Love with me

james judith jennifer johnson c 1966
My dad, my mom, and me. One of three or four photos of  us together.

I woke up this morning and had an epiphany: I cannot love my parents as if they were two separate people.

A couple days ago, I had a flood of emotion come over me about my mom. I could see her as I saw her when I was a child, as my beautiful mother whom I loved and adored. It was a deep and powerful feeling that I had not experienced since I was very young.

And my dad was connected to this emotion. If I let myself love her like that, I must also love my dad like that.

All these decades, I had been trying to separate them in my heart, since they seemed separate in my mind. All that did was make me confused, sad, and angry. My negative emotions never made sense… they are two individuals, right? That is how they behaved, after all. All I knew was that I was supposed to love them separately, because that is what their divorce and rejection of each other, and each other’s families, communicated to me in unequivocal terms. But all that did was diminish them in my heart, no matter how hard I fought it. And I did fight it.

It is still so weird to put them together in my heart, to love them together. It is good, but weird, old, so old it seems foreign… and scary.

This song by Keith Green comes to mind now, and brings tears to my eyes, Love With Me.




I am praying for both presidential candidates

I have a strange feeling about both presidential candidates, I feeling I don’t think I’ve ever had about presidential candidates. It is this: that God is setting them up. For example, Mr. Trump once said that he never asked God’s forgiveness:

That’s not what we Christians wanted to hear, but at least it was honest. It is also a point about which we can pray, and if he loses tomorrow it will be the biggest public loss of his life (I don’t know what he thinks is his biggest loss in his private life). Losses of this magnitude are often opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives in a big way to bring them closer to God. They are opportunities for self-reflection and introspection.

Similarly for Mrs. Clinton. When I hear her speak about abortion, for example, I have the impression that she doesn’t really believe in it, that she is going along with it for votes and power. So I see this also as an opportunity for prayer, that God will give her the courage to proclaim what she actually believes, that the unborn are human and that marriage is between one man and one woman. The following statement is quite possibly the most eloquent statement on marriage ever made by a politician. She nails it. This is what she really believes about marriage. I think:

So in addition to praying for the country and for the election, I am praying for both candidates, that he will use whatever happens to bring both of them closer to himself.

Deep Impact is on Amazon Prime

About three weeks ago I wrote about Deep Impact’s interesting subplot about divorce and remarriage. I had to edit the post a bit today since the videos I linked had been taken down. Luckily I found new clips to use. Plus I made a few changes to the content, but didn’t change it in a substantial way.

However, after editing it, I realized that I didn’t mention how I found it. It’s on Amazon Prime. So here is a link to it if you’d like to see it:

Deep Impact on Amazon Prime

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.


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:


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:


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.

I can’t wait until the Ph.Ds admit they were wrong about divorce and children

I can’t wait until the Ph.Ds admit they were wrong about divorce and children. I can’t wait until I no longer see blogs in my WordPress feed saying divorce won’t scar children for life. It is a lie, and it is malpractice to say it. The social science data is very clear about the long term impact and dramatically increased risk factors for those kids. Anybody who isn’t familiar with the data should not call themselves a therapist.

Furthermore, to promote the idea that fighting is the main contributor to post-divorce problems among children demonstrates a dramatic intellectual failure. “Structural issues” are always present and are largely independent of the parents’ behavior. This should be self-evident. My parents never fought but they did ignore each other, which meant they ignored half of me. It was extremely confusing and lonely to live that way.

I suspect that in their minds, they justify divorce on the grounds that they have the skills and knowledge to take care of any bad effects among the kids. It’s just a hunch–I have no evidence–but it fits what we know. If I’m right, then we know for certain that they are not ignorant about the data, and they really ARE lying to people about it.

See also:

The medical community is deliberately ignoring data about childhood trauma

Divorce is killing our children: a medical doctor speaks out



Remarriage is torture for little kids, literally

I found this comment on a blog post called, “12 Ways to Forgive Your Parents.”

It’s a long hurtful story but I was born into a family that both parents were awful parents! They divorced when I was 5 and we saw things that children shouldn’t see! Still have nightmares! After the divorce my parent both eventually met and had a son on each side! My mom treats this son between her new husband like he is golden so. And loves him all she can! Same thing on my dads side he remarried and had a son and they act like he is gold! Now the son on both sides are grown and it’s all about them and their family! I have 3 other siblings who are very much treated like we are invisible! This week my dad died and all along I thought there might be a chance my dad really loved me but I got my confirmation on he really doesn’t love us! He died this week and left the golden son executor of his will and left him most every thing!

I can so relate to what she’s saying here, except in my case I only have a half-sibling on my mother’s side.

It is extremely difficult to live like that. The parents move on with their lives and leave their prior children to navigate the new chaotic family structure, with its lies, its double standards, its neglect, and its unreciprocated responsibilities, all on their own. As she said, they’re invisible. Being invisible, the prior children have to watch as the parents shower the new children with favor and an intact home, for decades. We know they CAN be good parents because we stand on the sidelines watching them be good parents to the new children. It’s emotional torture and it doesn’t end. It is like being on an emotional “rack,” one of those torture machines that pulls you in two different directions. I am not exagerating to say that it was emotional torture do the back-and-forth thing, pretending half of myself didn’t exist no matter where I was. I made these diagrams a few weeks ago:

mothers life after divorce
The child in the mother’s home. He is attached to both of them and is being pulled in the mother’s direction while with her. At the same time, he has to pretend his father and his family don’t exist.
fathers life after divorce
The child in the father’s home. He is attached to both of them and is being pulled in the father’s direction while with him. At the same time, he has to pretend that his mother and her family don’t exist.

Mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home … This insane dynamic goes on and on and on and on…

So going back to the quote above: imagine each parent with a new intact family, one on the left and the other on the right. This gal has to pretend that one-half of herself does not exist regardless of which parent she is with, one-half of herself is rejected and no longer welcome. This explains why her father cut her out of his will, giving everything to the child of his most recent marriage. Anecdotally, I’ve heard quite a few stories like this, so she’s not idiosyncratic. I think kids like us remind our parents of the other parent. So we are rejected in a very real way, but there’s a big lie that we are not.

So all that is terrible, but you know what I think is worse? It’s how certain PhDs, MDs, JDs and religious leaders actually endorse this arrangement. These professionals give cover for divorces and remarriages by saying things like, “It’s all OK, as long as you’re happy, your kids will be happy. Kids are resilient.” BULLSHIT. Kids are fragile and it doesn’t take a fancy degree to understand that. The “rack” never goes away and the remarriages make it worse. It still hurts after all this time and I’m so angry about that!

Educated professionals with fancy degrees from prestigious universities endorse child emotional torture. Look at the diagrams I created above and then tell me how I’m wrong. They have zero credibility in my eyes. They don’t even know the most basic fact about a very young human being: that he is not an automaton and has his own idea of what will make him happy, quite apart from his parents’ ideas of happiness. So I think they should throw their doctorates and ordinations into the trash. They can go back to school and learn from a real teacher, instead of listening to soothsayers who are more concerned with orgasms than children.

What does Peter Hitchens have to do with the fateful Dred Scott decision?

Here is an excellent eight minute video of Peter Hitchens making an important argument for marriage. This argument has rarely been heard, yet it is perhaps the most important argument out there.

It is one of the arguments made by SCOTUS Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis in his Dred Scott dissent. Justice Curtis was one of two justices who argued against that fateful decision, a decision that changed the course of our nation for the worse.

To see what I mean, first listen to the argument Hitchens makes in this video. It is very easy to understand. Then follow this link to Justice Curtis’ dissent, and do a keyword search (control-f) for the word “marriage.” The two arguments are identical. Justice Curtis argues that SCOTUS had a duty to recognize Dred Scott’s marriage that he entered into while in a free territory and with the consent if his master. I am not qualified to comment on the legal correctness of his argument, but from a moral standpoint, he is correct. The state has a duty to recognize marriage. Marriage changes our status and orients us away from the state, towards our spouse and any children we bear.

Hitchens doesn’t mention Justice Curtis’ argument, so I don’t know if he knows about it.

The truth about annulments

I posted a comment on somebody’s blog regarding the annulment process.

There is a common misunderstanding surrounding the annulment process. People will often use a phrase like this: “…granting an annulment.” That’s not quite right, as the Church does not grant an annulment–she does not undo the vows of the wedding.

Upon request (and only upon request) the Church will investigate to see if a marriage actually happened. She will ask a lot of questions and gather testimony surrounding the couple’s relationship prior to the wedding, and on the wedding day. She will also consider evidence post-wedding, but the wedding and pre-wedding are more important. The existence of a civil marriage license is not enough evidence to determine if a marriage actually happened in God’s sight. Other things have to line up. If the Church determines that an important element of what makes a marriage is missing, she will declare this fact by issuing a document called a Decree of Nullity. This is a finding of fact: there was no marriage in God’s sight to begin with. It is not that the Church undoes the wedding vows, as somebody might undo a knot. It is that there was never a knot to begin with. That is an important distinction, because the Church takes Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 literally. Nobody can undo a marriage knot. But if there was no knot to begin with, then the person is free to marry. If there was a knot, then the person is not free to marry per Matthew 19.

This is approximately what I said, although the analogy of the knot just came to me as I was writing this.

Will the Catholic Church ever accept same-sex marriage?

One of my Facebook friends posted a couple posts today, saying basically that he believes the Catholic Church will accept same sex marriage by 2020. Here is what I wrote on one of those posts:

…I firmly believe that the issue of SSM is a manifestation of deeper misunderstandings about sex and marriage. Contraception is the linchpin for all of these issues. As long as the Church formally rejects contraception, the other teachings surrounding marriage will hold, at least in principle and among those who believe/understand. That is my belief, and so I am cautiously optimistic that the teachings will not change. I admit that I feel scared at times, since it is hard for me to fully believe that the Holy Spirit is protecting my Church, especially when there is so much confusion right now with Pope Francis; yet that is what she teaches and so I need to work in my unbelief! She is the Bride of Christ after all. I think of the steward of Gondor in the final Lord of the Rings film (I haven’t read the books). It doesn’t matter how horrible he might have been personally, his office is still valid as a placeholder for the king. I also think back to the Arian heresy, when most of the bishops went along with it. It must have been really hard and even scary at times for those few who held to the true teaching about Jesus. How did they know they were correct, since there were so many who held the opposing view? Yet the true teaching prevailed ultimately. That is where we are now, I believe, when it comes to marriage and sexuality.

The true teachings will prevail but that doesn’t mean things won’t get scary in the mean time.

Uniform units vs. interlocking units

bottles green public domain
Uniform units are more “free” with respect to each other than interlocking units are, but are less able to withstand the effect of external forces. This factory line works because the bottles are all the same. Interlocking bottles would disrupt the system.

Sexual liberty has expanded the power and authority of state enormously. One recent example can be seen in the  Obergefell decision to enforce gay marriage laws on states that did not want those laws. I have not read the decision, but a quick search for the terms “gay” and “lesbian” showed that each term was used 28 and 25 times, respectively. This makes it clear how the category of “sexual orientation,” a false category without scientific support, has influenced the highest court of the United States in a dramatic and detrimental way.

puzzle pieces public domain
Interlocking units are less “free” with respect to each other, but are more able to withstand the effects of external forces. If you push one, you push them all. 

This false category is a recent addition to a political movement that has been dismantling marriage and homogenizing individuals in the eyes of the state–making them all the same. The Obergefell decision contributes to this homogenization process, since marriage laws now must be read in a “gender neutral” way.

Consider how completely uniform units, such as bottles in a factory, are more “free” than interlocking units, but they are also more easily manipulated. This is a metaphor for what is going on in our country with sexual liberation. People want their freedom from any obligation that was not explicitly chosen. But sexual activity bonds us to the people we have sex with, as well as makes new life. So the state steps in to free people from those bonds and obligations. To continue the metaphor, it legally chops off the parts that are interlocking by refusing to recognize that those parts exist.

True liberty includes liberty from one’s passions so that one can do what one is called to do, and perform one’s responsibilities, without internal constraints and conflicts. The founders of the United States understood that we cannot separate liberty and virtue.