5 Reasons You Should Watch the Shack

6 Mar

Isn’t The Shack just a made up story? Yes. Is it even based on biblical facts? Yes, in some ways, but I like to think of it as an allegory. Pilgrim’s Progress wasn’t a true story either. But wait, God is a man and not a woman, right? Well, who of us has seen God? These are some of the questions people have about the movie, The Shack based on Wm. Paul Young’s book by the same name. This book and movie have taken a lot of heat, but most of the critics haven’t bothered to read or watch it. If you are one of the skeptics, allow me to share five reasons why you might want to watch The Shack.

1. If You Have Ever Suffered a Huge Loss and Wondered Why

The Shack tries to answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Many of us in hard times after a death of a loved one or some other terrible event have asked, “Where is God if he is sovereign?” This movie attempts to answer this question through telling a story about one man broken by a terrible childhood and then a loss in his adult life.

2. If You have Father Issues and Feel You Can’t Trust the Father

Early in The Shack we see Mac’s father beating him with a belt. If you grew up with a narcissistic parent who beat you, put you down or abused you in any way, you might find it very hard to trust God. This is because God’s original plan was for parents to act in the role of God to their children. When we were small and unable to provide for ourselves, we relied on our parents for everything. When they were abusive, it gave us the idea God might be abusive too. Part of the reason for this is that little kids can’t see the abuse. They won’t assume their parent is abusive, they just think they are bad. As children, we absorbed our parents’ sins and now as adults, we still feel unworthy. In the Shack, Papa goes out of the way to make sure Mac knows he is worthy of God’s friendship and love. That word friendship came up several times between Mac and Jesus. It reminded me of one of the least repeated verses in the Bible where Jesus says:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

One of the problems we ACoNs have with our parents is they often won’t release us to be their friends, because they want us to be their servants and slaves for life. Of course it is a form of love to serve our parents–but not when we are adults who are forced to submit to a narcissist abuser.

The Shack reminds us that God is not at all like a narcissistic parent, he is always concerned about what is best for us. In the words of Papa, God says, “I am especially fond of you!” And what is so amazing is that he is especially fond of every person in the world, but it doesn’t take away from the wonder and love he has for each of us as individuals. God is a good parent who loves every one of his children equally, but differently.

3. If You Have Been Afraid of God’s Wrath

In The Shack, Mac asks Papa what about God’s wrath. And Papa says, “What? What are you talking about?” Mac thinks God is vindictive and revengeful toward sinners and Papa reassures him this is not true at all.

If you have not discovered the fact that God’s wrath in Romans 1 is really about God letting people go to their choices and not about revenge, then study up on it. There will be fundamentalists who disagree, but a thorough study of the subject might back up Young’s ideas in The Shack.

This film gives a great example of letting go through the art of storytelling. While it has theological tones, the story itself is well written, well directed and well-acted. People without a religious bone in their body could still enjoy The Shack—because it is a well told story and the heart of this movie is not about religion, but relationship.

4. If You Struggle With Judging or Forgiving Others

It also shows how we can let go and still honor our losses.This movie is not just about losing someone dear, it also carries the message to stop judging others and forgive them–despite the horrible things they have done.

Every abuser was formed most likely by the abuse of their parents going all the way back to Adam and Eve. While judging and forgiving seem to be at odds with each other, the way we can deal with both healthfully is to let go.

In the situation of narcissistic parents, we are healthier for letting go. The burdens we carry don’t have to hinder us and tie us down, God can turn our pain into wisdom as we grow stronger until we learn to fly. In this story, like in many of our lives, there were characters who needed to be forgiven and there were nightmares that came from the darkness that could only be put to rest by looking to Jesus as our brother and friend.

I was particularly touched by one scene with Mac and his father. Once we see our parents’ wounds we can forgive easier and we can realize they didn’t mean to harm us, they were broken by the fall too. How many children’s hearts would be turned back to their fathers if parents only they owned what they had done and asked for forgiveness? Of course, we realize most narcissistic parents will never do this, but we can forgive them even when they don’t say sorry. We are the ones who will heal when we do this.

5. If You Have Trouble Trusting God in Any Way

About ten years ago, I went to a seminar where the speaker asked if Jesus was behind one door and the Father the other, which door we would choose to go through. My answer was the Jesus door because I thought Jesus was the good guy who had saved me from the Father. That night I learned some things starting with the fact that Jesus said he and the Father are one. God’s wrath is letting us go to our own choices. There is no revenge in the Spirit of God. That whatever Jesus would say and do for me is the same as what the Father would say and do for me. I was first in shock, then in awe of God.

The next morning I got up at dawn and looked at this amazing and gorgeous sunrise full of pink and gold. As I stared up at it, I felt the Spirit speaking to my heart that this display was for me. That Abba, Papa, Father–whatever we call God was shining his love on me and I began to weep. I asked him, “Father, can you really be this good?” I will never forget that morning—it was the day that changed everything in my life. I have never had a worry about the future or my salvation since. My feelings were similar while I watched The Shack. I was profoundly touched by God’s love.

The Shack gives us a little God’s eye view of humanity where we can see how God loves every person. One of my friends who went to see it with me said, “I wish I could go and stay at the shack for a long time.” Why? Because to dwell in that shack is to be nurtured and loved unconditionally by God. To get answers from God. I believe The Shack is a little taste of heaven and it will change your heart, but you’ll have to see it for yourself.

NOTE: Some will have theological questions about this, while I am not a theologian, I will share a little of what I have learned from others.

Some Theological Questions About the Shack

God as a Black Woman?

The biggest criticism of The Shack has been its portrayal of a black woman as God the Father. But people who have trouble trusting God as a father might need to see the feminine face of God. God said, “Let us make humankind in our image.” If Eve as Ezer Kenegdo was created in God’s image, then certainly God has a feminine side. Jesus himself said he would like to gather the people in Jerusalem like hen gathers her chicks under her feathers (Matthew 23:37). There is a Bible verse which says, “Even if a mother forgets her nursing child, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15,16).

The fact is God is Spirit. None of us have seen God. We know throughout the Bible God has manifested as the angel of the Lord in various places (Genesis 22:11–15). And God has manifested as a human even before Jesus was born, when three visitors came to Abraham and at least one of them was God. Even here, maybe the number three has significance (Genesis 18). When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit was manifested as a dove (Matthew 3:16). Paul says Jesus was manifested as a rock for the Children of Israel (I Corinthians 10:4) and he was also the cloud which protected them by day and night (Exodus 13:21).

The Shack portrays God manifested as a black woman, an Asian woman and as a Native American Father. I see no reason why such portrayals would shock anyone who understands how God bends close to the earth to meet each hurting human in the place where we most need God.

Universalism?

Other critics have accused Young of writing about Universalism which states that no one will be lost but all will be saved. I didn’t get this idea from the book or the movie. But it is important to note that God is especially fond of everyone—the question is will we allow God to heal us? Some may not, but it has always been God’s dream to save everyone–he just won’t force anyone.

When Mac asked, “Then are there to be no consequences for sin, Papa says, “Oh there’s always consequences.” Then Papa describes how God gives everyone freedom of choice–if this is true, then God either must win every soul to his way of thinking, or lose some.

I was reminded of two verses:

1. The Wages of Sin is Death (Romans 6:23).

Some say the wages paid by sin is death. This is the law of sowing and reaping. Some call it karma. Jesus taught about the parable of the sower. If there is no sowing, there will be no reaping. We all will reap what we sow.

2. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Some say sinners can’t follow God unless they are scared into it, but that is not God’s way, that is the enemy’s lie. How do we know this?

God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

The true biblical explanation of God’s wrath is actually letting go (Romans 1:18-32). We would all be wise to notice this passage is about all sin–not just the ones mentioned by the fundamentalist Christians. I believe when God lets go, the Holy Spirit releases people to their own choices.

The poison vine Sarayu warned Mac was deadly when helping him dig up the weeds in the garden of his heart, reminded me of how sin kills us. And if we refuse to allow Sarayu AKA the Holy Spirit to help us clean up those toxic parts in our hearts, we could become damaged and in danger of walking away from God altogether.

Disconnection from God is what is so deadly for all of us humans. This is why God’s enemy puts up so much opposition to The Shack. If people are afraid to watch it because some Christian warns them it’s dangerous, they might miss out on trusting God and having a better relationship with him and that could be a tragedy.

Where the Spirit of God is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Let each person decide for themselves.

Be a One Woman Riot

25 Feb

When I was a kid, if my siblings and I argued or made too much noise, we were put on silence. Silence meant we were not allowed to speak or make any noise. If we found a way to communicate through spelling letters through sign language or motioning, we might even be put on frozen statue. Frozen statue meant you were not to move at all. No touching or laughing or smiling because a smile meant you might be up to something. If you did not obey the rules of silence and frozen statues, then you could be beaten with the Persuader. Such was the “fascist regime” of my childhood. And while I loved my parents, I hoped to leave such control behind by the time I reached adulthood.

Of course I didn’t realize when people can no longer control you with the belt, they will guilt and shame and shun to push you into doing what they want. Even as a young adult, I rarely spoke to my siblings about what happened in our childhood because to do so was considered breaking the ultimate rule of family togetherness. Family togetherness means you never speak of the past—not even to each other–all must be forgiven and forgotten.

Family togetherness also means you never, ever speak about the family to outsiders. And in case you are wondering, I’m doing that right now. I’ve been doing it for seven years and I have had less phone calls from my parents than you can count on one hand. Every year, I get an email from my mom acknowledging that I was born on my birthday, but my attempts to have a real relationship with them is very limited—not because I don’t want to have one, but because they feel I have broken the rules of family togetherness and they basically have no interest in my life.

Simply speaking about things that happened over thirty years ago makes me a monster to them, but I am writing a memoir—not out of anger toward them (actually I hope to portray them with love and compassion) but because my childhood was unique and strange and it was very hard for me to grow up when I got out into the real world.

Speak the Truth Healing Fowers, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/509653965/speak-the-truth-giclee-print-8x10-or?ref=shop_home_active_1

Prints Available in Etsy Shop, Accessories at Red Bubble

So why can’t I keep quiet? Because if I don’t speak up, no one will ever have known that I was alive or what happened in my life. No one will know what it is like to have Mt. St. Helens blow up your life and be isolated from other teenagers and denied an education while you wait for Jesus to come. I have to speak it because it was not just their lives that were affected by their choices, it was my life. These are my stories, not so much theirs, but they do play a major part.

I’ve mentioned how the current US administration brings on my childhood PTSD. It’s the authoritarian rule. In the past no matter which party was in office, it was not a huge deal because presidents from both sides respected the U. S. constitution and at least made an effort to treat all people as equal. But my PTSD was most recently triggered this last week by the treatment of the press by the White House.

I took some journalism classes in college and the first thing we were taught is the press is the watchdog on the White House steps and to imagine it being muzzled reminds me of many fascist regimes throughout history and the losses of freedom including religion. The worst part about this is that so many, even within my religious community, seem unable to see this.

My sweet grandma always kept a diary. I call her sweet because whenever I walked into the room, she made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. And she wasn’t playing favorites, I’ve seen her greet my male cousins and brother and my sisters in the same way. I think it could be fair to say she was kind to even her son in laws who really never seemed to respect her very much. There was a lot of eye rolling because she didn’t cook much and she did CPR on cats at least twice to save their lives. It’s true she talked to cats and raccoons and skunks and birds. She was like a Grandma Doolittle and many people were nervous about the skunks she fed on her back porch. It could be said about Grandma that she walked with skunks and angels.

Grandma talked to Jesus and about Jesus every day. And for decades, she kept a diary. The contents were often mundane about the weather or her pets, but sometimes they told stories of her faith in God and how he came through for her. She lived through her parents’ divorce which mortified her and separated her from her siblings and she endured the great depression and worked as Rosie the Riveter during WWII and endured many sad events such as losing her first born child at birth. Grandma lived a life of faith despite her pain.

When Grandma hurt her hip and ended up in elder care, my parents took all those decades of diaries and burned them in a big bonfire. They took away her voice before she was even dead. My siblings and I were appalled when they told us but no one confronted them because we knew it would make things harder in our family to get along.

Silence. Silence from one party can mean sadness, anger, disconnection, or even death. But forced silence is another thing altogether. Forced silence is a form of control to murder another’s voice. Or even another’s right to determine the truth by hearing more than one side of the story.

During the Women’s March I saw a video of a group of women singing a song by MILCK. My husband played it for me because he thought I would like it and when I heard it, my eyes immediately filled with tears. This is why I must write on. I can’t stop my blog or my memoir as hard as it is when I have no family to support me in telling my story, I will press on because Jesus cares.

Jesus never asks us to keep quiet about our pain or to ignore injustice. Jesus comes to each of us with love and forgiveness, but he always, always leans in to listen to our pain. I have a friend who had an abortion decades ago and she is still feeling ashamed about it. I asked her if her little boy ran over his pet turtle on his bike and was feeling horrible about it, would she care about the turtle who was not in any more pain now, or for her child? She said her child of course.

Jesus is like that. He knows we have all messed up big time at some point in our lives, but he cares more about our hearts than anything we have done wrong. This is true for parents as well as children.  But the one thing Jesus doesn’t ask us to do is be silent when we have been hurt. We are free under God’s government to share our stories and to tell our stories because this is how we overcome (Rev. 12:11).

So I don’t know about you, but I am nervous about this changing of the guard from a land of freedom of speech and diversity to a land where we are threatened to be quiet if we have a different opinion or color of skin from the powers that be, this is not how God runs his government. Jesus runs his government on freedom for all and he says we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

If you have been shamed and abused, don’t worry if someone scapegoats you and calls you a monster. Don’t let them shut you up. You are not alone. You are one of many. Tell your story. Embrace the messy truth, speak the honest truth and cherish the value of your own voice. I’m doing it for myself, but I am also doing it for Grandma and all the women before us who were forced into silence. Let’s not be quiet. We can each become a one woman riot! Viva la resistance!

Put on your face,
Know your place,
Shut up and smile,
Don’t spread your legs,
I could do that

But no one knows me, no one ever will,
If I don’t say something, if I just lie still.
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say?

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone
Anymore

Cuz no one knows me no one ever will,
If I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill
They may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this, do it anyway

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh I can’t keep quiet

Let it out let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands

Let it out, let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who’ll understand

Let it out, let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands

Let it out, let it out
Let it out now

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone,
No, not any more.

-Written by Connie Lim and Adrianne Gonzalez

Don’t Let the Narcissist Define You

24 Feb

One of the most damaging things that happens to ACoNs is when the narcissistic parent tries to define them. The narc will try to define you to yourself, friends and other family members. This is part of the gaslighting treatment and we must diligently refuse to allow such lies to influence us. Let fools and flying monkeys listen to those lies, but never allow the narc to define you.

I once wrote a poem about how other people in my family told me how to spend my money and what music to listen to and how to dress and what foods to eat. I wrote how it bothered me to be controlled. This was not a saga of teenage rebellion against parental authority––I actually wrote this poem when I was thirty-four years old. It was a vague and shaky beginning to my awakening, but it would take me another ten years to fully wake up.

What was so weird about this poem is that I shared it with one of my sisters who told me it was a very selfish poem. She said it was all about me—

Me wanting to listen to whatever music I liked,

Me choosing to spend my own money,

Me eating whatever I liked,

Me dressing or wearing my hair however I liked,

And me worshipping God the way I felt led.

What’s really lame is I actually believed her. I felt ashamed for being so selfish that I tore up the poem and threw it away. I don’t blame my sister, she was only repeating the narcissistic things told to us growing up. This is the way we were raised–-to give up all of ourselves to please our family members. Well, I don’t buy into that game anymore. It was all part of the game I could never win.

When my sister called me selfish for wanting to live my own life, she was only being a flying monkey and repeating what our parents  had called her on multiple occasions. We were taught what we wanted was selfish, but complimented and told we were “thoughtful” if we did what they wanted.

Part of the problem is whenever I did things the narc didn’t approve of, they tried to define me as selfish or rebellious. Maybe this has happened to you. Have you found yourself feeling ashamed for being human and having human needs like desiring respect, fun and love? Don’t let the narcissist lie to you.

Any intelligent and mature person knows we all have choices and God himself gave us these choices. He doesn’t stop people from making even harmful decisions. Any form of control over another’s life choices by one adult toward another adult reveals a lack of God’s Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

The heart of the problem in every dysfunctional family is someone trying to define someone else and trying to box them into their expectations. And it doesn’t go away when we grow up.

When we care about social causes, they call us liberals.
When we tell the truth and it exposes their lies, they accuse us of lying.
When we refuse to let them walk all over our boundaries, they peg us as controlling.
When we stop allowing them to use us, they call us stingy and selfish.
When we find a grace-filled picture of God, they call us heretics.

The bottom line is even if we did everything they wanted and sold our souls to please them, they wouldn’t appreciate it and they would still be looking for some way to judge and criticize. That’s because narcissistic people merely want to use people until they drain them dry.

Many of us have been pushed into a corner by a narcissist who wants to control us. When we spoke the truth, they lied and tried to make us look bad so no one will listen our stories or want to hang out with us. They want to scapegoat us so we can feel banished from the camp and left alone to die. If this has happened to you, there is still hope.

Remember it’s the family scapegoat who gets away. Others continue this group fantasy because they want to feel better about themselves and they can only do this by thinking of someone they deem worse than them. Of course this slows down their own journey of healing and makes them unsafe to be around, but we can’t control what they do, they will have to wake up on their own someday.

Giraffe Girl, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/219220213/teal-giraffe-giclee-print-whimsical-girl?ref=shop_home_active_1

Prints Available in Etsy Shop

We are now in a time that people are calling “post-truth.” This is certainly a sad development when we consider that Jesus said it’s the truth which will set us free. Jesus had no room for alternative facts. He called out the lies and said those who lie are from their father the devil. It is now time for many of us to stand even taller in our truth.

In this post-truth age, we might need to call out truth like Jesus did when he exposed the Pharisees. It’s true there could be danger in this. Remember Jesus was accused of being a law breaker for healing people on the Sabbath. True other-centered love often trumps the laws of the land. Jesus was accused of touching the unclean and eating with sinners and outcasts. Because of this, some called him a false prophet—others even suggested he was filled with the devil.

Jesus said when his disciples danced they were judged for being happy and when they didn’t, they were told they were too sad. Jesus knows what it’s like to play a game you can never win, but he refused to let others define him. He stood for truth and he is the ultimate Truth about God. So no matter what label people, pastors, politicians and activists wear, if they don’t look and act like Jesus, there is no truth in them.

My message to you is don’t let the narc define you. You are not the sum of whatever the selfish narc wants to make you look like. I love this quote that Mother Teresa put on her wall,

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

Not only is this the truth, but we can’t allow other people to make our choices and we cannot allow other people–especially narcissistic people, to define us.

You are not selfish to make your own choices. God gave you those choices.

You are not a grudge holder for asking the narc to make things right if they want to have a relationship.

You are not being petty to ask them to be honest with you and about you.

You are definitely not a liar for telling the truth to refute the narcissist’s lies.

You are not unloving to ask for what you need.

Let the narcissist deal with their own bad choices, you are not responsible for their choices.

And you are not selfish to go no contact when people treat you with disrespect and animosity.

If you are a Christian, allow Jesus to define who you are–but please don’t let the narc define you.

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

 

She Persisted, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/512296747/nevertheless-she-persisted-11x14?ref=shop_home_feat_1

She Persisted, Original Art Available in Etsy Shop

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.”

Listen to Your Heart, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/505157007/listen-to-your-heart-print-valentine?ref=shop_home_feat_3

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.

Things That Matter, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/492098856/mlk-quote-print-pink-green-home-decor?ref=shop_home_active_29

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!

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

Don't Shut Up, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/219719647/dont-shut-up-print-survivor-girl-print?ref=shop_home_active_47

Prints Available Here

“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

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.

Write the Truth, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/224674789/write-the-truth-square-giclee-print-gift?ref=shop_home_active_7

Prints Available Here

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.

Mighty Throng of Women, Cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/507350881/mighty-throng-of-women-print-womens?ref=shop_home_active_1

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