Don’t Shut Up, Your Voice Matters

11 Feb

Well Friends, I have been dumbfounded. I haven’t been sure what to write about lately because there is just so much sad news, I can hardly bear to write about it. When you grow up with oppression and live in fear of a belt and are refused an education, your hope turns to the government and church—people who try to make laws to protect you.  But when your church and government rise toward authoritarianism it can really bring on your CPTSD. These days we all need to keep a paper bag nearby to breathe into or puke into–depending on the news du jour.

It’s even sadder to realize our own social media feeds probably contributed to the election of the lowest life form to ever enter the White House. The more intelligent people who voted for him are now beginning to realize he is not keeping his promise to drain the swamp, but selling it off to vipers through the highest bidders.

So what can we do when women are bullied and belittled as sex toys and not allowed to speak of the truth of racism in congress? We will persist and make our voices heard.

What can we do when other-abled people are made fun of and bullied by the powers that be? We can educate and stand up against bullying–and I’m not talking about protecting one spoiled millionaire’s child, I am talking about the brown kids, the fat kids and the gay kids down the block and most women reporters.

What can we do when a mother is separated from her children by an invisible wall that ultimately threatens their very existence? We can educate and offer empathy to those who are worried this will happen to their own families.

What can we say when the government keeps lying and putting out alternative facts which are basically lies? We can pull out the videos of these lies and educate the public.

What can we do when racists and people who do not support the separation of church and state are able to buy their own seats in the cabinet of our land? We can pray and educate and write and call our congress men and women.

It’s hard to speak up and let our voices be heard when our Christian brothers and sisters disagree. I don’t have all the answers, but I recently came across a paper outlining the history of the Seventh day Adventist denomination in Nazi Germany. It was the most incriminating article I have ever read about the church I was born into and raised in. You can read it here. We cannot ignore our history, because history often repeats itself and there are many today who deny the holocaust ever happened. So here are a few  voices to remind us of history.

“I remember: it happened yesterday or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.

“I remember: he asked his father: ‘Can this be true?’ This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?

“And now the boy is turning to me: ‘Tell me,’ he asks. ‘What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?’

“And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.

“And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must–at that moment–become the center of the universe.” -Elie Wiesel

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“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

“Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

These words come from a Protestant pastor who spend the last seven years of the Nazi rule in a concentration camp:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–
And there was no one left to speak for me.”

-Martin Niemöller

What can we do when other Christians insist we should be quiet? We can point out how the religious right is not very spiritual and not very right. It’s not enough to have a flag on your profile and post KJV Bible quotes at random. These things do NOT make a Christian. This war we are fighting comes from the kingdom of darkness—

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is NOT a war where we should post inflammatory memes or spew hate toward those who think differently than we do. Save your breath for breathing and breathe out love. Only love can heal the world.

Love does not boast,
Love is not proud.

Love does not dishonor others,
Love is not self-seeking,
Love is not easily angered,
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil,
Love rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects,
Love always trusts,
Love always hopes,
Love always perseveres.
-1 Corinthians 13

By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
-Jesus

Love speaks the truth—whether your friends understand or your pastor agrees or your teacher cares. Just ask Viktor Frankl, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Niemöller, Maya Angelou, and Jesus. If we have learned anything from the past, it’s that we all need each other and all of our stories matter.

maya-storm-quote

Persistence and Resistance

14 Feb

We will not be silent
We won’t turn away
We won’t believe lies
We’ll check what they say

When people hate others
We’ll take on the risk
And refuse to be silent
And with love, we’ll resist

 

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We’ll march with Lady Liberty
As she fights the insanity
Of misogyny and bigotry
We’ll rise up with humanity.

Rise up patriots
Protect the laws of the land
Rise up Christians
And lend a helping hand

Do justly, love mercy
Walk humbly with God
With love and truth, we can win
Let’s make America kind again!

Love–not hate, is what makes America great!

Don’t Let the Narc Mess With Your Heart

14 Feb

Think about all the lies, the put downs and the gaslighting.

All the times you tried to explain your heart
to someone who was committed to misunderstanding it.

All the times your empathetic heart was used by the Narcissist,
who said it was your own fault.

All the times the Narcissist stepped on your heart,
then said you were too sensitive.

All the times you were told to ignore your heart,
and sit down and shut up and put up.

Think about the beatings your heart has gone through.
Think about all the times you ignored your heart—
because of the Narcissist.

There was a time when your heart said, “Speak the truth,”
but the Narcissist said, “Shut up.”

There was a time when your heart said, “Watch out,”
but the Narcissist said, “Don’t worry.”

There was a time when your heart said, “This is a lie,”
but the Narcissist said, “Trust me.”

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There was a time when your heart said, “Remember,”
but the Narcissist said, “Forget.”

There was a time when your heart said, “I’m worth it,”
but the Narcissist said, “You’re not worth it.”

The truth is you ARE worth it–

You are worth speaking your truth,
You are worth explaining your fears,
You are worth remembering your pain,
You are worth sharing your heart
And you are worth having a relationship with someone
who treats you with respect and honesty.

It’s way past time friend, to listen to your heart.

Things That Matter

13 Feb

My last blog seems to have struck a nerve. People keep writing to tell me that God has a plan and this new administration is okay because Ben Carson is helping the powers that be. And most important—I should be careful what I say about this because it might mislead other people. If I am misleading other people into loving their Muslim, gay or brown skinned neighbors, then my job is done and I can finally drop the mic, but it hasn’t happened yet.

When I hear people use the simplistic platitude, “God has a plan” and ascribe God to the reason for anyone being in power, I can’t agree. This sounds like Calvinistic thinking and I do not ascribe to predestination. When they say God sets up kings, how do they account for all the wars since the dawn of history? Has God just played a giant game of chess with all of us? The God I know is much more loving than to merely use people as his pawns. It’s true God allows kings, but I don’t believe He designates evil and corrupt rulers. Even Saul in the Bible was not God’s original plan, but God gave the people what they wanted. In this election, when we review the rise of authoritarianism, we can see how once again, God has given the people what they wanted.

While I believe God is ultimately in control of the outcome of this horrible sin experiment, there are millions of things that have happened and which are happening right now that I would hate to ascribe to God from Hitler’s murdering six million Jews, to millions of abortions, to millions of rapes, to millions of children starving and of course the millions killed in wars of every form.

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I mention Carson by name because I believe he is well-meaning–although possibly misguided. Ben was once a hero of mine. He has always seemed like a soft spoken, kind man and I have no reason to think he’s changed. What removed him from hero status in my eyes was his choice to run for president. After reading the Myth of the Christian Nation a few years ago, I began to realize no politician is going to be able to fix our nation’s problems. I’ve also read other inspired writings which discouraged me from focusing on any government of this world.

That said, I had literally no interest to write about politics until this current administration headed toward winning the election. I watched this video on the rise of Authoritarianism and later discovered how the marketing for this campaign was drawn from our social media posts—allowing different people to hear whatever they wanted from this candidate. This is not a conspiracy theory, it is our current reality and the very same technique swung the Brexit vote in Britain.

I am not under the impression that any US president has been spotless–however none has shown such contempt and disrespect across the board for people of color, women, other-abled people and the press. No one else has lied so blatantly and brought such obvious racists into their cabinet. And the separation of church and state is now becoming an issue. This administration is not bringing the nation together but dividing it and the rest of the educated world is watching in horror at what is happening while American Christians are high fiving each other and throwing parties.

Many seem to feel if Ben Carson approves of this administration, then it’s okay, but has God given Ben to do our thinking for us? I had forgotten Ben Carson is a member of this cabinet when I said they are filling the swamp with vipers. The truth is Ben did not come to mind, but despite his noble bearing and plans to do good (and who am I to say he can’t do some good?) it will take much more than one well intentioned man to alleviate the damage. My fear is Carson was the Trojan horse which made a lot of Christians imagine this is a Christian administration when in fact it goes against nearly everything Jesus lived and taught.

Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and the author of numerous books of European history. Allow me to repost from an interview with him:

“I can only say that Mr. Trump’s inaugural address was extremely ideological. During the campaign he used the slogan “America First” and then was informed that this was the name of a movement that tried to prevent the United States from fighting Nazi Germany and was associated with nativists and white supremacists. He claimed then not to have known that.  But in the inaugural address he made “America First” his central them, and now he can’t say that he doesn’t know what it means. And of course Bannon knows what it means. America First is precisely the conjuration of this alternative America of the 1930s where Charles Lindbergh is the hero. This inaugural address reeked of the 1930s.”

When Bannon calls himself a “Leninist”, do Americans know what is he talking about?

“No, they usually have no idea. It is a good question. Americans have this idea that comes from Jefferson and the American Revolution that you have to rebel every so often. And they sometimes don’t make the distinction between a rebellion against injustice and the extinction of the whole political system, which is what Bannon says that he is after. The American Revolution actually preserved ideas from Britain: the rule of law being the most important.  The whole justification of the American Revolution was that the British were not living up to their own principles, were not including Americans in their own system.  In a broad way that that was also the argument of the civil rights movement: the system fails itself when it does not extend equal rights to all citizens.  So there can be resistance and even revolution which is about meeting standards rather than about simple destruction. What Bannon says correctly about the Bolsheviks was that they aimed to completely destroy an old regime.  We can slip from one to the other very easily, from rebelliousness to a complete negation of the system.  Most Americans had a rule of law state for most of their lives, African Americans are an exception, and so most Americans think this will be there forever.  They don’t get that a “disruption” can actually destroy much of what they take for granted.  They have no notion what it means to destroy the state and how their lives would look like if the rule of law would no longer exist. I find it frightening that people who talk about the destruction of the American state are now in charge of the American state.”

On Facebook there are a lot of countdowns: 3 years, 11 months, 1 week until President Trump’s first term is over. How is your mood, do you see hope? 

“The marches were very encouraging. These were quite possibly the largest demonstrations in the history of the US, just in sheer numbers on one single day. That sort of initiative has to continue.  The constitution is worth saving, the rule of law is worth saving, democracy is worth saving, but these things can and will be lost if everyone waits around for someone else. If we want encouragement out of the Oval Office, we will not get it. We are not getting encouragement thus far from Republicans. They have good reasons to defend the republic but thus far they are not doing so, with a few exceptions.  You want to end on a positive note, I know; but I think things have tightened up very fast, we have at most a year to defend the Republic, perhaps less.  What happens in the next few weeks is very important.”

Not all Christians support the current administration. Many are appalled and looking for ways to stop this from happening. Someone just sent me this message:

“I think that if one can support a narcissist, misogynist, racist, bigot, sexist, controlling dictator like the current president, one has lost the overall goal of what the USA is all about, AND what God and Christianity is all about. I have never been into politics much–but this one is over the top disconcerting.”

The time has come for each of us to do our own thinking rather than follow any leader–unless they are aligned with the message and lifestyle of Jesus. The Religious Right has made Christianity a joke through their corrupt choices. Preserving life in the womb alone does not excuse the violations of freedom and dignity that are the inalienable rights of every citizen–we should have these rights over all other freedoms.

This current administration is doing all they can to tear down the United States as we know it. It’s time to join the resistance friends! It’s up to each of us to speak up and speak out. We are not speaking against the constitution, we are speaking against those who have designs to change it and our way of life forever. Be strong and of courage!

Do You Hear the People Sing?

27 Jan

You know that scene in the Sound of Music where Count Von Trapp sings Edelweiss? It’s always been my favorite, but I love what he says right before he sings it.

“I shall not be seeing you again–perhaps for a very long time, I would like to sing for you now, a love song, I know you share this love, I pray that you will never let it die!”

I’ve found myself humming several songs lately as we see the new president changing the landscape of the United States and tearing apart the values of the country I love. In the past, I’ve had very little to say about politics because I read Greg Boyd’s Myth of the Christian Nation a few years ago and I firmly believe the Kingdom of Jesus stands in stark contrast to all the kingdoms of this world.

Often it didn’t seem to make a huge difference which party won, most of us figured the pendulum would swing back in the other direction in a few years, but now in one week, we have seen the handwriting on the wall for a new era and it isn’t cozy or compassionate—nor does it seem to be similar to any of the presidents we have had since I was old enough to vote.

So why have I suddenly written about politics and against the current establishment? It’s a combination of my love for my country–what it has stood for in the past and due to reading dozens of books about narcissism and sociopathic behavior. No one can diagnose a person from afar, but like Maya Angelou’s words keep echoing in my head:

“When people show you who they are–
believe them the first time.”

For starters all you have to do is watch a few interviews with the new president talking about himself. If one of your neighbors or church members talked like this, would you want to spend much time with him? Not me.

Apparently many people share my concern. The Women’s March brought out unprecedented numbers in every major city around the world. People are recognizing the threat to the environment, vulnerable refugees, women’s rights, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and the concerns that authoritarianism is on the rise and has contributed to his winning the election—possibly leading us to a fascist state.

Many people don’t want to believe this could happen in America, but it’s now a very real possibility–especially when you see how this new leader and his allies are more concerned about shutting up the media than allowing them to be the watchdog on the White House steps. And this includes Trump’s liesdon’t let people lie to you–especially not the president.

Along with concerns about the mental health of our new president, I am really puzzled why so many Christians are still supporting him. Most of my friends who voted for him are silent. If you voted for him because you thought he could make things better, that’s understandable, but when you see what he had done in his first week in office surely you are waking up a little, right?

If you still stand by him while he tears our country apart, then I will assume you are white and not in danger of being shot at a traffic stop. I will assume you are rich enough to have all the health care and resources you need. I will assume you have no interest in protecting the environment while the national parks truth-telling tweets are suspended to soothe this man’s ego. If you continue to support him, I must assume you don’t care about freedom of religion or freedom of the press and I will wonder if you are a true American.

Even Christian women from my own denomination who support equality, have put down the women and men who marched by saying, “How vulgar of them to wear “pussy” hats and call themselves “nasty women?” And yet, these terms came from our new president’s own mouth and people merely turned them around to make a statement. Just allow me remind you this represents his true character.  It seems hypocritical to have a problem with a woman speaking and standing up against the vulgarities and human rights abuses of the new president while you still support him.

In one week, the new president seems to be working to destroy our democracy as we know it and threatens many of the things we love about America—freedom of the press, freedom for our National Parks to educate about climate change, experienced national security, slamming doors on refugees who are desperately needing a home–and most of this was traded off in exchange for Christian votes to protect fetuses, in order to gain an administration which ignores the children already alive in this world who need healthcare or a country to live in because theirs was blown up.

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I’m not the first to be concerned. The lack of support from some in his own party and former presidents shows that others see it too. Whether the top state department leaders resigned or were fired is really not the issue. These people were helping to keep our country and the world safe and now they have been replaced by the alternate men and the alternate president in charge of security council–a man unsafe and alt right with racism and alternate facts. Trump’s administration is hijacking our country–why are so many so-called Christians blind and silent while this is happening?

Apparently the keepers of the doomsday clock are awake because they just moved the clock forward due to this reckless administration. What will it take to wake up many who claim to be Christians? Here’s clue: nationalism and authentic Christianity make strange bed partners.

So no, I cannot be silent and if you are awake, you shouldn’t be quiet either. Jesus taught us to focus on his kingdom, but he also taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and to pray in sincerity, we must do our part to make it happen on our watch.

Like Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“Our lives begin to end the day
we become silent about things that matter.”

We must speak up. We need to support life in all forms and that includes refugees and people who don’t look like us. We need to support freedom in all forms and that especially means the freedom of religion and freedom of the press. We need to acknowledge that all people are equal. As Christ followers, we will treat others as we would like to be treated and we will do all we can to keep freedom ringing in our beloved country.

Someday our voices may be no more, so let us rise up to write our stories and tell the truth so someone who follows after us and sifts through the rubble will realize we were not all like Trump and Bannon, but more like Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten BoomMartin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Viktor FranklJimmy Carter and yes, even Barack Obama. No matter what party you used to be for, the United States is no longer what it used to be–that changed when Trump took the presidency. Let us join the resistance. Let us show the world that love trumps hate.

Another song comes to mind as I read the feeds on social media. It comes from one of my favorite musicals–Les Miserables. I first read the book in college and was blown away by the redemption in this story. But before the restoration, there comes the battle between the evil of control and coercion, this could be where we are heading in America. I sure hope not, but sadly we are seeing many things pointing this direction.

The women’s march, the science march, the outrage over the refugee blocking statement, the solidarity of people of all colors and backgrounds seem to be chanting the same tune. The people are singing. We will either will join them or curse them–depending on where we stand with God in our own hearts.

“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord
We will walk behind the plough-share
We will put away the sword
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward!”*

“Remember the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of God.”
-Victor Hugo

Perhaps if we all took this seriously, we would see God more clearly–even now.

*Song Writers: Jean Marc Natel, Alain Albert Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, Claude Michel Schonberg

Women’s March of Freedom

25 Jan

Five million women marched in unprecedented numbers all around the world during the Women’s March. It was the largest Women’s March ever, but a few Christian women claimed they have all they need and criticized those who marched and supported it.

Some of them shared a copied status floating through social media claiming they were in charge of their lives and they could do whatever they want. There was so much wrong with that post I can only hope the person who originally wrote is getting therapy and I feel sad for the hundreds who mindlessly copied it without thinking it through.

The reposted status basically called those who marched victims, but the only way former victims can become survivors is to speak the truth, so marching with a sign is a very healthy way to process and reclaim their power.

One of the more stupid things this post said was, “Quit blaming. Take responsibility.” There is a vast difference between complaining and addressing an issue. By joining the march, women were taking responsibility. They were networking and forming alliances to better carry out their mission for the future.

This post also listed atrocities around the world where women are mutilated and attacked and used for sex and ended by saying: “So when women get together in AMERICA and whine they don’t have equal rights and march in their clean clothes, after eating a hearty breakfast, and it’s like a vacation away that they have paid for to get there…This WOMAN does not support it!”

I’m sorry for the simple minded who re-posted this status without thinking. It was an egocentric rant and it shows a lack of empathy for women around the world. I can tell you something about the woman who wrote that status and why she missed the reasons women were marching in the first place–she is blind to the pain around her. She is so self-absorbed she doesn’t care about the new intern at the office who’s been puking in the bathroom because her boss is making the moves on her. She is an unsafe person and will join in victim-blaming if she is given the chance.

This march was to raise awareness for many women’s issues—both in America and around the world. The women who marched are empathetic enough to realize not everyone has it as good as they do and they are looking for ways to make a difference.

The only person who criticizes someone else for marching for human rights is someone not in touch with the pain of society all around her. So if you didn’t march and you didn’t support the march, just sit down, shut up and go back to your miserable, self-consumed life. Meanwhile the rest of us will be looking for ways to make a difference in this world for your daughter–who will be needing a therapist–because you are so narcissistic, you inflict pain instead of relieving it.

Sorry for the harsh words friends, but it needs to be said. Many have confused the democratic agenda with the march for human rights. Yes, there were many Hillary and Bernie supporters marching, but no matter who won the presidency, women’s marches will continue. What made this march so popular and why people turned out in record millions is because we have a narcissist in the White House.

There I said it. You don’t have to like me. You can even unfriend me, but I don’t think that will change our situation. People came out to march for human rights because they perceive the most powerful position on earth has been filled by a man who is a threat to human rights. And this not only affects Americans, but people all around the world.

There has been talk of removing the United States from the United Nations. This will be a huge loss to human rights everywhere. And if you think this is a conspiracy theory, consider how the National Parks twitter was threatened because the new president doesn’t approve of their tweets. This president has no respect for freedom of the press and doesn’t care about the parks or the people. You don’t have to agree right now, just mark my words, we have only seen the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.

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A pastor posted the Bible verse that inspired this art:

The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng: kings and armies flee in haste; the women at home divide the plunder.
-Psalm 66:11

So what does the Lord announce that the women proclaim as a mighty throng?

Freedom for all!

God’s government is based on freedom. If we didn’t have freedom, we’d all be robots. Every conflict and war on this earth is someone trying to take away someone else’s freedom.  We can either join with God’s enemy and try to control people by taking away their freedom, or we can join God in extending it to every human on earth.

These women–whether witches or pagans or rocks stars with filthy mouths or victims learning to find their voices or humanitarians like Mother Teresa and Maya Angelou, were marching for freedom. Some were Christians joining them in spirit or on foot. Regardless of their personal beliefs they understand empathy and the need for freedom.

Some of the people most against the Women’s March would be the first to quote from the American Declaration of Independence, so let’s go there:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Apparently, they see these words as pertaining to men, but not women. Women might be allowed some of these things, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the men in their lives. Those words were penned for all of us.

The Lord God announced the word of freedom, first by creating all people to be free moral agents, then Jesus himself came to show is the only way to find freedom is by living out the golden rule of treating others in a way we would like to be treated.

Freedom, much like the American Declaration of Independence states, is our God-given right. Not just for the millionaires and celebrities and politicians, freedom is granted to everyone in God’s kingdom—even to those who don’t believe in God and those who break his laws. Without freedom, we’ve got nothing. No human rights, no relationships and no love.

If we look at all the reasons women marched, we see freedom is the answer in every case. The details may vary and what one woman marched for in Paris, might seem different from what a woman in Africa or Tokyo marched for, but the bottom line is the same–they were all marching for human rights and human rights equals freedom.

The Lord announces the word freedom, the women have proclaimed it in a mighty throng. And I don’t believe this is an isolated incident. Ezer Kenegdo is rising. Women are rising up to proclaim the basic God-given right of freedom.

This woman seems to speak for many women’s hearts:

“I marched for my son, because I want a world for him to grow in that has not normalized hate and disrespect.

I marched for my sisters, nieces, cousins and all the young girls on the verge of womanhood to show them sexism, narcissism, and misogyny won’t stand.

I marched for the young daughter of a friend who has faced herculean health issues to show her health care is a right and that people deserve to get help no matter their economic background, sex, or predisposition.

I marched for my gay friends, because no loving couple should ever live in fear their loved ones will be torn from their marriage because of fits of homophobia and prejudice.

I marched for my husband, a journalist, in a time where freedom of speech is endangered, fake news helped foment a fallacy of belief, and post-truth has become a reality.

I marched for the young adopted son of a friend, because no child should ever be terrified that he will be sent away because of the hateful rhetoric of a wall to divide this country.

I marched for my Muslim friends, because a difference in religion does not mean a difference in humanity.

I marched for my African-American friends, because no one should die at the hands of unchecked authority.

I marched because I am a child of immigrants, proud of my heritage, and understand we are a country founded on immigration and blessed with a melting pot of divergent history.

I marched for my police and fire family and friends because the drive to protect and serve believed by the majority of them should not be poisoned by the racism and fear mongering spewed by a few.

I marched because women’s rights, to our bodies, to our sexuality, to our intellect, to our future, are equal rights.

I marched because while we have come so far, we have so very far to go.

I marched because silence is acceptance.

And as I marched, I carried you with me.”

-Sue*

As an American, I absolutely hope God blesses America, but I also pray God blesses everyone on earth.

March on Women!

Rise up Ezer Kenegdos!

Let freedom ring!

*From blog by  John  Pavlovitz

Go Women, Go Sisters! March, March, March!

21 Jan

No matter what happens
We won’t take a lie
But when others go low,
We will go high.

Go women, go sisters,
March, march, march
Go women, go sisters
Rise, rise, rise.

Rise Ezer Kenegdos
Rise women of strength
Rise women of color
Walk every length.

Go women, go sisters,
March, march, march
Go women, go sisters
Rise, rise rise.

ezer-kenegdo-rising-1000

Ezer Kenegdo Still Rising

19 Jan

The situation of women’s rights is coming to a head. It’s time to stand up for women everywhere. As we say goodbye to a president who affirms and supports strong women, we are now going to be under a man who uses women. It appears the crowds for the Women’s March will far out number the inauguration. This is an indicator that men will not always have the last word about women. I am proud for all of my sisters who are marching.

This brings me to spiritual women’s issue at hand. The Seventh-day Adventist General Conference President (the church I grew up in and feel ashamed of since Wilson took over as president) summoned the North American Division to discuss what some believe is the GC President’s way of seeking to punish some for ordaining women.

Punishing people for treating women with equality should never be an issue in God’s church, my friends. Never. I will say it again because it’s true. The subjugation of women, the mistreatments of women, the unfair promotional track for women is sometimes expected in the world, but this should never be the case in a church which claims to represent God’s character.

If you have a disagreement about Women’s Rights, please don’t take it up with me—I’ve heard all the stale arguments against it that don’t hold water. Take it up with Jesus. Fortunately we are under the headship of one man–Jesus. There is ample evidence in the gospels of how Jesus treats women. If our leaders claim to be Christian and do not reflect this mindset, we can be sure they have gone off course.

Ezer Kenegdo Rising, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/493033330/ezer-kenegdo-rising-print-boho-home?ref=shop_home_active_1

Prints Available in Etsy Shop

So women all around our country and world are waiting, praying and marching. There are many Adventist women marching this weekend.  They are doing this on the Sabbath and they are more concerned about the Spirit of the Sabbath than they are about the legal ramifications of breaking a holy day. In the words of Jesus paraphrased by me: “Woman was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for Woman.”

Where do we get such gall? God said let us make humankind our image. Eve was made in the image of God just as much as Adam.  Not only was she made in God’s image, she was made from Adam’s rib which gave her equality as in Adam’s own words flesh of his flesh.

While some say man should have headship over women because he was created first and had more time with God. But God put Adam to sleep while he created Eve, so Eve had her own thing going on with God before she met Adam. This is a reminder to all of us women that we do not need a man to be our priest, we can go directly to our heavenly Father and Jesus.

Woman is meant to be part of Man, but she is the feminine image of God. Many scholars like to remind us that Woman was made as the crowning act of creation. All of creation gets better and better each day. Eve was the climax. And when we say Eve was the climax, we are not putting down men, we are simply stating God’s natural order of creation according the Genesis poem.

What is even more important than the creation order is the name God gave for Eve. Many times the name given to Eve by God Ezer Kenegdo (Gen 2:18) is mis-translated “help mate” as if she was only there to carry his water bucket or cook dinner for him. This false assumption has led to the subjugation and abuse of women for centuries. I have copied someone else’s words because I am not a scholar:

“The original text does not denote a subordinate helper or assistant. It is most often God Himself who is called ēzer (“helper”) (Exod 18:4; Deut 33:7, 26; Ps 33:20; 70:5; 115:9, 10, 11). The phrase ēzerk’negdô in Gen 2 means no less than an equal counterpart, a “partner” (Gen 2:18, 22 NEB) (see Jacques Doukhan, The Genesis Creation Story [Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1978], 46-47). Adam does not name Eve till after the Fall (Gen 3:20).”

There are some who say we should not opt for women to be treated equally but keep this as an administrative issue and allow conferences around the world to continue subjugating women wherever it is a matter of culture, but does this represent the true character of the God we serve? I think not.

Within the churches, across our country and around the world, women as Ezer Kenegdos are still rising. They are rising to take the original place God gave Women and intended for them to have all along. We know we are wrestling in this broken world, but it would be nice if we didn’t have to wrestle within the church.

In the long run, it won’t really matter what either of the current presidents think–no matter how dysfunctional they are–whether leading the country or the church, Jesus will ultimately have the last word. And we can rest assured Jesus is a God who loves women, who always treats them with respect.

Love is Resistance

19 Jan

Most of us who have studied narcissism and dealt with it in our families see lots of red flags in our new president’s character. So how can we as citizens of God’s kingdom make a difference? We might not approve of the choices of the president, but we don’t have to contribute to fear, we can find subversive ways to bring hope and love to the people around us. Sometimes love is resistance.

At this point it doesn’t matter who any of us voted for. I say this–not because I think this man will be a better president than Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but because whoever we voted for it is now a moot point and thinking about this will only tempt us into arguments and living in the past.

In this present moment well over half of the Americans who voted are disappointed and many are afraid. People are worried about losing their healthcare, their jobs and in some cases, even their lives. We can’t fix all these issues, but what we can do is walk alongside those who are marginalized and hurting.

We have several choices–we can sit paralyzed with despair and act helpless, we can choose to be indifferent and sit on the sidelines, we can choose to sit in self-righteousness over whether we voted for the right candidate, or we can forget about self and embrace the hurting in our communities with empathy. Our highest calling is to encourage the hurting around us and roll up our sleeves to include those who might be excluded. We have an opportunity to extend kindness, love and grace to our neighbors, friends and coworkers.

There are many things we can do to encourage the people around us.

  • We can march with women this Saturday (you don’t have to go to Washington, you can even organize your own march.)
  • We can practice good self-care, regardless of what is going on at the capitol, joy and peace come from nurturing ourselves and others.
  • We can go to places we might not normally go and listen to people who are not like us.
  • We can speak up when we see injustice happening.
  • We can let our voices be heard even before things happen.
  • Whether our friends voted or see things the way we do or not, we can always be kind.
  • We can share our gifts with others whether those gifts are music or baking cookies or writing a blog or book or giving a massage.
  • We can just be there for all people we know and let them know they matter.

heart-cookies-with-words

My subversive political act for the day is sharing cookies. I’m not saying my cookies will change anything in the political world, but it’s my way to reach out and add some joy and kindness in the world. Sharing cookies is not about food as much as it is letting people know they are valued and not alone. These cookies are going to the hospital where my husband works just to spread some cheer on a rainy January day.

I’ve been thinking about how Jesus shared food while He was on earth. He broke bread not just at Passover, but every meal he ate with others. And many of those others were outcasts of society or damaged, fear-filled citizens of a brutal Roman kingdom. Jesus didn’t fix their laws, but He came to let all of us know we are all of value. He also told us not to worry about tomorrow, because today has enough trouble of its own.

So no matter who we voted for, no matter what we have to give, the most important thing we can do right now is come alongside others and let them know they are not alone. This is the way we can bring courage to our communities. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but for today, we can share what we have with those around us. Let’s all go out and spread a little love.

P.S. If you want the cookie recipe, you can find it here.

MLK and Advice for the ACoN Soul

15 Jan

Being a white girl, living in a white neighborhood and not knowing any people of color, Martin Luther King Jr. was never mentioned in my childhood home. His birthday was never celebrated as a holiday until I was twenty, but I actually never learned anything about him until I was in college and we had peanut soup on the cafeteria menu and someone explained it was in honor of him. By then I was interested in civil rights because I’d begun to have friends of color who explained to me just how hard it is to grow up with racism.

For years, I thought of King as a wonderful man of God who believed in non-violence and had great quotes, but it wasn’t until I discovered the level of narcissistic abuse in my own family that I really began to resonate with King’s sayings. Perhaps only those who have had to fight for their freedom can truly appreciate his statements.

It’s true, he was fighting for civil rights, but Martin Luther King Jr. brings wisdom to the collective human race and he especially speaks to all who have been oppressed. Today, I hold many of his sayings close to my heart because I have found his advice useful for any people who have been mistreated and Adult Children of Narcissists certainly fit into that category. Now, more than ever these words ring true across our nation.

Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter.
-MLK

Anyone who has been marginalized or abused knows this is only too true. When one of my siblings once told me, “We can never live until our parents are dead,” I cried because I didn’t want them to die, but I wanted to live.

There is something about the human soul that despises being silent about the things that matter and yet many of us were taught we had no voice. No matter what kind of abuse you have suffered, finding your voice is a vital step to your recovery.

 

mlk-1000

King, in few words, has undone a lifetime of silence because he gave us permission to say, It’s not okay for people to marginalized me or lie to me and lie about me. It’s not okay to triangulate behind my back and I don’t have to put up with rude behavior–whether it’s calling up my friends to talk about me or writing rude things on my social media wall.

Now, when we have people who are blatantly abusing others whether in private family gatherings or in the media, it’s time to let our voices be heard.

Injustice anywhere
is a threat to justice everywhere.
-MLK

King calls us to accountability for all members of the human race. It doesn’t matter if we share the same skin tone, or gender or social status, when any one is marginalized or harmed, we must take it personally, because the threat is real and we are each called to be our neighbor’s keeper.

Of course there is often opposition when we speak up. Our abusers will often say “Not right now–wait until after dinner or the holidays or until we get a better leader,” but King has given us permission to say how we feel and share what we think with no apologies especially when he said:

The time is always right
to do what is right.
–MLK

King even had some advice that could be used for Flying Monkeys:

He who passively accepts evil
is as much involved in it
as he who helps to perpetrate it.
He who accepts evil
without protesting against it
is really cooperating with it.
-MLK

The ultimate measure of a man
is not where he stands in moments
of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times
of challenge and controversy.
-MLK

I find courage in these quotes, because even now there are people bowing to the powers that be–both within the denomination I grew up in and in our nation, but I cannot and will not forsake the principles of Jesus to please any human no matter who they are. Such a reminder is all the more meaningful when I realize King once stood on such principles and paid dearly for them with his own life.

And this brings us to some of the best advice King ever gave:

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
-MLK

I’ve read about survivors who are bitter about their past abuse and are filled with contempt for their abusers. They have trouble forgiving in part because their abusers won’t say sorry, but they continue to carry the burden of their abusers with them everywhere. I can understand how they got there, but King offers us a higher path when he says:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
-MLK

This gives us permission to let go of the past and lean into the light. Somewhere on this planet there is a survivor playing beautiful music or painting an amazing work of art or writing a fantastic story of hope. Just knowing there are people who have survived much worse than I have endured and they are still carrying on to serve other people gives me hope and joy.

So in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., let us live our lives by speaking of what matters even when it is unpopular. Let us watch out for those who might not look like us, but who in character deserve and resonate with our own cries for freedom and justice for all.

Let us forgive and release those who have meant us harm and let us carry the light of love wherever we go–to work, to school, to church, to the boardroom, to the neighborhood–because we have a choice.

Every man must decide
whether he will walk in the light
of creative altruism or in the
darkness of destructive selfishness.
-MLK