Things I Despise

There are things I absolutely can’t stand.

Mayonnaise, liars, and vinegar begin my list. But further down, and perhaps as I get older and more irritable, the list grows to feature things like other people’s unsolicited opinions on a regular basis.

I can’t tell  you when this first started re-appearing as a theme in my life, but it used to happen ALL the time. Then I turned mean. I cussed everyone out all the time. No one really offered their advice or their two dollar bullshit. But my pendulum started swinging back down to normal Lisa again–the one who has always been way too nice (so much so that she’s been walked on more than once). What can I say? I care. I care way too much about people who really don’t give a shit about me and I can’t seem to shake that trait. I even cry at all the dying kitties that flood my Facebook feed daily.

Lately I feel like I can’t have a conversation with anyone without hearing their unsolicited advice. “Quit your job,” “Go back to school,” “Get saved,” “Corporations are evil…you’re working for the Devil,” “I don’t think you’re ready to write this book, just stop writing it,”…the list goes on and on. It’s as if people think I’m completely incapable of handling my own life and navigating through my own decisions. The problem is, I may go to a friend to talk or vent but I rarely complain about how shitty my life is and how I just need everyone’s advice. The other problem is, my life is so “together” right now it’s not even funny so I really don’t need a bunch of opinions.

Here’s what’s really going on:

As a writer, I’m expected to write constantly–by myself and others. It’s nearly impossible to keep up the pace I need to in order to complete a book while I’m working full-time. In the past, this wasn’t always so, but with the position I currently hold it’s just not going to happen. Sure I feel a little guilty about that, but a large part of me feels relieved. A writer writes for herself first and foremost, and she needs to be careful not to be overtaken by popular opinion because that’s one of the beauties of being a creative. YOU get to decided what is art to you and what isn’t. If a writer feels like genre writing is art, then it is. However, she must then divorce herself from the literary world or be scorned forever for her “pedestrian attempt to draft a work of art” or scolded for “becoming a best seller” or making money. Ultimately I’m not sure I’m cut out for a world of criticism. This is why I never Google myself.

That isn’t to say I’m not going to complete my book, but I am going to come home from work and watch TV on weeknights instead of slave away on another draft (for now) or by building another website full of content that takes me hours to create (for free) and minutes to be devoured only to be instantly attacked in the age of instant online criticism. I’m not Superwoman as I have tried to be and all this trying really has me being on the verge of burnout if I’m not careful. I don’t like a lot of the things out there that I read and I’m certainly not going to contribute another piece to the trash pile of books. I’d rather be appreciated posthumously.

I’m also at a crossroads. Having almost finished my degree in creative writing and having surrounded myself by literary types, I find myself wanting some distance from many of them. There’s a powerful message literary writers and professors send to young writers: You SHOULD NOT write for fun or for money. In fact, you shouldn’t do anything for fun and certainly not for money. I’m becoming so fed up with poor/artsy creatives who feel they are more noble than RICH writers because they fit a certain mold. Sure the poor types win awards, but they look down their noses at anyone who makes money on their writing. THAT IS NOT ART, they scream. Damnit, shut the hell  up and let a fucking person live and have fun. Stop stifling my fucking creativity.

Maybe I’m turning Republican again. I don’t know. (That’s a joke–lest I start getting bullied by liberals angry at me for SUGGESTING I’m a turncoat.) Maybe I’m just PMSing. Maybe the person I’m in love with doesn’t love me back. I just don’t want to necessarily participate in any specific group right now. I want friends without expectations to always say the right thing or have the right opinion or to offer them advice. Why do I have to constantly fit into a mold? Why does changing my mind on something or having a different opinion make me feel like I’m bucking everyone’s system? Jesus fucking Christ. Leave me alone people and just take me to coffee.

I know I should be blogging daily, but let’s be honest. If I were to rely on the money I make from blogging to support myself, I would literally be a hobo. Or a hobo’s dog. Or the dog food the hobo’s dog eats. And because I founded my blog on a very snarky persona, which was very fun, it’s hard to keep up with that persona anymore. It’s also really fucking hard to know that people read this and email me on a regular basis all of their bullshit opinions.

For the past three months I have fantasized of deleting my blog, deleting my social media accounts and packing up to head back to 2000 before I gave a fuck about checking-in or sharing articles or debating religion and politics in cyberspace. Back to when I used to  actually meet up with people face-to-face and discuss ideas for extended periods of time or go dancing or drink the night away. Back when people wrote things of quality rather than pushing something out just to get it to post before someone else did. Before HuffPo got destroyed and all news sources lost their credibility in an attempt to be “relevant.” (Yeah, I’m turning Republican–I’m reminiscing about the “good ol’ days.” ha!) It’s so tempting to just leave cyberspace, yet one of the reasons I don’t is because there are still abusive religious youth programs out there torturing kids and I’d like to keep a presence on Google so those who leave know they aren’t alone. And you know, blogging was a really beautiful thing for me for awhile–probably until I met DiGa Vision Production company who wanted to turn my blog and my investigative journalism into a freak show (aka reality TV show). I kind of lost all desire to go public with my life after that and their 20 page contract of signing my life away and my desire has diminished more and more. I didn’t want fame badly enough…I wanted stability in my life. I also am sick of everyone wanting a piece of my life story. And I mean EVERYONE. It’s a tragic story, one that I grapple with making sense of still, and one that I certainly don’t want exploited.

I went to college with a bunch of English majors and writers. Along the way, I’ve met more writers. It seems like every writer has an opinion of what I should do with my life or my book or my career, all the while forcing their ideologies on me, and I don’t like a single one of their opinions. I wish there was a polite way to tell colleagues to shove it–I just haven’t figured that one out yet.

I really don’t want to talk too much shit about people who may read what I write here, but I’ve been very discouraged in the past few months. (I knew I wouldn’t make it through this blog without crying…here comes the water works.) I have worked and worked and worked on a memoir that needs to be published to what feels like no avail. I have written several hundred pages, edited, read other memoirs, talked with other writers. I’ve met with editors who were flakes, or trying to pull the wool over my eyes by trying to charge me way too much money to complete my book proposal. I’ve met with people who just want to serve their own vision via my talent. But I’ve met very few who really truly see what’s going on–that the trauma I’m revisiting by writing this book is really breaking me down (some of you DO understand that and you know who you are. Thank you.).

So for that reason, I’m so relieved that I am forced, via my busy day job, to pause on writing altogether. I’ve worked or thought about my book and blog non-stop for two years. I don’t know if this is good-bye–I certainly didn’t intend to say good-bye to it tonight when sitting down to write this but maybe that’s what I needed to get off my chest. I need to say this so I don’t internalize the pressure I feel from others (but mostly myself).

I really don’t know what I want from a lot of things in life–I don’t know if I want an MFA like I once thought I did. I’m not sure if I want an advanced degree in anything else right now. What I DO know I want from life, and have wanted for a few years, is a permanent residence and a family. It’s simple and it’s the kind of thing that my 20 year old self would have been shocked to hear me say, but it’s true. I’m happy with my current place in life–working toward paying off my college student debt so I can buy a house. I’m sick of spinning my wheels and investing energy in trying to change people’s minds about really horrific religious experiences when the fact is, I just don’t care about changing their minds. I care about helping people who reach out to me for friendship after leaving horrible programs. Those other people can go fuck themselves. I’m not trying to build a platform, or get a TV show or anything else. I’m not giving up, but I’m going to spend some time getting this pressure for perfection and success off my back so I can just LIVE a little bit. It’s hard out there for a pimp.

Mercy Ministries New Public Relations Thrust

I’ve also been following Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries for months, but particularly in the last few weeks because my “Dr. Watson” has been following some censorship that Mercy is deliberately doing. That, coupled with the trends I’ve noticed on my Google alerts, leads me to believe they’ve launched a new public relations thrust.

Another Sunday morning has arrived. I find myself in the habit of reading about fundamentalism on Sunday’s. Perhaps it’s because in a former life I was a fundamentalist, and now I’m obsessed with the trends, history, and rise of Christian nationalism. I’ve also been following Nancy Alcorn and Mercy Ministries for months, but particularly in the last few weeks because my “Dr. Watson” has been following some censorship that Mercy is deliberately doing. That, coupled with the trends I’ve noticed on my Google alerts, leads me to believe they’ve launched a  new public relations thrust.

Here are the new PR developments from Mercy Ministries in recent weeks/months:

I always give a cursory glance to my Google alerts on related topics, so I thought I noticed that Mercy Ministries has been posting their press releases on multiple Mercy Ministries/Nancy Alcorn websites which didn’t exist as independent websites before. As it turns out, they have already owned the following domain names since 2008 but only in 2012 have they created distinct websites out of them and added new content. It looks like up until recently, all of Nancy Alcorn blog postings were based on the nancyalcorn.blogspot.com website and these individual domain names below were redirected to nancyalcorn.blogspot.com (Nancy’s blog), which means none of these domain names would show up prominently on Google’s front page listing for Nancy Alcorn. Now her blog has been permanently moved to nancyalcorn.com. But in 2010 and 2011, all the following sites went to the blogspot account above as indicated below:

Now click on any of them below. They look like separate websites and none of them redirect to a single site.

nancyalcorn.com

nancyalcorn.net

nancyalcorn.org

nancyalcorn.me

nancyalcorn.us

That’s all I’ve found for now, but I’m not going to scour the web past the 2nd page of Google because we all know that’s where the vampires hide (page 3 and beyond). But I did want to point out to you that Nancy Alcorn has four new websites. For those of you who aren’t web savvy, it’s just a way for Nancy’s version of her history (minus the scandal) to remain at the top of Google searches for Nancy Alcorn instead of finding Mercy Survivors stories or The Truth about Mercy or the dozens of articles from Australia, the Nashville Scene and Lincoln Messenger.

And then, there’s the new url: http://mmoa.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/MercyTalk_Homepage.html. How do I know it’s new? Well, here’s a good indicator plus the science of deduction (Sorry, I’m recently obsessed with BBC’s Sherlock.):

For any survivors reading, take a closer look at the “mmoa” part. Of course, we all know what this means and if not, here’s a bit of history: it’s code for Mercy Ministries (the entity which is legally liable for the Australia scandals and the Lincoln, CA home controversy) trying to distance themselves from the controversies in 2008 and early 2012–something we won’t let them live down and will relentlessly document. Sorry, MM. You can attempt to erase history, but the internet is forever. Not to mention, screen shots are GREAT backup. Are you that uninformed and out of touch? We may not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing, but we know our shit.

Apparently, Mercy Ministries wishes to call their homes “affiliates” now, which would possibly absolve Nancy Alcorn of any ties to the scandals that will inevitably come out of the homes although it cannot erase her contributions to the past since that’s been documented with the government in Australia.

Here is a link from the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) indicating that Mercy Ministries was involved:

Undertakings remedy Mercy Ministries misleading conduct (Excerpt: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has obtained court enforceable undertakings, which includes payment, from seven former directors of Mercy Ministries Incorporated and/or Mercy Ministries Limited in relation to misrepresentations by those entities. The undertakings include an apology and a voluntary payment of $1050 to those people affected by the conduct. These are made by former directors Mark Zschech, Peter Irvine, Mark Caldwell, Stephen Crouch, Young Pil (Phil) Sohn, Darlene Zschech and Clark Pearson.)

In 2009, Mercy Ministries International, Inc. mentions the Australia homes in their IRS Form 990 here whereby they show that they assisted them with operating costs in 2008 and that Mercy Ministries, Ltd was set up as a holding company (which limits the liability of the Mercy Ministries “brand”) to support the dwindling down of the operations of the Australia home:

 

The entire Form 990 is here but a snapshot of the first page indicates that Nancy Alcorn is president.

 

So, while it may be true that Nancy did not live in Australia running this particular home, many former residents said Nancy played a large role in the Australia homes–as much as she does in the U.S. homes. What Nancy doesn’t realize is that when her leadership and teachings and books are the core of the home and the brand, she’s inherently tied to them no matter what sort of subsidiaries she sets up. She founded the homes. She visits the homes. Her books are the core…it’s a small level of legal protection which may work in her favor in the future. I’m sure she was advised to do this and continue to distance herself from the Hillsong debacle, even though we have documented evidence that Hillsong dropped Mercy/Nancy first.

Check out the new Wikipedia entry that mentions MMOA (Mercy Ministries of America), the affiliates and the brand, which is not entirely new language but language that has only been recently adopted for public use:

Mercy Ministries marketing department has been very busy from the above influx of new Nancy Alcorn websites, their newly established terminology of “affiliates” and Mercy Ministries of America and the press release op-ed written by executive director Christy Singleton that the Tennessean published. Oh and did I mention the above Wikipedia entry was edited BY someone Mercy Ministries hired called DownRightMighty? Mercy Survivors will be publishing a comprehensive breakdown soon but I’m terrible at keeping surprises quiet so I just had to share the above along with what the Wikipedia moderator said of DownRightMighty’s promotional edits (that included promoting MMOA, “affiliates”, and erased much of the mention of the scandal/controversy):

 

And the Mercy Ministries user was banned:

 

Let’s remember what the goal of public relations is: “The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions.” (Wiki) Mercy Ministries public relations is on overdrive right now trying to work hard on erasing the damage that was done earlier in the year. Sure, we’ve been quiet, but we haven’t forgotten.

 

UPDATE: Mercy Survivors has detailed the history of censorship from Mercy Ministries of anyone who is critical of the ministry. Read more here.

A Defining Election for Women, Or Why I Voted Democrat

I voted for Obama-Biden

Up until four years ago, I was a registered Republican. During the last presidential election, things changed and during this election I had no doubt in my mind that being a Democrat was important to me. I admit, I was a little intimidated to ‘come out’ as liberal to a Republican family. I’d become more outspoken about politics, especially on social issues like gay marriage and contraceptives access (and women’s sexual freedom), which was the deciding factor for my support for Obama then and has continued to draw me to him. No other candidate has shown they care for women’s rights or gay rights like Obama has. Sure, I was really openly cheering for Hillary Clinton way back when she was running. She’s a (well-qualified) woman. She’s smart and she works hard. She fucking kicks ass. She also was recently in the news for talking about not being paralyzed in life by unhappiness with your own choices. It’s up for debate whether Clinton meant these comments in response to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in The Atlantic, Why Women Still Can’t Have it All (a piece I didn’t entirely agree with, but to some degree I find myself concerned whether my professional life will suffer when I try to balance raising children), but many people construed them as such.

Says Clinton,

“I can’t stand whining,” Clinton said. “I can’t stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they’re not happy with the choices they’ve made. You live in a time when there are endless choices. … Money certainly helps, and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don’t even have to have money for it. But you have to work on yourself. … Do something!”

“Some women are not comfortable working at the pace and intensity you have to work at in these jobs. … Other women don’t break a sweat,” she said. “They have four or five, six kids. They’re highly organized, they have very supportive networks.”

I’m absolutely sympathetic to moms–whether they are stay-at-home or working moms. I don’t see a need for a mommy war over whether one woman is a better mother or not. I’d like to think that women are individuals and as such, can choose whether they want to pursue a career or, in many cases, women choose to stay home with their children because it saves their family money. These stay-at-home moms often sacrifice their dreams for their children and husbands. Either way, motherhood is a challenge.

There are women like me who are not mothers, though, and even then, balancing work-life-school-career-passion is difficult. I’m in a position where writing and blogging is becoming increasingly more difficult because I work in a fast paced career which drains me during the week. I like to come home and unwind and my creative energy is zapped. I feel so guilty that I don’t have time to respond to emails or to work on edits, and to be honest I definitely don’t feel as creative as I did several months ago. I hope this is a phase but in some careers you have to work hard and improve your skills constantly in order to move within the company–or in many cases, to stay within the company. It’s highly competitive.

I’m grateful to have a job. Just a year ago today, I had been unemployed for about three and a half months. It was mid-October and November when I lost all hope for my situation improving. Despite my education and my smart approach to my job search, I wasn’t having any luck.

According to Google, the unemployment rate in September was 7.8% and has been declining in the past few years.

Snapshot from www.google.com/publicdata

It makes sense, as I’ve started seeing companies bounce back in recent months. So, despite some claims that Obama doesn’t know anything about the economy and hasn’t ‘created jobs’ I’d say that that’s just political rhetoric. Things are looking good.

My main concern in this election, though, was women’s rights. It seemed that contraceptives were being demonized in epic proportions and unmarried women who have sex were about to be in for a rude awakening if Republicans had their way. Every other week it seemed Republicans were bringing fundamentalist Jesus into politics and declaring a holy war on anything a woman wanted to do with her reproductive organs–but especially if women wanted to postpone pregnancy or (shock!) NOT have children. I got so concerned that I even started writing political blogs about it all here and here. When someone like Rick Santorum started making headway, I couldn’t help but get very involved. He reminded me so much of pastors I’d once worked for and I definitely didn’t want someone that extreme being in the White House. Politics began to matter to me much more during this election. Religious ‘freedom’ versus reproductive freedom began battling it out, and as a woman I had no choice but to side with the Democrats. Although I see Mitt Romney as a bit more moderate than someone like Santorum, he’s stated that he’ll defund Planned Parenthood. WHO DOES THAT?! The only people who are interested in defunding Planned Parenthood are extremists who are blinded by their bias to the point that they become radically enslaved to their pseudo-facts. In 2006, as a student, Planned Parenthood was somewhere I could visit to get yearly exams. During the next few years, when I was uninsured, I went back for my checkups. I don’t feel the need to disclose my private health issues or concerns and what really angers me is that the Republican extremists have made it so that women have to defend their doctors (in my case, Planned Parenthood physicians) and plea our case by appealing to voters using our personal health issues as credibility. It’s none of anyone’s business what goes on in my vagina and I shouldn’t have to say, “Oh, they saved me from having cancer,” just so someone doesn’t defund them. This vagina obsession has gotten out of control. For those voters, like many people I’m related to, who think women who visit Planned Parenthood are ‘immoral’ and no one should ‘have to pay for their slutty ways’, I am bewildered how narrow-minded you are. When you say those things you are defining your feelings about a woman like ME. Women like me use contraceptives. Women like me have sex for pleasure. Women like me are sometimes uninsured. Women like me are educated and hard workers. We don’t ask for ‘hand-outs’ but we sometimes need a helping hand. But even if we DID need a ‘hand-out’, what’s so wrong with helping a fellow citizen, regardless of their race, social class, financial standing, education status, sexual activity or….GENDER?

I hope you’ll vote on election day, November 6th and I hope you’ll stand with me to defend women’s rights and keep women in the 21st century. Don’t send us back to the ’50’s. Vote OBAMA-BIDEN.

My Promise to You

Some emails I get are quite predictable:

“You’re bitter.”

you bitter hoes can't stop me

 

“Get over it.”

 

“Move on with your life.”

“When are you going to be satisfied?”

This last question is one I can finally answer. I’ll be satisfied when enrollment is so low in Summit School of Leadership and Master’s Commission and Mercy Ministries…and all the other groups I write about…that they are forced to shut down. That’s the simple answer.

You can question me all you want. You can think nasty things about me. But I can guarantee you one thing: I won’t stop until I’ve accomplished this, so you can sit back and watch the fireworks and enjoy the ride or you can get your panties in a bundle and hate me.

My Old Master’s Commission Gets a New Name

Since the beginning of this blog, in an attempt to ‘clean up’ their reputation, MCID has gone through a myriad of changes-but it looks like they think the dust has settled enough to introduce the new ‘image’ and name.

They’ve called it Summit School of Leadership and the description is the same as it always was. Looks like nothing has changed.

It’s no surprise to anyone whose been in a cult before that the leadership changes and names change anytime a controversy is stirred up. When I started blogging, my old group was still called MCID, or Master’s Commission Industries. We were a ministry out of Our Savior’s Church in Broussard, LA. After the blog gained popularity, the old director, Nathan* was fired and a new director Greg* was put in charge. Greg* had been mentored by Nathan* and Tim*, so the teachings and spirit of it all stayed the same.

When Lloyd Zeigler kicked MCID out of the MC International Network, the students were told that MCID left MCIN intentionally. Riiight. Unfortunately, those kids knew no difference and were loyal to their leaders. Some even argued with me via email/FB/text that I was wrong. I remember being in their shoes–innocent and naive, believing my leaders cared about me and were trustworthy and honorable. When I questioned the kids about the current schedule and activities, not a damn thing had changed. I believe they changed the group names but the core of the program stayed the same. MCID then changed their name, as if I would never find out. Oh my! You’re so sneaky. I’ll never find you.

Since the beginning of this blog, in an attempt to ‘clean up’ their reputation, MCID has gone through a myriad of changes-but it looks like they think the dust has settled enough to introduce the new ‘image’ and name.

They’ve called it Summit School of Leadership and the description is the same as it always was. Looks like nothing has changed.