will make you lose your self-esteem.  I did have a similar thought.  But the writer says the advice is meant to de-escalate fights with someone you can’t or don’t want to just leave.  So use your own judgment:

How to De-Escalate a Fight with a Narcissist

This one explains why people like me stay in friendships or relationships with abusers.  Firstly: because they’re not the Lifetime Movie Abuser all the time, knocking you around and kicking your pets:

People often stay in abusive relationships because of something called ‘trauma bonding’ — here are the signs it’s happening to you

 

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NVLD and missing social cues

An incident with the hubby–which took me entirely by surprise and confused me–meant more teaching him about NVLD and how to deal with it….Though I could swear I’ve told him this before.  Basically, don’t rely on me to figure out through body language or inference that you’ve asked me a question.  You must use WORDS.  And direct words, because vague questions don’t work too well, either.

Anyway, there are some problems from NVLD which can be helped through training: social skills training, a driving instructor who understands learning disabilities, tutoring, sometimes even the hard way because many of us grew up long before NVLD was identified.  (Even now, apparently a lot of people haven’t heard of it, even teachers.)

Of course, it can be hard to fix things as an adult if they weren’t dealt with in your childhood, because now you have to pay your own way–and if the NVLD hinders you professionally, it’s harder to make $$$ to pay for help.  Even a neuropsych exam to diagnose the NVLD can be prohibitive, so you have to rely on self-diagnosis, which doesn’t exactly open up resources for you.  But sometimes you can figure some things out as you go along, though a bit later than other people do.

But there are some things which don’t get “fixed” no matter how much you know about your NVLD or how to cope with it.  For me, I know that I miss social cues, but I only know this because sometimes people get angry with me out of the blue.  But whether they don’t know I need words, or I’ve told them but they either forget (hubby) or choose to ignore it (my narcissist ex-“friends” Richard and Tracy), if they don’t use the words, I’m not going to know the cues are there, either.

It made me reflect that this is the story of my life: Just going along, doing my thing, trying to be nice to people, and all of a sudden somebody yells at me.  Or scolds me.  Or starts rumors about me.  Or accuses me of all sorts of things which just plain aren’t true.

They say if you want to date, you need confidence.  Except how can you have confidence when all you’ve ever known is that people are going to hate or be angry at you without you ever knowing why?

They say, “You don’t need to be shy.  A lot of people like you.”  But how can you stop being shy when the haters keep coming around?  Or when you try to be social, or do things other people do, only to get either ignored or insulted?

Basically, you learn to be shy and retiring even if you weren’t born that way.  I think I was born that way because it runs in my family, but it can also be reinforced over and over again throughout life.

Many introverts have similar problems to the NVLDers because their brains work differently than an extrovert’s, so they have different social needs and conversational styles which lead to misunderstandings.  But NVLD adds on issues that an introvert may not have trouble with.

For example, organizational problems can make it hard for the NVLDer to make it places on time, so they’re labeled rude, self-absorbed, not caring about other people’s time.  But that’s not it at all, as the NVLDer may have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make it there on time, but ultimately failed.

Or trouble with inference, hand-eye coordination, remembering directions, remembering landmarks, interpreting conditions and what to do when, can all make driving a lot harder than it might be for other people.  But if we refuse to do it, we may be accused of giving in to fear, not being a grownup, wanting other people to be our taxicab, etc.  I was terribly verbally and emotionally abused for this by my ex.  Even though if you aren’t comfortable, you’re not a good driver, and doesn’t everybody say that some people shouldn’t be driving?  Do you really want me on the same road with you?

But because our disability isn’t easy to see–unlike, say, blindness or paralysis or a broken arm–people often miss it and don’t understand.  If a blind person doesn’t drive, you say of course not!  You don’t look at them funny and say everybody has to drive.  Not if you’re sane, anyway.

But if someone with NVLD completely misses your cues or doesn’t know how to properly enter a group conversation, or doesn’t recognize your attempts to make conversation, we are, essentially, blind.  Not exactly physical blindness, because we can see.  But then, it kind of is, because we don’t see what you’re doing.  Or maybe we see it but can’t interpret, so it’s meaningless to us and disregarded just as when we see somebody blink.

So when we go through life experiencing people randomly blowing up at us, hating us, spreading rumors about us, dismissing us as friends or dates, that sort of thing–we learn that people are confusing and unpredictable.  This is why the usual advice doesn’t work for us: talk more, talk less, don’t be shy, be confident.

And also why, for a writer, putting body language into dialogue is like trying to write a dissertation on astrophysics when you couldn’t even pass Chemistry.

Basically, see NVLD as a kind of blindness, and maybe you’ll understand better that the NVLDer or Aspie isn’t trying to make you angry on purpose.  Getting angry at them only makes them upset and confused.

I’m not looking for sympathy necessarily here, but rather to help “normals” (“neurotypicals”) understand NVLDers and Aspies a bit better (NVLD is similar to Asperger’s).  And also to give some solace to NVLDers and Aspies who are going through what I’ve described, to show you that you’re not alone.

 

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