Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dear Fil

(Warning: strong language ahead.)

Dear Fil,

Please don't call here anymore. Every time you call, you set off a shitstorm of abuse in my household.  Once it even ended in a suicide gesture.  The worst part of that incident was that it involved criminal activity that endangered other people.  Yes, the missionary kid got blinding, puking drunk chugging Four Loco and malt liquor in the Wal-Mart parking lot and drove home.  He could've killed not only himself, but other innocent people.  This last phone call had him driving 25 miles over the speed limit in poor weather conditions, angry at all those people who were "in his way".

What did you do to this man's heart as he grew that has filled him with so much self-loathing and rage?  And why does driving seem to factor into the fallout?  You, Mr. Missionary Preacher Man, are a wicked, heartless, cold-blooded reptile.  You are completely self-centered.  You don't give a shit about your children's hearts, only how they make you look to your cult peers.  You don't even ask any important questions, ever, and when people try to talk about things like feelings, you change the subject.  You are a braggart, and the only value your children and grandchildren have for you is for bragging rights.  Fuck you.  You have contributed nothing  but harm to your family; your legacy is broken men who abuse their wives and children, religious addicts mired in depression and who seek release in bullying others. You are the lowest of the low.  And you suck up undeserved respect from your career choice and the children you intimidated into never questioning you or your cult.

In a perfect world, you would be having some kind of end-of-life fearless moral inventory.  In a perfect world, you would be seeking to truly know and truly care for the hearts of your children and grandchildren.  Hell, if you were even human some of that might be happening.  Non-religious people live this way all the time, without any prompting from moral tomes.  Here you claim to follow Jesus the Christ, a man who promoted love, sincere love, as the highest way any man can choose to live, and you have one of the most cold, lifeless hearts I have ever known.

But, it's not a perfect world. You won't ever change.  You are a self-centered, self-involved religious bigot and all you care about is gaining religious hit points to increase your stats with your fellow fundy cult members.  Shame on you.

What makes me the angriest is how *I* catch the heat for your abuse after you call.  My husband doesn't even try to talk to you about anything important anymore, though he has in the past.  It's too painful to come face to face with the reality that your parents don't love you.  So, he plays along with your little games.  Talk about the weather, talk about nothing, and then you issue your demand for him to show up and pay homage to you in person, opening that "invitation" with a remark of how older brother has just fulfilled HIS obligation, so when are you going to get with the program?

He stuffs all his feelings when you call. He becomes numb.  He says the phone call went well, and then changes the subject. The only difference in his demeanor right away is that he is a bit more distant.  Over the next few days he becomes less and less affectionate, a little more irritable. He starts to spend more time watching sports and disappearing into computer games.  When someone calls him on bad behavior, he will apologize, but not with the affection and sincere regard for the other's feelings that had characterized him in more recent weeks. In short, he becomes his "old self".

He disappears back into PAPD, needing to cause a conflict in order to discharge all of his anger, and ultimately, give reason to the overwhelming shame he feels because of your indifference to his heart.  The conflict has to arise from someone's response to his silence or inaction, so he can tell himself he didn't start it, it's the other person's fault.

That other person is always me.  That's because you, Fil, by your overt and covert teaching, raised my husband to hate women.  You raised him to view them as empty-headed and emotional, with emotional being a bad thing rather than a part of the healthy human condition.  When he is in this, his reptile brain, he becomes you, Fil.  He treats me with the same contempt and resentment that he saw (and I have seen) you treat his mother.  This time it took over twenty-four hours for him to come back to reality.

Right now I am not in danger when he gets like this, but only because my son is here to protect me.  My son goes away to college in a year.  If my husband isn't free of the bomb in the brain that you planted, that you set off every time you call, then I will have to leave him.  I will be forced to leave him for my own safety, because he won't stop taking your calls.  And you won't stop calling.

And fuck you for that.   Fuck you because you never call because you care for anyone but yourself.  You call because you have no heart friends, and the wife is in long term care now.  You can't even abuse her openly anymore.  It won't have the same affect when you tell her that her contribution to the conversation is "the stupidest thing you ever heard", because she has Alzheimer's now.   I wonder who you DO abuse now to try to feel better than everyone else?  People at church?

I think old abusive people are the saddest people on earth.  But don't come looking for pity here.  You won't find any from me. I wish my husband could tell you the truth about how you've hurt him, even though you wouldn't care and/or would deny responsibility.  I wish he was strong enough to cut you off completely from his life.  But he's not, not now, and he may never be.

And then your abuse just keeps on hurting him, because I will have to leave him if there's no hope he'll ever be completely safe for me to stay his wife.  That will really really suck if you get to cut him off from the only person in this world who has ever truly loved him or cared for his heart.  At least the children we raised together will always care for him, unlike your children who only come around you when the guilt you lay on them gets too much to bear.

Please don't call here anymore.  Just don't.  Oh, and get some help for your religious addiction before you die.  It would do so much good on the earth if you would.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A beautiful pro-life message

From a facebook wall discussion:

 Until a child is out, born and breathing in the world, it is just Potential. I've seen too many still born babies at full term and too many late term miscarriages in friends and family to feel otherwise. The loss of potential is sad, painful, heartbreaking, the loss of a potential person who could become anyone, be anything, even more so. But to choose a potential person over the well being and best interests of a being who is already here, with years of experience, choices, friends, family, and everything else already behind them, is to denigrate the value of lives already here just in the hopes of a better "what if". To me, it is to say that all a woman has done, achieved, and impacted in her life is not as worthy or important as what her child MIGHT achieve IF it manages to survive.

I'm 23 weeks pregnant. We chose to have this child, made the conscious decision as two committed, loving adults that if we got pregnant, baring health risks and life threatening birth defects in the child or risk to me, we would carry through. I wish no child was ever conceived except in those circumstances, by people willing and able to take care of it. I don't understand the mentality of someone being worthy enough to sleep with, but not have a child with, but that's just me, and I don't want to force my views on others.

But if something happened tomorrow, and we were to face a choice over my well being and safety, my life, over that of our baby,Jericho and I both agree we would tell them, "Save Me, save Em." From our first pregnancy, we discussed and worried about this, that dark fear of "What if" the worst happened. And Jericho told me then, it would be unfair and selfish for me to choose our baby over him, leaving him alone with a baby to raise, and no me to help or love either of them. In that case it's choosing the baby over the fathers well being, the same thing just with no physical risk to the dad, just a huge burden of sadness and loneliness, and a child he might resent to boot. And every time since that, the decision was already made. "Save Me, Save Em." if something should happen, because otherwise it would be choosing the unborn child not only over myself and my husband, but over my other already born children as well.

It would not matter to me if in a bit of clairvoyance God were to tell me that should my child live, he would cure cancer and bring peace to the world, unless he also promised my other kids and husband would be better off without me, proof that would never come, the answer would always be, "Choose me, Choose Em." Its not that I think I'm better than what my kids could potentially be, its that I know, as long as I'm here, I will do my best to love, protect, and guide them. It's the one little power I have on this earth, and something I won't give up without a fight.

I'm 23 weeks pregnant. We chose to have this child, made the conscious decision as two committed, loving adults that if we got pregnant, baring health risks and life threatening birth defects in the child or risk to me, we would carry through. I wish no child was ever conceived except in those circumstances, by people willing and able to take care of it. I don't understand the mentality of someone being worthy enough to sleep with, but not have a child with, but that's just me, and I don't want to force my views on others. 
But if something happened tomorrow, and we were to face a choice over my well being and safety, my life, over that of our baby,Jericho and I both agree we would tell them, "Save Me, save Em." From our first pregnancy, we discussed and worried about this, that dark fear of "What if" the worst happened. And Jericho told me then, it would be unfair and selfish for me to choose our baby over him, leaving him alone with a baby to raise, and no me to help or love either of them. In that case it's choosing the baby over the fathers well being, the same thing just with no physical risk to the dad, just a huge burden of sadness and loneliness, and a child he might resent to boot. And every time since that, the decision was already made. "Save Me, Save Em." if something should happen, because otherwise it would be choosing the unborn child not only over myself and my husband, but over my other already born children as well.
It would not matter to me if in a bit of clairvoyance God were to tell me that should my child live, he would cure cancer and bring peace to the world, unless he also promised my other kids and husband would be better off without me, proof that would never come, the answer would always be, "Choose me, Choose Em." Its not that I think I'm better than what my kids could potentially be, its that I know, as long as I'm here, I will do my best to love, protect, and guide them. It's the one little power I have on this earth, and something I won't give up without a fight.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Just Checking In

My first semester is over, and one thing I have learned: life is not going to get any easier for the next 20 months.  The school is not hard except in the most critical area: actual hands on learning of technique. We are given brief verbal instructions, once (sometimes not everyone gets them even) and then expected to perform like professionals. I kept waiting for the written instructions, checklists, visual aides, videos and helpful hints to be offered, in any format.  I finally found out (after flunking the hands on portion of the test) that they never will be offered.  It is expected that everyone who is not finding their own way to learn these skills (i.e. developing their own curriculum) and/or is not in the group who is lucky enough to hear the brief instructions in the first place, they will all be eliminated at the end of the next semester.

That, at this point, looks like it will include me.  BUT, I am now aware that I am waiting in vain for real teaching, and so I will spend my three weeks between semesters doing my best to develop my own curriculum for this skill.  Also, I know better now the level of expertise expected, though it is possible that starting out slow I will always lag behind the curve.  If that turns out to be the case, no worries. I will do my best to transfer to a different medical training school for a similar job.  The other option relies more on academics and scientific acumen, which are my strengths.  But I will have wasted a year and a lot of time and money.  :\

So, I am hoping that my home education skills at putting together my own curriculum will pay off in a big way.  Wish me well and pray for my success, all who read here.  I will need the cooperation of others so pray that I will have favor with the right people for this to work out.

On another note, my husband is happier and healthier than he has ever been.  He is working on his shame issues with his therapist, and that seems to be the foundation of all his depression and repressed anger.  Life with him is really good.

Also, I started doing thirty minutes of gentle yoga most mornings and evenings.  I got my first yoga lessons as a Christmas present.  I am now twenty pounds lighter, way more limber, and also happier.  Did you know the "Ohm" sound is really the first and last letter of the Sanskrit alphabet (Alpha and Omega, anyone?) followed by the MMMM sound because it is made with mouth closed reminding one of the presence of God within (...the kingdom of God is within you).  Why are Christians so scared by yoga?  Crazy.

I have thought about taking the blog off line, but I still get regular visitors reading for how Bill Gothard negatively affected my life.  So, though I will rarely post, I am going to leave the blog up for now.  I wish more evangelical women in crappy home school marriages would read here.  They would find the bread crumbs I left, and maybe be able to follow them out to freedom for their own family.  That's my wish.

Peace and good will, SS

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My husband is outside playing basketball with our six year old neighbor kid.  It is so sweet to watch.  I think every smile on that little one's face brings a bit more healing to my husband's heart.  It makes me very happy to watch.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Self-Congratulatory Ego Stroking Nonsense

"You are a REAL MAN when you: commit to study God's Word, when you teach your children, when you love your wife."


Seriously?  Now Christians are willing to dehumanize all other people everywhere in order to stroke their own egos and emphasize their superiority to those other mere (hell bound, presumably) slobs?

This is so obviously wrong that it should never see the light of day, and yet Christians are proudly plastering this all over their facebook walls this morning.

Can you imagine Jesus ever saying such nonsense?

Does Jesus anywhere call for people to "study God's Word"?  I don't think so.  Please post chapter and verse from the gospels if I am wrong.

(Fundies: don't even try to say Jesus=the whole Bible so a verse from OT or epistles are on the same level as the actual teachings of Jesus as remembered by the early church.  That's a load of manure and if you were more intellectually honest, it would have occurred to you too.  Meditate on the lesson of the Mount of Transfiguration and it will be plain: Jesus and Moses, Elijah, the disciples are NOT on equal footing.  Jesus is GOD.  Those others guys are just people, like you and me, whose lives were touched by God.  HUGE difference!!)

Jesus commanded us precious few things, so they are easy to remember:  A new command I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.  By this will all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.

When it comes to children, Jesus loved them and touched them.  He warned people not to offend them.  He said nary a word about "teaching them".

Of course, Jesus was a constant teacher, but when I see a fundamentalist use the word "teach" in connection with the word "children" it usually means something very different than emulating the life of Jesus and how he related to those he taught.  It means spank, demand obedience even when unfair and unjust, and coerce them to emulate spoken and overtly taught parental values like what to think, feel, watch and say. This would include memorizing Bible verses and parroting Christian cliches without thinking about them very deeply.  All a far cry from the nurture and compassion Jesus showed little children and commanded us to also show.  All a far cry from the love and acceptance Jesus showed the crowds of people who came to Him to be healed and taught about the love of God.

Jesus and women? Jesus turned Old Testament misogyny upside down by accepting women as disciples, talking to them as equals, touching them without concern as to whether they were "bleeding" or not, commending for their faith, calling them up to the front of the synagogue, and more.  The list of the ways Jesus defied the patriarchy and honored women is very long.

I don't believe Jesus would ever have used the phrase "REAL MAN" about anyone, because it implies that other men are lesser and women, well we all know what the opposite of a "REAL MAN" is right?  A pussy, a girly-man, a pansy, and a wimp are all pretty much interchangeable insults used as the opposite of a "REAL MAN".  The phrase itself is misogynist to the core.

Oh, and the PRIDE fed by such a statement!  I simply cannot see Jesus ever endorsing such ego-stroking hyperbole, not ever.  If there is one thing Jesus was "against" it was religious posturing and the pride that goes with it.  Oh. my.

That statement just is rotten to the core.  I know of one very abusive, mentally off-balance patriarch who will puff up with pride when he reads this statement.  His children are all emotionally wounded by growing up in his strict fundamentalist patriarchal family cult.  As they age out and break free, the family gets more fractured because the patriarch disowns them for choosing a life different from his own sick, twisted (but scriptural when one is allowed to proof text!) religious life.

His wife is miserable.  The children she sacrificed career and self-development to birth and raise are torn from her. She has to choose between "submission" to the patriarch and loving her children.  How sick is that?

But this guy fits the "REAL MAN" label above.   He, his life and his family are the living examples of how these religious catch phrases have replaced true devotion to Jesus with gaining the approval of your co-religionists.

My husband is a real man. So is my son. So are my Sikh, Jewish and Hindu neighbors.  A real man is one who exists.  Period.  Stop with the loaded language and ego-stroking, church.  It's repulsive.

*sigh*  I have to get back to studying.  I just wanted to get this off my chest.  Peace and good will to all who read here.  You are all real people, fyi!  :)  Shadowspring

Friday, June 1, 2012

Jesus vs. American "christians"

Probably everyone has already seen or heard of this video clip in which a Republican congressman loses it on the Illinois house floor.

I live in the middle of a very Religious City.  I think I saw recently where it was in the top rankings for religious cities in the country.  I don't have time to hunt down the link, but supposedly 53% percent of people in my city attend  Christian services or at least self-report that they do.  There are 800 +/- churches in the greater metro area.

The odds are good that if a person is white, older and female, they go to church.  If they are Christians, the odds are good that they (for some inexplicable reason) are also pro-everything Rush Limbaugh likes, anti-everything Rush Limbaugh hates, and are registered Republican.  This actually makes no sense if they were actual disciples of Jesus.

Though Jesus never took a side as far as politics go, he did take up for the outcast (lepers, blind, disabled for any reason), the marginalized (tax collectors, women of ill repute), the foreigner (Samaritan, Syro-Phonecian, Roman), and the economically disadvantaged (compassion on the crowds with no food, the widow(s) at the temple).  Nowhere did Jesus favor the rich or the powerful religious elites, in fact he warned people to watch out not to become like them (beware the leaven...) and warned them not to seek to become  rich (seek you first the kingdom, how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom...).

So, it seems pretty plain to me that if you are against universal health care, you are not following Jesus in desiring to heal the sick.  If you are against public assistance for the disabled, you are not following Jesus in having compassion for the economically/socially disadvantaged.  If you are in favor of further labeling and marginalizing gay people as "abominations", you are not following Jesus in showing acceptance and welcome to the marginalized.  If you want to build a big fence to electrocute people fleeing privation/starvation in hopes of providing a better future for their children here in America, in fact if you want to do anything other than make it easier for these people, both by ending American imperialist policies that hurt their own economies (drug wars?) and making an easier process for them to immigrate legally, then you are not following Jesus in showing compassion to the foreigners among us.  If you demonize people who are poor and hungry as too lazy to work and begrudge assisting them in any way, you are not following Jesus in showing honor and offering real help to the poor and the hungry.

If you praise the rich as being  "successful", claiming they are more virtuous than other people, you listen to Rush with more intention than you read your Bible.  The Bible is full of pronouncements of judgement (the disapproval of God) on the rich and those who strive to be rich.  There is no way you can be a disciple of Jesus and call the mega-wealthy "job creators".  The two opinions of the wealthy elite (Rush Limbaugh vs. Jesus) stand in stark contrast.  I suppose you could point to the prosperity promised observant Jews in the Old Testament as proof that wealth means God approves of you, but you can't point to anything Jesus said or did that upholds that belief. Paul goes as far as to state plainly (in more than one way in more than one epistle) that Jesus is the end of the Law.  If you're following Jesus, the Old Testament law is irrelevant.  The  new command of Jesus is the only one that matters:

  1. John 13:34
    A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one anotheras I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  2. John 15:12
    This is my commandment, That ye love one anotheras I have loved you.
Which is why it is inexplicable to me, and so ugly, that  today's evangelical equates being Republican with being Christian.  It makes absolutely no sense.  Anyone who takes the call to follow Jesus seriously can not in good conscience align themselves with the current Republican party.  Go ahead and try.  It just doesn't stand up to scrutiny if you actually read the Bible and want to obey Jesus.  

So, any thoughtful Christian would decry the actions of the congressman from Illinois, right?  After all, the New Testament is pretty plain that the congressman's actions* (railing:  to complain by being harsh and angry (usually followed by "at" or "against") are declared something that disciples of Jesus should clearly not be doing  (I Tim 6:4; I Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 2:11; Jude 1:9).  

That doesn't even take into account the many places Christians are admonished to be kind, gentle, bless and curse not, and to cultivate the lovely fruit of self-control.  There is absolutely no way this rant of a crazed lunatic could qualify as Christian or garner the praise of Christians, right?  Right?!  Right!?!?!

Yeah, not right.  In the break room at a local business, when this childish churl came up on the television, the outspoken Christian in the break room cheered for him, clapped, exulted over his (uninformed and childish) rant.  Worse, her co-worker chimed in a belated "Amen!"  These are the same people who openly sneered at me last year when I remarked that I had nothing against gay folks getting married if they had the courage to go for it.  

These two women probably think they are "good Christians".  I am confident they are Republican.  If a Democrat had engaged in similar behavior, they would be loudly denouncing how "ungodly" the congressman was behaving.  If any one they hated, a gay person or an immigrant or a lawyer for the ACLU, behaved in similar manner, it would probably be reckoned as one more justifying reason for their hatred.  Yet because a Republican cursed, screamed, threw things and whined about not getting his way,  they actually applauded.

I fear for my country.  Pastors openly call for child abuse against boys who love and emulate their mothers, for state executions of gay people,  for ending access to birth control for women and taking away women's right to vote.  They would like to end affirmative action  laws so they can go back to discriminating against minorities in the work place without penalty.  I have heard all these things in either sermons broadcast on the internet, read them in books or witnessed it in person by a pastor from the pulpit.  I even heard one pastor declare that slavery was not wrong, because the Bible supported it, but he wouldn't elaborate because it was not "politically correct".  Uh, dude, it's way worse than that.  Unless nothing would please you more than becoming a slave,  which I doubt, there is no way you can love another person and enslave them at the same time.  It just can't be done.

Which proves my point: Jesus is no longer necessary for American evangelical and fundamentalist Christians.  They have the Bible, which they love way more and gives them permission to love what the current Republican party stands for ONLY IF THEY REMOVE/IGNORE THE WORDS AND LIFE OF CHRIST.  That's exactly what they do.  It's the only way a person who knows how to read could both claim to be a "christian" and honor the rich, slander the poor, ignore the sick, hate homosexuals and resent immigrants.  They have to love their politics more than they love their "lord" if in fact they publicly honor politicians who rail, curse and throw things when Republican legislation isn't passed swiftly.  

As a person truly smitten with Jesus, modern American Christianity disgusts me.  I am reminded  of a saying I heard recently, "Mixing politics with religion is like mixing manure with ice cream.  It does nothing for the manure (politics) but it ruins the ice cream (religion)."  

I haven't been to church regularly since last October.  I don't plan to attend  more than once a month for the foreseeable future.  Once you've been handed a manure-laden ice cream cone, it sort of puts you off of ice cream altogether, even when there is no manure added into the current edition.  *shudder*

There was a time when being ugly and rude was socially unacceptable, and it was largely because of religion that this was true.  But what will happen to our city, our country, when religion is the force behind public demonstrations of hate and violence? If things don't turn around in our society soon, we may find out.  

So while it was easy yesterday to just get up and walk out of the break room, I am concerned that one day not joining in will be enough to have my fellow citizens denounce ME openly. For those who scoff that America will never become so ugly, I hope you are right.  I once thought the church would be a place that promotes peace and advocates for the poor, but reality has dissuaded me of that notion.  Once the church has gone off the rails (and it has) what will keep the whole country from following?

PS The congressman's words were wrong anyway!  The Constitution of the United States of America clearly calls for the role of Speaker of the House.   "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."   You can read the entire text of the Constitution of the United States of America online here:

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Sisterhood of the Hidden Dagger

I have gotten so used to posting every day that it is going to be tough neglecting my blog again, but more pressing IRL concerns start back up again tomorrow.  I am excited, a little scared, but deep in my spirit I feel....

quiet confidence.

I hope this turns out to be the appropriate feeling.  I have some reservations about being in a trade school vs. regular college, and they are all social.  I will have the same nineteen classmates for the whole 2 1/2 years, and the same two instructors.  In most situations, if someone annoys you (classmate or teacher) you can just clam up and get through the class/semester.  Not this time.  There's not even a day to cool off between classes.  Here's to Buddha and detachment! My plan is to be as Zen as possible while in class.

This will be all new to me.  I am by nature enthusiastic, outspoken, and (not bragging, it is what it is) smart.  I love learning.  I really get a thrill out of understanding new concepts.  It's not a chore to learn, it's a treat.  Here's hoping I can keep myself out of the limelight most of the time.  Even as I type those words out, I know I will have very limited success.  But hopefully, I will be better at it than in the past, with my newly begun practice of yoga to guide me.

Eighteen of my fellow students are women.  Most of them are close to my age.  I don't know if this will be a plus or a minus.  Growing up, I generally got along better with guys than gals.  I didn't understand why then, but I'm pretty sure I do now. 

I am no threat to guys. Men still have a distinct advantage over women in all fields, and fields traditionally held by women are no exception.  A guest  instructor for the shadowing course I had to take this summer was very open and free with her opinions on everything.  One of those opinions she candidly shared was that male nurses are better nurses than female nurses.  She is, of course, a Southern Baptist, so no surprise that she would defer to men in all things.  Still, it was very unnerving to see her be open about her own misogyny.

I am a threat to the other women in the class.  That has been my experience throughout my life.  It has been my daughter's experience.  It is probably the experience of smart and decent-looking women everywhere.  I briefly fantasized that there might be a sense of sisterhood in the career world that was missing in the realm of the stay at home mom, home schooling or otherwise.  

Well, there is: the Sisterhood of the Hidden Dagger.  It's not going to be any different than public school was, I'm sure. The only women who will befriend me are those who don't feel threatened by me.  All others will be ready to believe any gossip about me, any ugly rumor, and may even start some of their own.  I am not a pessimist by nature, but I know this is a very real danger in this social setting.

If I were very overweight, or were less than average attractive (not that I'm "smoking hot" or anything, far from it, but my face doesn't scare children), then no doubt some if not most of these women would befriend me.  If I were a B student, or even a C student, no doubt those in the same GPA area would befriend me.  Of course, if I were a conservative religious person like I was for so many years, that would probably help in this particular school.  But I'm not.

I'm smart, ambitious, fit, and while I won't be attending any functions that the Romneys would attend, my husband makes just enough money to keep us in the less affluent end of an affluent neighborhood.  I plan on using all this to my benefit, but I also plan on being as quiet about my advantages as I can.  Jealousy and spite lead to gossip, and ugly gossip has torpedoed many a woman, including myself. 

This sort of behind the scenes back-stabbing is oft practiced in Christian circles, so in this rural trade school in the South, I can expect  that my peers are well-versed in it.  I have been a victim too many times to count, and while in the past the "prize" women were vying for wasn't worth enough for me to stand my ground, this time it is.  Enjoy your positions in church and so-called "Christian" home school circles, back-stabbing gossips.  You won your little patch of ground.  I am moving on to bigger things.

And this time, I will not be marginalized or deterred from my goal.  I already know it's going to be hard to keep from being outed as a threat.  Even keeping your mouth shut is seen as a threat to someone spouting off opinions left and right.  By not agreeing openly, they know you are disagreeing privately.  I am just praying that enough of the job sites will be here in the city that I won't have to worry about it much.  

At the rural hospitals, I know there will be whole departments filled with anti-abortion, elitist, homophobic white Southern women.  Not my favorite, as you might have guessed.  My secret weapon here will be daily prayer and morning yoga before I leave for work.  My next strategy: proclaim at every opportunity that I am looking forward to taking a travelling job when I graduate.  This will calm people that I will not be competing with them for local jobs.  It has the advantage of not being completely false, because I will follow the money so I may very well take a travelling job.

Another strategy is to talk up moving to Florida when my husband retires, and pointing out that he is older than me so I'll still be working.  Also true and not true.   He is older than me and I will still be working after he retires, but he's not THAT much older than me.  

The final strategy, and the one on which all the rest hinges, is to not friend anyone from school on facebook.  In fact, I may even have to shut down my facebook account.  It's already private, and I go back and hide past posts pretty regularly.  I know that one of the two instructors stalks her students on facebook; she already lectured us that if we put on anything negative about her she would find out and have it on the overhead projector when we got to class the next day.  

I am not sure exactly how to handle this facebook situation.  It's possible I may rub the instructor the wrong way by not adding anyone from class as a friend.  I plan to say something like: I prefer to keep my private and professional life separate.  Or I could create a new account for school only using my intials instead of my name, but my name is so unique people would probably still try to friend me on both.  Not happening.  Not. Happening.

Suggestion are welcome, if any of you have some for me.  Otherwise, I probably won't post again for awhile.  Wish me luck and happiness, and know I wish  the same for you.  Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How can you "not believe in" reality?

This is such a great post that I'm linking to, very long though so I won't say much myself in addition to passing on the link.

For many years, when I believed that being homosexual was a sin rather than a sliver of humanity like being tall, prone to freckle, or having exceptional athletic ability, I could not understand why the rest of the world considered my opinion "hate".   I was very offended at being called full of hate.

 "No!" I would say, parroting the evangelical line, "I don't hate gay people, I hate the sin of homosexuality.  I love the people.  And anyway, why do you care that I think it's a sin?  How I live my life is none of the community-at-large's business.  I have freedom of religion!"

Of course I would never say that about my son's freckles*:

"Oh I love my son, I just hate his freckles.  If only he would stop freckling and tan like normal people he would find freedom and joy.  As soon as he stops freckling, he will be accepted and welcomed.  But first he needs to stop that unnatural freckling.  It's a sin to freckle, the Bible says so: just plug "without spot" into Bible Gateway King James Version and it's all there  plain as day.  Sacrifices with spots were unacceptable; Paul says in Ephesians that the Lord is only coming for a bride without spot.** No spots allowed.  All he has to do is stop freckling.  There are even ministries that will help him choose to stop freckling, or at least help him come to grips with the fact that he must live his entire life indoors, while wearing heavy sunscreen, so no one ever knows that he freckles."

Here's the link:

Why "I don't believe in that" is unacceptable

* When the creators of South Park decided to create an episode that pointed out the ridiculousness of excluding and condemning people based on unchangeable human characteristics, they chose this same scenario.  Instead of inspiring people to stop the exclusion and ridicule, American school children began to bully people with freckles too.  The Ginger Kids episode, meant to expose the stupidity of intolerance and abuse, instead brought about an internet campaign, Kick a Ginger Day, that promoted violence against people with red hair and freckles.  Google "kick a ginger day" and "hug a ginger day" to see how bad it actually got.

**(and without wrinkles too: does this mean women who have cosmetic surgery are sanctified, while women with wrinkles are not?  New moral dilemma!  Ack!).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bullies: It's not just a school problem

Taylor Swift captured the essence of bullying in her song "Mean".  P!nk minsters directly to the heart of the bullied in her song "F**kin' Perfect".  Both songs are huge hits.  Unfortunately, it's because bullying is such a huge part of the American experience.  With 84% of Americans claiming adherence to religious faith, and a whopping 78% claiming to be "Christian", why is this?  Could it be that church is where bullies are made, groomed, and continue their post-school reign of terror?

I feel like I am waking up from a bad dream, only to find I'm still dreaming.  That's what it was like at my last church: it was so egalitarian (I thought), welcoming to all (I thought), and finally (I thought) I'd finally found a place where people took the words of Christ seriously.  The reality? I was believing what I wanted to believe. It took the ELCAs vote on ordaining gays in committed relationships to bring the bullying to the surface, but it had always been there. I just ignored it because this particular pastor was at the time very passive aggressive about his hate.  I remember him telling me that I wouldn't like him if I knew him better, following up that he was a Mark Driscoll fan once.  Since I had no idea who Mark Driscoll was, I replied, "Why would that cause me to reject you?  I don't care whose fan you are."

But now I see he was saying, "I believe you are inferior and should be put in your place."  Yep, I wouldn't have liked that if he had come right out and said it, but he is a sneaky sort so he said it in code.  Too bad I didn't know the code.  The fact that the Lutheran church follows a scriptural calendar kept him from preaching a sermon on the need to subjugate women, but if he could have found a way to sneak it in, I would never have caught it.  That's for two reasons.  First, at the time the majority of the congregation would have disagreed with him, and he wants to be liked and popular above all, so he wouldn't have come right out with it.  Second, he is ADD and his sermons rarely seem to have a main point, or even a theme.  I'm pretty sure that's why the ELCA sidetracked him into this little congregation, after he thought he was going to be associate pastor at a huge suburban church in an affluent part of town.  His rambles, if you will,  were always harmless enough, and me and my family could doodle, read our Bibles, look out he window, etc. when he was so vague it was pointless to try to follow.

But leaving the ELCA changed everything.  The tolerant open-hearted people left, but that was not the worst.  The worst part is that the congregation began to grow because the self-righteously offended folks from other ELCA churches,those who also disagreed with the decision to allow ordained gay clergy to enter into lifelong monogamous love relationships (what would be called marriage if it were legal), were looking for a "like-minded" place to "worship".  Now, pastor was popular because of his dark side. No need to hide it anymore. Things changed almost overnight, but I didn't realize it was happening, because I wanted to believe good of my church and my pastor.

Even with his new "friends", like bullies everywhere, he waited to throw his barbs until no one else was around.  When he struck at me he called me late at night on my cell phone.  If I hadn't been in the car, I don't think ANYONE would believe how hateful that "holy man" was to me in private.  As it is, the only people who DO believe it are the people who were actually in the car with me when it happened.  Wow.  Public school all over again.

This has had me thinking a lot lately about church itself, and how much bullying really goes on there.  It happens all the fricking time.  When I look back at the thirty years I have been faithfully involved in American evangelical Christianity, for the most part the best experiences I have ever had have happened when I just showed up, kept my head down and didn't really get involved personally in any other member's life.  Sure we volunteered, and went to special events, etc., but there were no real offers of friendship anywhere.  One of my favorite pastors, who retired since we moved, he was the most compassionate and sincere Christian I ever met, but he wouldn't know what to do with the gay issue.  I know the two churches that have generated from his retirement are not either one places I would attend.  The one with the most loving pastor, that I thought I would like, has in their statement of faith a belief in a 6000 yr old earth and the infamous one man, one woman statement.

As if reality is something you can choose to "believe in" or not!  Evolution, the speed of light, archeology, anthropology, etc. are not on equal ground with the tooth fairy.  You can't just decide your family is going to ignore reality because you don't believe in it!  My Sikh neighbor told me that his religion didn't believe in "that stuff" i.e. gay marriage.  What does he mean?  They don't believe gay people exist?  They don't believe gay people are capable of love?  Or that gay people don't deserve equal protection under the law?  I think he may mean that you can't be openly gay and be accepted in the Sikh religion, but that's not what he said.

But I digress.  The topic is bullying.  When I look back at all my former church experiences, I can plainly see bullying in evidence in each and every one.  I am ashamed to say that since I wasn't personally involved, I played it safe and ignored that it was happening.  So I don't guess I should be surprised that when I got bullied, that's how everyone would treat me.  Why do American recreate their public school experience, which is essentially what church does?  Classroom lecture, check. Posted start and finish times, check.  Take notes, check.  Popular people asked to help the "teacher", check.  Marginalization of the less socially acceptable, check.  Behind the scenes bullying, check.  Churches even have people who will throw you out if you disrupt the service by openly questioning what's going on there.  I have seen it happen.  Mega churches go one further.  Some of their ministry positions include armed security.  Scary stuff.

The big difference though is that church attendance is not legally compulsory.  It does become psychologically compulsory though once you become a part of that world.  Once you're in you know the shame and scorn heaped upon the heads of those who don't attend by the man in the lectern.  Over and over again, from the pulpit, I have heard it: promises of God's reward to those who build their social lives around the church, labels of "lukewarm", "lazy" and "hell-bound" to those those who only come on Sundays, some Sundays, and/or never come at all.

Shame is a powerful motivator.  No one wants to be one of the outcasts.  Everyone wants to be part of the "in" crowd, accepted by the popular people. Once you've heard that connection (the best Christians are here every time the door is open and volunteer and tithe) you want to be in the committed group that God blesses and pastor rewards.  You sure don't want to be rejected by God himself!  Yikes!

The other big difference is that as adults in the church, we pay the very people who bully us!  Oh sure, we really do believe we are giving it to God, not to the pastor directly.  That's the beauty of the whole scam, from the industry perspective.  They teach us that it's our religious duty to pay them, so they can turn around and bully at will from their place of honor at the lectern.  Why do we do that?  There are so many worthy causes our there in the world that could use more funds.  Why do we pay people to self-importantly lord it over us at church?

Finally there is no diploma.  You never graduate.  You might become a teacher's pet and get a moment or two of glory from your own time in the lectern, teaching a Sunday school class or leading a Wednesday service, if you tithe, attend and agree long enough.  Nope, there is no diploma but you do get something in return: the social approval of being a "good Christian".  That is still worth a lot in this country.  If you are in a family like mine or my husband's, it's a minimum requirement for being considered acceptable in the family.  Like trying to get a job without a high school diploma, I don't know if it's possible to get by socially without being a church attender.  I have been in the subculture so long, I have no idea how to get by outside of it.

I am not alone in wanting out, however.  The Barna research group's most recent findings show that:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.
The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.
I interpret the data this way:  44% of people in America have left the place they were bullied in search of a church where bullying does not happen. 28% of them have already figured out that no such place exists.  My two children, both raised on daily devotions, regular church attendance, Christian radio, Bible memory, AWANA, church camp in the summer, the whole evangelical cradle-to-grave, morning-to-night marketing strategy, are among those "one in four".

The "problem" is not improper doctrine formation, bad apologetics, or lack of commitment to Jesus.  The "problem" IS the doctrine, apologetics and the fact that these are an epic fail when one attempts to reconcile them with a sincere devotion to Jesus.  Church and Jesus parted ways a long time ago, around the time of Constantine. Further, home churches and denominational splits are plainly just an attempt to open up new venues to new bullies. They split because it's too crowded at the top, so when a person has enough popularity to strike out on their own, they go for it.  Invariably the new group will still set up pyramids of power, collect  money for those at the top, and bully the ones who aren't playing along the way they should.

I foresee an exodus from organized religion BECAUSE of the rise of evangelical Christianity and its success at setting up a parallel culture.  Their big mistake was keeping the gospels in the Bible.  Anyone who takes the time to look at Jesus closely, His life, His example, and His words, will wind up following Jesus right out the door and into....well, that I am not clear about yet.

That's the scary part.  The evangelical sub-culture has been my whole world for so long.  I don't really know how to live without it. But I am not a part of it anymore.  I believe in Jesus, but not substitutionary atonement, eternal hell, or putting limits on the love of God.  I am unwilling to deny reality on any front, finding reality completely compatible with believing God created reality.  To think that some Bronze Age tribal scribes, or even first century eye-witnesses to the life of Jesus, get to define reality for the rest of us for all time because the God who is amazing enough to create all this complexity spoke to them in their day, well that's just stupid.  I believe Jesus healed an epileptic man who was deaf and dumb; I do not believe that demons cause epilepsy or deafness. (Mark 9: 17-27) I believe Jesus healed a woman with severe osteoporosis; I do not believe osteoporosis is caused by a demon sitting on someone's back and tying them into a hunched over state with invisible ropes.(Luke 13:11-17)

I want to go to church.  I really do.  But I can't "unknow" the things I know.

Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thought-stopping labels thrown by those who have stopped thinking for themselves

Oh my, the variety of thought-stopping labels that Christians throw at those who challenge them!  I'm sure there are more than I know of, but I just got slapped with one of the most popular:  "Bitter"

As in, why do you not play along to the tune I play, a la Matthew 11: 16-17?

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
She posted a picture of Michelle Duggars dead child, and underneath is some drivel about "is this just a blob of cells" which is a misleading and dishonest question.

When a pro-choice person refers to "a blob of cells" they are referring to a Blastula , the medical term for the first three weeks after fertilization of an egg.  During this time, the three layers are forming that will become the placenta, and two other layers that will support the appearance someday of different organ systems.  It literally is a blob.  Seriously!

After that comes the stage of the embryo, again about three weeks.  During these three weeks the development of an outer form takes shape, and while the rudimentary formations of necessary body systems is just beginning.  Pro-lifers like to hand out little plastic "babies" of this stage of development.  So, even though the brain or nervous system are not fully functioning at this stage, the outside is starting to take shape, and this shape misleads people into seeing the unborn child as a teeny tiny miniature adult.  (Electrical twitches do start in the brain at the end of this stage, but that does not denote function.The heart will also regularly spasm soon, but the circulatory system is not yet functioning either.) That is not the reality.

From the above link:


A complete spontaneous abortion at about 6 weeks from conception, i.e. 8 weeks from LMP
Some embryos do not survive through to the fetal stage, which begins about two months after fertilization (10 weeks LMP). Embryos may be aborted spontaneously or purposely.
Studies using very sensitive early pregnancy tests have found that 25% of embryos are aborted by the sixth week LMP (since the woman's last menstrual period), even if a woman does not realize it.[4][5] Abortions after the sixth week LMP happen in 8% of pregnancies.[5] The risk of them is "virtually complete by the end of the embryonic period," with a rate of only two percent after 8.5 weeks LMP.[6]
The most common natural cause of abortion of an embryo is chromosomal abnormality,[7] which accounts for at least 50% of sampled early pregnancy losses.[8] Advancing maternal age and a patient history of previous spontaneous abortions are the two leading risk factors.[8]

[edit]Induced abortion

The majority of induced abortions occur during the embryonic period. For example, in England and Wales during 2006, 68% of them occurred by the end of the embryonic period.[9]
Induced (i.e. purposeful) abortion of an embryo may be accomplished by a variety of methods, including both pharmaceutical and surgical techniques. Suction-aspiration is the most common surgical method of aborting an embryo within the United States.[10]
Common reasons for purposely aborting an embryo include a desire to delay or end childbearing, concern over the interruption of work oreducation, issues of financial or relationship stability, perceived immaturity and health concerns.[11][12]
Following this stage, the term "fetus" is used, meaning "little one", because even though it will be weeks before the child could survive on its own EVEN WITH our amazing life-saving drugs, surgeries and interventions, from  about week nine of gestation, the outside looks clearly human.

So, when a pro-life person shows a picture of a dead fetus, asking "does this look like a blob of cells to you?" it's pure emotional manipulation AND it's deceitful!

Of course I objected to the manipulation, and the response was just classic fundy!

"Why are you so bitter?"

Next will come thought-stoppers like rebellious, sin of witchcraft, who knows what else?  Ugh.

I just hid the conversation and am going to ignore her, in hopes of living the more detached life of the yogi.  Let the fundamentalists be the ones all twisted up with anxiety and hate.  I won't defend myself because the question is so irrelevant to the issue, there is no way to respond without giving the question merit. And so I will just be still and silent in the face of that question.

I could be accurately accused of "hit and run" posting, but that's only because any response would be allowing her to redefine the argument from the content of her post to the state of my emotions.  And guess what? I don't have to allow that, and  I don't feel guilty about it either, because I don't have to be perfect anymore!  

As most of my readers know, once you've been called bitter, there's no way of proving you're not.  People could see the peace on your face, hear the calm in your voice, while they are frothing at the mouth and still call YOU the bitter one.  They would keep on in their own hysteria and never see beyond it.

 I fear for my country, now that fundemantalist Christianity has stunted so many minds.  Honest inquiry is foreign to them, as they look the their preachers, authors and organizations to tell them what to think.  That is  the only way an intelligent grown woman could show a picture of a mid-term fetus (20 weeks probably) and ask "does this look like a blob of cells to you?"  She has done no personal research on either gestation or the pro-choice position.  She just believes what she has been told by others without checking it out on her own.


May God have mercy on the USA and save her from his "followers".

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spiritual Bullying

Bullying is a big topic among today's youth.  I think a big part of ending bullying, is to get people who are not involved to stand up for the victims.  That's why the whole anti-bullying movement has sprung up, not so much to reform bullies (is that even possible?) but to make bullying itself socially unacceptable.

In my former striving to be uber-righteous and blameless in all things, I had only one answer to being bullied.  Beyond turning the other cheek, it went so far as to advocate to myself that standing up for myself was WRONG.  The proof text came from I Peter 2:21-23:
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

So, when I was being bullied in a board meeting of our "Christian" home school support group, I didn't take up for myself even though I had done nothing wrong.  I thought the facts would speak for themselves, but guess what REALLY happens when a victim of bullying doesn't stand up for themselves?  Nothing good.  They appear weak and deserving of honorable treatment in the eyes of those looking on.  Maybe, maybe someone's conscience might be urging them to take up for you, but if you won't even take up for yourself, no one else will either.

Years went by without my being subjected to anything remotely like that public attack, until I got involved in my homeowner's association.  I was asked by a neighbor to please join a certain committee, as the people involved were currently control freaks who needed the brakes put on.  All I did was show up and doodle in my notebook as people droned on and got all upset over stupid trivia like shrubs and flower beds.  I was only there to protest any really draconian ideas the committee might come up with.  Everything else about the committee was B-O-R-I-N-G.

So, the night before the third meeting, the chair of the committee came by my house to ask me some questions. We talked on my front porch for about an hour, and even though the person who had asked me to join the committee told me the guy was a snake, I shut the front door feeling that maybe he wasn't as bad as my other neighbor had made him out to be.

The meeting started the next night, and to my great surprise *my notebook* was on the agenda.  The chairman demanded to see it, misrepresented almost everything we talked about the night before, and let me tell you, there must  be a book out there somewhere about how to destroy your enemies in a committee meeting because it was exactly the same scenario as the "Christian" home school support group meeting of almost a decade earlier!  No one, not even the husband of the woman who had asked me to join, took up for me.  But this time, I took up for myself.  I looked around the room at all my fair-weather friends and the lynch mob my neighbors seemed eager to join, and told them all off.  I laughed in their faces, got up and told them they were crazy and I didn't need this shit.  I walked out, and the chair made one more effort to grab my notebook as I walked out the door.  I am not making this up! At that point, one neighbor (whom I didn't even know) took up for me and told the guy to back off as that was assault and he was a witness.  God bless that man!

I guess it must have something to do with the stars, because everything was chill for another few years.  But about eight months ago, I was bullied again, this time by  a "man-o-gawd". I was bullied by the pastor of the Lutheran church that you have read me praise repeatedly in many posts over the past  few years.  I was always welcome, celebrated even, in my congregation, that is until I began to disagree with the pastor too many times.

Once the issue of civil unions for gay couples came up, (I am in favor of legal rights for all citizens, while the pastor is strongly against it) suddenly everything I said or did ruffled pastors feathers.  He would get really pissy with any comments I made on facebook that could possibly be taken the wrong way, and he had to really want to be offended to get there!  It was plain that he just didn't like me or trust my intentions anymore.  Moreover, the makeup of the whole congregation was changing.  People who I loved and admired were leaving, and new people (people who were offended by the ELCA ordaining gay clergy in committed relationships) were joining the church.  It was leaning decidedly toward fundamentalism more and more every week.

The final offence came last October. I was explaining the fallacy of guilty by association to a less-bright fellow parishioner on my facebook wall.  I support the Occupy movement, and someone had been raped in the Occupy Wall Street campground (after weeks of no problems, pretty impressive for NYC really!).  The other person had gleefully linked to the news article and posted it on my facebook wall with a comment that I was supporting rape.  I replied, pointing out that one person committing a crime did not make the protest itself nor any other protestor a bad person. I explained that this was the fallacy of "guilty by association". The example I gave was pointing out that even though someone from our church had been convicted of manslaughter, that didn't make everyone at our church out to be some kind of criminal too.

My pastor read that on my wall, and he was livid.  

Here is an email I wrote to an internet clergy shortly after the evening:

I only know you from your blog, but I appreciate you very much.  I am from <a midwestern state> and learned the foundation for everything I know about God from my <midwestern> roots.  As a child, I remember learning that Jesus was the main point of the Bible, the life and words of Christ were the lens through which all the rest of scripture was to be read.  As the Father God made clear on the Mount of  Transfiguration, Moses, the prophets and the apostles were nowhere near equal in status to Jesus, the Beloved Son.  I also am pretty clear on the idea that God wants a personal relationship with each of us, that the same Holy Spirit that dwells in me dwells in you, Jesus (not any other person) is the Head of the church and that He is also the Good Shepherd.  We have no need of any other person save the Person of Christ for our salvation.  Rather all of our relationships with other Christians flow out of obedience to Christ: He commands us to serve one another in love, to share communion, to bear one another’s burdens.  All in a believer’s life is to flow out of their personal walk with God, which of course includes personal worship, study and prayer.
But now, I can’t put my finger on where exactly I learned these ideas or why no one is teaching this anymore that I can see.
My dedication to Jesus and the Great Command has compelled me to some radical things lately-all involve listening to people.  I decided to stop deciding a matter before hearing both sides.  All of my knee-jerk positions on all the right wing political positions I had adopted were up for re-evaluation:  abortion, adoption, racial reconciliation, homosexuality, taxes, social programs, health care.  I listened to real stories from real people, and changed a lot of my political positions because of it, carefully measuring everything against the Word.  I have a 4.0 in twelve credits from Moody: Bible Study I, Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey, plus countless hours of Community Bible Study, Bible Study Fellowship, Kay Arthur studies, Beth Moor studies, and innumerable other well-respected programs designed to teach one to “rightfully divide” the Bible.  My first purchase after rededicating my life to Christ in 1981 was a Strong's Concordance.  I am no intellectual lightweight either, carrying a 4.0 in all of my college classes, including the ones in which I am currently enrolled.
But now I have a great dilemma.  No  one minded my outspoken advocacy for the traditional religious right politics, but when I started caring about social issues from a more thoughtful position, people in my church became very uncomfortable with me.  It has culminated last night with my pastor calling me to rail about a facebook post I made supporting the Occupy movement.  While he had every right to call me and talk to me about anything he thinks might reflect unfavorably on his church (I don’t think it did but he sure felt very strongly about it), even ask me to remove it (which I did because of the passage to do all that lies with me to keep peace), he had no right to yell at me, talk over me and falsely accuse me of motives that he only assumed.  He wound up “rebuking” me for words I never spoke, and when I insisted I never said such things, he called me a liar.  Wow.  At that point I had to tell him he had crossed a line and I needed to end the conversation.
Now I finally get to my dilemma: obviously I am not welcome at my church.  Nor do I believe I have any spiritual obligation to let this man further abuse me.  He seems to think I owe him the privilege to yell at me and ascribe bizarre attitudes and motivations to me which are not mine because he is my pastor.  I am lucky in that when he called, my whole family was in the car and the call was picked up on Bluetooth.  Otherwise, it would be my word against his, but as it is, my husband and teen son are witnesses to all of it- his ranting and my reasonable calm responses.  We were all shocked.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.  I have heard of similar happening to other people, and I always wondered why they just didn’t leave and find a new church.  But now I do understand, because the odds of me finding a church that teaches the gospel as it was first presented to me is so small.  I don’t think I want to put myself through a long process of getting to know new pastors and congregations.  It is just no longer worth it to me.  I never thought I would ever, in a million years, become a walk-away from church.  Church attendance is supposed to be a place where we come together to worship our mutual Savior, share communion and pray for one another.
Well, it’s not your problem, and I don’t know why I am bothering you with this.  I guess it’s because you seem to genuinely care for the people loved by God.  It’s also, I think, a tellingly sad situation for the church in America when a person such as myself, avid attender and long time tither, just no longer wants to take a chance on American Christendom.  I home schooled, had daily devotions with my children, taught Sunday school and Bible studies, joined the small groups, took part in the missions, organized VBS- if it was a way to be involved in church, I have done it.
Sorry for taking so much of your time. Normally this is the sort of thing one would talk to a pastor about, but of course you can understand why that is not an option for me.
So, here's the thing.  Not only has that man not apologized for ranting at me and calling me a liar, he never will.  He used to offer his phone at communion for anyone who wanted to make right a broken relationship, but breaking relationship with me is apparently okay by him.  He has offered communion to his congregation every Sunday since that last week of October, 2011, but my phone has never rung.  Apparently telling me off and ending our relationship doesn't bother his conscience at all.

Not only that, but when I made a member of the council aware of what happened, she cooly told me that she didn't hadn't asked to know.  Seriously, she meant it.  Our family disappearing bothers no one.  We can go to hell for all they care, as they know they represent the kingdom of God on earth and we are not welcome with them.  It's so....unChristlike, so heartless.

Anyway, it's only all coming back to me now because the congregation, including the pastor, is love-bombing a kid that I have loved like my own.  I have known this kid for eight years, stood by him every step of those eight years, included him in our lives like he was family, and the only reason anyone from that church knows this kid exists is because my family brought him to church with us.  I know they are love-bombing him with the intention of sucking him back into their congregation, but it hurts to see it.

It hurts even more that when I tried to talk to the kid about it, he basically told me that he didn't care how pastor had treated us.  That was none of his business.  The man hadn't done anything to him personally, and he appreciated the flattery and the offers of friendship. Love-bombing works; that's why cults/churches engage in it.

Wow.  I don't give a damn what happens to that pastor or that congregation, though the shadenfreude would be sweet if I ever hear of evil coming his way.  God knows the man deserves a comeuppance.  I gave ten per cent of my family income so he could make sweet money (almost double national average for pastor's salaries, though probably about average for my wealth-worshipping city) and drive a sweet ride (Mustang convertible, courtesy of church car allowance).  Once he had new sources of income (those taking their marbles and leaving the ELCA because they don't believe Jesus can love or bless gay relationships), he dumped us like a hot potato.  Love-bombing the kid they KNOW I count as a son is just adding insult to injury.

I know it's intentional too.  I know because they tried to do the same with my roomie Jai, but she didn't fall for it.  It is so ugly, and so wrong.

Why are God's people so effing mean?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More thoughts on Home Schooling

This is the very last week of my last year of home schooling.  All that's left is to prep my son for his final shot at the SATs.  I am so proud of him.  He is doing extremely well in his dual-enrolled classes and is well-liked at work.  I love the passion in his heart for justice and love.  He has taught me so much in the past few years about what it really means to be a good person.  <3 <3 <3

I love being a parent, and I loved home schooling.  However, like all human endeavors, home schooling is full of dangers and pit falls that can snag unprepared parents and ruin the lovely life they had planned.  Libby Anne, a home schooled graduate from a Christian home schooling family, has initiated a forum series where she is giving eight graduates of Christian home schools an opportunity to answer questions about their experience.  These Christian home school families adhered to the Quiverfull philosophy.  You can find her blog series here: Raised Quiverfull

This is a wonderful opportunity for other home schooled parents, and those considering home schooling, to see how home schooled graduates feel about their experience.  It's a rare gift, and I for one find it fascinating.  I hope it is widely read.

Here are some of my thoughts after reading the responses to Home Schooling Q.2:

1) No matter how good the intentions of the teaching home school parent at the start, multiple pregnancies and more children mean that the quality of home education will suffer.  In fact, it sounds like the end of academic challenge, at least for the oldest students.  It seems that Sierra, who had no other siblings, got the best education as far as time and attention from the adult in her life. Libby's education sounds more like our family's, with the exception being that while my teens also studied more independently as time went on, when they did, it was not because I was too busy to help.  It was because they didn't want my help!

2) What religious home schooling parents crow about as "socialization" does not appear to be about meeting student's social needs at all.  It's mostly about meeting mom's social needs and reinforcing the family rules (spoken and unspoken) by bringing in other families with very similar rules to underline the boundaries in black ink.

3)  Peer pressure is a horrible foundation for choosing how to raise your children.  I figuratively threw up a little in my mouth when I read the words "Keepers at Home".  Poor Melissa!  I am so sorry.  My heart broke a little as I read Lisa's story too, about how all of her social needs were to be met within the family, and she was not encouraged to dream beyond her mom's dream.  No SATs!  That is just SO WRONG.   All this happens, this religious one-upmanship, because your PARENTS are PEER DEPENDENT! That is the biggest irony of all.  These home schooling parents are all trying to outdo one another in religiosity because the approval of their peer groups is more important to them than the mental/emotional/social/physical well-being of their children.  They sacrifice their children’s lives on the altar of peer approval. 

I was sorely tempted to go there myself.  Who doesn’t want approval and acceptance?  But there were too many things I refused to bend on.  I saw no need for home school specific sports groups, unless it was just for more exercise and fun in addition to the community league sports.  My daughter is so low social needs that I was always pushing her to get out and meet people.  I encouraged her to try Girl Scouts for a year before she was willing to check it out. 

Our Girl Scout troop was all home schooled, but at least it WAS Girl Scouts, not the hideous brainwashing of Keepers at Home.  All I could think about as I looked over that web site, was how heartbroken those girls will be if they don’t marry or can’t have kids.  I thought about the two old women who lived next door to us in our tiny Great Plains town when I was a child.  Beulah spent her whole life caring for her mother.  She was in her sixties, her mom was in her nineties, when the mother died.  Beulah decided to travel for the first time in her life.  Finally, she had the chance to live!  Beulah went to see her brother in far off California.  While there, she became ill.  She discovered she had cancer and died within a year.  When I saw the web site for Keepers at Home, I wondered how many Beulah’s were being asked to give up their whole lives to meet their parents’ needs.  I determined I would not support that cruelty!  I had no kind words for Keepers at Home. 

4) Latebloomer, thanks for sharing your experience at not really knowing anyone at your high school graduation. The truth is that as people grow, they change and develop new interests (they should anyway) and old friendships don't always fit.  So if you have no opportunity to make new friendships, you will become more and more isolated through the years.  That’s why it’s important to join youth groups, clubs, study groups, work part-time, join a sports league, etc.  It’s important for all teens, not just home schooled teens!  If public school is hell for your teen (and it is for some) then work hard to help them find other groups that do accept them. 

That is why when my daughter wanted to go to youth group, I was thrilled.  She needed to get out and expand her social network.  Now as a young adult, she gets what I meant when I told her that, in order to have a good life, a person needs several circles of friends based on different activities and interests.  That way if a friendship goes south, you aren’t devastated.  The BFF of Lifetime movies is fun while it lasts, but in real life, it is EXTREMELY RARE that people can be each other’s only friend for a whole lifetime.  People are too complex for that.

5) Fear is crippling and contagious.  Even as my daughter was attending youth group, I was always choking back my fear.  I had a critical eye towards all the youth my daughter hung out with, and I evaluated their families with suspicion.  Why?   Well, because even though I wasn’t as crazy religious as the Keepers at Home crowd, I was still an evangelical Christian.  Fear was preached to me from the pulpit, from the radio, it came in the mail as requests for money to fight the culture wars, it was shared on the Christian forums I would visit online.  It’s only now, when I am no longer going to church at all, that I can see how all-pervasive fear was in my life. 

I think one of the last Christian books I bought was “And the Bride Wore White” by the Ludys.  I didn’t even read it for myself, I just gave it to my daughter.  I told her that I wasn’t going to read it, as I didn’t want to nag her about anything contained in the book, but that I trusted the Holy Spirit to guide her into what was right.  That was in 2008.  I was only beginning to understand how totally screwed up our family life really was, although I did not yet realize how much of that had to do with religion.  That was my last half-hearted attempt at controlling who my daughter was and what she would choose for her life.  

Fear is crippling and contagious without having anything to do with religion, either.  I do know secular home schooled moms who have shared with me that fear was a big part of other home school support groups: fear of public school, fear of non-organic produce, fear of the medical professions, and the most damaging fear of all:  Fear of abandonment.

I have met home schooled parents who seemed determined to keep their children at home as adults because they (the parents) had some serious abandonment issues.  I am related to one such family.  They brought their children home in late high school, sent them to non-accredited colleges, arranged their marriages and made sure they were all anti-birth control.  Those children, now adults and parents of QF families themselves, have no job prospects and no place they could ever survive financially other than working for dad's "ministry" and living on the grounds.  

On the secular side, many of my son's peers are quite worried about a girl who has dropped off the social radar completely.  Her single mom  was already always at the girl's side, and limited her social activities so she could pile on her own expectations: the girl will be a published author, no college necessary.  The main source of this family's fear is green: raw vegan diet is the only safe way to eat.  The young lady's facebook account is shut down, she won't return calls and no one has seen her for months. Religion may be a big fear producer, but the fear itself is the real danger.  

There you have it, whether you wanted it or not: my thoughts after reading Libby Anne's latest Raised Quiverfull post.  I hope you will all choose to live courageously, love freely, and balance all the bad news the world throws at you with things that make you smile and give you hope.  Oh, and say a prayer for the missing home schooled teen.  Someone must be in contact with her somewhere; pray that person will become the friend she needs to break free of the fear (and mom's control, though it is presumptious of me to write because I am only relating what I have heard from the teens, not personal experience).

Peace and good will, SS