Posts Tagged ‘Abuse’


Sometimes, in some settings, and for some folks, there is a far remembrance of the simplicity of times past. Whether they lived through them or not. Especially being in a historic moment of flux, that has been exacerbated by enforced living of slow, due to c-tine. Now the silence where the loving quiet voice of the Holy Mystery can speak directly, powerfully, through the gremlins and powervangelical cults that have attempted to control our world.

Simpler times, when things were black and white. Whether old Western movie motif of white hats and black hats, or old War Movies where it was clear who was on the side of Angels, (and that lesson we still need to re-learn) Nazis are evil. It was this bedrock that created a power cult movement throughout Christendom, in the mid-20th to early 1/5th 21st Century CE in America (with some echoes in Canada, though more limited due to the mid-20th Century Quiet Revolution in Quebec, and I would honestly say, an action taken in honest Truth and Reconciliation in regards to the atrocious treatment of First Peoples through heretical doctrines, but I digress). This reflection comes out of reading a book that had kernels of genesis with the above song, Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s (2020) Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation that takes the reader through the history of the rise of the Moral Majority (and religious right); the toxic patriarchal masculinity (and ensuing abuse cover ups) that led into conversion from Christ to Trump as the messiah (which we say the outcome with the Capitol Hill insurrection).

It truly is a movement based in a trite irony of WWJWD- What Would John Wayne Do. Not rooted in the Biblical Leadership of applying the Sermon on the Mount, but rather couched in language of war and sports to show what alpha masculinity is about. A faith corrupted by the seeking of absolute power in the land with touchstones in Campus Crusade, Fundamentalism, Conservative Christendom, Focus on the Family (with Franklin Graham’s rampant Trumpism I would have to add Samaritan’s Purse); and many mega-churches and Christian Universities, not to mention the concept of “school choice” which was and is leveraged to perpetuate home schools, private and charter schools designed to teach only the fundamentalist perspective as the new era Pharisees-Sadducees evangelicalism and neo-reformed theology (ala Mars Hill and Willow Creek if you will).

Du Mez takes the reader through the historic roots of the use of religion for pollical power, whether it was Nixon, or Reagan (who many say as a lesser and more problematize Christian candidate compared to Carter, yet in spite of Reagan’s contrariness to doctrine fit a more masculine image). Using the connecting point of John Wayne as chief evangelist to a robust “masculine” form that was responding against the more, I would say, gospel coming world of belonging with equality of genders, and races…this became a lightning rod. A throwback to a mythic time when roles were defined, when men were in charge, when children were silent. This style of command and control was in the political realm as well, as the evangelical vote moved from the Democrats and more liberalized in their approach, to succumbing to not traditional denominatiolism, but rather corporate Christendom movements (ala Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers in the 1990’s). These uber movements became overarching through spiritual communities, dropped the thresh hold of spiritual formation responsibility from the local church, to meeting a litmus test of centralized power. It used heresies such as purity movements, complementarianism, to make everything about the alpha male, and keep women in the second class. Not all bought in, but when it came to the idea of having a winning candidate in an already divided nation, it became easy to coalesce around one.

Why do I personally call out the purity/betrothal movements for heresy? Essentially they removed the equality we are created in the Imageo Dei, but also it again created a narrative of property. In practice it also created a dangerous dating/sexual life world for many within those movements taught that vaginal sex was for marriage, but also that you had to fall into line with the male (imagine what else can happen that is not vaginal, but for not spreading disease still needs health sex positive education?). It also created the same conditions seen in schools with teachers/students; other religious traditions and clerics, sports teams coaches and players that attracted monsters. Complementarianism at its worse is the idea that women are to complement men, the weaker sex who need to be protected, and to take anything the patriarchy puts out, but everything is to be done to keep men happy for we are of the fragile ego and have no control over our emotions or impulses.

It created a code of silence where domestic violence was forgiven, victims were blamed, and sexual abuse of minors and others was covered up for the reputation of the man. It was a world where the love of power and money allowed for monsters to hide, and be elected to highest office. A shell game. A game of distraction. Yet one that began to crumble after 2016 thankfully. As a piece of Christendom that always spoke snidely of those Christianities that took care to protect after seeing the devils in our own pews and pulpits, was now revealed for the Satans they were hiding behind the light shows and sound stages.

Du mez’s book walks through the specifics that happen when agency is lost, but also from my reading what happens when fear is injected into life at such a deep level a false narrative becomes held as truth. The false narrative being the “persecution of the church”. Never true in North America. Yet perpetuated with every change, that it is an attack on religious freedom. As you continue to remove outlets for other learning and messaging (the importance of moving away from public schools), and the locking in of one political party where you are to exist, one body your are to be apart of and one person who speaks…

Dash in the challenges of life on top of that, as well as chasing the false capitalist narrative of want…

And you have a meta-narrative of a cult like structure founded not on Jesus’ teachings, love, and victory over death, but rather on the love of money, power and rape (to be less blunt, one’s own sexual gratification regardless of consent or pleasure or legality of one’s partners).

Now it is a moment of disruption. Could this be one so many churches (and other organizations) are against distance to protect neighbour? Because it disrupts the abuse, allows space for truth to emerge, for light to shine into the darkness and confuse it? It also allows for a pause to evaluate the course of life in light of one’s actual faith. See one may approach a work like Jesus and John Wayne as a tomb about separation of church and state.

But see, for me this is an impossibility. What is needed is a separation of control of state by church or corporation.

For healthy politics, and communal life, what is needed is one to honestly live their belief system. Not veil it behind false masks or iconography. Rather, be who you truly are, let the world see one’s true self. There are many things that I can tell you I have come to through discernment based on my core values, which have been shaped by how I was raised, my life experience and my beliefs. From fully funded Public School to Universal/Public Health Care to Harm Reduction to recovery continuum of care to Homes as a human right to Universal Basic Incomes to Pharmacare to action needed on climate change to healthy sexual education to full coverage of contraceptive to being pro-choice to….the list can go on and on…but there is nuance, understanding and discussions that have happened. It is not a quick tweet understanding of the topic, it has been a journey or learning and understanding. It is in learning, discussion and growth that we disrupt and interrupt the consumerist mindset of life that is settling in, but also the dualistic thinking (for my side to be right, the other has to be completely evil) that still perpetuates the worst Christendom has to offer in the political arena.

I encourage everyone interested to pick up and read this book, but then reflect on your own political situation where you live and honestly ask, who is your nation’s John Wayne archetype/narrative that Jesus has been tied to?

How do we complete the Quiet Revolution, and get back to or achieve Sermon on the Mount style leadership?


Ah, it has been a time of further exploration on newer church thought around abuse, especially in the time of the evangelical melt down. The reading journey brought me to Langberg’s (2020) Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church, which honestly is a good primer for folks new to the work and a decently updated resource for those of us coming up for some air from the trenches. This isn’t going to be touching on much from this work, rather it has catapulted my mind to thinking about our current existence. The alleged growth of reports from all quarters of institutions that give folks access to victims, and away from healthy supports, allows for grooming and abuse from the emotional/spiritual to the physical/sexual (and yes, Langberg’s work outlines clear definitions to work from)

BUT, we have been at distance for almost ten months, in a scant less than 3 months it will be a full year. What does it mean for someone who may have been currently/historically abused by a close family connection/relative/friend? Within the scope of religion, school or extracurricular activities? Our world, has come to a health space (yes there is still work to do), where we can openly speak of abuse, and affirm the abused’s truth.

This is where this disruption for the abuser. It breaks the narrative, it disrupts the frequency of contact, not out of “love” and “care” but to impose fear, fear that see how easily I can step in and violate your boundaries, or excessive gifting of money or things (merch/swag) to buy your silence, you have the ability to say something, but we both know you like it…kind of creepy vibe. It is disrupted, it has been down time. Down time opens up the soul to contemplate, to the subconscious to wrestle with what has been experienced, maybe re-discover safety.

In the newly discovered safety, things will bubble up. It may be the body creating conversion through other manifestations of neurological or physical health because they are still unable to find the words, it may be with a verbal disclosure. It is now on the safe ones, to affirm the disclosure, and work to make the disruption permanent.

For the only way to truly disrupt fear and abuse, is with the simple act of affirming kindness, hope and love. I do not know if this hypothesis will be proved out, I do not know what it will me in quantitative statistic analysis, but even for the one that is heard, affirmed, and now safe. For that one, it is worth it.

For that one,

to finally breathe

F-R-E-E-.


Read huffpost article here.

The above article opens a conversation that should not have to be opened. It should not have to be opened because our Puritan-ableist beliefs should no longer exist. Guess what world— Human beings are sexual beings. Shocker I know. And guess what else? The Differently Abled (or the preferred descriptor of the individual) exist upon the sexual spectrum. For those having a hard time to comprehend…it is like life with what our ableist world defines as “typical”… or for a better analogy in my world– the Archie Comics Universe. The ol’ Riverdale gang where everyone exists and is accepted for who they are.

Guess what that means? Some people want to be intimate. Some want to be touched. Some don’t. Some want a life partner (who is same or different gender), some want to date two people at once (and the two are ok with it–not saying anything Betty-Archie-Veronica). Some, like Jughead, just want a cheeseburger…but guess what…no one looks shocked at them. Some are non-binary, some are trans-gendered, some a cis. Some are heterosexual, LGBTQ2+, some are somewhere on the spectrum…some are also the less talked about Asexual.

Guess what though? We as a world cannot impose what makes us comfortable.

We are all in the beautiful rainbow family of God, and that means that folks will date and fall in love regardless of the labels imposed by society. Between consenting adults that is called healthy relationships and sexuality. So please understand the terms: healthy, equitable, equal, consenting… all must be in play.

That means it is our societies responsibility to equip with the same knowledge we do others. Healthy sexual education in public and private schools; teaching of consent, body ownership. Believing abuse allegations and fully investigating. Yes #MEtoo, #Churchtoo, #Timesup, exists within community members, and usually at higher rates because the predators know that communication and believable are more easily questioned when the victim is viewed as “less than” by society.

Once you shatter the “less than” to “part of” and that everyone belongs and is fully who they are as they are then something wonderful happens. Communication difficulties break down. One learns the subtly of the non-verbal communication. One becomes observant of very subtle body reactions, and is able to see if something has changed in even the most cerebral of persons. The community, begins to address vocally and globally that abuse of any kind, against anyone is not acceptable and punishable. The abuser is the one who is held accountable, the victim is no longer traumatized.

True healing and reconciliation happens, because there is no longer a group that can be abused for we are all part of this together. We are neighbours.

It begins with affirming full person-hood, and yes, that includes the very human sexuality.

We are all whole and complete.

Just the way we are.


I have always enjoyed reading the practical current events spiritual magazines/newspapers published in Canada. Most are denominationally specific. Among my top 3 were: United Church Observer, Anglican Sower and Presbyterian Record. The last two I also had the privilege to write for and share thoughts, unfortunately they are also no longer publishing (the fact they carried my works has nothing to do with the ceasing of publication I believe). One can also trace in my spiritual journey, denominations or religious traditions have not been high, I have drank and do drink from the many wells the one river feeds, yet it is the one river that I thirst for.

As I wrote a few days ago after a cascade of flashbacks triggered by a denominational prayer cycle (Read post here) it is unique that the latest issue of the United Church Observer in their Question Box column, Spiritual Solidarity, touched upon clerical unionization.

                “Clergy conflict reflect the ongoing turmoil and anxiety within the wider United Church.”

-Christopher White

Workplace and community conflicts are part of existing together. They are to be expected, what is not to be expected in civilized society is such harassment, haranguing and trauma that individuals leave their employment, or wind up with deep rooted scars. This article triggered flashbacks, part of the work of trying to rise above my flashbacks is acknowledging the pain, but also acknowledging the good I have seen and been apart of.

Obviously, the article is centred on the organic transformation within the United Church on this issue, but I can attest it crosses Christianities tradition and denominational lines. Following is a few thoughts on the good and bad I have been apart of.

“I also believe that more and more…is moving from primarily seeing ministry as a covenanted relationship to seeing it as a contractual one.”

-Christopher White

  1. The small congregation that hired me as a youth leader leaving my first experience, and then a minister. Both with contradicting missions. The congregation responding to the pain their abuse had caused catastrophe with previous ministries, allowing those with the money to run rampant. Online abuse existed before social media it was done via cc and bcc on e-mail as my character and personhood were attacked by those in the church that did not like their children/youth thinking. The harassment also continued through the office of clergy towards me, and some youth with mental health concerns. Meetings were held; then it went up to the Presbytery level to meet with the congregation and even though these meetings concerned me I was not allowed to attend. Eventually they beat you down, and I chose to surrender my ministry—yes the majority wanted to bring me on as minister, but even with mechanisms to sanction the vocal minority bullies—they refused. How did the organization reward this community? With more money, bigger space…message sent to those targeted—you do not matter.
  2. Being a Lay Professional Leader in a congregation doing things such as contemplative worship services, pulpit fill in; leading a bible study. Yet the wealthy in the aging congregation got their tempest in a tea pot over kids at play, noise, and the online attack campaign begun. Unwillingness again to call out a spade as a spade from those higher due to—yup you guessed it—money at play as donors.
  3. Stalked on and harassed via social media by a congregation and their pastor—why? As a family, we attempted to advertise our home bible study and potluck on the church Facebook page. My wife encouraged to distance herself from me and my unChrist-like influence. When she refused, and we chose to leave as a family those that said they were our “friends” shunned us like leaving a cult.
  4. My son’s joyful noise at a Santa Clause service being called out in vehement anger by the minister and called to leave service. Shunned by the supposedly “inclusive” spiritual home. In the moment those who preached standing up for injustice became the bystanders while the bully postured and the bullied was left believing he was on Santa’s naughty list.
  5. In Bible College having a professor point blank tell the class when I answered in favour of inclusion “that is why your church must die”…and being taunted in the halls as the “fag church member” still standing strong and up as best I could, leaving the learning environment to be battered in my “church homes” as I tried to build ministries.
  6. Para-church directors head hunting to fire me for my political and/or theological beliefs not aligning with their personal understanding.
  7. Being the family scape goated by an ill-equipped children’s educational ministry, because we had the “special needs kid” and not looking seriously at the bullying issue by the children of the long term generational members, and having the “r word” used to describe my son.
  8. Hearing during service a priest being called out on the rug because he took a stand for inclusion of God’s children, and love for those who are differently abled.

That is the darkness. Some can see through that a need for the mediating voice, but a union is not just there for the darkness, they are there to create a support network for successes. A place where the story can be shared for what has transformed, what has been overcome, and can create a relationship where clergy can easily move between denominations.

  1. I have been apart of wonderful churches that have had no actual building. Where ministries and retreats for youth were sponsored by church family members (with or without kids) in their own homes.
  2. I have been there when seniors have continued to answer the call to serve our children as they closed in on 100 years old, as we created “Elders Time” where a big comfy chair was created and the Elder could share the story, and then have the youth be their hands and legs for the activity.
  3. I have seen the passion of inclusion, where walls were broken down and churches laughed off the “tradition” of church youth/community youth time tables to have open youth group for all where spiritual formation was encouraged, and critical thought.
  4. I have seen youth and young families forego the “contemporary” service to be apart of the old liturgical service because it is where the seniors were, and allowed those without grandparents to find that role in their life in church.
  5. I have broken bread, shared meals, lifted many families and friends within my own home around simple things as movie discussion nights, bible studies…where life was done for those shunned by churches they did not fit the mold for due to life circumstance, simple acts of kindness and love allowed the journey to continue… and yes, the noise of children is apart of that.
  6. A Children’s Ministry coordinator coming and speaking directly to my son about coming and being part of the group, not asking us, asking him and listening close for his body language and spastic voice if he wanted to come.
  7. Having a priest during High Mass while blessing the host pause, as my son cheers loudly, and state to the congregation overflowing, “May we all have that excitement to be one with Jesus!”
  8. A minister that contacts my son about if he wants to be in the Christmas pageant, and then the congregation learns about inclusionary communication tools.
  9. Simple things, like a free half day Vacation Bible School that I was blessed to be apart of growing up, and then my teacher asking if my daughter would attend as they are re-launching (and yes, this past summer she learned some French!).
  10. Offering scholarships for VBS’s that have a cost so no child is turned away.
  11. Celebrating the diversity in our unity as spiritual beings from who we are to where we are from…whether it is being Affirming or Dancing our Offering to the Altar to everything in between and not even dreamed of yet.
  12. A Priest taking the flack for replacing offering over two weeks of masses to ensure the food cupboard is overflowing with blessing.
  13. A nun that gathers toys to deliver with food hampers to families in need, and when families without homes sleep in the church ensure that even the volunteers have what they need.
  14. A priest that is troubled by persons with mobility issues not being able to get to the dining hall with dignity for church meals, installs and elevator.
  15. A priest that volunteers with homeless families and realizes they do not have the opportunity to shower in the parish before going out for their day. Installs showers, and announces offering from that weekend needs to be generous to pay for it.

For every horror story there is good stories, even great ones. Yet we cannot say the good outweighs the bad. We cannot say “this is church” to allow for the bullying. People are essentially good. We need to be generous in our ability to do what we can to build a better world, one simple act of kindness at a time.

A union for church employees on the surface may be something to be scoffed at, but it creates a mediating body, removes the ability of congregations or higher church authorities to cover up for PR reasons. It creates an environment with standardized codes of care and conduct that cannot be shouted down due to the “wealthy donor” paradigm. It levels the playing field, much like the gospels pointed to.

This is my story, my experience, my opinion. My act of reconciliation as the story stands, the truth told…now it is time to move forward…into a new day, and a hopeful healthier relationship in the congregation we have settled in.


Divinity

Divinity (Photo credit: Eye – the world through my I)

This was a tweet from Mark Harvorth @HardlyNormal  a travelling advocate for those without a place to lay their heads in North America.  It is also a true fact.

But let’s grow beyond the 140 characters to understand what Domestic Violence can be rooted in (please note this article is not exhaustive, my doctorates are in Holistic Psychology, Metaphysics, and Divinity, so please seek out other sources as well to grow your understanding so in 2013 we can eliminate this blight on our species).  During the holiday season isolation goes up, those struggling with mental illness goes up, those with addictions, and the social users goes through the roof. Unfortunately with our greedy materialism driven lives, financial cliffs become a leering reality for many families who over stretch their bank accounts and credit to ensure their kids and themselves keep up with their neighbours.

Also, in the US, Black Friday is break even, while in Canada it is usually Boxing Day that becomes break even for many retailers, which means that during this season for those in the retail sector this is high stress because one does not know if their store will exist post break even or not. As well, the rise of stress and usage of both legal and illegal substances in the party atmosphere lead to an increase in driving under the influence, and life crippling/ending accidents. Anecdotally, it appears that more aged relatives become hospitalized or pass away during the First Day of School-Thanksgiving-Halloween-Rememberance Day-Christmas links in the year than other times which casts society members ill equipped for interdependence in healing into grief cycles.

Are these excuses for beating the crud out of your loved ones? NO! Never read understanding rationale behind harm, as validating the harm as okay. What it means is being able to work within the setting to bring a reconciliation within the offender so they will not offend again, and bring a reconciliation within the victim so they understand that they are not the cause of said violence and they need to heal the wounds (seen/unseen) to be able to live a healthy life once more.

But the sad part here is that some (most?) reading this will be thinking of domestive violence as physical abuse, perpetrated by a Husband (or male partner) upon a wife (or female partner)…and that is only the visible tip of the ice berg that society is willing to accept. What follows is a short list of other forms of abuse that we endure within our domestic connections that one may not realize is abuse, but it is:

1) Same-sex partner abuse (male to male, female to female) or any configuration within a relationship that exists out of the LGBTTIQ communities.

2) Parent upon child

3) Child upon parent

4) Grandchild upon grandparent (vice-versa, and insert whichever generations you choose)

5) Between friends, roommates,

6) any familial relationship (aunt, uncle, mother, father, sibling, cousing, godparent, grandparent, cleric) upon another within that familial network.

These are all the relationships where domestic violence can exist (if I missed some please add to it within the comments section).

The forms it takes very obviously:

1) Physical – quite self explanatory that is inflicting bodily harm upon another.

2) Mental – degrading an individual to the point where you control them (much like Cults do) and they isolate themselves from healthy supports within their lives.

3) Addiction– whatever addiction is destroying your life, you then initiating the relative into the same behaviour, misery after all loves company.

4) Emotional – It is akin to mental, yet this is at the visceral level that makes us family (domestic units) and causes one to feel they have no value, and that how they are treated (which is usually worse than a mouse or other rodent) within their family unit is what they should seek in life.

5) Sexual – R-A-P-E or any form of sexual assault that happens by one in authority, through coercion, threat of violence, or partaking within another form of abuse. It can be petting, gropping, choking, BDSM, Manual stimulation, Anal, Vaginal, oral, bestiality…etc. but the key is that it is about power and control and it is wrong.

6) Spiritual – Where a member of the domestic unit uses the family’s spirituality/religion to control and subjugate others to their will. It becomes evident as abuse when one feels disempowered, isolated and must conform for fear of losing domestic connections. Sadly, some families of clerics fall into this trap where the cleric acts as religious and parent to the family and does not seperate the role; smaller and mega churches can also fall into this through a cult of personality. Most famous for of spiritual abuse through fear of ostracization is seen in how hte Jehovah Witnesses‘ deal with claims of abuse, or when one marries outside the faith or Bountiful, B.C..

7) Negligence – This is a catch all category that can be not providing the  means of simple living (food, clothing, shelter, connection with other human beings); isolation from the community at large to family with good hearts attempting to care for a relative when they are incapable of caring and too proud/scared/inept to access the resources available for the individual’s care.

8) Financial – We have all seen the television commercial against elder abuse that sees the grandchild or child taking money through threats or coercion from their loved one. But financial abuse can be so much more. It is misuse of funds, it is playing of the love the relative has for you when you are in need, it is stealing from them blatantly, it is living with the relative but having them pay for everything. There are so many ways when the domestic unit moves from a caring/shared partnership when multiple generations live together to when it becomes a targetted one individual is the cash cow so the others can not participate.

These are forms of abuse, this is obviously not the complete or exhaustive list because as a species humanity is constantly inventing new ways to hurt those that should be the most dear to us.

The challenge is to recognize if we fall into a lesser or major extent of these, if any of our loved ones do, then to seek out the appropriate help and support.

The ancients predicted 2013 would be a year when the way the world is would drastically become the way it was and a utopia would emerge, eliminating the ability of familial violence from this earth would definately be a miracle in the right direction.


Another day, and sadly those trusted to shepherd the young revealed to be a monster:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2012/02/01/calgary-sex-rodman-abuse.html

It is quite nice that the son is standing by his father the abuser, what a Christian act, yet in none of these statements are there talks of supporting the victims, aiding them in healing and walking in the light and realizing that this abuse had nothing to do with them, or the God they may or may not still believe in.

So it is fine to stand with the abuser, but in a truly restorative system the victimizer is held to account, and walked with for rehabilitation back into community in a healthy healed way, but NEVER is the victim forgotten. They are walked with towards healing, and reconciliation of their own soul and the pain they have endured, and rebuilding of that which actions such as these have stripped away from them.

So Pastor, I know this alleged monster is your Dad, and the world has changed, and he has done the “christianize” thing of confessing his sins and struggles… but what of those that he has admitted to victimizing—RAPING, and who will walk with them and speak for them, and aid the ones that still struggle in silence with their shame, hurt and pain to emerge once more into the light of community with self-worth?

Where would Jesus be in this mire? With all.

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