Clergy re-victimization of a rape, incest victim?

Beware what kind of chaplain you seek counsel from in our Armed Forces (maybe even anywhere else).  In this disturbing account, a “conservative” “evangelical” Protestant minister seems to say that when a gay woman in the Navy came to him about being raped by a male Sailor, he did two things to her I’ve never heard of in a lifetime of theological study:

  • he supposedly got her to agree, through that bizarre Scholasticism that only his branch of Christianity does so well anymore, to be “married to Jesus” on the spot,* and
  • supposedly he involuntarily, unsolicited, imposed on her an “exorcism” of her homosexuality.

I’m not a lawyer, nor an expert in Clergy Malpractice, and I guess as long as the young woman is satisfied with his treatment of her and its effects in her life, he won’t face that lawsuit, and she’ll join the list of the — for now at least — “ex-gays.”  But his superior officers in the Corps of Chaplains at least, his Denominational Judicatory (if applicable), and/or his therapeutic credentialing body (if applicable), should look into the clerical, religious, and professional ethics of his own claimed behavior towards a woman who was within the military structure, already forced once to submit to heterosexual, male impositions recently therein, and he claims, also a victim of repeated incestuous heterosexual abuse previously.

This isn’t about my opinions concerning “evangelicalism” or demonology, simply what I believe to be — yes, the re-violation of a rape and incest victim by a minister she’d turned to for counsel and not, apparently, for a “wedding,” nor for a “cure” for her lesbianism, about which she had not, by his own account, complained.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this preacher involuntarily “baptized” playmates with water balloons or the garden hose in younger days.

He as much as admits to manipulating her: “And she had to answer ‘well, of course they’re full of the devil'” (emphasis mine).  Now, that one question-and-answer might have legitimate use in a ministry situation such as this, but not to catapult someone in an apparently fragile state into actions of dubious therapeutic, professional, or theological nature.  (I pray he didn’t also take it upon himself to ‘stand in for Jesus’ and “consummate” this “wedding” with her physically.)  Furthermore, he doesn’t tell us about her “renouncing” lesbianism: Did he make it up, lie to “the spirit of lesbianism”??  Or did he consider that the root of the presenting issue, the recent rape, would be legalistically removed if the victim were of an orientation not so disinclined logically, fundamentally, to reject male impositions, ie, straight?  Was it just more “evangelical” Scholasticism?  If so, was that his commission, basically to collaborate in her being ‘raped straight,’ as we’re seeing recently in other parts of the world?

I’m fully aware that Protestantism, today and historically, is full of such pietistic, emotional manipulation, as are certain streams of Catholicism and probably Orthodoxy also.  We’ve all seen the movies, TV dramas, read the books.  But even if we were to simplistically ask “What Would Jesus Do?,” did He ever do so with a woman, a victim of any kind, innocent or guilty?  I could be wrong, but I can’t recall that He did.  Did He ever work Himself and His beneficiary into the kind of frenzy of guilt feelings we’re all too familiar with — in this case turning the victim into the defendant, as she may well have been undergoing in the trial of her assailant already, as often happens in rape trials?

Tragically, many Americans, faced with the 40,000 sects of this land, would be hard-pressed to distinguish between one kind of Protestant chaplain and another.  Furthermore, in chaplaincy situations often clergy of one stripe are theoretically required to do double or even triple duty, serving patients or charges of a diversity of denominations on any given base, ship, or unit; often there aren’t many different chaplains to choose from.  If you’re from a small denomination, you’re at the mercy of whoever got stationed with you — and the Pentagon too is at the mercy of whoever volunteered after ‘having it put upon his heart by the Lord’ to go and do something for/to somebody(ies).

I’m not seriously trained in counseling either.  But I know what not to do, Lord have mercy on me.

A couple more quick points: 

  • Can exorcism ever be voluntary?  Well, someone might have a relatively mild problem — no head spinning, no projectile vomit, etc. — and go to a cleric asking about it, but is that then demonic possession, or maybe something else?  Otherwise, someone else might bring the supposedly-possessed person to the clergyperson, figuratively or literally kicking and screaming.  Neither is reported as happening here.
  • I won’t discuss Orthodoxy’s approach to homosexuality in this post, because I don’t believe it would be constructive or helpful to do so at this time or in this context.
  • In another, less-detailed allusion to this incident, this chaplain claimed that during it the evil one left the woman’s heart and Jesus moved into it, in the context of the “wedding.”  Actually this is said to happen Traditionally, not as such during the Orthodox Mystery of Holy Matrimony, but of Baptism / Chrismation** / Communion.  Orthodox Tradition goes on to say that previously, the evil one acted on you from within, and the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of The Trinity, from without; afterward, the Spirit of God acts on you from within — a position of strength for Him if you will — but the evil one may still act upon you from without — a relatively weaker position for him.
  • It seems this chaplain has become a political figure since late in his military career (sic).  Information about that is available through the linked page and elsewhere.  I’m so concerned about the particulars I’m discussing in this post that I’ll leave out the political angle, as well as his apparent or possible personal issues.

(*–Apparently, though, this didn’t make her a nun: Roman Catholic piety used to consider Religious Sisters “married to Christ,” but this preacher says his charge “started dating boys” openly.)

(**–likened to the Western Sacrament of Confirmation)

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Biblical Judges: Chiefs?

So say some Jewish scholarsOne per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel?  Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about?  Some of whom were more noteworthy than most?  (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)

I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!).  Conflating shevet and shofet?  Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?”  We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers….  The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!

Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time!  Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….

It’s a minor semantic point.  The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes.  But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel?  Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe.  “Tribal Sovereignty,” even!  With him, various officials, aides, counselors.  And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth.  And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?!  Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology.  (Even these gentlemen agree today.)  Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture?  Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”

And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.

(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)

Feed everyone

The Orthodox Herald in December pointed to recent statements by the Popes of Rome – John Paul and Benedict* – that we have a moral obligation to provide food and water – “nutrition and hydration” the doctors call it – to patients in a “vegetative state.”  (I guess if babies in the womb are no longer babies in the womb, food and water is merely “medical treatment”….)

But IOTM that what we have is a moral obligation to provide food and water to EVERYONE unable to provide it for themselves!  Whether they’re paralyzed, sick, poor, unemployed, frail, Disabled, children, drought-stricken, plague-stricken, unlucky or unskilled in agriculture, fulltime parents, mentally ill, retarded, insufficiently intelligent, underpaid, whatever.  We have so much wealth…!  And as St. Basil the Great said, Whatever of it we don’t need belongs to the needy.

How about a little human solidarity, love, sharing, generosity, philanthropy (yes, even in your voting and lobbying and taxpaying … unless you can come up with a better way), “consubstantiality,” God-like-ness (Think about “the liberality** of God“!), self-discipline, etc.?

(*–The O.H.’s readership includes Eastern Catholics [“Uniates”] in communion with Rome, traditionally possessing Orthodoxy theology, liturgy, spirituality, etc. … just not part of The Orthodox Church.)

(**–That’s liberality, not liberalism!)

Almsgiving IS charity

Though our “puritans” of today probably won’t take it from the Pope of Rome!  Not only is it good for the needy and objectively a good idea, but a good spiritual discipine, encouraging detachment from things, and actual “participation in the Divine Life” (as the Good Book says, I think in an Epistle of St. Peter) – which may be why the Lord said, “It is more blest to give than to receive.”  Which is why Rationalized Capitalism and Trickle-down/Voodoo Economics is the exact opposite of Christianity … not to mention very bad for you, eternally speaking!

Almsgiving is the soul of charity!

“Pre-Embryos”?

Maybe I’m out-of-touch, but I’ve just noticed this neologism on the Web, being used for what are more commonly called “frozen embryos” or “pre-implanted embryos,” in the context of in vitro fertilization.  Are the users of the new term trying to persuade us these aren’t actually embryos anymore?

I thought “pre-embryos” were sperm and ova!  Even actual science still calls “fertilized ova” or “zygotes” embryos, and their science embryology.

Maybe I’m out-of-touch again, but I’m starting to seriously wonder about the reliability of these people, some of them alleged scientists!  First there was the Korean guy who deliberately falsified research data, then the Boston guy with the for-profit corporation and misleading news releases and statements; now this.

And some people complain about religion?!!!

I’m not certain an o/Orthodox approach to these things needs to rely on scientists anyway.  Science is always changing, and is supposed to be always uncertain, “open-minded.”  But the ‘temptation’ to see if maybe they’ve got something ‘this time’ is hard to resist.  ‘Benefit of the doubt,’ you know….

But who “was always the Father of Lies”?!?!?!

Holiday Blues = Low Testosterone?

This AOL article claims human (male – with sperm counts – but also I presume female, as she points out) testosterone, linked to sexual desire, peaks in November and early December, suggesting Fall is our traditional mating season, if Homo sapiens sapiens ever had one.*

But I have to wonder also if Holiday Blues then, or post-Holiday Blues, aren’t related to a decrease in T, and not just to Christmas/ Hanukkah/ solstice-related disappointments, shorter days (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), bad diets, etc.  Even “Seasonal” Affective Disorder!

For that matter, do people in the Southern Hemisphere even get this?  Yes, they say they get S.A.D., but in June-July.  So we Northerners get it on top of the Holidays, mate!  But do they get the lowered T then too?

(*–Certainly a number of old calendars started in Fall – Celtic Samhain, Jewish Rosh haShanah, Orthodox Ecclesiastical New Year.  Some Orthodox Christians say Creation was created in September; as some Russians say, apples ripen then – as in the Garden of Eden’s traditional forbidden fruit!! – at least in the Northern Hemisphere.  [Actually, the Scriptures don’t say “apple,” just “fruit”!])

Assorted Monarchy, etc., reflections

If everybody’s sovereign, nobody’s sovereign, and nobody’s subject, so those who can, will do whatever they wish, to whomever they wish.

For Christians, the Christian God is sovereign (hence the title “Lord”) over all Creation, and human sovereigns serve subject to Him, accountable to Him.

The Monarchy in England/Britain was always among the people, representing the Sovereignty of the people, the Nation.  They weren’t “angels in the form of men,” and they weren’t perfect, but they were part of a system.

In the American Constitution what we have is less a system where different branches, divided branches, and levels of government, check each other’s abuses, than a CABAL – ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine.’  (At least in Britain acts of government need the Sovereign’s assent, somebody who can say NO to the cabal.  If government acts needed “the sovereign’s” assent here, we’d all get to vote on every government measure – which of course would be inefficient.)  But this may be how the “Founding Fathers” and “Framers” intended it, wealthy White planters and traders – CABAL – that they were.  Certainly no President of the Executive Branch has ever been removed from office – have we really finally “found angels in the form of men to govern us”?!!! – and no State has ever stood in the way of Federal abuses.  (Though I’m not against the Federal government blocking State abuses, as happened not infrequently in the second half of the 20th century.)  Deals between the Houses of Congress and the Executive Branch go on all the time, and the politicization of the Supreme Court and the rest of the Federal Bench has become legendary.

“In a republic the people reign, they do not rule.”  Who rules?  Our cabalistas, the influential persons connected with our all-but-sovereign corporations, our ignoble rich, the pseudo-educated “neocons,” the big media barons, and the power-mad, hypocritical leaders of conservative Evangelical and Fundamentalist sects… as well as all who truly follow or emulate any of these.

If government excludes Nobles, then the ignoble will predominate!

“Law” used to be a combination of judicial precedent/”wisdom of the court,” legal and political custom, tradition, faith, morality, learned analysis, justice, solidarity, ‘what should be,’ the needs of society, as well as the interplay among Monarchy, Royal advisers and generals, governmental Administrators, Church Hierarchy (bishops and abbots), Lay Nobility, and elected Representatives of the Commons; etc.  Now it’s whatever a short-sighted, selfish, activist, falsely-influential minority from day to day says it is.  Such false democratism needs to be balanced by other things.

There is no “people of the United States” outside the non-legally-binding Preamble to the Constitution of 1787.  There are only the peoples of the Several States.

Maybe the Monarchy Party should change its name to the Crown-and-People Party!

Restoring the representation of State legislative houses in the U.S. Senate would restore the dignity of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the States, and provide more check on the Executive Branch.  But no statewide campaigning or “non-binding” elections should be allowed, so Senators truly represent the States as States again, as bodies politic, ie, their legislative chambers, and not campaign contributors/bribers.

Then we institute full public campaign financing for the House of Representatives, to remove their beholdenness to contributors/bribers also.

Either House of Congress should be able to Impeach, requiring the other House to try its Impeachments.  The present model is based on the UK Parliament, where the Commons impeaches, and the Lords, who traditionally include a judicial function, try impeachments; but the U.S. Senate has never had a judicial function otherwise.  (Of course now in the UK, where they look fixed to remove the Law Lords from Parliament into a new Supreme Court, this distinction between even the Houses of Parliament would cease to exist, giving even less reason for it in America.)

Responsible Government (ie, “parliamentary”) needs limitations on it to mitigate the occasional phenomenon of virtual “elective dictatorship.”

There are more guns per capita in Canada than in the U.S.  Why do more Americans than Canadians shoot each other, or die of accidental gunshot wounds?

It’s easier to prevail upon the morality, wisdom, etc., of one Monarch, than of 218 (or 290) out of 435 members of the House of Representatives, 51 (or 60, or 67) out of 100 Senators, one President, and five out of nine Supreme Court Justices.  On the other hand, it’s easier to suborn the latter than the former, especially if she is unbribeable and not subject to electoral politics.

The Founders and Framers were two-faced.  When it served their purposes, they treated the King of Great Britain as an absolute despot when even in the late 18th century he was limited by his Council and relations with Parliament; yet they treated many Colonial governors as limited by their Councils, when they were ultimately answerable only to London.  So why didn’t they give the President a Council?  They gave him more power than the Kings of England had since the Reformation!  They didn’t even limit him to two terms!!

Was Communist Albania history’s first “atheistic state”… or was (small-R) republican America?!

The ethnic nationalism that grips Orthodox Churches has to be overcome.  Maybe Victoria Clark has it right after all: ‘Phyletism vs. Hesychasm,’ ie, Tribalism vs. inclusive, pan-Orthodox repentance and humility and prayer and faithfulness and communion (koinonia).  OCs in the West aren’t supposed to be so distinguished by immigrant background, nor Orthodox countries in ‘the East’ by pseudo-religious flag-waving, nor their hierarchies by whining and prostrating to the West.  Of course, these phenomena are common in the West too – in fact they’ve been furthered by the West for two centuries – but that’s not my Church, mine by choice is Orthodoxy.