Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Skype and the Family That Never Was

I don't write much about my family of origin.  It's a mostly irrelevant subject; I have been completely without any support from them in any way since I was seventeen years old.  You can read about the day my mom kicked my twin sister and I out of the house (with the complicity of the elders of the church in a religious ceremony) here: Bill Gothard has negatively affected my life part two

Still, it's on my mind a lot these days.  Just now I was watching an ad for video chatting.  I'm not sure it was Skype but it was something like that.  Family and friends were shown joyfully sharing life together, though separated by distance.  The laughter, smiles, playful teasing and sheer happiness of sharing life together was beautiful to watch.  It is what I strive to share with the people in my life today.  I want to create a place- a home, a friendship- where there is always welcome and good will.  Watching the ad made me feel good inside, and made me feel good about my life today.

Until it struck me.  I never once experienced anything like it, not even close, in my family of origin.  There was not one joyous exclamation of glee at an accomplishment of mine.  There was no levity.  There was no laughter. I don't mean little, I mean none.  Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Even if my mom did something that appeared to be a gift of some sort, cook a meal or take us shopping, it was done without joy.  There was an expectation that she should be lauded for any effort she put into being a parent, and in fact, I am pretty sure that was her only motivation: it affected the way she felt about herself, and in every instance I can remember, just became another excuse to blow up at her ungrateful, selfish children.

My older sister was merely an extension of my mother.  I don't know if I've written here about the time I almost died of an asthma attack. My mom was leaving the house for the day, putting my older sister "in charge".  We were commanded to clean our rooms.  My room was very messy.  I had no parent teaching me to make my bed, spending time in my room with me talking, laughing or playing.  Not. Ever.  I was mostly unparented, except in these spurts of domestic dominion which I suppose came about because my mom felt shame at the messy house or the truth that she was no parent.  Anyway, the edict had been given: clean your rooms and don't go anywhere else until it's done.

I have asthma and I am allergic to dust.  As I started in on my room, I began to wheeze.  These were the days without inhalers, so when I noticed I was actually wheezing (you'd be surprised how detached I was from my body), I had to go take a theophylline pill and get away from the trigger and wait for the pill to take effect.  I left my room to tell my sister I was wheezing.  In my mom's stead, she simply became my mom to me.  She called me lazy and a liar and accused me of just trying to get out of cleaning my room.  I protested my innocence and that I needed to get away from my room and rest.  She ridiculed me and berated me further.

Defeated, I went back to my room and, though I was wheezing loudly and couldn't breathe, I began moving stuff around.  I started crying, which only made it worse.  I was terrified and I knew I was going to die.  I also knew it was imperative that I stop crying and calm down as much as I could.  I told myself that dying would be like getting on a bus.  If I could just fall asleep, I would wake up in a new place, heaven.  I was parenting myself as always, and this time in the acceptance of my impending death.

If I could convey what it feels like to be dying of an asthma attack, I would.  I could not get breathe into my lungs.  I was sitting up, leaning forward, every muscle in my rib cage contracting, trying  to squeeze out the carbon dioxide to make room for oxygen.  The medical term is "contracting" I think.  It was an impossible task. Oxygen was not getting through.  I could hear the loud wheezing of air trying to get through swollen, mucus-filled airways.  It wasn't going to happen.  I knew I was dying.  That is no exaggeration.

The pain of my heart at being called an evil, lazy liar and being sent to my death by my sister, in spite of my pleas to be heard and loved and helped, was just a radical manifestation of a daily reality.  I was not loved in my family.  I never had been.  My twin and my grandmother were my only true family, and they were also abused and rejected.  My older sister did not love me; had never loved me.  Her survival demanded she be an extension of my mom, and my mom fully and completely rejected me and my twin sister.  My older sister did the same.

I think Jesus looked down at me like God spoke about looking down at Israel as a rejected newborn, left to die of exposure in an open field (Ezekiel 16:4-6 ).  That's my explanation for why my grandma just happened to stop by right then.  She came into the house and asked for my mom.  My older sister explained she had gone for the day, and then told her that we were to clean our rooms but I was being "rebellious".  That was a perjorative often used to describe me.  My grandma opened the door to my room to check on me.

She freaked.

The local "ambulance" came, which in this small Great Plains town meant a van with a siren on top.  The funeral director drove it, and he drove like a mad man the twenty miles to the hospital.  I remember him telling me not to die on him, to hang on.  He repeated that often.  I remember getting to the hospital.  I remember the beautiful color of my crimson blood squirting a nurses white uniform  when they put in the I. V. line.  I remember other terrifying aspects of my admission: the battleaxe nurse who kept pushing me down when I tried to sit up.  I couldn't breathe at all lying down.  She kept telling me sternly that I needed to rest, push me down and immediately I would pop right back up.  I couldn't easily tell her that I needed to breathe more than I needed to rest.  I could only get out one breathless word at a time, with great effort, and I needed that effort to breathe.

I remember the panic and feeling of suffocation when they put me in the oxygen-tented bed.  My mom had met us at the hospital.  I remember screaming for her to help me, and her walking out as I cursed and cried while medical people (as far as I could feel) tried to kill me instead of helping me breathe.

I fell into a coma.

I was in a coma for five days.

When I came to, the doctor was so happy to see me. He was a great man.  He had no idea what my home life was like.  I thank God his was the first face I saw, and his words of encouragement were the first words I heard.  He told me that he was scared they had lost me, and he was so glad I was alive.  There was no more oxygen tent.  Instead I had a mask blowing oxygen directly into my nose and mouth.  He made me feel like my life was worth something.

As soon as he left, my mom, who had been sitting vigil at my side (only while she looked a hero for it) began gathering her things to leave.  I asked her to stay.  She refused. I asked her why she left me when I needed her and why she was leaving me now.  I told her I needed her.

She lectured me for embarrassing her by cussing out the nurses when I was in a panic and making a fuss, when people were only trying to help me.  She told me how selfish I was to ask her to stay, after all she had other kids besides me.  They needed her too.  And, with that final berating, she turned her back on me and walked out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Both Hope and Regret:How is that possible?

I feel both hope and regret today.  It is the weirdest thing.  I don't feel them both at the same time, but I do feel them both within the same ten minutes.  I think EMDR is working, as before I would likely just be crushed with guilt and shame, and only be able to cultivate hope through a lot of tears, bible reading and journaling.  Now I just feel hope.  It's totally cool to be hopeful without extensive work to get there.

So here's the deal: I was a sorry ass mother in many ways to my little girl.  The irony is that my number one desire was to be a good mother!  It was both my deliverance and my curse.  My deep, deep desire to be a good mother is what led me to buy all those Christian books, go to all the seminars and Bible studies, put my kids in all the children's programs and include such a huge dose of "wholesome morality" in my home school.  That is the curse part.  The true sincerity of my longing to love my children in the way that was best is the deliverance part.  Isn't it ironic that what I meant for good turned out to detour me in the wrong direction, and actually put up a barrier between my daughter and myself?

You know the saying "better late than never"?  I really hope it turns out to be an absolute truth. My daughter  needs it to be,  and I need it to be true for her.  Yesterday in tears, as I was making these confessions to her, I apologized for not being the mother she needed me to be.  She, also in tears, replied to me that I was the mom she needed me to be NOW and that she loved for me that.  (Okay I'm getting all misty-eyed again now. Deep breath.  Exhale.  Carry on.)

I feel like I should reiterate here that I love Jesus still and always will.  I don't find fault with the Bible as much as with the way it is used.  Lewis Wells calls it "bibliolatry" and he is so right.  I was hoodwinked by the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.  It is a heresy, in my opinion.  The Bible is a record of people whose lives were affected by the Divine, and while it may be a true record of what they experienced, believed and taught (my opinion) none of those people are/were Divine themselves, except for Jesus.  Proverbs are just that, proverbs: generalizations that are true much of the time.  The history books are just that: a historical record of what people thought, did, said, felt and heard.  They are not encyclopedias of fact.  Whoever wrote Genesis was recording the stories of early Judaism.  It is not eyewitness testimony, and if it were, we would still have to consider the character and motivations of the witness.  The poetry is poetry; the gospels are four written records of what was remembered of the life and words of Jesus in the decades after his death (and resurrection!  Yes, I believe in the resurrection.); the epistles are letters written to congregations of the early church and the book of Revelations is apocalyptic writing meant to encourage the persecuted church.

But when my daughter was growing up, I thought I believed in the inerrancy of scripture, and I went to churches that taught the Bible from that perspective.  I listened to nice, wholesome, middle-class Christian teaching- nobody who dressed funny (like Mennonites, the Pearls, etc.) or acted too strange (IBLP, for example).  Nope, the people I associated with and to whom I listened dressed like everyone else and was appropriately integrated into the culture at large.  You could wear makeup and dress nice, as long as you didn't show too much skin.  You could watch television and movies, as long as you were selective about what you saw.  You couldn't cuss or drink, though, and of course you should go to church every Sunday and, generally speaking, seek moral perfection in all you do.

Ah, and therein lies the curse.  Do you know what moral perfection is, boys and girls?  It is when you look, act, talk and feel, in a word, Christian.  In order to become that kind of person, everything has to be a moral lesson.  One should be appropriately emotional- cry at the right times, smile at the right times, all that sort of outward proof of your inward transformation.  You should feel the right feelings and if you are a good Christian you will feel these right feelings at the right times.

For example, really holy people will cry at the showing of mission films.  How can you not feel despair and sorrow at the nice people on the screen who are all going to hell?  Also, you should choke up with regret and remorse at sermons calling for repentance.  If you are unfeeling, you must be some kind of amoral monster, though no one will come right out and tell you that.  And if you are reading all those family devotions, you know that these moments calling for appropriate emotional responses happen all the time.  Good Christian children will respond in the good Christian way to the sermonettes popping up in all those "teachable moments" that good Christian parents are forever alert to recognizing. Not to mention the extras the church throws in unintentionally, like athletic prowess is godly (Awana) and being beautiful is also godly (check out the casting on those plays and musicals, we all know it's true).

So here I am, earnestly wanting to be the best mom ever to my children, relying on the Christian parenting industry because I could not rely on experience, so grateful to have married into a truly godly Christian family, because in my naivete, I thought Christian was synonymous with love and nurture.  For the record, I do believe that Christ is synonymous with love and nurture, and that it is possible to be a good and loving parent by putting into practice the commands of Christ.  My mistake was in thinking that the evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity being marketed was at all about obeying the commands of Christ.  Not even close.

See, I bought into the line of reasoning (insane that it is, in my now much more humble opinion) that since the Apostle John called Jesus the Word of God made flesh, and since Christians called the Bible the Word of God, that following Jesus meant trying to obey everything in the Bible.  That is insane, because Jesus actually gave precious few commands in his life on earth, and all of them centered around empathetic love for others.  The Bible, on the other hand, has commands out the wazoo about everything from what you can eat, to how to greet people, and everything in between, much of which are contradictory to one another and very few of which actually involve empathetic love for others.

So, my daughter was pretty much screwed from the get-go.  If she had been a neurologically typical child, she might have been better able to comply.  But, unbeknownst to me for many years, my daughter is Aspie.  She doesn't feel things like other people. She doesn't experience life like other people.  I might have known that if I had been asking her questions about her experience of life, without a mental template of what was good and acceptable with which I measured everything she said and did.    If I had been parenting with the idea that there is a wide range of human experience, and all of it is acceptable, I might  have learned much earlier what kind of mom she needed me to be.  As a Christian mom, I was never encouraged to ask that question. The Bible had the answer to that question, and there were plenty of Christian authors to explain it to me, should I need more than the weekly sermon and a good look around to get it through my thick skull.

I didn't need to try to empathize with or understand my daughter: I needed to demand that she empathize with and understand others.  If she couldn't (when she couldn't) do that, it was plain enough what was going on.  She had a sinful, selfish heart, and was in rebellion to the Word of God.  There is only one right way for a Christian child to be: cheerfully obedient, appropriately compliant to whatever was expected in the moment.  Everything else is rebellion, and can be trained out of them with the right effort.

I am ashamed to admit that I punished my daughter for being who she intrinsically was.  I shamed her for being who she was, as who she was did not fit according to the template of acceptable evangelical Christian thoughts/feelings/actions.  If I could go back in time and change it, I would.  If I thought there was any depth of remorse I could feel that would undue the damage, I would dig deep into depression and regret and stay there as long as it took.  Since that won't help at all, I won't go that route, though that also is an unhealthy ideal I picked up along the way in Christianity.  Sackcloth and ashes- if you are really, really sorry enough, long enough- moves the heart of God like nothing else, at least according to some Old Testament stories.

Thankfully, I didn't have the stomach to keep it up forever.  When I saw my daughter hurting so badly in middle school/high school, I backed the hell off.  I was willing to suffer the shame (yes, I wrote shame- sad but true, it's how I internalized it, and that's how the Christian community dished it out, too) of allowing her to be herself, because it was plain that she needed that freedom in order to know she was loved.  In my evangelical delusion, I thought that such sacrifice on my part would result in healing for whatever hurts she was suffering, and THEN she would transform into the perfect Christian girl!

Little by little, over the last eight years, I have come to understand who she really is inside.  She is beautiful, inside and out, just as she is.  She does not need to change.

She doesn't need to feel anything she doesn't authentically feel.  Not feeling on cue does not make her an amoral monster.  She is as loving and sweet as anyone else, just not on cue.

She doesn't need to clean up her artistic bent.  She is an amazingly talented artist, and while her style isn't as dark as it used to be, there was nothing wrong with her earlier darker images.  She was expressing dark truths, which do also exist you know, as surely as sunshine and rainbows.

She does not have to become an athlete.  She will never be very athletic, and who really cares?  Adults aren't put into high pressure athletic events against their will. Awana is over, finally and forever.  I just wish I hadn't made her try to fit in there as a child.

There are ways in which her neurologically atypical brain will always be at a loss.  She will always have trouble navigating through space in an absent-minded professor sort of way.  She will dress in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing to her, and if it burns someone else's moral or fashion sensibilities, they had better not tell me about it.  I think she is freaking amazing, and I will back her up to anyone, anytime.

I hate that she smokes, because I love her fresh pink lung parynchema and want it to be nurtured forever.  But since she likes it, I accept it.  I refused to feel shame for anything about my daughter ever again.  I am proud of her in every way.

Thank God (literally) that I quit trying to make her into something she is not when I did.  I just wish I could have back all those early years to enjoy her for who she is, and be better equipped to help her find her place in this world without all the shaming and yelling and frustration on my part.  I don't have a time-machine, but I will pay for her therapy, and pray that somehow the love of God can heal the damage I did back then.

She'll never be evangelically fashionable, which was what I was striving to produce in her all those years.  Nope, she is much better than that.  She is authentically who she is, and I love her for it.  Shine on, beautiful. Someone cue up Katy Perry's song "Firework".

Friday, December 16, 2011

Depression sucks

Things are going a bit better this morning, though depression never plays fair so that could change at any time.  At least there were large swathes of uninterrupted sleep last night.

I spent a lot of time researching depression yesterday, specifically, major depressive episodes.  I am also doing my best to encourage and love on my husband as much as I can.  It's tricky, because when he needs it most is when he is most cynical about my sincerity.  That is a hallmark of depression.  Depression sucks.  I hate it.

One of the articles I read yesterday was this:

Ability to Love Takes Root in Infancy

This particular paragraph jumped out at me:

“Before you can remember, before you have language to describe it, and in ways you aren’t aware of, implicit attitudes get encoded into the mind” about how you’ll be treated or how worthy you are of love and affection, he said.  While those attitudes can change with new relationships, introspection, and therapy, in times of stress old patterns often reassert themselves, the researchers note. A mistreated infant becomes a defensive arguer; a baby whose mother was attentive works through problems, secure in the goodwill of the other person.

A mistreated infant becomes a defensive arguer.  It  is a most apt and succinctly put description of my husband's communication style when what I have called "an abusive episode"  is taking place.  I have my own grandmother (and the great good fortune to have been born a twin, so that my mom sent us away to live with my grandmother as infants!) to thank for the reality that I can even attempt to "work(s) through problems, secure in the goodwill of the other person."

Yet another reason that the Pearls and Ezzos of this world should be shouted down so strongly by civilized society that they spend the rest of their lives hiding in obscurity, making bonfires of all their published works as an act of penance in hopes that they will find mercy at the end of their lives.

Anyway, it's certainly food for thought for me.  I have a lot of IRL work to do today, so I won't put out all my comments on the subject right now.  I have my own  comment on yesterday's post which shares a bit more, if anyone is interested.

Peace and good will, SS

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Depression is Getting Worse

Yowch.  On the heels of yesterday's post, my husband is sinking deeper into depression again. I have absolutely no idea what to do.  He woke up at 2:30 and "couldn't" get back to sleep (I don't know if it is couldn't literally or was too sad in his thoughts so he wanted to try to distract himself with television?).

This worried me greatly, as insomnia is often a precursor to an abusive  incident.  I am starting to think the abuse is a manifestation of depression.  He cried all morning, came home, cried all lunch.  In between the crying when I hold him are the angry accusations that he was happy until *I* started talking to him.  Not true of course, and in his more lucid moments he is really grateful for my being there.

He seems to be sucked into a vortex of shame.  I am unable to help him.

I'm at a loss.  Anyway, those of you who pray please pray.  I am safe and so are my kiddos and I just got my grades back for the semester, 4.0 again.  A ray of sunshine to close out with: I got a 96 on my Physics final exam.  It took me four hours, but I pulled it off.  Yay me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Confession is Good.

Hmmm, blogger changed the user interface and I am having a very hard time navigating the new layout. I am trying to publish drafts I left unposted at the time, but it's not working. I am not sure what the problem is, but I hope to get it figured out soon.

I have been refraining from posting about my reforming Crappy Home School Marriage for a couple of reasons. The number one reason being that my husband now reads here occasionally, and I don't want to offend or discourage him. The second reason is that if my anonymity is ever breached, the highly personal nature of my blog could affect my family in ways I never intended. That explains my caution. But I owe it to my readers, especially other home school moms in crappy marriages, to be honest about the whole journey. Trying to heal an abusive relationship is hard. The road is not a freshly paved express highway to fulfillment and happiness. It is under construction, and we all know what that means: delays, rough conditions, and sometimes debilitating collisions that don't always end well. It looks so far like I am going to be one of the lucky ones, who makes it through to a whole relationship without irreparable,permanent loss. That does not mean it is still not a rough go.

My readers deserve to know that this Thanksgiving, I spent with my husband overnight in the Emergency Room. Howie Mandel's horrible show was an extreme trigger for my husband, whose missionary parents also want to be hailed as heroes when they are in reality abusive, self-centered asses. Though our entire family showed him much tenderness, compassion and understanding, he still could not break through the devastation of abandonment that viewing Mobbed brought out in full force. The evening ended with a suicide gesture.

When I figured out what was happening (he went missing for a bit) I went looking for him. He came home on his own accord while I was out, but we took him to the ER anyway. He stayed until morning, when a psych eval ruled that he was no longer in any danger and he was released. He followed up with a new appointment to check his meds and continued with his weekly counseling sessions. As distressing as this was, a friend pointed out that it could be a personal turning point. He took his anger out on himself instead of on his wife.

Maybe. I hope so, although in his depression, he tried to pin it on my preparing to be financially self-sufficient (and therefore preparing to also abandon him).  Once he recovered he was able to ascribe his painful feelings of abandonment to his own inner state, rather than anything I had or hadn't done "to him". This is a huge breakthrough.

Also, it was that very evening, while he was out of the house, that I discovered the Date With the Family video clip. It explained SO MUCH about my husband: why he accuses me of not caring about his thoughts or feelings (not allowed by his family of origin) along with why he was so innately misogynist (in that video, the only good woman is the silent woman- every time a woman speaks it is allowed as an example of UNACCEPTABLE SPEECH/BEHAVIOR and the men are shown as IN THE RIGHT when they roll their eyes at the speaking women and share knowing glances of disgust) in spite of intellectually rejecting misogyny. The MST3K version is so spot-on about everything wrong with that 50s scenario.

The kids and I watched THAT version with him a few days after Thanksgiving, to hug him and tell him we think it sucked eggs that he grew up in such an emotionally abusive environment. Insisting on taking him to the hospital was key to taking this suicide gesture and making it his bottoming out experience. If we as a family had blown off this gesture, or been cynical about it, he would not be healing. If we had ignored it or dismissed it as overly-dramatic or mere foolishness, he would have continued the downward spiral. He needed to see that we CARE, that we take his life seriously. He did not need to be shamed, which is all he would have felt if we did not treat it like a medical emergency. The only other choice- to treat it as a moral failure- would have hurt him further. It was also have encouraged future repeat events, as we would have been saying it was no big deal if we did nothing in response.

As it is, he told me that when he opened his eyes the next morning and saw me smiling at him, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He was not actively trying to kill himself, though he could have. He committed the cardinal sin for a missionary kid: he got drunk. He got miserably, embarrassingly, in-a-stupor-vomit-fest drunk. And since he is on anti-depressants, that made it a medical emergency. His meds are clearly labelled "do not drink alcohol with this medication".

I called his doctor for advice and was told to take him to the ER, so I did. In treating this as a medical emergency instead of a moral failure, we not only saved his physical life, we honored his heart. We also kicked denial right in the teeth as well. No one could just pretend nothing happened the next day. Something big had happened, and we treated it as such.

The very good news is that my husband is talking now. He talks about his unhappy feelings, his happy feelings, his bored feelings. He has FEELINGS! And he is dealing with his parental issues, instead of making everything about me. This is progress.

We are three years into my five year plan, and I am right on schedule. If I get accepted into the school to which I have applied, I will be able to work in the field in thirty months at the earliest. I can be proud of that. I should be done with my own EMDR therapy by summer, if not before. I read my print off from Youarenotcrazy.com every day. I am so much happier and confident about the future, no matter whether my marriage works out or not.

On my spouses part, he has been steadily working at getting his own life together since I shared my plan with him. He completed the 20 week Life Skills program, and still refers to the notebook when one of us (usually me) calls a time-out. He also reads a copy of my print off from Youarenotcrazy.com every day. He went to the sleep clinic and his sleep apnea is now treated. He is in weekly EMDR counseling. He saw a doctor about his depression and is on medications. He is exercising regularly and eating more healthy. Things are looking better for his future as well, no matter how things turn out between us.

It really looks like things are going to turn out good between us, I will cautiously admit. He regularly thanks me for being his friend these past two weeks. He is talking more and about more personal stuff than ever before. We are both pretty happy.

And none of this good- not one bit of it- would be happening if I were still silently suffering in submission! So, to all my readers, don't take any more Poison for your marriage. Stand up for yourself and in doing so, begin an end to the abuse and a start on a life of peace and good will. It won't happen overnight, but it will never happen if you don't start standing up for yourself.

Merry Christmas, SS

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Abusers, flash mobs, and Howie Mandel

My family couldn't wait to talk about last night's episode of Mobbed today.

They were repulsed.

They were traumatized.

They were disgusted.

I watched it this morning online, and I concur. It WAS repulsive and disgusting.

That poor daughter and that poor abandoned wife, set up on national television to take part in the "what a great guy the abusive man is" spectacular. Howie even ends it all by telling the abusive husband and father, "You are the man!"

For a family that is healing, this show highlights everything wrong with abusive men. First, the abusive dad has set the whole thing up in public, on national television, so that if the abused women in his life don't just immediately forgive and adore him, THEY look like the douchebags instead of him. Public displays of affection, devotion and remorse are common among abusive men. The public face is always that of all-around great guy.


Second, he gets to abuse his daughter on national television, with Howie Mandel's help! Before his grand entrance as the remorseful dad, begging for forgiveness, HE ABANDONS HER AGAIN, RIPPING OPEN HER BROKEN HEART and then imploring her to forgive him on national television.

Why abandon the girl first? What the hell, Howie? How did wounding her afresh make your flash mob of "love" a better production? I hope they both (mother and daughter) sue the shit out Howie for the emotional battering that girl took on national television. That was so effing cruel,to have Dad call and say he wasn't coming and hang up on the DAUGHTER HE ABANDONED! The producers of this show actually did that! Howie had his arm around the dad while he was doing the dastardly deed!

Who would do that? They have no psychological consultants on this show? They are going to go involving themselves in people's most painful traumas for entertainment value, without any concern that they might be helping to revictimize these women?

Unbelievably cruel, that's what it was.

So, they helped this abusive man start off the show re-traumatizing the daughter, then REFUSE TO LET HER LEAVE!!

Howie is giving secret instructions to his employees to not let this crying, confused, distraught woman leave. The rest of the show people are smiling, enthusiastic, giving high-energy performances at Howie's direction, doing everything possible to manipulate this girl to act happy.

If they were decent people they would have just stopped. They would have let that girl leave, taken her somewhere safe that she could try to recover from this fresh abandonment from her father. To be fair, most of the people involved in the production probably didn't know about the abusive phone call that started the event. I don't think the mother did, since she got out of the limo smiling at her daughter. Still, Howie and his producers KNEW. They made it happen!

But no, at Howie's direction, his employees lead the daughter into the flash mob, where people sing nice words to her while her heart has just been ripped open. She smiles the smile of the abused, but her body language- arms closed around her body, hand covering her face- tells the truth that she wants to disappear and find a safe place; that where she is at the time is not safe. And you know what? It was not.

The whole extravaganza was a power play by the abusive husband. Public displays of grandeur are common with abusers.

The whole thing was about him, not about his daughter. I am sure those women have been through this before. Love bombing, is what a friend called it recently. She rightly told me that women stay in abusive relationships because they forgive too quickly. The abuser says he's sorry and then love bombs them. Ostentatious displays of affection: roses, serenades, expensive gifts are often a part of it. The women want so desperately to be loved that they forgive, and the stage is set for the cycle of abuse to begin again.

This man was not sorry for abandoning his daughter. He would never have started off the show by abandoning her again if he understood the damage his abandonment had already done. He manipulated Howie into helping him manipulate his daughter. Sick. Twisted. Horrifying.

Imagine how different the show would have been if dad showed up like he promised, showing he was a different man by BEING DEPENDABLE. The girl was so happy at the beginning of the show, thinking her dad was coming to support her in a musical production. If he had kept his word, and then the flash mob broke out, that would have been a beautiful sight to behold.

But, no. True to abusive form, he has to hurt his daughter before he can be good to her. There she is, heart full of hope, beaming, expecting her dad to show up....then the phone call.

"I'm not coming. I can't explain," he says and hangs up.

The girl is devastated.

It's obvious she's devastated. Does Howie do the compassionate thing and send a counselor down to talk to her? Does he cancel the show, and apologize for using her pain as a source of entertainment? I wish.

No,Howie has his employees steer her out to where the flash mob starts singing to her, and eventually, the abusive dad IN THE SPOTLIGHT, calls down to the daughter he just emotionally bitch-slapped on the phone and wants to be forgiven.

This is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen on television.

So, no one on Howie's staff knows anything about domestic violence/emotional abuse? No one checked around to see if this show was a good idea?

Grandiose statement of remorse are a hallmark of domestic abuse.

Apologizing in public, so the victim can't possibly have a real conversation about the pain the abuse has caused, is also a pretty common abuse tactic.

And Howie Mandel helps this man publicly humiliate his daughter AND praises him for it. Unbelievable. I want to believe he was duped out of ignorance, but honestly how can anyone be ignorant of domestic abuse in this day and age? Abandonment IS abuse, Howie. People who abandon ARE abusers. Call you local shrink to verify, but it's pretty common knowledge.

You can find the episode online somewhere. In the thirty-ninth minute, in the lower right hand corner of the screen, is one lone face that seems to reflect that he knows what is really going on. Everyone else, true to the script, keeps maniacally smiling and cheering like this is a great thing that just happened. Thank you, sir, whoever you are, for your sanity.

Howie Mandel helped a man use a flash mob and nationwide television to publicly emotionally abuse his daughter. They all try their best to manipulate the girl to say she's happy about it, but she honestly says instead, "I don't know how I feel."

Yeah, that's cause inside you're devastated, but a cast of hundreds is being used to emotionally manipulate you to be happy about your abuse. I hope that girl get some help.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Iran: What would Jesus do?

Stumbled upon this blog today, and I hope it will generate some thought among my thoughtful readers (if I still have any readers! =).
Christians call for impoverishing Iran

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fourteen years of patriotic teaching blown away in a day.

Occupy Berkeley Police Brutality

All of our home school days I have supported law and order. I taught my children to respect authority. I taught them in kindergarten that the police were their friends, public servants who were here to protect citizens and apprehend criminals.

I also instilled in them a love of freedom, and especially the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. Freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to live free from fear of tyranny (to borrow from Jefferson's Declaration) top the list.

My children are not inheriting the America I taught them to love. The last time the government engaged in this kind of thuggery was against the protesters in the Civil Rights Movement. Television crews carried the news into the living rooms of the affluent back then, and people were shocked.

Where is the outrage over the police brutality happening today? Is it even on the news? A whole generation is rightly losing respect for authority. These police actions are reprehensible. There are just no words that can convey the disgust my family felt when watching this footage.

For the cops who beat unarmed citizens who were committing no crime, I have only scorn. For the politicians who sent the cops out to do their bidding, I have seething anger. You stole my country and made me a liar to my children. At times like this, be grateful for one thing--that I am not god because you would surely suffer a painful correction. Grrr.

For the brave students who held their ground, chanting "stop beating students" while refraining from retaliating, I offer you my respect and my prayers. All of our hopes as a nation rest with you. Thank you for believing that things could be better, if we only found the collective will to make real changes. I stand with you. I support you. May you all prosper in all you set your hand to do. Peace and good will. SS

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Death Train

Last night I watched a documentary on Current TV about the people maimed and killed on Mexican trains, mostly Central Americans. These migrant workers knowingly taking this serious risk because, as I pointed out in my last post, the certain slow death by the grinding privations of poverty compel them to take those risks. I don't know what it will take for Americans to get the gravity of this situation through their thick skulls.

What's even more puzzling to me, is that this kind of willingness to risk (literally) life and limb for a chance at building a better life in America IS EXACTLY WHAT WE TEACH OUR CHILDREN MAKES AMERICANS GREAT. There is nothing going on in this country truer to our founding ideals that the brave men, women and children willing to face predatory violence, maiming accident, and repeated setbacks (literal setbacks, as in back to where you started from) for the opportunity to work their rear ends off in hopes of a better life.

They hypocrisy of the right wing on this subject, wiping away tears and waxing eloquent about our brave pioneer ancestors, who came to this country with nothing but determination and a willingness to work hard, astounds me. Not the part about honoring our ancestors. I'm all for that. It's the part about refusing to acknowledge the same qualities in the thousands of Latinos re-enacting our cultural myth right in front of our eyes.

These immigrants are amazing. I have nothing but respect for the vast majority. The pejorative of "law-breakers" or "illegals" is disingenuous. We Americans know how laws are made, repealed, and changed. We of all nations know that something is only illegal when the legislators say it is. Laws can be rewritten when they are counter-productive and unenforceable. Our immigration laws certainly fit that description.

I have been a conservative all of my adult life. I still am. What passes for conservative these days does not fit the definition I grew up with. Conservatism, as I understand it, is very pragmatic. It is not anti-change, but it is slow to act. It is not hopelessly trying to hold onto the past. Conservatism was always about moving ahead deliberately, weighing all the options.

In my beginning political life, conservatives were more populous in the GOP. The GOP had not yet been taken over by fundamentalists. We could still civilly discuss and advocate for the legalization of marijuana, legal recognition of committed gay relationships, and debate how to frame and respond to the obvious and unstoppable phenomenon of human migration patterns.

The GOP I grew up with is dead and gone. The current slate of candidates for office is embarrassing. I shrink in horror to think of any of them being responsible for foreign policy. I doubt if any of them are electable. Still, the way they have shifted the political climate in this country is bad for America. It is, in my opinion, un-American, and if I ruled the world they would be heavily fined for every American flag they dare to wave, fly, or hide behind.

It is un-American to treat our current laws as if they were handed down to us by God on Mt. Sinai. They were not. When a law is counter-productive to American interests, as our current immigration laws ARE, we have the ability and the moral obligation to change them. Creating new, more deadly barriers to these unstoppable, thoroughly American immigrants looking for a chance to work and build a better life here in the "land of opportunity" is inhuman.

I can't imagine a solution less intelligent or more embarrassing than the idea of a giant human-zapper stretched across the border to electrocute the people forced by starvation at home to migrate no matter how serious the consequences when they fail. That is not only un-American, it's inhuman. And it's not only inhuman, it's incredibly stupid.

Where are the conservative who were able to soberly face facts and readjust failed policies? American's current immigration policies are an epic fail, and it is NOT because our enforcement is lax. It's because enforcement is impossible. No conservative worth his or her salt can possibly not see this.

Where are the clear thinkers who can face the facts? Where are the orators who can explain them in ways the general public can understand? Have we really morphed into a country of arrogant, redneck blowhards like the people to which the GOP presidential candidates are pandering?

This is ridiculous. Why aren't the think tanks pointing out to our politicians, "Hey, look at this new demographic trend! Central and South Americans will face any danger, any risk, for the chance to live and work in America. Trying to fight this trend is costing us huge amounts of money, putting a burden on our social assistance programs in some states, and putting the good citizens of our border states at risk from the ongoing criminal enterprises meeting this market demand. Why don't WE meet the market demand, by opening new venues for legal migrations, making the process quicker and more equitable to all willing to work when they get here, and charging them local annual worker permits to offset any local costs in social services?"

Conservatives, indeed all business-minded Americans, used to encourage innovative solutions to sticky problems. There was a time when a person who could come up with a creative win-win was celebrated! Peacemakers were honored as the sons of God, like the Bible urged.

I want that country back. I want back the country of good will, innovation, and hard work. I want back a country where consensus and compromise are valued. I want that America back. I want to be part of that proud tradition that Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, and Jane Addams carried on. I want the America that Emma Lazarus wrote of, at the turn of the last century:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

I don't want a wall; neither an electrified one nor one patrolled by armed guards. I want a port of entry, a new Ellis Island, and a country that continues the tradition of welcoming hard working immigrants as new Americans. Anybody know how I can get that?

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Humans are not illegal" and other thoughts

Today I am disturbed because of the threat of persecution. This disturbs me, both because it exists in the first place and because of my cowardice in the face of that threat. My heroes are Deitrich Boenhoffer and Pastor Wurmbrand. My fear, but even more, my silence BECAUSE of fear, mocks me, as well it should. I claim to stand for more than this.

Now when I say "perecution", I don't mean mob violence or jail time- yet. The Tea Party is not yet in control of every locality, and I hope they never make it. But the level of vitriol out there coming from the right, and the religious right, intimidates me far more than I ever thought it would. I KNOW what will happen if I offer any public or vocal opposition to the current battle cries being used to whip the masses into self-righteous paranoia, leading them to attack an "enemy" in what the military calls "a pre-emptive counter-attack."

That was not a joke.

I am disgusted with myself, because I have never hesitated to share a political opinion in the past. I have always been a practical person, and I have always valued the ability to see both sides of an issue. I don't think compromise is a dirty word in politics. I think compromise and consensus are the foundation of democracy, and without it, you can't have a democracy.

I also have long considered myself a conservative. Heck, I was a subscriber to National Review since 1988! I only let it lapse after my husband got laid off, after the late great WFB had gone on to his reward. A conservative is not someone who holds any particular political position; a conservative is someone who keeps in mind the law of unintended consequences a la Jurassic Park's chaos theory. A conservative is not someone who ignores reality. In fact, I grew up politically believing that conservative's were the superior group because they did not try to work against natural human behavior, hence the support of capitalism and the skepticism about communism, and even the hesitation concerning socialism-leaning programs. When someone else is paying, we all have the tendency to run up the bill; it's just human nature. Witness the runaway costs in the major two-payer system in the US: health care and higher education. Actual consumers don't pay the bill, insurance companies, banks and parents do. It seems a tax-payer funded health-care and higher education could not do worse cost-wise, but cost is not the only consideration. Centralized decision making crushes innovation and would be deadly in that respect, so as a conservative, I still don't want only government health-care or only government-funded higher education. It would only replace one set of third-party payors with another, and stifle any dissent; dissent that is necessary for growth and progress in ANY field.

So that's where I sit now. As a long-time conservative because I believe in the necessity of dissent and competition in the marketplace of ideas, I am pretty ashamed of myself right now. I SHOULD be speaking up in my own political party, but I won't. I won't because the Tea Party scares me, the animosity of my fellows scares me, and I do not want to deal with the loss of friends and open disdain of people,formerly my close friends, who are at least keeping it under wraps for now.

I long for the ghost of Ronald Reagan to rise from the grave and slap the holy crap out of all these Tea Party posers using his good name to advance their facist cause. Did you know Ronald Reagan supported unions? Yes, he did. Did you know Ronald Reagan passed an amnesty initiative while in office, making citizens of thousands of formerly illegal immigrants? He did. He did so because he actually respected the determination and work ethic of people willing to do anything to make a better life for themselves and their families. That's the same reason he respected and accepted unions, and was formerly president of the Screen Actor's Guild. I am also pretty confident that he knew about the homosexual orientation of many of his fellow's in the acting world, and didn't care one way or the other. How dare the Tea Party keep quoting him, as if he would agree with them were he alive today! Unbelievable.

There was a reason he was elected by a landslide. He actually listened to people and valued them. He welcomed dissent. He and Tip O'Neil would go at it in public, as political opponents should, sharing dissent and making their case. But there was no ill will afterwards. The Gipper understood that at the end of the day, we are all Americans and we are all on the same team.

My fellow conservatives-turned-Tea Party have left that good will behind. An opposing opinion is not one that deserves consideration. They KNOW they are 100% completely correct on every issue, and they are convinced that they know exactly what needs to be done in this country. Judging by their rhetoric and behavior, what they think is best for America is to end the democratic process. Compromise is a dirty word to them, and they think building consensus is traitorous.

They think they have God on their side, just like the Taliban, and though they haven't resorted to violence yet on a mass scale, small scale it is already happening. Note the anger in this man's voice, standing there, holding a knife, daring people to fight him personally or give up their right to freedom of expression. He didn't call the police to report a crime, let the business owners be confronted with their crime and have the opportunity to reverse the order of their flags. No, this man is in a violent rage of self-righteousness. He can take the law into his own hands because he is right. This scares the hell out of me:

Reno NV Newscast

American "conservaticism" is not conservative at all. When you threaten other citizens with a weapon in one hand, and violent emotion in the other, that looks nothing at all like the Gipper good-naturedly smiling and waving at Dan Rather on the way to his helicopter. This is nothing I want to be associated with, and I am a stalwart patriot with a family history and continuing legacy of military service. They can't serve if they get all full of vitriol like this veteran. He would rightly be discharged dishonorably for breaking the law publicly like he did, threatening fellow citizens with violence and taking the law into his own hands.

I have to go back to studying. I want to write a highly personal post about the unethical practices of my pastor, how I got taken in by them, and have come to regret it. I want to share the political picture I am too afraid to put on my facebook, knowing if/when I do, it will come at great personal cost. The people I have called my own will at best isolate me and exclude me socially, and they are the only people I have. We all need social acceptance.

So here is a picture I do have the courage to post, and a facebook note I completely agree with on every point. At one point, a conservative was allowed to favor changing immigration laws to better fit reality, and even get elected president on the GOP ticket! Not anymore. What's a girl to do?

When I wanted to teach my children about immigration patterns, I had them look up the GNP of the countries of the Western hemisphere. Here's a link:
Where is all the money/opportunity?
I pointed out, see, this is where all the wealth is being created. These dark spots. Where is the most wealth in this hemisphere? Yep, the USA and Canada.

In the wild, if one region has all the resources- take water, for instance, or grazing land- that's where the animals migrate. Depending on how great their need, these animals will take more dangerous risks to get there. Remember those specials where the animals come to the river to drink, even though they see the lions and the crocodiles waiting for them in plain sight? They are so thirsty, they have to risk it.

If people are willing to risk the dangers of immigrating, and/or of being sent back once they get here, they must be in some pretty serious need. And they will keep coming, if their need is that great. We can increase the dangers, but they will still come if their need is great enough.

A friend has recently been to the Dominican Republic for a month, he gets it. He saw the many people with cut and bleeding feet because they have no money for shoes. Children are more likely to have shoes than adults, because they outgrow them sometimes before they ruined and that pair can help another child. But not the adults.

He made friends that live literally hand to mouth. Not paycheck to paycheck- they don't get paychecks. They get paid at the end of the day, and it's just enough to eat the next day and maybe some more for rent, bills. SERIOUSLY. He was so concerned when he heard one of his friends had a fever, because it meant he could not eat the next day since he missed work. Forget the doctor's visit. Forget medicine. He wouldn't have food unless someone just as close to nothing shared their food with him.

When I hear the Repulbicans talking about putting up a fence around all our wealth to keep out the needy and desparate willing to risk the theives, murderers, and cheating empolyers, just for the hope that maybe things will be better for them in America, it turns my stomach. It turns my stomach because so many Christians are GOP, loudly and proudly GOP!

How then can they advocate building a fence around our riches so Lazarus the beggar won't bother us with his presence at our gate?

Andif they say," Lord, when did we see you hungry or sick or naked?"

"Don't you know?", Jesus will answer, "You built a fence to keep me away so you wouldn't have to look at my naked, sick, starving self."

The ugly reality of mixing politics with religion is that Jesus no longer guides the American church. No one is praying or seeking the counsel of Jesus on any of hte contremporty issues. Why should they? Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, the American Family Association, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain- they are your new messiahs. They tell you how to relate to people in your world (politics by another name) and who you should hate and fear and exclude.

And you buy it!!!

That's the most amazing part. You buy into it all: the fear and selfishness, blame the victim, denigrate the oppressed- and you claim it is the CHRISTIAN way!

People will emigrate to America because they are desparate for a better life, and I want that better life for them. Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to all who were willing to work for it, and many undocumented people took him up on it. They have been upstanding citizens, contributing good to our society. This generation of immigrants deserves the same opportunity.

The GOP debates sicken me. I can't believe I supported them for so many years. To my Christian friends still enamored of the GOP, I offer a challenge. Fast from all you right wing political emails, junk mail, radio programs- the whole thing, for thirty days. During those thirty days, pray and ask the Lord to show you His will for your life, your brief life, here on earth, and how you should live in relation to your fellow man.

If the Lord leads you to stay exactly the same as you are, supporting all the same people, so be it.

He is leading me to advocate for liberty and justice for all.

Peace and good will,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who would to that?

I had a lot of trouble falling asleep last night ( I think it was the tea I drank at bedtime. Maybe it had caffeine? It was Lipton Natural. Or maybe it's just the stress of school?) Once I did get to sleep, I woke at 1:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. At 2:41 I moved to the couch so my tossing and turning wouldn't wake my husband.

At 6:30 when my husband gets up, he finds me on the couch and kisses me and wakes me up. I tell him I am on the couch because of my insomnia, and I didn't want to wake him. All well and good.

Then, for what can only be described as self-centered, possibly PAPD returning, he WAKES ME UP AGAIN AN HOUR LATER! To tell me he loves me?

Gee, if he loves me wouldn't he want me to keep sleeping?

Oh, damn it, I hope this isn't just building up to another ugly scenario. He does not get, apparently, how little I want to live like this. He does not have anymore credits to burn on PAPD behavior. They are all used up. It took twenty-five years, but they are all gone now.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Happy Day

I am so freaking happy!

My daughter, my amazing daughter, is living her dreams! She has the career she wanted, the job posting she wanted, her own apartment, her own car, a full social life, beautiful art she continuously creates, and she is getting her degree studying the language she loves. I. Am. So. Happy!

She has roommates of her own choosing, activities of her own choosing, romantic interests of her own choosing, and when she truly leaves our home- meaning all the way out of state, where we can't meet up for dinner or drop by to see her latest art project- she will have a well-paying job and can easily afford her own place, food, clothes, everything she needs. And she is looking forward to that new experience, not afraid of it.

I am deliriously happy!

You see I had none of those things.

I was on my own at eighteen, aged out of foster care. I had no car, no job, no family support, no hopes or dreams, other than to just make it through another day. Oh, and I feel compelled to add, I went to twelve years of public school. (That was for my cyber-friend and reader who claims that public school is the golden key to finding your place in this world.) My daughter was home schooled from birth until she went to college. She is living her dreams at an age that I was hanging on to a minimum wage job and praying my car would hold together. Too sweet.

My other "children"- my son's best friend and the daughter of a former friend of mine- are also living their dreams. I KNOW I had a hand in that too.

My son's best friend spent more time with me from middle school on than he did either of his own parents. His dad was home, but not exactly a nurturer, and his mom was working late hours bringing home the bacon. They are his parents, and they love him and of course support him. But I was there encouraging him to hold on to his dream until he had the courage to tell his parents what that dream was, since it did not match the plan they laid out for him. He did, and he excelled at it, and when he got an audition for an arts school, his parents were ready to listen. Being the wonderful people they are, they finally caught the vision, and he is excelling with their blessing and support. Booyah.

My former friend's daughter came to live with me for a semester. She was flunking math so her mom sent her to me for a semester, to help her catch up. She was easy to teach, and caught up and moved ahead quickly in math. But more important, she learned about love, forgiveness, and what real family support felt like. She is still considered a sibling by my two children! Her mom was telling her she was ugly, fat and would never make it. When she left our house, she knew better. Instead of returning to her mom's, when she left our house she went to live with her dad and his boyfriend. She is now a happy sophomore in a major East Coast university, and I saw her post a picture of her beautiful self in a bikini on a social network this summer. Live the dream, young friend!

Then there's my youngest. I love that kid! He was sharing a poet with me today- amazing stuff! He is such a deep thinker with such a big heart- both the poet and my son! (But mostly my son.=)

He has his first job and they love him! He is still doing school, so he applied for 10-20 hours a week, but it's always at least 20. He is a really good musician. When he was really young he played cornet, then baritone, but now it's electric bass. He has a duo with another home school friend of his, a sweet little vegetarian rocker who is in public school this year. (Incidentally, it was taking a Brit Lit class in my house that I facilitated that inspired her to go to the arts magnet school. I'm just inspiring like that. I wrote her recommendation letter. =)

In addition to his music, work and school, he also kick-boxes and does Tae Kwan Do. He beat his kick-boxing instructor in all three rounds the other day. He came home glowing that his instructor said he had taught him all he could. Since his instructor is ex-military, currently a police officer, that made the teen feel pretty good.

He applies to the local private university on Monday, and then he's applying for their biggest scholarship. I hope he wins. His big dream is to be a doctor, and I believe he will make it. He's always been an enthusiastic leader, starting with playing center on community league football when he was eight years old. He was the unofficial leader of his team of volunteers in Dominican Republic this summer, and made some lasting friendships there both with his public schooled peers and his college student sponsor.

Politically, he keeps me informed and opens my mind to new perspectives, which I love. Anyway, all my praying friends, keep him in your prayers next week. Also, he's trying to get a donation of shoes to the kids in the D.R., so pray for success there too. And my non-praying friends, just send good thoughts his way.

No time to edit this. I have to go to bed. I have a TON of school tomorrow! Goodnight!

Buddy Wakefield: Human the Death Dance

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not again,. Damn it to heck, to heck I say, to heck.

Hubby was an ass again yesterday. >=[ THAT hasn't happened in a while. As you can tell by my icon, I was/am not happy about it.

Also, therapy is dredging up a lot of things I would not rather deal with. I hope they will all eventually be resolved and life will go on better than ever. However remembering what it was like to be a teen myself is very unsettling.

Alternately I am depressed and hopeless, cynical and hard, and angry. I hate being in no-win situations, and I lived in one growing up in my family of origin. As much as I usually avoid them when I recognize them, unfortunately with therapy right now it is looking like I am possibly contributing to the creation of them.

Also the fear is familiar and disgusting. I have actually been panicked about smallish issues as if they were the end of the world should I have a less than perfectly spotless performance.

Not true. God makes a way when there is no way. I know in my heart there is no such thing (other than physical things- I can't live above the laws of physics) that can't be fixed. I need to just chill.

I need a chill pill. Oh yes, do I wish it was that easy: take one pill and all your fear would disappear. Not gonna happen. *sigh*

More later, I gotta go.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The 99% Occupy Everywhere

I am so proud of our youth. I love what they are doing on Wall Street and in cities all across America. I will join them when I can, and throw my support their way with this blog post, an extremely modest contribution by all accounts.

Occupy Wall Street

Many, many people are frustrated by the status quo. Initially the Tea Party tapped into this sentiment and won a lot of protest votes in the mid-term elections because of the people's frustration. It did not take long to realize that the Tea Party IS the status quo, on religious steroids. Ugh!

For the last year, I have been telling all the teenagers in my life that I have put my hope in them. Maybe they can bring the troops back home, end welfare for the ultra-wealthy and the corporations offered by our current tax code, create jobs in America, secure freedoms for everyone (including the ones religious people don't like!), end the insanity of the drug war, welcome courageous immigrants wanting to be a part of the American ideal and make America once again the land of the free and the home of the brave.

They started earlier than I expected. God bless them. God prosper them. Watch the video on the home page of this link. Pray for these kids, that nefarious forces don't takeover their genuinely populist movement of LOVE and PEACE!

(These kids are talking about LOVE- the Tea Party rallies are filled with anger. What a contrast!)

The mainstream media has ignored these kids for two weeks. Big money interests are demanding a negative slant on all reporting, as they own the media.

Who are these police protecting? Who are they serving?

Notice that the police grab people who are doing NO WRONG, drag them under and behind the police barricade and arrest them. I saw one officer flop down on the backs of the legs of a passive protester who was not resisting in any way, and was already down on the ground, cuffed. This is unbelievable. These peaceful protesters were not violent. All the violence was on the side of the NYPD. I cried when I saw the girls get maced. I have asthma and getting maced could kill me. Those girls are behind the police barricade and making no attempt to cross it when they were maced. Unbelievable.

Move over, Tea Party. Looks like there is a new option for people who are unhappy with the status quo, and it's not "status quo coated in religion", which is what the Tea Party has turned out to be.

The Tea Party is pro-big government (proposing new laws everywhere they've been elected, laws that further restricts the rights of everyday Americans, especially women and homosexual citizens), pro-corporate welfare, pro-war, anti-working class, believes people in need of public assistance are just lazy, ignores the contributions that so-called "illegals" make to our country every day- the Tea Party is unbelievable mean-spirited and pro-staus quo.

The 99 per centers are idealistic, but we need a good dose of idealism. They want to tax the elite wealthy, who (according to Warren Buffet) don't need the coddling the Tea Party offers. They want to create jobs in America. They want to make room for the "illegals" who, guess what, are people too and are already here. They want the government to seriously look for alternative clean energy, not support the carbon-based status quo. They are against letting people starve or die from lack of health care because they are under- or un-employed. They want basic civil liberties for even the ones religious people don't like (safeguards that are only necessary because religious people who don't like them won't treat them fairly without being forced to do so!). I hope they will also end the prohibition against marijuana, release those imprisoned for non-violent crime, get rid of the death penalty or at least make it so difficult to apply that it takes more than a conviction "beyond reasonable doubt" and requires absolute, irrefutable proof of guilt with forethought.

And finally, bring our troops home! Surely the damage we did to the infra-structure in Iraq is repaired by now. We got Osama bin Laden, our reason for invading Afghanistan. Bring our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers home from foreign soil! Enough is enough. It's been over ten years. Let's call it a win and walk away. It's time.

There you have it folks, an alternative to the status quo. Way to go, 99 Per Centers! I support you.

God bless the 99 Per Cent.

Police appearing to escort protesters to the Brooklyn Bridge, where they are corralled and arrested (700 arrests), Wall Street mnions sipping champagne and laughing at the sight? Wanna bet they know what's about to happen?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stumbled upon the blog: Cognitive Discopants

In real life, I was pretty surprised to be smacked with my pastor's disapproval of my recent political postings on facebook. First of all, since when did my political beliefs become my pastor's concern. Heck, I go to a LUTHERAN church! But then, the church itself doesn't have a great track record historically concerning politics (cough* nazis* cough*), so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. But I am.

I have always been involved in politics, ever since I came of voting age. I have stumped for politicians, attended precinct platform committee meetings, read through volumes of political literature and voted in most elections available to me. I take the responsibility to vote very seriously. Being an American citizen comes with a huge responsibility. I believe we are each responsible not only to vote, but to discuss the issues openly and advocate for what we think is right.

No one is going to shame me out of fulfilling that responsibility.

My religion is only a part of my politics in that it has helped shape my personality and values. While the right is continually appealing to people politically in the name of God, I have a long standing tradition of resisting that kind of rhetoric. That kind of rhetoric is flying fast and hard on right wing radio, and in religio-political emails, letters, and sermons. Thankfully I have never heard such a sermon in my church!

Which I guess I mistook for level-headednes and a desire on my pastor's part to major on Jesus and keep the line of separation between the kingdom of God and the realm of Caesar separate. My bad.

If that's how it is going to come down from my pastor because I support gay rights, what will happen if he finds out I am coming to believe that a universalist reading of the Bible is the most true to scripture? As Talbot pointed out in this book "The Inescapable Love of God" there are three truths (all have scriptural support, depending on the presuppositions you bring to your reading of scripture) which the Bible seems to teach BUT they cannot all three be true:

#1 God is omnipotent, and what He wills He can accomplish.

#2 God will is to reconcile all things in heaven and earth to Himself through Christ.

#3 God will punish some people in hell for all eternity; they will never be reconciled to God.

The Calvinists get around this contradiction by denying proposition #2. They find scripture to support the idea that God does not really want all to be saved, and that's how they make peace between #1 and #3.

Arminians decide that #1 is the proposition to be finangled with, as in God has created a mountain even He can't move in giving man free will. They find scripture to support their belief and ignore scripture that belies their belief, or explain it away, LIKE WE ALL DO.

The universalist position is that #1 and #2 are true, and therefore #3 must be false. They do not deny the existence of hell, but they do deny that hell is eternal and that whose who experience hell will never be reconciled to God. What I personally know of the character of God, my own sense of justice, and my logical brain tell me that the universalist position provides the best fit with the revealed heart of God in Jesus Christ, the writings of the apostles, and the fact that Judaism never taught the existence of hell. That was a Greek concept. (Sheol=grave,the ground, where you are buried when you cease to be alive. Gehanna=city dump outside of Jerusalem, where worthless garbage was burned. Hades= the Greek god of the dead, a place known as the underworld where the dead who were not invited to the Elyssian fields continued their existence. My Greek mythology is very rusty, so I may be wonky on that point.)

So, if my pastor is labelling me "enemy" because I support civil unions for American citizens who can't marry in the traditional sense, I wonder what label he would give me if he knew- AFTER YEARS OF STUDYING SCRIPTURE AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY- that I was embracing the universalist reading of the Bible as the most accurate?

Once again, heading outside the camp to where Jesus is...Hebrew 13:13

My comment of the Cognitive Discopants blog:

"Thank God for the internet! I am so glad to have found others who love Jesus and the Bible and are coming to the same conclusions I am. The evangelical/fundamentalist world apparently WANTS hell to be eternal and for people who don’t join their religion, which is very discouraging to me. I have heard them say that without the threat of eternal punishment, why would people come to Jesus? Seriously? Uh, to experience the uxurious, unilateral love of God right now? To know the joy that comes from accepting that God delights in you and accepts you just as you are? To seek wisdom from the Creator of all things about how to live your life here and now in light of His eternal mercy?

What they really fear is that if people actually begin to grasp that the gospel means, as Paul wrote, “that God has reconciled the world to Himself, not counting men’s trespasses against them”, then said people will no longer need to attend their church, pay their salary, and let’s face it, allow themselves to be manipulated from the pulpit to do whatever it is that MOG wants them to do. In this organized Christianity as it currently exists does have much to lose by “giving up” the doctrine of hell.

Fear is an amazingly effective motivator. Organized Christianity is afraid that we will no longer be afraid of hell. Fear of punishment gives religion great power over people’s lives, and apparently the ones at the lead in that power structure have no plans to give up that source of control.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the apostle John wrote, (I John 4) ” 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Left Foot of Fellowship

This should probably be much more well-thought-out and much less rushed. I have been doing all my posting in a hurry these days. I am really busy with school and very happy with my progress. Studying/schoolwork is my top priority, then laundry, then cooking and finally cleaning. Blogging sneaks in between laundry and cooking usually, but it belongs at the end of the line. So, I have little time for composition and less for editing. Sorry.

I saw a documentary last night while I was doing homework.It was called "Born Again" and it was about a young girl raised in a strict fundamentalist home (like my husband's) who was never happy or at peace with herself. As a teen, she finds she is secretly attracted to other girls. She eventually goes to college, and after a long struggle with depression and fear of damnation, eventually gets a girlfriend. Along the way she becomes an atheist as well, and it was no simple process or flippant decision. Her family of origin disowns her, and only calls or writes to tell her they are praying for her and that she is deceived by Satan. She longs to be loved unconditionally, but only finds that kind of love from her girlfriend and the new life they build together. She calls it being born again. I totally get where she is coming from.

The thing is, I have written those kinds of letter to my own relatives. Ouch. I believed my love was unconditional, but it wasn't. My approval hinged on how well my family member fit in with my theology. Not fitting in with my theology meant (in my mind at the time) eternal damnation, and before I could even begin to relate on any other level, that issue had to be settled, for me. My loved one had already made her own mind up, and I wasn't going to be able to change it. Why did changing her mind mean more to me than loving her unconditionally?

I equated love with approval, and approval with love. I couldn't help myself. If I did not approve of your choices, and they were in my mind of theological significance, then I couldn't accept you until you changed your choice. I think it was charismatic T.L. Osborn who got me out of that ditch, probably unintentionally! He once said that if you believe someone is destined for hell, than why would you want anything less than the best for them on this earth- as this reality was as good as it would ever get for them.

Big thought.

Since then I have been reading many verboten books- The Shack, Love Wins, God of the Possible, and most recently, The Inescapable Love of God. I have been reading the Bible with new eyes. Taking off the lens of fundamentalism is harder than I ever imagined. I had no idea how many religious presuppositions I decided before I even began to read a passage, not until I started confronting some of them. Who knows how many more I have to face off with in the future?

I have also been adding up my personal experiences with church and church people. It's a really interesting personal inventory to take. And it's not easy. These are people the Lord loves. His body was broken for them as well as me. His blood was shed for them as well as me. These people, who are so picky about who is allowed to speak and what they are allowed to say, these people are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone. And He is my beloved.

So, I guess this is enough rambling for one post. Peace and good will, SS

Monday, September 5, 2011

Questions of a Historical/Theological Nature

Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

The above passage is taken from the most famous sermon ever preached- the Sermon on the Mount given by no less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself!

Why then do we honor and exalt the people that we do in Christianity?

I am a studious person by nature, and after hearing so much about the venerated Saint Augustine, I finally picked up a copy of his Confessions and read it.

What a reprobate.

While he was positing this (imo erroneous) doctrine of original sin that would become THE cornerstone of evangelical Christianity for centuries to come, he was sleeping around with a mistress- and had no shame about it at all. Later in his autobiography, when he decides to commit all the way to Christianity, what do you think he does? Marry his mistress and give their love child a place in society equal to children of "legitimate" homes? Not even close. He abandons them completely to join a monastery! W. T. F. Did no one ever consider the fruit of his life before honoring him and treating his ideas as if they were on level with the words of Christ? How many of the "early church fathers" were selfish, slutty people? I wonder...

Not only that, I am pretty sure that Augustine was the first church voice to approve of violent means of conversion. I will have to research that further when I have time. Again, huh to the nth power? Why did anyone ever elevate this person and his thoughts to such a high status?

I am pretty sure the answer is that he supported Constantine's wholesale takeover of the church and subsequent politicizing/institutionalizing of the body of Christ. This gave him a position of respect by propaganda, one that has weathered scrutiny for centuries, mainly because people excuse his sin as a product of his time. The warnings of Jesus to judge people by their fruits is ignored, as if living in the first few centuries of the church meant that being slutty and a deadbeat dad would not have merited conviction from the Holy Spirit. Yet Jesus spoke all his words about fruit, the honor and care that children deserve, and the importance of marriage centuries earlier. Even the Apostle Pauls injunctions against immorality were well known to Augustine and the rest of the church in their time. It makes no sense to excuse his really rotten fruit by saying that he didn't know any better.

Fast forward to Calvin. He had his enemy murdered over a doctrinal dispute! MURDER!!! And people excuse this as a one-off!!! Because the self-importance of theologians is way more impressive to scholars of the faith than the very plain, simple, straight-forward words of the Son of God!

Even my own dear Luther is not worthy of emulation or honor to the extent with which some people want to laud him. He was an open hater of Jews! I myself have repeated the excuse that he was just a product of his times, but that is such a lame excuse. Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves, and even to love our enemies and do them good CENTURIES earlier! It's not like Luther never read those passages. He CHOSE to hold onto his hate in spite of the words of Christ. He has no more excuse than anyone living today.

Deitrich Boenhoffer, whom I love for his desire to see racial equality in the church and his detestation for the Nazi regime, was a sexist jerk. I hold out hope for him, that if he had gained the opportunity to marry his eyes would have been opened to the injustice of his doctrine. We will never know, since Hitler murdered him while he was yet single. But still, the words of the Apostle Paul that in Christ is "neither male nor female" were right there in black and white where he could see them. All the honor and respect Jesus showed to female disciples had been in plain view for centuries. To quote a comedian, "I think you see what you want to see..." That's all fine to explain these gross errors as unavoidable human foible if they are just average joes, but then don't make exalted doctrines out of such men's merely human thoughts. No one has done that with Dietrich, but St. (cough cough) Augustine, Calvin and Luther are given that power. Unbelievable.

Why is it that the church has dismissed Jesus warning to us? He told us to look at people's lives, and only listen to those whose personal choices matched up to the life of love disciples are called to live. So how did a slutty, deadbeat dad, a cold-blooded murderer and a racist wind up "church fathers"?

They're not MY fathers, that's for sure!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Of a Personal Nature

Just wanted to let everyone know what I am up to these days. =D

I am taking three classes this fall, including Physics (with Trig even!). This makes me very happy. I had not learned any trig or geometry until I learned it to teach to my home school students. I am thrilled that I am able to keep up in this class. I am working hard to earn another A, at least that's my goal. The other two classes, Intercultural Communications and Medical Terminology II are subjects that fascinate me. I am looking forward to knocking them out of the park.

I finished up the CNA course work and clinical trials. I take the state exam on September 29th, for all who pray for me. I would appreciate your prayers. Normally the test is supposed to take place within two weeks of the end of course work, but due to a scheduling error I am taking it over a month later. I need to remember every detail to pass the test. I plan to review like all get out, but prayers on my behalf will no doubt help too. :)

Other than the above, I will have met all the requirements to apply for the 21-month course of training I need to pursue the career I want. I am competing with hundreds of other applicants for a mere fifteen spots. I am giving it my all. The application deadline is January 31st, and I will know the middle of February if I make it.

I am still in EMDR therapy and I still highly recommend it. Nuff said there.

My husband is still in therapy and on anti-depressants. While he has struggled with bouts of worsened depression since we visited his parents at the end of July, it has been nowhere near as bad for me as life got last March. The worst was two weeks ago, which I published on this blog and then removed again. I put it back up just now. I am happy to say that he fully admitted his fault and admitted that what was really going on was a worsening of his depression since visiting his folks again. Things did not continue to build up after that admission. Merely coming out of denial was a benefit, and while he still struggles with feelings of shame and abandonment, he isn't blaming me. Progress.

My daughter is a senior in college this year, and next year the Air Force will spirit her away. I plan to make the very most of the time left with her so close.

My son is back from the Caribbean. His secular mission trip renewed his interest in becoming a doctor. He is applying for scholarships and colleges now. He does have one gap in his education that needs filled: I can not get the kid to write a killer essay. I was able to teach my daughter, and I can write a quality paper myself. But I just can't get the kid out of the middle of the pack on this one. Pray that we will find a solution soon, as he is a senior in high school. (Personally, I blame facebook, twitter, reddit, etc. for teaching his brain to think in short, incomplete thoughts. *sigh*)

So, there you have it. Thank you for sticking with me, dear readers. Your support means so much to me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Entitlements? vs Community Charity

I have been arguing with some home school graduates on facebook about public assistance, commonly called "entitlement" programs by those who resent them. Without exception, the claim is being made that the community or the church will step in and take care of the disabled, children of addicts, the unemployable mentally ill, etc. Personally, I find that concept completely laughable, but for argument's sake, let's say it should happen. How would the community band together to help the poor among them?

Well, it would be totally unfair and unsustainable for the compassionate among us to be saddled with the whole burden of assisting any of these terribly needy groups. I mean, I am a compassionate person, but I do not really want to bring a mentally ill unemployable person into my home and provide shelter, food, clothing and medical care for them. It's unsustainable. I might be able to do it for a few days, but to be honest I am unwilling to do that. The personal cost to my convenience, safety and net worth are not something even a compassionate person like myself is willing to bear.

So, the only way to keep this person from starving, or robbing and possibly assaulting or murdering people for money to eat, is to offer some at least minimal assistance. Let's say they are too out there for church: who will help?

If our community decided to help, how would that happen? The fairest and cheapest way would be for each house in our neighborhood to chip in a little something. It should be either the same for every house, or tied to income so that the burden falls evenly on everyone by some definition at least. That will cut down on the resentment factor. If we were to expand the community a bit more, and say pool resources together in the entire zip code, we could do a better job of preventing starvation, homelessness and crime in the whole area.

But how to collect that money? If it's all voluntary, a lot of people won't help at all. That means a large burden for the people with the foresight to see that starving people in your community is bad for everyone. So there would have to be some way to enforce a common contribution from each household.

Then there is the problem of distribution. It would be a full-time job for someone to oversee the funds and distribute them fairly. We would need some sort of guidelines to determine who was in need and who wasn't. Coming up with those guidelines in a community wide meeting would be a disaster. Anyone who has tried to set a social calendar for a small community group for the coming year can testify to that. The only way such a meeting would work is if we had a small committee of people making the decisions.

How would we pick the people to serve on the committee? The way that first comes to mind is to get a representative from each neighborhood to come. The people in each neighborhood could choose from a pool of volunteers who could represent them. I don't see any other way to do that except by voting. If there were more than, say, a half a dozen neighborhoods in the zip code, the committee would still be too cumbersome. We would have to pool neighborhoods together into something representing districts and let them vote of which of the people volunteering to do the job the most people wanted for the position.

And then what if no one wants to volunteer after a season? That sure happened with our home owner's association. What our community wound up doing was paying a professional management company to handle our community business. Eventually we would need to pay these community representatives for their work, if we wanted people from the actual community to make the decisions.

Let's say this works, a committee is chosen, and they establish guidelines for money distribution. There needs to be someone in charge of reviewing applications to make sure the money is being allocated according to guidelines. This would no doubt take a lot of time, and the person in charge of this needs to be trustworthy. A volunteer to oversee the distribution would be highly suspect. I think it would be decided the person in charge should have credentials, and should get paid. If more people are applying than one person can process in a timely manner, we may have to hire another person.

Also, it wouldn't be long before people would want some sort of follow-up, to make sure that the children of addicts were getting fed, the mentally ill unemployable was safe and the community was safe, that the disabled were being cared for and not lying in their own waste while the checks went uncashed because they had no way to the bank, the grocery store, etc. Maybe we could get community volunteers to do this, but probably that wouldn't last long. Who wants to be burdened with overwhelming need in your fact all the time? I sure don't. Some people might be willing to do it as a job though. We could offer a salary for people who were willing to be the eyes and ears for the community charitable distributions.

So there you have it. Doesn't it look an awful lot like government? People from the community volunteer for the position, the community votes of the proposed names to select a fellow neighbor to represent them. Those doing the representing get paid something for their time. They have to have some sort of regulatory power to collect a little bit from everyone, or the system won't be sustainable. They need to have guidelines for distribution, someone in charge of distribution, and some people checking up on the recipients to ensure the money is actually helping.

I have just described the role of legislators, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the social workers they employ. For me personally, I am THRILLED to have other people take care of the distribution of funds and checking up on the recipients. I don't want to do it. And I am happy with the system where everyone contributes according to income (taxes) so I don't have to get personally involved.

The government IS the community! That is how the community already is banding together to help the needy among us. Just cut through the propoganda you've been taught by Vic Lockman and use your God-given brain to think about it for a bit.

You're welcome.