Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where is the Grace?

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 1:58 PM

When I was a little girl I was scared most of the time.  I never felt good enough, and felt judged most of the time.  I knew very well how much the world could hurt me, and always felt this conditional love.  I remember as a small girl walking to a nearby park to play tennis with my brand new racket with Billie Jean King’s signature on it that I had got my birthday.  I had my normal tomboy outfit on, and a pigtail tying up my hair.  I remember stopping to cross a street, and men in a car honking and making comments that were very threatening.  At that age?  I was hardly some sex pot let me tell you!

What is strange to me is I realized what the first question would be out of someone’s mouth if I had mentioned it!  They would ask me if I was dressed with modesty.  They would ask me how much I gave to the world, and if I relied on God enough due to my fear and sense of conditional love.

Why are Christian’s so stingy with grace?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 6:15 PM

I loved this video, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The other side of the story

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:25 AM

I believe it was a couple of months ago I had posted a message from Jimmy Carter.  He had spoke about the abuse of women within the faith realm.  Recently, I had was reading and someone posted an article regarding a message he recently again stated.  Jimmy Carter: Abuse of Women? Blame the Catholics and Southern Baptists.  It was amazing to me how not one of the people looked to read the transcript, or even listen to the short audio message the man presented.  They just assumed what the article said was so, and when others posted what was actually said?  His politics were the response.  They wouldn't go near the truth.

I noticed that when some were trying to point out the inaccurate information within the article that those posters were accused of NOT living during the man's time being President.  They were told they didn't understand the man's politics. 

I remember those years very clearly myself.  I had parents on both sides of the political realm, and YES that made for some interesting dinner conversations.  I will mention they did keep it respectful.  I wasn't the type of child (or young adult at that point) to engage with the conversations, but my younger brother just thrived on it.  I remember he had a huge world map that took up his entire one wall in his bedroom, and during the time he literally took a black sharpie marker to remove Iran off it.  He also had an American flags in his bedroom window for each Hostage that was being held.  The intensity of the conversations during that time for dinner?  WELL it was on high alert, and I never was like my brother as he got into the discussions.  He did very well defending his views, but I felt intimidated by whole conversation myself.  It was a very intense time in history, and I remember wondering if I asked a question would it be more like jabbing a stick into a beehive. I wasn't ever really comfortable with politics as a child, but as I grew older I tend to discuss it in small portions at a time.  My brother got another world map AFTER this time, and I noticed he left it alone this time! 

It seems once a person is branded  you just can't look at anything else they have to say within that faith board.  I knew that Mr. Carter had issues with the Southern Baptist or the SBC.  I couldn't believe that he would actually SAY the things the author of the article mentioned.  I searched the speech out, and found the transcript and sure enough that wasn't what he said.  The video presentation was what I sought out first.  Mr. Carter's transcript on what he said is what I searched for next. 

The article in question claimed:

Jimmy Carter has once again blamed traditional religion, particularly Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics, for "creating an environment where violations against women are justified".
I did a search of the transcript for the portion that was quoted. This is what was mentioned:

This view that the Almighty considers women to be inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or tradition. Its influence does not stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.
The article quoted:

Their continuing choice provides a foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world," said Carter. Carter goes on to list horrific violations against women such as rape, genital mutilation, abortion of female embryos and spousal battery.
What the transcript and video showed he said was:

Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views and set a new course that demands equal rights for women and men, girls and boys.

At their most repugnant, the belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo. It also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair and equal access to education, health care, employment, and influence within their own communities.

The quotes caught a few people by surprise, and then of course the SBC or those that are 'Baptist' aren't naive and give dangerous advice to those victims of domestic violence.  I mentioned Paige Patterson's quick little remark about domestic violence, and just to add a bit of sugar gave them a link to the audio of him actually 'uttering' the ignorance they claim their church doesn't endorse.  You remember his advice?

He was approached due to this woman's husband beating her. She was told to go to the end of the bed each night, and when he is about asleep you start to pray for him out loud so he can hear. He told her to get ready, because he might get a little more violent. SURE enough she came to church that Sunday with both eyes black. She was angry at me and said, "I HOPE your HAPPY!" I told her, "Yes Maam I am, but I'm sorry about what happen." What she didn't know is her husband came to church, and he was staying in the back - when I gave the invitation to come to Christ - he came. "My wife has been praying for me, and I can't believe what I did to her! Do you think Christ would want someone like me?" NOW they have a great marriage, and it all came about because of she sought God.
I was told then:

let's not jump from a few idiots to an entire denomination. I know some really obnoxious atheists, but I have enough perspective to realize that not all atheists are like that. I am always mildly amused when people who decry stereotypes left and right try to lump a group of Christians into one stereotype. It's like their own hypocrisy escapes their notice.

They were actually shocked to find out that Paige Patterson isn't just any pastor; he's the president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.   I mentioned what John Piper said about taking verbal abuse for a season, and maybe a smack for the night - then you could come to the church for help.  Once again they stated they had never heard a pastor condone domestic violence from the pulpit.  Then of course the typical comment came:

The last I heard God hates divorce. Why would any christian pastor support it? Maybe, just maybe, these pastors were trying to keep the marriage together. Maybe, just maybe, we don't know all the facts in those supposed situations where pastors counciled women to be "abused" by their husbands.
 Maybe just maybe the church just plain doesn't wish to face that their actions don't line up with their message.

Its like they are taking it as attack due to pride of a denomination, and not looking at the whole picture.  The Christian church ISN'T the only doing this!  You see other faiths such as Jewish or Muslim do the same thing, and justify it in their very own unique flavor of oppression just as the Christians do. 

I realize that men, women and children that are dealing with abuse tend to doubt their reality.  Its not US that are struggling with the reality of domestic violence, but the ones that don't have to when it comes acknowledging it exists and is happening!  When someone mentions that some misbehavior on your behave may have caused another person to abuse you?  Don't listen to the lies!  They are just not strong enough to handle the truth, and find the strength within you to find others that maybe scared as well - but are willing to place their faith towards what they know is right.  When it comes down to it?  We have alot of cowards within our houses of faith.  They may do awesome things in other areas, but when it comes to families NOT so much!  Their cowardly ways of not placing their faith in action towards hurting people show they may not be capable of acknowledging reality.  Don't spend the energy trying to get them to see, but spend your energy finding those that are willing to acknowledge it.  They are like abusers that refuse to hear, and all you do is bang your head against a wall.  Your first priority is your safety and well being.  If the house of faith isn't willing to step up and do what they say they will do - allow the secular world to help instead.  You see their faith can't be all that strong, and their truth can't be truth if they have to manipulate you with guilt.  They can acknowledge that spiritual leaders give rotten advice, but can't acknowledge that some may take that ignorance to heart?  Its not US - its THEM!  If they truly wished to help broken people did we not hand them that opportunity, and did they NOT take it?  They claim they don't know all the facts, and yet:

No, we don't know all the facts, but we do know what they said publicly. According to the descriptions given by the pastors themselves: one said women should be willing to take a smack. Another told her to antagonize a man who was physically violent.

and they claim their churches don't condone violence? Their leaders do, but they don't?  Those leaders are not dealt with, but ignored so is that WHY it doesn't happen to them?

If you place Mr. Carter's personal politics aside, and people bothered to listen to what the man said about faith and domestic violence?  They should be ashamed of themselves, but they aren't it seems.  Its easier to shame abuse victims, and ignore perpetrators of abuse just like their leaders do.  Maybe they can't acknowledge us because then they would have to acknowledge those leaders dangerous advice.  They call those that flee 'worldly', and yet their 'do as I say and not as I do' isn't for some reason.

The Christian faith states we are to be different from those of the world.  How are they different in this case?  Their acts of denial are different, and yet if you think about it - its not so different is it?  If you need help please run if someone is trying to guilt you into staying within a dangerous household.  If you have the church telling you that you can't be right with God if you flee?  Stop and ask yourself if they are willing to put their money where their mouth is!  Chances are they won't.  Those that find you a safe place are those that are safe themselves.  The rest just like spiritual pixie dust, and condone their spiritual leaders and their ignorant advice by NOT SPEAKING OUT AGAINST IT!  They aren't so right with God are they?  To me?  They are the ones that should repent, and yet their denial, pride and arrogance won't allow it.

They say there are two sides to every story!  Take a GOOD LOOK at their side, and let that marinate really well.  Do they stand for faith, truth and love?  To me it looks like cowardly.  They can't stand in faith knowing that truth, and showing love towards the victims as the bible calls them to do.  That's your other side the story!

Friday, December 11, 2009

5 articles dealing with domestic violence and the church

2 comments Posted by Hannah at 7:17 AM

Why is Loving You Hurting Me?, by Frederick D. Haynes III  is a very touching article about domestic violence in the church.  He speaks very clearly about the silent on this issues, and the suffering of those that we pretend are not there.

Well, let me see if I can make this plain by focusing the lens even more. There is no sadder story than the one of Tamar, found in the thirteenth chapter of second Samuel. Tamar is the daughter of King David, and Tamar happens to be extremely beautiful, yet, Tamar soon discovered that the beauty she had going for her ended up being used against her. I think I'll park here, parenthetically, because for some of you, what you have going for you has been sadly used against you. Perhaps it's the way God has blessed you to look; perhaps it's the education you have been blessed to achieve; but whatever the case, it is some gift that God has blessed you with, that sadly, has turned out to be something that haters and others are using against you. This happens to Tamar. The Book says that she is exceedingly beautiful and yet, her beauty gets her in trouble. Why? Because she has a half-brother, by the name of Amnon, and Amnon begins to lust after her. Amnon is so crazy with lust for Tamar that the Bible says: he became sick because of his love for her. Amnon is a sick man because Amnon wants to have his own sister. Sick people do sick things that will infect and affect others who are around them.

You may know what it's like to be sick and you may be doing things that are making you sick. Not only are you making yourself sick, but your "sickness" is infecting and affecting others that you supposedly care about. Not only is Amnon sick, but to heal this sickness, he consults with his street smart cousin, who tells him how to get with his own sister. He lets his father, David, know that he is sick, and he wants his sister, David's daughter, to come and feed him out of her hand. The Bible says that David allows Tamar to go to her sick brother, and when she got there Amnon made her cook the food that he desired. As soon as the food was ready, the Bible says that Amnon had everybody put out; he then went into his bedroom and called in Tamar. Tamar innocently went into the room of Amnon and he raped her.

Can you not hear the helpless screams of Tamar as she says, please don't do this? This is a terrible thing to do. But being physically stronger than Tamar, Amnon because of his sickness, takes advantage of Tamar. Imagine how Tamar must have felt. She must have felt something similar to what Ludacris articulates in the song, "Runaway Love," about poor little Lisa:
Forced to think that hell is a place called home.

For some of you, the one thing you don't want to do is go home. As a matter of fact, for some people the one place they look forward to not going to is home. Some of you spend as much time away from home as you can because of the hell you are catching at home. Why? Because I've discovered that hell is not merely an eschatological destination that you will go to after you die if you are without Christ; hell can be an existential situation that you find yourself in, even if you love Christ. In other words, hell can come to you right where you live. That is what happened to Tamar. Tamar is a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. I'm dealing with this because sadly and shamefully, domestic violence has become the pink elephant in the living room of the African-American community. Some of us go to church, Sunday after Sunday, not realizing that there are people in our pews, sitting there, silently suffering. Yes, they are praising God, but they are internally shattered and broken by the hell they are catching at home.

Cheesehead in Paradise speaks of a roommate she had in college that she didn't recognize right away as a victim of domestic violence.  She speaks of how her roommate changed over time.  She speaks of the controlling nature of the abuse, and at times the phony type of love that others offer victims when they ask for help.

And in every story in the Bible where Jesus encounters those who have been victimized by power, Jesus always answers with grace, with love. Not the kind of phony “love” that must beat a person to keep them down, but a love that builds up. Christ always invites a love and a relationship that is about trading places. Christ invites us not to become or create victims, but to lower ourselves willingly to serve another, just as they are serving us. Christ will indeed be martyred, but he recognizes that our call is not to be subservient to our fellow humans to the point of our own demise or victimization, but instead to live in service to others in relationships of mutuality. The power of Christ in the world, and the truth of the gospel are a great equalizer: we succeed together, we fail together. We are faithful together and we falter together.

If I had known then what I know now about abuse and violence and power, I would have probably tried much harder to get my friend away from her boyfriend. But I didn’t. In fact, they got married one week after Blue Eyes and I did, and I lost track of them completely. I do not know if there was ever a transformative moment in their lives, whether he was able to get the help he needed to realize how his own sense of extremely low self-worth, and his endless quest for power in the absence of self-esteem was destroying others around him. I don’t know if she ever fully understood that she was beautiful, strong and beloved as a daughter of God. I don’t even know if she is still alive, honestly. Many women and men who find themselves in those unbalanced relationships do not survive. They fall victim to a love that wounds, that destroys, and overpowers and minimizes. In other words, a love that is not real.

The love for each other to which we are called by Christ—the love which he modeled for us in his living and in his dying and in his resurrection—is a love that asks us to be willing to trade places with others, it asks us to be brave in the face of adversity, and to lean unto Christ when we cannot be brave. It affirms that we are created good and strong and beautiful and that we are beloved of our creator. It requires that we remember who we are and Whose we are, so that we never misuse power against others. It behooves us to deal gently with those who are victims and to trade fear for justice in the lives of those who victimize. It challenges, it builds up, it accepts the love of another, it transforms. And it never hurts. Thanks be to God. Amen.

A Different Kind of Christian had Advent sermon about domestic violence.

He uses the term, 'levanten la cabeza' which I looked up and mentioned it meant 'lift his head'

Levanten la cabeza.  When facing the worst of life, up unto the end of the world, levanten la cabeza.  Christians are to be characterized by an attitude of hope, active hope.  Levanten la cabeza.
This commandment is important for us today, because many of us already know what it is to live in a destroyed world.  For many in our society, in our family, the world has already come to an end.  Their world has been torn down by poverty, by racism, by sexism, by depression, by disease.  So many in our society live in a destroyed world.  This command has deep meaning for those facing a world destroyed: levanten la cabeza.
When we encounter systems that seek to destroy our humanity, or the humanity of our neighbor, levantando la cabeza, lifting up our heads, is a radical action.  Levantando la cabeza means confronting the systems that sinfully seek to deny our identidad, identity, as beloved children of God.  Levantando la cabeza means standing up for our rights, and the rights of others.  Levantando la cabeza means hoping actively through seeking justice, through pursuing education, through organizing.  Levantando la cabeza means claiming our social identity as God’s beloved community, and enacting the justice and love that characterizes that community.
The commandment has social implications, and also personal implications.  We have a responsibility to allow the command to levantar la cabeza to transform the way we live our personal lives, our family lives.  When we find ourselves in places of depression, of unemployment, of sickness, Jesus commands us to levantar las cabezas, to live into our identity as children of God, beloved creatures.
Whatever attitude or person desiring to negate our identity as beloved daughters and sons, querida/os hija/os de Dios, is sinful.  There are few people I have more respect for in life than my friends who have stood up, who have levantado la cabeza in the face of domestic violence.  They have claimed their identity as children of God.  They have said, you cannot treat me this way for I am a beloved child of God.  I am inspired by their courage.  I believe this is the kind of action Jesus commands when he says, “levanten la cabeza.”
Today we begin the church season we call Advent.  We begin what we call “a season of expectation.”  What Jesus’ command, to levantar la cabeza, says to us is that as we wait, we hope.  Esperamos con esperanza.  We have a commandment that guides our attitude about expectation.
We lift up our heads, because we already know the end of the story.  I don’t mean I know the end of the story specifically.  I wish I was one of those preachers who could prophesy the end of the world for you.  I wish I could point out exactly who was the antichrist, and give you the hour and time of the second coming.  I could make a lot more money that way, like the writers of the Left Behind series have.  I could sell images of the last things.  People love talking about the end times.

Must Christian Wives Submit to Domestic Violence? By Patricia Backora

Some misguided Christian ministers advise, or even COMMAND abused wives to stay with their husbands, even if they or their children are in danger. Did Jesus set the example for this?

EEENO's World had a nice article about Thanksgiving.  How one of her relatives volunteers at a domestic violence shelter, and how she had also thought about doing just this.

For the record, I have no idea why this type of abuse brings up such strong feelings within me--I didn't witness it growing up, and am not a victim myself. I saw a video on domestic abuse in my college "Women's Studies" course, and it absolutely chilled me to the core. That feeling has haunted me ever since. Such a feeling of utter helplessness. Horrifying. It's a vicious cycle---children who have witnessed domestic violence most likely will either choose a partner who is abusive, or will become abusers themselves. And so it continues....

I once heard a pastor say that everyone has a calling (obviously), but if there's an injustice that you just can't STAND, then there's a reason, and you have an obligation to take a stand to fix it. Makes sense to me---people are naturally more effective and successful in areas that they're passionate about. So, I've got some work to do.

Back to Thanksgiving. The woman at the party was telling me how one of the kids she'd worked with sent her a card with that famous starfish story about how although throwing one shore-stranded starfish back into the sea may just seem like a drop in the bucket, to that one starfish it means everything! The girl wrote that she "was that one starfish".

As I was sitting there sipping my coffee in a warm home, surrounded by happy people, children's laughter, pets, and a 2-table dinner spread, it suddenly hit me: We have SO MUCH to be thankful for in this country. Now, I know this. I KNOW. We hear it constantly. At Thanksgiving we're supposed to think about all of the things we're thankful for, blah blah blah, and I do. But this year, sitting there in the warm house, thinking about how some people have to walk for two DAYS just to fill a rusted pail with muddy water (that will eventually make their waiting family ill), how some children spend their lives scavenging through garbage dumps and will never have the simple luxury of squishing a playdough shark, how many people in the world would have DIED from the sinus infection I was getting over (when all that was needed to clear it was a $12 co-pay on some easily accessible antibiotics that I didn't even have to get out of the CAR to obtain--thank you drive-thru pharmacy), the true meaning of Thanksgiving hit me. THANKS.

To those who have been given much, much is expected.

I hope you enjoyed my list of 5 articles that I found regarding domestic violence and the church.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Invisable Line of Domestic Violence

3 comments Posted by Hannah at 10:47 AM

We had area where we used to go and visit for long weekends.  It was a rural area, and the deer were plentiful.  Time had already taken out the natural predators (like wolves, etc) due to the threat to humans, and the deer were over taking the area.  They were killing all the vegetation.  You see the animals knew the boundaries of the vacation areas, and knew the hunters could not cross that line.

What the animals may not have realized is they were killing off their food sources as their numbers grew, and the food sources were not as plentiful anymore. They were facing a new type of death, and that was starvation.

Soon people realized they had to do something with this booming population, and they brought in professional sharp shooters to bring the number of deer down to a manageable population.  As you can imagine some people were very upset over this.  They felt the death of these animals over the vacation homes flowers, trees and vegetation was just plain sinful. 

I can understand their view on the surface okay?  What they didn't see was the bigger picture of what would happen to these animals - and the area - if the food sources disappeared.  It wouldn't benefit anyone, and animals aren't likely to move outside the invisible line at the time just for food.  You would think so wouldn't you?  The deer meat was donated to local homeless shelters, and rest of the deer population had enough food to survive the winter.

Some deer were cocooned in that small vacation area for so long they didn’t realize there was life outside the invisible line.  There were deer that stayed inside the invisible line once the sharp shooters came, and then you had those that scattered. 

What would happen if the sharp shooters never entered the area?  In time after the land completely went to waste the deer would have moved on, but not until the resources were completely gone and many deer had died. You now have a whole section of land that went to waste, and those factors that surround that issue.  Then you have this population of unhealthy deer, and the effects of those deer integrating into the more healthy population of deer outside that invisible line.  Most people I think realize you don’t want sickly animals within healthy ones without a plan of action.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tools for the Restraining order

0 comments Posted by Hannah at 9:33 AM

I think most of us have heard of the ankle bracelets that are being used for some couples with restraining orders are in place.  Elmo Tech has taken that one step further.  Normally, if someone is violating the restraining order they are in the victims presence or near enough to do them harm. 

"Restraining orders are the most common way in Western administrations of handing domestic violence cases and remote offender monitoring has been used in the Western world for some 20 years now," Mor said. "What is unique about our tool is its comprehensiveness: it tracks the aggressors and alerts the monitoring center, the victim and any other stakeholder of a potential interaction. It can even alert the aggressor, so he can retreat, and enables government administrations to determine whether a restraining order has been violated."

Alot of the technology we use today may have a panic button on it, but once the person is pushing the panic button?  It tends to be to late, and sure it alerts others they are in danger but doesn't help them much to avoid the danger beforehand.

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