For Reformation Day: Protestantism hurt and confused me

calvinism-some-lives-matterThe day before Christmas Day is called Christmas Eve. The day before All Saint’s Day is called All Saint’s Eve. All Saint’s Eve is also known as All Hallow’s Eve. Remember in the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus says, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…”? Hallow means holy or it can also mean saintly. So Halloween is short for All Hallow’s Eve or All Saint’s Eve.

In some circles, today is also known as Reformation Day. It is the anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation (which is a misnomer but that’s another post that I may or may not write). On this day 499 years ago, a Catholic priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saint’s Church in Wittenburg, Germany. The year was 1517.

In memory of what Luther started, I thought it would be a good day for me to describe what it was like for me to be raised under Protestantism’s structural faults. Please do not take this an at attack on any individual Protestant except perhaps Luther himself. I mean this sincerely. For one thing, I know that Protestants are sincere in their beliefs and they have Biblical reasons for believing what they believe. While I disagree with their Biblical interpretations, I also know that it is scary to even contemplate becoming Catholic. At least, it was for me when I first started on my journey to the Church and I’ve heard the same from other converts. So what I am about to say is my experience and is, in some respects, unique to me.

I have thought about this for quite a while, and this is what I see. Protestantism has contributed to a lack of unity in my family (various kinds of devout Protestants who disagree with each other and don’t go to the same church); the “Bible alone” doctrine made it possible for the cult to be formed and sustained; the “Bible alone” doctrine was used to justify child abuse and female denigration in the cult; I strongly suspect that the restorationist Protestantism practiced by my paternal grandmother alienated my dad from Jesus through its fundamentalism; T.U.L.I.P. frightened me and provoked my tender conscience almost constantly; Protestantism’s early and enthusiastic imprimatur on remarriage after divorce contributed to me feeling isolated and lonely for my entire childhood (my mother was remarried in a Methodist church in the early 1970s), which in turn made me vulnerable to the false promises of the cult.

I wish all of my family members had been as devoutly Catholic as they are devoutly Protestant. If that had been the case, I can’t see how these issues would have arisen. If they all had been Catholic, then the “cracks” in my family and family structure simply would not have been there. Of course, other very positive things would probably not have happened, such as the blessing of my three truly wonderful, amazing, and beautiful children. I’m not exaggerating about them–everybody who meets them says the same thing, and always has since they were very young. Thankfully, God writes straight with crooked lines. He turns plan B into plan A.

In case I wasn’t clear earlier: my experiences are unique and I fell through “cracks” that most people don’t fall through. Even so, this is one reason why I cannot get excited about Reformation Day. But I hope everybody has a safe and fun Halloween… a safe and fun All Hallow’s Eve, a safe and fun vigil of All Saints.

Physical sex is public information, not private information

To my eldest daughter,

I saw that you posted this video on your Facebook wall. I almost left this comment there, but decided against it for a couple different reasons. So many things are wrong with what she’s saying here that I had a hard time knowing where to begin. I’ll begin with the idea that occurred to me first.

1) It is an example of gnostic thinking. This video is pure gnosticism, which, among other things, is a denial of the importance of the human body. See, for example, what she said at the 1:10 mark about “… living meat skeleton…” The entire video is attempting to negate the importance of our interlocking parts.

2) It’s an example of Screwtape’s advice.  Remember what I said about Letter 1 of the Screwtape letters, and how important it is? Let’s quickly review how Screwtape contrasted truth and falsity with other characteristics:

He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.

Look at the video again, at about the :46 mark. She mentioned the word “outdated.” That immediately reminded me of the above quote. I was reminded of it again at the end, when she told people to be themselves in their gender expression, which was an admonishment to be courageous. So do you see? There are no direct truth claims being made in her video. She must ignore mountains of science telling us that sex differences are real, and that they matter, in order to make her argument.

3) Physical sex is public information, not private information. At about the :50 mark she claims that physical sex is private to every individual. In my opinion, this is the most explosive claim in the entire video. Let’s unpack that thought to see how damaging it is.

It is no secret that women are not as strong as men and that men commit more crime than women do. I was recently in New Orleans, alone, wandering through the French Quarter. My risk for being accosted was much higher from the males around me than the females. Instantly knowing which sex somebody is provides me with important information and helps me make decisions. Here’s another example: a couple years ago I was jogging along the street by my apartment. I saw young man on a dirt bike behind me, riding slowly towards me. He eventually caught up to me and started making small talk. I was immediately suspicious of him. We got to a corner where a traffic light stopped us. It turned green and I let him cross while I waited. At the same time, I pulled out my phone to call a friend. Perhaps confirming my suspicions, when he got to the other side he got off his bike and started fiddling with it. The light turned green and I crossed over, walked passed him, and kept talking to my friend. I turned around a couple times, and he got on his bike and rode back in the other direction. Now, imagine if I was unable to determine his physical sex. This would have made me more vulnerable than I already was, since I may have lowered my guard if I thought he might be a woman.

If everybody’s physical sex is no longer public information, this puts women at risk since they’ll have less instant information about their risks while they are in public places.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am not saying that all men are criminals. I’m just stating the statistical facts regarding them. Given how much I’ve railed about our cultural rejection of the category of “father” (see here and here for two examples), I hope I’ve made it clear just how important men are.

4) Did you notice the straw man fallacy?  At about the 1:00 mark, she states that when somebody asks about the sex of somebody else, they are asking “What genitals do you have?” She has misrepresented the intention of what the person is asking, then she ridicules that intention. That is a classic straw man fallacy. She’s reduced the question into an inaccurate form in order to dispute its (inaccurate) premise; she’s disputing that sex differences matter by making people look ridiculous who seek information about them, not by actually arguing from science that sex differences don’t exist or are irrelevant for women walking alone. Notice too the expression on her face after she poses the question. In fact, the way her left eyebrow is cocked throughout the video is a subtle form of shaming. I don’t need to examine somebody’s genitals to know what sex they are.

Thank you for posting the video and for your commentary on it. You said essentially what Dr. Morse has said: “A good and decent society should obliterate all differences between men and women except for those that are deliberately chosen by individuals…. Society’s job is to endorse the individual’s self understanding and enforce it throughout the rest of society.” That’s a quote from her talk in Salt Lake City last year.

I love you very much and am very proud of you. xxxooo

 

Seven times I was forced to abandon one family and start a new one, thanks to “choice” rhetoric

My childhood was very chaotic. After my parents’ divorce, I was forced to abandon one family and start a new seven times before I was 23:

  • First family: my mom, dad, and me
  • Second family: post divorce, still my mom, my dad, and me but living in two homes; my two parents are single
  • Third family: my mother remarries; my dad is single
  • Forth family: my father remarries; both parents are now remarried
  • Fifth family: my father divorces; he is single again; my mother is still married
  • Sixth family: my father remarries again; both parents are remarried
  • Seventh family: my father and his third wife separate; he is single again and my mother is married

Seven different family structures before I was 23 years old.  Just wanted to share that.

 

Numb by Linkin Park: where’s the dad?

I love this music video by Linkin Park. It was filmed in Prague, which is in the Czech Republic. There is a lot of Christian imagery from the city that the video incorporates. For example, the video opens with a young woman standing on a very famous bridge, called the Charles Bridge. This bridge is lined with 30 statues of Christian saints. Later in the video, she is sketching the statue of St. Anne, who is Mary’s mother.

Other observations: the young woman is angry and sad, she’s struggling in school, she’s an artist, she cuts herself, the mom is frustrated at her, the dad is absent. Maybe the young woman feels “caught in the undertow” of her mother’s choice to live without her dad. Kids forced to live without their dads, forced to ignore that half of themselves, might relate to this diagram:

mothers life after divorce

Living like that makes you feel kinda numb after a while.

The video opens with the young woman looking down while on the bridge, and it closes with her looking down after running inside the Church. Not sure what that means, but one explanation may be that the Church is not doing enough to help her get connected to her roots, not doing enough to defend her emotional needs to be embedded in her own intact family.

=========================================

So after writing all that, I decided to look up the individual band members for some insight into their personal lives. Turns out that one of the co-authors of the song, Chester Bennington, is a child of divorce and a victim of sexual abuse. He’s the blonde singer in the video:

Bennington’s parents divorced when he was 11 years old and his father gained custody of him. After the divorce, Bennington started abusing marijuana, alcohol, opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD. He eventually overcame his drug addiction, and would go on to denounce drug use in future interviews. During a Linkin Park tour, he started heavily drinking but claimed to have quit in 2011, noting, “I just don’t want to be that person anymore.”

In an interview, Bennington revealed that he suffered sexual abuse from an older male friend when he was seven years old. He was afraid to ask for help because he did not want people to think he was gay or lying, and the abuse continued until age 13. The abuse and situation at home affected him so much that he felt the urge to kill and run away. To comfort himself, he drew pictures and wrote poetry and songs. Later, he revealed the abuser’s identity to his father, but chose not to continue the case after he realized the abuser was a victim himself.

At the age of 17, Bennington moved in with his mother and was banned from leaving the house when his mother discovered his drug activity. He worked at a Burger King and used his money for cocaine and crystal meth before starting his career as a professional musician. He was physically bullied in high school. In an interview, he said, “I was knocked around like a rag doll at school for being skinny and looking different.”

Considering that the sexual abuse continued after the divorce, and that Chester was living with his dad, I wonder if the abuser was a friend of the dad. I wonder what the circumstances were surrounding Chester’s dad getting custody. I am comfortable saying that Numb addresses fractured family structures. It appears that Linkin Park addresses sexual abuse in another video, Crawling. Check it out and see if you agree.

Lyrics for Numb are available here.

How abortion and no-fault divorce are similar

One strategic mistake my side of the debate has made is to ignore the divorce issue. The top leadership on my side almost totally ignores it, and I find this not only discouraging, but logically problematic. They just leap over it as if it wasn’t there. I mentioned this before when I wrote about the conservative preference for the children of gays.

Let me distill it as well as I can. Here is how the two issues are related:

Abortion is like no-fault divorce in that the State annuls people’s familial obligations to others who are legally innocent. In both processes, the State has failed to provide any legal means to defend against the process. The process happens at the behest of one party (Party A: petitioner in a no-fault divorce action; woman seeking an abortion) who claims that the process is needed to secure their “liberty” from the other party (Party B: respondent in a no-fault divorce action; unborn child). Party B has no legal means or protection to stop the process. The State sides with Party A 100% of the time, to either actively enforce the action (divorce) or let it happen (abortion).

This is one reason why I say that the leadership on my side of the debate is not logically consistent. We can’t expect to succeed if we ignore the more entrenched foe.

See also:

The pro-choice movement’s design flaw

As I discussed a few days ago, the pro-choice position is so weak that is must be propped up by governmental force. It is not self-sustaining, since, with every single abortion, it is aborting itself further and further out of existence. What I mean is that every aborted human life is somebody who will never be an activist for the cause they believe in so fervently. If they believed in it so much you’d think they’d be able to rely on raising their own activists. But that is difficult for them to do–they’re getting rid of them as fast as they can. This explains why they must use the government to insert their ideology into crisis pregnancy centers–they need converts. By design, they greatly attenuate their own capacity to raise their own activists, which reveals a design flaw in the cause. It is a self-refuting proposition since by design it relies on making converts. I do not think it is a coincidence that the pro-life movement is a youth movement.

Related: Why aging liberals are so nasty and frightened

Understanding the “blended family” dynamic with diagrams

About four years ago I stumbled across a book called, Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work, by Dan Roam. It sounded good so I bought one for my Kindle. This is the book that gave me confidence to start drawing what I saw in order to share it with others. So if you’re ever having trouble making your point, about anything at all, check out the book. It will give you ideas for how to make it in a new way.

I just wanted to give the book a shout out, since it has helped me.

Here is a diagram I just drew that sheds light on the post from the yesterday.

blended-family-eight-parents

The blue circle represents the “blended family” from yesterday. As you can see, there might be quite a few other people who are exerting pressure and influence on that family. And this is just one configuration–others are possible.

Let’s locate our author from yesterday. She’s inside the red circle:

blended-family-eight-parents-author-from-yesterday

Now we can see that her dad and her mom are divorced, and her dad is married to her step mom. Let’s locate her step sisters. They are across from her in the green circle:

blended-family-eight-parents-step-sisters

From their perspective, we can see that their mom is divorced from their dad, and she is married to their step dad.

Let me make it clear that regarding the post from yesterday, I have no information other than what she shared. I don’t know what went on there. I don’t know if the non-resident parents in her life remarried. I’m just using it as an opportunity to show how diagrams can shed light on these situations.

Look at all that chaos. Even if we were to redraw it so that the non-resident parents never remarry, that’s a lot of chaos. Their remarriages only add to it, and not just for them but for the new step siblings.

She described her step-sisters in a pretty negative light. I imagined myself as her step-sister, and I could relate to the way she described all of them. I resented that others were spending more time with my dad than I was; that he was doing fun and interesting things with them that he wasn’t doing with me because I wasn’t there full time; that I felt like an outsider in my dad’s home, and on and on and on. I can’t help but wonder if there were other things going on in her step-sisters lives that made them act that way.

I also think that all of us, kids and adults, are blinded by “kids are resilient” and “they just get over it,” two false ideas that are completely accepted as true. As long as people are being guided by those false ideas, they’re going to assume things about kids in those arrangements that may not be true, or may be only a partial truth.

Let’s consider something else: this diagram shows how a divorced parent on the far left side can exert an influence across the entire diagram, even to step siblings on the far right side. Let’s say, for example, that the mom on the far left is an alcoholic. This influences her children, who in turn influence their dad and their step siblings, who in turn influence those parents and step siblings, and so on. The effect reminds me of how longitudinal waves travel. This explains why kids feel stretched between their parents, but also like a buffer between them. I may have to draw a new diagram to show this effect. I drew it the way I did to show how triads get fractured in order to accommodate adult sexual liberty.

Divorce and remarriage are a mess for the kids. Divorce is bad enough, but remarriages are truly chaotic for kids. I’ve previously described it as torture and I hope this post sheds more light on that characterization.

Blended-family testimony: we still feel like two families

Here is a post from somebody who has lived through the “blended family” experience as a child.

Ordinary Blended Family

I appreciate her honesty, I really do. There is a lot there that is very open. However, her evaluation of her step-sisters distressed me. As I read her post, pictured myself as one of her step-sisters and could relate to feeling the way she described them.

Just read it and you will see themes that I’ve been talking about here.

Merit in the Catholic world

I just wanted to take a few minutes to clarify the word “merit.”

But before I go into that, I want to touch on something related. In the Catholic world, the question of “Are you saved?” just doesn’t come up, yet Catholics don’t ascribe to “eternal security,” we don’t believe in the teaching called Once Saved, Always Saved. So it might be tempting to think that we are filled with fear, as if we Catholics are afraid that we’re going to hell unless we do enough good works. I can’t speak for other Catholics, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Quite the opposite in fact and I will go into that in more detail about that on Oct. 31.

If anybody tries to earn salvation, as if God could be obliged to provide it, they misunderstand the teaching. God owes us nothing and under no circumstances will He ever become indebted to us. It simply is not possible for God to become indebted to us because no amount of our good works oblige God to do anything for us. Salvation is a free gift, by grace alone. It is not earned in the contractual sense. But it is merited in the sense of a reward based on a love relationship, like an inheritance from a loving father. Please do not misunderstand what merit means; it does not mean that we can force God to owe us salvation if we behave well. The word merit comes to us from Latin and it means reward. There is a well known Catholic apologist named Jimmy Akin and he briefly discusses what the word merit means in this three minute video:

 

 

 

 

Is the pro-choice position so weak that it needs to be propped by force?

I think this legislation and the decision upholding it provides evidence for the weakness of the pro-choice position:

Appeals Court Upholds California Law Forcing Pregnancy Centers to Promote Abortions

The federal appeals court that is considered the most liberal in the country has upheld an onerous California law that forces pregnancy centers to promote abortions…

… the California law infringes upon the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment by forcing pro-life pregnancy help organizations to disseminate a state-sponsored message effectively referring for abortions…

The law will force 150 local pregnancy help non-profits, including the 74 state-licensed free ultrasound facilities, to give each of its clients the following disclaimer, which includes the phone number of a county social services office where a client could obtain an abortion covered by Medi-Cal.

The notice, which the law specifies must either be posted as a public notice in “22-point type,” “distributed to all clients in no less than 14-point font” or distributed digitally “at the time of check-in or arrival,” applies to all of the entities—even those licensed by the state.

“California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”

Why not just leave crisis pregnancy centers alone? It is as if leaving them alone is a great risk that needs to be attenuated by government action. They even specified the size of the font. Micromanagement is a sign of insecurity. I think the people who believe in this crap are scared.

Pro-choice puritans absolutely rely on the coercive power of the state to advance their unjust and grossly inaccurate view of the human body. Those views don’t stand up on their own; hence, their need to use the state to advance them. Men and women really ARE different, and sex actually DOES make babies. We are not simply a spirit or a mind lodged inside a human body. Every human being is significant starting from the moment of conception, including YOU. If even one human life is insignificant because of its location and size, then that diminishes the significance of everybody, since we all started out that way.

The prolife position upholds equality, but in a different way than the prochoice position. Every human life has equal dignity and an equal right to life, starting at conception.