Category Archives: Church

My Halloween Facebook “Coming out” as an ex-fundy, #exvangelical

I had not planned to “come out” like this but I think it is time.

I grew up in a very strict evangelical version of Christianity, and later I spent 15 years in a form of Messianic Judaism which was very much in the same vein.

In some ways fundamentalism is still my ‘comfort zone’, and I have certainly retained some aspects of those beliefs (hopefully the good parts) but I have been on a journey away from that type of thinking for many years.

I am no longer fundamentalist.

I am no longer evangelical.

I am not totally sure I am even still Christian.

I have moved from a 1 to between 3 and 6 in the Dawkins scale. I don’t usually mind or care what other people believe, providing they don’t push it on to others.

If you can be cool with my movement away from what you believe, then I’m happy to remain friends. But if you feel prompted to warn me that I’m going to hell or anything akin to that, let’s do ourselves a favour and part company.

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Diary of an Autodidact: John Piper Steps In It on Rape and Sex

I saw this yesterday and thought I’d share it because, although at first glance it looks as though Autodidact is making more of John Piper’s post than was really there, it is really a very good and on point analysis of how fundamentalist evangelicals view women and sexual sin.

So it’s definitely worth reading and considering.

And, needless to say (or perhaps not), if you are evangelical, please don’t just say “not all evangelicals”, chew it over and consider firstly whether the church you’re in may be preaching these twisted ways of looking at women, sex, power and abuse, and secondly, whether you have absorbed these ways of thinking and how you might change your mind.

http://fiddlrts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/john-piper-steps-in-it-on-rape-and-sex.html?m=1

Glad!

Many apologies for neglecting this blog so completely for so many months!
My circumstances have changed somewhat, but the real reason I haven’t been posting is that life just got too full and overwhelming and, after I had missed a few weeks of Torah portions/ lectionary, I soon realised it would be impossible to catch up.

Since Easter I have been listening to past years’ Spring Harvest cds from about 1989-1995. Since Spring Harvest is in the Spring, there are lots of Easter-themed songs.It has been lovely and encouraging. 

I have never actually made it to Spring Harvest or any other church holiday type of camp (not since childhood in the 70s anyway). I know we are so blessed in the West to have so many resources at our fingertips. But I do feel I have missed out, and I have been thinking a lot recently about being isolated and cut off from the rest of the church.

Apart from a brief ‘flirtation’ with New Frontiers in the 90s and visits to a big Elim in the next town, I haven’t been part of an active, thriving church since the 80s. It is as if, for some reason, God has me perpetually in the wilderness. I am currently in a very small congregation, and not of my preferred denomination.

I am at a bit of a cross-roads. I want to preach, I feel as though I may have that gifting and calling. At this tiny congregation I actually have the chance to walk into that calling, because they’re desperate for speakers, whereas elsewhere I seem to be fighting an uphill battle that may not lead to anything.

But in the tiny church, there are more seekers than believers and only elderly lay leaders while they wait for an officer. There are no young people or families, other than a couple who had a child very late in life. So we have one child. I feel terribly sorry for her. I feel for these people, but will I be fed there? I don’t think anybody can “feed the sheep” if they’re not getting fed themselves. The cup can only run over if it’s being filled.

I never wanted to be a pioneer or a maverick. I’d much rather slip in unnoticed at the back of a big church. But those brief flirtations with New Frontiers and Elim proved ultimately to be unfulfilling. Perhaps I’m not meant to hide my light under a bushel?

I am due to preach for the first time ever next Sunday, 30th April 2017. I was given carte blanche,  so I’m planning to speak on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

I leave you with a band I have just discovered, but which has been going since the 70s! Glad! The Accapella Project.

I hope it blesses you.

He is risen! Hallelujah!

Dark Frontier

We took mum home about six weeks ago now. Since she has been gone I have tried really, really hard to relax and largely failed for some reason. I don’t ever seem to be able to properly relax.

I thought that reducing stress would help my physical health but instead, somehow, it has just got worse and worse; despite which, all the results of all the testing I was sent for, and all the various referrals to different consultants have come back negative. My MRI showed no obvious evidence of damage from my bike accident. Endocrinology didn’t find significant evidence of Cushing’s. There would appear to be an intermittent excess of cortisol, but there doesn’t appear to be a tumor either on my pituitary or my adrenals. The non-significant levels don’t justify more testing.

It would appear to suggest that my cortisol levels are likely related to anxiety. Anxiety that I wasn’t consciously aware I had.

I have reverted to my previous agoraphobia. Agoraphobia of course is a sign of anxiety, but somehow I didn’t connect it. Now that I don’t have a group to go to, I pretty much don’t go out unless I have to. I go to church on a Sunday (and once I went twice!) and I go out if husband drives me somewhere. But largely, I am hibernating and hiding.

I hadn’t realised until recently what the source of all my issues were, but a chance conversation on twitter, together with a conversation with my eldest child has forced me to confront some very dark and disturbing issues from my past going back to my childhood.

I’m not sure whether I want to dwell on that here. I have other places to talk about mental health and spiritual abuse (for that is what it was, if anybody is interested to look at that).

The question is, how to move forward. I know that I have to confront my past if I’m to get through it and get well and recover mentally and physically. Talk about it, write about it, meet with other survivors, they say. But just thinking about it has made me more physically ill than ever.

I prayed at the end of last year that God would reveal the true source of my illness so that I could get well. I really thought I was on to something when I the doctor suggested Cushing’s. I think she was right that cortisol is a big issue. But the cortisol is actually (probably) in response to trauma. I wasn’t ready to consider that, but now that I do it all makes sense, and I just want to cry. I have to open up a whole Pandora’s Box I thought I had long buried. It makes me feel vulnerable, like a little girl again.

If I still have any Star Trek fans following me, you will recognise the name of the Voyager episode in which Seven is confronted by her past – in which her parents took the risk of studying the Borg, thinking they wouldn’t be harmed, but not only are they harmed but they allow their daughter to be harmed, taken by the Borg and raised by them, and in turn Seven goes on to commit atrocities on others as a Borg herself. It’s a very good metaphor, for me, effectively being raised in a cult-like church, and later going on to do harm to others in the same vein (in particular, I regret, my eldest child).

It’s not easy to face.

Choices, Changes

Over the last few years, I have moved from a Paleo type of diet to Vegan and back again several times. This blog had ‘From Paleo to Vegan in one easy midlife crisis’ as its subtitle at one stage.

The truth is, though, that it hasn’t been ‘one easy midlife crisis’ at all of course, it’s been more like a car with a faulty starter motor, so I lurch from one obsession to the next, and never quite seem to get anywhere.

Every year, it seems, I try to go vegan again.

Even going back to being properly vegetarian seems to be a challenge this time. But I will keep trying.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t know either. I know.

I’ve had to block several over-zealous vegans who insist on sending me graphic pictures of animals being brutalised.

I know.
I really don’t want to see it.
I really don’t want to eat it.

So why do I keep falling off the vegan ‘wagon’? Why is it so difficult to stay vegan?

I have personally justified it with regard to my own specific health issues, most particularly PCOS which comes along with insulin insensitivity which means that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra of ill-informed vegans that “carbs are not the problem”, they really can be a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem for people who can’t tolerate them.

Not all carbs are equal, and not all fats are equal, but that discussion is for another post. Suffice to say, though, that even allowing for the insulin insensitivity issue, it’s no real barrier to veganism. Low, or at least lower carb veganism is possible, it’s just more of a challenge.

On an unrelated note, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to stay ‘Christian’, or at least keep up the ‘respectable’ middle class mainstream image version of Christianity that is sometimes confused with authentic Christianity.

I’ve actually been exploring paganism – firstly for general cultural literacy (I had so many misconceptions) and secondly because it is something that has fascinated me for years. I will post again with more details about that exploration and what I’ve found, what I’ve been able to love and embrace, and what I’ve had to reject and draw the line at.

To me (and what was communicated to me by my Dad – what he saw in the Bible and in Christianity), the core of the faith is clearly love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and more love.

Matthew 12v7

But sadly it doesn’t seem to be what is commonly offered by the church. Certainly individual believers embody those principles and exude a genuine spirituality. But the church as a whole seems characterised by the very opposite: intolerance, unkindness, judgmentalism.

Why should this be?

In fact, these things are not unrelated at all.

Veganism is supposed to be about compassion, kindness, love for all creatures. And most of the vegans I have met in person do indeed embody the compassion they espouse. But veganism as a whole has without doubt been brought into disrepute by some of its most vocal members.

I completely understand the anger that vegans feel about people blithely and ignorantly allowing animals to be brutalised and killed just so we can have a certain taste and texture on our plate.

We have no excuse.

But those tastes and textures continue to persuade us to ignore what we know, to carry on along the path of least resistance.

But the anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some vegans continues to drive people away.

The anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some Christians continues to drive people away.

(Do you see what I did there?)

I think I know what the essential problem with Christianity is. It is the over-riding emphasis (at least in Western Christianity) on ‘right belief’ over and above ‘right living’ and ‘right feeling’. It is entirely possible to be a Christian in good standing with the church who claims all the ‘right beliefs’ and have absolutely no change of heart, absolutely no true spiritual experience whatsoever. But as long as the beliefs are in line with the doctrines your denomination emphasises, there is no reason to question the heart or the spirit. It is entirely possible to carry hatred in your heart while claiming to follow the God who is Love.

I think the same thing can be true of veganism.

As long as you maintain a vegan diet, and you are able to feel self-satisfied in that, there is no reason to question yourself, search inwardly, become more compassionate.

But I think I’ve said before that there is no ‘upper limit’ for compassion, kindness, love. All of us can always move forward, become kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving.

In the Bible, a ‘righteous’ man is defined not as the one who never falls, never makes a mistake but rather the man who ‘falls seven times and gets up again’. Proverbs 24:16

This year is probably the first time in maybe 15 years when I haven’t really managed to celebrate Passover/ Easter, count the Omer/ Eastertide or keep Pentecost/ Shavuot (the fact that they are all out of sync this year hasn’t helped). There’s a little voice in my head that wants to condemn me, make me feel guilty and miserable. But I’m not listening to it.

I’m not as observant as I’d like to be right now, but it is what it is – this is the season I’m in, and there’s not much I can do about it. The traditional Passover concludes “Next Year in Jerusalem”. This too shall pass, and perhaps next year I will be where I want to be with my religious observance.

I’m not going to kick myself either about repeatedly failing to be faithful to veganism. Honestly, I may never reach 100% total veganism for ever. But that’s ok. I’m moving towards it, I’ll keep trying.

And actually, as much as I can understand the wish that the whole world go 100% vegan today, every little helps. Small steps save lives.

If I fall down again, I’ll just get up again.

Don’t be discouraged.

Do whatever you can and know that it’s good, and don’t let anybody condemn you because you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not vegan enough’, ‘not Christian enough’, or whatever.

It’s a cliche, but learning to love and accept and forgive yourself is the first and crucial step towards spiritual growth. And it’s probably the hardest.

But it’s never a wasted effort.

Don’t give up. 🙂

From my heart to yours. xx

 

Primates 2016

primates

Archbishop Justin Welby invited all the Primates of all the international branches of the Anglican communion to attend the congress in Canterbury this month to discuss the deep divisions within the communion being caused by the differences in opinion (and practice) on the nature of marriage.

The decision of the council was leaked yesterday and was characterised, on social media at least, to be a decision to expel the Episcopal Church of American, ECUSA, from the Anglican Communion.

This does not in fact appear to be the case as far as I can work out. According to the official statement, it is rather a decision to put the ECUSA on a kind of probation period of three years, during which time they may not officially represent Anglicanism at ecumenical events, while the issue is properly investigated. They still remain part of the Communion, but in ‘disgrace’ (like a naughty child being sent to the corner). There is, understandably, outrage about the decision.

I am very surprised by this decision, although from what I can gather it has more to do with the fact that ECUSA has flouted and disobeyed Anglican canon law for several years (and am I right in thinking that there was also a scandal to do with church assets when there was a split within the American church?) than that it has to do with a difference of opinion and belief.

As a person with a rather conservative and evangelical background and a Messianic within the Anglican communion, I would tend to hold with an orthodox position on marriage personally. (I have written about this previously here and here, and would not force my opinion on anyone else.)

However, one of the things that attracts people to Anglicanism is the freedom of conscience – although we have conservative creeds and liturgies, nobody is forced to think or believe anything they’re not comfortable with, and so there is room for a large spectrum of belief within Anglicanism – we are, after all, a ‘broad church’ – the third way of ‘Scripture, Tradition and Reason’ covering the breach between ‘low church’ and ‘high church’ Anglo-Catholicism as well as between liberals and conservatives. Within those two extremes, that middle way of Anglicanism would seem to be the one place where LGBT+ folk can feel safe and accepted and welcomed.

I would be very interested to hear from Jewish/Messianic believers who are also LGBT+ since a great deal of what I have seen of Messianic Judaism has tended to be uber-conservative and ‘Torah-observant’ to the point of very strict exclusivity (i.e., repent, or out you go). I can hardly imagine what it must be to be LGBT+ in that sort of setting, and it would be a horrible choice between accepting their ruling and being celibate, keeping quiet about your sexual orientation, or finding another LGBT+ accepting church that lacks that Jewish flavour. If your experience of MJ as LGBT+ has been different, I would be interested too.

(As an afterthought, I have to say that the Messianic fellowship I attended IRL, it was much more laid-back and the topic never came up – I very much doubt that the leader would have made it an issue, and he was himself an Anglican, so I’m talking really more here about my experience of the MJ community online.)

I am deeply saddened that this decision, which seems somewhat out of step with the nature of Anglicanism overall, has caused so much hurt and pain to an already wounded, marginalised group of society.

I do not believe that the decision is characterised by hate and bigotry, as many people are suggesting. However, that must be the way it is perceived by members of the ECUSA, the LGBT+ community and those Anglicans who hold more liberal views elsewhere. It seems ill-advised, but I expect that the ‘probation’ was considered to be more wise than outright expulsion. But from the reaction so far, it seems likely to force the rift that they were seeking to avoid. I hope I’m wrong in that.

Can the position of Orthodoxy be defended while still maintaining the freedom of conscience and belief that characterises Anglicanism? And cannot Orthodoxy be communicated in a spirit of love and forgiveness? (Actually, if you read the document, I think this is what they were trying to do, but they appear to have failed miserably.)

Or is an ultimate rift between liberals and conservatives inevitable now? How very, very sad if that is the case.

Roundup of the Summer

I just thought, as the sun is streaming in where I am sitting and brightening my spirits, that I would do a quick (ha! Sorry it got long!) roundup of what’s been happening to me over the summer.

I’ve been very quiet, I’m sorry. I have noticed a pattern of becoming ill just as the summer is starting and getting a bit better as the weather and the seasons turn to autumn, but this year I have got progressively more ill as the summer has gone on – perhaps it’s due to the ‘Indian’ summer we’re having down here in Cornwall? (Which is lovely by the way!) I actually love the heat and the sunshine, but for some reason it doesn’t agree with my body.

Somebody suggested I might have reverse SAD, and I have struggled with depression and mental health issue this summer, so I don’t know if that is the cause of my summer lows, but it definitely wasn’t helped by some blood pressure tablets (Amlopidine) I was given. They did nothing to help my hypertension, but they totally flipped me out mentally. I stopped them and tried again three times so I know they were definitely the cause – I was experiencing racing thoughts, ultra-rapid changes of mood, agoraphobia and suicidal thoughts. I even contacted Outlook South-west for help, but they were only interested in the agoraphobia. I have had a series of telephone therapy sessions but it hasn’t really been very helpful. The racing thoughts and mood changes stopped as soon as I stopped taking Amlopidine, but the rest has stuck around. I think that all the stress and upset of eviction and the last few years made me vulnerable and susceptible to mental illness and Amlopidine pushed me over the edge.

At the same time, I was feeling very extremely ill physically, with increasing numbness, tingling, balance issues and migraines in addition to all my other symptoms. After being told for the umpteenth time by my GP that “there is nothing we can do for you”, I made the decision to change surgeries and get myself a new GP.

It was SO totally the right decision. Already I have been offered referrals to a Neurologist to rule out MS and a Rheumatologist to investigate the possibility of RA or Sjogrens with the promise of further referrals to come. Finally I am hopeful that it will be possible to get to the bottom of what my health issues really are and then move towards healing and health after so many years. (12 and counting)

On medical advice, I agreed that the vegan diet was doing me no good, and I have moved back to a paleo / primal style low carb diet. At first I only added fish but now I am back to eating meat as well. I began to feel better for the first three weeks and then crashed very badly. Having started to read Dr Sarah Myhill’s excellent book “Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Mitochondria not Hypochondria”, I have realised I was probably going too low carb (under 20g per day) and on her advice I am starting to take a supplement of a specific sugar called D-Ribose which she says is needed for certain hormonal conversions in the cells. It is a sugar which the body can normally synthesise itself, but people with ME can’t make it so it becomes an essential supplement. I will let you know when I have read more of the book and if I see any improvement. I’m also looking again at the Trim Healthy Mama diet (you know, the one that I slated not so long ago), realising I may need to incorporate some E meals (with light carbs) due to my health issues.

Incidentally, since going back to wheat-free, low carb / paleo / primal my blood pressure and cholesterol have almost normalised. Sadly, the weight is not shifting at all. (But at least it’s not going up any more as it did on vegan and vegetarian diets)

I haven’t been able to go to church since about May and that has definitely contributed to my feeling of malaise mentally. Even though we are living in town, I have been very isolated indeed. On the few occasions I have driven out to meet people I have been very ill afterwards so I am having to take it very easy and pace my energy out carefully.

On the housing front, I am not happy at all. Yesterday we went to see a house. It was big, but dark inside and it’s far away from husband’s work, so he didn’t like it and I can’t seem to persuade him to move. But it was beside a beautiful babbling brook that you could hear from inside or sit outside and watch it. When I got home I cried and shook with rage and grief. I feel so angry that husband moved us away from our home 5 years ago to seemingly never-ending stress, and doesn’t seem to care that it has made me so much sicker, that I haven’t been able to make friends, that I’m miserable and ill and that a three storey house is so totally inappropriate for somebody with ME.

I sat beside my bedroom window this morning and tried to imagine that the rumbling noise and clatter of building trucks and machinery was a babbling brook instead.

So my situation now is mixed. I am very happy and hopeful about my change of GP, but desperately unhappy about my living situation (and none too happy about my marriage).

I’m not sure whether I’m hopeful that things will improve as the autumn rolls in. I feel that I can’t be happy in this house, it’s just so stupidly arranged. Kitchen on the ground floor, living room on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor. I just can’t cope. If I moved down to the tiny single bedroom on the ground floor, I’d need to go to the second floor to wash. I could go on and on but I won’t. Suffice to say, this house is making my life and health much worse, and I can’t wait to get out of here. The prospect of staying makes me desperate.

To finish on a light and happy note…. I try to come up with a list of 5 things to be grateful for every day (I sometimes post them on my @health_Shmi twitter account). Sometimes I struggle to come up with anything, in which case I am grateful for the 5 other people in my family. But here is today’s list: sunshine, hifi playing random CDs (Youngest son is my DJ), happy fat cat laying in the sun, daughter made me a coffee, and finally it is Friday and the weekend is coming 🙂

Enjoy!

21st Century Christian

According to Cross Rhythms, the UK Christian music site in its history of magazines involved in raising the profile of Christian music, 21st Century Christian Magazine was “stunningly unfunny”, “conservative and cozy”, and its unwieldy name was “conceived by committee”. Critics apparently called the magazine “The Christian Yuppie”.

But it’s not how I remember it at all. 21cc ran from October 1987 to 1990, and for me it was radical and left-leaning, part and parcel of a radical and left-leaning Christianity, something you could unashamedly read in your squat and leave for your non-Christian mates to read.

Cross Rhythms goes on to say that “21st Century Christian eschewed the controversy and satire settling instead for a safer, cosier Christian overview, in the process cutting back still further its music coverage. Sales continued to slide downwards and by the time of its closure, in 1990, had reached only a little over 14,000 sales.”

I was surprised when I looked for it again a few years ago to find that it had had such a short run, and been so opposite to what I remembered, because for me it had felt important and influential, and I obviously took from it the opposite message that everyone else was seeing.

Most of the Christians I knew in the late 80s were slightly hippyish, vegetarian, rainbow jumper wearing, Greenbelt festival-going rebels and radicals, bringing the government down with love and flowers and marching for Jesus. It was a while before I discovered that most of the church was made up of comfortable, conservative-voting status quo-lovers (and not the metal kind).

The one good thing about being faced with an all Conservative government determined to abuse the poor and vulnerable at every opportunity, not to mention attempting to repeal the hunting ban and the Human Rights Act, is that I feel catapulted back to my youth and I’m encouraged to look again at Christianity as rebellion against the Babylon system. (Don’t be fooled, it was always the Babylon system, even when Labour was in charge, the Conservatives just make it much easier to see.)

Government is not our saviour, it’s not our friend, and it’s not a friend to animals, the environment or the world.

I bought a vegan cookbook last week called “Soy Not Oi: Over 100 Recipes Designed to Destroy the Government”. (Available through http://www.akpress.org )

Now is the perfect time to go vegetarian or vegan, question your assumptions, review your comfortable position and ask what you can do to make the world a better place in spite of government.

Are you with me?

Questioning the Bubble

The Duggars, if you’re not familiar with them, are an American conservative Christian large family, and not just large, but very large and famously so. Although they’re not Roman Catholics, they don’t believe in using contraception.

They’re the poster family for an American movement called Quiver-Full. They’re famous for putting their family into the public eye on the docutainment programme ‘Sixteen and Counting’, which has risen year on year until I think now they may even be ‘Twenty and Counting’.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that on the surface. I myself, as you know, wanted a much larger family, and I had some contact with the Quiver-Full organisation, read some of their books, would even have considered myself ‘quiver-full’. But of course, fate or destiny, or God, if you will, stopped us at four.

I never quite clicked on the idea that the Quiver-full organisation and community was especially patriarchal until I started hearing stories a few years ago of women who had left the movement and told of abusive husbands and churches. But I suspect it is no more patriarchal than American conservative Christianity in general.

My own feeling is that those of us in the UK who have felt some affinity with the American quiver-full Christians, have done so from a very different cultural background and if the negative stories are true and abuse does go on in a big way, we were quite oblivious to it.

Which brings us back to the Duggars. In the US, in a way that isn’t really true or possible in the UK, conservative Christians are able to surround themselves with a bubble of religious friends and really have no concept of what is outside that bubble – what is going on, how people think. It almost strikes me that they have a completely alien concept of reality, and they’re strong enough in number not to care or to assume that everything they think and do must be right and good.

Las week, the story broke that, when he was 15, the Duggars eldest son Josh molested some of his sisters and possibly another girl outside of the family, but presumably from within that same ‘bubble’.

He apparently knew he had done wrong and confessed to his parents, and their reaction (after some prayer and soul searching which “brought them closer to God”) was to arrange for him to do some penance in the form of helping refurbish a friend’s house, although they called it counselling.

The molested girls, it seems got no counselling at all but were told to ‘forgive and forget’ as though it were nothing more serious than having their pocket money stolen.

All of this was known prior to the Duggar family going on the air with their vision of family perfection and wholesomeness. It would appear that the police knew but chose not to pursue the matter (because the cultural climate there was sympathetic to conservative Christians perhaps), and the television company knew and chose to ignore it.

Since the story came out (it was leaked, apparently), there has been the kind of reaction that you might expect from the non-Christian side of things, all hell has broken lose upon their heads! But from conservative Christians it appears there has been an astonishingly stupid attempt to defend the Duggars by saying that it wasn’t really abuse, or that it wasn’t serious, or that he had adequately repented, or that it is ‘normal’.

Jesus.

My God, I hope and I pray that this is not anything like ‘normal’.

I do have some sympathy for the Duggars, because I myself grew up in a similar ‘bubble’ of American Christian conservative fundamentalism that believed we were right and the rest of the world was wrong. They’re innocent and naieve in a way. It is possible that they genuinely did not understand the gravity of what he did.

Living in a family where sex and sexuality is a taboo, awkward subject, in a culture that covers up nudes in classical art absolutely invites covert exploration.

BUT

Incestuous molestation of minors is no small thing! It is a felony crime! The girls in the case were sexually abused! This was not something that could or should ever have been brushed under the carpet as though it didn’t matter.

The Duggars were put into the public eye as representatives of American, conservative, large family, homeschooling Christians, with the television company knowing full well that this business had happened. I can imagine them telling the Duggars not to worry about it. It almost makes me suspect that there was a cynical plan all along to build them up only to tear them down. This does, after all, reflect badly on everybody the Duggars appeared to represent, and how juicy is that!

Do I believe that Josh Duggar’s repentance could have been genuine? That he could have reformed and never even considered or fantasised about doing anything like it again? Yes, absolutely. I have to believe that people can change.

But having repented and reformed, the right thing to do was anything but go on television and present yourself as the face of wholesome Christian family values.

It is likely now that social services will have to investigate Josh Duggar and his own children, the Duggar family and others they have been in contact with.

I hope now that the molested girls will receive appropriate counselling, that the Duggar family will realise what they did wrong and why it was wrong.

Will they pursue a more humble and contrite, private walk with God and question their ‘bubble’? It’s sadly unlikely with all the support they’re getting from within it.

Out in the cold, dark night

So here we are, almost nine weeks after moving out of our rented house, from which we were being evicted, into the brand spanking new housing association property. Minus the mold and the awful landlord and letting agents, but also minus carpets and curtains, the gardens, the fabulous view and minus the dining room, the built-in wardrobes. (We’re also still waiting for our deposit to bé returned) I could go on, but I’m trying not to dwell on the negatives.

One negative I am really struggling with though is the lack of landline phone and internet. Thank God for my mobile phone, but it is costing me almost as much to run this mobile as our only phone and internet source as it was to run broadband and wifi for the whole house before.

Nine weeks is long enough, don’t you think? If I had a choice not to use BT I would certainly vote with my feet, but of course they rely on your inability to go to anybody else for a landline.

I have been through a few traumatic events in the last few years, so in one way I’m used to it, but in another, I feel battle-worn and weary, traumatised too many times.

I’m basically middle-aged now. I thought that by now we would have a stable, comfortable home with a stable, comfortable network of friends and family around us. Nothing could bé further from the truth.

Needless to say, my health has taken a turn for the worse in the last few weeks, to the extent that – apart from a few necessary errands – I am mostly needing to lay down in bed in my room. Even sitting up is too painful, my neck feels unable to hold my head up for long.

I had a conversation on Saturday morning with a pentecostal friend, and I mentioned my ill health, so she said a prayer online which she asked me to agree to, which I did, but then she said “Now we have done ‘spiritual warfare’ and you are healed. Don’t invite back the spirit of infirmity.”

I have spent some time in pentecostal churches, so it shouldn’t have surprised me but I was taken aback. If only life were that simple!

The problem with having such a simplistic worldview is that it becomes inevitably judgemental – if you don’t get well, if your circumstances don’t improve, you must have failed in some way, failed to adequately wage spiritual warfare, had a lack of faith, spoken negative words to “invite” negativity back into your life! (Remember the ‘Secret’?)

Unfortunately, unless you want a potentially self-defeating argument, you learn to have to watch what you say around people with this kind of thinking. I feel another sense of loss that I can’t trust this friend with my true thoughts and feelings.

Anyway, our big news is that, in view of our circumstances, in view of my health, our finances, my husband’s age (over 50 now), we don’t intend to pursue adoption.

That decision comes with another terrific sense of loss and grief and guilt, but we left it too late I think. I wish we had looked into it ten years ago, but on the other hand it would not have been good to put adopted children through what we have been through in the last few years. It looks like it just wasn’t meant to bé. (Either that, or I didn’t wage enough spiritual warfare. Joke.) 😦

I dreamt last night that there were a bunch of children that weren’t mine out in the shed, out in the wet cold night, and one of them broke into the house and threatened me with a gun. Somehow I knew that they were out there, and I was more shocked that I hadn’t let them in than that this child was standing in front of me with a gun. Dreams are stupid, but I expect that’s the guilt talking. I would let you in, but I don’t think I would bé very much good for you.