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  • Mrs Chakotay 10:29 am on April 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Anorexia, , Cult, , , healing, , , , recovery, ,   

    Wounds to Dress 

    This blog was originally going to be talking about handicrafts and gardening and cooking and learning to ‘homestead’ through the lens of Janeway and Chakotay finding themselves marooned on New Earth in the Delta Quadrant. I thought it was a good metaphor for my isolated life in rural Cornwall. I still hope to include those aspects – part of me longs for that ‘Good Life’.

    But there are other issues which have come to the fore recently – related to my self-named status as a “progressive fundamentalist” which are forcing me to look long and hard at who I am and how I got here.

    I have been speaking recently with another Star Trek RP account – Christian Janeway – and I have been amazed at how much we have in common. Conversations on Twitter, and with my children over the last week, have prompted me to recognise just how damaged and damaging I became as a member of a fundamentalist church in my youth and again as a young mother, and so I thought that, in the first instance, I would write a brief summary of what that has entailed. I wasn’t expecting to bare my soul or look deeply into difficult and painful corners, but I think it needs to be done; and as I have said elsewhere many times, my two favourite forms of therapy are Star Trek and writing. Even if nobody reads this and it helps nobody else, I hope it will help me to move on.

    Beginnings

    When I was very young (this was in the mid 70s through the mid 80s), my parents were happily attending a lively Pentecostal church in a small town north-west of London which happened to have a US ex-pat community. Somehow my parents came in to contact with American fundamentalist Baptist missionaries to England who dazzled them with personality, charisma and authoratative confidence and persuaded them to leave the Pentecostal church – which they convinced them was at best fake and at worst, probably of the devil – and start a new fundamentalist Baptist church with them. Before long there were a number of families and additional children associated with the new church.

    I was mostly too young (approximately ages 6-13) to fully comprehend the depth of what was going on, what was being preached, and how my parents were more and more controlled in every area of their lives – to  my conscious mind, all was good, these were the best days of my life – because we saw so much of them, because they often stayed at our house, we were practically living in community with them. Our whole week was in some way or another controlled by the church. It wasn’t just Sunday morning and evening, it was Sunday lunchtime, midweek dinners, Bible study evenings, prayer meetings, members’ meetings, social calls. It was completely engulfing.

    What I didn’t realise at the time was that my parents’ mental health was suffering in different ways (my mother later had a mental breakdown, my father expressed it as physical ill health).

    We eventually escaped the church in two stages – firstly, the American Missionaries went home on furlough for a year, fully expecting my father (who had been partially trained, for about three years for the pastorate with their organisation) to keep the church going in their absence. What actually happened instead was that my father rebelled and pretty much immediately after the Missionaries left, allowed the families to go to another church during that time.

    I don’t know what ire this behaviour invoked when the absent Pastor found out – I’m sure my father would have been on strict instructions to contact somebody else here in the UK from the organisation for assistance rather than allowing the church to close; my father kept everything close to his chest so I don’t know his thought process or decision process. I probably don’t know the half of it. I do know that my father never really ever recovered from the damage they did to him.

    When the missionaries returned, they were obviously furious about what had happened and again although I don’t know the details, I can only infer that they made my parents’ lives a little bit hellish and so stage two was to move away from the area altogether. The missionaries were never able to re-establish the church in that area, and were eventually re-located by their organisation.

    Initial Results

    Right before we moved, I had a serious bicycle accident which was probably a hit and run (my memory of it is very hazy but my bike was definitely run over), in which I sustained a head injury which has affected my health ever since. This led to my mother becoming mentally ill. Around the same time I became mentally ill myself with Anorexia. I always thought that it was linked to my head injury, which it might be, but I am beginning to suspect that it might be an after-effect of the church. I will explore that at a later date.

    My parents, prior to my mother’s breakdown, embarked on a search for the perfect church. Still affected by the fundamentalist teaching they had, and despite all the damage it had done to them, the new church had to measure up in some way to the church they had left, so after rejecting several perfectly nice churches, we ended up in another strict Baptist church with its own issues. (No doubt the most serious being that the Sunday School Superintendant was ‘having an affair’ with a 13 year old child. Note it was the 80s, so that was how it was phrased at the time).

    When my mum got ill, the church were pretty incredibly useless and unhelpful, not being able to deal with mental illness, so that turned out to be a blessing in disguise and we were able to leave there.

    Teenage

    I spent some time at a very good church during my teenage years which was gently charismatic. A nice balance, not over-the-top crazy Pentecostal. (It was a Salvation Army by the way – they’re variable, and have their own issues, but I have to say that this was my happiest time and probably the healthiest church I ever attended.) The fact that it was charismatic would have bothered my parents considerably a few years earlier but by that stage they were beginning to realise that some of the fundamentalist teachings had been wrong and harmful, so they let it go. My mother even attended there for a while.

    Marriage

    To cut a very long story short, I hastily married the first boy I slept with and promptly regretted it, and hastily got into another relationship (with Chakotay). I was pretty consumed by guilt and shame which I had learned under the teachings I had learned early on, and so when I started home educating my children (for totally non-religious reasons!) I soon *put myself* under the teachings of extremely conservative fundamentalist teaching again. Everything was so familiar that I lapped it all up – quiverfull teaching, headcovering, submission for godly wives, corporal punishment for children (which I totally disagree with and regret btw) etc. I literally could not find a physical church conservative enough for me!

    Messianic

    Probably as a result of that irrational drive to find the most conservative form of Christianity, I started looking at the Messianic movement. I actually spent ten years in Messianic Judaism (one year of which actually involved rejecting the whole thing and seriously trying to convert to mainstream Judaism – another story, for another time), and I hope that I have taken and absorbed the best and most positive aspects. The actual physical fellowship I was involved with were absolutely lovely and kind and generous and unfundamentalist! But there is in Messianic Judaism – principally online, for me, as I’m in the UK – a very fundamentalist thread which is every bit as damaging as mainstream fundamentalism (if that’s a thing).

    Unfortunately, I was under those two strains of teaching for long enough (20 years in total plus the original 6 or so) for me to perpetuate some of the abuse that was visited on me onto my children. It was totally unconscious and unintended, and I am utterly mortified at the damage I have done. Icheb, my eldest, seems to have borne the brunt of it all, while the others seem largely unaffected, thankfully.

    I don’t quite remember how it happened, but something snapped at some point and I realised that I was part of something really very nasty and unhealthy that was replicating some of the exact same abuses that I had been part of as a child (being told that you must separate from every other sort of Christian, that the rest of the Church is wicked and evil and not of God etc for example).

    Exile

    Chakotay, who is not a religious man at all (alas, my Chakotay doesn’t even go in for spirituality) tolerated all of the above, mostly blissly ignorant of what was going on in my head, but he could see that I was getting physically and mentally ill and that was affecting the children. So he unilaterally decided to move us – hundreds of miles away from where we were, to a place so rural and isolated that there was no internet. I’m still a little bit angry with him for doing that (and I have mentioned my inability to speak up for myself earlier today). But in actual fact, it was a good call. The last six years have been long and hard and lonely and painful, but removing me from that whole social circle has enabled me to re-evaluate everything and begin to heal.

    In many ways, he is my hero, and I am so grateful that he is such a gentle, kind, slow-to-wrath kind of man. He is certainly not without fault, but he has been so much more gracious and godly than so many Christians I have known.

    Anyway. That is enough for now. These are some of the issues I want to work through here on this blog. I hope you will stick around and I hope it will help some people to heal too.

    LLAP

    Kathryn

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  • Mrs Chakotay 3:09 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , healing, Kingdom, , Yitro   

    Parsha: Yitro 

    Torah: Exodus 18:1-20:23
    Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6
    B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 8:5-20

    Summary

    The parsha begins with the visit of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro (whose name forms the title of the parsha) to him in the wilderness, bringing his wife Zipporah and their sons Gershom and Eliezer with him. Jethro notices that Moses is struggling to sit as Judge over the whole of Israel himself, and advises him to appoint deputies to sit in judgement over ‘thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens’ of the people.

    The people of Israel come to the Desert of Sinai and God stops them there and tells them to prepare for the giving of the Covenant and the Law, and the Ten Commandments (or rather, ‘Ten Words’ or ‘Ten Sayings’) are given, outlining the basis of the whole Torah.

    The passages in Isaiah are, in chapter 6: Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly Temple, which the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is intended to symbolise and reflect.

    “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs…and they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’.”

    And then in chapter 9: these verses which every Christian will immediately recognise as being ‘messianic’ in nature; that is, foretelling the coming of Christ:

    “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

    The passage in Matthew is the healing of the Centurion’s servant which refers back to another passage in Isaiah:

    “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” – Isaiah 53:4

    Notes:

    Torah portions are usually named after the first word or group of some of the first words which occur in that section, and Parsha Yitro is no different. “Now, Jethro…” However, in having a portion named after him, it is a clue that the person of Jethro is a significant character, and from a Christian/ Messianic perspective, he may be viewed as a ‘type’ (symbol or foreshadowing) of Christ. In what way? In fact, this links perfectly with the ‘Great Commission‘ where Jesus appoints his disciples to act on his behalf to carry out His mission – not to ‘judge’ (although Paul later makes reference to a time when Jesus’ disciples would judge on Christ’s behalf) but rather to bring in the Kingdom, where Christ – the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – is King, and where healing can be found.

    The Torah portion doesn’t go right up to the end of the chapter, but rather ends with:

    “Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you.”

    • following the tradition of finishing the portion on a positive note, but also drawing attention to the idea that the Kingdom brings blessing.

    The fact that the Haftarah selection refers to the reign of the Messianic king also links the Covenant to the Kingdom.

    The New Testament selection links the Centurion to Jethro as a model for Kingdom advancement (discipleship) in that he recognised that he is a man under authority, with soldiers under him; as I learned in The Salvation Army, we are “saved to save”, which was the message in different words at Elim last week.

    Finally, the ‘Ten Words’, when viewed as ‘ten commandments’ usually misses the primary phrase at the beginning , which in fact is probably the most important and foundational of all the commandments and indeed all of the Torah:

    “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

    THIS is the nature of the Kingdom, the nature of our God.  Selah!

    Thy Kingdom come.

    Amen.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 7:10 pm on April 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , healing, , , ,   

    Finding a Trail 

    I don’t normally make a big deal of Easter – I normally try to keep passover and if it coincides with Easter, well and good, but if it doesn’t, it’s just another weekend.

    This year though we have relatives visiting over the long weekend, with all the attending issues of a family holiday. It has also become much more like Christmas since the weather changed and we’re all stuck indoors.

    I would have liked to do things ‘my way’ in a much more Jewish context but with family visiting, I’ve been inundated with all the Eastery things I dislike about the Christian festival – chocolate eggs and bunnies and the temptation to gluttony and selfishness and bad tempers.

    The issue of mental health, or rather illness has reared its head as well, and I can’t help feeling, in the context of Christ’s work on the cross supposedly including healing our diseases, just very frustrated and a little bit angry (with God? With the Church?). Why is there not more healing? Why are some faithful believers never healed?

    Then there has been the inevitable holiday telly. We’ve been watching “Dances with Wolves” this afternoon.

    One of the themes of the film is Identity, with American / Anglo culture clearly portrayed as lacking soul and integrity in comparison with the Lakota Sioux Indian culture.

    Whilst there is undoubtedly some historical revisionism going on for the film, it does seem to be an ongoing theme of shame or guilt over historical English misdeeds, all related to the idea that somewhere along the way we lost that soul and lost who we were meant to be.

    It’s an old film, but it still raises the questions (for me anyway) What does my name mean? Who are we? What is English culture? Is there anything of value that’s worth saving, redeeming, re-discovering, protecting? Is it a hybrid culture anyway, a mixture of Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman, is it natural to carry on absorbing other cultures into our own?

    But there is a deep longing, I think, to find deeper roots, so people are looking all over to find a solid path – in Buddhism or Paganism, atheism, politics, or even dare I say Judaism or Celtic Christianity.

    I do believe that underneath it all is God the Rock, who is Jesus and He is solid and reliable. But in terms of health and mental health, the Rock seems so slippery, so covered in moss or seaweed or something that stops us quite getting hold of Him. How do we scrape away all the things that prevent us from holding on to the solid place?

    “I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see.” – Kicking Bird in Dances with Wolves

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 3:38 pm on January 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , healing, , , , ,   

    Intro and Read52 

    I blogged for a few years with a captive audience of friends at Multiply under the name “Life for Beginners” and when  the Multiply  platform folded, I found myself in an isolated location without internet and despite valiant efforts, lost all my posts, so I have had a writing hiatus of about three years. I’m starting again, mainly because I want to document all the crazy changes that have happened and which are continuing to happen now in 2014, and specifically to record my reading.

    I have had several other blogs in various places, which I may link to later, but I haven’t been faithful or consistent, so I won’t make any promises about being faithful or consistent 🙂 I have a lot going on, but I’ll do what I can.

    I have decided to take part in the Read52 challenge, to read 52 books in 2014, which is conveniently one per week.

    I am a reader, and I tend to read in certain distinct categories of non-fiction much more than fiction. These categories are, broadly, health, education, sociology and religious.

    For reasons that I will explain in due course, religious is probably increasingly my largest category, so I will aim to read the Bible at least once this year, but don’t plan to do it in a week, so not sure whether I will include it in the 52.

    This week doesn’t count as it’s only a partial week, but I thought I would start anyway with a little book that’s easy to read. I picked one that is little more than a pamphlet at 36 tiny pages, which has been on my shelf for a long time, challenging me to read it. It’s called “Finding God in Illness” by James Woodward and published by Lion Publishing in the UK with the Christian Evidence Society in 1997. It is out of print, but available on line as a pdf file here, and is quite easy to find second-hand if you prefer your books in paper.

    Finding

    I thought I would start with a quote from the beginning of the book, as it is so apt for the first post on a new blog:

    “One of the challenges and adventures of writing lies in imagining who will read the text and what they might want from the text. So, I wonder who you are and why you have come across this particular piece?”

    So who are you, and why are you here? I’d love to hear from you, and perhaps you could provide me with the accountability I need to post consistently. I haven’t been consistent in reading blogs either, so I’m starting with no links, but I hope to build them up as I rediscover my favourite internet places.

    I’ll be trying to make sure I post weekly with details of my books, and will endeavour to post a fuller introduction before too long. 🙂

     
    • orthodoxmom3 12:16 am on January 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I’m Carol….aka Orthodoxmom3…and I’m here because I discovered you are following my blog! 🙂 Thank you. I found your post very well written and it looks like the blog will be very interesting! Wondering how you found me… Wow…. 5 likes on your post today so far….looks like you are off to an Amazing start!

      Like

      • lillbjorne 9:24 am on January 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Carol! I also write Little Bears homeschool blog so we’re connected there as well 🙂 Thanks for following! Xx

        Like

        • orthodoxmom3 9:11 pm on January 6, 2014 Permalink

          I see! Well, If you don’t mind me asking…why the separate blog? I know there are lots of people that do this. I’m just curious what made you decide to separate them? I write about a LOT of various topics on my own blog… but I feel that in some ways they blend together…sometimes not so much. I wonder if I’d get more followers separating them…but afraid to lose some if I did. I’m really new to how all this works…so I’m just wondering what makes others decide to do theirs separately?

          Like

    • Robin of My Two Blessings 7:07 pm on January 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi – I’m Robin and welcome to the 52 Books challenge. I’m always looking for accountability – in my reading, writing, etc. I like the quote because it makes one think.

      Like

      • lillbjorne 2:44 pm on January 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Robin! I have discovered that I actually work better to deadlines, so I’m sure that Read52 will be a positive thing for me in 2014.

        Like

    • lillbjorne 8:39 pm on January 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hmm, I have wondered about that too, but I think it is largely the way my mind works – I tend to have to categorise and separate my different interests (it’s possibly a little bit of and ‘ocd’ tendency to tidy up and organise!) There is certainly some overlap and inter-connectedness as well, so I might change it later on, it may work out that I can’t keep up more than one blog, we’ll see! 🙂

      Like

    • Liz Gray 12:25 pm on January 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, thanks for following my blog and keep up the good work!

      Like

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