Forgiveness

A few months ago, someone shared with me that my blog was missing a section. He shared that some people might find it helpful to see how I’d recovered from this group. What spiritual journey had I taken? he asked. How had I dealt with depression? How had I forgiven? He said you guys would want to know.

I didn’t want to push any of my personal beliefs onto anyone or “preach,” so I haven’t written about this until now. I realize that sharing my own journey doesn’t mean I’m pushing my beliefs onto you, nor does it mean I want you to agree with me. In fact, sharing my journey is perhaps the most vulnerable thing I could do. I don’t trust all my readers. Some, inevitably, are out to get me. Others of you are deeply wounded, like I am and have been for years. We need to stand together and know that we can get through this together. I need this to be a safe place, and so do you.

I’d like to share with you some valuable lessons I’ve learned, from my heart, and some resources that have helped me. Perhaps they’ll offer you some guidance, like they have to me. Perhaps it will just be nice to see that we’re all getting “there,” wherever that may be.

I share a bit of my journey that began in a Religious Studies class here: http://www.mycultlife.com/?p=332. What I learned over the next few years from my professor, Dr. Campagna-Pinto, was to become invaluable to me.

In Dr. CP’s classes, there were such meaningful convicting lessons, such as: “To create change you can’t have hatred in your heart. You have to re-humanize the people who torture you.”

We read A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Woman Confronts the Legacy of Apartheid by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela. I studied the chapter, I Have No Hatred in My Heart, and learned such truths as “When the perpetrator begins to show remorse, to seek some way to ask forgiveness, the victim becomes the gatekeeper to what the outcast desires—readmission into the human community.” (Gobodo-Madikizela, 117)

What I’d become was an outcast to Master’s Commission and to Our Savior’s Church. They no longer accepted me, as most cults no longer accept outsiders, because I chose to leave their “authority” and “promised land.”

My perpetrator never showed remorse. I had to live with that.

It was a difficult thing for me to face. My perpetrator never showed remorse. Nor did he ever plan to. In fact, his own son said that he looked at people like me as less than nothing.

Although he had never shown remorse, my perpetrator had committed crimes against humanity. Crimes of abuse. Crimes of manipulation for power and reputation. Several years of anger and grieving took me to the place where I’m beginning to feel sorry for my perpetrator. And I’m very thankful I’m not him.

At the same time I studied the South African Apartheid, I learned that there are different ways to think about forgiveness. I read The Sunflower: On the Possiblities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal. Simon tells the story of a dying Nazi soldier asking him forgiveness for his crimes against Jews. The dying soldier even told the horrific story of shoving Jews into a building and setting it on fire. His orders were to shoot anyone who tried to jump from the building. He shot.

After studying the Holocaust, and the amount of death and atrocity that Jewish people went through, I learned that forgiveness is a complex thing. Like Simon discusses in his book, there’s much more to forgiveness than a simplistic, “You’re forgiven.”

Through my studies, and through the years, I have come to believe that there’s a striking flaw in Christianity when it comes to forgiveness. Forgiveness in Christianity is simple: Jesus died on the cross to forgive you and I of our sins. Therefore, when you and I sin, we can “wash away our sins by the blood of Jesus.”

Right?

No. People need to be held accountable. They need to be responsible for their actions.

Thus the flaw in the Christian belief of forgiveness. When something devastating happens to a person, or a group of people, can you expect them to just “wash it away?” No. There are stages of grief that are normal and natural. I learned that Judaism takes seriously the act of forgiveness. During Yom Kippur they pray and fast, asking for forgiveness.

I began to respect Judaism for what I interpreted as a more realistic answer to the “forgiveness problem.” I knew that I had been wronged deeply. Not as deeply or as terribly as the Jews in Germany during the Holocaust, but I’d been wronged nonetheless.

I began to realize that I also felt forgiveness was a complex, serious matter and it was okay if I didn’t instantly grant forgiveness to someone.

In fact, it was more than okay.

It was perhaps responsible.

Red Flags and Warning Signs

what are the warning signs of a controlling group or a manipulative pastor (or discipler) according to your experiences?

Hello readers! I’m in the process of compiling a list of specific red flags and warning signs about OUR experiences in a destructive discipleship program and/or a church that teaches unbiblical doctrine. Most specifically, what are the warning signs of a controlling group or a manipulative pastor (or discipler) according to your experiences?

For example, some Master’s Commission’s applications to enter as a student ask very specific questions about a person’s sexual life (i.e., Do you masturbate? Have you ever had an abortion? Have you had a bisexual experience? Do you use pornography and when was the last time you did?). Other groups take students into a room for a meeting and forbid them to have sexual thoughts, to masturbate, or look at pornography. Other groups tell men and women what to wear, and make women change their clothing or burn it if it’s too tight fitting or revealing. Group and individual confessionals are frequently required.

These are ALL red flags of a controlling group.

in retrospect, what are some warning signs YOU may have seen BEFORE joining a group like this or a church like this?

After your experiences in a church or group like this, what warning signs and red flags can you IDENTIFY now?

Master’s Commission International Network Using Unaccredited College

According to the MCIN (Master’s Commission International Network, www.mcin.org), they’re partnering up with West Coast Bible College and Seminary:

“Master’s Commission International Network recently signed an articulation agreement with West Coast Bible College & Seminary to partner together in the training of ministers worldwide!!! Its been a few years in the making but it is finally done. Can you imagine that while attending any Master’s Commission in the world, students will be able to complete a bachelors degree…….. well now its possible and for only $1,250 per person (plus application fee & books).
However, closer inspection shows that West Coast Bible College and Seminary is not accredited through a typical accrediting program. The Transworld Accrediting Commission is NOT affiliated with the Department of Education in the United States. This information is taken from their website (http://www.westcoastbible.org/accreditation,%20Affiliations,%20and%20Credibility.html):

Transworld Accrediting Commission is in discussions with the U.S. Department of Education regarding becoming a governmentally recognized accrediting agency with a specific focus on theological schools.

What does this mean for students of Master’s Commission? They can spend money on a degree that is not recognizable in the United States to the Department of Education. When they attempt to get their Master’s Degree, they won’t be able to do so without retaking their courses for their Bachelor’s Degree.

Wonder what courses at West Coast Bible College and Seminary are like? They’re not like a typical college class! Take a look: http://www.westcoastbible.org/academics.html

At WCBCS, we are committed to providing our students with the best in academic quality, while focusing on the key principles that will be most used in their chosen field.  Students are required to complete any classes started within a six month time frame.  If a class is not completed in the given time frame, the student will receive an “I” on their transcript.  A student will not be allowed to graduate with an “I” or “F” on their transcript.

Modules – Student requirements for every level include:

1) Read one textbook and write down one personal key truth learned from each chapter and how you can implement it in ministry (our belief is that if everyone can learn one practical truth that will stay with them for life, then the reading exercise has been successful) (Read and write down a personal key truth??? This isn’t college coursework! Not even Bible College coursework. This is less qualified to be “Academic” than homeschooling from a DVD)

2) Listen to two 30-45 lectures or watch an online video and fill in the blanks of the lecture notes.

3) Complete an open book exam – (the student can complete the open book exam with reading – each exam will consist of 20 to 25 questions – however, students MAY NOT collaborate with other students to complete this exercise)

4) Find magazines articles or internet articles discussing the subject and write a summary of each article. (each article must be properly identified with the title, author, and web link noted) (Wow…really? This isn’t college level coursework!)

5) Write a final paper discussing how the subject matter is relevant to your personal ministry and what you will implement.

Students are required to purchase a 2 inch notebook to keep all assignments organized.

This Tract Will Save Your Soul

Back in the days of Master’s Commission of Austin, we used to pass out these tracts by Chick Publications. You know the ones–they’re plainly designed cartoon tracts.

We had this big production called Hells Alternative, where I played this girl who chose a life without God and I entered Hell after the rapture. My friends Sean and Jeremy played two demons who dragged me to hell and tortured me, while my friend Brent played Satan. Satan captured my soul and I screamed bloody murder, “Hell is real…Hell is real…” as I was sucked into Hell’s gates.

At the end of this production, we’d scared a few dozen people into accepting Christ, and we’d often pass out these tracts or have something like this available. When we ministered on the streets of Austin, we had a pack of these tracts available to share with people.

Tonight, I stumbled upon this website for Active Hate Groups in the United States. Many of them are Neo-Nazi groups, others are like the Westboro Baptist Church. I wandered through some of the names to see if any of the ministries I knew or had worked with would be on the list. Oddly enough, Chick Publications (the makers of Chick Tracts), is registered as a General Hate group.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center: “These groups espouse a variety of rather unique hateful doctrines and beliefs…This list includes a “Jewish” group that is rabidly anti-Arab, a “Christian” group that is anti-Catholic and a polygamous “Mormon” breakaway sect that is racist. Many of the groups are vendors that sell a miscellany of hate materials from several different sectors of the white supremacist movement.”

More information can be found here.

The Unpaid Master’s Commission Intern, Legal or Not?

Are Unpaid Master’s Commission Internships Legal or

Not? OR: How to Out Your Pastor for Not

Paying YOU!

A Little Pebble Can Make a Lot of Waves

I just read this in a fishing magazine of all places. My dad and mom love Alaska, so we have a lot of outdoor adventure magazines around the house.

What’s odd is that I always knew I’d wanted to make a difference in the world somehow, but I never thought my blog might make a big difference. What’s unique about this blog is that it’s the only place that I know of that openly speaks about the spiritual abuse people have faced in Master’s Commission.

When I was in Master’s Commission, people would come up to me and say, “You’re a great woman of God,” or “You’re going to change the world,” or “You’re going to be a voice for the voiceless.”

I honestly think that a lot of what people said was sweet, but just very generic and sometimes very hokey (you know the type of old women who come up and wave flags over your head and speak in tongues like they’re on drugs? yeah, that’s hokey to me). But, what is so ironic to me is the fact that my little pebble-self has made some big waves since July, 2010.

Waves Were Made

Not even five months have gone by and I’ve been contacted by Lloyd Zeigler, co-founder of the Master’s Commission International Network (MCIN) and director of my former Master’s Commission group in Phoenix (now Master’s Commission USA in Dallas, Texas). We discussed some very heavy issues for months and I prodded him to take action over a letter documenting spiritual abuse and slavery-like treatment of staff members. He did take action and the group I was part of, Master’s Commission Industries (now Elevate 3D–who operate in Pods out of Our Savior’s Churches in Louisiana), lost it’s affiliation from the MCIN because of the contacts I made with over twenty former students and staff members, and the encouragement I gave them to write to Lloyd Zeigler. They did.

The MCIN Agrees With Unpaid Internships

Lloyd and I disagreed and ended up parting ways over a variety of issues I continued to try to bring into dialogue. I found out we didn’t agree on a great many points and I was not going to stop until things were better for future students and staff members.

Now, I’m on my own and no one is here to advocate except for me. Lloyd argued with me when I told him that seven year long staff members can’t be treated as interns.

It’s unethical and illegal, even if they’re willing to stay!

I shared with him a New York Times article about how the Department of Labor has been cracking down (for several months now) on business who have interns. Trust me, they’ll catch up to Master’s Commission soon enough–even if it’s through my personal contact to them (which I have).

Lloyd Zeigler stated his case: He’s known doctors who interned for a year and weren’t paid. He knew a zoologist who interned unpaid for a year. It was ethical to him, because Master’s Commission was giving value to the students who interned (for more than a year…even for fifteen years).

I explained to him that there was a huge difference. A doctor goes into the field knowing that he will spend several years studying very demanding biology courses, and then will take a difficult MCAT exam and will spend some time training in the field so that he can make a six figure income (or more).

Additionally, I know teachers who have earned their teaching credential by spending one or two years (depending on the school they attend) taking credentialing courses and student teaching. Student teaching is unpaid, but you’re warned about it early on. You’re also qualified to teach after the student teaching, and can earn a great salary, benefits and three months off in the summer. Not a bad deal.

“Interning” in Master’s Commission is not at all like becoming a doctor or a teacher. If a Master’s Commission student or staff goes into ministry, they rarely become a senior pastor. Most, if not all, become a youth pastor and/or a Master’s Commission director. These youth pastor jobs aren’t always high paid, and Master’s Commission directors do have the luxury of getting compensated financially out of their MC budget.

Why Master’s Commission Staff Members Don’t File Complaints

Why don’t Master’s Commission staff members file complaints, speak up, or report their unpaid “internships?” In my case, I had a very difficult time finding out WHO was the proper person to report this violation to. I spent time as a staff member unpaid, and other years was severely underpaid at $50-$150 a month.

The New York Times reports that, “…It is unusually hard to mount a major enforcement effort because interns are often afraid to file complaints. Many fear they will become known as troublemakers in their chosen field, endangering their chances with a potential future employer.”

I know this to be true. Many of my peers who served as staff members in my own Master’s Commission, or close-by groups in Texas complained to me about not getting paid or getting severely underpaid. However, none of them wanted to be the whistle-blower.

For good reason.

Master’s Commission carries with it a “don’t criticize” and “don’t question the authority” unwritten rule. If you do speak up about something you’re unhappy about, you’re often accused of being “ungrateful” or your spiritual life is called into question.

No “intern” or staff member would want to speak up and risk the chances of being labeled a troublemaker or endangering their chances of networking with a pastor who knows of Master’s Commission and respects the group. If your ultimate goal was to be a pastor, you wouldn’t want to speak up either.

Where To File a Complaint

The other question is where do you speak up, if you want to?

I considered several places. The “Christian” thing to do, in my mind then, was to talk to the pastors themselves. The ones I had an issue with. So, I did. That went nowhere, which left me a bit helpless.

Where else was one to go?

I went to Lloyd Zeigler, and let him know that these things were happening, and he should address them. Turns out, it took a few years for anything to change, and even then, not much has changed within the Master’s Commission International Network and their treatment of staff. I learned during those months that Lloyd didn’t even pay his staff members a fair wage (severely less than minimum wage).

I also learned that the position a Master’s Commission staff member is in it is less likely to draw attention from the Department of Labor if laws are violated because the way the groups are set up. Often, the groups aren’t set up as ministries within the church, but sort of under an umbrella. Not to mention, churches often aren’t scrutinized by the government, since they non-profit groups. They typically have to be reported to the government, by the intern his or herself.

Seek out an Employment Lawyer–Immediately

Another option that would resolve issues is for the staff member to contact an employment lawyer in the state that he or she served in Master’s Commission. If the offense happened in Texas, then you must contact a Texas lawyer who handles Employment Law.

What is the offense? If you were a staff member in Master’s Commission, or on any church staff, and were unpaid or underpaid, you have the right to file a suit against that group for back wages. You can search online for wage comparisons for the type of work you did and find the minimum wages that you should have been paid. Any job worked should have been paid minimum wage, at the very least, but jobs such as Administration have a minimum yearly salary that is required to be paid (even by churches). To ensure winning your case, you should speak to a lawyer within two years of leaving your Master’s Commission group, or church. Some lawyers will attempt the case after three years, and there are some cases where a lawyer may take your case due to the cult-like behavior of a group like Master’s Commission. In this case, a lawyer will file against the Master’s Commission group up to several years after you’ve left, especially if you can prove that you required medical attention or therapy after your years within the group.

Another place to contact is the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU. In order to receive legal representation, you must find a local affiliate. You can do so here: http://www.aclu.org/affiliates.  I’ve reported my case to my local affiliate.

Find an Investigative Reporter

When Ted Haggard was outed for his sex scandal, Mike Jones (the callboy) turned to a news reporter, Paula Woodward, an investigative reporter at KUSA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Denver, Colorado. A news reporter, especially a local investigative journalist may be able to begin work on the story. (For more information, click here: http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/how_pastor_ted_got_outed.php)

I’ve contacted several investigative reporters, and have been emailing one in Lafayette, Louisiana.

I’ve also contacted Oprah, 60 minutes, CNN, Gloria Allred, and several lawyers in Texas and Louisiana.

Every local news station or news paper has an investigative reporter. You can google to find the official newsite and then look at their reporter’s profiles to find their email address. Most journalists respond to emails sent to them.

In addition, places like CNN, FOX News, or MSNBC are very interested in hearing these type of stories. They always have a contact page on their official website, with instructions to follow. You typically have to prepare a press release write-up, which can be a lot of effort, but you can always find sources online that can help you prepare a press release with your story. Include facts, such as how much you were paid (or not paid), how many hours you worked, what types of labor you did, and any other information that you think would be relevant to a media story.

How to Report to the Internal Revenue Service

Additionally, you can report financial indiscretions (such as political contributions, which are illegal or being underpaid as a church employee) to the IRS. On the IRS website, it talks about reporting a church to the IRS:

The IRS may only initiate a church tax inquiry if the Director, Exempt Organizations Examinations, reasonably believes, based on a written statement of the facts and circumstances, that the organization: (a) may not qualify for the exemption; or (b) may not be paying tax on unrelated business or other taxable activity. This reasonable belief must be based on facts and circumstances recorded in writing.

The IRS can obtain the information supporting a reasonable belief from many sources, including but not limited to:

  • Newspaper or magazine articles or ads,
  • Television and radio reports,
  • Internet web pages,
  • Voters guides created and/or distributed by the church,
  • Documents on file with the IRS (e.g. a Form 990-T filed by the church), and
  • Records concerning the church in the possession of third parties or informants.

The IRS must derive the facts and circumstances forming the basis for a reasonable belief from information lawfully obtained. If this information is obtained from informants, it must not be known to be unreliable.  Failure of the church to respond to repeated IRS routine requests for information is a factor in determining if there is reasonable cause for commencing a church tax inquiry.

You can find more information on the IRS auditing Churches here: http://www.irs.gov/charities/churches/article/0,,id=181365,00.html

My debut on Huffington Post’s TED Weekends

I’ve been an avid reader of Huffington Post for years now. Last week I was emailed by an editor asking me to write for their TED Weekends. The topic was cults and they were featuring Diane Benscoter’s TED talk from 2009 about visual memetics and how cults rewire the brain. It was fascinating and of course I was honored. I said yes.

Fast forward to yesterday. The article was posted and it even appeared on HuffPo’s front page.

That's me, on the front page of Huffington Post!
That’s me, on the front page of Huffington Post!
(On the middle left where it says “TED Weekends”.)

 

It was quite a surreal moment. I was at work and I kept telling my favorite people at work, “It’s on the front page! OMG! Next to the President!”

I worked hard on the article, reading, researching and rewriting. My faithful friends did a lot of reading and rereading and editing over the entire week. I can’t thank them enough.

The beauty of all of this is I’ve also received my own HuffPo blog. This means a lot to me because I work with so many survivors (not to mention I write often about women’s issues and other topics) and I’ve been working hard to build my platform so I could help them tell their stories. It’s a great opportunity.

ted weekends post

 

The entire article can be read here. Please comment and share it with your friends! It would mean so much to me to get the word out about Master’s Commission and the dangers of Christian youth programs. The article will remain up until this Friday when a new TED Weekends subject is posted. (The article will remain on the site, just not on the front page, so it’s crucial to share it this week.)

Where Do I Stand? by Aaron Gates

 

Where do I stand?

A Guest Post by Aaron Gates 

After leaving a church group that I had been “professionally” affiliated with for five years I had a lot of questions to ask myself. I had to ask myself where to go to church; who my real friends were. Everyone I associated with on a regular basis I went to church with. When the dam finally broke I was engaged and about to start pre-marital counseling with the pastor. I was living with a family from the church. Two of the teenagers I worked closely with in the youth group lived in that house. It was a Thursday afternoon when I had finished up my extremely heated conversation with my pastor by telling him I was going to find somewhere else to go to church. When I got home I told the guys that I had a disagreement with Pastor S. and would not be going to church with them any more. When their Grandmother got home a little later I gave her the same vague description of why I was leaving. She said something very interesting to me. She said, and I quote, “You know what really happened is going to come out so you might as well tell me.” She was right and I knew it. So I responded, “You’re probably right but you aren’t going to hear it from me.” I promised myself I would not bad mouth the pastor to any of the church members or anyone affiliated with the church.

To this day I have not.

I have had more opportunities than I can count to tell people how badly I was treated. How violated I felt by people I trusted. I could have told the truth. I did not. Unfortunately I was not afforded the same courtesy.

The people at the church had always talked about our relationship as if we were family. So when I stopped attending that church I did not know what to expect.

Would they continue to treat me like family, or was I only family when I attended church with them?

So I was hurt when I realized that I was only a family member when I was a church member. I felt like I was mourning the death of myself; like part of who I was died, because part of me did. A huge part of my life was over, and I felt empty. I was stressed out by trying to live up to the expectations and standards that were set for me from the time I was 18. Then I felt broken and lost.

 

The conflict at the root of everything was that my relationship with God was founded on what I had been taught and told and made to experience. My relationship with God had been corralled in a direction that a pastor wanted me to go. I had a need to find out what I believed and needed to reconcile that with all that I had been taught for the past ten or so years.

I had to decide for myself where I stood.

What do I believe? That is a scary question.

I wanted to know if believing in God was even worth it. It took me a very long time to work everything out.

I wrote that like I have it all worked out. That’s funny. I don’t!

However, there are some things I know. I know that God loves me and He sent His Son to the world for that reason. I know that I chose to live for God before I went to Masters or to the church. I know that my relationship with Him is based on our mutual experience with each other. I believe that He is the way the truth and the life and no one can go to the Father except through Him. I also know that everyone has a different reaction to difficult situations and I don’t expect everyone to believe that. I know that in the church that God wants to see in the world there is room for everyone and room for different opinions and different convictions.

Some will say that there is only one way to be a Christian. I know that God made every person on earth different. Based on that, there are roughly six billion ways to have a relationship with God and it is not my place or anyone else’s to determine what that should look like for anyone. I also know that I lost sight of God because I was more concerned with what a group of people thought about me than what God thought about me. I know that I will never be in ministry in any capacity again, by choice.

But most importantly, I know God.

 

My name is Aaron Gates I live in Gulfport, MS with my wife Jenny and brand new daughter Rebecca. I have been blogging about my experience as a Christian and a new dad since August 2010. If anyone wants to contact me to talk about your experience in Master’s Commission, ministry, or anything else, I’d love to hear from you: aaron.p.gates@gmail.com.

Check out my blog.

No Years Resolutions

Welcome to 2011, my dear friends. A few years ago, I stopped making new year’s resolutions. Maybe it was in rebellion to all that I felt Master’s Commission was. In Master’s Commission, I grew to look at myself more as a project who needed work. I always felt guilty for the thoughts I had, even if they were good. I always thought I should change-be something or someone else. Rather than viewing myself as a unique person who had some great qualities, I constantly dogged on myself for the faults I saw in myself.

And New Year’s was just another time for us to focus on “changing” and “better ourselves” and “working harder” at our self-control and discipline.

So, I decided to stop all that nonsense. I also decided to stop looking at myself in a negative light, as someone who had to be changed, and to look at myself as someone who was pretty amazing, creative and individual. In order to do that, I decided to stop making New Year’s Resolutions temporarily and just practice appreciating the person I was.

I also used to spend hours on end in Master’s Commisson being “encouraged” to always improve my time management, so I could squeeze more projects into one day. We read all those business and self-improvement books that are filled with ways to finish your entire to-do list in a day. Most of the time, then, my to-do list wasn’t even stuff I wanted to get done. It was something I wasn’t getting paid to do for someone else. Now, I do things for myself, and then help others. I simplify my time. I spend a good amount of time saying no to needless responsibilities (that sometimes others are just too lazy to do) and tasks that I didn’t choose, but someone may have pushed onto me. I relax more. I realize that I’m ambitious enough throughout the day that some relaxing at night isn’t going to hurt me. And if the to-do list doesn’t get done, there’s always tomorrow, or next week. Eventually, if it’s important enough, I’ll find time for it. If not, I’m not bothered by some unimportant things not getting done.

I don’t force myself to read more, exercise more, do more, be more of something else. I just don’t mind going through a new year at the same pace as the last one, and being the same person as I was last year.

For many of us, who’ve been recovering from the teachings of Master’s Commission, it’s helpful to take a moment and strip away the guilt, the self-criticism, and stop beating ourselves up. Recognize that you’re a good person, who’s worthy of love, who is great, and has a good heart.

Lastly, I’m by no means not telling you to make a New Year’s Resolution. In fact, I’m probably going to start getting back into the “resolutions” game this year with my own new set of goals. However, I’m going to do so knowing that it’s in my best interest (and not the interest of someone else), and not because someone encouraged me to do so, but that it’ll make me happier as a person.

Magic Erasers Are the Best Cleaning Product, Or Why Elisabeth Elliot is Full of Crap

Magic Erasers are the best cleaning product out on the market today.

They’re particularly useful for the bachelor pad, the busy business minded person or for the person who hates to clean (like me).

If you’re like me, you hate to clean. You don’t mind letting the shower go for a month without a good scrub down. You may not even vacuum the floors until you can visibly see the dirt on the floor. Maybe you have a sink full of dishes that’s been sitting in there since Thanksgiving. Who cares!

With the Magic Eraser, you can wait two or three months and then give your shower a good scrub down. All the soap scum disappears…like magic! (Pun intended) Ha Ha.

I love the magic eraser. Why? You ask. Let me explain.

Years went by while I was being “discipled” (or as I affectionately call it: Slavery) that we were ordered to keep our rooms, bathrooms, and cars in meticulous care.

If our pastor walked in unannounced, he might see our dorms in moderate disarray (the kind of disarray that’s normal for a young adult).You’ve seen comments on this blog, where ex-students have shared that their personal belongings were ripped from their wardrobe closets and tossed into the middle of the dorm room floor to represent the pastor’s distaste for uncleanliness.

This was a real problem for me.

Not only is it violent, and abusive, but it’s just not my style to spend hours on end categorizing and organizing my underwear and personal filing system. I have better things to do. I like to sleep. I love to write and play online. I take long drives down in Southern California, adoring the natural beauty of our state. In other words, I don’t give a damn about cleaning for hours on end and I’m happy about that.

Furthermore, I’ve always been really relaxed when it comes to how my room or apartment looks. My idea of being organized for my writing space is dozens of books lined up along the floor, wall, counter top, and desk–some open to a page that I’m quoting or mulling over and some face down, with some random gum wrapper holding my place. I have papers spread around me like a moat around a castle–if I move, I have to tip toe around them like I’m Alice in Wonderland getting out of a maze.

If you walked into my creative work space, you’d probably think a Tasmanian devil had arrived and spun out of control.

I like it that way.

No big deal.

Except, it is a big deal when your pastor and his wife are obsessed with Elisabeth Elliot and her books. The idea that “cleanliness is next to godliness” gets it’s militaristic stance from the author of Passion and Purity, a legalistic guide to abstinence and avoiding contact and emotional ties with the opposite sex. Elliot wrote a book entitled Let Me Be a Woman, which is the text I believe the idea of being clean, robotic women-drones came from.

Why do I disagree with Elliot and the teachings our pastors put on us? Well, first let me say that if you think getting your clothing and possessions thrown on a public floor is “godly” or good in any way, you need to have your head examined, as my dad would say.

Secondly, Elliot is completely against the type of female I am. I was raised to be a woman who could do anything I wanted to do with my life. Yep, I had those parents. The ones who never said, “Oh, Lisa you’re a girl. Don’t even dream of doing that! You must just sit at home and get married and have babies.”

Elliot is completely anti-feminist and contrary to how I was raised (how I was raised is probably really normal and if nothing else–healthy).

How can Elliot be anti-feminist? It’s more common than you think, especially in Christian society. Elliot wrote the following argument against feminism and matriarchy in her book, Let Me Be a Woman.

“Do the women’s liberationists want to be liberated from being women? No, they would say, they want to be liberated from society’s stereotypes of what women are supposed to be…. Some very interesting facts have been uncovered by scientists which will feminists will have to treat very gingerly for they show that it is not merely society which determines how the sexes will behave…. The idea of matriarchy is mythical, I’ve learned, for not one that can be documented has ever existed. Doesn’t it seem strange that male dominance has been universal if it’s purely social conditioning? One would expect to see at least a few examples of societies where women rather than men held the positions of highest status…. Isn’t it really much easier to believe that the feelings of men and women throughout history bear a direct relationship to some innate prerequisite? … It was God who made us different, and He did it on purpose. Recent scientific research is illuminating, and as has happened before, corroborates ancient truth which mankind has always recognized. God created male and female, the male to call forth, to lead, initiate and rule, and the female to respond, follow, adapt, submit.”
~ Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman, pages 58-59.

Elliot’s last line in there is completely sickening: “God created male and female, the male called forth, to lead, initiate and rule, and the female to respond, follow, adapt, and submit.”

Wow. All I can say is how full of ignorance and stupidity that line is. Women are just to “respond, follow, adapt and SUBMIT?” What a load of horse sh*t.

What she really means is this: Women: Don’t use your brains, don’t take charge or be assertive, don’t buck the system (especially if that system is your husband or a male pastor), and don’t diverge from the role I’m telling you “God commands” you do have.

If I’m going against what Elisabeth Elliot taught (along with what my pastors taught), and don’t sit around cleaning my house non-stop, nor do I “submit” to a man’s plans for my life and that means I’m “ungodly” or “unsaved” then…AWESOME. I personally can’t ascribe to ignorant teaching and I personally don’t even want to be categorized as anything that those idiots teach or language that that ideology pushes. It’s language that oppresses me and other women. It attempts to push us into the home, coercing us to serve our husbands as our masters, without recognition of the human beings we are. The anti-feminist ideology fails to recognize that we can have dreams and succeed too, even if we are women. Emphasis is only placed on the males ability and desire to “dream about their future” and succeed in the business or ministry world.

My magic eraser and I are doing just fine without a load of horse sh*t teaching. Thank you very much.

Think For Yourself

The problem of complicity is a dangerous one. To be complicit, is to refuse to think for oneself. When we listen to what is taught to us without question, without examination, and without doubt, we’re prone to being complicit.

To Think Requires Courage

The problem of complicity is a dangerous one. To be complicit, is to refuse to think for oneself. When we listen to what is taught to us without question, without examination, and without doubt, we’re prone to being complicit.

Complicity is a problem that extends to many religious and political ideologies. Often in politics and religion, a mob mentality is often easier to listen to. When you’re faced with a mob of hostile onlookers, it’s easier to join them than to allow the moral dilemmas of the historical and current times press against the conscience.

Individuals become easily complacent by allowing a group to think for them, and not taking the hard road of freedom of thought and moral action. People must be greatly courageous to think for themselves, both morally and socially, because social ostracism is as prominent now as it ever was. In the history of the Holocaust, thinking for oneself meant the possibility of one’s own life being taken by the SS soldiers. Therefore, to think creates a problem for the individual and for the society. Sometimes, we may disapprove of or doubt what an entire group is thinking and in doing so, may be “attacked” by the mob.

But to go along with the mob as a “just a bystander” creates an even greater problem. Going along with the mob paves the way to some of the lowest points of humanity. The mob mentality was what caused an unthinkable horror such as the Holocaust and mass extermination of an entire culture. Although an extreme example, it’s one I can not forget. The Nazi mentality when they were tried was, “I was just following orders.” The Nazi soldiers who killed innocent men, women and children were “just doing what they were told.” In essence, they weren’t thinking for themselves. They didn’t take responsibility for their own actions.

To think for oneself is one of the most courageous acts a human being can embrace, and because the majority of the world chose to stand by silently, the world has lost millions of precious lives and, for a time, lost their courage.