Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Qualifying "Creepy": Cults and Cognitive Dissonance

MC Escher's Relativity
A few years ago, I took the dialogue from the script of The Matrix film and changed some of the language to fit a spiritually abusive situation – to describe that splinter-in-your-mind feeling. You know something seems to be “off,” but you're not sure what it is. The only thing that you can really pinpoint as “off” at the very start of it is your feeling for which you have little evidence.

Let's exaggerate things a bit with an obvious example of something somewhat related to the splinter in your mind.

If we are reasonably mentally heathy, we have a sense of optimism. For some of us who have been through trauma, our optimism (which might be too strong of a word) may only be a search for reasons to get out of bed in the morning. When coping with all that we must to get through life, we take much for granted, and our level of optimism or lack thereof dictates the ease with which we trust the subtle or obvious cues. When others use that which we take for granted (the shortcuts of assumption) against us for their gain and at our expense, these shortcuts become “Weapons of Influence.”

If you chose to watch this video, as you do, consider that the expectation that a minister to be ethical (or just as ethical as you would expect any human to be) as something reasonably healthy (hint #1). Here, the splinter-in-your-mind has been exaggerated to a 2 x 4 stud that you'd find in the lumber aisle at Home Depot, except that the setting isn't the lumber aisle (hint #2).

I love this depiction as an exaggerated analogy to a spiritually abusive leader. “I feel fantastic, and I seem fantastic?” Robots don't feel, for one thing. That voice even has vibrato, and pieces and portions of it sound human, but I can tell that it's not. What if the difference was just subtle enough to seem human, but I couldn't tell? What if I could only hear the voice of the robot but couldn't see visual evidence to help me to confirm why the voice didn't always seem “right”? The sound doesn't match the source. The source doesn't match the message. The message itself cannot be true. The static figure looks human-like, but static figures don't “behave.” The figure in this video does.

Whether a manipulative minister intentionally tries to misrepresent the truth, or whether they're just lying to themselves, not everything about them adds up. Either the message doesn't match the context, or the emotion expressed, or something subtle about their expressions or behavior seems inconsistent or incongruent. When misrepresenting the truth, that minister falls short of our reasonable expectations of a minister as an expert or an authority on ethics. What if they become so abusive that they actually fall below our reasonable expectations of what we might call common human decency? Does not something about them become less than human?

Imagine how fascinated I became when I saw this graph of the “uncanny valley” which specifically gauges “creepy” deviation against the standard of human likeness. Francis T. McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnke offer this spectrum in their discussion of what constitutes creepiness from the perspective of social psychology. It dovetails nicely with that which Philip Zimbardo describes concerning the disguise of the expressions of the prison guards in his famed Stanford Prison Experiment, something he notes as a precipitating factor involved in evil behavior. 

This element of deindividuation by obscuring eye contact and facial expression can also be found in William Golding's book, Lord of the Flies. Ambiguity about identity and genuine expression in communication makes for confusion. Steven King classifies creepy as the terror variety of fear which comes about because of this type of ambiguity and disorientation.

Doesn't cult involvement demand a type of death of the true self when personality and preference must buried?

Hmmmm....  Creepy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Attention Homeschoolers! HARO Survey 2014 and World Magazine Drama

A post totally ripped off from Homeschooler's Anonymous, and I didn't even ask permission:

Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), HA’s parent non-profit organization, is happy to announce our first-ever comprehensive survey: the 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement. This survey is open to any adult homeschool alumni (18 years old or older) raised in a Christian homeschool environment. 
For the purposes of this survey, “alumni” designates everyone homeschooled for the majority of their K-12 education; in other words, for at least 7 years. The survey is open to anyone in that category, whether your experience was positive or negative and whether you are still a Christian or not. 
By “Christian,” we are including the broadest possible definition, including Christian-identified new religious movements. 
The purpose of the survey is to investigate the life experiences of Christian homeschool alumni by collecting information that past surveys of homeschool alumni have not. We have done our very best to create fair, balanced questions without any leading or attempts to skew results. All results will be anonymous and used for informational purposes only. 
If you are an adult alumni of this movement, we would greatly appreciate your involvement. We would also love for you to share the survey with your friends and former homeschool peers through word of mouth and social media. The more responses, the better!


I'm too stupefied to comment more about the whole matter.
"Fake homeschoolers"???

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Exploring Trust in Forgiveness (What can we learn from the tragic death of Braxton Caner?)

A Reposting from the blog series on forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation from 2012.  What can we learn from tragedy - the loss of Braxton Caner


What hidden lessons can we find?


The Importance of Trust-building in Forgiveness

We've elucidated many ideas about forgiveness, primarily that it is a journey and that emotional healing is not on a straight time line. It occurs in stages, and healing becomes more like peeling an onion. Each layer brings tears and reminds us of what we've experienced in the past. We find ourselves remembering griefs we believe were healed and we have to reaffirm forgiveness as God takes our healing to a deeper level in our souls. We can take the hard road of the Path of Healing as an act of obedience to God and virtue, dedicating ourselves to genuine forgiveness which honors both the offended and the offender. We must choose to identify and resist both the Path of Denial which pretends in some way that no offense ever took place as well as the Path of Bitterness which deceives us into believing that we are forgiving when we're only gathering evidence to exonerate ourselves from blame and condemn our offender. We grieve quite a bit during this process and must learn to wisely discern true repentance from mental assent and lip service.

Since forgiveness is so important to our walk of faith, we should ask if there are ways of limiting the potential for offense. Developing a more realistic view of ourselves, others, and how much ability we have to direct our lives helps us limit offense, just as well as learning to love ourselves. These areas of growth in our lives make not only easier to love and accept people and situations honestly, they also help us develop realistic expectations which prevent the roots from which bitterness grow. We will inevitably offend one another, either because of our inherent differences or because of sin and failure, so developing these traits become something of both personal and spiritual disciplines. We will be offended, and it is inevitable that we will also be offensive to others, particularly to whom we are closest because of our proximity to them. But we can do more. We can develop our characters as we learn exemplify virtue. What a tall order for beings who are at enmity with God by nature, finding vice so much easier than virtues like patience and self sacrifice, particularly after suffering an offense! This is easier said than done.

Becoming a “Safe Person”

Recent posts discussed “boundaries” in relationships, one of the first steps we can take towards the healthy balance between respect others and a reasonable degree of respect for ourselves in our relationships. Townsend and Cloud authored an excellent, landmark book about boundaries from a Christian perspective, but a book I've actually found their book, Safe People, to be an even more important book in my own personal journey. It frames out the types of struggles we tend to face in life and offers very practical advice, the next step beyond boundaries, in a way. Sometimes it is hard to translate the New Testament's admonishment to into our own lives, and the book offers Biblical advice to help us apprehend those admonishments so that we can live them out with more clarity and honesty.

The book teaches many aspects about “safe people,” whose with whom we can experience trust and forgiveness more readily, supported by mutual respect and care of one another. It starts by defining what safe people are not, listing traits and habits of those who are “unsafe” – those who don't share both power and responsibility in personal relationships. The authors teach the reader how they can identify those who put them at risk emotionally and those who are not capable of respect and intimacy. It also has a section that echos some of the traits of vulnerability mentioned in a previous post concerning hard and soft targets for manipulation. Like the writings of George Simon, Robert Hare, and Harriet BraikerSafe People explores similar habits in our lives that cause us to choose involvement with people who are unsafe for us.

This information is invaluable to us, especially if we keep repeating the same mistakes within our relationships, while also teaching ways of avoiding these relationship pitfalls. It then goes on, quite obviously, to define what a truly safe person looks and acts like within a relationship with us, and why we need such people in our lives. Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 10 that we should be both as innocent as doves but yet as wise as serpents, knowing when to trust and knowing when to “kick the dust from our feet,” a quite unpleasant act signifying unsafe relationships to say the least. The book teaches how one can learn to see others in a more realistic light, teaching how to discern the true nature of a person and how they will likely treat you and others.

But what I most enjoyed about this book was the way that it works much like a mirror that can allow a person to see themselves, identifying their own strengths as well as their weaknesses. While it is important to identify safe people with whom to develop relationships, it is also important to ask oneself,“Am I also a safe person for others?” Not all of our weaknesses of character involve our vulnerabilities. God calls us to walk with others in an attitude well disposed to forgiveness, kindness, and compassion, and this is a discipline that we learn through experience. So while the book offers the reader way of self protection, it all so sets the standard for conduct which challenges the reader, too.

Building Trust as a Milieu for Forgiveness

Just as we must weigh the motives of those who repent of wrongdoing as a necessary step on our journey of forgiveness, we must learn to have the right motives ourselves. A previous post touched on how to begin to discern true repentance, but Safe People delves further into the topic through the study of traits and character of the person, not just their behaviors associated with their repentance itself. Talk is cheap, and actions speak what words cannot. They create and foster a place where trust can begin to grow and mistrust and betrayal can begin to heal. These actions and traits can be learned through obedience, love, contrition, and honesty with ourselves and others. Books like this one can help us take a step in the right direction. They can help us apply the principles and virtues taught to us in Scripture in more concrete ways through example and modern parables that explain how we can best go about loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

If you have someone in your life that has not forgiven you or you are not quite far along enough on your own personal journey of forgiveness with someone who has offended you, Safe People can be another set of tools to put into your toolbox of healing implements. Or would that toolbox be something more along the lines of a first aid kit, complete with a Balm of Gilead?

Read more about forgiveness HERE

and don't miss the list of resources.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What is Repentance? (What can we learn from the tragic death of Braxton Caner?)

A Reposting from the blog series on forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation from 2012.  What can we learn from tragedy - the loss of Braxton Caner


What hidden lessons can we find?


Defining Repentance on the Journey of Forgiveness

What constitutes repentance? The Gospels tell us that we must always forgive when those who have sinned against us (or disappointed us) repent of wrongdoing.  The Bible sets a precedent that repentance precedes forgiveness.  But what do we understand about the concept? As reviewed previously, Christians are called to confront others when wronged and must forgive when those who committed the wrong repent. For the Christian, forgiveness is non-optional. Review more about forgiveness HERE.
He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
Complicated Repentance

As any parent knows and any person in an abusive relationship can tell you, repentance can mean many different things. Abusers will often feign repentance to escape the consequences of their actions, but they use the act as license to pick right back up where the left off, continuing to offend others as though their lip service allows them to do whatever they want with impunity. When the offended voice another complaint about their behavior, BOOM! The person who claimed to repent tries to dump the responsibility for the matter on to the offended, claiming that they are unforgiving. They use virtue as a means that allows them to sin and keep on sinning. I love Ayn Rand's quote about how such injustice causes a person to not only suffer the initial loss but to also continually bear a second kind of loss when justice is denied them. People who claim that this is godly to endure such injustice in the name of keeping peace cause the Kingdom of God to suffer violence. 
When one acts on pity against justice, it is the good whom one punishes for the sake of the evil; when one saves the guilty from suffering, it is the innocent whom one forces to suffer. There is no escape from justice, nothing can be unearned and unpaid for in the universe, neither in matter nor in spirit—and if the guilty do not pay, then the innocent have to pay it.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

As we noted in the previous post, spiritual abusers or manipulators can use misunderstandings and preoccupation with image consciousness and the illusion of outward appearance to shame people by dissuading people from acknowledging offense in the first place. It creates an illusion of peace when none really exists. High demand religions also use feigned repentance to do much of the same thing, discouraging healthy conflict by shaming people into accepting poor treatment from one another. It keeps the wounded and the offended and the victims captive in the bondage of the Path of Denial, and forgiveness never takes place. In the name of following the Law of Love, those who manipulate others in such a way actually thwart love and prevent it from working healing and true reconciliation. As all spiritually abusive groups do, they trade in real unity for uniformity. Some gain some temporary benefits, and others suffer to provide that benefit. The same thing holds true with feigned repentance.

Defining Repentance

The Oxford English Dictionary describes repentance as the feeling or expression of sincere regret about wrongdoing; a feeling of penitence. But this is a general description. What do the specifics look like and how does one arrive at repentance?

The word “repent” in derives from the Greek metanoia which is a compound word that translates literally into “a change of mind.” Noia means “to think with your mind.”  Meta means “after” with the implication of  change such as it appears in the English word “metamorphosis.” The term can also be defined as “to think differently afterward.”. Actually, Romans 12:2 uses meta in the compound word metamorphoo for our English word of “transformed,” directing us to “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what (is) that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Withn the Greek word itself, we can note the emphasis on the choice that a person makes when they express repentance in the process of forgiveness. And presumably, someone who has changed their mind will also follow through by changing their behavior.
 The Old Testament uses two verbs of shuv (to return) and nicham (to feel sorrow) which further deepens the meaning to include a sense of contrition. In the New Testament, we see this contritiondepicted in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Repentance also includes the confession of wrongdoing to those who were harmed, just as the Jews went to the tabernacle to declare their repentance as they offered their sacrifice. Repentance involved the community in this sense, just as Saul depicts in 1 Samuel 15 when he humbly repents and asks Samuel to worship with him.

Under the old system of Judaism, they also practiced the concept of restitution and recompense through bonded service for loss that occurred, paying back double what was taken. Recompense even involvedhow one approached God to seek atonement. Recall again that forgiveness is a term that refers the cancellation of monetary debt, so it is curious to note that the Old Testament quantitated restitution, even calling for one fifth of the amount stolen to be added to the atonement offering that was given to the priest. Rather than some nebulous theory, restitution required something tangible and specific to be paid back to those who were harmed. In the same fashion in the New Testament, Zacchaeus spontaneously pledged without the need of prompting that he would restore fourfold what he had wrongfully taken from others in taxes when he repents to Jesus and places his faith in Him.

Talk is Cheap!
I was once taught that repentance involves four steps which corresponds well to these Jewish teachings and traditions: Conviction, Contrition, Confession, and Conversion. True repentance without all of these efforts (which include restitution as part of the conversion process) is considered incomplete. In the name of love, we should never forgo doing what is right by repairing the wrongs we have done when it is possible.

Patience, Love And Learning

As noted, insincere repentance and words of lip service do a grave injustice to the offended. This can be a difficult matter, and I find it fascinating that Jesus points out such a large number of times that a person must forgive.

I think that He does this to help us weed out those who do knowingly feign forgiveness when they feel absolutely no contrition for what they've done to others from those who are weak, immature, and unskilled. Forgiveness requires long suffering (patience) and teaches it to us in the process, one of the benefits that the Path of Healing brings to us when we follow it sincerely. Lets face it: we are stubborn creatures of habit, and we make mistakes and fail repeatedly as we master new skills. Consider that in learning a new manual skill that we might cause inconvenience to others until we learn to get that skill right. Some we never really master. We may have learned to stop spilling milk at the table when we were children, but we're very likely to spill something many times again, later on in our lives. Especially when we're learning and when we fail as a consequence of being human, that “seventy times seven” becomes very important to us. Repenting of failure helps re-orient us on our pursuit to mastery while showing others consideration.

How much more important is this patience to us when we learn new ways to treat one another, perhaps where this principle of repentance and forgiveness demonstrates the most value? When we change and grow, we have to let others around us know when they've hurt us, merely because we've decided to change the patterns of how we relate to one another. If you're dancing with a partner and you step on their toe, it's likely that both parties can observe the error without it being voiced. In relationships, the repentance/forgiveness process becomes vital, because we usually don't know much about how our behavior affects others without that feedback. Here again is another way that offense, repentance, and forgiveness can be framed as a very positive process of growth and healing.  We often need seventy times seven chances to work in us, and it works in both the one who repents and the one who forgives.

We must also consider that on our long journey of forgiveness and as we traverse the ongoing process of grief, matters that have wounded us deeply take time to heal.  The principle of long patience helps us again and again, as we reaffirm our commitment to forgive.  Though we need to draw on this compassion when people continue to repeat the same offenses, likewise, we often need to keep forgiving many times over for large offenses that have affected us so profoundly.  I spoke to a dear friend this week who divorced two years ago because of her husband's betrayal.  Though she has forgiven her husband and has released him unto God, there are still daily reminders of her loss.  Mail arrives in the mailbox, for example, and it seems that she can't get beyond the memories which bring up pain for her, even though her husband has been gone for a long time.  During these times, we need the comfort of knowing that Jesus fully appreciated how hard forgiveness can be and the sheer determination we need at times when we're doing the hard work of this kind of healing.  We can lean on the knowledge that Jesus knows intimately how difficult the process can be, leaning hard into the God of all comfort to find the perseverance we need.

I must also add that we must consider, when we're ready and are not overcome with the anger of grief, that repentance may likely be a process for those who have offended us.  This is another reason why we must be patient in the Spirit of Love.  Sometimes, consequences must soften our hearts, and it can take time for us to really develop the full contrition that we need to make the changes in our behavior that back up repentance.  I think of Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve.  It took a full night of work from those ghosts who mirrored Scrooge's image back to him, and it took time for the blinders to fall from his eyes.  It took time to open his heart.  When we are offended, consider that in the beginning of repentance, the fullness of it may not yet have come.  Though the person who offended us may give mental assent to forgiveness, it may not yet have transformed their heart for us.   Here also, we need seventy times seven determination to forgive and forgive again as God fills  us up with His patience and love when our own human qualities fail.

By graciously forgiving others in this process of discipline, we provide them with a mirror in which they can see themselves, and it helps all involved to grow. When we work through past hurts and commit to restoring relationships together, this willingness to forgive gives us discipline and structure.   Though it may seem like work to us because of our emotional pain, that place of difficult work fosters our mutual healing, love, and restoration.  Remember that this is a place of cooperation and humility, and it takes the participation and commitment of all involved.  In its fullness, repentance always includes that element of community.

Now we have a picture of the ideal.  But what of the less than ideal?

Read more about forgiveness HERE

and don't miss the list of resources.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Eric Pazdziora Outdoes Himself (and Piper does in not such a good way...)

1. Look closely for the "Click to Play" option below the Tweets to hear Eric's new tune (lyrics by John Piper).  The print is tiny, but it will play if you wait a few seconds for it to load.  Or visit his Tumblr site directly.  He (Eric) should win some kind of award.  I may have to create one.  Read more about and by the exceptionally talented Eric HERE.

2.  For more discussion, visit Spiritual Sounding Board.

3.  More Tweets HERE.  (Emily's is the best!)


John Piper / Eric Pazdziora - Down By The River
Shared from ericpaz using Embeddlr

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Surviving Conferences and Surviving Church

I was thrilled to see many survivors from Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) make it to the International Cultic Studies Association meeting in Washington, DC last month. I can barely believe that a whole months has elapsed. Of course, I planned to write several posts about it, but I've yet to produce a single one. I've done some networking and have so many people with whom to follow up regarding so many different issues and topics.

By now, I'd hoped to blog about a wonderful acquaintance I made at the meeting – a retired vicar named Stephen Parsons who hosts a blog called Surviving Church. He traveled all of the way across the pond to attend. Apart from seeing former SGM members attend, I think that meeting Stephen was the high point of the meeting for me. He presented a session about the research of Philip Zimbardo and how it applies to the phenomenon of spiritual abuse and of cults. He also expresses an interest in the concept that Zimbardo hints about – that perhaps the position of the modern minister creates a potential for narcissism.

I'm waiting for the book that he authored to arrive, and I wonder if it's on a very slow boat somewhere, traversing the mighty Atlantic pond. In Ungodly Fear, Stephen explores the accounts of several different spiritually abused persons, ultimately encouraging the worthy pursuit of healthy Christianity and a healthy, rewarding church experience.

In our discussions, his great compassion for those who suffered in Evangelical or Fundamentalist pseudo-Christian or Bible-based groups shined through for me. He marveled at the resilience of those who told their accounts of their journeys, treating everyone as a precious and remarkable soul to be celebrated. I'm surprised, though, that we didn't get around to discussing Richard Swinburne and the social versus the antisocial view of the Trinity. I'm putting that on my list for the next time that I see him.

Several times and for several reasons, in talking with him, I thought of an old short story by John Steinbeck entitled, The Chrysanthemums. (I never liked his novels very well, but it has been at least a quarter of a century since I read one of them. Perhaps my perspective would be different now?)

The story tells of a day in the life of Eliza Allen, a gifted gardener who lives in the Salinas Valley. Steinbeck (who grew up in the California town) portrays her as an unsung, would-be heroine, but she never finds the chance to realize it. People almost recognize how exceptional she is, but there seems to be little opportunity for any real expression of their admiration, if they even stop to take time to notice. I've always admired her as a character, for she knows in her own heart that she is valuable and capable and strong. She is also vulnerable and hopeful, and she takes risks to reach out to others, even when they are just using her or taking her for granted.

I keep musing about writing a sequel to Steinbeck's story, continuing the story of Eliza. In contrast to the others she meets in the first installment, I would love to try my hand at a new short story about her. A year later in Salinas, on a cool December morning, I hope to write about her meeting with a retired vicar on his journey. The difference between him and others she's met before in Steinbeck's story? This vicar recognizes her value and beauty and strength. He makes good on his word to her, and he blesses her. For a brief moment in her life, she is seen, noted for who she is, and is rewarded with kindness.

I felt all inspired about this creative writing project, but life has become busy. In the interim, I invite you to read more at Stephen Parson's blog, Surviving Church.

To my conservative American friends, note that some of his views are not fundamentalist ones. In fact, somehow we ended up discussing Jonah, the Great Whale, and Nineveh. Stephen expressed his view that the writing was just a bit of good storytelling. He seemed surprised and perhaps pleasantly amused (with an attitude of the utmost respect) that I believe that there was and is a Jonah of old. I look forward to talking with him.

When we both get to heaven, I expect that we will find out then whose opinion was most accurate. I look forward to a meeting of the three of us one day. If my belief was the misguided one, we'll have a good laugh. If I arrive there before Stephen and am correct, I'm going to see if I be there to greet him in glory along with Jonah to make the introduction.

Thanks for your indulgence, all of those who read this and think that there's just a Flying Spaghetti Monster in my flights of fancy. As my author friend Jocelyn Andersen puts it, I'm a “pan-millennialist.” I'm waiting to see how it all pans out, just like I'm waiting to meet Jonah.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Ugly Underbelly of Racism in the Fringe End of Christian Homeschooling: A Call for Personal Accounts

Racism and kinism have been a topic of interest on this blog because of the influence of the Neoconfederate Element within Christian Reconstruction and its influence on homeschoolers within its ranks. (For easier reading, a collection of posts about the Neoconfederate influence within this Christian subculture can be read HERE on the archive site. An index of all related posts concerning kinism and neoconfederates appears HERE.)

Essentially, kinism describes an ideology of “racialism” that some Christians believe to be a Biblical mandate prohibiting the mixing of races according to the Judaic Covenant – that which was taught as needful to establish Israel as a nation that was set apart for God. Some Christians who follow Covenant Theology believe that this mandate carries over into the Christian life. (For those who are new to this website or this subject, I find kinism to be repugnant and quite non-Christian.)

Many readers over the years have written to me with personal accounts and questions about the issues of race, Theonomy, and how it affected their subculture. I recall how Doug Phillips acted like people should take their shoes off to walk on the “holy ground” at RL Dabney's homestead. (The first section of this video discusses the influence of Theonomy on the homeschooling movement which sometimes differs little in appearance from the Kinder, K├╝che, Kirche campaign of the Third Reich.) And, of course, don't forget Wilson and Wilkins, the slavery apologists and plagiarists.

Young women have written to ask me questions about the veracity of the “claim” that slave wives homeschooled their children and kept their houses while their slave husbands labored. Much of this is claimed to be the basis of patriarchy's “Stay At Home Daughter” Movement. I've also heard about caucasian homeschooled children in “kinist country” (within the US) who performed plays in blackface, along with the group's special interest in waving around the “Stars and Bars” (the flag of the Confederate States during the “War of Northern Aggression” or the Civil War).

I would love for those “Second Generation Adult” readers who grew up in this movement to consider writing an article for the Homeschoolers Anonymous series about this element of their experience.

Read more about it HERE.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

FLDS Film Premieres Tonight on LMN

They've been playing cult-related films all day, but this one airs at prime time.  Wish I'd have known about all of them in advance!  Link to LMN.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Be a Weed!

Courtesy of Planet Natural, with a hat tip to Gina Catena, a successful, accomplished SGA Extraordinare!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Calling all Pastors and those in the DC area who are in recovery from Sovereign Grace Ministries!

I am happy to announce that after dinner on July 3rd, at the International Cultic Studies Association conference at the Sheraton in Silver Spring, Rev. Bob and Judy Pardon have offered to hold a discussion session for former members of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) if they would like to come. (Think of it as a care group that is really the best kind of care group!)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Educational Workshop About the Experience and the Needs of the Spiritually Abused in Silver Spring, MD

A note from Cindy Kunsman:

Rev. Bob Pardon and Judy Pardon who operate Meadowhaven, a recovery center for those who have exited high demand groups, will be giving a workshop discussing the phenomenon of spiritual abuse.  If you live near Silver Spring, MD and can attend on Wednesday, July 2nd at 2PM, please feel welcome to attend.  The workshop will be held before the Annual International Cultic Studies International Conference at the Sheraton Silver Spring on Georgia Avenue.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stages of Leaving a Diseased Culture (Considering Homeschooling)

Leaving a “worldview” like the high demand end of Christian homeschooling usually happens in stages because we're trained to defend our Sacred Science at all costs. Sometimes we get stuck. And sometimes, we don't realize that we're only half way out.

Some of the elements of the belief system, that worldview's sacred cows, are easy to give up. Some lead to our disillusionment. Some created pain for us while living fully according to the worldview. Those are easy to give up. We're usually relieved. When we learn about thought reform and that the sacred cows that trampled over us like a bull in a china shop, we feel validated. We might even feel vindicated when we come to understand that we were forced to accept and even laud these sacred cows because they were part of the sacred science.

But the ones we like? Sometimes we try to keep them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The New Patriarchs Abandon Patriarchy? Scapegoats and Other Drama

Dangerdust @ Twitter and Etsy
In the wake of the Vision Forum scandal, HSLDA and others abandon the appearance of patriarchy in high demand Christian homeschooling while ignoring the problems in the culture.

Not long after Doug Phillips “resigned” from the now defunct Vision Forum, his cohorts were quick to abandon him. Scott Brown who heads up the Family Integrated Church group quickly denounced Phillips. One almost imagines that some of the big names in this group were thrilled to hear of his failure.

On the heels of Phillips' resignation, Bill Gothard resigned because of more than thirty reports of sexual misconduct as reported by the Recovering Grace community. An article popped up about the poor handling of sex abuse at Patrick Henry College. Other articles (here and here) noted the same issues at Pensacola Christian College. All this took place while GRACE investigated Bob Jones University, was fired, and then was reengaged to complete their review of the claims that the university did not properly handle reports of sexual and physical abuse.  Patriarchy's having one rough year!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Visit Spiritual Sounding Board for the Latest Discussion of Bounded Choice and the Second Generation Adult

Drop on by at Spiritual Sounding Board for more discussion on the Second Generation Adult (SGA -- the adult child who grew up under a high demand ideological system) and explore the problems that they face when attempting to exit the mindset.  

The adult who signs up for a system or follows a strict paradigm has the benefit of remembering what life outside the group was like for them and can rely on that to help them exit.  The SGA doesn't have that luxury, but they can certainly make up for lost time!