Thursday, September 17, 2015

Strangers here: identifying with the refugee.

"I was a stranger and you took me in."  Jesus

Watching the news over the past weeks and reading the American responses among even Christians has brought me down. It seems to me that too many have dehumanized people created in the image of God because they believe differently from certain Americans about who is God. 

This is unconscionable. 

I hear fear where there should be love, arrogance where there should be humility, entitlement where there is already a ridiculous amount of privilege. Personally, our family has been going through a rotten time with home repairs and water damage and car troubles yet we have a place to live that is relatively safe and secure. 

We American Christians are rich compared to most of the world and can even defend ourselves if necessary. In comparison to what other people in the world are facing daily, no one is bombing us, enslaving us, or threatening us with arrest for not doing our military service for a corrupt government. Beyond that, if we expect earthly governments to safeguard Christian values, we are delusional.  We are in the world and not of it, and our hope and confidence is in the God of the universe. 

People caught between Assad and IS are being looked at with contempt because of their possible religion. Though caution and wisdom is needed in how to safeguard our freedom in the West while helping refugees of war, it is evil and wrong to callously dismiss human beings on the basis of their culture. Added to that, the fact is there is more than one sect or belief system in Syria.  Stereotyping people fleeing war, whatever their gender or financial situation, is heartless. 

Frankly I'm tired of it. I expected more from fellow Christians; I thought we were to love our neighbors and even our enemies, and be good Samaritans.  I'm not saying we have to check our brains at the door, but I am wondering where our hearts have gone. Too many professing Christians seem to prefer rigid control, regardless of who they hurt, to Christlike love whatever the cost. 

In this context, the following conversation struck me as relevant:
    From Fully Human: An Introduction 

It is high time for the church in America to  grieve, mourn, and wail while making the most of every opportunity to love as God.

Further thoughts:
Apologies for the swearing but this is perspective:

 "Out of Egypt I have called My Son."    

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Some of us have no home. The most painful thing I've ever had communicated to me, as a foreigner wherever I go, and usually when I express an opinion outside of the norm, is, "Go home."  

I think that is the cruelest attack we can make on a person in transition. 

For me, it's hard to take when "home" is not something I have ever found nor even hope to find on this earth. I have instead found my only stable citizenship identity as an Adult Third Culture Kid is in Heaven. 

Everything else, however precious, is just reflection of a better reality, and those of us who cannot go home may find our comfort in our God with us right here, right now. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

where spiritual abuse intersects with my third culture life

I didn’t know how hard it would be to begin thinking about my Third Culture past.  An innocent reminder of a place I grew up came in the context of a nasty internet kerfuffle that brought up the teasing I experienced in school for being culturally different and because I am sensitive.  That was followed by a surprise personal attack on me in private for settling down a political discussion in my internet space.  I have lost friends for expressing opinions I always had but that they don’t like.  I have lost closeness with some members of family for asking for mutual respect.  I’ve been there: the brunt of nastiness for being different, talking differently, thinking differently, remembering differently, and experiencing differently. 

I’ve been misunderstood and yet I have come to believe I’ve often been the only one trying to understand. 

I’ve been misrepresented as this or that by people who claim to know me who reveal they really do not.  It hurts.  The grief of being a Third Culture Kid for me is not just in the identity issues, the loss or lack of home, nor even in an inability to trust people.  For me, it has been even more so in the betrayals I’ve experienced when I have trusted people to care.  I have found out who my true friends are, and sadly, though I am thankful for precious people who accept me and love me, too often I find that people of faith are not the ones who care about me as a person. 

If I cannot or do not conform to their views they have kicked me when I’m down, however well I’ve articulated my thoughts to them.  It doesn’t matter if they are friends or family, I have found I am expendable.  That hurts.  It is why I would rather preemptively remove myself from people who hurt people.  Too often people assume that my firm opinions are open to conformity to the surrounding culture, even though I have worked them out in culture and a context of life experience they do not share with me. 

My deepest pain is the depth of rejection by people who claim to know and love the God who loves me and gave Himself for me. 

A lack of willingness to be wrong or dialogue and learn more from each other is difficult to tolerate, when you have sat and listened to learn your whole life.  I get weary of listening to people who think they are authorities on life when they haven’t experienced anywhere near as much of life as I or others have.  I can’t even consider myself an authority on anything, because there is always so much more to learn.  But people who have it all figured out and reject me for thinking differently are harmful to me. 

The one person who does not reject is God.  But it can be hard (though not impossible) to find mutual community with people whose existence is rooted in one culture.  Simultaneously, I have been very na├»ve about life in the past and still presently find myself very idealistic.  I wish that people could open their eyes and get past the polarizations, but most won’t.  It is too hard for them.  And it is too hard for me to speak out about my opinions when I am misunderstood and treated like a heretic for having the opinion that we are all allowed our opinion and should base our thinking on facts. 

I find elements in several cultures I have experienced controlling, but none so much as a certain subculture of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity.  Much of that subculture is corrupt.  People in it do not see the cult mentalities that have infiltrated it, and it is hard to talk of it when you grew up in it and still love many in it.  I can’t reach or control people out of their way of thinking, and I believe in Jesus like many of them do.  But what is so sad is the oppression in that group: the orphan – the sexually abused, the widow- the emotionally abused spouse, and the foreigner- the third culture kid like me- who are told by some with shaming implication not to share their pain because it might hurt the cause of Christ. 

Yet how the church treats us is an indicator of how close they are to the heart of God.  How the church treats those who mourn, including the deaths of loved ones, is an indicator of where it is spiritually.  I have not yet felt free to articulate much of this, because I come at spiritual abuse from a cross-cultural angle; one that is deeply personal.  I will be accused of playing the victim or wallowing, but I want passionately to see the church a safe place for future generations of oppressed and grieving peoples.  Because globalism is here, and Third Culture is the future experience of increasing numbers of individuals, with its joys and its augmented levels of grief and loss.

It is not right that churches should look down on people who are tired and over-stretched from grief or hyper-sensitivity, highly mobile or lonely, confused or vulnerable, and I have personally experienced this in certain churches.  It is right that the local church be the safest place in the world for diverse people.  Enough already with the happy-clappy songs and fake smiles.  Let’s get real about the hurts.  Let’s also get global in our thinking and recognize the hurts and real persecution of brothers and sisters of different traditions and support them in prayer and with our lives.  I thank God for local churches that are safe places for hurting people and get this. 

Third Culture is just one angle, and it is specific to me.  My life experience has taught me a lot about grief.  I know what it is to lose a loved one because they simply go missing one day and to find out later they were murdered.  I know what it is to deal with that as a teenager across the ocean from the event in question.  I know a little something of grief.  I want others who are going through so much to know they are not alone.  Why should that not be the desire of every little Christ who loves God?  Why are many American Christians so consumed with politics and not more consumed with loving people?  We are so far from our holy God who is love.  It must change.  It starts with me. 

But first, I must grieve the lack of love I have experienced and observed.  I see it daily online among Christians.  The behavior of many says they do not see those they disagree with nor people in sin as made in the image of God.  That hurts.  God is powerful and can change any of us.  He has redeemed me, and He ministers to us in our grief.  He suffered rejection and bereavement and understands our suffering.  He made us and knows us intimately: what we can bear and what we cannot.  He did not make us to suffer alone.  It is an indictment on the church culture that some of us do not feel safe to open up these wounds because we will be judged.
(Christ is King- English translation available in comments on YouTube)

Monday, August 17, 2015

A personal code of ethics

A developing personal code of ethics for social media use:

My feed/my wall-my rules: 
I aim to promote respectful interaction on my wall and engage in respectful interaction elsewhere, even throughout strong disagreement, respecting other people's boundaries, cultures, and/or different values. 

Private messages are private disclaimer:
I endeavor to create a safe place for people to talk to me privately.  I do not permit people I feel unsafe with to bully me in private.  I may choose to publicly share private messages with names redacted if I deem the ideas presented or the kind of character represented is unhealthy or dangerous.  I aim to avoid commenting on pms publicly unless they are pertinent to a larger discussion, and if so mentioned I speak generally and endeavor to maintain confidentiality. 

Public behavior that harms people is to be exposed.
I will take screenshots to document harmful behavior or ideas and may even discuss the said but I will not engage in or with personal attacks on people created in the image of God.  

Context is important. 
I will not judge people on their image but on their interaction. 

Character matters. 
I will publicly apologize if I misrepresent someone or believe I have misunderstood their motivation.  I will refuse to repeat a resolved matter. 

Truth matters. 
I will not be bullied into apologizing for critique of groups or individuals who have no qualms smearing others for disagreeing with them, or who support a party line to the detriment of their integrity. 

Love is the rule. 
I will aim to treat others online as I wish to be treated, in the Spirit of Christ.  I will accept online relationships as fluid and stick with my idealism that people can change and we can be reconciled.  I will hold fast to my personal convictions and be open to constructive feedback. 

"Search me, oh God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the Way everlasting." (From Psalm 139)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Citizen of heaven

I feel a rant coming on. I heard today that a self-professed "Christian" hate group wants to "protest" at the funerals of Christians killed for the color of their skin. Christians. This was a hate crime.  It's not perhaps shocking but it's sick.

Yet I'm seeing several groups and people in American Christianity who don't see that they are sliding the same way: towards hate group instead of known as His by love. All cult mentality and mind control abuse dynamics aside, you can't be a Christian and not be known for your obedient and humble love. It's just that simple. 

Why do some Christians believe they should have the moral majority?  What kind of entitlement do we have that we expect our understanding of God's laws to be upheld in society?  We should humbly and confidently stand against evil and injustice, certainly, but this is not the nation of Israel!!  And what about the evil of abuses in the church?!  We cannot expect unbelievers to accept our moral standards, especially if we are more concerned with our image rather than with being holy as He is holy.

God is set apart because He is love.  We who are His people are in the world but not of it. And the Church lost its heart when it became a political empire. It warped from something fresh to something controlling and corrupt.  If we are not about reconciliation or restoration in a spirit of gentleness, watching ourselves too, something is wrong.  By contrast to our current over-concern with judging professed or probable unbelievers, Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world. 

Friends, we have to wake up to the reality that sound doctrine and moral purity don't save anyone. We Christians have to acknowledge we are a remnant in this world and it could get worse. Much much worse. Our first calling is to love people in our daily lives, and in that, private prayer is as important as what we do or say publicly. We aren't going to change the slide towards godlessness by politics primarily. We must in fact be godly ourselves, and if God is love, that means we must love each other and weep for those who don't love Jesus. Love comes before everything. We need our God's mighty hand at work in hearts. 

Whatever we think of our brothers or sisters' theology now won't matter when we praise God together in heaven. 

Remember that when you are nailing your theses on the Internet or expounding your doctrines at conferences. Remember that when you even tacitly condone ignoring the oppressed in the church of Jesus Christ, or are tempted to try to control others or kick them when they are down. Remember who He is. He is not a God you can use for your own fame or devices. He is God and he won't be misrepresented forever. He will arise. 

And we, dearly loved children, are most truly known by our citizenship being in another place.  Little Christ, you are known as Christ's by your heart being full of God's love. 

[Edited from initial blogpost]

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Censorship in the church: a synopsis of current affairs

I was hoping to podcast with a friend about freedom of speech this weekend, but I have been so grieved by all that is going on that I simply couldn't do it. I'm very sensitive and much of this is personal to me. I've been attacked online once or twice for talking about public things publicly, and I can't handle seeing others attacked as in sin for talking about issues.  I just can't handle another flurry of nastiness. But some things need to be said and said publicly. I wrote down my notes to focus the things I wanted to say during the podcast and I want them out there so many people of God know they are not the only ones who feel this way.  We must no longer put up with anyone who bullies us. Jesus is gentle and humble of heart and the meek will inherit the earth. 

The following is my personal opinion based on what I have observed on Twitter and throughout a lifetime of involvement in the institution known as church.

The church is notorious for covering up sin in the name of forgiveness or grace: think SGM/CJMahaney/in court testimony that the SGM leadership team knew of sexual abuses and did not report to police-yet TGC talks both sides of mouth about child sex abuse and their friend CJ. Thankfully only three members of TGC put their name to that disgusting statement. However the PR job they've been doing saying people who use h/t Istandwithsgmvictims are "exploiting victims" is absurdity. The institutional church wouldn't listen, so this h/t was a way of validating suffering never acknowledged by SGM or anyone else in the conservative Christian world for that matter. The wording of the statement was in fact dismissive and derogatory to victims "please do not hear us saying we assume all of the plaintiffs are lying" I mean come on. I'm a linguist and guess what that implies? Not all are lying, but perhaps some. I mean gimme a break. That's hurtful however you cut it. 

Then you have among other issues, emergent "Christian" Tony Jones. Again, another person with a following gets to control the story at the expense of his ex wife who he has clearly abused by infidelity and by painting her as crazy while he is a diagnosed Narcissist. And when he's called on it he tries to get people talking about it to shut up. Sorry mate, opinion is protected speech as far as I am aware. And yes, that is my opinion. 

Then you have the whole Mark Driscoll fiasco. I got reprimanded for talking about that online by a British pastor friend who used dubious scripture references and yet an Acts 29 pastor friend told me he'd never tell anyone to stop sharing an opinion. I thought that was ironic. Or perhaps an interesting cultural commentary. 

Which brings me to Acts 29. Oh boy. Let me say this. IMO Mark Driscoll is a bully and their theology is entirely off particularly when it comes to authority. I've heard the A29 teaching on church membership, elder authority, and divorce and it was a set up for potential abuse. We couldn't take it anymore even though my husband and I loved the people at a local A29 church so we moved churches right around the time A29 dumped Mars Hill. It was all downhill from there...honestly I felt A29 did the right thing belatedly and in the wrong way. I felt they were more concerned about the image Mark had tarnished than with Mark himself. Mark Driscoll should never be in leadership over others unless he can see he himself needs to he forgiven for abuses of power. Instead he tells people he forgives all those who apparently slandered him! However, I don't think A29 has ever dealt with the bad authority teachings that led Mark to his bullying style of leadership and I think that is borne out in this latest scandal from The Village Church. 

Everything I'm hearing about TVC telling a woman she must submit to the elders and stay married to a pedophile until they are ready to tell her to divorce him is consistent with the bad teachings I heard in an A29 church. It's sad but doesn't surprise me. Acts 29 and incidentally many churches are far too controlling, in that authority is vested in the elders, and not in the whole Body of Christ.  The story with the woman who annulled her marriage without church consent is shocking, but points to the cult mentality of these churches, which they back up with legally binding membership agreements known as covenants.  This woman submitted to her mission board by informing them of child sex abuse images-part of the priesthood of believers if you will, the laws of the land, per Romans 13 if you will, and her church did not support her getting away from someone who admitted to an ongoing problem. 

Here's what common sense says if your spouse is found to be into child abuse images or physical sexual abuse: you call the authorities, you get a lawyer, you get a divorce, you warn the parents, you grieve the betrayal. Your church should support you through that. But in this case, TVC/ A29 teaching wanted to preserve the marriage at the expense of the person. And this happens all the time. I know of a few other cases where to churches marriage was more important than protecting the innocent party or parties. This leaves individual people of God without the support of the people of God, following God, but without corporate support. It's abusive of churches to do this yet they are "perplexed" that anyone would see it that way. 

So on the topic of freedom of speech-you've got people or institutions trying to abuse the legalities of freedom of speech to stop Christians from telling the truth or warning others about abusive or dangerous people or situations. You've got censorship by broken systems and you've also got self censorship by spiritual abuse or the "gossip/slander" conundrum. That is censorship by cult mind control. 

And don't even get me started on the Duggars handling of their situation or Mike Huckabee's disgraceful comments. I'll just say that I saw sex abuse survivors who spoke up and told him how hurtful his "let's move on nothing to see here" silencing was. He deserves to lose and that isn't about politics (I am a registered Republican). I will not vote for anyone who publicly supports abusers and enablers over grieving for and if possible with the victims.  This is the kind of rank arrogance we are seeing or experiencing all over the church today. It's the kind that can extend cheap grace to abusers, or public bullies like J D Hall or Chuck O'Neal or Tony Miano or Mark Driscoll or Tony Jones, supporting them having a platform whether in the pulpit or on Twitter to hurt others, yet ignores the ordinary many, who need understanding and support, or worse, attacks and further abuses them. 

So yeah, we have a real problem of who gets to exercise their freedom of speech these days.  I don't think the solution is so much for governments to create laws that penalize hate speech but more that citizens and especially members of the Church of whatever denomination should take responsibility to stand up against abuses of power by talking about problems publicly. I don't think we fix dysfunction by catering to the status quo. I think dysfunction can only be addressed by honesty and a reality check, and systems and people take time to change.  I don't think people come out of the fog of domestic or spiritual abuse or cults or fear of lawsuit without a process of being exposed to, then opening up to, the contrast of facts or truth against what they have falsely believed. 

Further Resources:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wisdom from Disney

"Being famous isn't the same as being a true hero."  (Hercules)

God help the outcasts:

"I see Your face and wonder
Were You once an outcast too?"

Watch this space for any additional nuggets of wisdom. ;)