Self-care for Bits of the Body...

Following my post yesterday I had a number of colleagues and friends contact me to see if I was OK... It was very welcome, and I was able to say that I was, indeed, the fact that I felt able to post what I did spoke of me feeling somewhat less vulnerable than I have done at times over recent years...
I also have had a number of people contact me expressing similar feelings, be it the experience of feeling somewhat redundant or overlooked within the church, particularly those with interests and abilities in some aspects of the arts, but also those who for various reasons feel dislocated from the body... and indeed on the verge of complete amputation.
To prevent these things can I suggest a number of self-care strategies - sadly you may have to initiate them yourself as, my experience tells me, that the institution that goes by the name church will rarely seek out those who are feeling at odds with it... 
  1. Identify ways to exercise your particular skills and interests even if it is outside the official bounds of church - be that in a para-church organisation or, perhaps better, in a completely secular setting - you may find your abilities better appreciated, but also it may become an arena of mission. I used to do this a lot with my interests in drama, working in para-church settings like New Irish Arts and Commission Christian Radio, and a couple of self-starts with other like-minded friends, and in the secular world including at Queens University. However, in taking up my current post 9 years ago I began to scale back on these because of increasing local and connexional responsibilities... BAD call... not only has that led to me becoming de-skilled (on the age old principle of use it or lose it) but also a part of my spirit has, frankly withered within me. I'm going to be seeing if I can start to nurture some of those links again in the wake of my up-coming move...
  2. Join a group of like-minded people who share your interests who are working in different spheres to use as encouragers and sounding boards... In the arts there are a couple of initiatives on the go at present, the Faith and Arts Cluster Group facilitated by Contemporary Christianity, and Christian Creatives, a programme of New Irish Arts. I haven't made it to either of these, but hope to do so under the new dispensation...
  3. Identify a group of friends/colleagues who can: a) encourage you when you are feeling low and alone and b) point out when you are being more of a rectum than you need to be. You don't need flatterers, but rather those who will speak the truth in love. If the body was functioning properly you probably wouldn't need to seek such a group out, but sadly the Body of Christ is not as healthy as it might be... We may all be part of the body, but it is the local one-on-one connections that will be the most important to us in helping us feel connected... The knee-bone being connected to the thigh bone etc. I am particularly grateful of the select band around me who act as my checks and balances, including those I bounced yesterday's blog off before posting. Actual meeting in the flesh is good, and all the better if you can meet as a group, mutually accountable to each other, but in the absence of being able to do that, social media is a wonderful thing.
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously... Neither your highs or lows are probably as extreme as you think... And God is with you in it all... Remember Tim Vine's alternative Footprints story...
One night a man dreamed that he was walking along the beach with the LORD.And when he looked back at the footprints in the sand.He noticed that often there was only one set of footprints,and that was at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way.But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life,there is only one set of footprints.Why when I needed you most did you leave me.”
The LORD replied:“My son, my precious child,When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I thought it would be fun if we both hopped for a bit".

ps. I nearly entitled this blog "Self-Care for Rectums" but them thought I had better not...

Comments

Victor said…
Mr Campton – I am amazed at your deafening silence. If you believe that the God of Christianity takes an interest in your life, and that he calls you ‘My son, my precious child” – why do you ignore the fact that many innocent children’s lives have been shown to be valueless to the God of Christianity?

The Christian denominations in Ireland have completely shirked their responsibilities to the children who have been horribly abused in institutions throughout the country. It is stomach churning to witness the various annual gatherings of churches, and to listen to them ‘praising God for what he is doing for them, as they thank God for all the blessings he is giving to them.

The experience that I, and unfortunately another 100 boys underwent, due to the paedophile Dr Lindsay Brown, demonstrates the huge hole that exists.

The Christian God, sat and watched Lindsay Brown abuse innocent little boys for over forty years, and did nothing. At the very same time, God did intervene though, he prepared many other boys hearts to ‘receive Christ’ through the ministry of Lindsay.

The abuse of many unfortunate boys, and the conversion of many other lucky boys, happened at the very same Christian camps, meetings etc.

Given the above, God was either not able, or else not willing to stop Lindsay abusing for forty years. Mind you, he was very able and willing to use Lindsay to further his work.

John Wimber was very keen to publicise that while on a plane journey, God told him that a fellow passenger was cheating on his wife, God pointed out the passenger to Wimber, and told him to go over to the man, he duly did this. Wimber told the man that God wanted him to stop his adultery, Wimber told the man the name of the lady he was cheating with, and Wimber informed the man that if he did not stop doing this wrong, God was going take the man down (he would die very soon).

While I don’t defend cheating on your partner, the consensual acts of two adults is a great deal less serious than Lindsay’s acts. But if there was a Christian God, it demonstrates what his priorities are.

Why do Christians refuse to think and talk about this? – Yet they are very happy to meet together, and rejoicing in the many blessings and the lots of love, they think they are receiving from their God.

Victor
Victor, I've said before that I don't have any answers on this subject, and, thankfully little direct or indirect experience... hence my "deafening silence." I'm on record as to my feelings about anyone using a position of respect and authority to abuse children, including those within the church of whatever hue. As to why God didn't intervene, I don't know why... And I have nothing to say to take the edge off the trauma you and others have experienced. I do however believe that such abusers will face a higher court than that of Northern Ireland or social media. Whether this is the correct medium to be debating the issues, I don't know... at the moment I'm not inclined to start a discussion I know little about. I'm sorry we have never yet managed to meet up as I suggested... This past year has not been the easiest. Please email me directly if a dace to face would be helpful for you... Though I am moving in two weeks and, as I state in the above post, my son has more surgery between now and then.
regards
David
Victor said…
Dear Mr Campton – Thank you for your reply, I would like to clarify that the issue for many of the victims is not that of “anyone using a position of respect and authority to abuse children, including those within the church”

Neither is the issue about paedophilia

The issue for many victims is the fact that, God was either not able, or else not willing to stop Lindsay abusing for forty years.
But, that over the same forty years, God was able and willing to use Lindsay, in the conversions of many other boys. Many Christians today, point to Lindsay’s influence on their lives, and of how God “spoke to them” through the ministry of Lindsay.
Indeed, through Lindsay’s influence many entered fulltime Christian service.

When victims raise the perfectly reasonable query – that there is something here that does not add up, given the attributes which Christians claim for their Gog/god – we are told to go away.

While you say that you believe “that such abusers will face a higher court than that of Northern Ireland or social media”, there is little comfort in that, to those victims who have taken their own lives due to the abuse of Lindsay, and some others live literally on the pavements.
Very many have lost any faith they had, and now deny the existence of God, and according to Christians, such victims will end up in Hell. However, according to Christians, if Lindsay confesses his ‘sins’ to God and seeks forgiveness from Jesus, he will go to heaven.

For the victims your silence and the silence of the church is “deafening”, because Christians are very prepared to talk ‘other things’, but when it comes to trying understand one of the worst events that that has taken place in Christian circles in Northern Ireland for a number of generations, there is simply ‘silence’

Finally! – my wife and I struck up a conversation with a very nice lady who was at our table, at a recent wedding reception we were attending, it turned out that she was a Presbyterian elder, and her had son attended the same school as I did, (many years apart). During the course of conversation, (and without her knowing anything about my encounters with LTB), she told us that her son was very fond of swimming, but that she had been “warned” about Lindsay, and had kept her son away from him, consequently he had been spared any harm, she finished her story by announcing –that God is good! I didn’t enlighten her as to my experience, but moved on to another topic of conversation. But I would have loved to have asked her, if there was a God, then why he would have actively intervened for her family, and at the same time allowed so many other families to be exposed to, and live with the consequences Lindsay’s activities, especially since God was actively involved with Lindsay’s ministry of bringing many to Jesus.

I have to respect the fact that you would rather not get involved, and I sincerely hope that your son and family have easier times ahead.
Victor




The question of theodicy ie how can a God be both totally loving and almighty given that the world is in such a mess has been a major issue throughout history... The Greeks made their gods as capricious as human beings, Islam and to a certain extend extreme-Calvinism makes God's sovereignty the key element... But I think that in many ways that is simply dodging the issue... For anyone asserting a God of love the question remains, and will do until we see the whole picture. But I appreciate that is inadequate for those struggling with the effects of human evil, be it child abuse by those who claim to be God's servants, or mass genocide for one reason or another (including religious reasons), or even natural disasters. As to the claim that one person and/or their loved ones is preserved from the effects of such evil by the grace of God, that too raises questions as to where that grace was for those who were victims... and we need to be more circumspect about making such claims blithely. This is a question I have wrestled with in essays, and in casual debates with friends and colleagues, but academic answers rarely have any real pastoral potency. I have yet to experience anyone who was argued into an appreciation of God's grace, or found healing by way of the weight of intellectual debate... indeed often the opposite, as deep seated feelings and experiences are "countered" by finely hewn theological responses... A heart is not healed by an assault on the head. You are clearly and understandably hurting... and you have a mind that is trying to reconcile the theory with your experience, and they clearly don't match for you at present. My prayer is that you may experience healing of your heart first and foremost... then the intellectual debate can be had without rancour or feeling that you or anyone else is being patronised.
Victor said…
Mr Campton- I really feel that you bypass the central point, and I accept that the fault for this is mine, due to my incoherence.

The issue is not simply that of “how can a God be both totally loving and almighty given that the world is in such a mess”

The point is – how can a God, who apparently can have nothing to do with sin, who can’t abide to have it in his presence – use Lindsay in the extension of his kingdom. The issue of the abuse and the lack of God‘s intervention is bad enough, and I accept that that is an ‘age old’ problem for Christians. But - the issue which calls into question the attributes which Christians assign to their God, is the fact that God was prepared to use a paedophile, to bring many into the kingdom. I can assure you that there are many professional colleagues of yours in the ordained ministry, who can point to the validity of this fact.

If this does not worry Christians, then I am bewildered. The only reason I wrote to you in the first place, was due to the fact that in one of your posts, you mentioned that, nobody had the right to ignore child abuse, not even a priest, bishop or archbishop. But, you didn’t include God on your list. But, amazingly, not only did God ignore this part of Lindsay’s life for forty years, but at the exact same time, God was intricately involved in the Christian side of Lindsay’s life, therefore the Christian claims don’t ‘stack up’

When I was at school, even though I was being abused by him, (I thought I was the only one, and after all who or what was I), I literally took friends to Lindsay’s room, so that he could speak to them about God. I have sat with friends as Lindsay prayed with them and led them to Jesus. I reasoned that what Lindsay was doing to me was wrong; I didn’t understand it, like it or wanted him to do it. But at the same time, I saw how effective he was for God, and after all, who was I to question God, especially since Lindsay was so used by God, this is how I tried to cope. When I realised that Lindsay had abused so many, to the point of ruination, while God was using him for his kingdom, I recognised that the claims and attributes Christians bestowed on their God, were found to be false.

These massive events are not here say, or an account from a book which cannot be verified. This saga unfolded at the very heart of mainstream Christianity in Northern Ireland, everybody knows about it, but very very few want to confront it. Even at Lindsay’s trial, Christians couldn’t face the truth, because if it was true, it meant that their ideas and beliefs in God, were being challenged, and they simply didn’t want to ‘go there’

Christians called the victims of Lindsay “liars”, and after the trial, bishops, and moderators etc, pleaded with the trial judge to be lenient in his sentence, due to the tremendous good Lindsay had been involved in for God.

Mr Campton – None of this is directly at you personally, indeed I know I have been foolish to even bother you. But I hope that at least maybe you, and anybody else who has unfortunately wasted their time reading my crazy ramblings, might have gained another perspective to ponder sometime.

I really do send you and your family every good wish, as you move to another circuit, and that the operation goes well, and that your son will finally have a happy conclusion to all he has been through.

Victor





The whole sinless God being unable to have anything sinful near him is often overplayed, and owes more to childrens holiday clubs than a complete reading of scripture. God only uses sinners... it's all he has got to work with... But when that sin has had such an enormous effect on the lives of others, be that in your situation, or the experience of a victim of terrorism who finds out that one of those who was involved in the death of a loved one was a priest or pastor, that is hard to understand... I think there is a large issue here in what you say as to whether you feel yourself to be complicit in some way, and why a good God "allowed" you to be abused while others close to you weren't, but this is not the place, and I am not the one to go into this with you. As for those who called victims of LB "liars" (some of whom I know and respect), it was not their finest hour, and I, for one, would not expect the judicial scales to balance out "good works" over and against the millstone on the other side... especially since those "good works" were clearly being used as a cover to groom boys. I am also somewhat distressed to hear reports that he is now working in France in a similar role to before... tho I have no proof of that... Your comments are not a "bother" to me, although some of them are genuinely upsetting, and they do offer me a perspective I am frankly thankful not to have experienced first hand. I have been and will continue to pray for you, and other victims of this shameful episode, as you continue to wrestle with all the implications of it. Thank you for your best wishes for the future.
David
andrew said…
Victor, a website that you might felt helpful is the Wartberg Watch which can be found at http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/06/24/the-faith-of-an-abuser-and-wallop-your-woman/

They particularly challenge churches and fellowships etc that abuse, whether physically or spiritually, and may also provide some insight into how the abusers can apparently be a blessing to some and a terrible curse to others. As David Campton has already stated, God always uses sinners because that is the only material he has to work with. LB could not save anyone himself but he still could say the right words and point people in the right direction. Hitler could still have given great commonsense advice to his friends and family yet at the same time commanded the most vile atrocities to have taken place. A corrupt policeman can at the same time do good by helping an old lady across the road or a prevent robbery from taking place.
LB may have pointed many people to Christ but it does not by any means mean that God was pleased with him, even though he was applauded by many Christians. Even Paul said that there were those who preached out of wrong motives and Christ said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Though Christians often gloss over such evil, the Bible certainly doesn’t as seen when Jesus declared ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.’
I know people who have been physically and spiritually abused but can only appreciate a little of their sense of abandonment and pain. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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