Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sorry, Theodore Beale again..

For those who don’t know, I am about as anti-feminist and pro-Christian as it is possible to be. Yes, I should love to douse Valenti and Marcotte in a vat of grapes, a la, I love Lucy style. It offends me that these two women are held up within the pop culture as experts on women, feminism, and politics. However, I am keenly aware that their feminism, their secularism, comes in response to something unpleasant, and that underneath the bloviating and ideology beats a real human heart.

So where in the world would you acquire the false idea that men hate you and God is so awful, He should be rejected entirely?

From people like Theodore Beale and his merry men, his group of psuedo-Christians who encourage and promote such things with their own cyberbulling, men so full of brokenness and wounding they wouldn’t know the love of Christ if it bit them on the behind.

Here are Beale’s “Christian” words from the other day:

“..Open up your hate and let it pour over them. Don’t think for even one nanosecond that they don’t deserve it every bit of the criticism, of the contempt, of the disdainful dismissal that overwhelms them. They are trying to destroy Western civilization. They are trying to destroy marriage and civil society. They are advocates of child murder. They are advocates of a philosophy that makes National Socialism look merciful and Communism practical and Fascism coherent by comparison. Do not hold back. Speak back twice as hard. Speak back until they fall silent. Women are particularly susceptible to shame. So shame them relentlessly…”

This garbage literally makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot think of anything more awful then hatred promoted in the name Christ, than dehumanizing His people, His daughters, just so you can experience a little biological bliss hit of one-upmanship on the internet.

This is so wrong, but there are none so blind as those who cannot see. Beale reveals the rot in his own soul with these words, a darkness that is far worse than anything Valenti and Marcotte bring to the table.

A few have tried to appeal to Beale’s honor but he doesn’t seem to have any. Others have tried to reason with him, but he is so full of repressed knee jerk emotionalism he cannot hear. Some have tried theological arguments. He is quick however to delete even the most patient and loving comments, if they threaten his own sense of self righteousness.

“Open up your hate and let it pour over them..shame them relentlessly….”

I know women who have experienced exactly that from multiple men, often beginning as children and being reinforced over and over again. What we do is avail ourselves of the love of Christ, we forgive, we heal…. and we eventually go on to love men anyway. We achieve victory over hatred and shame and each unconditional act of love becomes a form of spiritual warfare. We are everywhere, all over the internet, praising husbands, fathers, brothers, loving people, yes even our enemies.

Beale doesn’t hate women, he hates himself. Those of us who are strong in the broken places can see that clearly. On behalf of those who are not yet strong, I apologize for Beale. Like it or not, he’s a brother in Christ or so he believes, and I’m forced to claim him. I am truly sorry for the harm he does.

Friday, February 20, 2015


So jaded
You think that’s where it’s at
But is that where it’s supposed to be….
It may not come across on the internet, but I am actually one of the biggest skeptics around, cynical, jaded, downright misanthropic, a big word I learned from Ada over at lovelifeandgod. It means “disliking humankind and avoiding human society.”

I am way better than I used to be, in fact, those broken bits have been healed and fused back together, stronger than they were to begin with. It still amuses me however, the contrast between being so skeptical and jaded and yet today being so strongly in faith I can be downright charismatic about it.
Someone mentioned I was “too saved,” that I should focus on something other than God, write about a pear. A pear!? But you see, God is in the pear! He is in the grainy texture, in the sweetness of the juice that dribbles down your tongue. God is in the pear seed, He is in the blossoms, in the fruit….as you can see, I am rather hopelessly romantic when it comes to God. What can I say, having a relationship with Him can be a bit like falling in love over and over again, and beginning anew the next day.
Falling in love over and over again is actually hard work, it can be exhausting. I wish everyone could be blessed with such suffering…
So on being cynical and jaded, when you are reason based and rational and bitter, a choir of angels could descend from the heavens and start singing praises and you would go, “Uh hmm, sure, where are the hidden cameras? Your lighting is all wrong and I think your sound system needs some work. Also, that man behind the curtain, his feet are sticking out…”
That’s pride that does that to us, not wanting to be deceived, being pre-emptively defensive, walling ourselves off to the risk of disappointment, to being made to feel foolish.
 It’s a bit amusing, but it’s been my experience that God cares nothing for human pride, judging from the way He is so good at relieving us of it frequently. Many times I have thought, “well this is just humiliating” and God has said, “well it wouldn’t be if you weren’t clinging so hard to your pride!” That’s very true, where there is no pride, there can be no shame and humiliation.
Recently I’ve been reading some blogs and books about spiritual abuse, about some appalling experiences that people have had with charismatic and narcissistic leadership within churches. Uhg, I cannot imagine anything more offensive, more hurtful, then being betrayed by your spiritual leadership. 
The very nature of faith requires you to have a soft heart, so there you are, open and exposed, right when some yahoo decides to go on a power trip. This stuff makes me angry and these aren’t even my stories.
 I believe those who teach and lead really are held to a higher standard. James 3:1 speaks to this, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” or “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
Woe be unto them who forget who they serve. It’s a bit like wearing a uniform, just as an employer will hunt you down if you get caught on camera doing something wrong with the company logo prominently displayed, I suspect God is not going to be too pleased with those who do cruelty in His name.
 In the midst of all this ugliness however, I am reminded that people chose to believe, to take the risk, to seek with an open heart. That opens you up to potential wounding, but it is far, far preferable to walling yourself off, to walking among the jaded as I have so often done. Being cynical and skeptical doesn’t really protect you, it walls you off from the good as well as the bad. You deprive yourself of being able to see truth and beauty.
I am really grateful that God has so frequently managed to slip in under the radar and bypass all my skepticism, over and over again. Many times I have been so busy looking for that man behind the curtain, so consumed with seeking the hidden deception, that He has slipped right into my heart when I wasn’t even looking. Very sneaky, but oh so delightful.
ColorStorm writes some great posts, lots of scriptural wisdom to be found over there. I really enjoyed the latest, especially his declaration, “I submit that the word of a good man is evidence enough to justify your trust.” It’s such an important thing to remember. We live in a jaded world full of a great deal of skepticism, distrust, and deception, but it’s important to remember to look beyond all that, to keep your heart soft and open and willing to trust. Sometimes it’s painful but the alternative is to be so afraid of that pain that you never really get to live.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The butterfly effect


The butterfly effect is this idea that suggests that a butterfly fluttering it’s wings on one side of the world, has the ability to impact the weather on the other side of the world. It speaks to the inter-connectedness of us all and points to the fact that for every action there is an equal reaction. The theory was received with some mockery, became a thing of myths and urban legends, and eventually became accepted by science itself.

Ideas like the collective unconscious and the butterfly effect demolish the belief that a man can be an island unto himself, orbiting his own little planet and creating his own little reality. Instead, everything in the world, including us, exists in a kind of symbiosis, and the tiniest little thing we do, like a butterfly fluttering it’s wings, has an impact on the world around us. Every kind word spoken has the power to alter the fabric of the universe, to change someone’s destiny, to rewrite a story. So does every cranky word, every famine, every war…..oh crap……

When I first learned about the butterfly effect, I had an anxiety attack, which eventually progressed into a full blown existentialist crisis. One of the fun things about being a Christian is that you can have a good existentialist crisis, stare into the abyss, let go, free fall…and you’ll land in hysterics about three feet down at the foot of a King. Plunk! I’ve done it so many times, I imagine the angels just roll their eyes and say, “it’s that crazy woman again, questioning the nature of Creation. Must be a girl thing. Seems to be some part of their design.”

At least that’s what happens when you’re a Christian and have the Lord’s favor. If you don’t have His favor, you may well plunge into the abyss and the angels watch you go by in a free fall and sing, “wheeeee, look at that one go!” I have no idea and no desire to find out. It’s a long way down to the bottom of the abyss.

We really do create reality for ourselves and for those around us. Everything we do, no matter how small, has an impact on those around us and on those not around us, and on those yet to come. People are far more important, far more valuable to the equation, than most of us realize. Every single one of us, every word spoken, every breath we take, every thought we have, alters the very fabric of the universe.

It’s a huge responsibility, enough to trigger a good existentialist crisis, and
underscores the profound implications of the Greatest Commandment.

Our lives really are the greatest love story ever told and we are called to live them
as if we are all madly and passionately in love with every breathless moment. As if
that is not the most awesome thing ever, our lives are only the first chapter.

truly, madly, deeply

Friday, February 13, 2015

50 shades of fairytales

Perhaps I am greedy with my demands, but I do not want a Valentine’s Day love that is as flat and two-dimensional as a Hallmark card. I do not require the pretty words of others to know what love is. Love is everyday, it comes unbidden, little things, surprises wrapped like gifts when you expect nothing. I made you a pot of coffee. I left you a towel.

I do not seek cut flowers that will soon wither and die but rather moments of silence together, puppy love, the sweetness of just holding hands, wrapped in secret memories of long dead crushes. A red balloon snatched from a car lot. A snickers bar. Your treasured dead earth worm covered in fuzz from your pocket. It’s not the gifts I seek, but the intentions of your heart when you handed them to me.

I do not want a box of candy, instead I wish to bite through that hard chocolate crust and reach the soft gooey center, the very truffle of your soul.

How cheap Valentine’s Day is, how unsatisfying, how it leaves you hungry and aching for something more, almost as if you wished you had never caught a glimpse of it in the first place.

This year we are gifted with the shallow, broken soul of Christian Grey and yet another empty-headed twit, not unlike Bella with all her vampire longing and childish love angst. Is this all we are as men and women? Can we not see our higher selves even in our dreams, our fiction, our fantasies?

Christian Grey is boring, as is Anastasia. The world is chock full of broken men and shattered women, completely oblivious to the nature of their own selves, acting and reacting to each other in this rather macabre dance, trying so desperately to seek some meaning in it all. But you have not because you ask not….

People want so badly to believe in fairy tales, as if two pieces of brokennness and wounding can fit together and figure out how to have a happily ever after. We do not wish to have to change the nature of ourselves, but instead to change the very nature of the world around us, so abuse becomes love and poorly written dialog passes for heady conversation. Unedited drivel becomes great literature.

Gee, I sure wish I had somebody to watch over me, somebody to guide me, somebody to track my every move, somebody omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient…

That really is a fairytale kind of love, if you read the fairy tales of old, the ones that end with the little match girl freezing to death in the snow or the red shoes chopping off her feet so her legs will stop dancing. In the real world there are a thousand Christian Greys, many Anastasias, and their story always ends in tragedy, their love consummated with a bottle of pills in a bathtub or grey matter splattered on the wall of a lonely motel somewhere.

It breaks my heart to watch people pour things into the abyss of their soul, over and over again, as if we can just dump enough stuff down there to cover up all the emptiness and longing and desire, the unbearable ache for something more. Such unpopular words these days, but seek ye first the kingdom..
There’s a reason these “love” stories are sold to young girls, because if you are older and have experienced the world, been blessed to have felt the nature of true love, you will accept no substitutions. You are not easily deceived by cheap imitations. You do not look at a wounded, broken men and see Prince Charming. You are not the least bit enchanted by the mesmerizing gaze of the undead. Your love is  greedy, bottomless, and it demands depth and authenticity.

I do not really blame the men who seek power and control. A rather desperate act of self-defense I imagine, because the very nature of love demands you allow somebody to peer into your soul, to consume the soft nouget that resides there, to drain you of all your life energy, not unlike a vampire, drinking in all that you are. In the end you will wither and die, having given up all that you have to offer.

That’s true love for you. A rather symbiotic and parasitical thing, as ugly as intestinal worms or as beautiful as a wild orchid clinging to a bit of rotted log on the forest floor.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Of vampires and necrophiles

We live in interesting times. Women’s sexuality has never been more prominently displayed than it is today, in all it unbridled glory and strange perversions. We have Miley Cyrus riding her wrecking ball and dancing half-naked with teddy bears, teen age angst and distress over the Twilight vampire who sparkles, and millions now anxiously awaiting Christian Grey in 50 shades on the silver screen.

I read the Twilight series and 50 shades, or rather I skimmed through them as best I could and read the synopsis and reviews. Sexual perversion is one thing, but literary perversion is downright horrifying.

Twilight actually really rattled my cage, here we have this woman writing for 12-13 year old girls who happen to be right at the sexual bonding peek where their perceptions of love and romance, their sexuality, are going to be formed…permanently, for life. So who is to become the object of their affection? Do you long for bestiality or necrophilia? Team Jacob or Team Edward? Do you throw yourself into torment and angst over the dead guy or the werewolf? What could possibility go wrong with those archetypes in a young girl’s mind??

To make matters worse, so many lines between good and evil were blurred in those books, so Edward the sparkly vampire becomes good, even though he is undead, even though he feeds off human blood or sacrifices a few small animals instead, even thought he is a vampire. It’s okay to love a soulless man without a pulse. You can heal him your love. Besides, you are totally powerless and free from all personal responsibility. You are mesmerized by his gaze. Also somewhat suicidal, but don’t let that distress you.

It’s okay that he sat by her bed side and watched her sleep as a small child, fantasizing about her. There are an awful lot of “yes, it’s evil, but it’s okay” in the Twilight series. Love transcends all boundaries apparently, even moral ones.

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the secret underground bunker and lay down your garlic and cross, along came 50 shades of Grey and another soulless man without a pulse. Ah yes, because what woman doesn’t need yet another excuse to seek out and align themselves with a broken man? To make it even better, here, you can just learn to sexually bond with abuse and then everyone will be happy! Anastasia Steele really is happy, although what she seeks she is also compelled to destroy, hence the break up, the attempts to fix him, to marry and civilize him.

So what makes it all perversion? Well dead people, animals, children, BDSM, the elimination of any sexual boundaries, treating of people as if they were flat, two-dimensional sexual objects, are all good markers. The exploitation of natural biology, the distortion of women’s sexuality, the blurring of lines until we are seduced, or rather herded away by the crowd from all that is good and golden and healthy there.

What really makes Twilight and 50 shades a perversion of women’s sexuality however, is that unlike love, what you seek you are compelled to destroy. Love lifts people up, it encourages, it nurtures, it supports. Love gone wrong destroys. In the Twilight series we are introduced to the idea that “what we seek, we must destroy” because one of the first issues Edward faces is having to make Bella a vampire, to kill her. He wrestles with this, struggles against it, but in the end she is turned, killed basically. Christian Grey must crush Anastasia and she speaks of this often, of feeling as if she is being erased, of being concerned she is loosing herself. She in turn is driven to try to “fix him,” to alter who and what he is, no doubt in an attempt to survive herself.

Toying with power is a huge component of women’s sexuality. Not a bad one, not an unhealthy thing, but what really becomes problematic is when there are no sexual boundaries to contain that. Boundaries create safety. This blurring of lines that you see all over our society is not healthy, especially for women. That is what is at the heart of these books and those are the questions we wrestle with as a society. Is she strong and empowered or devoid of all agency? Who is responsible here, Bella or Edward? Christian or Anastasia? Do women own their own sexuality or are we easily lured off like prey? Just how much agency do we have? How much do we even want?

What fascinates me is that the more feminism you see in the world, the more female dominance, the more women will seek to be dominated. It’s a rather interesting phenomenon and one that often proceeds a major social upheaval. Sometimes I wonder if women don’t psychically have a way of just knowing when it is time to align themselves with more powerful men, right before the poo hits the fan. Call it a 6th sense survival skill.

Monday, February 2, 2015

"We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers, but never blame yourself. It's never your fault. But it's always your fault because if you wanted to change you're the one who has got to change"
-Katharine Hepburn

I cannot imagine how much trouble Katharine would get herself into if she were to say such a thing today. I can already see the Twitter wars, the Facebook fights, the insistence that she apologize immediately for suggesting such a thing. Everyone knows women are completely powerless victims of never ending oppression we have absolutely no control over. To even use the word "fault" is an appalling attempt to promote misogyny, shame women, and engage in victim blaming. Privilege, she has forgotten her privilege and is now persecuting everyone!

She is absolutely correct however, it is always your fault because you are the only common denominator in your own  life. To believe anything else is to actually hand your power away. If one cannot accept fault, blame, responsibility, then one is basically saying they are completely helpless. One is rarely completely helpless. Even if your circumstances are beyond your control, you have the power to change your attitude towards them.

I've written quite a bit about the toxicity of shame and sometimes people disagree because they think shame is a way of regulating people's behavior, of triggering their conscience so they make better choices. What it is however, is a huge minefield in the world that weighs people down so they get so resistant, they cannot even conceive of anything outside of the constraints of, "Who's fault is this? It certainly isn't mine!" In an instant everything becomes personal. You're trying to blame me! Or women. Or men. Or some group I'm associated with.

That is the kind of division that toxic shame causes, the type of defensiveness and fear that encompasses it. It's an attitude that creates complete gridlock. There can be no genuine change where there is no humility because everyone must remain resistant and walled off. Battle mode, I call it.

Congress is a good example. According to surveys what people want more than anything else in the New Year is for our congresscritters to come together and actually accomplish something. Of course in politics one does not dare admit to ever having made any mistakes because that just leaves one vulnerable to attacks from the other side. Along with not admitting fault however, comes a state of believing you have no responsibility, and therefore no power to actually do anything. In our leaders it leads to an approval rating in the teens. Congress is now less popular then several common diseases.

I say this over and over again, but the personal is really not political. You cannot change the world but you can change yourself. That is scary because so many people then have to confront the fact that they are carrying around all this toxic shame that is preventing them from moving forward. Ironically, when you take responsibility, you often discover that most of that weight you've been carrying around, doesn't even belong to you.

Taking Responsibility For Marriage

Something I can hardly stand to read are the thoughts of married men who hate their wives and feel miserable, powerless, and trapped in their marriages. "I can't wait until I'm dead." Oh, brother.  People of any gender feeling miserable and powerless tends to annoy me, but men especially will push my buttons when they're in this state. I kid you not, I want to pitch things at their head.

So what do all these miserable married men have in common? They totally blame their wives. They blame society, they blame the very nature of women, and they certainly blame the horrid woman they're married too.

And in the process they hand all their power away! See, the problem with blaming somebody else is that you're telling yourself you have no power and no control over the situation, because it is now all about the other person.

The thing about blaming yourself, about believing you are fully accountable for the state of your marriage, is that it puts the whole situation back under your control. People don't like to do this, pride I suppose. Just typing that word "blame," I am aware of all the negative connotations. Heaven forbid we ever "blame" ourselves for anything. It's always someone elses fault. Just think, "blame equals power and strength," and perhaps it will be an easier pill to swallow. Like it or not, that's what leadership is all about. The buck stops here. We don't blame the privates, we blame the officers.

Even if you are married to the most awful person ever, blaming them adds to THEIR power and strength. If your spouse is truly a jerk, the last thing you want to do is hand them more power.
Now, flip this around, to the female side of things, when I was first married I really was a jerk. It was pretty much all about me, all of the time, and I wanted control. I did not empathize with my husband at all. I thought men were jerks, marriage was miserable, and I certainly blamed him for just about everything I possibly could. Honestly, I have no idea how he put up with me, but he did.

He didn't blame me, even when I was to blame.

What happened is I finally realized I was totally responsible for how happy or miserable my marriage was going to be. I had to humble myself to the possibility that it may be my fault. It was humbling but it was also unbelievably empowering. That's an interesting paradox within the framework of submission, but that is what strength in weakness looks like. Surrender all and you become incredibly powerful.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 scripture speaks to this, "power is perfected in weakness" and "for when I am weak, then I am strong."

It's a bit amusing, lots of men on the internet complain that women today are not submissive enough and I just want to laugh. Submissive women are powerful women, so be careful what you wish for.  Read the book, it explains everything. There's this garden and these two naked people.... 

Also, those words Paul is speaking in Corinthians, those are words for men. Strength in weakness, it's not just for girls....

Anyway, men and women are not that different in regards to the amount of control and influence we have over our own relationships. It is tempting to blame the other person, but that is a position of weakness, devoid of all power. One problem we're seeing today is that people expect their spouse to make them happy and there is very little understanding of the nature of sacrificial love. When somebody fails to make us happy, there is an ugly amount of Ex-hate, man-hate, woman-hate, spouse-hate, which just fuels the whole deception and makes the world an unhappy place to live.

This is an issue that runs close to my heart because marriage rates are on the decline, divorce is rampant, and there are miserable people on my planet, disturbing my peace.