The most effective defense against gaslighting.

bytheirfruits

Narcissists and sociopaths not only try to make you think you are insane, they can literally drive you insane.   They do this most effectively and insidiously through gaslighting, a method of mental manipulation in which you are made to doubt or question reality or told your feelings are invalid.   This occurs on a personal level with narcissistic people and extends today all the way up to the national and political level. It is always extremely damaging.  People who are constantly gaslighted by a narcissist or sociopath often develop PTSD or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).

Examples of gaslighting in relationships:

“I was joking. Stop being so sensitive.”

“That’s not what I said.” (when they definitely have said it).

“You are imagining things.”

“It never happened.”

Trump gaslights his political rivals, his enemies, and the entire country on a daily basis.   I can’t and won’t attempt to list all the examples, but his Twitter account is a treasure trove of gaslighting if you can stomach it.   Perhaps the most egregious example to date is his recent denial of the Access Hollywood tape where he now denies he ever said he could “grab women by the pussy.”  Another good recent example is Roy Moore (who I believe is as sociopathic as Trump) justifying his pedophilia by comparing himself to Jesus being persecuted — he is pinning the blame on the truth-tellers (projection and blame shifting) and denying reality (gaslighting) at the same time.

When our own reality is questioned or denied, or when actual events are called “fake news” and the free press “the enemy of the people,” it’s not uncommon for us to begin to question the truth itself.   You begin to think that maybe, just maybe, the gaslighter is actually the one telling the truth and you are just nuts (which the gaslighter will happily confirm).

My favorite Bible verse ever is this one, from Matthew 7:15-20 (New Living Translation) because it’s so useful in gaslighting situations.

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

When a gaslighter makes you question the truth or wonder if your honest feelings are invalid, I’ve found this verse stops any doubt I’m having and calls out the abuser for the liar they really are at the same time.   Look at what the person is producing.    If they’re creating nothing but chaos, destruction, fear, and misery, if they’re sowing discord instead of unity,  if they always break their promises,  don’t believe anything they tell you.    They are lying and will never produce any good fruit, no matter what they might want you to believe.

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Listen up, fake Christians and white nationalists.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan yell as they fly Confederate flags during a rally at the statehouse in Columbia

The Bible you claim to love so much has a lot to say about racism and the kind of deplorable behavior shown in Charlottesville, Virginia this morning.   Maybe it’s time to admit you’ve been wrong about this, and a lot of other things.

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And that’s just for starters.

You are no better than ISIS terrorists.  They think they’re right too.

 

Fundies: I Hope This Breaks Your Hard Hearts

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Flee from Christian Fundamentalism

A training manual rests on a shelf in the library of my church. It claims there is no such thing as poverty in the United States.  Evidence point?  People defined as poor in the United States own and use cellular telephones and other modern conveniences. People who own such things cannot possibly be classified as poor. Therefore, no authentic poor people live in the United States. True Biblical poverty exists only in foreign countries, and it looks like this photograph:

Poverty in Africa

This training manual was prepared and published by The Heritage Foundation, apparently for use in American churches. Some person unknown to me brought this despicable, God-hating training manual into my United Methodist Church and sneaked it onto a library shelf. Best I can tell from flipping through this training manual, it is designed for adult Sunday school teachers so they can teach the members of their Sunday school classes…

View original post 3,720 more words

The Religious Right cares about control, not morality.

romans1310

Christian Right leaders (in both politics and the churches) — many who embrace the horrific theology of Dominionism/Reconstructionism — pretend to care an awful lot about morality.    They rant on endlessly about abortion and homosexuality.  They want to roll back laws that protect women’s health and reproductive rights.   Today, Trump passed a bill that bans transgender people from military service.

But do they really care about morality?

I don’t think so.  Their hero (who is supposedly going to make America a “Christian nation”) is a philanderer, adulterer, tax cheater, con-man, possible traitor, narcissist, bully, and only worships himself and money.   He holds himself above the law and doesn’t even think he needs God’s forgiveness.

Trump talks an awful lot about God — such as his tweet today that said (the caps are his own), “IN AMERICA WE DON’T WORSHIP GOVERNMENT. WE WORSHIP GOD.”   Yet I doubt the man has ever darkened a church door, said a heartfelt prayer, or ever really read the Bible.   Trump doesn’t give a hoot about God, only about power and control.   He’s a man without a conscience or a moral compass, but he  sure does seem awfully concerned with everyone else’s morals.

To the powerful leaders of the Christian Right (including many church leaders), morality means only one thing, or maybe two things (and they are closely related):  gender roles and sexual behavior.

They care nothing about being kind to others, helping those in need, welcoming strangers, turning the other cheek, loving their enemies, telling the truth, calling out wrongdoing, being ethical in business dealings, paying their fair share, and loving their neighbors as themselves.   In fact, when you hear them talk, they hardly ever mention the Gospels and Jesus’ message of love.

Instead, the cherry pick the most punitive passages from the Old Testament (and ignore those like the one illustrating this post) to justify their greed, hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, denial of facts, and lust for power and control.   Certain passages have come in handy for instilling fear and terror which are used to dominate.   They talk about hell an awful lot, and seem pretty sure they’re not going there but YOU are if you disagree with them.     Dominionist church leaders even tell their followers that they will burn in hell if they didn’t vote for Trump or don’t support his policies.   It’s a toxic stew of religious abuse, fear, and hate — and unfortunately, it works.     It operates in the same manner as a cult — because it is a cult.

They use the talking points of abortion and homosexuality to instill fear (of going to hell), and control.   To a lesser extent they focus on other things that offend them — strangely, almost all are related to gender roles and the patriarchal belief that women are biblically mandated to be submissive to men (even when the man is an abuser):  women’s reproductive health (including birth control), adultery, divorce, private sexual behavior, and sex roles in the family.    Oh, and there’s a few other things they condemn:  Muslims, atheists, and liberals.

They justify their patriarchy and narrow minded views by quoting selectively from the Bible, but ignore the words of Jesus, who rarely if ever mentioned sex roles or homosexuality, never sent away a stranger, and never once said women were required to submit to men or tolerate abuse.  I don’t know for certain what Jesus’ actual views about sexual behavior were (since he never really went there), but I do know that there were things that were far more important to him, such as being kind to your neighbor, not being greedy and selfish, welcoming strangers, and caring for the needy and sick.

Jesus was gentle and kind.  He never turned his back on the “least among us.”  He was even loving toward sinners, as he was toward the adulteress who approached him.   But he only had harsh words for the powerful Pharisees, who were the equivalent of today’s legalistic right-wing Christian leaders and politicians.

America has a long history of the separation of church and state, and for good reason.   The Founding Fathers weren’t stupid.  They knew that when you try to mix the two, you wind up corrupting both.  That is what’s happening now.   There’s nothing un-Christian about keeping church and state separated.   In fact, it’s what’s kept Christianity from turning into a cult of power and hate.

Things that until very recently were considered sinful or at best, secular — greed, selfishness, seeking wealth and political power, corruption, hatred, bigotry, and taking from the poor — have now all been embraced by the Christian Right, using the heretical doctrine of dominionism to justify their actions.   Incredibly, they have Christianized the diabolical.  It makes you wonder who their real “god” really is.

They go on about the “sanctity of life” but seem to care only about fetuses and embryos.   But they are anything but pro-life.  Anyone who wants to take Medicaid away from pregnant women, make women’s health (including pregnancy) a pre-existing condition,  support the death penalty,  build more weapons, support torture, start wars, remove laws that keep the mentally ill from buying guns, gut education funding, destroy the environment,  remove laws that make our workplaces safe,  and kick millions of people off healthcare are definitely not pro-life.

I find it hard to believe far right Christian leaders even have much empathy for the unborn.  They seem incapable of empathy, so it makes absolutely  no sense that they would care so deeply about unborn babies but at the same time be so callous about the health and lives of born babies, children, women, refugees, and humanity in general.   Especially when you consider that Medicaid covers nearly half of all deliveries.  If you toss all those pregnant women off Medicaid, what will happen?  A hell of a lot more abortions, that’s what.   So how are they pro-life?  They aren’t.

The truth is, they don’t care about people, born or not.   The abortion issue (and other gender-related issues such as homosexuality) is a talking point they’ve latched onto in order to control people, especially women.    It’s also how they’ve managed to marry together religion with politics.  Far right politics has hijacked the churches and corrupted Christianity.    Their “morality” is all about control, and they will do the most immoral things imaginable to get it, as we see with this presidency.

I’m fed up with right wing politics’ bastardization and corruption of Christianity to suit their own agendas.  Over time, they have twisted Christianity into something dark and diabolical.    These heretics have held Jesus hostage for almost 40 years and it’s time to take him back.

I apologize about how harsh this may sound, but I’ve been feeling pretty strong about it lately, and sometimes the truth hurts.

What the Old Testament has to say about not taking care of the poor.

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We Christians already know the Gospels are filled with writings about Jesus instructing his followers to take care of the “least among us” — the poor, sick and otherwise afflicted.    We also know Jesus preferred the poor and less fortunate over the rich Pharisees of his day.    There’s not much argument about how Jesus felt about the greedy and the selfish, which is why the Christian Right usually references the Old Testament with its harsher, angrier God.   They can always find something there to use to make their greed, lack of compassion, and exploitation of the less fortunate for their own nefarious purposes (usually to enrich themselves) seem somehow moral, even God’s will.    They’re good at cherry picking from the Old Testament to excuse their un-Christian views, and cherry pick they must, because there’s plenty in the Old Testament that condemns those who worship mammon and turn their backs on the less fortunate.

No matter what version of the Bible is used, the message conveyed is the same:  we are to take care of and show compassion for the least among us, not exploit them and take away the little they have to enrich the already-wealthy.  This is exactly what the christians in the current Republican Party  (that is not a typo; I will not use a capital C to describe them because in my view they are not Christians) are trying to ram through the Senate in dark secrecy (which is in itself evil and dishonest).  Their “healthcare bill” is a lie.  It is nothing but yet another huge tax break for the richest 1% that will strip healthcare away from middle class and poor Americans, including the disabled and elderly (many who rely on Medicaid if they are in nursing homes or residential treatment since Medicare only pays a limited amount for long-term services); children, people with pre-existing conditions, older people like me who are still too young for Medicare (which, along with social security, might be gone by the time we hit age 65 or whatever the magic age is now) and families of limited means of any health insurance at all.

The huge irony here is this is the so-called pro-life party, but all they are is pro-birth.   They care more about “the sanctity of the embryo” than about a sick child who needs medical care who they would gladly deny the right to see a doctor if her parents can’t afford it.  If she dies, oh well, too bad, it was either “God’s will” or “her parents should have made better choices.”   These sociopaths and their sycophants will continue to get their Cadillac health care plans though, paid for by our taxes, while many of us must sacrifice our own right to see a doctor if we become sick, or risk losing everything we own.    Mike Pence once said that people who will lose their insurance “don’t need healthcare — they need more Jesus.”  Well, Mr. Pence, since you’re apparently one of God’s chosen ones who seems to know exactly what the rest of us who are less blessed than you need, why don’t YOU give up YOUR Cadillac plan and rely on faith healing for yourself and your own family?   If our only option after you rob us of healthcare is appealing to God for a cure and that’s supposed to be good enough for us, why isn’t it also good enough for you?   Give up your healthcare plan so at least we’re all on a level playing field.  No?  I thought not.   Of course, you don’t believe in fairness, because as one of God’s Elect, you deserve healthcare and I do not.

The hypocrisy and callousness of these swamp creatures is staggering.

Many innocent people will die if this abomination passes.     I look at Mitch McConnell, the turtle-faced, dead-eyed, smirking, Koch Brothers-funded ringleader orchestrating the secret dealings to pass this cruel travesty that will help only the most wealthy and the corporations (people just like himself), a “man” who has the temerity to try to ram this bill through in dark secrecy without  anyone knowing what’s in it except him and a few of his equally wealthy cronies — and he makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.   He — perhaps more than anyone else in this administration (and they are all horrible human beings from everything I have seen of them) — reminds me of the Undead — some demonic swamp creature who seems to garner pleasure from the idea that millions of people will suffer and die.   And he’s not the only one.

The spectacle of the smirks, backslaps, laughter, beer toasting, and glad-handing going on among McConnell, Paul Ryan, Mark Meadows, Trump, and so many other of these hate-filled white racist thugs at the Rose Garden party after “Trumpcare” passed the House back in May was a wake up call that sent chills through my soul.  I realized with no uncertain terms that these creatures sold their souls for Mammon and walk on the side of darkness.  If they profess to be Christian, it’s merely a talking point intended to gain support from the gullible red state religious types who blindly believe everything this cabal of Dark Triad power-mongers and their lying, gaslighting, fake news-generating pundits on Fox News, Breitbart, and InfoWars tell them.     Their followers and supporters are in my prayers because to my mind, they are victims of a dangerous and powerful cult whose doctrine is anathema to anything Jesus taught.

Here are passages from the OLD TESTAMENT (I’ve included many versions of the Bible to illustrate it’s not just in the translation) that show that Jesus message in the Gospels is still God’s will for us.    God is a constant and his love is for ALL of us, not just a chosen few.

preexisting

Proverbs 22:16

Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.

 

New Living Translation
A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.

 

English Standard Version
Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

New American Standard Bible 
He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

King James Bible
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

 

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Oppressing the poor to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich–both lead only to poverty.

 

International Standard Version
Whoever oppresses the poor to enrich himself and whoever gives gifts to the wealthy will yield only loss.

 

NET Bible
The one who oppresses the poor to increase his own gain and the one who gives to the rich–both end up only in poverty.

 

New Heart English Bible
Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, both come to poverty.

 

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He that harms the poor increases his own affliction and he that gives to the rich suffers loss to his soul.

 

GOD’S WORD® Translation
Oppressing the poor for profit [or] giving to the rich certainly leads to poverty.

 

JPS Tanakh 1917
One may oppress the poor, yet will their gain increase; One may give to the rich, yet will want come.

 

New American Standard 1977 
He who oppresses the poor to make much for himself
Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

 

Jubilee Bible 2000
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches and who gives to the rich shall surely come to want.

 

King James 2000 Bible
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to poverty.

 

American King James Version
He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want.

 

American Standard Version
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain , And he that giveth to the rich,’shall come only to want.

 

Douay-Rheims Bible
He that oppresseth the poor, to in- crease his own riches, shall himself give to one that is richer, and shall be in need.

 

Darby Bible Translation
He that oppresseth the poor, it is to enrich him; he that giveth to the rich, [bringeth] only to want.

 

English Revised Version
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain, and he that giveth to the rich, cometh only to want.

 

Webster’s Bible Translation
He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

 

World English Bible
Whoever oppresses the poor for his own increase and whoever gives to the rich, both come to poverty.

 

Young’s Literal Translation
He is oppressing the poor to multiply to him, He is giving to the rich — only to want.

republican_jesus
Other Verses
James 2:13
For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

 

Proverbs 22:22
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate;

 

Proverbs 28:22
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:8
If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.

On the oppressors:

Proverbs 22:22,23 Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted …

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honors …

Proverbs 28:3 A poor man that oppresses the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaves no food.

Job 20:19 Because he has oppressed and has forsaken the poor; because he has …

Psalm 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now …

Micah 2:2,3 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and …

Zechariah 7:9-14 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and …

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; …

James 5:1-5 Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall …

On those who give: 

Luke 6:33-35 And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have …

Luke 14:12-14 Then said he also to him that bade him, When you make a dinner or …

Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send …

 

Christian Dominionism has taken over the GOP.

fascism

Many Christians may wonder how the heartless, draconian, dangerous, and mean policies of the current GOP can be reconciled with anything Jesus Christ actually taught.

The truth is, they can’t. Although our current president (who by all indications is not a religious man, nor has he repented for his many indiscretions both before and after he was elected) panders to the Christian Right, has surrounded himself with “Christian” politicians (mostly fundamentalists and dominionists — more on dominionism in a minute), and has taken on their anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage rhetoric (to obtain support and votes, since these are the two issues that seem to concern these so-called Christians the most), Trump’s behavior (and those of the people he has appointed) is anything but Christ-like. Yes, it’s true the Bible tells us to “judge not, lest ye be judged,” but we are also told (by Jesus) that “by their fruits you shall know them [the evildoers],” and so far, this administration has borne nothing but bad fruit. So, going by that, I feel justified in judging the regime that has taken control of our country.

The ugly truth is that they have an agenda: turning our democracy into a religious theocracy — an Old Testament-based dictatorship that is to real Christianity what the Taliban/ISIS is to real Islam. They want a Christian version of Sharia Law in which women and minorities are silenced and repressed and “know their place,” in which  political or religious dissent is made illegal, in which non-Christians can be treated as second class citizens with limited or no rights, in which the land, sea and sky is raped and pillaged for human purposes (because taking care of our planet means we “lack faith” in God’s ability to replenish the Earth), in which personal sin (abortion, homosexuality, adultery, etc.) is punished harshly and maybe even by death,  and in which material wealth is regarded as proof of God’s approval/love and in which it’s justified to let the poor and sick perish and die because they are “moral failures”who have not been so blessed with good health or wealth because they are not among God’s elect (a Calvinistic doctrine that we are all predestined for heaven or hell before we are born, which of course begs the question as to how we can also have free will).

If you are thinking about how far this is from what Jesus preached in his most famous of all sermons, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), you are right.    Jesus instructed us us to welcome immigrants  (his own parents would have been banished from Bethlehem and Mary not allowed to give birth there because they were foreigners),  take care of the poor and the sick (one of the most famous, but far from the only, verse in the Bible addressing this is the one about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get to heaven), and turn the other cheek (be humble.)    He railed against pride, greed and legalism.   He counted among his friends the beggars and the homeless.   He valued women as much as he did men.   He gave us the “new Covenant” which was to replace the old Biblical laws found in books such as Leviticus.

Now, the old Testament has much to recommend it, and of course the Ten Commandments are just plain old common sense.   Personally, I have no objection to the Commandments being displayed in courthouses or “In God We Trust” being printed on the dollar bill, because these things don’t necessarily favor only Christians and they’re simply good advice for anyone.      They don’t repress, oppress, or marginalize anyone.  They don’t hurt people or the environment.  They don’t undermine the Constitution or our freedoms.   People who object to these things really ought to turn their minds to more important issues that actually affect their lives.

Yet we have a bunch of Christian heretics high up in government who actually want to set up a fascist regime based not on the Constitution drawn up by the Founding Fathers, but on Old Testament Biblical Law.    This is the desire and goal of cultists (yes, to my mind they are a cult) who embrace an ugly and dangerous doctrine called Christian Dominionism, and Donald Trump, in spite of not himself being religious, is their cult leader.

Here is a comprehensive definition of what Christian dominionism is:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-dominionism.html

Christian dominionists may tell us they are saved and insist we need “more Jesus” but they practically ignore the Gospels.  Instead, they cherry-pick passages in the Old Testament that they feel support their beliefs, usually the ones that show God at his most angry, intolerant, and punishing.  There is no Jesus in what they preach and to my mind, they are Christian in name only.  They also have somehow come up with the idea that America is God’s chosen nation (after Israel) and that Jesus will return here, which justifies everything they do that represses or punishes non-believers and the “non-elect.”   But there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that supports the notion that America is somehow regarded as God’s chosen country.

They (as well as many fundamentalist Christians, whether they are dominionists or not) believe that Donald Trump, while not the second coming of Jesus himself, is nonetheless “preparing the way” for Jesus’ return.   They may acknowledge that Trump is a sexually and personally amoral narcissist, but this is okay because in the Bible, God often used sinful people to fulfill his wishes.   They compare Trump to King Cyrus of Persia, a deeply flawed and cruel man who nonetheless freed the Jews.

According to this website,

“He came in, this king, as a secular ruler and decreed for the building of the house of the Lord. He literally made it possible for the Jews to end the captivity,” Lance Wallnau, an evangelical leader and author, told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Trump has the Cyrus anointing to navigate in chaos.”

Trump as “Cyrus,” President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “Babylon,” the Jews as either modern-day Israelis or Americans? It’s not only evangelical Christians who buy it. Before the election, Rabbi Matityahu Glazeron predicted a Trump victory based on an analysis of Bible codes, which he said also pointed to the new president as a Cyrus-like figure.

In a pre-inauguration faith gathering, Likud Knesset member Yehuda Glick, in Washington, D.C. for the festivities, expressed a like sentiment. Calling the new president “the king of the United States of America,” Glick said that if Trump moved the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, “He will be the latter-day Cyrus!”

Trump has also sometimes been compared to King David, a similarly flawed man of the Old Testament who was a hero to the Israelites and made Jerusalem its capital.

Here is a list of “Christian” justifications for the evil, un-American agenda the Trump regime and much of the GOP are trying to make reality.   I am not making this up.  I wish I were.  The source I used for this list can be found here.   There are many other sources, and a quick Google search should point you to them, but I found this source the most comprehensive and will serve for the purposes of this article.    I will warn however, that this website makes for some disturbing reading.  I don’t recommend reading it if you want to get any sleep.   You can read about their plan for taking over the Republican Party (we are seeing many indicators of their agenda being fulfilled under the Trump administration)  here.

Public education for all is to be abolished in favor of religious, private education.  If you can’t afford a private, religious education, too bad, you must not be one of God’s elect.   Ignorance is good, because it keeps the undesirables in line.   Educated people ask too many questions.  How long before our child labor laws (because that’s socialism) are repealed?    Put those indigent kids to work!

Defunding protections for the environment.  Apparently, for Christian dominionists, stewardship of the earth is irrelevant, in spite of numerous Bible passages that tell us that the Earth belongs to God, and we are only to use it sustainably.    They believe that because in Genesis, Adam and Eve were told to “fill the earth and subdue it,” and “take dominion over it,” that means it’s okay for us to vandalize God’s creation and expect Him to clean up after us like parents coming home to find trash all over the house and graffiti drawn all over the walls after their unruly teenagers threw a drunken weekend party.  They justify unsustainable environmental practices such as strip mining or fracking by saying that only a person of no faith in God’s restorative ability would want laws that protect earthly resources.

Why the mainstream media should be suppressed.

The GOP war against women.  It ain’t just about abortion. They want a patriarchy where women are treated as second class citizens with fewer rights than men and where women’s health is legislated and controlled by high ranking men.  If you want to get an idea of what life might be like for women if the current GOP gets their way, read Margaret Atwood’s eerily prophetic 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

Why it’s “Christian” to take “entitlements” away from the poor and middle class.  According to Christian dominionists, God has selected certain individuals to take power over America (a Christian nation!) in preparation for Christ’s return.  In order for them to have the power they need to do what God has ordained, He has blessed them with material wealth like some cosmic lottery machine.   So if you aren’t rich, then God has not chosen you, and in fact you are probably predestined for hell anyway.   This is a morally repugnant (and uniquely American) theology based on Calvinism and the Puritanism that grew from that.  It explains how some far right Christians can reconcile their faith with Ayn Rand’s (herself an atheist) philosophy of selfishness, otherwise known as “objectivism.”    Never mind all that socialist business about Jesus loving the poor and weak —  he didn’t really mean it!  Using dominionist logic, Saudi Arabian oil sheikhs must be even more favored by God, since they are richer than any American Christian.

While “the little people” need more rules and regulations (Jeff Sessions wants to bring back the War on Drugs — hey, gotta fill up all those for-profit prisons!), corporations shouldn’t have any regulations (laws that keep them from exploiting or abusing people, animals, and the environment) because regulation cuts into their profits, and we already know those profits are ordained by God and should not be interfered with.

There is much more, but I’ll leave it at that.   These are the same people that condemn radical Islam for its treatment of women and their tyrannical governments that suppress religious liberty and terrorize those who don’t believe, but they want to do the very same thing here under the rubric of Christianity.   They are hypocrites who twist real Christianity into something more closely resembling a fanatic religious cult in which “freedom of religion” means the freedom to force their religious beliefs on others by making them the law.    They whine about Christians being persecuted because of creationism not being taught in public schools or because some people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”  (personally, I doubt Jesus cares whether we celebrate his birthday or not), but they feel perfectly free to persecute those who don’t believe exactly as they do and just want to live in a country where everyone is equal and treated fairly.

Why I don’t think it’s wrong to pray for narcissists.

st_paul

Because I have readers of many religions (or none at all), I always hesitate before posting anything too religious or too Christian, but I’m making an exception here because I’ve noticed some ACONs believe it’s sinful to pray for narcissists. But I don’t think that’s true and I always pray for mine.

Whenever anyone tells me I’m wrong to pray for the souls of narcissists, I just use the example of the Apostle Paul. Saul was much worse than just a sinner; the Bible describes a man who seemed to be a high-spectrum, unrepentant malignant narcissist.

Following is an article from CBN.com called “How Saul Became the Apostle Paul.” It’s the fascinating story of a man–an arrogant, narcissistic, murderous Pharisee, who hated Jesus and his followers–whose heart was changed. If someone as malignantly narcissistic, even sociopathic, as Saul/Paul was, could change, why not others too?  We don’t know what God’s intentions are or whose heart he may be working on. No, chances are your narcissist won’t change and you shouldn’t wait around for them to do so or try to “fix” them, but I don’t see any harm in praying for them if you’re so inclined. We are not the judge and jury; only God is.

I still see narcissism and arrogance in Paul even after his miraculous conversion–I have to admit I never cared much for Paul’s personality, which I find abrasive. After all, he was still human and still a sinner. But at least he wasn’t harming others anymore, and had renounced his former life as a Pharisee and devoted himself to spreading the word of God.

How Saul Became The Apostle Paul
By Craig Von Busick, for CBN.com
http://www1.cbn.com/biblestudy/how-saul-became-the-apostle-paul

saul

“The best and the brightest.” It was a phrase used by some journalist to describe the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The same phrase could have been used to describe Saul of Tarsus; a child of the best upbringing; a student of the vaunted teacher, Gamaliel; a Roman citizen; trained in the best Jewish schools; groomed, perhaps, to even become chief priest.

And this pious man was bent on the destruction of the believers in Jesus.

In order to understand Saul of Tarsus it is important that we put him into historical context. Only a few short years had passed from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus when a self-righteous religious zealot assisted in the systematic murder of one of Christianity’s earliest messengers, a godly man named Stephen. Luke punctuates Saul’s involvement in this murder with the chilling comment:

“Now Saul was consenting to his death.” (Acts 8:1)

But even before that fateful day when young Saul the Pharisee gloated over the brutal death of the innocent disciple Stephen, the Spirit of Jesus Christ was pricking his heart. God had designs for this bright young man, and in His sovereignty He was prepared to knock Saul off His high horse.

There can be little doubt that Saul was familiar with the Galilean man who was known as Jesus. Though Saul may have been consumed by his study of the Torah and Talmud – the Jewish holy books, there was talk of this back woods preacher and the stir He was creating throughout Israel. Numerous reports were made of so-called messiahs emerging from every corner of the land, so Saul and his classmates undoubtedly debated the authenticity of the reports of Jesus’ miracles.

He may have been one of the unnamed lawyers who confronted Jesus with questions in the Gospel accounts? Saul may have gathered with the other scribes and Pharisees at the river Jordan when John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Was he outraged to learn that Jesus had cleared the moneychangers and vendors of religious trinkets from the temple while snapping a whip?

It is conceivable that Saul was one of the pious Pharisees trying to console a weeping Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus. Whether he was physically present when Jesus raised the 3-day dead Lazarus from his rotting rest, it is sure that Saul heard of and pondered this indisputable miracle. This shocking development created such a sensation that the panicked religious leaders ramped up their efforts to arrest and execute the backwater mystic before he brought down the wrath of Rome on their heads.

Saul could have been in attendance at the infamous midnight trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Perhaps he was outside in the courtyard of Caiaphas warming himself next to the fire. Maybe he heard the servant girl accusing a gruff-looking Galilean of being a follower of this Jesus. He may have been amused at the unrefined manner in which this fisherman cursed and raved the third time he was accused.

Though he approved of the barbarous stoning of Stephen, it is entirely possible that Saul’s heart was pricked when he heard him say, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

We don’t know how long the Lord was at work in the heart of Saul, but we know the Holy Spirit was goading him – and Saul was kicking back hard, primarily against the disciples of Jesus. After the death of Stephen, Saul was fanatical about destroying this new sect. Saul launched a holy war against the Church, scattering the believers. He made havoc, entering homes, sending many to prison – even putting some to death. He was beginning to attain the notoriety that he had always craved. If he was going to rise to the level of prestige and power that he believed was his destiny, he would have to prove himself worthy.

When word came that these followers of Jesus had spread into Syria, Saul requested permission to go to Damascus. With great delight the High Priest granted him letters to take to the synagogues of Syria.

As Saul and his colleagues came near Damascus, suddenly they were flooded with glorious light. It was like looking into the sun from only a yard away. Saul fell to the ground and suddenly a voice emanated from within the light. The voice was both terrifying and soothing at the same time. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

Was this an angel? Or worse, could it be a messenger from Satan, trying to distract him from his holy quest? No, if it were the devil he wouldn’t feel this mix of peace and awe. Humbly Saul inquired, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

conversion-of-paul

No. It couldn’t be Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, the backwoods preacher, the so-called messiah who was put to death by Pontius Pilate? If this was Jesus, that would mean that nearly every great leader in Israel was wrong … so very wrong. How could they have misjudged him? Unless those confusing passages of Scripture concerning a suffering savior could somehow speak of the Messiah?

Saul began to tremble.

How could he have been so wrong? But then he remembered watching the life ebbing from Stephen, and hearing those haunting words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

This was the same Jesus that Stephen saw as he peered into heaven. This is the same Jesus that gave strength to so many of Saul’s victims. Saul began shaking uncontrollably. No longer able to bear the intensity of the light, he closed his eyes as tightly as he could.

“This must be the One – the glorious Messiah, promised from ages past.” Saul slowly lifted his head and asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

Jesus replied, “Arise and go into the city…”

Saul obeyed, and in the blindness that resulted from the intense light, he was led into the city. There he was met by a disciple named Ananias, who was sent by Jesus to prophesy, “he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles….” (Acts 9:15, NKJV)

Years later, in obedience to this heavenly vision, and living out his own teaching – “I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22b, NLT) – this former Pharisee so embraced his calling to minister the Gospel to the Gentiles that he forsook his Jewish name, Saul, and forever adopted the Greek name for which he is remembered … Paul.

Why I love liturgy.

A view of the famed Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.

A view of the famed Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France.

Back in April, during the Easter Vigil mass, I became a Roman Catholic. This came as a surprise to many people I know, since I’d spent most of my life as an agnostic and at times veered close to atheism. I’ve also toyed with Buddhism and Scientology (and I admit I still have a soft spot for Buddhism because it appeals to my rational mind, and that isn’t likely to change). Due to the recent charges of sexual abuse taking place in the Catholic church, this oldest and largest of all Christian denominations has become more criticized than ever, and probably rightfully so. I don’t think it’s the only religious organization that has been guilty of such behaviors, but I think it’s the most publicized. I’m also not ignorant of the fact that the Catholic Church has a bloody and often very un-Christlike history, especially during the Middle Ages, as well as being the wealthiest religious organization in the world and often full of hypocrisy. In addition, I do not believe that being a Catholic is the only way to salvation. Any Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior in their hearts will get to Heaven, regardless of denomination (why did I almost spell that DEMONination?) and don’t necessary even have to attend church at all.

So why did I become a Catholic, you ask. Why did I join a church that’s so rife with its past of violence, and a present still full of intolerance, sexism, and heirarchy? The answer to this is complicated.

I was raised in a family that although nominally Christian, was basically agnostic. We did not attend church regularly (although I was sent to Sunday school as a young child), and holidays like Christmas and Easter were recognized more for their fun/materialistic secularity (gift giving, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, new Easter dresses and coats, etc.) than for the solemn events in the life of Christ they actually honor. My family regarded them as “children’s holidays” that adults indulged and that would eventually be outgrown. Although I was baptized Methodist (and I was surprised to learn my Protestant baptism was recognized as valid by the Catholic Church), we never became very active in any church and therefore were not part of any enduring “church family.” When church was attended, it was a sterile, secular affair, full of feel-good stories of God’s unconditional love, lessons about tolerance and social justice (nothing wrong with that, of course, but it wasn’t very religious nor fill me with a sense of awe or wonder), and very little that was Biblical or traditional. Services revolved mainly around the sermon, always a feel-good pep talk about God’s all-encompassing love and loving one another. All of this clap-happy, touchy feely reformed-Protestant stuff flew in the face of the constant anger, rage, loneliness, and discord that was constantly going on at home. Due to that, all the messages about positive-thinking and feel-goodness seemed insincere and meaningless, and didn’t address the very real problems in my family that made me feel so defective and different from everyone else.

For a short time–maybe one or two years–my father became fascinated by Christian Science, and I was sent to a Christian Science Sunday school. I was too young to comprehend the metaphysical beliefs they espoused, which basically preached that all that was material was an illusion, and only Spirit mattered (later my father would become active in Religious Science, a similar belief system that isn’t based in Christianity and overlaps a great deal with New Thought, part of the New Age movement). I couldn’t wrap my young brain around the metaphysical mumbo jumbo I heard on Sunday and I desperately needed something tangible to offset my growing feelings of dissociation from myself and the rest of humanity and from God Himself. I was filled with uncertainty about what was real and what wasn’t. Living on a diet of spiritual junk food, I was starving for emotional and spiritual sustenance. Although I coudn’t have put it into words, I needed to experience the Divine with my five senses.

holy_communion
How I envied these girls!

Enter Catholic school. In 5th grade, the bullying at the local public school became so bad that my parents decided to take matters into their own hands and despite their misgivings about the Catholic Church, I was sent to a Catholic girls’ school. My grades immediately improved and I found it easier to make friends with these girls than at the public school. My parents were surprised (and probably a little disturbed) that one of my favorite classes (and the one I did best at) was Religion. I didn’t become religious back then, nor did my faith in God deepen (I was for all intents and purposes agnostic), but I found myself always looking forward to the masses we used to have at school on religious days. Although the highly liturgical services confused me at first (knowing when to stand up and sit down, memorize the various prayers, etc) I found myself drawn to the orderliness and beauty of the Mass. It somehow seemed Godlike and was steeped in history that the Protestant services I’d attended with my parents just didn’t have. I envied the cool trappings of Catholicism (when the other girls were going through Confirmation, they got a new name and a pretty dress and I wanted that too) and longed to be able to take Communion with everyone else. I wanted a set of my own rosary beads. Today I know these things really don’t matter (I think whatever denomination you are–even if none at all–is a matter of personal preference) but at my tender age, these tangible things seemed part of some wonderful, sacred, mysterious and heavenly world I couldn’t be part of. Sitting there in my folding chair watching the proceedings, I always felt the presence of God and a benevolent, forgiving love I never felt from my own family, even though I had to remain seated during the communion. It was one of the few places where I could feel the benevolence of God.

Many cradle Catholics remember negative experiences from their childhood about the Church and turned away from it as they came of age, but as someone who only knew it as a refuge from the harsh realities that took place in my agnostic home, I never developed those negative associations with Catholicism. I loved most of the nuns at my school. With one or two exceptions, they seemed so kind and compassionate, very saintlike–and they seemed to care about me in a way I never felt I got from my own family. Although I never talked about what went on at home, one nun in particular who seemed to favor me for some reason, guessed that things at home weren’t ideal, and told me to come see her anytime I needed to talk. I never did (for fear of what might happen if I “squealed” about the family to an outsider), but it felt good to know that she cared enough to reach out to me.

As I grew older I fell away from Christianity (not that I’d ever really embraced it much and knew next to nothing about the Bible or the life of Christ), and experimented with other belief systems, including Scientology and Buddhism, if anything at all. The Bible seemed to me like a book of ancient fairy tales with no relevance to my own life. I rarely prayed and looked down on churchgoing and religious people as ignorant and deluded. Although I never embraced full-on atheism (it was too depressing to think there was no afterlife at all), I thought that if God existed, he was pretty much hands-off and that everyone, other than the most hardened criminals and mean, cruel people, would get to Heaven, if there even was such a place. The concept of reincarnation made a lot more logical sense to me than the idea of heaven or hell.

But my soul was still starving and I think deep down I always knew this. Every once in a while, in spite of my doubts about the existence of God, I’d make time to attend a Catholic mass. I didn’t believe what they preached, in fact I thought most of it was pretty silly, but I loved the ritual and the order, and somehow always came away feeling transcended. I’d go take Communion (knowing as a non-Catholic I wasn’t supposed to) and feel somehow nourished. In a way I couldn’t explain, witnessing the reverence and beauty of the Mass, made me feel like part of something much bigger than myself and accepted for who I was, not (as in my FOO) expected to be someone I could never be.

I toyed with other Christian faiths, including Lutheranism and the Southern Baptist church. During the late 1980s, I attended a Lutheran church (and was confirmed as Lutheran) mainly because the man I married was Lutheran. The services were called masses and were very liturgical and quite similar in many ways to the Catholic mass, but they seemed watered down, somehow. For instance, the communion wafer was regarded as symbolic rather than being the actual Body of Christ. We never became deeply involved with the Lutheran church, and although we had our kids baptized Lutheran, we did not attend church on Sundays or otherwise do much to encourage their spiritual development.

When we moved to North Carolina from northern New Jersey, we were faced with culture shock–instead of having mostly Catholic and Jewish neighbors, suddenly we found ourselves surrounded by Southern Baptists who insisted we needed to be “saved.” Still looking for spiritual nourishment, I started attending services at the local Baptist church as well as Bible studies on Tuesdays nights. My kids attended 2 years of Vacation Bible School. I never cottoned to the hellfire-and-brimstone preaching though, or the literal interpretation of the Bible. I was especially turned off by the church’s conservative political agenda, that actually told us we were “going to Hell” if we didn’t vote Republican, as well as their dismissal of science. I decided to stop attending church there.

hellfire
Hellfire-and-brimstone preaching is a turn off to me.

A few years later, my daughter had a friend at school whose parents were Southern Baptists, and my daughter, age 9 at the time, decided to be baptized in their church. I was fine with that, even though I disagreed with the southern Baptist belief system, because it took the burden off of me to be responsible for her spiritual growth. I attended her baptism and was surprised at how modern the service was, with a pop-rock band that played contemporary Christian music rather than traditional hymns. Intrigued, I decided to attend a few more services, but I always felt like I was at a rock concert rather than at church. In spite of the emphasis on Biblical literalism, during the long, emotional sermons, I never felt my soul uplifted or any real feeling of spiritual transcendence. Although very different from the touchy-feely, heaven-awaits-no matter-what-you-do preaching of the liberal Protestantism of my childhood, this hellfire-and-brimstone preaching bookended by Christian contemporary music with the words splashed on a huge TV screen didn’t do much for me either. I longed for tradition, for history, for meaning.

I still occasionally attended Catholic masses, but never thought I’d actually become one. But shortly after I went No Contact with my ex (who freeloaded off me and mentally abused me for almost 7 years following our divorce and nearly bled me dry emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually) I began to blog. My mental and physical health came back first, and then I realized I was still starving spiritually. I needed God, who after all, had been watching and protecting me all the time I was in an abusive marriage and had shown me on several occasions how real He was. Last October, I decided to start attending Mass as well as RCIA classes (the classes you take to become Catholic). I had doubts about much of the doctrine (and truth be told, still do). I still wasn’t sure I wanted to become Catholic, but I thought I should at least take the classes and make an educated decision.

To my surprise, I found that Catholic doctrine isn’t very different from what I’ve always believed anyway. The Bible is held as important (more important than many fundamentalist Christians believe we do) but much of its content is not not interpreted literally and therefore doesn’t fly in the face of centuries of scientific discovery and achievement. Yes, we are saved by grace alone (all Christians are), but works are also important and are tangible evidence of God’s grace. Sacraments (communion, confession, etc) give tangibility to God’s grace although (I don’t think) they are necessary for salvation. Confession is not a punishment; it is an opportunity to unload to someone else and makes you feel better afterwards (very similar to a 4th step in a 12-step program). Although I had my doubts at first, I’ve come to believe the Host (the communion wafer) does actually become the body of Christ, due to the glorious, transcended way I always feel after partaking. I do feel like my soul is being changed for the better, even though it’s not a Saul-to-Paul-like sudden conversion full of fireworks and drama.

I admit I do still have some issues, mostly having to do with the Catholic church’s stance on social matters such as abortion and homosexuality, as well as the fact that priests still must be male. I don’t think the Pope is infallible either (he is just a man), but I understand the reasoning behind having a Pope and I happen to like the current Pope anyway. I don’t venerate Mary and the saints, although I have utmost respect for them. Veneration isn’t the same as worship, anyway. Only Jesus as God is worshipped so there’s nothing un-Christian there, a far as I’m concerned.

rosary_beads

Because of my doubts and personal proclivities, I’ll probably never be the “perfect Catholic” or “perfect Christian” but that’s okay. I pray that God keeps working on my soul to cleanse it from sin and I’m willing to believe anything God wants me to believe. I’m willing to turn my soul and my life over to the Creator. Whenever I’m at mass, I feel part of a vast family and something glorious, beautiful and so much bigger than myself or all humanity. I feel accepted in God’s kingdom and have begun to fear death and the future less than I used to. The tangibility, beauty and order of the liturgical tradition–the memorized call-and-response prayers, the communion procession, the incense, the swelling organ music and the singing, the kneeling and the standing, the Sign of the Cross, and all the rest of these “silly rituals”–makes me feel that God is a tangible, real thing, someone who is RIGHT THERE and that I can see, hear, smell, feel, touch and even taste. The traditional hymns with their pipe-organ and piano music and the ancient prayers imbue a sense of mystery and history into the services that neither liberal Protestantism or fundamentalist pop-rock sing-alongs do for me. And I love the Bible readings too. I’m beginning to feel that the messages in the Bible do have meaning for me personally. The orderliness and ritual of the mass is regarded by some as mindless, dull and lacking spontaneity (and to some extent I can understand this view), but I find the repetitive and predictable aspects such as the call-and-response prayers and chants to have an uncanny way of eventually filtering down from my mind into the deepest part of my heart, in a way a hellfire-and-brimstone or feel-good, prosperity-gospel sermonizing can never do.

Before becoming Catholic, I toyed with the idea of becoming Eastern Orthodox, a religion which, if anything, is even more liturgical and steeped in ritual, history, and tradition than the modern Catholic church (and is somewhat more liberal in its stance on women’s rights and birth control), but finding a sizable Orthodox community here in the Southern United States is a huge challenge to say the least. I did actually attend one Orthodox mass about five years ago (my son’s Kung Fu teacher was Russian Orthodox and invited us to attend his church), and although it was incredibly beautiful (and the food served afterwards was delicious), the feel of the Orthodox mass was a little too “foreign” for my taste. Anglicanism (The Church of England) also has a rich liturgical tradition (please see my Christmas post “O Come All Ye Faithful”) but again, is uncommon here in the southern US, and it’s still Protestantism anyway. I like the idea of being part of the oldest and largest practicing Christian community in the world that has such a rich and colorful history (even if at times in the past it wasn’t especially Christ-like). I feel proud to be a part of that. Although I know the trappings and ritual are more a matter of personal preference than salvation, for me they make an abstract God seem more real. Coming from such a chaotic, unpredictable background, the order and predictability of the liturgy is food for my soul. My adopted religion may not be the only road to salvation, but it’s the only road for me. Thanks be to God.

Millennials and liturgical Christianity.
As an aside, the Millennial generation, although largely turned off by religion, are, when drawn to religion, are converting to “high church” (liturgical) Christianity such as Anglicanism, Catholicism, and the Orthodox church. They are a generation that (like me, even though I’m not a Millennial) longs for a sense of tradition and connection with history that’s lacking in the evangelical, fundamentalist, and liberal Protestantism or New Age or atheistic belief systems they were raised with, all of which largely ignore or dismiss 1800 years of Christian history and tradition.

Further reading:
Why Millennials Long for Liturgy: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-millennials-long-for-liturgy/
Millennials are Seeking Tradition, Sacramentality, and Liturgy: http://www.catholicvote.org/millennials-are-seeking-tradition-sacramentality-and-liturgy/

To everything there is a season…

seasons

There seem to be three different kinds of people in the world. Those who are fake-positive, always wearing a plastered on smile and never admitting to failure or to their true emotions; those who walk around wearing their misery like a badge of honor; and everyone else.

Before I became active in the narcissistic abuse community, I really only met the first type of person and the third. I’m all too well acquainted with “positive thinking nazis” — you know, fake and shallow people who don’t want to acknowledge your pain and tell you to “get over it” or “you bring your misery on yourself with your negativity.” These people are often–but not always–narcissists (but even when they aren’t, they are all neurotypicals.) They are good at social skills and making a good impression at all times, and that means they are always smiling. They cannot and will not understand how introverted Aspies like me work–or really, how anyone who has deep emotions and isn’t always happy works. Positive-thinking nazis drive me insane. They lack compassion and understanding. They don’t think or feel deeply–about anything. It seems epidemic these days–people who don’t want to hear your problems because they don’t want to acknowledge that you may be in pain. For them, I don’t think it’s really about “positive thinking” at all. I think it’s about not wanting to be accountable or have to give time to anyone but themselves. They would rather brush your pain under the rug and act as if it’s not there, rather than let it ruin their day.

However, recently I’ve been seeing the opposite too, especially within the narcissistic abuse community. These are the people–usually raised by extremely abusive parents–who seem to wear their victimhood like a badge that proves how deep, emotional or even holy they are. The problem I see with this way of thinking is that they cannot move forward or ever find happiness or peace with themselves. Their Debbie Downer attitudes keep them stuck where they are and they can’t really heal from the abuse that was inflicted on them because they’re trapped in the quicksands of their own misery. A few have even implied that to be a happy person means you aren’t a godly person. They say that being optimistic or believing that God allows suffering or toxic people to come into our lives to strengthen us is a demonic way of thinking, and in fact, that the whole positive thinking movement is a “gift of Satan” in order to fool us.

When I first joined the narcissistic abuse community, I felt like I had finally found like-minded people. I felt like a victim most of the time and my early posts were mostly rants against my narcissists and how much life sucked in general. I couldn’t believe my luck in finding people who thought exactly the way I did–other people whose lives seemed ruined beyond repair due to the damage done to them at the hands of abusive or narcissistic people (usually parents), and that, well…life really sucks. Wow, I thought. There really are others like me! I could relate, and I felt like I was no longer all alone in thinking this way. And at the time, it was exactly the sort of validation I needed. But it wasn’t meant to be permanent!

Recently I’ve been changing and I’m finding myself getting irritated and depressed around people who cling to victimhood like a trophy and refuse to–or can’t–heal from abuse. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not “blaming the victim”–at all–but I have noticed with a great deal of sadness how people who cling to such views don’t seem to be able to heal. Sometimes I think they believe if they let go of their victimhood and allow themselves to pursue and embrace joy, that they are “letting the narcs win.” But in fact, they are letting the narcs win by embracing victimhood because their being happy wasn’t in their abusers’ plans. By stubbornly clinging to their no-hope thinking patterns, they can’t heal and and their abusers get what they want. Because our being happy wasn’t part of the narc’s agenda.

happiness_quote

I have heard some say that happy people who are doing well in life aren’t authentic or “real.” I don’t think this is true, at least not all the time. Yes, I think there is far too much emphasis put on always APPEARING happy and yes, showing human emotions such as sadness, fear or depression seems to have become taboo in our narcissistic society. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing our true feelings, even when they’re not positive. But there is a huge difference between an authentically happy person and one who is faking it. A person who has true joy and feels it in their heart is a person other people want to be around, even people like me who get easily annoyed by “goody goodies” who smile too much.

A genuinely happy person is positive about life, but they don’t force their positivity on others, or make others feel guilty for showing real feelings. They don’t victim-blame or tell you it’s your fault you feel the way you do or have the circumstances you are faced with. They know how to listen–without judgment. The few people I have known who are like this are among the most empathetic people I ever met, and it’s because they’re not so caught up in their own issues that they have nothing left to give to others. I knew a girl like this a few years ago. Even though she laughed and smiled a lot, she was never annoying or obnoxious. I used to see her cry a lot too–often for others, because she was so compassionate and she CARED about other people. You could tell she was a person who was able to love deeply. People went to her with their problems because they knew she cared and wanted to help, and would never judge you for feeling down.

I don’t believe this world is our final destination. I believe our fallen nature and sin makes suffering inevitable. But on the other hand, I don’t think God wants us to be miserable either. I don’t buy the phony Joel Osteen brand of fake happiness or the ugly philosophy of the “Prosperity Gospel.” I can’t stand so-called “Christians” who don’t believe in helping the less fortunate because they believe that “poverty is the result of moral failure” or some such BS and is therefore deserved.

But I do think God does want us to be happy while we’re in this world. This planet, as imperfect as it is, is filled with small and not-so-small gifts and they are there for us to enjoy every day–but we won’t be able to appreciate these gifts if we’re too caught up in feeling like we were born only for suffering. It’s okay to smile when you feel like smiling, to be successful at something, to even be prosperous. I certainly am not what anyone would call “successful,” but I won’t condemn anyone else if they’ve found success and happiness–as long as the happiness is authentic and the success was earned honestly. I don’t think anyone needs to consign themselves to always being impoverished or depressed. No one was born to be a victim. I used to believe I was, but now I know I wasn’t–I just needed to open my eyes. Adversity can even be a teacher if you frame it differently. I have learned from my narcs. No, they aren’t good people, but perhaps God placed them in my life to teach me some hard lessons and to lead me to where I am right now as a writer about narcissism and mental health.

Psalm 16 v 11 path of life bible verses on happiness

The obstacles and obstacle-creating people we meet in life aren’t put there by the devil. They may not have been put there by God, but God allows us to find our own way through the obstacles and become stronger through our pain, perhaps so we can “pay it forward” and help someone else in pain.

The idea of there being a purpose for everything in life–the bad along with the good–is Biblical. One of my favorite Bible passages is Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (KJV):

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

I can’t tell you how many times I have read this and been inspired and comforted by it.
If you feel happy, don’t feel guilty about it! If you don’t, that’s okay too. There’s a time and reason for everything.

Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?

golden_rule

I remember as a child, always hearing the Golden Rule–“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” It’s a staple of kindergarten life, and it’s a good lesson in how we should treat others. It teaches children the concept of empathy. It would be a much nicer world if more adults followed it.

Some religious people are so quick to judge others and they pull out Bible quotes to justify giving those they disagree with a hard time. This leads to discord and disharmony and walls of hate between individuals. In the larger world, the same attitude leads to wars and killing. Many narcissists hide behind a cloak of piety. It’s possible to find quotes in the Bible to justify abusive behavior and narcs do it all the time (I am not referring to any specific individuals here, it’s just something I’ve noticed a lot). Do they forget the Golden Rule is itself from the Bible?*

Matthew 7:12
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do
to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Luke 6:31:
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Galatians 5:14
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Leviticus 19:18
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:34
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

* King James Version.