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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.

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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

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!

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

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.

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

Celebrate Only in Freedom

20 Nov

This is the time of year we hear lots of quotes and comments about being grateful. Sometimes we even read or hear admonitions to be grateful for what we have and for those of us who have fractured families, it can feel like a slap in the face.

Such messages usually come from superficial friends or people totally in denial and of course the flying monkeys. They come in a mixed bag of word salad disguised as compliments and good advice when in reality these people are completely ignorant about narcissistic abuse or devoid of brains.

This week someone complained how the main narc in their family keeps doing rude things. I wonder how long they will keep going back for more punishment. I mentioned there’s no way around the fact this person is a narc. If it walks, talks and squawks like a narc, what more proof do you need?

Some people might mean well, but we can’t take advice from them because all their nice platitudes don’t apply to narcissistic abuse. I’m sure you’ve heard these remarks:

“Well we’re family and family sticks together.”

Yeah, like super glue between your finger and your thumb? With some people you can’t get anything done.

“Be grateful for who is still alive–we never know who won’t be with us next year.”

Very sad! And you know what is even sadder? People who are still alive being lied to and lied about and treated with no respect. What kind of life is that? No thank you!

“We need to forgive and forget.”

This is often said by the abuser. When the abuser says it, it’s because he/she doesn’t want to remember their abusive behavior and they certainly don’t want to apologize for it. They just want you to forget the knife they put into your back so they can have the thrill of doing it again. Narcs are not normal people. They do not have empathy for their victims and some get a high from hurting others. When the flying monkeys say this, they are just channeling the narc, because they can’t think for themselves.

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

Because we can’t give up honesty and freedom to get along. When the family peacemaker says this, whether they are aware of it or not, they are acting as a flying monkey and taking sides with the abuser. Or they self-righteously feel good about themselves because they are not the ones in the drama. They might feel good about saying, get along, but getting along is what kept slaves in their place. Getting along is what sold many Jewish people into the hands of Nazis. Getting along is what keeps people in gangs. Just sayin’.

If you have family members or friends spouting these platitudes and asking you to come to the big family dinner, here is a litmus test to see if it is worth your time. Ask yourself these two questions–

1. Are they honest?
2. Do they treat me with respect?

Honest Elephant, Cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/23109846-honest-elephant-words

Prints and Accessories Available Here

I don’t think this is asking too much, because without honor and respect, we’ve got nothing.

So back to being grateful. I am grateful! I am grateful every. single. day. for my freedom filled life!
I am grateful for so many things, but the height of my gratitude is to know that God is not like a narcissist and gives me freedom to make my own choices. I am grateful for the knowledge I have about narcissism so I can quit trying to play a game I could never win. I am grateful for freedom.

A few years ago after the Worst Thanksgiving Ever, I wrote a poem and shared it with one of my family members. It was about other people telling me what to eat and how to worship and how to spend my money. I was thirty-five at the time and trying to find my voice and trying cut the control strings from my family of origin.

My poem basically said I was reclaiming my own right to these things. My family member listened to my poem, then said, “Wow! That’s a very selfish poem–it’s all about you.” I was stunned. The words of this family member echoed what my parents had taught me and I didn’t know how to separate myself from the lies, so I ripped up the poem and asked Jesus to forgive me for being so selfish. It would take me another ten years to wake up.

So every holiday I am very grateful to be awake, I am grateful to no longer be brainwashed to live my life to please other people. I am grateful to discern lies from truth. To know myself and know my God.

So if you are feeling sad about all the mind twists and gaslighting and being ostracized this holiday season, remember to look for the silver lining. Here is the sad truth: narcissistic people bring us joy only in their absence. If they weren’t narcs, they would use honesty and respect to bring us back home, but by their very nature, narcs find truth, love and freedom impossible.

So here’s to a narc-free life–with truth, love and freedom! I can drink to that!

How to Survive Spiritual Abuse

5 Nov

In my early twenties, I was part of a Christian music ministry and for nine months we sang at a different church every night. We were told to respect the authority of our leaders because they were set in place by God. One day at training camp, I was slapped in the face for leaving a three hour meeting to run to the bathroom. Some might wonder why I allowed someone to treat me this way, but I was conditioned to accept this spiritual and physical abuse because I was belted until the day I left home at nineteen.

As we traveled slowly across America singing cheerfully, the interpersonal relationships were fun and not so fun at times. Our leader turned out to be a control freak who got mad because we went to McDonald’s for breakfast, so he forced us sit in circle on the floor and demanded that every one of us say we respected him.

Knowing he was abusive and knowing we had done nothing wrong, I refused to say I respected him. This made him more angry so we sat for hours until it was time to leave for the next church. Since he couldn’t force me to say I respected him, he told me to sit in the audience that night instead of singing in the concert. As I sat among strangers trying to hold back the tears, I felt very alone, but God had already provided a gift to encourage me.

After the concert, my host family for the night was a middle aged couple who immediately noticed my red eyes and tear streaked face and threw their arms around me. They were a married couple who were both counselors. When we got to their home, they pulled out a delicious chocolate cake and said, “Let’s talk.”

There is a unique intimacy between strangers which allowed me to be free to tell my story because I knew I would never see them again. I stayed up half the night telling them about my childhood and what was going on in the group. The tools given to me that night have stayed with me through many encounters with abusive people.

1. Never Trust Any One Who Claims to be the Voice of God
The myth of a church leader speaking for God, has done untold damage to millions. Cult leaders often ask people to forgo their conscience to obey their rules as if God has spoken through them. No person is capable of looking inside human hearts and no one will ever be as gracious as God.

If God wanted a person to be his spokesman, Jesus would have told us, but like Brian Zahnd says, “Jesus is what God has to say.” Jesus and his life and teachings is our only safeguard. If someone claims to speak for God and they don’t match up to what Jesus taught, there is no light in them.

Spiritual abuse is the violation of our trust in God
by someone who claims to speak for Him.

2. Recognize the Limits of Their Power Over You
When an abusive leader discovers he/she can no longer control through manipulation and coercion, they will frame dissenters as the scapegoat so others will attack them too. This eventually breaks down relationships and causes schisms within the group.

You might gain some progress by breaking through barriers and befriending those who are trying to shut you out, but if this doesn’t work, look for new family and friends who are open to healthier ways of thinking and living.

Tears are a river that takes you somewhere…
Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground,
carrying it downriver to someplace better.
–Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Humans can fire you or exclude you, but they have no real power over your life in the long run. Trust God, stay loyal to him and he will eventually come through for you. No matter what someone does to you, God will ultimately have the last say. It’s easy to feel alone, but greater is He who is within you, than he who is in the world.

3. Realize It’s Okay to be Angry
Beware the Pharisees and flying monkeys who will try to shame you for being angry. Anger in response to poor treatment simply means you have had to confront evil. Whether it’s because of rude behavior or lies or someone trying tarnish your good name, there will be times you feel angry when confronted with injustice and that is really okay as long as you don’t harm anyone with your anger.

God never condones the violation of a person’s freedom–whether it’s physical or emotional or spiritual abuse. Jesus got angry when he overturned the tables in the temple to drive out those who stood between the people and God. But his anger was not vengeful or destructive. The Bible reminds us to not to sin in our anger and to not to go to bed angry. It’s important to vent and find a plan to deal with our anger in a constructive manner.

You should be angry. You must not be bitter.
Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host.
It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure.
So use that anger. You write it. You paint it.
You dance it. You march it. You vote it.
You do everything about it. You talk it.
Never stop talking it.
–Maya Angelou

4. Give Yourself Time and Space Away From Toxic People to Heal
Sometimes you need space and distance from toxic people to restore your soul. If you find toxic people at church, take a break from your local church or go to a different class. If you feel sick when you walk through the door, find a safer church. This goes for social media too. If arguing with strangers makes you sick, stay away from those groups. Block toxic people from your page. Let your life be filled with opportunities to serve others, but don’t allow others to shame and control you.

The Twenty Third Psalm is a great comfort to many people. One of my favorite verses came to life during one of my darkest times. Some people in my family were angry because I didn’t join them in excluding someone. To this day we barely talk. During this time, God provided a smorgasbord of better understanding about His character. One day I was reading the twenty-third Psalm and I realized this reality in my spiritual life:

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
-Psalm 23:5

My soul was fed and my mind opened up to many good things and I experienced great peace despite a huge family split. I longed to share my new insights to all of them, but they were more interested in punishing me for not doing what they wanted, than learning anything new. During this time, I literally was given a spiritual banquet—one which any of them could also have experienced, but they refused to partake of it.

5. Stay Connected to God
I have heard from a lot of people who have put up with lots of crap in the name of God. When spiritually abusive leaders lead, it’s important to not let them rob our joy. A few years ago, my husband and I once again had to deal with an abusive leader. We were targeted by a pastor who didn’t like my skits for the youth or my husband’s music. To keep us from doing anything he didn’t agree with, he lied about us. When we found out and tried to speak the truth, he got even more angry and tried to disfellowship us without giving the members any reason. Before it was over, we became very discouraged.

Spirit of God is Liberty, CherilynClough.com,http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/15989067-hummingbird-liberty?asc=u&c=541259-soul-sanctuary

Prints and Accessories Available Here

One day we were walking on the beach and I began to cry, I wondered what would happen if we were disfellowshipped. My husband took my hand and said, “They might take our names out of human books, but no one can take our names out of God’s book of life.”

Something shifted for me that day. Our membership was never taken because there were no grounds for it, but the weird thing was we no longer cared about positions in church or membership to the point it would control what we believe and how we serve.

When it comes to abusive leaders, church structure is irrelevant because they will twist the rules to meet their agendas, but let them play their games. We know where to place our faith and it’s not a denomination, but in Jesus himself.

This world is full of beautiful scenes, loving people and animals, intoxicating flowers and delicious fruit. God graces our views with warm sunshine and inspiring mountains and warm fires—all mere sentiments of his great love for each of us. Look at the reminders in nature all around you. Soak in God’s promises of unconditional love. Abusive leaders will come and go, but God’s government is not based on policies or control, but on freedom. His love is steadfast and will remain so forever.

Women Pastors and Corporate Abuse in the Church

28 Oct

I’ve been in mourning these last few weeks. Not over a person–but over a church. Specifically the church I grew up in. The church that has been a spiritual home at least in name to six generations of my family. Yet even though I say six generations of family, my childhood home was far different from my mother’s childhood home. The stability she took for granted was missing from mine. Some of the rules were passed down, but my parents diverged from the path of our Adventist pioneers by accepting the false concept of male headship when I was young.

How do I know this? Well they never used those terms, but my mother never worked outside the home. She never led in a family worship except to teach little children. She rarely disagreed with my father in front me. My father put down my Bible worker grandmother who was constantly giving Bible studies. He argued with her over theology. He yelled at her over doctrinal issues nearly every time we visited her.

And there were the quirky things he did while I was young. He scolded me when I was five for handing him a purple towel to dry my baby brother. I had to go back and find a blue one. He was upset when my mom took me school shopping and we came back with plaid dresses. He called them men’s clothes. He never let me or my sisters wear denim or jeans because they were men’s clothes. My parents didn’t want me to cut my hair because it was given to a woman for a covering. They also despised women who worked outside the home and “wore the pants in the family.”

Perhaps my father learned some of this from his father because his mother never learned how to drive a car. He meant well, he told me he wanted better for his daughters, but I’m not sure he knew what that could look like. My husband taught me to drive when I was twenty-three.

Arise and Shine, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/15835854-arise-and-shine?asc=u&c=541259-soul-sanctuary

Prints, Cards and Accessories Available Here

My father’s background made him vulnerable when the false teaching of male headship began to enter the Adventist church in the seventies. This concept did not come from the Bible or even one of our church founders–it originally came from Bill Gothard who has now been embroiled in lawsuits against him for sexual abuse and harassment from multiple young women who worked for him. His teachings of male superiority have taught women they are less than and must obey a male and in turn they have falsely given men the idea they are more important than women.

As the scholars at Andrews University have refuted with the Bible and prophetic quotes, this false concept of male headship flies against the one and only true head of the church–Jesus Christ. And it has caused a lot of trouble recently because people who support male headship are directly opposed to male-female equality which was God’s design at creation, temporarily lost in Eden and restored by the life of Jesus.

In the current controversy of women’s ordination in the church, proponents of male headship have argued that a woman should not be a pastor and most definitely not an ordained one because that would give her authority to lord over a man, but they have missed two important facts:

  1. Being a pastor (male or female) should never be about lording power over anyone. A faithful pastor’s job is to serve as Jesus did when he washed the disciple’s feet.
  2. The Biblical meaning of ordination simply meant to be called and while the actual word appears in the KJV of the Bible, it’s not in the original language. The early church prayed and laid their hands on both men and women who were called by the Holy Spirit to give their lives in service to God. And it should be the same today.

When we realize these two important points, this controversy over women’s ordination is ridiculous. So why am I in mourning over such an insane controversy?

While I was growing up, I saw the disrespect my father gave my Grandmother who served God. I saw how my father had the last word and it was his way or the highway. I saw how my brother was not expected to do the chores while I was used as a family slave. And behind all this subjugation was the power of the belt. When I was seven my legs were beaten black and blue for whispering in church. I could go on and on, but the truth is the beast-like power-over of another human being–in any form of abuse creates a deep and terrifying fear of God–a literal fear that made me sick and kept me up at night for most of my life.

I was terrified of the judgment and of Jesus coming. Events like Mt. St. Helens and 911 carved this fear even deeper into my psyche. It wasn’t until I discovered Jesus and the Father are one and I began to read up on the life of Jesus that I lost this fear created by a false God concept. And male headship was a part of what I was able to throw away.

When I realized God was not the way my father had portrayed him, I finally felt safe in church because I realized how God uses his power. Not like an angry, belt wielding father, but like a humble servant even submitting to let his created beings kill him.

So in the last few months I’ve been sad to see this ridiculous controversy rage on in the church. For me, one of the final straws against the establishment is this vote taken a couple weeks ago to eventually punish those who ordain women. Can you see how this demonic power-over that I felt I had escaped from my childhood home is now leading the church I love? Can you see how unsafe this makes me feel? Can you see how nothing can cover up such abuse? There is no excuse for a world leader being allowed to act as the beast power in a church where we teach the mindset of Jesus and preach against using our power over another human being! Please don’t preach to me about Babylon and the apostate church when our own church is taking on the form of beast-like power.

People have asked me why I care so much about women’s ordination. I once felt called to be a pastor, I came by this through my Grandmother’s joy in giving Bible studies and my own love of people. But I realized my parents would never support me in this choice so I searched for other types of work. Today I have no regrets. I feel I am able to answer God’s callings in different settings most recently through my art and blog.

But here’s the thing–as a friend of Jesus, I owe it to him to honor his example of letting Mary sit at his feet as a rabbi in training. Remember Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” So why should we allow men who have these two false beliefs of male headship and power over ordination keep women from serving God?

Apparently the General Conference President Ted Wilson disagrees with me. In Australia a few years ago, Wilson refused to lay hands on a woman pastor who was being commissioned. Unlike our world leader, the Adventist church both approves women pastors and uses a ceremony exactly like ordination–except they call it a commissioning. This month Wilson pushed a policy through to potentially punish those unions who have decided to go ahead and ordain women.

Wilson did this recently by asking the church to vote on a policy which seeks to punish outliers and those out of compliance. The first irony was the number of people who voted. There were nearly 300 people, but only nine were women. Talk about unfair representation!

The second irony is this document also aims to punish those who don’t subscribe to all twenty eight of the church’s fundamental beliefs, but get this–fundamental belief number fourteen states all are created equal and through Jesus restored to equality–including male and female. So by the GC’s own standards, this attempt to punish goes directly against fundamental belief fourteen. What a mind warp!

And how abusive is it to threaten punishment for a woman following the voice of God? What kind of false religion is this? It’s not the religion of my ancestors who treated women equally. It’s certainly not the religion my husband and I endorse.

I’ve had several conversations with women in my church. Several are leaving and not coming back. And I am left standing with very little to encourage them. Another conversation was with a woman elder who said, “I don’t care about women’s ordination.” It was sad to discover a woman who acts as an elder has no empathy for other woman who are called by God. As long as we have apathy like this, any woman who obeys that call will stand alone and be treated as less by the men in the church. I wondered if her opinion would change if her own daughter heard such a call.

Some people say “We don’t need to worry about what happens at the GC level–just deal with the local church.” Well that might sound nice, but when a vote has been taken to persecute women for accepting God’s call on their life and it aims to punish the faithful, God serving men who ordain them and support them, something is rotten at the top and the stench is trickling down to let all of us know that following conscience is no longer acceptable, we must now conform to the GC’s version of God. And right now, that God represents power over much like the kingdoms of this world.

Others say “Just focus on Jesus and don’t worry about this other stuff.” Really? You don’t think Jesus cares about women who are following his call and being persecuted? And if we are really following Jesus, then won’t we have an eye single to his glory for all?

So what can we do? For starters we need to stop allowing this corporate bullying. Women need to step up and stand up for other women. If nothing else, we need to maintain the golden rule. And the golden rule tells us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Male headship fails the golden rule. Punishing documents fail the golden rule. And sad to say it, but apathetic people fail the golden rule. Each of these mindsets are contributing to a crisis which is splitting the church.

Equality affirming male pastors need to step up. They can preach against this false doctrine of male headship. They can preach on our fundamental beliefs which state equality. They can preach about the godhead. Multiple sermons could cover the true headship of Jesus, the role of the Holy Spirit in calling people and the equality of the Godhead. They could preach on how Jesus treated women. They could also preach on how the true kingdom of God endorses freedom and does NOT use power over. They could preach on how true unity is not conformity, but can only come about by having a free conscience and being led by the Holy Spirit.

My husband and I listen to multiple podcasts every week. This keeps our marriage alive and we are never bored because it gives us lots of ideas to talk about. It also reminds me that I am part of a global movement to embrace Jesus and his freedom promoting lifestyle. It shows me I am not alone. That I don’t have to settle for sitting in church going over the same ol’ same ol’ where people keep their heads in the sand while this corporate abuse is being set up to destroy lives. I’ve heard sermons by very courageous pastors who are willing to stick their neck out for their female colleagues and their example has been refreshingly Christ-like!

I would embrace any local church who is preaching on the topics above. If you live in Southern Oregon and hear such a sermon please message me the podcast, I’d love to hear it!  For now, I’m hanging on and glad to know George Knight still preaches occasionally at my local church because he, like Jesus, supports women leaders in the church whether these elders have empathy for other women or not. And if George should fail me, then I will cling to Jesus! I don’t need to allow abusive and apathetic people in the denomination to discourage me from following Jesus.

If you can go off script and think for yourself, if you like discussing ideas about God, if you are not so stuck in your beliefs that you can look outside the boxes, then I would be thrilled to call you friend. We need to find like-minded people because we are the church!

If you want to hear a great sermon on the current crisis in the church, check out this sermon from Alex Bryan. The choir is great, but if you are in a hurry the message starts about 35 minutes in.

http://livestream.com/accounts/7962515/events/5049907/videos/137763786

George Knight on the Biblical Meaning of Ordination

Andrew University Unique Headship of Christ Statement

Five Myths of Male Headship

Women Sue Bill Gothard

The Spirit of the Lord is Freedom

14 Oct

This blog is about freedom from narcissism and religious abuse. Today I am going to write about the deep sadness in my heart over the church I grew up in and the growing threat to religious liberty.

Ted Wilson, the world president of the Seventh day Adventist church is on a witch hunt. Of course he claims he’s not, but any intelligent person paying attention knows what he’s doing. He pushed a paper through this last week to give the unions who have been ordaining women a year to stop or they will take legal action. A couple papers circulated from his office last week discussing a possible takeover of these unions because this president obviously does not support women pastors. It’s not just ordination Wilson is against, but actual women pastors.

A few years ago he was visiting Australia when a woman pastor was to be commissioned along with two men who were going to be ordained. When Wilson arrived, there was a change of plans and the woman was commissioned alone, so Wilson could come onto the platform when the women left while the men were ordained. Bluntly speaking, Wilson wouldn’t lay hands on her and pray over her. Can you imagine any of the disciples not doing this for a committed gospel worker? Can you imagine Jesus doing this?

Sandra Roberts has been an elected conference president for three years, but her name has never been listed in the Adventist yearbook, nor has she been welcomed at official meetings. It doesn’t matter that Jesus has called her and she gives her heart to God’s work, she is simply shut out because she is a woman.

So why should I care? I’m not a pastor. I care because what happens to one women affects all of us. As Maya Angelou said,”Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

I care because male headship divides families and it is splitting this church. I care because it took me years to realize God loves me as much as my brothers, because I grew up thinking God preferred men over women to pray or preach or lead worship. I care because little girls growing up right now need to know that God values them as much as the boys. I care because Adventists have always stood on the side of freedom until now.

There is a movie coming out next month about Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who saved lives without carrying a gun. Adventists believe no one should bear arms if it goes against their conscience. They also have a religious liberty department and lawyers to ensure their members are not forced to work on Sabbath.

Until now, freedom of conscience was of utmost importance if you belong to the Seventh-day Adventist church, but now there is group of people who are not approved to use their freedom and they are women pastors. These women believe they are called by God and Mr. Wilson wants them to ignore this call. How oppressive is that?

It’s so ironic it reeks of insanity, but in a church founded by a woman who preached all over the world, there has risen a very self-righteous and vocal movement to proclaim women pastors under the influence of Satan. If that is not a witch hunt, I don’t know what is.

Many Adventist scholars in North America firmly disagree. The seminary at Andrews University has put out a document refuting male headship which came into the church in the 1970s. While founder Ellen White was alive there were women pastors. She herself carried ordination credentials although she was not ordained by men, but claimed to be ordained by God. One would hardly expect her to be welcome by these men if she were preaching today.

So how did we get in this mess? Men who wish to be on a higher plane than women. They not only wish to be seated next to Jesus before the women, but they would prefer the women be seen and not heard. This is obvious by the vote itself where nearly three hundred people voted, but only nine of them were women.

Such exclusions are abusive and go against all we know about Jesus, yet these men claim to be doing God’s work. They aren’t worried about people leaving the church under their abusive watch because they believe in the shaking in which people will be shaken out of the church. They even got these words from a woman, but I doubt she thought the shaking would come down to women pastors because she sent her own tithe to support women pastors.

Jesus has always been calling women. He called a woman to evangelize her entire village. He called Mary to sit at his feet. He called a woman to preach the first resurrection sermon to his disciples. And Jesus is still calling women today.

Mr. Wilson might think he’ll be the president to usher in the second coming, but I fear he has forgotten who is actually coming. Here’s a little parable I wrote for him. If you know him pass it on.

You Can't Hold Back the Dawn, cherilynclough.com,http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/15944700-cant-hold-back-the-dawn?asc=u

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Once upon a time there was a group of workers who were waiting for the master of the estate to come at any time. He had specifically asked all of them to bring in the harvest before he returned. In order to do this it took every man, woman and child.

They were dealing with less than ideal conditions because they were working in the dark of night and they wanted to harvest as much as they could before the master arrived.

The master knew how difficult the task would be and had warned everyone to make sure they didn’t run out of oil. Some of the workers, concerned about a shortage of oil went into town to get more oil to make sure they had plenty. When they got back, they seemed to work twice as fast.

A few men believed the Master had put them in charge over the others. They looked around and saw how fast the workers with new oil were working and decided to limit the use of the good oil to men. It was said that men work faster and can do more heavy lifting so the oil needed to be redistributed.

Some disagreed. Women in particular disagreed because they were all about doing their master’s business. They did not feel they were accountable to the men who wanted to limit their ability to do their job because they believed they answered to the master himself.

Other men agreed with the women and by standing up against those who wished to control, empowered the women to keep working, but as the night grew darker a great conflict ensued.

Men against women, men against men and even women against women began to argue and take sides. The question came down to who was most important to use that good oil.

The men who imagined themselves in charge, firmly believed only men should have access to this oil–after all God created Adam first and Eve was his helper sent to procure the oil so Adam could do his important work. Others said God created both Adam and Eve in his image so neither worker was more important than the other.

While the workers were arguing over who could use the good oil, a terrible storm came up. It was worse than anyone had seen before. A large portion of the crop was still in the fields and they were all heartbroken to see how much they had lost, yet many blamed each other for the losses.

There was still much work to be done, but now it was much harder to work around the hail which had frozen some of the crop. Many were exhausted from the fight and scrambled to salvage what they could, but they were shocked to be told they must give up their oil or they would be arrested and fined their wages. They were given one hour.

They had no more time to waste on vain arguments to soothe men’s egos. The women and men who supported them saw a faint glimpse of light on the horizon and they knew if they could just keep working through the hour, the dawn would soon break and they would no longer need the oil.

The last few minutes they worked with what appeared to be super human effort and it was amazing what they were able to accomplish. Then it happened. Light. Glorious Light such as none of them had ever seen before. The Master had arrived to honor his faithful workers.

The men in charge ran out in front to try to explain to the Master how these women had impeded the work with their insistence that they were equal to the men, but the Master told them to go to the back of the line because in his kingdom whoever is first shall be last and the women who were last would be welcomed first.

Then to everyone who tried to stop another worker, the Master said the most incriminating words, “Away from me, you evil doers, you’ve twisted my words, you’ve esteemed yourselves above others and kept the best seats for yourselves and by doing this, you’ve lost a great part of my precious harvest. You certainly don’t know me–because I never knew you.”