Posts Tagged ‘#metoo’

Two is too many (Father Tran/Father Malcom). Yet there has been two alleged monsters that have come close to my family. The clerical sexual abuse that only broke in the United States this century, has been known about in Canada longer. Yet we still do not comprehend how to stop the devils in the temple. One can zero in on the Roman Catholic Church and cry it’s due to celibacy, or like hard line Catholics have said “gay priests”; both are wrong. It is monsters, either created (due to enduring their own abuse and assuming it is normative) or born (true Pedophilia) that choose their power of sexual assault over another.

I have sat in many different religious circles that have struggled with this, sadly have made apologies for the devils or shamed the victims. I have also sat in many religious circles that have made the right decision to exorcise the devils, and allow the law to do what the law is empowered to do. The one’s that clearly work with the law, also understand that all the screenings organizations can do are a first wave of defense only, as they screen out the, what I colloquially call, the dumb devils– the ones previously caught and still trying to destroy lives.

What is needed is the open dialogue and conversation. Where no matter the denomination (Alliance, Restoration, Catholic, United, Mennonite, etc…) the clerics are not placed on holy pedestals but are seen as community members, and human beings. Thus not only approachable, but held accountable to the same standard and laws as everyone else.

The story that scrolled across my wife’s feed during the early hours this morning of Father Malcolm D’Souza has left me heart broken for those that suffered in silence until now. He served at St. Mark’s in NE Calgary from 2010-2016. We had attended mass there during a time our family needed a respite. My wife did not understand my love of liturgy in my Anglo-Catholic Soul. She got it after the Mass, and hearing the homilies of this man that cut so clearly to the heart of the gospel message. Neither of us knowing what has been alleged to the man offering blessings and sacraments.

A large Filipino congregation, they embraced children. I had written earlier of the elders who stood with inclusion for my son who is differently abled. The fun potlucks, and children game festivals. How children were loved on, and how all were welcome regardless of label. We had discussed at that time going through the RCIA and coming into full communion with the Vatican. Then my Mum’s health took a more drastic turn and we were not able to attend the classes as we wanted to spend as much time as possible in Bassano with her, and mid-week trips were frequent.

Devils can come in any shape and form. They can be ones that appear to guide us, let when the light of day is shone upon them it confuses and begins to drive it back. Shadows disperse, and words emerge. Healing can begin. Thoughts and prayers have become empty words in these dark times, yet that is what I am left with in the shell shock. I pray that those who were harmed get the help they need. I also pray that those who harmed are held accountable by the law, and also get the help they need for this evil needs to end.

I encourage anyone who has been a victim of these priests to contact the Calgary Police Service with information (403-266-1234).

*Jesus boots- my Granddad’s term for sandals.

Ancient tradition stipulates the Gospel of Matthew was written by the repentant tax collector called by Jesus, who was renamed from Levi to Matthew (Matthew means gift from God). Depending on theology you read for this synoptic gospel, either Matthew or Mark is the earliest. Material lines up with 3 of the Canonical (those Imperialist chose under Constantine to be in the Christian Testament)-Matthew, Mark & Luke. Some suggest another mystery source, Q, which has never been found, or could be snippets from other pseudepigraphal texts.

What happens though is that Matthew is written for a Judaic audience. Though an audience that was in synagogue, and still willing to hear the political statement of change. A change that can be seen in how the text was structured, yet still clinging to historic means that may no longer fit. To mark placement of importance there is a genealogy enclosed. It is a genealogy that includes victims, and voiceless, but traces to the line of David (many messianic complexes of the day would provide proof. The way Jesus did through Bathsheba, #metoo, shows the need for equity, equality and believing the victims) …to Mary of Nazareth, the bride sold by her family to Joseph. It still holds to the outdated archaicness of the patriarchy, in which Joseph was the one the messenger came to. Yet in this, much like the rape of Bathsheba, it was to show how twisted the creation of equality had become. That this man would hold the fate of another in his hands for following her faith. Joseph could cast her out to be stoned to death, or cast outside the gates to be a survival sex worker with child to pass away into nothingness. Joseph, unlike the David story (David killed the offspring, and Bathsheba’s husband) chose to live as family.

It was not shepherds that came in Matthew’s account, but astrologers, other faiths who saw love enter the world and barriers break down. Much like within Solomon’s temple, a peaceful co-existance of the many wells within the birth narrative (again redeeming the story of the temple collapse). To Jesus going to his cousin, one calling out the institutional structures of segregation, an Essenes most likely, one who chose to remove themselves from the corrupt society. It was here Jesus showed more interconnectedness by partaking in their ritual of connectedness and washing away the dirt of Empire existence.

To a battle in the desert. A battle with Satan. Who is this metaphoric angel? (A great example is the show Lucifer, though I do prefer the original comic representation in Sandman and Lucifer). A tempter, tester, and trickster (seeing other resonances of ancient wisdom). Though also metaphoric as the one that gets those seeking justice to sell out for personal glory (resonate with any personalities of today? Wealth and power to give up principles?)… a metaphor for Herodians, and those in the Sanhedrin? For Roman Empire, tax collectors’ (perhaps a private metaphor on the internal battle within the author Matthew? Or the struggle to come later with Judas?).

From this struggle, the first followers come. Those out of the desert, those that saw something different from what was being put forward. Those that saw someone unwilling to be swayed by the powers that corrupt causes every day.

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan

-Gospel of (St.) Matthew 4:23-25 (English Standard Version)

To the healing texts so abused today. Yes there was healing, the first universal public health care around illnesses. Yes there was probably exorcisms and energy healings, we had seen the ground work laid for these.


For those with disabilities, the only way to understand for the people of the time authentic belonging was to “heal”. So they would become part of the community, truly belong for it began to shatter there understanding of segregation, and causality.

There is a reason why this essentially becomes the prologue to the Christian-Judaic version of the Law—the Sermon on the Mount—for it began to show that those cast aside by society and doomed to death was societies’ wrongs, not the individuals’. It was to show that belonging, began with those pointing the finger of blame saying it was the person’s fault.

But no one was ready in this early movement for what blessing meant. Keep in mind at the time, Blessing (beatitude) was assuming good health, wealth and prosperity due to being a good law follower and believer only in one God.

Brother Jesus’ prologue actions shattered ancient ableism, and the words to follow were ready to start the reflective pondering of societal change…a change that would culminate in a lynching.

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.

New King James Version:

Genesis 18          Genesis 19

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the ancient legends of Genesis has been one of the texts of hate and destruction for too long. It is used in the us/them dichotomy of hate spun on one extreme against homosexuality. On the other extreme it is reduced to an argument about hospitality.

The point of this ancient story has been missed. In the modern times of Truth & Reconciliation; #MEtoo, #Timesup, #Riseup, #Resistance, and the knowledge of inter-generational trauma it astounds that the resonance is not noted.

Before I share my thoughts, enter into the text freshly as a hearer. Inwardly set aside what you have learned before.  Get comfortable, breath in deeply, enter your contemplative breath cycle:

  • Upon the first hearing focus on this question: What emotions come through? Let you rest with those emotions.
  • Upon the second hearing focus on this question: What memories come through? Stay with the one that is the most vibrant.
  • Upon the third and last hearing, focus on this question: What is the soul learning that you have discovered?

Now here is what I have heard when contemplating this ancient story.

It opens with Abraham bartering with God (Genesis 18:16-33) to spare these cities. He focuses on the many holy, and some say in the “God in the sky/Zeus in the throne” imagery of YHWH that Abraham did not need to barter but just appeal to God’s divine essence to spare his creation. I challenge that, it is the Holy Mystery moving and challenging Abraham’s conscience that change needs to happen for the destructive actions unchecked. The abuse of power seen through many means of molestation, rape and other forms of violence. The living out of Us seen as full people over those people seen as property to do with as we please (anything resonating yet with current life?).

The Holy Mystery was attempting to see if Abraham could comprehend reform, Abraham was wrestling with the concept of “whistle blower” the ones brave enough to stand up against the wall of destruction, devaluation of life. But were any to be found?

Then becomes the destructive visitation, as Messengers (Angels) visit and a rape gang descends upon Lot’s house (Genesis 19:1-11) demanding that the visitors be turned over to them. Rape was used as a right of passage in many armies for fellow soldiers, but is was also used to show superiority of one’s self and deity over an invader. Forced sodomization/forced sexual intercourse not wanted, against one’s created nature (wherever they fall on the spectrum, if it is not consensual, it is not within one’s nature). This is what the mob delivered to Lot’s house that night, NOT rampant homosexuality as some would claim; but power abuse and rape anger.

Lot defends the visitor’s but then shows the anti-Holy Mystery vein of creation at this point where he offers up his daughters. For even he sees them as nothing more than vessels with no consent in them. Lot’s own depravity is revealed. Some would defend this saying he was showing hospitality to the visitors by defending them. That the sin here is in-hospitality.

Nope. It is against Day 6. The Holy Mystery breathed into both male and female creating them both. Equal partners, in Genesis 3 blessed and sent out into the world in the throes of adolescent discovery to care for it and one another. On the doorstep, Lot is showing this is not the case, his defense is destructive actions of his daughters.

This is what the messengers saw and heard. Why then was Lot’s family spared destruction? For the story resonates more truths to be seen.

Genesis 19:12-29 is when destruction rains down, and Lot’s family flees, warned not to look back for the destruction will consume. Think of someone in trauma recovery and the cycle it creates the impetus of one little blink of the past drawing them into a flashback that freezes one, almost like a pillar of salt (Lot’s wife, 19:26). A traumatized victim of society, unable to move forward because the healing path was not laid out, they saw no different way or way out. Well, there is a way, ending the pain once and for all…. The story of Lot’s wife, is the story of an abuse survivor who can only imagine the pain ending with their life and so for all eternity the story was laid out for us.

Hiding in a cave the cover up continues. Are you beginning to see the futility of Abraham bartering with the Holy Mystery within? Locked into the trauma-abuse-other paradigm was this ancient world that he could not see that sometimes an institution needed to be burned down. Sadly, these stories do have quite a bit of blood letting when it comes to purifying, but one does know when culture shifts there is old ways and old powers that are shunted out to allow for the growth. Or as Brother Jesus talked about pruning the vine.

Yet the patriarchal control system was not done. To continue to hide the meaning of this ancient story those who are without voice, standing or power in their own world are now presented as the perpetrators of violence and gang rape. The discrediting of the victim is not a new tool. For the story in 19:30-38 presents Lot’s daughters fearful of not fulfilling their trained duty as property of producing children scheming to get their father drunk and have children with him.

Yet I challenge this reading. Think of how many times the rapist will say, I was drunk or they seduced me. I believe and hear this as a generational abuse story, where Lot abused his daughters. How do I stand on this reading? For the children that came from the rape were those that would need to be cleansed from the Promised Land for the fresh start promised the Children of Israel after the Exodus. Even in the story, clues were laid that the presentation was skewed to a Patriarchal power-abuse structure, and if read literally will still produce that. We have seen that pain as it has been used as a text of hate for our LGBTTQ2+ family members, or reduced so simply to a hospitality question it makes the Holy Mystery look like a blood lust monster (which then can be used to fulfill the call for the blood of his child to make things right later).

Yet, I stand here to point to another understanding. An ancient text that spoke out about abuse of all kinds, the trauma caused, the inter-generational trauma continuing beyond, victim grooming, and the dangers of the us-them dichotomy. The story that shows turning the ship around is not always possible, sometimes the ship needs to be scuttled and something new built.

As you are in your country, city, community, church or organization when there is darkness—will you be the light that burns it away? Or the bushel that snuffs out the light?

It has been awhile since I have written a mass recommendation for group change theory work. The last time was Irshad Manji’s (2005) The Trouble with Islam where I encouraged groups of all stripes to read this memoir calling for transformation, and then compare/contrast it to their own journeys—that is replace Islam with whatever belief system one held and see where growth and transformation was needed no matter how regressive or progressive the system was.

There is a cancer in the city’s corridors of power. It is a cancer that is spreading…a system that is corrupt as it is incompetent.

The cancer is a toxic mix of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and a hate group that literally seeks to wipe away everything that is modern and urban, and start all over again in a primitive, Far Right nirvana that will only accept so called “Aryans”. And the organization that is supposed to be preventing this? The organization that is, instead indifferent to this spreading Cancer—or, perhaps, even secretly assisting it?

                                                                                               -(Kinsella, A Recipe for Hate,  p.241)

Today I finally completed Warren Kinsella’s (Dundurn, 2017) A Recipe for Hate is a downright masterful, mystery allegory weaving a mystery tale form the 1977-79 Portland, Maine growing Punk scene, into an allegory for our world today. Yes, I wish I could say it was simply a timepiece mystery, but Nazism and systematic hate appear to be harder to exterminate than 21st century bed bugs.

This is a book I encourage people to read. If you can only read it by yourself, fine, read and process the story. Listen to the rhythm of its soul and what it means for us today. Which character (s) resonate with you? Why? Which do not? Why not? When does this happen in your own life? What instincts may this tell you about yourself in knowing whom to trust? Who has darker secrets at play?

If you can read it in a book group even better, explore the character and system dynamics laid out. If the book group is part of a broader ideology or belief system even better. For the conversation can even deepen:

  • When is our organization like the Punk scene?
  • When do we become the organization (police, schools) that is supposed to stop the spreading cancer? Do we succeed or fail? Or are we frozen?
  • When are we the hate? Or, like the history of the skins, do we allow a segment to be co-opted by the hate?
  • What old hates still fester in community? What new ones go unsaid?

At the root, it is a well written mystery, that will keep you turning the pages. Which is what good fiction is supposed to be. I am not going to reveal many plot points outside of the broad strokes, because I want you to experience the roller coaster with unfiltered eyes.

Truly though, when you enter the story and reflect on any or all the questions, individually or better in a group conversation over coffee my hope is that it becomes the tiny ripples in the pond that change…change our trajectory at this point in history where we are secretly and quietly feeding the cancer once more. Change it to where we finally are the chemo that destroys it and the system moves to recovery and rebuilding in healthier ways.

Basically, know that hate exists. It permeates between what we have seen in the past. It exists across all ideologies and belief systems. It needs to be destroyed. Full stop. We are in this together, neighbours and family.

Let love win, and if it is only this once against systematic cancer hate…then it has won big.

Education. Business. Entertainment. Sports. Religion. Child Welfare. Politics. Persons with Disabilities support systems. Justice System.

Jesse Stone: Men may know somethings.

Molly Crane: Rape is something women know.

-Jesse Stone: Stone Cold T.V. Movie (2005)

#Timesup. #Metoo.  On one night…January 24, 2018 3 prominent Canadian politicians went down as the lid was blown off the badly kept secret of abusive misogyny in politics. I state badly kept, because the greater country may act like they did not know, but that is because they have been ignoring that which they did not want to know. They have ignored the voices that are being called out for complicity—that were ones shouting from the rooftops. The signs were so easily there, from a premier in 1934 booted from office; to how such Canadian politicians as Sheila Copps and former PM Kim Campbell were treated to name but a few.  This past week a Claresholm town Councillor having her life threatened in her own home by an invader for being political, check any female politicians twitter feed to note the abuse and stalker-like behavioural patterns.

Many astute commentators pointed out it is not a partisan issue, but rather an institutional issue.

Yet, sadly,  it does not surprise me. For the same power over people structures that allow this abuse to be ingrained generation over generation that it is acceptable and our voice does not matter. That perpetuates forced silence of the abused. The #Metoo movement is re-telling an ancient, and modern story. We saw it with the bravery in Sheldon Kennedy breaking the silence over sexual violence in hockey. In the persons with disabilities world silence breakers. We first saw it with the monsters revealed preying on our daughters in classrooms, and now showing that predators come in both genders (although how Riverdale got away with putting forward Archie-Miss Grundy as a relationship and not what it was—teacher rape of a student, though there was some minor redemption with the Black Hood story-line of season 2. But be honest with yourself, it could not have been played off as a relationship or affair if it had been Veronica and Mr. Weatherbee).

Spotlight and the breaking of silence around Cleric abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. That we know statistically is the same within all religious systems, where power works to silence the abused (regardless of gender or sexuality). We can hypothesize the sexual violence against women based on report versus non-report, against males it is harder because of the societal constructs working against it (note the Archie-Grundy myth perpetuating). But the story is not different it is the use of power.

It is a multi-generational trauma highlighted in the TRC in Canada; yet we need to understand it is a generational trauma passed down through thousands of years of conquering/colonialism that stretches at the very least back to the Roman Empire, but probably pre-dates that.

It is a society knowing homelessness, addiction, violence, mental illness and crime are symptoms of something deeper but would rather deal with the symptoms than the actual cancer.  Root cause missed in entertainment with stars blowing out, crashing mentally, overdosing, or doing 180’s that made no sense…the bread crumbs were there if we only wanted to know…

Same as the pain from acting out athletes, or the children of religious sexual violence.

But it is a system that allows Bountiful, B.C.’s pedophile community to declare themselves polygamous. A system where the person is commodified, and not seen as truly a whole person.

Yes, we are more open about talking about sexual violence than we have been in the past. In the past, though there were those in families or communities that worked hard to try to protect the young from it being passed on. Even as simple as a matriarch or patriarch refusing the grandchild to sleepover knowing the other was a predator. Neighbours that would become sanctuaries for children or others in need.

            Why does it continue?

Because we allow our voice to be divided. We allow the command, power and control to continue setting the story. We can speak of #timesup, but without unity of those abused by the corrupt structures of power …speaking as one to shatter them…it will all to easily be lost as a news story and relegated to just another news cycle ala school shootings in the U.S.A., or the annual story that churches should really do something about misogyny.

I wish I could say this is a problem of the last 100 or so years. Yet it is a problem heightened in the social media world of Millennials and Generation Z where they see the power abuse structure as so normative that social media is used to terrorize, commodity individuals until they believe their only option for safety is death. Let that sink in for where we are at in human history.

For I have contemplated these verses many time in my ministry. Told time and again that they were to be read in light of his Easter Resurrection, yet today in history I am convinced more than ever they speak to our world transformation. The foundations we are to shake:

18On account of this, the Jews demanded, “What sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do these things?” 19Jesus answered, “Destroy thistemple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”20“This temple took forty-six years to build,” the Jews replied, “and You are going to raise it up in three days?”…

-John 2:18-20 (Berean Study Bible)

The Temple of Jesus’ day was corrupted: used by the powers to be to oppress, abuse, commodity of human beings and use the people. Sound familiar?

His Mother, Mary of Nazareth and his earthly father, Joseph, led the way in showing what could exist with true equality and a new way. The way Jesus taught. One of full inclusion, equality and love for all in the human family and creation.

That is what verse 19 is truly about. Shattering the corruption. Tearing down the temple and rebuilding what is truly meant to be. Or in our hashtag world to the monsters and predators in one unified voice: #timesup.

And the response is the one that is still heard today by the command and control power structure—this took so long to build what are you going to do in 3 days.

Well according to ancient myth poetry of Jesus’ people, in the first 3 days of creation the Holy Mystery, well, she birthed the very good foundation of the cosmos.

Today, let us join voices together across all those who have been abused. Let our voices that are new to the fight, or have been battling longer unheard than any not lose sight of the goal. Let us join our voices together without labels, in the truth that we need to stand firm in. Let us shatter this corrupt temple, and yes…let us build the world where we all belong, we are all honoured, and we know true love of self and neighbour.

Join in tearing down…so that together we can birth the new hope that this light is shining.

The statement for this day is not do we believe. But rather do we stand firm that this must end.

Is it not time to build a world we keep paying lip service to.

A world where all are safe and belong.

A world where the true cause of pain has been exorcised and light truly reigns?

Are we ready to stand with our neighbour against those that prey?


It is amazing how an equitable and just community built upon the creation of equality found in Genesis 1 would become an empire of patriarchal oppression. Yet it is the story that happened. Constantine declares he had a vision to conquer under the cross. It was the cross that eliminated the pantheon and transformed the religion of the oppressed into the Empire’s rallying cry around 324 CE. It was also a rallying cry that stripped away many of the traditions, stories and mystics of the time for one that fit Constantine’s Empire narrative. Much was lost. Then came the great schism in 1054 CE between Eastern and Western, and more was shed to fit the surviving narratives on either side of the divide. And the narrative continues through the Crusades, the Reformation, Enlightenment, Restoration, Monastic renewals, Charismatic, New Thought/Metaphysic, Mormon and so on and so forth. Each stripping away narratives that spoke of the inherent equality of the movement.
Each that warned of a world to come if we allowed the power of the money, the power of politic to usurp the dignity of the neighbour, the person we are and the person next to us. Some of these narratives survived but so buried under the mistake of “unworthiness” needing to be saved in the “blood sacrifice” that the narrative of inclusion, love and belonging was lost. Even so much as to strip away the power of the Mary story, by usurping it by the Joseph story, and the God story. Making Mary a secondary or even tertiary voice in control of her own body.
This was not the intent of the sacred story.

Yet there are examples of warning, of other stories literally stripped from “Canon” depending on which movement branch of the tree of the Christianities you belong to. Here is one example within the Deutero-canonical tradition-the story of Susanna:

1 There dwelt a man in Babylon, called Joacim:
2 And he took a wife, whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, a very fair woman, and one that feared the Lord.
3 Her parents also were righteous, and taught their daughter according to the law of Moses.
4 Now Joacim was a great rich man, and had a fair garden joining unto his house: and to him resorted the Jews; because he was more honourable than all others.
5 The same year were appointed two of the ancients of the people to be judges, such as the Lord spake of, that wickedness came from Babylon from ancient judges, who seemed to govern the people.
6 These kept much at Joacim’s house: and all that had any suits in law came unto them.
7 Now when the people departed away at noon, Susanna went into her husband’s garden to walk.
8 And the two elders saw her going in every day, and walking; so that their lust was inflamed toward her.
9 And they perverted their own mind, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments.
10 And albeit they both were wounded with her love, yet durst not one shew another his grief.
11 For they were ashamed to declare their lust, that they desired to have to do with her.
12 Yet they watched diligently from day to day to see her.
13 And the one said to the other, Let us now go home: for it is dinner time.
14 So when they were gone out, they parted the one from the other, and turning back again they came to the same place; and after that they had asked one another the cause, they acknowledged their lust: then appointed they a time both together, when they might find her alone.
15 And it fell out, as they watched a fit time, she went in as before with two maids only, and she was desirous to wash herself in the garden: for it was hot.
16 And there was no body there save the two elders, that had hid themselves, and watched her.
17 Then she said to her maids, Bring me oil and washing balls, and shut the garden doors, that I may wash me.
18 And they did as she bade them, and shut the garden doors, and went out themselves at privy doors to fetch the things that she had commanded them: but they saw not the elders, because they were hid.
19 Now when the maids were gone forth, the two elders rose up, and ran unto her, saying,
20 Behold, the garden doors are shut, that no man can see us, and we are in love with thee; therefore consent unto us, and lie with us.
21 If thou wilt not, we will bear witness against thee, that a young man was with thee: and therefore thou didst send away thy maids from thee.
22 Then Susanna sighed, and said, I am straitened on every side: for if I do this thing, it is death unto me: and if I do it not I cannot escape your hands.
23 It is better for me to fall into your hands, and not do it, than to sin in the sight of the Lord.
24 With that Susanna cried with a loud voice: and the two elders cried out against her.
25 Then ran the one, and opened the garden door.
26 So when the servants of the house heard the cry in the garden, they rushed in at the privy door, to see what was done unto her.
27 But when the elders had declared their matter, the servants were greatly ashamed: for there was never such a report made of Susanna.
28 And it came to pass the next day, when the people were assembled to her husband Joacim, the two elders came also full of mischievous imagination against Susanna to put her to death;
29 And said before the people, Send for Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, Joacim’s wife. And so they sent.
30 So she came with her father and mother, her children, and all her kindred.
31 Now Susanna was a very delicate woman, and beauteous to behold.
32 And these wicked men commanded to uncover her face, (for she was covered) that they might be filled with her beauty.
33 Therefore her friends and all that saw her wept.
34 Then the two elders stood up in the midst of the people, and laid their hands upon her head.
35 And she weeping looked up toward heaven: for her heart trusted in the Lord.
36 And the elders said, As we walked in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, and shut the garden doors, and sent the maids away.
37 Then a young man, who there was hid, came unto her, and lay with her.
38 Then we that stood in a corner of the garden, seeing this wickedness, ran unto them.
39 And when we saw them together, the man we could not hold: for he was stronger than we, and opened the door, and leaped out.
40 But having taken this woman, we asked who the young man was, but she would not tell us: these things do we testify.
41 Then the assembly believed them as those that were the elders and judges of the people: so they condemned her to death.
42 Then Susanna cried out with a loud voice, and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be:
43 Thou knowest that they have borne false witness against me, and, behold, I must die; whereas I never did such things as these men have maliciously invented against me.
44 And the Lord heard her voice.
45 Therefore when she was led to be put to death, the Lord raised up the holy spirit of a young youth whose name was Daniel:
46 Who cried with a loud voice, I am clear from the blood of this woman.
47 Then all the people turned them toward him, and said, What mean these words that thou hast spoken?
48 So he standing in the midst of them said, Are ye such fools, ye sons of Israel, that without examination or knowledge of the truth ye have condemned a daughter of Israel?
49 Return again to the place of judgment: for they have borne false witness against her.
50 Wherefore all the people turned again in haste, and the elders said unto him, Come, sit down among us, and shew it us, seeing God hath given thee the honour of an elder.
51 Then said Daniel unto them, Put these two aside one far from another, and I will examine them.
52 So when they were put asunder one from another, he called one of them, and said unto him, O thou that art waxen old in wickedness, now thy sins which thou hast committed aforetime are come to light.
53 For thou hast pronounced false judgment and hast condemned the innocent and hast let the guilty go free; albeit the Lord saith, The innocent and righteous shalt thou not slay.
54 Now then, if thou hast seen her, tell me, Under what tree sawest thou them companying together? Who answered, Under a mastick tree.
55 And Daniel said, Very well; thou hast lied against thine own head; for even now the angel of God hath received the sentence of God to cut thee in two.
56 So he put him aside, and commanded to bring the other, and said unto him, O thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thine heart.
57 Thus have ye dealt with the daughters of Israel, and they for fear companied with you: but the daughter of Juda would not abide your wickedness.
58 Now therefore tell me, Under what tree didst thou take them companying together? Who answered, Under an holm tree.
59 Then said Daniel unto him, Well; thou hast also lied against thine own head: for the angel of God waiteth with the sword to cut thee in two, that he may destroy you.
60 With that all the assembly cried out with a loud voice, and praised God, who saveth them that trust in him.
61 And they arose against the two elders, for Daniel had convicted them of false witness by their own mouth:
62 And according to the law of Moses they did unto them in such sort as they maliciously intended to do to their neighbour: and they put them to death. Thus the innocent blood was saved the same day.
63 Therefore Chelcias and his wife praised God for their daughter Susanna, with Joacim her husband, and all the kindred, because there was no dishonesty found in her.
64 From that day forth was Daniel had in great reputation in the sight of the people.

Notice a parallel in the Jian Ghomeshi or Harvey Weinstein story of today?

I challenge you to spend time with this parable. Break it down like one would in English class. Take it through the plot diagram of preamble, inciting incident, rising action, climax, denouement (falling action) and resolution. Then break down who is the protagonist (hero), antagonist (villain and other challenges the hero faces); supporting cast. Then challenge your world view, what would happen if you flipped the antagonist and protagonist? For we must understand that which we are against. Do this in community and alone. Then each take one of the outlines and re-write the text in 21st century of the community you exist in today (community league, religious gathering, etc.)…

What light has the story of Susanna shed on love for self and love for neighbour in the heart of the Holy?

It has been exploding repeatedly in time memorial. The #MeToo should bring even the most heartless to tears, as we see the horror we have wrecked over generations by teaching silence or the blame culture. For our young and old, not realizing that their voice matters. We saw the crumbling truly start when Spotlight finally gave voice to the abuse by Priests; TRC in Canada and Ireland added to where monsters hide and prey; Graham James showed us the dark side of sport; and now Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood.

I wish I could say these surprises, saddens yes, surprises no. It is one of the realities of pain that strips hope away from a person without belonging that I have strived so long to aid through their own strengths in rebuilding. They succeed in their choice whether that is a new life path after speaking their truth, or in choosing to end their life and the funeral I preside over.  Real life intersects with our cultural story no matter how troubling. This is what I have always brought to my writing, the pulpit or the classroom. Whether as a teacher or a student.

I am a classically trained theologian who has never truly accepted the canonical answers to biblical stories. More than likely because I am also a story teller so I truly love metaphor, imagery and character, how one story can be used to show so many truths, how what is left out can be as compelling as what makes it in.  Which brings us to a troubling story of horror and rape that has been, for lack of a better term, white washed with what is comfortable: David and Bathsheba.

The standard take is one of adultery, where Bathsheba’s beauty so drove King David into a sexual frenzy he could not control himself. Is the narrative sounding familiar?

There are 3 things I want to pull out of this:

  • A cultural narrative of victim blaming.
  • A cultural narrative of cover up
  • What needs to change

All can be found within the text. Sadly, very few probably have heard it in their lectionary readings on Sunday morning preached this way (or when it comes up, another passage is simply chosen that is easier).

The Passage 2 Samuel 11:

     In the spring of the year,[a] when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing.Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

David Arranges for Uriah’s Death

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

(New Living Translation)

            What is the story?

Essentially a horny ruler goes up to his roof top to masturbate. Back in this period baths were on the roofs, he knew what he was doing, at the very least he is a peeping tom voyeur, at worst a sexual predator—oh wait—he then sent for the object of his masturbation to RAPE. Check-sexual predator.

Now others will say Bathsheba knew she was married and shouldn’t, well, one does what the King wants or one ends up dead. Bring the story into the 21st century lens, shock over takes the system, the victim is not to blame when soldiers show up at your door to bring you into the den of evil.

How do we know David knew he was doing wrong?

He had her husband killed to cover up.

Also, later, God herself would state due to blood being on his hands he would not get to build a glorious kingdom, and that fell to—Solomon. The only act of redemption that could come from this horror.  The blood of Uriah, the blood of the RAPE of Bathsheba.

Read the text, sit with it.

Can you see anything else in light of the #MeToo? Can you see anything different in light of the Jehovah Witness, Alliance Church, Roman Catholic sex abuse cover up? In light of Residential Schools?

That is the lens we pull the story in to. The lens that the Holy Mystery was attempting to get his children to see through the horror and the cover up. Unfortunately, pre-exile it was very much a pre-adolescent species, post exile it was a traumatized adolescent nation. How do we know of the trauma? The history of the nation was re-written post exile and is found in the books dubbed Chronicles, highly sanitized where this story is left out completely.

Why? The traumatized’s first response is disassociation. Closing out the horrible history. Not dealing with it. Lock it away. In worst scenario’s it leads to what is currently diagnosed as Dissociative Identity Disorder, historically known as Multiple Personality Disorder. What we see trickling out when locked away long enough is inter-generational trauma, and normalization of abuse patterns as actually loving and caring, as transaction for success, and blaming the victim.

The Holy Mystery inspired the writers to put in, and remove what is found in foundation legends and myths of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament. The story of Bathsheba was left in pre-exile, and has been used to create a culture of victim blaming for sexual abuse. Post-exile it was removed, and normalized to well 4 children came from the marriage. The mind doesn’t even realize Stockholm syndrome because these are “blessed texts” so it was God’s plan. Or was it simply the way a sexual predator works, and light needed to be shone on it?

Our history, and our present speak to a need for those who say they are spiritual, religious and/or followers of Brother Jesus to stand with the emerging voice, affirm the voice, and know that society needs to change. It has happened throughout our history.

A history where the writer of the Gospel of Matthew felt it was important that a victim be named into the genealogy of Brother Jesus, to ensure that strength was not forgotten. To ensure that we always stood with the one without voice, to allow their voice to emerge no matter how shaky so the truth can be known.

Sanitizing our history does not make things better. It allows for thousands of years of Bathsheba’s in all genders and sexualities to exist. Our history needs to be spoken with brutal honesty and truth in all its beauty and ugliness, and held in the sacrament of confession. Only then can we choose as the family of humanity to step forward in communal healing into the sacrament of reconciliation.

But it starts with those who teach, and those who learn.

Are we willing to accept the story in all its horror?

Are we willing at the end of hearing…

To choose L-I-F-E?








To choose L-I-F-E?