UNC, the Vatican and Sovereign Grace Ministries: When PR trumps concern for victims

(CONTENT NOTE: This gets ugly and painful. We’re dealing here with some really awful, evil topics, including sexual abuse, abuse of power, rape, and the ways that powerful, self-righteous people defend all of the above.)

Let’s start in Chapel Hill, home of the University of North Carolina.

A UNC student, Landen Gambill, faces possible expulsion for speaking out about her sexual assault.

Last week, she was called to appear before the school’s “Honor Court” because she’s charged with “disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another … so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.”

… Gambill has not once publicly identified her attacker. She has, however, called out the school for their failures in dealing with her case. She’s said that the internal disciplinary process was offensive, inappropriate, and victim-blaming. “They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.” She’s accused UNC of betraying her trust by not letting her know that her attacker was returning to campus and in fact would be living across the street from her.

At a preliminary hearing, Gambill asked if she could have violated the Honor Code simply by saying she was raped and was told yes.

That’s from Maya at Feministing, who comments:

The message UNC students will take from this – if they haven’t gotten it already – is to think twice about coming forward. Because their school seems to think that – just as being seen as having a rape problem on your campus is considered worse than actually having one – being called a rapist is a more serious injury than being raped.

That seems to be the core of the problem at UNC, just as it seems to have been the core of the problem for decades in the Roman Catholic Church: “Being seen as having a rape problem … is considered worse than actually having one.”

For more than 20 years we’ve witnessed the slowly unraveling horrors of a massive sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic church. We’ve learned of widespread abuse and rape, and of even wider efforts to cover it up. We’ve seen the cruel injustice piled upon injustice of an institution treating crimes against children as, primarily, a PR problem to be addressed primarily with PR solutions. Instead of seeking justice and healing for victims, those victims were silenced, hidden, or attacked all over again in an effort to discredit their testimony. The institution was more focused on protecting its reputation and shielding itself from bad press or legal liability than it was on addressing the problem, weeding out the predators and criminals, and seeking restitution and healing for the victims.

That PR-focused strategy led the institution to shield, defend and enable the predators within it, while compounding the harm those predators had committed and further abusing their victims. Above and before everything else, that’s just simply evil.

But in addition to being abominably immoral, this PR-focused strategy also failed abysmally on its own terms. It turned out to be disastrous public relations — making the institution look even worse because it was even worse. And it turned out to be disastrously expensive in terms of the liability they sought to escape.

If anything good might have come from that ongoing horror show, I had thought it might be at least that other institutions could learn from it. The Catholic church was providing a vivid lesson in what not to do, and I had hoped that such a prominent, infamous example would be something other institutions would have to notice and to remember if they should ever discover abusers and predators within their own ranks.

But no.

As the example of UNC shows, other institutions seem to be taking the Catholic church’s evil and counter-productive PR-strategy as a template. Just like the bishops and cardinals who have done irreparable damage to the church, the leaders of other institutions seem fixated on, as Maya wrote, the idea that “Being seen as having a rape problem … is considered worse than actually having one.”

All of that is a long introduction for this: Go read T.F. Charlton’s essay at Religion Dispatches on “A Church Group, a Lawsuit, and a Culture of Abuse.”

It’s the best one-stop summary I’ve seen of the slowly unfolding scandal involving Sovereign Grace Ministries — a network of 91 conservative, evangelical churches.

SGM is independent, but it’s affiliated and allied with most of the leading figures of the angry, patriarchal, Reformed wing of conservative white evangelicalism — folks like Al Mohler, John Piper and Mark Driscoll, and groups like the Gospel Coalition and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. So this is not a fringe group, but one that is associated with some of the most vocal and prominent white evangelical church leaders in America.

Before this scandal began unfolding, SGM was considered one of the rock-star success stories of this patriarchal Reformed brand of white Christianity. Charlton does an excellent job summarizing the history of the scandal, and an even better job of showing how it is not an aberration from, but a consequence of, that very same patriarchal form of American evangelicalism.

Several other writers have recently addressed this scandal and the further scandal of Sovereign Grace Ministries’ failure thus far to respond to it with any evident concern for the victims. I want to discuss some of those other posts as well, but before we turn to them, please do go read Charlton’s essay for a clear-eyed introduction and overview.

  • Hexep

    This isn’t for me, and I don’t know if I even qualify, I don’t know if my background qualifies as ‘abusive’ by the proper use of the term, and I don’t want anyone to refrain from anything for my benefit, and I don’t know what I’m hoping to elicit by saying this, but something about statements like that just rips my heart out. I don’t know why. I don’t know why, and I feel like if I did, maybe I would make some progress with the comprehension of my own heart, but whenever I read things like that, like, ‘you deserve so much better,’ or, ‘I hope you find healing,’ or anything like that, it just makes me palpitate.

    Is it because I hate myself for finding it seductive? Is it because I have no sense of my own accomplishment or self-esteem, nothing in which I take a sense of pride except for, well, being proud? Is it because I feel marked by sex, class, and skin-color to be forever the adversary of the heroes of the world, born into the armies of oppression and too frightened to defect? Is it because I divide the world rigidly into the two classes of ‘those who support others’ and ‘those who require the support of others,’ and am hell-bent on never falling into the latter? Is it because I’m ashamed of making much of my problems because hey, my father never actually laid a hand (or any other thing) on me and left me lots of money when he died, and that thus my problems don’t count?

    Sometimes, I have good days. Today was supposed to be a good day. Today, I marched my ass into the police station and registered my apartment, which I just finished paying off for three months. This was to get my paperwork all in perfect order, rendering me totally immune to any sort of predatory police-work or stickling, and thus finally grant me the security I needed in order to sleep peacefully at night without having to be afraid of someone kicking down my door and demanding to see my permits. It’s taken 3 months – three months of non-stop running, non-stop hurry-up-and-wait, of needing just one more thing and having to dash right now to get it, now wait six weeks for processing, and you never know if it’s going to actually come through in the end… and today was the end of that. I got the papers. I got the stamps. I’m clear.

    And yet, for some reason, today I just feel miserable. And I feel miserable that I feel miserable.

  • Richard

     My favorite quote on this subject is from an 18th-century poem whose name I have forgotten:

     “One must, to be sure, forgive one’s enemies — but not before they have been hanged.”

    Like with most quotes I don’t agree with it in a literal sense, but it gives an interesting counterpoint to the more common notion of forgiveness as the opposite of punishment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Riastlin-Lovecraft/100000678992705 Riastlin Lovecraft

    Requesting permission to hug you :/

  • SergeantHeretic

    Richard, I could not agree more with the mtaphorical sentiment of that expression.

    Forgiveness is not free, nor should it ever be. Even i nthe Bible the price of forgivceness is genuine contrition from the perpetrator followed by a definitive stoppage of the behavior in question. In the bible the one seeking forgiveness must be genuinly remorsefull and most importantly to STOP DOING what they are seeking forgiveness for.

    You damned sure don’t drag the victim in front of the perpetrator of the crime and order them to forgive the son of a bitch. That’s not how it works.

    How it works is, the perpetratr feels bad, as they should and feels convicted for what they’ve done. Then they go to the victim like a proper supplicant and ask and if need be BEG to be forgiven for what they’ve done.

    “I have hurt you, I have wronged you, I have done terrible needless damage to you. I am sorry to have hurt you so badly can you please find it in your heart to forgive this crime I comited against you?”

    The reason you say it that way is because it puts the power with the victim. That’s where it belongs. It takes the power away from the perpetrator and gives it to the victim. That’s how it SHOULD BE!

    That is also why the religious ownership/power/property/rape culture doesn’t do it that way. They don’t do it that way because empowering their victim is the LAST thing they want to do.

  • Mrs Grimble

     What makes me angry about the Mother Teresa fans is their unwavering belief that she was the only person offering free medical care to Kolkata’s poor.  In fact, at the time she was operating  there were -  and still are – several charity hospitals and clinics providing excellent care for the city’s sick poor. A number of these places are run by Indian charities, who must have been pretty aggrieved at being completely written out of the picture by the West. 
    Not to mention the subtext of much of the reporting at the time – that of compassionate white Christians stepping in to rescue poor brown people from cruelly dispassionate  Indian culture.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Lori, I am with you my sister, there is nothing more agravating and infuriating about the Religious pretention to exclusive goodness than the deliberate and assumed ignorance and minimising of secular charity efforts that are often more effective and more efficient than the loud pretentious overbearing fanfare of religious “Do-gooders”.

  • Tricksterson

    Rape:  Teach the controversy!

  • SergeantHeretic

    Hexep, It’s O.K. I too know the scrambling mad feeling of unsafety of insecurity of uncertain fear. In my case it was the fear of forgeting a military rule or forgetting an important protocol or getting in trouble for breaking a rule I didn even know I broke. This was a carryover of the way I was raised. The constant fear of angering the big scarey monster that yelled and called me names and hit me and never let me forget that it was MY fault for doing things that made him mad enough to hit me.

    To this day that fear still lingers. I am either in trouble for something or afraid of being in trouble for something i know not what.

    I am forty three years old and I wonder, am I EVER going to stop being that terrified little girl seeking the aproval of the big powerful auhority?

  • ohiolibrarian

    I was thinking about how the hierarchy of the Catholic Church weren’t very good shepherds of their flocks. They not only didn’t protect them from wolves (predators); they moved the wolves from sheepfold to sheepfold.

    Then it occurred to me that the interest of the shepherd in their sheep is actually the same as the interest of the wolf–lamb and mutton (ok and wool). The sheep only matter in relation to  self-interest. The problem is even baked into the metaphor of pastoral care!

    And it puts a whole new complexion on “The Lord is my shepherd … “

  • SergeantHeretic

    Yeah, that’s all tied up in the central theology God owns us and can do with us as he pleases, this carries over to the corrolary; The church owns its flock and can do with them what it wishes to. That is the root assumption behind EVERY crime ever commited by any religious group in the west.

    After all if the members of a chuch or congregation or family are defined as the literal property of the leader then why WOULD anyone question what the master of the flock does with or to them?

  • GDwarf

     

    Um. Wasn’t Dobson the one who said something to the effect of “if your
    male child seems effeminate, show him your penis so he’ll understand how
    manly he’s supposed to be, and if that doesn’t work, beat him soundly
    until it does”?

    I think so, yes, and that particular combination of phrases brings to mind something rather worse than I think even he meant.

  • Hexep

    Hug me? You’re not supposed to hug me, you’re supposed to hate me! I’m a foot soldier in the armies of darkness and tyranny! I’m the enemy, can’t you see, I’m the enemy of all that is right and good in the world; I was born to carry a spear for the power of the powerful. Can you not see it in my white skin? Can you not smell it in my blood, the stench of centuries of oppression and cruelty and exploitation and… and cannibalism, to those of our own who were made imperfect?

    It is my fate and the fate of mine to be on the losing side of history, and to go down fighting and thus make the victory of the good – of the just, of the tolerant, of the equanimitous,  of the welcoming, all – to make their victory meaningful. Here is my ship, I could say, and it is my business to go down with it. But it is a warship, and for generations uncounted it has given stern chase to you and yours.

    Where is your sense of triumph?

  • Hexep

    I could ditto that, except that he died before I could make my true thoughts known to him, and in a tragically hilarious way. The bastard, my father; I was supposed to kill him, and he up and died before I got the  chance.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Hexep I am going to tell you what my therapist told me.

    “It’s not your fault. Listen carefully to me, Its not your fault.

    None of what you suffered, none of what was done to either you or me was our fault. We didn’t deserve any of the brutality we recieved. My brothers keep wanting me to forgive my father for what he did and how he raised me and I told them that I can’t. He hasn’t asked properly for my forgiveness.

    As the victim of his crimes the power lies with me, not him. I must forgive him only when he acknowledges his crimes against me and expresses sincere remose and contrition.

    Until he does that, I CAN’T forgive him.

    That’s the way it is.

  • Hexep

    I have never forgiven anyone of anything in my life, least of all myself, and I am not about to start now. It is for lesser people to beg forgiveness, and lesser still to grant it; to those who wrong me, I offer only scorn. My position remains unchanged.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Harsh, but quite understandable. I HAVE forgiven a few people in my life because they were sorry for what they did to me, they sought to redress the damage of their crimes and they came to me as supplicants and asked humbly for my forgivemeness.

    I granted it because they gave me the power. They gave me the place of power due me as the victim.

    That’s the cost.

    They also never did the bad thing ever again.

    Again, the cost of forgivemess. Remorse, contrition, redress of grievence and cessation of the crime.

    If the old man pays me that price I’ll think about forgiving him.

  • Amy

    It took me a while to catch up on all the comments, I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement.  In my mind I’m piecing together something to say about forgiveness, but since I need to get to work now I’ll ponder it until lunchtime.

  • P J Evans

    A lot of shepherd don’t own the sheep they watch, and that makes a big difference. Their pay depends on keeping the sheep alive and well.

  • The_L1985

    IKR?  Why on earth would you commit sexual assault in direct public view?

  • ohiolibrarian

     No, not really. Whether they own the sheep or just get paid to watch them, their interest is always self-interest. To some degree, that may benefit the sheep, but only to the limits of self-interest.

  • AnonymousSam

    Her definition of “medical care” could do with some scrutiny too, given that she opposed her staff receiving any form of medical training, opposed anesthesia, and felt both suffering and death were good things…

  • MaryKaye

    Hexep writes:

    I got the papers. I got the stamps. I’m clear.

    And yet, for some reason, today I just feel miserable. And I feel miserable that I feel miserable.

    This happens to people at the end of big gruelling projects quite often.  After we turn in a big government grant, despite all efforts to make it a happy event, people are usually depressed.  I think it’s a natural response to having pushed so hard and probably put off your personal needs so that you could keep pushing.

    If you don’t mind advice–do something nice for yourself.  It needn’t be big.  Have a hot bath with the scent of your choice, or eat something comforting, or curl up in a warm place with a book–whatever makes you feel cared for.  Put something pretty up on the wall of your newly secure apartment, even if it’s just a page torn out of a magazine or newspaper.  Sometimes a concrete act of care will help when no amount of thinking about it does.
     

  • AnonymousSam

    Call it what it is. It’s physical and sexual abuse.

  • Jenny Islander

    Re forgiveness: Forgiveness is possible without the guilty party acknowledging the debt, but only the creditor knows whether this is desirable.  The financial terminology is deliberate because originally forgiveness was a financial term that got borrowed as a metaphor.  Forgiveness means writing off a debt and ceasing to expect repayment.  Forgiveness does not imply any subsequent relationship between debtor and creditor.  In fact, IME, forgiveness is the last step before cutting ties with an abusive family member.  And this forgiveness need never be spoken aloud–certainly not to the abuser.

    Forgiveness is advisable when the cost to the creditor of carrying a debt that the debtor will never acknowledge becomes too much to bear.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As someone who is half Jewish (no, not religious, and it is my Dad, so not technically considered at all Jewish and yet…) I read about Israel. And it hurts to see a nation which is so psychologically messed up–and the Palestinians, also with psychological problems–I would like to see peace between them. Friendliness is so awesome, and forgiveness and change is also–but requires both sides to lay down their metaphorical swords and communicate with gentle words.

    I suspect that your vision is shared by a lot of Israelis and Palestinians.  However, the unfortunate thing is that all it takes is a small handful of people who stubbornly refuse to stop for one long standing grievance or another, and the whole area gets yanked back into conflict with them.  

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Forgiveness is advisable when the cost to the creditor of carrying a debt [...] becomes too much to bear.

    This.

  • SkyknightXi

     Given that the phrase dates from David, I think it’s bound up in the henotheistic understandings the Hebrews had before contact with the Persians. I get the feeling that the conceit of Mesopotamian peoples in general was that they existed EXPRESSLY so things would be easier for their cities’ respective gods. This is especially noticeable in the Enuma Elish, where Marduk creates humans simply because the Igigi or Anunnaki (I forget which) are whining about their tasks being too difficult. Answer: slave race. (I sometimes wonder if the bit about humans being made from the blood of Qingu, arguably the true villain of the Elish in that I think he was manipulating Abzu and Tiamat all to get the Tablets of Fate for himself, is supposed to explain human propensity for ignominy.)

    I think one could argue that the Sumerians and Babylonians themselves were ALSO henotheists. As I said, each city had its own god. Guess where your spiritual fealty ultimately went, if you didn’t want to be regarded a traitor? Just because you recognized multiple gods, didn’t mean you were allowed to regard them all with the same level of respect. Which one owns you and your labor, after all?

    I once got the feeling that Mesopotamian wars were interpreted as, in some measure, wars between the opponents’ respective gods; earthly politics just mirrored divine politics. Victory meant that the victors’ god had proven theirself superior to the losers’ god. The soldiers? Really just the gods’ armaments.

    Living so close to that culture, I doubt the Hebrews could avoid having some of it rub off. Like sheep for a shepherd, they would be succored from predators (and thieving gods) by Yhwh, but if he needed them to stampede some other upstart shepherd-god…

  • SergeantHeretic

    Yeah, I’ve known about that for years. The last time somene compared me to Mother Threasa I nearly decked the bastard. Then I reined in my temper and realized he didn’t know any better and was trying to pay me a compliment.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Yeah, I’ve known about that for years. The last time somene compared me to Mother Threasa I nearly decked the bastard. Then I reined in my temper and realized he didn’t know any better and was trying to pay me a compliment.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Fred is helping us here with his posts by rying to help both the uninitiated and the veteran of the White Christian Evangelical culture to UNDERSTAND the culture.

    But I think in a way, Freddo is too idealistic and forgiving for his own good sometimes. Too often he gives the benefit of the doubt to a culture that doesn’t deserve it.

    You see, Fred, this culture is a direct modern evolution of the pro-slavery, Christian dominionist racist culture that ruled the south before and during the American war between the states.

    When the Seccesion crisis boiled over into full on internecine war the Confederacy looked North and saw the enemy. The Union then and modern Liberalism today are the same enemy that the modern conservative racist religious rape ownership culture has been opposing for a century and a half.

    Fred, you have touched on this and even mentioned some of it, but in talking about the trees, I don’t think you’ve quite seen the forest.

    Listen to what these men decry, Rebelion secular education, liberalism, “Unruly women” “Unruly rebelious children” “Uppity” minorities and poor people. The “Lost casue” legend was alive and thriving before the bodies were cool after the battle of gettysburg and these same bastards have been trying to “Win” that same war ever since.

    Think about it.

    These people’s cultural and philisophical descendents are happy to see this country destroed rather than give a minute’s defference to “The uppity nigger” i nthe White HOuse. 

  • Amy

    Forgiveness.

    I know this is mostly off topic and I’m afraid it will get
    hugely long, but for some reason I feel like writing about it.  (Yeah, I know- start your own blog
    then!) :-)

     

    Some of what I was taught as a child (with plenty of
    scripture backing it all up):

    * Don’t forgive someone until they ask you to.  (So if they never do, I have to be hurt
    and angry for the rest of my life?)

    * Forgiving erases the offense as though it never
    happened.  Which means:

    - You’re not allowed to protect yourself from it happening
    again, if you did that would prove that you haven’t forgiven.  Prevent what- nothing happened.

    - There’s an instant restoration of trust.  (At least- you better act like there is.)

    - Once you tell someone they’re forgiven, you can never
    mention it again.  (So be sure you
    punish them first, if you’re in a position to do so.  Because you’re not allowed to later.)

    * If someone asks you to forgive them,  an immediate “Yes” is mandatory.  No is not an option.

    * Forgive and forget. 
    If you haven’t literally forgotten the offense, you’re a failure at
    forgiving.  God forgets, so you
    have to too.

    * If you don’t forgive people, God won’t forgive you.  (And if God doesn’t forgive you, you
    burn in hell forever and ever.)

    * I have to earn forgiveness from others, but I have to
    grant it freely with no stipulations.

    * The proper response to “I’m sorry” is “Oh, that’s
    okay.”  (Minimize the harm done, if
    not- you might hurt their feelings and that’s unacceptable.)

     

    You know, I don’t really care for those rules!  So for many, many years I just didn’t want to think about it!

    But about 12 years ago I worked through a Christ-focused 12
    step group (for abuse recovery and anger), dreading the ‘Make amends and Offer
    forgiveness’ part.  I did a TON of
    research on the topic of forgiveness, looking for a loophole!  What I found was basically- “You keep
    using that word.  I do not think it
    means what you think it means.”

     

    For one thing, there’s more than
    one dictionary definition for forgiveness, so which are we even talking about?

    1.    To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.

    2.    To renounce anger or resentment against.

    3.    To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example)

     

    To forgive a debt means that I no longer expect someone to
    pay back whatever it is that they owe me. 
    Since there’s no possible way for them to restore what they’ve taken anyway,
    I have nothing to lose going along with that one.

     

    To excuse or pardon… 
    I REALLY didn’t like this one at first, because I was still hung up on how
    it’s not fair, not being allowed to report a crime.  Eventually I realized that it’s two different things.  I vaguely remember a old quote from a newspaper re: how the church should respond to pedophile priests- Forgiveness
    for the Sin, and Justice for the Crime. 
    I realized that criminals are only ever pardoned after they’ve been
    convicted!  So let’s not skip over that
    part.

     

    Renouncing anger and resentment.  Basically, I’m free to stop dwelling on it.  I used to have a habit of going over it
    in my mind, the things I wished I’d had the guts to say to my parents back
    then.  It was part of my daily
    routine.  Not anymore.
    Still, it isn’t a one-time thing where you say the magic
    words and the hurt is all gone. 
    You can decide to forgive, but you still have to keep deciding again and
    again.  For me, it’s a lot like losing weight.  I made the decision
    to lose 50 pounds.  But I still have
    to make the right decisions every day for a long time for that to actually
    happen.

     

    I relinquish my right to get even.  I relinquish my anger. 
    I’ve heard it said that holding on to Resentment is like swallowing poison & waiting for the
    other person to die.  (It’s almost
    literally like swallowing poison, if you read about all of the health issues
    that are aggravated by it!)

    Forgiveness is something I do for MYSELF, not for them.  For my own mental and physical
    health.  Yes, I have the right to
    be miserable.  But it’s not a sign
    of great maturity to exercise that right! 
    I don’t want to live & die with a bitter heart!

    It will never be okay, what they did.  There’s no way to fix it.  But I’m not waiting around for them to
    decide to ask for forgiveness, that gives them WAY too much power over how I
    live my life, how I feel every day. 
    I want them to have less power over me, not more.

     

    As part of my 12-steps, I talked to my parents about the
    rape, the aftermath and how it affected me, for the first time since it
    happened (16 years before.)
    Mom said “if we could do things over we would do things
    differently”.  Dad mentioned one specific instance of overly-harsh punishment from my childhood (previous and
    unrelated to this) and said “That was my one mistake raising you”.   Okay, I admit, it, that stung.  He doesn’t want or need my forgiveness.  (Still doesn’t, after another 12
    years.)

     
    I have a decent, albeit superficial relationship with my
    Mom.  She treats me like a real
    person now so I don’t see what good there is in rehashing the past.  We’re friendly, there are just a lot of
    subjects we don’t discuss.

    Dad I am civil with because I can’t cut him out of my life
    without losing contact with my whole family.  We talk about twice a year.  For my mom’s sake I don’t make him angry.   (I live far away, so he takes it
    out on the people I love instead.) At this point, I don’t expect him to ever change.  I don’t expect anything from him at all.  It’s not the way I would
    choose for life to be, but- we don’t always get what we want.

     

    Ask me again in another 12 years, who knows, I might feel
    completely different.

    That’s my story. 
    If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
     

  • Amy

    Another off-topic question: Sometimes my posts look different after I hit “post”, weird spaces and line breaks get added.  I’m on a Mac,  does that have anything to do with it?  If anyone know how to fit it please let me know!
    thanks!

  • EllieMurasaki

    Traditional response around here: Blame Disqus.

  • Madhabmatics

    I know this is about Theresa, but this post reminded me of all the people who try to argue that John Brown was insane based on the fact that he was a white dude who dared kill slave-owners.

  • AnonymousSam

    There are some components of Christianity which I don’t think apply as read from scripture. Forgiveness is one of them. I like to think that it’s not that we owe forgiveness to those who wronged us; instead, I think it’s a matter of being capable of letting go of your own hurt and anger when it no longer benefits you. Rather than forgiveness being something you grant a person, it makes more sense to me that forgiveness be something you grant yourself when and if the time comes.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Use “paste and match style” – cmd-shift-opt-V on a Mac. Disqus flakes if you paste in anything but plain text.

  • Amy

     Thank you!

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Wow, that’s horrific.  I’m glad you’re getting out of it, though.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Hmmm… No.

    I’ll just castigate the nationalists EVEN HARDER, to keep it even, OK?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     GAHWHATTHEFUCKWASWRONGWITHYOURPARENTSI’m so sorry and glad you survived.

  • SergeantHeretic

    Consumer Unit 5012, I hate to break it to you mister, but the nationalists don’t write books about the most effective waysto beat the hell out of children!

    The secular nationalist aren’t the ones that keep getting in hot water for RAPING women and children and then trying to COVER IT UP!

    The Secular Nationalist aren’t the ones creating brutal conspiransies of silence against the victims of child sexual abuse, rabe, emotional abuse and who knows what else.

    So just you watch who your scolding mister. We’ve had quite enough of so-called fair minded people bending over backwards to blame the victim and make exuses for abusers.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     I like the Church of the SubGenius’ take on that:  “Forgive them first, then kill them.”

    (Not literally, I hasten to add.)

  • SergeantHeretic

    Amy, I wish I could be like you but I don’t know how.

    My father literally drove me crazy, clininacly crazy. because of him when I hit the real world I was a nut. literally insane as in a danger to myself and others!

    I don’t have any idea how to forgive that. I guess my point is, Amy that you are a hell of a lot better woman than I am and probably a lot heathier too. My hat’s off to you.

  • Wingedwyrm

    Regarding Forgiveness.

    I do not believe that releasing myself from the burden of seeking justice or seeking remorse from those that have hurt me means releasting them from the burden of having hurt someone.

    I have a life.  I have to live it.  And, I am no longer in the position of being forced to stay in the company of people who harass me.  So, I am no longer bound to let this be a defining aspect of my life.  But, that does not mean that I am bound to say unto the harassers or those who had the responsibility to act but did not that “your debt is gone.”  Rather, I say “Your debt remains but I do not have the inclination to spend energy attempting to extract your debt from you.”

    Forgiveness is, in essence, a mercy practiced upon those that wrong you.  When it comes to bullying in any form, whether it’s children bullying children, parents abusing children, adults abusing adults, etc, creates a moment, a single moment in which the victim may recieve mercy.  When some kid was harassing me, mercy could have come to me in the form of teachers or peers stepping in, in the form of the bully ceasing the bullying, or in the form of me defeinding myself.  But, that moment is the only opportunity that incident provides.

    Yet, for those that make a victim of others, the opportunity to recieve mercy, created by hurting someone, extends unto the end of their days or unto eternity if there is an afterlife.  The forms of mercy are multitude.  They go “Oh, you were just a child” or “that is in the past” or “I’ve changed, now.”  And, that mercy is practiced by nigh the whole of society, particularly when society does not feel itself the victim.

    Saying that I have to release this debt in order to release myself says that, in order to practice a small mercy upon myself, I have to become a part of the infinite and infinitely cheap mercy given unto my abusers and their enablers.

    And, I say this in the full knowledge that the abuses I have suffered pail in comparison to others present.  If those that have recieved greater abuse have decided to practice this mercy, then that is your choice and I wish you well, but that is not the choice I make.

  • Fusina

     I am fifty, and I am getting there. My abuser was my Mum. When I was 43, I was pretty much where you are now. Turning 50 was a big help there–somehow, being half a century old kind of made me feel like I could take on the world and possibly win. Also, I have become less willing to put up with crap from the people who gave it me all my life.

    For me, one of the turning points was realizing that it is a privilege for other people to be in my life, and if they don’t treat me well, I don’t have to let them in. That I am allowed to hang a “No Admittance” sign on my life to anyone I want to.

  • Fusina

    That is possibly the best sermon on forgiveness I have ever read. I hope you don’t mind, but I saved in in a file so I can reread it every so often.
     

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Here is the Dobson “show your son your penis” article.  (Note: it’s not Dobson being quoted here–it’s some guy.  Some horrible guy.)

    He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.

    Well, yes, one would hope that it would be bigger.

    btw, I don’t think the article is available at Focus on Your Own Damn Family anymore–but the eeevil secular blogosphere has managed to save it.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1751579/posts

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    And speaking of focusing on your own damn family, here is a heartwarming article about the first “confrontation of wills” between Dobson’s wife and daughter, when Dobson’s wife asserted her loving parental courage and reduced a nine-month-old baby to tears because she (the baby) wanted to crawl into the kitchen.

    http://drjamesdobson.org/Solid-Answers/Answers?a=b11a7d5f-12de-43df-8aa0-5f2a814b33aa

  • Hilary

    Fusina, my slacktivist friend, you are not required to agree with a damn thing if it doesn’t suit you.  As for the Pharisees/sages/rabbis of the Pirke Avot, when they were trying to put back together the shattered remains of what was left from losing two wars against Rome, they came to an understanding.  They would enforce orthopraxy, right behavior, but not orthodoxy, right belief.  Or at least the balance would strongly be toward communal behavioral norms, with a decent allowence for difference of opinion and belief.  Because like hell they could all agree with each other, but there needed to be community standards to survive with any cultural coherence. Hillel and Shammai couldn’t agree on the time of day, however both their opinions were recorded and by majority rule went with Hillel’s ways for practical use.

    So no, you don’t have to agree with every conclusion those guys came to.  You’re of Jewish decent, so that allows you more then one opinion on anything related to the Torah or Talmud.  Or anything else that takes your brain for a walk in meandering circles. 

    And I guess my update on Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation wasn’t as off topic after all.  Considering the direction this thread has gone, how to or even whether or not to forgive terrible things, it wasn’t so far off.  I will not speak on another person’s story or pain, but I think for myself, forgiving someone for acting in fear is important, and particularly for Israel/Palestine where there is so much fear and trauma behind the hate.

    Amy, that was wonderful to read what you wrote.  Thank you.

  • Hilary

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUkBg1X4CFw

    A Healing in this night.

    Great song – please listen, enjoy, have a tissue on hand.

    Part of the lyrics:

    A Healing in This Night

    There are hearts to hold you when you’ve done your bestFor the love you leave within their livesAnd there are friends to hear if you should cryTo pray if you should dieAnd there are songs that sing us all There’s a pain here that slowly slips awayThere’s a love here that’s leading us from darkness into dayThere are stars here that fade against the lightThey fall but it’s all rightThere is a healing in this night


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