To All The Wounded Healers I Know…

(This was going to originally be a post for Clergy, but I realized its needed for my therapy colleagues as well…and so it is.)

Last night a good friend of mine SCREAMED in anguish about the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford hearings. She is a survivor of sexual and/or physical abuse. I wanted to reach out to her and comfort her in whatever ways she needed. I still do, and to the extent that it’s possible, I hope to do that here.

When I was in seminary and people were just starting to talk about sexual abuse, it began to seem like it was an admission requirement to have been abused. It seemed statistically impossible that so many of us were abused. Thirty years later, with the Access Hollywood tapes and the ensuing #MeToo movement, it seems it was statistically reasonable, if morally repugnant, that my seminary class had so many survivors. Some didn’t make it through seminary, their PTSD symptoms and fragile minds unable to handle masters degree work.

For those of us that went on, we had some period of screaming ourselves, either before or after seminary. If we were in churches, we lost jobs and our congregation lost its leader(s). The church, the body of Jesus Christ, suffered again, as it had the first time, and continued to every time a person is victimized by sexual, physical, or emotional assault. If you are one of those people, know that Jesus weeps for you and with you and doesn’t abandon you to your grief.

The God of the ‘Apiru (remnant, the word that became “Hebrew”) loves all of the people of the world that were “picked last for softball”, or passed by in life by the powerful. That God is on their side. In Jesus, we see that, and we choose to work for the one who would have us, later realizing that we were actually lovable all along — it’s just that Jesus knew it first.

In picking up our own crosses, we took on the belief that we, in Jesus’ name could heal and love and welcome all the other ‘Apiru out there. Among people of this generation, there are many places where feel like “the sandwich generation”. We take care of our elders and we take care of our adult children. We take care of Security Security, hoping there will still be some left for us, and that things will get better for our children. And, psychologically, we take care of others’ anguish while we feel the pull of our own.

These past few weeks have been hard, really hard, for survivors who are also “people helpers” — clergy, therapists, social workers, or anyone who sees trauma in their daily lives. After yesterday’s session between the woman and the judge, that daily anguish reached a peak and then broke while we waited for the Committee to vote. I, for one, don’t want to listen to the news, because I have only so much room on my heart left for bruising. I will take a break for a few days before I engage The Powers That Be.

After that break, I will go back to the fray. I pray that you will do the same. It will take all of us to build a goal-line defense against the forces of evil until our country can be sane again.

That said, to quote Jesus again, “the meek shall inherit the earth”. We saw that yesterday in the clash of the devastated vs. those who devastate the world around us everywhere. Mr. Kavanaugh’s anger, nay, fury didn’t seem to hold any more weight than the shivering anxiety and truth-telling of Ms Blasey Ford. The truth held out, even in a weakened state. Her simple shakiness, stood against the bluster of the rage and her apolitical truth stood against the political games the world is wont to play. God was not distracted. Now, neither is the world.

To be frank, Judge Kavanaugh will never be taken seriously as a respectable judge until this is cleared up. He, and, only he, has the power to bring honesty to the story via a full investigation. Whatever there is to this story, her honesty makes her powerful and his lack candor makes him weak. Truth wins out, even from the abused, especially the abused. The arc of justice is bending, and in the right direction– and you have made that happen. There is chaos in Washington which reflects the chaos in our souls. The way to clean up the first is to clean up the second. That will come.

In order to do that work, my brothers and sisters, we need to rest up as much as possible and take care of ourselves. Then, we need to speak God’s truth and people’s experience until the actual truth, which we know in our hearts, comes to bear on a world bent by lies. When we care about those who need care, when we acknowledge those that the powerful tell us not to, when we refrain from bigotry, and encourage love, we will win and God will win.

Regardless of politics, we can see quality and we respond to it. After 18 months of lies and craziness, our former President reminds us what intellect and truth look like. The world stops to pause when kindness and truth speak. People choose well when they see that choices exist.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself , tell congregants what you’ve been going through and why you’re so exhausted. If you’ve been empowering your people, let them test their wings for awhile. Share the burden. Even Jesus knew the work was easier with twelve or seventy-two than by himself. Use his wisdom.

If you have strength, keep up the battle of souls against Powers. When you don’t, dont. God wants us always at our best, because a) God likes to see us happy and b) we bring our “A game” to the world when we’re at our healthiest. Put on the breathing mask first so that you can find the mouths that need to be fed more of Oxygen of Truth.

Get a hug when you can, if that works for you. Receive God’s Spirit if that works for you. Sleep and rest, if that works. Laugh if that heals you. Create! Whatever gives you strength, do that. Be healed and don’t give up hope, because you are hope, and you shouldn’t give up on yourself. God doesn’t and neither should you.

Resisting with Peace,

Joh

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Not A Good Time for “Not All Men”

Years ago, my friend Margo Moten, who is Black, pointed out a Black man hanging out on a street corner near her house, and she said, “I hate that guy. He makes all Blacks look bad”. I had never thought of it before, she clearly wasn’t him, and I don’t like to generalize, but I could see her point. In a world where Blacks were already painted as lazy, or bad, or whatever, that guy wasn’t helping the cause by supporting the narrative she was trying to break. In that same spirit…

It’s difficult enough for men who protest that “men don’t all” oppress women, or rape them or beat them, or whatever. In a sexist world, as some would call it, this week or two have been particularly difficult. In an America where a statistically significant portion of women say “#MeToo”, the chance that you’re in a room with a survivor is high, no matter where you go.

Of that number , a high percentage of women (and men) have been triggered, making them deal with their trauma all over again. Given that atmosphere, I just want to say a few things:

1) Judge Kavanaugh, if the accusations are true doesn’t make me proud to be a man. Actually, even if the accusations are not true, the stories surrounding him happen so often that the allegations just make life harder for everybody to see the good in each other.

2) The entire Republican White Male defenders of Kavanaugh on the Senate Judiciary Committee who seem to have absolutely no interest in the truth, or finding out what it was/is don’t make Republican White Men — or men in general — look very good. It’s hard to convince your spouse or coworker or classmate that they are safe with guys like them around.

3) Lest it needs to be said, the President is no role model, either, when it comes to men and women. His lifestyle, his acts, and his words make men look horrible. If there was a way to have him and men like him thrown of my gender, I would. If, as he says, he “has no attorney general”, then I have no President.

Now, here’s the thing I want to say: most men are not rapists, molesters, abusers or such a thing. I’m not being defensive here. I’m not saying “not all men do this”, I’m saying that most men don’t.

Why do I say this? What facts do I have to support this? I don’t have statistics for any of this. I can say that 15% of men are molested themselves and — of that — 7/8 don’t go on to re-offend. That’s the closest thing I have to a verifiable fact I have. I suspect that most men don’t sexually assault men for two reasons

1) Somebody’s got to be raising good kids who are respectful of women . There are lots of good parents out there. Good parents raise good sons.

2) women still marry men for love. If there were that many jerks out there, women wouldn’t marry men. They wouldn’t have a second date, let alone make a permanently bad choice.

I say all of this is not because I’m a perfect gentleman . I’m sure I’m not in broad strokes. But most men I know are appalled by the whole thing, Most men have wives or daughters who they wouldn’t want anything to happen to. Most men remember Clarence Thomas’ election to the court and the whole Anita Hill thing. We’ve got to have learned something by now. With all that knowledge, any man who engages in such behavior is choosing to be a jerk.

I hope this helps women feel safer, though I understand if it doesn’t — especially this week.

Resisting with Peace,

John

Re: Blasey Ford v. Kavanaugh

Equal justice Under Law. Due Process. Right and Wrong. Each of these issues needs to be addressed by any sitting judge, let alone a Supreme Court Justice.

There are many questions to be answered:

1) Do politicians play politics?

2) Do men rape or attempt to rape women?

The answer to both of those questions is “yes”

Is that what’s going on here? I don’t know. Neither do you. Once again, the only people that know what happened were the people that were there. God, of course, knows. Beyond that, no one knows.

Are the Democrats playing politics by making the announcement. Are the Republicans trying to keep the information hidden? We don’t know, but it’s a fair bet.

Does it matter? No, it does not. Not yet. i wouldn’t vote for Kavanaugh in any case. His innocence or guilt won’t make him look any worse to me. I don’t trust the man. Am I a partisan hack? Maybe. Does that matter? No. Regardless of whether I’m a good judge of character or not, there is an issue at play here that transcends politics.

Either what Ms. Blakey Ford said is true or it is not. Either Judge Kavanaugh is telling the truth or he’s not. Is she lying? Is he lying? None of our biases matter. We have a way to figure this out. We use it all the time. We look, we ask, we question, and we get to some idea of the truth.

Here’s the one thing that we do know: Men who attempt to rape or gang rape anyone are criminals. Women who falsely accuse are criminals. People of either gender can lie. People of either gender can tell tell the truth.

We can’t make a decision about which Mr. Kavanaugh is without investigating. We simply can’t. This is the only solution:

She gets a hearing. He gets a hearing. By who? I don’t care. I’m not sure it should be a political circus, because biases and politics are what we’re trying to avoid. Besides that, a trauma victim, (if in fact she is that), needs to be screamed at, shamed, or accused of lying like they need a hole in the head. The judge needs the same response about as much.

After this hearing, after people have a good understanding of the situation and what the truth is, after that when we can make an informed decision– and only after that, should a vote be taken on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Resisting the Trump agenda with peace,

John