What’s The Surplus For?


Check out this shot from my ‘surplus years’, Visitors.

Chris and me black and white

This portrait was ten years ago. I was 42, and Chris was the picture of brawny health. A mere four years later, heartache of the most enormous magnitude would be forced on me. My kids would lose a terrific dad, the world lost a funny and talented teacher, and frankly, I would lose a pretty smooth life.

I traded it for scarred and resilient children. I traded it for working all the time with a high degree of focussed intensity, and I traded it for some hard won successes.  In recent years, my inner emotional ‘bank balance’ has been getting pretty hefty. EA is going swimmingly, my dad is OK and my kids are making terrific life choices. Life is good, and I rejoice in this stretch of peaceful sailing.

Lately, it seems a though my situation has been an ‘anguish attractor’. I can’t figure it out. For my Christian visitors, one might ask “What is God doing here?”.

Heartache of all sorts has rained down around me. A dear friend is divorcing an addicted and abusive wife, and asked for my help to rent out his house. Another dear,  close friend lost a relative to a freak accident. Another was just hospitalized for a heart  issue, third time this year. Another has a child who was just diagnosed with bone cancer, stage 3. Yet another has joined the absolute legion of folks my age getting rejected by their spouses and enduring a bitter divorce. All have come to me, seeking counsel from me or merely a listening, supportive ear. I am happy to do what I can.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Chris and I were steered to some wise, Biblically grounded budgeting advice by our pastor. The late Larry Burkett ran a wonderful ministry devoted to helping God’s people learn wise money management according to Scripture. Nearly thirty years later I am reaping what I sowed, and often have a budgetary surplus to share with folks who have less than me.

It occurs to me, Visitors, that surpluses, or ‘extra’ can take many forms. None of my wounded friends are asking me for money, this is Evergreen, after all. But did you ever notice, as time goes on, that the essence of loss is lack?

Ponder that one with me for a minute, Visitors. I lost Chris, the most heartwrenching life experience I’ve had to endure, thus far. In the years he’s been gone, I felt the lack of a friendly companion, a useful partner, a father to these kids, and warm feet under the covers.

The people around me are lacking. Lacking health, lacking loved ones, lacking direction. Our society answers that in curious ways. It frosts my cookies more than I can tell you to listen to the myriad of predators out there who promise the moon to hurting people. I see it with every single hurting situation around me, these days. Take this vacation! Buy these clothes! Eat this product! Use this cosmetic! Do these things and that lack in your soul will be filled! What nonsense.  Listening to these types tell my people that the holes in their souls can be filled by emptying their pocketbooks nearly incites me to violence.

(Perhaps you’ve noticed, Visitors, one thing I lack is tactful diplomacy. My people can’t take this sort of directness. )

See, Visitors, I lost the burning desire to ‘be right’ a long time ago. What drives me now is the desire to be useful. Evergreen Academy is a great example of this. I get the privilege of guiding new parents every day in my job. Most of my clients are self-directed and accomplished, and most are self-aware enough to face their cluelessness head on (My clients are pretty endearing). New parents are easy enough to guide, usually they’re a pretty open bunch.

The newly grieved, though, are an entirely different matter.  The haze of grief is often impenetrable, and is often perceived as permanent. How to be useful to the ones that end up weeping on my shoulder, or slogging through a seemingly endless grief-stricken marsh, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings?

Christian and non- Christian visitors alike, I think the answer to this is found somewhere in the idea of community. Someone I respect once told me that ‘just showing up’ is critical to the meeting of any need. Reaching out in the real and digital domains, a simple “Are you ok? Just checking up on you” enhances the idea that we are not alone, there is a long chain of hands pulling even the saddest of us back from the brink.

I have a surplus of emotional energy now. I’m sure someday that will change, but in the mean time, I’m giving it away. It helps my little community around me, and honestly, it’s the least I can do.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Pornography. About as Bad As It Gets.


Don’t leave this piece standing for your reading child to see, Visitors. Adults Only.

Porn.com-Logo

Don’t Google this.

Pornography. We just can’t leave it alone in this country.

When I published the previous column, a reader looked at the thumbnail on Facebook. She saw the nude that I used to illustrate a point, and promptly lambasted me for publishing ‘pornography’ and contributing to the problem of lust among Christians.  (The fact that she didn’t bother to actually read the essay before criticizing is another discussion entirely.)

Most of you know that I have been in graduate school for Criminology for about the past year or so. The last class I had was a well-structured overview of digital crime, and pornography was highlighted. CHILD pornography, in particular, has simply exploded in the past 15 years, after we, as a country, had made great progress in stamping this one out. More on that later.

Visitors, how Christians treat sexual issues just exasperates me. See, all my life as a Christian, I have worked hard to separate Biblical Christianity from American Christianity. Nowhere is that dichotomy more apparent than in the area of sexuality. My allegiance is to the word of God, and not to American attitudes about sex and sexuality. In my growing years, in the area of sex, the emphasis was mainly on refusal skills like “True Love Waits” and other “No” tactics. The Biblical basis for this is sound. Sex is a promise, sex is ‘glue’ for married men and women, sex is part of the ‘becoming one’ process, sex is actually holy.  All true, all grounded in solid theology.

The irksome thing about this, is that very little attention was paid to the wildness of sex, to the playfulness of sex, to the utter freedom that married couples have in the area of sexuality. Christianitytoday.com is a pretty good starting point for topical Bible studies for anyone curious about Godly sexuality. In paging through their offerings, and the offerings of other solid Christian resources, I discovered some interesting things. There are titles like “Confronting Sexual Addiction”,  “Understanding Lust”, “Too Intimate Too Soon” and “Living In A Culture of Sexual Immorality”.

All right, all of these deviant things are important topics, and deserve solid treatment. But how about the healthy topics? There’s this -“Romantic Sexuality”- sounds pretty good. “Sex From God’s Point Of View” -Hmm, better see some solid scripture there, and this one that looks great -“Crazy Good Sex” where a Christian psychologist addresses six pressing male sexuality issue with BOTH solid research and solid Scripture.

So, there is hope.

As I continued this bit of a research jag into Christian resources, I realized that the ratio was out of whack. The deviant sexual titles outnumbered the healthy ones by about 12 to 1. That’s incredible. Titles like “Stolen” and “God In A Brothel” and the scariest “In Our Backyard” alone expose the terrible evils of human sexual trafficking. Other sexually deviant titles abounded. Twelve deviant titles to every healthy, Scripture-based one. What’s up with that?

See, “Culture” to me, is like a living organism. Our national culture is vibrant, constantly changing, made up of vastly differing parts. It can be healthy, or it can get sick. As Christians, we have a call to minister to the sick, the weak and the powerless. This can get ugly. There is a tidal wave of flesh peddling and exploitation that is enveloping our culture, and we must, simply must, be aware of it before we can treat it.

Porn.com is a website referred to in my digital crime class last quarter. As part of a research project, I had to look at several snippets from this detestable site. At the beginning of the course, I made the mistake of Googling “porn.com” on Google Images, trying to find the logo for a powerpoint slide. Instead of the logo, I saw several revolting things that still make me queasy. With a SINGLE innocent query, I saw real-life pictures of vaginal sex, anal sex, anilingus, fellatio, polyamorous situations, and erotic asphyxia. Publishing images of these actions is legal, they are available to everyone with a computer, and we, Christians, make a sick world sicker by walking past them as if they don’t exist.

Visitors, particularly Christian ones, stay with me here. The number of internet porn sites in the Surface Web is difficult to pin down. According to http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html, there are about 4.2 million pornographic websites on the Surface Web or about 12 percent of Surface Web sites.  42 percent of all users have viewed porn at one time or another. 25 percent of ALL search requests are porn-related. One in four, Visitors.

Average age of first exposure to porn? 11.

Number of youths who have received an unwanted sexual solicitation? 1 in 7.

Number of youths who reveal to their parents or other adults that they have been solicited? 1 in 20.

Number of youths who repeatedly seek out internet porn? About 1 in 8.

Gracious. One might ask, what on earth can we do about all this? As a teacher? My very best advice is to address it. NOW. TONIGHT. If you don’t, some internet pornographer will, I promise.

Of course, you have to apply your adult judgement to the development of your child. You know them best, you can decide which words to use and how to address what issue. I completely land on the side of internet censorship, with as much education your child can possibly stand.

With that in mind, your child will be able to think more clearly than my critic that I referred to at the beginning of this piece. The idea that the nude in the previous column is pornographic, is, in a word, absurd. We simply must help our children see things as clearly as possible and give them the tools to navigate such desperately sick situations as authentic pornography. Educate them, NOW, about healthy sexuality, about the joy in God ordained mutual sexual giving. Doing this will help our children actually be salt and light in a terribly sick world.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Laziness And Risky Reality- With Single Dad Laughing


So, Visitors, ever notice how rapidly we are losing our humanity behind our screens?

texting-2

This worries me, on many levels.

In the last column, I detailed to you my excursion into online relationship building. Online hilarity aside, there is something happening here that is essentially broken. In the single week I have been exploring, I have had several texting relationships with interesting men.

I am rapidly losing patience with the online world, so I am developing my own internal standards.  I won’t text with an interesting man for more than three days, for example. Honestly, for me? That’s it. I am all over meeting actual real-life members of the opposite gender who interest me. In real life.

  506e8f23c5f981cfd2a3294ac1b52f4d

What’s more distracting? The lovely woman or the distracting screen? 

It’s been about a week, and about half a dozen of these virtual conversations. So many of these guys are good at online conversation! Witty, entertaining, and interesting as all get out. After day 3, I propose a meeting, and the response rate drops dramatically. Interesting. Texting is so incredibly easy, and so distracting from the real, actual humans on each side.

Here’s what I wonder about screentime, Visitors- what seems to be broken here is a sense of relational work, and I just can’t stand it. Three days is more than enough to decide if you want to have coffee with me, just go ahead and pull the trigger.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that, it always is. See, men in my age demographic have been beaten up. Usually, there’s at least one divorce in the story, and if there are children in the picture, some assorted heartbreak there.

(I’ve discovered I’ve raised intolerant children in that area. I detailed one of these custody-battle stories with my oldest daughter, her response? “Geez Mom, you’d think these guys would have thought this through before having children with someone they really don’t like.” Hmm, some truth to that.)

I get it, men, and it’s ok. You’ve had it rough. You really have, my heart goes out to you. Here’s a suggestion, let’s not overlay that on me, please? Don’t manufacture some sort of grief or pressure that you’ve been carrying, and pretend it’s coming from me.  I’m safe. Stop texting me. Rally some courage. Let’s FaceTime and arrange a coffee date. Real communication is tough, I get it, but you’ve got this, I’m sure.

What’s becoming interesting to me, is that there seems to be very little difference between the men who claim to be Christians, and men who are flat-out prowling for dates.

One of the prowlers propositioned me. It was actually hilarious, and he pulled it off. He was part of the younger set, not quite 40. We were merrily texting away, him as eager as a puppy.

“….We could meet for coffee at the park, and then if we liked each other, we could go back to my apartment?”

Uh, after two days of texting? Pass.

One of the Christians simply couldn’t figure it out.

“Hey Angel, did you sleep well? What’s going on at your job? How are things?  Text me back when you can.”

Gracious! Delightful man, you have a phone in your pocket. Zip the texting, please.

See, Visitors, actual, real-time, face to face communication is risky. Even in some cases, difficult. Check this out-

Stutttering humor

Stuttering humor. It’s OK! I laughed the loudest! 

You guys know me, I stutter. You know the reason why, a minor brain injury as a toddler. I just about DIED laughing when I saw this on Dan Pearce’s website, Single Dad Laughing. (danoah.com)

Dan is just an amazing blogger and author. I love this guy. Dan has battled obesity, the demise of two marriages, the challenge of adoptive and single parenting, and crippling depression. He’s our tribe, he gets it. Life sucks. It’s just terrible. Awful things happen, and something is waiting around the corner to ambush you, even now.

On the other hand, life is frigging awesome, especially face to face. The love of friends (like you,dear Visitors)  is a gift! The face of a child is hopeful! There really is a God who cares! Whole Foods has cookies and cream ice cream!

The stuttering thing is emblematic of all this, Visitors. See, unlike you fluent speakers, I take nothing about speaking for granted. It’s hella work! My parents were good, I landed in speech therapy around age 6, and stayed there until, oh, about two weeks ago.

I’ve been trained in all of these tiresome fluency techniques, I’m aware of breathe control, articulator use, word choice, soft contacts, blah, blah, blah. It’s like playing the piano. If I practice, I’m pretty good. If you distract me, or I distract myself, things might get a little slow.

Speaking IRL, (In Real Life, for those of us over 45) is a flipping challenge for me.  If you muster up the courage to put down the screen and actually speak to me in the same room, I might stutter. Or take a little longer to say something. Guess what? You get to show me what an awesome real-life person you are! This is how it works-

Me: “Well hi! It’s nice to see you! Shall we go to starbucks and grab a t-t-t”

You: “Table?”

Me: “Yes, table.  Hey, look, that was sweet, but I really can’t stand people finishing my sentences.”

You: “Oh! Ha! Sorry!”

Me: “No worries. ”

See? That’s not so tough. Road bump crossed,  imaginary crisis averted, Victoria awards you mad courage and respect points, and a nice coffee date likely follows.

Gracious. Well, we could go on about this for hours. I guess, before I lose all hope, I’d like to ask you guys to come alongside. Put down the &$#% screen. Have tech-free dinners, tech-free weekends. If you’re married, DO NOT take that thing to bed.

If you’re single, like me? Send me one, last text.

“Starbucks, 5:30. Looking forward to it!”

Much love,

 

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Miao Zhu Lierheimer And The Handprints Of God


“God’s will”  can be a nebulous thing, Christian Visitors. Ever notice that?  We talk about it so casually, as if it’s immediately recognizable by anyone. We bandy that phrase around, as if it’s something we can readily influence.

Don’t get me wrong, God’s will never contradicts God’s word, and American Christians need to crack their Bibles more often. But the difference between God’s perfect will, and God’s allowed will?  Or even the big picture of God’s will? The farther along I get, the bigger, and more complicated it seems.

Consider this, Visitors. In about two weeks I’m boarding a plane with Christopher to go visit Abigail in Hong Kong. You remember she’s a design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and they have a campus over there.

Twenty one years ago I boarded this plane and made the same journey to meet her for the first time,  and I remember it as if it were yesterday.

When we went to China,  Chris and I flew to Hong Kong for a single day. We were so jetlagged we spent it in the hotel asleep, and then boarded a plane for Hangzhou, in the southeast corner of the Zhejiang province of China. We spent several days there, visiting the orphanage where our daughter lived, viewing the silk mills for which Hangzhou is famous, and this, the West Lake.

West Lake possesses a haunting beauty. It’s divided into five sections by several causeways, and is full of ancient temples, pagodas and gardens that have influenced Chinese design for centuries.

West Lake is also busy. Hangzhou, which numbers nearly three million, attracts all kinds of people. Photographers, painters, artists of all sorts come to West Lake to create. It is never empty.

It was here, somewhere in this lovely spot, that Miao Zhu Xu started her journey to become Abigail Lierheimer, my daughter.

Miao Zhu’s biological mother loved her very much. At the time, China’s one-child policy was in full swing. Neighborhoods were monitored, and unauthorized second pregnancies were dealt with harshly. Benefits were denied families, and sometimes entire neighborhoods if second babies were allowed to be born. Sex-selective abortions were routine, ultrasound technology allowed this with ease. As there is a prejudice against girls in China, first girl children were routinely aborted in favor of boys.

Miao Zhu’s mother was careful. She had her baby in secret, and wrapped her tightly against the cold.  She found a crate for her baby, and wrote out all she knew about her child. She tucked the paper inside the blanket, against the baby’s delicate skin.

Under cover of darkness, she carried Miao Zhu  into West Lake. Abandoning children is a crime in China, but Miao Zhu’s mother loved her too much to let  her die. She slowly crept to a policeman’s shack, and left her sleeping baby near the door, certain to be discovered. Anxiously she waited. Waited and waited until the baby woke, and started to cry. Soon, the wailing roused the policeman on duty, and he came and picked up her child.

Miao Zhu’s mother wept as her child was taken away.

Miao Zhu landed in the Hangzhou orphanage, where she soon developed an eating disorder. Miao Zhu was wildly intolerant of lactose, and all of the formula available to the children was made from cow’s milk. She couldn’t hold it down. The orphanage had one care provider for every ten infants, and Miao Zhu was rapidly becoming a time-intensive problem. It was 1995, and often the Chinese response to sickly, abandoned children was to allow them to die of neglect.

‘Dying Rooms’ were common. Dying rooms were rooms in orphanages where ‘too needy’ children were placed, and died agonizing deaths of thirst or starvation. Earlier that year, three Americans made a film about this phenomenon, and adoptions in China ground to an abrupt halt. Miao Zhu couldn’t drink much formula, and she grew smaller and sicker. Chicken pox raced through her rooms. Headlice was common, her head was shaved.

FullSizeRender (38)

On the other side of the world Abi’s father and I waited impatiently. Abi’s brother went to preschool, and her sister was learning to walk. We had news of Abi’s difficulties, and we would often plead with God to speed things up, and let us connect with our daughter. Time was short for this little one.

Finally, we got on a plane. Days later we were driven to Hangzhou, and met Miao Zhu.

She had the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

We were told that ‘Miao Zhu’ meant ‘Baby Pearl’ in Chinese. ‘Abigail’ means ‘Source of Joy’, so Miao Zhu became Abigail Pearl, our joyful third child.

Abigail’s journey presents many, many puzzling questions about “God’s will”. There were many junctures where we, mere humans, could have thwarted God’s perfect will for this child. Her mother could have denied her life. The policeman in West Lake could have taken her somewhere else. Chinese politicians could have not allowed any adoptions at all after the damning documentary. Or, most likely, Abi’s little body could have shut down due to a lack of nutrition and attention.

None of these things happened.  Abi was held securely in the hand of God through all these frightful events.  It seems the older I get, the less I really know about the will of our Heavenly Father, Visitors.  But, this I do know, as the psalmist says:

    He will protect you like a bird
    spreading its wings over its young.
    His truth will be like your armor and shield. (Psalm 91:4)

Abi in China

Amen.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

The Endless Lies Of Wendy McCord


Jeffco School Board Recall Petitions Submitted

Tina Blackmore Gurdikian and Wendy McCord at today’s (7/28/2015) rally for submission of petitions in the Jeffco School Board Recall campaign.

Visitors, I have had it. Simply up to HERE. Wendy McCord and the bottom feeders at her organization Jeffco United were forced by a judge to disclose their donor list on Christmas Eve.  McCord, you remember, was the lying, hatemongering  spearhead of the recent successful recall.  McCord’s noise was characterized by treating  ‘union’ as a dirty word. This is a grass roots effort! A coalition of angry mommies! The donor lists show a vastly different story. This was, from beginning to end, a battle funded by the educational establishment as maintained by national and state teachers’ unions.

Most of you who have been with me since Chris died, know that I have an overdeveloped sense of justice. Chris would kid me about this all the time.

“You can’t fix everything, honey.”

“You are not the police officer for the world.”

“Sure, you’re right, they’re wrong, what of it?”

Often, he’d be right. I can’t fix everything. Unfairness and injustice abound in the world. The weak get overtaken all the time. Powerful people run roughshod over the powerless, poor folks get the shaft, people of color get discriminated against and children get neglected. As Christians, we are promised that trouble will always be with us.

So, what to do?

Seriously, I’d ask him. What to do? Ignore all of this around us? Be happy that we have made our way to an affluent white enclave like Evergreen, and be thankful that hey, at least we have ours? We’re OK? Everyone else be damned?

Hmm. Let’s look at the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 verse 40 for a minute.

th-1

THIS is why I fight. This cause is mine. I have been an advocate for children my entire professional life, and this verse contains the social justice imperative which cannot be ignored.

When I got my first teaching license in 1986, I was pretty naive. I thought that anyone in the profession was there for the good of our students. I honestly thought that everyone there was like me. Bright enough, interested, engaged, and convinced that some skill and intentionality would be rewarded with results in the classroom. Wages in the eighties were abysmal, so we weren’t in it for the money, obviously.

Fast forward to current day. Wages are actually competitive now, and compared to some fields for new grads, teachers actually do pretty well. We do get more than 14 weeks vacation, and PERA, or the Public Employee’s Retirement Account, actually does much, much better than Social Security. Add that to a powerful union that makes firing an incompetent nigh on impossible, and you’ve got a pretty cushy berth for a contracted Jeffco teacher.

Rewind to two years ago. A set of conservative board members which included my brother, John Newkirk, was targeted by a group called “Jeffco United”. Jeffco United was organized by lawyer Wendy McCord, pictured above. Wendy is an Evergreen local, which means she has a household income larger than most Jeffco families, by about 50%. (It’s a demographic fact that Evergreen denizens make more. Neither good nor bad, just a fact.)

Wendy went on a lawless, deceitful, and ultimately very successful jag to unseat the conservative board majority.

Jeffco United received 99.9 percent of it’s funding from the three teacher’s unions in Colorado.

http://coloradopeakpolitics.com/2015/12/29/blowback-media-pissed-about-jeffco-teachers-union-lies/

99.9 percent, Visitors. Over a quarter of a million bucks, and this from the ladies who SWEAR this was a ‘grassroots effort’. An effort backed by citizens. Liars, through and through.

Visitors, this is the point where my verbosity gets the better of me. I am sorely tempted to pour out pages of statistics like these:

*Alameda High School, once run by Ron Mitchell, is a school of color. More than eight out of ten Alameda kids are not white. The same number of kids fall UNDER the poverty line. NINE out of TEN of Alameda grads can’t do math on an tenth grade level. This started during the ten years Ron Mitchell ran Alameda. Ron Mitchell is now Jeffco Board of Education president. This is just so bad as to be unbelievable.

*HALF of Jeffco kids are not at grade level for reading. HALF.

*ONE THIRD of Jeffco kids who go to college need remedial work. ONE THIRD.

The list goes on, and on, and on.

Our schools are broken. Wendy McCord successsfully campaigned that they stay that way.

(Can you imagine the HELL that would break lose if that kind of nonsense happened in Evergreen? I can tell you what would happen. All of the white soccer moms up here would jump in their late model SUVs and go looking for blood. )

Wendy McCord did an excellent job of orchestrating the chorus of lies, damned lies, and outright endless hatemongering. Check these out.

Wendy-McCord-Lying-About-Unions

Uh huh. With 265,000 dollars coming from the unions, and what, 3 grand coming from your ‘coalition’.

McCord-Union-1 (1)

This one is particularly staggering. If you inspect the donation records that McCord was FORCED to disclose, you can see the 265k$ was there when this post was made. Nowhere near six figures, Wendy?  Lie much?

And my favorite. She posted this after some imagined slight from John.

Wendy-McCord-Lies-2

From who, Wendy? You? While you were out there peddling the oppressive, sickening tales that Jeffco is just fine? Your destruction has set us back decades, and this truly makes me sick.

Well, visitors, I’m just about at my limit. For our next column, we’ll explore more destructive perfidy of organizations like Jeffco School Board Watch.

Until next time.

Warm regards,

Victoria

 

 

“Sex Is Not An Egalitarian Pleasure Party”


 

I  wonder if my kids will recognize innocent lovemaking someday.

I wonder if my kids will even recognize innocent lovemaking someday.

 

Hmm. Well, that one certainly got my attention. Most of you know that my three older kids are in college now, and they all  come back with things that constantly startle and amaze. My older daughter is blossoming into quite a feminist, and is walking a line between frothing rabidness and downright insightfulness. (It’s actually pretty funny, she’s self aware enough to call herself trite. )

Still, I listen to her like I did over lunch today, and can’t quite believe what I hear.  We discussed this issue today. The quote titling my column today came from a two year old column by one Jared Wilson, a blogger for an organization called “The Gospel Coalition.” Mr. Wilson wrote a column for the Coalition entitled “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey.” (He has since taken the column down.) In it, he quotes another author -Doug Wilson, who wrote in his book Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man:

“Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”

Now just sit with me for a second.  I have trouble getting over my revulsion about the words ‘conquers, colonizes and plants.’ Much less the violating implications of ‘surrenders and accepts.’

Rachel Held Evans,  an Egalitarian Christian blogger, barely restrains her wrath from these men. I’ll excerpt what she said shortly.

Apparently, there are labels to be had here. The Gospel Coalition types, as I understand them, call themselves “complementarians.” That seems to mean that they accept Americanized-(italics mine) gender roles as God ordained. Men are in authority over all things, women are to submit.

Egalitarians seem to reject this, and accept roles with more liberality. As far as sex is concerned, it kind of boggles my mind that this is even a debate. Here is what Rachel Held Evans had to say: (rachelheldevans.com/blog/gospel-coalition-douglas-wilson-sex)

According to this post, sex is just another avenue through which a man must exert his authority over woman. As with everything else, the man is the boss and the woman is the subordinate. Wilson contrasts this “God-ordained” relationship of authority and submission to that of an “egalitarian pleasure party,” which I can only assume refers to a sexual relationship characterized by mutual pleasure, mutual authority, mutual submission, and mutual respect—which sounds a lot more desirable to me than being conquered and colonized. 

Now, Ms. Evans continues with lengthly reference to Song of Songs, the first chapter, where she describes the Shulamite woman as going out, finding her husband, and initiating the joy of sex with a willing partner. In First Corinthians 7:3-4 the Apostle Paul also teaches about the mutuality of the marriage bed.

I don’t label myself as anything but Scriptural, but I find myself landing with Ms. Evans on this one. How on earth is there anything but mutuality in the marriage bed, as taught in Scripture? Gracious.

Really, to me, I don’t care for any of this theological bickering, only inasmuch as it applies to the people I love. I must say, though, I am concerned. As my children fly out of the nest, they float through a lot of this relational nonsense. Fortunately for me, I was raised in a household that valued ‘hiding God’s word in my heart’ and not much else. It helped a lot when I met Chris, who had been blown about by all sorts of feel good teaching. None of that helped heal the hole in his heart from an abusive family dynamic. Only leaning on the eternal, unchangeable, healing of God’s spirit set him free.

My prayer for my children, as for you, is that we continue to find solid, baggage-free, Scriptural teaching that is not viewed through the lens of the culture or fad of the day. That we continue to dig through the treasure of Scripture and find out what God has to say about matters of the heart, rather than have someone do our thinking for us.

Biblegateway.com is a great place to start. I have great faith in your ability to think, Visitors,  and Biblegateway has a great parallel feature where you can look up what you are interested in, find several versions of scripture, and start asking yourself the important questions. Then go to your pastor, or write me even, and let’s figure some of this stuff out together.

Love to you all,

Victoria

(Note, Jared Wilson has since apologized for the content of his 2012 column.hegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2012/07/20/some-reflections-just-one-explanation-and-apologies/)

Doug Wilson stands firm.

On Christian Misogyny and Feral Children


Last week was an interesting one for me in the annals of human behavior. A friend of mine started a  program at my church.  I wanted to help and provide some financial support. It was turned down by the board of elders, all of whom are white, wealthy men.

Now, before I lose you, understand that I’ve devoted a large part of my teaching career to carrying out what Martin Luther King really meant when he said that he wished his children would be judged not by the ‘color of their skin, but the content of their character.’ If he were alive today, I would venture to say that gender blindness would also be a desired outcome.

I also like men. I have nothing against a white, wealthy man being in charge, as long as he shows some common sense and Christlike character. Still, sometimes things just set my teeth on edge.

My friend has devoted the past two decades of her life to meeting the needs of older singles like me. (Funny, I don’t really see myself as ‘older’ at 48, but it is different, and a lot more fun than in my twenties. ) She started a group whose goal was to provide an environment where singles could meet and mingle that was not a bar, or some other obnoxious meeting venue where chemicals and poor behavior are to be expected.

With a few exceptions, Christian values are upheld, and the group seems to be meeting a need in the greater Denver area.

Here’s the delicate part. Jesus is pretty clear that when Christians get involved in charitable giving, one hand isn’t supposed to know what the other is doing. In other words, if you blow your horn, that’s all the recognition you’re going to get. So give, give generously, but shut up about it.

It came to my attention that the group could benefit from some transitional funding, as the church is quite large, and has a budget cycle that should be respected. The fiscal year for this church begins in January.

I offered to provide the funding, not to the church, but directly to the (currently unpaid) leadership.

(Charitable giving used to be a source of great joy for Chris, my late husband, and me. We did our homework, looked at budgets and business structures, administrative costs, and gave where it would do the most good. I miss that intensely.)

The approving elders set a meeting for last January. Then February. Then March. Last week, they finally had a meeting to decide whether or not to fund the position, which, by the way, was largely with my money.

The conclusion? Outside funds cannot be used to fund church programs, and my friend could wait until the next budget cycle to get a real decision. Thanks but no thanks, Victoria, you can keep your money.

Well, that’s mighty white of you, sirs. I venture to say, that if my friend were a man, and I hard- charging male CEO, the outcome would have been different.

Let me pause before I grind my teeth into a powder. Older singles are very much “The least of these” in the eyes of the church. You can really tell a lot about the character of a person, and a church, by how dismissive they can be to the powerless and poor.

Argh.

Next, stand up if any of you had child development in college. Did you ever study feral children?

I had a phone call today from a client that I think may have been thrust into raising  genuinely feral children.

Wikipedia has a pretty good functional definition of a feral children:

Genie (feral child)

Genie (feral child) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A feral child (also, colloquially, wild child) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language.[1] Some feral children have been confined by people (usually their own parents); …. Feral children may have experienced severe child abuse or trauma before being abandoned or running away. Feral children are sometimes the subjects of folklore and legends.

What do you think of when you imagine a feral child? Most of you probably dial up a Disney-esque Mowgli, a child abandoned by circumstance and left to be raised by animals.

Few of us imagine a child isolated as a toddler, given food laced with sedatives and having very little contact with the outside world. “Mitchell”, we’ll call him, was contacted by the authorities when they discovered his biological triplet sons had been isolated in a room with very little outside contact from the ages of about one to about three.

Mitch’s boys’ mother had multiple psychiatric disorders, and why she had any sort of custody of these kids is a mystery to me. The boys’ physical growth had been stunted and their linguistic development almost nil.

That is to say, their conventional linguistic development. Most of us with healthy parent-child relationships see our children ride a magnificent wave of language acquisition during these crucial years. When the boys were discovered to be living in these horrendous conditions, they had developed a language of their own. They are the size of a typical one year old, and chatter away with each other, clearly understanding what the other has to say.

They bring each other things, have conversations, and play side by side. The problem is, no one else in the world has a clue what they are saying.

Mitch desperately wanted custody of his boys. He received it, but in order to keep it, he has to keep up with an onerous schedule of various therapies all at his expense. Mitch is a blue collar worker, and is pedaling as fast as he can to make sure his boys get to all of their appointments.

So he lands on EA’s doorstep.

“Please. Victoria. No one else has space for all of them. I can’t break them up, and it would kill me to be running to three different facilities. Can you help?”

Can I help.

Three profoundly abused, seriously disabled little boys, and a dad who’s doing everything in his power to keep them at home.

On the one hand, this is the most depressing part of my job. Lock three little children in a room for over a year? The diaper rash alone must have left permanent scars. What kind of person uses their power for such a profoundly negative thing?

A sick one.

On the other hand, what an opportunity for good. Perhaps three isn’t too late. Noam Chomsky postulated on the “Language Acquisition Device” that all children have, and theorized that all children can learn language until about twelve.

Other theorists speculate that the cutoff is closer to six. Much past that, and the hope of being a native language speaker diminishes rapidly.

Still, there might be a chance. So what do I do? Our country is headed for disaster in terms  of early childhood education. If President Obama has his way, our country will soon not have a K-12 school system, but a PS-16 state funded system. The reasons to be apprehensive about this are legion.

Back to Mitch. The state has stated to Mitch that if he does not provide an appropriate educational environment for these boys, at his expense, the boys will land in foster care and the state will find preschool placement for them.

This is insane.

Mitch wants his boys. Because the dad assumes responsibility of these profoundly damaged kids, he must pay an enormous fee for them to come to my school, or the state will take them and tax dollars will not only pay their preschool fees, but their foster care and upkeep as well.

This makes no sense.

Why not halve the cost, have the state pay a discounted rate to EA, and Mitch pay to raise his sons, as it should be?

So, I turn this over in my mind, and I bring it to you. Are any of you advocates for the disenfranchised? Advocates for the rights of fathers? Can any of you help me help Mitch?

If we can find the funding for all three of these kids, including the funding for a special aide just for the boys, we at EA could make a profound difference in the language development of these kids.

In the mean time, pray for Mitch. Pray for the feral kids who are isolated, but not discovered yet. Pray that there is still hope for us, as humans, to treat the least among us with some degree of dignity.

It’s what Jesus would have us do.

Much love,

Victoria