Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bonhoeffer, iguanas and Jesus

"Our enemies are those who harbor hostility against us, not those against whom we cherish hostility… As a Christian I am called to treat my enemy as a brother and to meet hostility with love. My behavior is thus determined not by the way others treat me, but by the treatment I receive from Jesus." The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The following story is a bit of my husband's past as a missionary kid in South America, living at boarding school with all the other lost boys, er, young missionary kids:

The clay basketball court was hot, hot, hot in the afternoon. It lay baking in the equatorial sun, absorbing radiation that could be felt and seen as heat waves rising in the air.

A group of boys were walking in the grass and one of them disturbed a large iguana. The boys chased the iguana onto the basketball court. Quickly they surrounded the perimeter.

The iguana was getting burned. The boys laughed as its claws frantically scratched acrosss the court. The lizard tried to escape, hauling tail to the far side of the court. A boy ran to that spot and blocked his exit. In pain, the animal then ran in another direction only to be denied relief from the burning again as the bullies blocked its every attempt to escape.

I don't know how long they kept this up, or if the iguana was only tortured for a short time. My husband doesn't remember. He doesn't remember much at all from his childhood.

But I do know those hurting boys were acting out their rage and experiencing a cathartic release of repressed anger by tormenting the lizard.

The iguana certainly harbored no hostility against these boys. The lizard simply had the misfortune to catch their eye.

The hostility lay in the boys hearts long before and long after that moment of release, which I am sure brought only a momentary relief.

Jesus said many things about enemies. One verse in particular was used as a proof-text justifying the missionary lifestyle of the 1950s:

Matthew 10: 36-37

36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' 37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

Verse 37 was the verse used to demand the true disciples abandon their children to religious day/night/weekend/months-upon-months-at-a-time care in order to pursue their noble careers as missionaries. I guess they didn't read down to verse 42 where the Lord says that meeting a child's needs in his name is an act truly worthy of reward. Ironic, no?
42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

You want more irony? As Focus on the Family, home schooling and being a SAHM became the new Christian standard, my mother-in-law (yes the same one who sent her five and six year old little boys to full-time, twenty-four/seven, around-the-clock, ten-months at a stretch childcare!) confided how lucky she was that none of her daughters-in-law wanted to work outside the home.

She was the ultimate career woman, but because that career was religious then it was not only okay, it was proof of her commitment to Jesus?! But her daughters-in-law were considered good precisely because we didn't have a career outside the home? Confused yet?

The truth is whatever the Christian culture glorified as the most righteous, the most committed, the most spiritually earnest course of action, that was the one my mother-in-law wanted to be associated with. She chose her career path right after Jim Elliot's death, when all the truly committed seminary students were being urged to take up Jim's calling as their own. Going to become a Bible translator to Stone Age tribal peoples was what the most righteous, the most committed, the most spiritually earnest evangelicals would do.

Many, many seminary students responded to that manipulative calling. It was the QF/homeschool movement of its day. That's why there was a whole pack of angry, wounded little boys walking in the jungle that day.

Today the most righteous, the most committed, the most spiritually earnest evangelicals are the QF/patriocentric crowd. But some things never change. It is still the children who suffer.

The days of my husband's exile to boarding school are over. The pain and anger of abandonment are not. So if you read my blog, please say a prayer for my husband,that he would find true healing.

And if you are living your own life trying to please God by doing whatever the Christian culture glorifies as the most righteous, the most committed, the most spiritually earnest course of action today-


All you need to know about pleasing God is found in Hebrews 11:6

6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Pretty simple: believe he exists, try to get to know Him. God speed on your journey, seeker! The iguana and I would like to ask you to keep it simple. Love God. Love people. Live loved.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


My son is fascinated with zombies.

He loves zombie movies, zombie books, zombie video games, zombie songs and he has a zombie poster in his room. He knows the Zombie Survival Guide inside out. He knows the dialogue from Zombieland. And he is a killer shot in Left Four Dead.

He posts the lyrics to George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding (by Showbread) on his facebook page. To make Spanish class more personally relevant, we looked up the Spanish word for zombie once. (It's zombi in case you wondered.) If I want to see him smile, all I need to do is show up with a new zombie book from Barnes and Noble.

Zombies. Zombis. The undead. The living dead. The walking dead. A zombie by any other name will stench as strong.

I see a direct correlation with my son's zombie habit and our home, unfortunately. We have our own personal zombie problem. And I don't think we are the only ones who have this issue.

The last zombie movie I saw was Fido. In this movie, society has made peace with the zombies among us. The main plot involves a little boy and his small family. He is an only child and lives with both parents. He wants a zombie for a pet. (In this movie, zombies can be controlled by an electronic collar they must wear at all times. It deadens their desire for human flesh. Properly contained, they make great pets, servants and we find out later, even lovers.)

Dad has been traumatized by zombies early on in the Z Wars. Both of his parents became zombies and he had to kill them in order to survive. Ironically, the only thing you could call a passion in his own life is to avoid the fate of becoming undead. By that he means to avoid literally becoming a zombie after death. Living like a zombie, i.e. as an emotionless shell of a person, he finds preferable to processing his pain and moving on with the living.

He obsesses about having enough money to ensure that his head (and the heads of his loved ones) can be buried separately from their bodies at death. It is pretty much all he talks about. It is all he aspires to. Meanwhile his living family, who is very much wanting to experience life while they ARE still alive, get ignored.

The mom wants to dance and laugh and be loved. Dad is not interested. The son wants to play catch and have adventures and be loved. Dad is not interested. Dad is only interested in hiding inside his emotional cage, the locked entrance visually alluded to by the paper he holds upright over his face when his family is trying to talk to him.

Like every other passive aggressive person in the world, the Dad resists emotionally bonding with his family. He refuses to dance with his wife. He changes the subject when she tries to talk to him. He is too busy playing golf to spend the afternoon with his son. Every one else in his family is inviting him to share life, but he is not interested.

Linking passive aggressive personality disorder (I just learned this week that it is actually a personality disorder) to zombies is not my original idea. It was explored in Sean of the Dead to great comic effect. It is the main theme of Fido. But when I finally made the connection, it seemed like en epiphany to me. (Writing that sentence made me laugh at myself. Laughter is good.=)

Of course my son is obsessed with zombies! It makes perfect sense. He has lived with one for many years. A shell of a person, the living dead, shuffling through life not feeling or having any emotional interaction with the people in his life. He looks human. He moves and makes noise. But he is not alive in the same sense that the rest of us are alive.

I am guessing, since Fido and Pleasantville and so many other movies have been made pointing out the damage of cutting off our emotional selves from our daily experience of life, that a lot of people in our society must suffer from this malady. I personally am not one of them, I am delighted to report. I can not imagine how horrible it must be to live emotionally dead inside. I have great pity for those who have become crippled in this way.

(I do have my own issues, though. Also in yesterday's reading, I find that daughters of NPD mothers without fail choose emotionally unavailable partners. Yes, I was attracted to my man specifically because being rejected by and irrelevant to a person I loved felt so normal. Oh vey. Will my mother's shadow ever leave me?)

That's pretty much where my thoughts about PAPD and zombies ended. I felt sorry for the critters. It's a sad place to be. I wanted to coax them out of their shell of a life. Specifically I wanted to coax my husband out of his shell of a life. I devoted my whole life to this job. I took a vow to never waver from this purpose.

But there was a very important aspect about zombiedom that I was overlooking.

Zombies will hurt you.

Zombies want to destroy you.

Zombies want to make you undead like they are.

Yikes. I don't know how it is that I missed this. In my zeal to bring healing and experience life with my personal undead, this truth completely escaped my attention. Yesterday's trip to the abyss jerked me awake to this reality.

Yikes, indeed.

In the movie Fido, everyone gets what they need or want in the end. The Dad is killed in a zombie outbreak and gets the fancy funeral that he always wanted, with separate head burial. His son and wife finally get the husband and father they need. Ironically, this of course turns out to be Fido himself, the zombie with the collar who first became part of the family as a pet.

I hope everyone in my family winds up getting what they need and want. I hope my husband finds healing for his emotional traumas and can live life fully alive. That's what we all want. My son, my daughter, myself, we all want my husband to choose Love and Life. New mercy every morning. =)

If we can't have that, I hope we all get what we need. We need to be loved, to have enough, to have dreams and accomplishments and companions who will enjoy the journey with us. I want that for each of us, however and wherever we can find it.

I love my children and I am so sad for all the pain they have been through in life. I once hoped that the happy moments, the nurturing moments, the joyful moments would make up for the unhappiness of our zombie problem. I see now that those are separate things.

Happy moments are to be celebrated for what they are. They are not integers however, with a positive canceling out a negative. They are more like a collection. You keep the bad and the good both. And if something in your collection is rotten, the whole thing stinks.

So my dear children, if you ever read this, know I am praying that the Lord of Love will clean out all the rotten moments in your memory collection. I am praying that His grace will wash them clean and make something good out of them somehow. I am praying for healing for the hurts that have come your way. I love you so much and only wanted good for you both, though I failed in providing that many times. I hope you will forgive and find freedom and live life fully alive!

And if my husband ever reads this, I pray you will find healing. I pray your desire to come out of your undead shell and live life fully alive will be STRONGER than your desire to protect yourself from pain. I pray that you will open your prison doors and let all your grudges go free. The rotten little rascals make dangerous pets. They turn on you, you know. I hope that you want this NOW, with me, MORE THAN ANYTHING (including the safety you think isolation brings) and not later when it might turn out to be so late that it doesn't include me. I really wanted to live loved with you.

And for myself, may my desire to live loved, to live life fully alive, never waver and never weaken. May God heal my hurts, be my strong tower of refuge, provide me with all the opportunities and provisions I need and write one beautiful adventure out of my life. I give it all to you, God of Possibilities.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

For my daughter

Way back in the deep forest, far from the protected paths, lived a little man made of sticky sap. He looked like a flesh and blood creature at first glance. A very handsome flesh and blood creature, actually. Many forest creatures would gaze on his glistening skin and be mesmerized by the dazzling reflection of dappled sunlight on sap. It was quite the sight.

The sap man was not happy being made of sap. He wanted to be flesh and blood like the forest creatures around him, but he was not. He watched the other woodland creatures as they scurried around the forests. He saw them forage and hunt. He saw them play and relax. He saw them court in the spring, raise young together, and go their separate ways, according to their kind. He watched them all.

He was fascinated by all of the animals. Squirrels and weasels were the easiest to mimic, though, because he was around them all the time. On more than one occasion he had convinced these smaller animals that he was one of them- strange and beautiful but just like them in behavior and instinct.

The first time he got a squirrel to fall for it, he felt like a god! The insecurity he felt at not being flesh and blood like the rest vanished. But only for a short while. Soon the sap man realized, that being in close proximity to the living beasts, he would soon be found out.

See he didn't really feel hungry. He pretended to feel hunger. He didn't really desire to mate. He went through the motions of the mating play because he wanted to see if he could fool the living things. Getting a living thing to believe he was real was his motivation. But once he succeeded at that, then what?

The sap man knew that in order to keep the living things convinced he was one of them, he could not let them stay close long. Quickly his first squirrel started to question him. The sap man was really smart and most of the time he guessed correctly at the appropriate time and action: play bow or gather food or chatter noisily. But sometimes he guessed wrong, and the squirrel would notice.

The fear that the sap man felt in those moments is indescribable! Immediately the sap man would become very angry. He would begin to belittle the squirrel, question her actions and then threaten to abandon the squirrel. This terrified the young animal; she thought she had found a god for a mate, the most amazing mate a young squirrel could ever find! She could not lose him. The squirrel wound up groveling and apologizing and going through all the attraction behaviors that the sap man had observed and learned to mimic.

Power and satisfaction replaced the terror of discovery in the sap man's mind. He liked the idea of having so much power over another creature. He began to believe he was a god.

But the sap man was also smart, he knew that eventually that squirrel might figure it out. And whether or not she did, there was little challenge in getting her to adore him anymore. Too easy.

So the sap man pursued other squirrels. The challenge and the fun at first was keeping the squirrels from knowing about his other victims. It made life exhilarating and exciting. But eventually he was found out, and his shame at not being a living creature returned. Quickly though, he realized how he was able to control multiple squirrels by playing them against each other. That added to the challenge and for a time, kept the game interesting.

But only for a time. It was too easy too quickly. That's when the sap man began to study the weasels.

The sap man repeated the same game, studying the weasels until he thought he understood everything about them. He still had his dazzling appearance. Oddly his non-living aspects were what made him unique and attractive. By mimicking the behaviors of his target species so well, they were convinced that the sap man was a Super Squirrel or a Super Weasel, a god-like being who was better than they and yet one of them as well.

And so he tired of squirrels and moved on to weasels.

What became of the squirrels, you wonder? Many of the squirrels were so full of self-doubt and self-loathing at being fooled by the sap man that they ran off. They did not trust their instincts anymore. These squirrels did not know what being a squirrel really meant anymore. They had been berated and blamed so much by the sap man that they deadened their desires and doubted their drives. They stopped gathering food and starved during the winter.

Some tried to hurt the sap man and only got a sticky mess on their fur. These were the ones who realized that they had been tricked and they were furious! They rushed at the sap man with fangs bared and claws scratching. Soon their faces and paws were covered with sap.

For all these the experience was painful and embarrassing. Grass, dead leaves and fur stuck on top of the sap. This looked a mess and slowed the squirrels down. Some were handicapped so much by the sap mat that predators were able to catch them. One squirrel died shortly after first attacking the sap man. Sap filled her nostrils and she couldn't clear them. She died a horrible death, panicked and furious. The sap man observed emotionlessly. After all, he had never been a living creature so he didn't feel things like pity or remorse.

A few of those squirrels survived, but it took a long time for the sap mess to get fully covered with dirt and stop being sticky to the touch. It took longer still for the fur underneath to grow out so that the sap was no longer stuck to skin. Plus those who lived that long still had the pain to deal with when finally the sappy matted fur caught on something and was jerked out.

But oh, what a blessed feeling that was, to have every last bit of the sap man gone! These squirrels were the happiest squirrels you ever saw when that day of freedom finally came! But all them were the first to run away from new creatures and they were far less curious than they might otherwise have been. Better safe than sorry was their new motto. Not a bad motto for living for any animal.

Now in that forest there lived a gorgeous fox kit. Foxes, unlike squirrels, have a very wide range. Also they stay with their parents for a long time, learning to hunt and survive before they go off in search of their own territory. This particular family of foxes lived in a far part of the forest. And so these foxes had never seen the sap man, though the parents heard rumors that such a thing existed.

Unfortunately for the young vixen, her parents didn't put much stock in rumors. It was a quality they would all come to regret.

The sap man was already bored with weasels and restless the day the vixen first wandered into his territory. He had never seen such a powerful, attractive creature! Not that he was actually attracted, more like intrigued by the sight of something new. And not that he sensed power, but he observed how all the other forest creatures ran in fear when they vixen arrived. He watched as the vixen easily took a weasel and ate it on the spot. The sap man felt his inferiority for the first time in a long time.

At that moment, he became determined to deceive the vixen.

I would like to tell that he was unable to fool the vixen. After all, foxes are crafty creatures and great predators themselves. But this was a young vixen after all. And since there was no sap man in the part of the woods she grew up in, she was uninformed and unprepared for the danger that lie ahead.

The sap man stayed in the shadows and watched the vixen many days. Since he was not living, the vixen didn't hear him breath. Since he was made of sap, his scent did not alarm her. So the day he revealed himself, she was not aware that she was in the role of prey. That had never happened to her before.

The sap man had perfected his revealing through the previous months and years. He chose a quiet moment in the afternoon when the sun was streaming down. He quietly followed the fox until she stopped to rest and then circling ahead, he stepped into the clearing and struck his god-like pose.

The vixen was entranced by the beauty of the sap man from the moment she laid eyes on him. Here was something she had never seen before, so she immediately froze and went on high alert, but she could not help but notice his beauty.

The sap man began to speak to her in fox, casually as if her already knew the vixen. In fact, this was easy to do because he had been observing her and learning her ways and habits.

I would like to tell you that things went easier for the young vixen. I would like to tell you that the vixen was too well-informed (but remember her parents thought the sap man wasn't real) and too worldly-wise (but remember she was young and just started claiming her own territory).

I would like to tell you that when a sap-gobbed weasel tried to warn her, the vixen listened. But nope, the vixen pounced on the weasel and that was the end of that.

I would like to tell you that when a squirrel with bald spots, who stayed high up in the trees, tried to warn her, the vixen listened. But no, the vixen just called the squirrel ugly and stupid and dared her to come down and say that to her face. Of course the squirrel, wiser for her trouble, just leapt off through the treetops.

The vixen heard those words often lately, "ugly" and "stupid". That's why she hurled them at the squirrel.

You see the sap man treated the vixen exactly the same as he had treated the squirrels and weasels. Anytime it seemed his fox schtick was failing, he would rage at the vixen and belittle her. Then he would follow it up with the flattery and pretense of strength that attracted the little fox in the first place.

It was not pretty. One day rumor reached her old home that the vixen was involved with the sap man. Her mother hunted down the vixen, and tried to expose the sap man for what he was- not even a living thing. But the sap man had planned for this day and taught the vixen that all the other foxes were jealous of her god-fox mate. And so the vixen stayed.

Her father then hunted her down to warn her too, but with the same result. But by now the vixen was very confused and unsure of herself. Just like the smaller forest creatures before her, she had begun to doubt herself, to doubt that she was even a fox anymore. She knew her father might be right, but the shame she would feel if she admitted it was too much to bear. She ran away from the sap man (he wasn't worried; she always came back) and curled up under the roots of an old tree.

The vixen fell into a deep sleep and began to dream. In her dream, she was confident and self-assured, just like on the day she left home. She felt strong and capable, and dream-running through the forest was a joy. As she ran her dream-run, a nine-tailed fox caught up to her. He raced along beside her, and her heart was again full of foxiness and life. The vixen understood what it meant to be fox. She awoke.

Everything changed for the vixen that day. She knew the sap man was not a god-fox anymore. She had run with the god-fox in her dream and no counterfeit would ever fool her again!

I would like to say that the vixen remembered the bald squirrel and did NOT return to rage at the sap man. But remember, she was still a young fox. Bald squirrel's opinions don't mean much to young foxes.

Yes, the vixen left that part of the forest with some matted paws covered in sap.

She returned to vent her rage and get her revenge, only to discover that the sap man tried to entice her to the sort of fury that would destroy her. He laughed in her face and mocked her pain. (That was how he got the unfortunate squirrel to attack so fiercely her whole face was buried in sap, and he hoped it would work on the vixen too.) The power to destroy was what the sap man considered the highest and best he could achieve!

But instead of rushing forward in fury again and again, the vixen controlled her rage and took a step back to consider her next move. Her muzzle had sap on it, and so did her right paw.

At that moment a mangy looking weasel called out, "He ain't worth it!" Finally the young fox listened to another's experience. She realized that it wasn't mange patches on the weasel, but dirt-covered sap mats. The vixen glared at the sap man (if looks could kill!) turned her back and trotted away on sap-laden paws.

What happened to the young vixen after that, I do not know for sure. I like to think that she runs through the forest in power and grace, empowered by the spirit of the nine-tailed god-fox. I like to think that the sap mats have all fallen away, and a golden blond fur grown in to make the scars beautiful instead of leaving bald patches. I like to think that she found a flesh and blood mate and lived a flesh and blood life, maybe even raised some beautiful flesh and blood kits. And knowing that vixen, that probably IS what happened.

I do know what happened to the sap man, though. Being able to fool a fox stroked his ego over the top. His next victim was a wolf, and she had no more luck than the vixen. She did, however, have something the vixen did not have: a pack.

Since a sap man is not flesh and blood, he cannot be killed. And anything you attack the sap man with, it just sticks to him. Now usually, since it was living things attacking him, they would pull off a part of him in their fur and wind up the worst for it. Yet the sap man would be fine.

The she-wolf and her pack held counsel and thought about their options. The sap man could not be killed. The sap man could not be attacked in the conventional way. So the question was, how to neutralize the sap man?

"Drown him in the river?" offered one wolf. That idea was discarded as impractical. How could they force him into the water? Plus it wouldn't drown him. He's probably come out prettier for his bath.

The sap man just laughed at their council howls. He knew they could never attack.

The wolves were all silent, thinking, until a voice came out of the darkness. "Take away his beauty. Then he can no longer deceive. This takes away his power."

No one there recognized the voice. I heard a rumor that it was the vixen, but that can't be confirmed.

The surviving she-wolf looked at her patchy painfully matted fur. She thought of the scarred up squirrels and weasels and suddenly she knew what they must do.

Howls filled the air the night of the attack. The sap man, arrogant as always, didn't care. As the sounds got closer, he began to eagerly anticipate the opportunity to mock at such majestic creatures as wolves. He would make laughing sounds at their impotent fangs and muscles and enrage the stupid creatures! They would all see that he was a god!

At this point the sap man believed his own spiel. He had convinced himself that he was superior to flesh and blood creatures because they were so easily manipulated! Buffoons.

Howls filled the air now and all the other forest creatures slid deep into their burrows or cowered high up in the trees. A wolf pack is a dangerous thing. All wise things in the forest know this.

The first wolf came into sight. The sap man began to mock.

Two, three, six, a dozen wolves surrounded the sap man. He continued to belittle them, sure of their impotence. He was especially derisive of the she-wolf and told her how stupid she had been. But to his suprise, the wolves showed no reaction.

They simply surrounded him, glaring and silent. The sap man began to get nervous. He began to yell uglier disparaging comments, his voice getting more and more shrill at the impassive unchanging wolf pack around him. Panic set in.

The pack leader could tell by the change in the sap man's voice that he was finally and truly confused and afraid. This was what the pack wanted (and I think, the vixen, if indeed it was her counsel that sparked this action in the first place).

The leader gave the signal, and all the wolves turned their tails to the sap man and started furiously scratching up the earth in huge cloud of dirt and debris. The sap man lunged at the wolf in front of him, but the wolf deftly darted forward and the sap man fell.

It was a great humiliation. The noise, the dust, the feeling of shame pelting him like debris. Wait, it was debris. More panic. The sap man rose to his feet. He must stop the wolves before he was covered in debris!

But it was too late. Already the sap man was blinded by dust. He lunged here and there like a drunk zombie, unable to see where he was going, unable to stop the wolves from kicking up more dirt and leaves and rocks and mess onto the sap man's body.

The wolves were howling with delight at that point! They made a game of hunting the sap man through the forest, seeing who could get the closest or make the largest object stick to him. The game was over when the sap man was totally and completely covered in forest, and there was not a single sticky spot left on him. The wolves left him right before dawn broke through the trees.

The sap man's beauty was destroyed.

The sun rose that morning and streamed down through the trees like always. The sap man, confused, blinded and too heavy to move, could only feel a bit of warmth filter through the twigs, pine cones, acorns, leaves, rock, dirt and scat that covered his body, and that only when the sun came through the trees at just the right angle and only for a short time.

He is still there today. He can't die for he was never alive to begin with. It is possible, I suppose, that hundreds of years from now enough erosion may occur to allow the sap man to walk again.

But not as long as the wolf pack lives. They start every hunt there now, kicking up dust on the sap man, making sure he stays ugly and immobile. I've heard that all the other survivors of the sap man drop by on occasion too, to throw dust on the one who almost destroyed them.

Except the vixen of course, who is too busy enjoying life and foxiness to be bothered with an ugly pile of trash in a forest far away. =)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Religious Smackdown

Why does happiness and joy seem to bring out the worst in some people? I have seen it over and over.

I think the first time I remember seeing it was as a young child going to the First Baptist Church of the small town my Grandmother lived in. It was a beautiful spring day. The songbirds were happily laying claim to their respective territories among the flowering trees. The sun was shining, but it was not unbearably hot yet,like it gets all too quickly on the Great Plains. It must have been March or maybe early April, because by June summer is in full force.

The town was so small that no one who actually lived in town was more than a few blocks from church. I had walked to church, and so had my Grandma. My neighbor from across the street was there at church, as were so many older people I knew from living in that town. The barber, the mechanic, the fourth grade teacher. That's just how it is in a small town.

My neighbor from across the street had also walked that morning and thoroughly enjoyed the new life bursting out all around her as she went. She was like that.

I loved this lady. A couple of times every summer I would go over to her house, where she lived alone, and break up the boredom of summer with a visit. She always made me a cool drink, and we would sit on her back porch and enjoy what little shade there was on that prairie. It seemed like all the shade on the whole prairie was concentrated in her back yard, as she had so many trees and shrubs around the perimeter.

She also had this magical patch of soft, thick green grass that was completely unlike the scratchy hard grass that grew everywhere else. St. Augustine was the name of her sumptious living throw rug. She carefully tended that small patch which grew only in the shade and required hand watering each evening.

She also had two other things of interest, a piano and a canary. When we were inside, she would often play the piano and we would sing together. We would sing children's songs and hymns both, having a good time belting out either one. It was the freedom to sing that was healing, more so than the words we sang.

Or if we were sitting on the back porch, the canary would sing for us. He was a delicate little bird with beautiful yellow feathers. She would whistle to him and he would whistle back. My neighbor was also delicate and tiny and beautiful. He was the perfect pet for her.

On that particular Sunday morning, my neighbor was up in the choir, beaming as usual. I don't remember if she waved at me that morning, like she sometimes did. I do remember that she was very, very happy.

The boring pastor was just wrapping up announcements, when my elderly neighbor piped up from the choir.

"Excuse me pastor." Her voice wavered a bit in the way of the aged as she tentatively slipped up her hand.

"Why yes, Mrs.________. Do you have an announcement to add?" The pastor smiled and turned toward the choir. He was a nice enough man I guess. I don't remember a word he ever said but I don't remember him being mean either.

My neighbor was just glowing with happiness. It oozed from her being. She closed her eyes and let the bliss settle over her countenance.

"Oh yes, I just want to thank Jesus for creating such a beautiful world and such a beautiful day. Isn't God good?" She enthused. Honestly and from the heart. No religious show-boating about it. It was as plain as day that she truly meant it.

My own heart leaped on the inside and I thought to myself YES! I feel it too!

My Grandma snorted in derision, and muttered not too quietly, "Oh shut up, you old fool. You look stupid."

Now as a child, I really had no reaction to what my Gramdma said. I didn't agree with her, obviously. My heart resonated with the joyful proclamation of my neighbor. I just observed, and that moment is etched in my memory forever.

What is it that causes the unhappy to hate those who have found joy in life? It remains a mystery to me. You think at the very least they would be happy someone was experiencing it, even if they themselves were not.

But no, the instinct is to shame the honest, living, loving, laughing person; to try to bring social censure down upon their head; to destroy love.

Unfortunately many do so in the name of God. My Grandma seemed to be of the opinion that God preferred passive faces going though the motions of a "church service" to hearts on fire with life.

I love my Grandma, but she was so wrong that day. She is in glory now and I believe she herself is probably sheepish today in remembering her attitude, yet not shamed. There is no shame in the presence of God. His perfect love casts out all fear, so that honesty and humility are not a source of rejection. They just are. I believe that with all my heart.

It isn't confined to religion though. It happens every where, in church and outside of church. Tight-lipped bitter people despise those with real joy, in many cases successfully manipulating public opinion to ostracize the emotionally whole and push them outside of their social circle.

I run into it in the oddest of places. I have smacked up against it in home school support groups, churches, home owner's associations, women's clubs and the work place. I have been bullied by it most often by professing Christians, but also by unhappy people of all faiths and no faith. It is the oddest phenomenon.

You hear it expressed as derision for those who are "liberal". You read and enjoyed The Shack? You are a compromiser! You had fun drinking beer with your neighbors and even got a little tipsy? You are horribly compromised! You cussed and cried when your heart was ripped open? How dare you call yourself a Christian!

This ugly self-righteousness seems to stick to people who have themselves given up on religion. Like the time my sister reviled me for ordering a strawberry daquiri at a restaurant once. I am openly a Christian. She was openly not. It would seem that she would not care whether someone bought and enjoyed an alcholic beverage or not. I certainly don't care, and I am a Christian. I don't think God cares either. Not the God who has richly given us all good things to enjoy, including wine to make glad the heart of man. (Look it up if you're interested. The Bible includes both statements.)

Yet she condemned me for drinking! It's as if all the ugliness of dead religion was what she brought with her out of the fundamentalist upbringing she left behind. She was indignant, snorting at me with derision just like my Grandma did to my neighbor all those years ago.

It's one of the most sad things I have ever seen. A person leaves a faith that only hurt them with rejection, but the one thing they take with them is the self-righteous denunciation of the "unworthy". They keep the worst part and let it be a part of who they are forever. Yuck.

And so I am writing out my manifesto of faith this morning for all to see. God is love. This I know. I know that I know that I know. Nothing can shake this from me.

Jesus is the human representation of God on this earth, so we could get to know who He really is and how much (how amazingly unfathomably much) He loves us. This I believe. I'm not letting that go either.

God is so good (that's what holiness really is folks, pure goodness-NOT PURE MEANNESS!!). I know this too. And I believe that the only way He could envelop us not-always-good-creatures in His presence was to purify us first. This task He took upon Himself in the cross of humiliation, to cleanse us in His own blood. Christus victor.

Now nothing can separate us from His love. (By the way, God is spirit. There is no gender in Spirit, but He refers to Himself more often as Father than Mother. Though there is that too! El-Shaddai= Mighty Breasted One; in the gospels as a Mother Hen wanting to gather in her chicks. It's in there, fundies. Deal with it.)

I raise my voice when I'm frustated. God loves me. I sing when I'm full of happiness. God still loves me. I cuss when the wrong buttons get pushed (PTSD is a beyotch!). God adores me. I complain when I feel hopeless. God dotes on me. I bitch and throw fits when life sucks at the time. God patiently waits until my emotion is spent, still treasuring me as beautiful while I blow my nose and dry my tears. I drink and dance and live life to the fullest my heart will allow. God dances with me.

God is good. Life is good. For all the haters, sucks to be you. I haven't a clue how to help you, or I would be quick on the job. I think it's something you have to figure out own your own. I wish you well.

And any time you want to join me in enjoying love, learning and liberty in this life, you are welcome. You don't have to share my faith (aka my theology), my sense of style, or my taste in music. Just chuck the self-righteousness and jump on in. There's plenty of room. Promise.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cleaning house with the iPod blasting

Yay! I am having such a great day. My heart is so open and free after writing yesterday's post. I hope every reader of mine can enjoy the good life God has given to them.

Well, Switchfoot and I have work to do. ¡Hasta maƱana!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Much on my mind

It seems that the original intent of my blog is being overtaken by so many other concerns. I am deeply concerned about the state of Christian home schooling, the death of Lydia Schatz, the arrogance of advocates of creation science, the devastating economic news in my community and my country, the existence of theonomists and Christian Reconstructionists who have crept in among the true saints of God with a political agenda, Calvinistas, complementarian cults and the threat to my children's religious and home school freedoms that all these issues represent.

I keep trying to bring the focus back to my marriage, and how that relationship was quietly affecting so many areas of our family's life and home school. I wanted to take it slow, to go in depth into our marriage's decline and how it took years for the full damage to show up. I wanted to expose the destructive doctrines that created these problems in our family, in the hopes that others might take warning and extricate themselves before they wind up in similar straits.

But life keeps happening all around me, and there is no pause button I can push until my blog entries are written. Also, my family is still in the process of healing. Some days are wonderful triumphs of new understanding and freedom in Christ. Most days are spent trying to hang on to the good that's already been accomplished. And other days are dismal slides back toward the abyss of dysfunction.

The human brain is like that. When certain ways of thinking and behaving have become established in our lives, it will take long-term, willful effort to replace those ways of thinking and behaving. Any relaxing or slacking off in laying down the new habits of thought and action, and the brain reverts to the default positions it has been protecting for years.

This is true of all people, and is no doubt why we are commanded to renew our minds to God's ways (Romans 12:2) keep our minds fixed on Jesus, consider Him who endured such opposition(Hebrews 3:1, 12:2) and warned that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but might through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and ever high thing that exalts itself before God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ(I Corinthians 10:4-5).

How fundamentalism led my husband's parents to abdicate their responsibilities to bring their children up in nurture (Ephesians 6:4) and the emotional damage that resulted to his heart, that story will have to wait. How this damage ultimately led to him physically abusing me, threatening my life with his hands around my throat, telling me that I didn't deserve to live, that will all have to wait.

The important thing to emphasize right now is that my husband is healing and learning what true Christian love and obedience are all about. (Hint: it is not about denying your pain and anger, avoiding alcohol and R-rated movies, and attending parent-approved churches, like he thought it was about all these years.) Healing is a process, and there are occasional setbacks but all in all he is on a good path now.

I know that if the past is any indication, not many abusive men ever want to change, and few of those are successful. So I hesitate to publish our success because I do not want any one to point to my situation and use it to convince a woman to stay in an abusive situation. No woman should ever rely on any other person's experience in making such an important decision.

I also want to say openly, here and now, that I do not believe that current complementarian teachings are helpful. These teachers do not rightly divide the truth. Ladies, your husbands are not due unconditional respect. No human deserves that and giving it to the unworthy is flattery that results in deception and corruption. Don't do it, ladies. Don't cooperate in living a lie. It will not end well.

I want to also thank the Charismatic preacher who taught me well so long ago, that to submit to my husband as unto the Lord means to submit to my husband when he is living in obedience to the Lord. When my husband is loving me like Jesus loves me, then and only then will I submit to him. Anything less is a yoke of bondage, and it is for freedom that Christ set me free.

I will not be a slave to any person, action, or thing. I have decided to follow Jesus, and I will have no other gods before Him. I will not falsely worship a husband, like my niece vowed to do at her recent wedding, pledging to have no desires of her own but to live only for her husband's desires. That vow was blatant idolatry. May God have mercy on her soul, but may He hold to full accountability the wolves in sheep's clothing who taught her that doctrine of devils.

We are finding healing, but not because I am staying with my husband. I have chosen to stay with my husband because he is finding healing. Big difference!

We are finding healing, but not because I flatter my husband and defer to him in everything. That would only make his problems worse. Instead, speaking the truth in love, I refuse to submit to abusive attitudes and actions. I point them out. I insist they change. This is called spurring one another on to love and good works. This is living in obedience to Jesus who told us to go to our brother and let out brother know when he has offended us.

We are finding healing, but not because I make excuses for my husband's sin. I do forgive him when he repents (Luke 17:3-4). When someone is trying to change their old ways of thinking, they can fall into the same destructive thoughts and actions many times in a single day. The important thing is that he own up to it when confronted, and go the other direction (repent). It is not easy to forgive someone who breaks your heart repeatedly, but that is my part in our marriage's healing. Seventy times seven in single day, that was the Lord's command.

However that is not the same as the excuse-making, "unconditional respect" that the complementarians demand wives show husbands. All people deserve to be treated with dignity, regardless of gender or marital status, but that is not the kind of respect complementarians teach. They teach a women should treat a man AS IF he is behaving righteously when he is NOT. Such foolish advice won't help either party, husband nor wife. That is devilish counsel, completely contrary to the words of Christ, "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)".

(This is not to say that I never sin. I have the same responsibility to repent when I have offended my brother. This has been my practice for years. It is new to my husband. As he continues to heal, I expect he will come to me about offenses more often. Part of his family dysfunction is to ignore offenses in public, yet nurse them in private. Both sides of Luke 17:3-4 are for him to practice. I have great hope that he will get there eventually.)

I hope to find the time to further develop the back-story of how we got to where we are today, but don't be surprised if newer posts are about other subjects. As I began to research fundamentalism and it's teachings about marriage and family, I am becoming more aware of how it has affected (not just MY Christian home schooling family) home schooling, marriage, politics and religion in America.

My research has led me to discard the false doctrines with which fundamentalism cursed my life, and so it is honest to call me an ex-fundamentalist. I am more authentically a follower of Jesus Christ than I have ever been, however. Same for my husband, and I hope it will prove true for my children as well.

Friday, March 12, 2010


For anyone still reading on occasion, I just wanted to let you know that I have been really sick. I caught pneumonia and it is one beyotch of an illness.

But I am better now, thank you.

I think it's ironic that I got so sick shortly after dredging up painful memories from the past for my last post. I mean, it is sickening to go back and look at that mess. I just didn't think it would literally make me sick. LOL

(Yes, I know I really didn't get pneumonia from writing. Just messing with you! ;-)

I hope to be back to posting soon, but I am in no hurry. May everyone who stops by this little part of cyberspace be blessed in some way. I wish you all well. Carpe diem.