I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.
I was traveling last week, so I didn't hear about the Josh Duggar abuse scandal until after the story broke. Elizabeth Esther summarizes a wonderful response. What he did was a crime. Yes, he was a juvenile at the time, but it was punishable by LAW. This is not something to be handled by parents or a family friend who subjects the offender to manual labor. This is not something to be "forgiven and forgotten." This is a dangerous behavior that is not just cured by a prayer. It is high time that the Christian community call a spade a spade. I was so disappointed that some whom I admire defended Josh Duggar's actions, calling out "liberal hypocrisy." Hypocrisy abounds, yes. We have not held MANY accountable for their CRIMES, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't hold Josh accountable also. I grew up in a church that was different from the Duggar's beliefs, but similar to this family. The girls are probably not told or even aware that this is a crime or abuse. They are being told it's a "mistake," and they should "forgive." This creates cognitive dissonance and makes healing even harder. You doubt yourself and your experience. You think you're being selfish for the innate anger and outrage at what happened. You are re-traumatized by such an insufficient response. We have GOT to do better as a Christian community and stop protecting child abusers.
The Village Church Scandal.
There is a church in Dallas that is protecting a confessed pedophile (because he "repented") and publicly harassing and denouncing his ex-wife (because she didn't follow their advice to reconcile the marriage). I'm not even sure if she is an ex-wife - the marriage was annulled by Texas law. Why is it that in many evangelical/fundamentalist/Christian circles, women are by default at fault in circumstances like this? How does it remotely make sense to warn a church of thousands about a women who blew the whistle, rather than warn them of a confessed, admitted (not alleged) pedophile? I am SO tired of the frat/bro culture in churches. Women are fundamentally disrespected and held to a different standard. I lived it for at least 18 years. It makes me sick.
When your faith, the way you are treated, and the "church laws" that are applied to you do not make sense, you should dig deeper. Natural law, reason, and common sense should line up with your beliefs, if not re-affirm them. If something seems "off," or if there is a red flag - investigate and question.
I really admire the woman at the center of all this, Karen Hinkley. She has shown incredible presence of mind and self-respect, amidst a storm of crazy-making and false accusations, all couched in spiritual language of "concern" for her "heart" and the "Father's heart." I'm so sad for the body of Christ. I'm Catholic by choice, not by birth, but I hate that this stuff goes on in the name of Jesus, whether it is in Catholic or Protestant circles. It represents all of us, unfortunately.
Here is Part I of the story, Part II of the story, and her eloquent response to the very public way the Village Church handled it all. Here is an article from John Pavlovitz, a Protestant minister, who calls out the "leadership" at the Village Church.
We cannot be blind or ignorant when this news comes up. We should be aware of what's going on in the body of Christ, not to gossip, not to be glad it's not one of our own. We should be informed. We should build ourselves up with healthy boundaries, and beliefs that respect our own integrity, free will, and dignity so that if this type of behavior happens to us, we will quickly recognize it for what it is. In my opinion, she has grounds to sue the Village Church.
The fact that this story broke around the same time as the Duggar story has really made me lose faith in humanity, or American Christianity, or conservativism, or all of the above.
Speaking of issues mentioned in #1 and #2, there is a Buddhist saying that, "The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."
I love my Catholic faith. My parents, and other anti-Catholics, often accuse Catholics of loving the religion or the rituals more than God. I can see how those who come from sparse religious practices with no ritual or tradition (such as Calvinism), can see the rituals of Catholicism as meaningless. There is a way to "hide" in ritual - going through the motions - even if you don't believe the meaning behind it - it's a form of pathology, but there is a way to "practice" religion like that. There is really no way to know whether or not another person is blindly going through the rituals, or whether they really believe in what they're doing and allow it to transform them. That's for each individual to know about themselves.
I guess, my point is that - while I love Catholicism, I love it because it is not an end unto itself. It points me to God. It's the finger pointing to the moon, it's not the moon. And, while I believe that it is The Church Christ founded, and that confession has been so healing for me, and that Jesus is really, truly present to us in the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist...my faith is in God. It's not in priests, it's not in fellow parishioners, it's not in the rituals themselves, as beautiful and meaningful and wonderful as I find them to be most of the time.
That's why, when scandals such as the priestly abuses break out, my faith in God is not shaken. It is a huge betrayal of those in authority. It is wrong, it is a crime. But, my faith is in what the Catholic Church believes and professes to be revealed by God - not in the effectiveness of a homily, not in the faithfulness of my fellow Catholics, not in the behavior of infamous Catholics. Those things can be incredibly painful and disheartening, don't get me wrong, but that's not where my faith is.
When scandals such as those I mentioned in #1 and #2 break, I think - what if this were to happen in the Catholic Church? I would not defend the abusers. I would stand with the victims, I believe. And yet, my faith in God and the tenets of the Catholic Church would not change.
I'm headed to a family wedding this weekend. I'm excited to see some people I haven't seen in a long time and to celebrate. 'Tis the season in my life for my friends and family to be getting married. 3 of my bridesmaids and 1 of our groomsmen (along with 3 other close friends/family members) have all gotten married within a year of us getting married. There's something so simple and beautiful about seeing two people in love profess to remain faithful for a lifetime. And, now that I'm on the other side of it, I will say that marriage is awesome. I wish all these couples many happy years.
So, we learned the Sympto-Thermal method of NFP when preparing for marriage. I quickly found out that it didn't work for me, due to off-the-charts low and erratic body temperatures, and due to the fact that there were virtually no observable symptoms for me (I take allergy medicine every day, which decreases mucus of all kinds). That blew both the sympto- and the -thermal aspects of the method for me. I then self-taught myself the Marquette Method and used a Clearblue Fertility Monitor. That's all been fine and good, except that I think it's been wrong a few times now - not detecting ovulation, when I'm pretty sure one occurred. It's quite frustrating.
I'm looking into purchasing the OvaCue Fertility Monitor and self-teaching myself yet another method. I'm just not sure if it's worth the price ($200-$300, but without having to purchase urine sticks every month like the Clearblue Fertility Monitor requires). Over the long run, it would be cheaper, but I'm not sure if I can apply what I know about NFP to yet another monitoring system. Anyone out there? There is a user forum for NFP and this monitor, but I just wonder how many people use it or know about it. Once again, I hardly know any NFP users, much less any using this specific method. It's lonely in practicing-Catholic-ville.
I'm looking forward to reading Gretchen Rubin's book Better than Before about habits. I really enjoyed her Happiness Project book. She and her sister have a new podcast, called Happier, which I've been listening to. It inspired me to tackle the mountain of paperwork that has been climbing in our study. For some reason, I just have been dumping mail and other paperwork for months, without dealing with it. I pay most bills online, and try to trash junk mail immediately, but it was getting out of hand. I spent a few hours shredding and sorting last weekend. Now, I need to file what must be kept. However, I'm trying to deal with a little bit every day, until it's under control. I really don't know how it got this bad. I feel like I have been living unconsciously for months now - why didn't I address this as it came? I purchased a labelmaker last weekend, which has inspired my organization skills. I went through the hall closet and almost finished getting our guest bedroom into reasonable shape for guests (it's been a wedding present/kitchen overhaul catch-all room). So, I guess I've made progress. I just have so far to go until things are at a "maintenance" point, instead of a major project point. House guests coming this summer are a looming motivation to get it done!