“Some people have an instinctive itch of irritation against the word ‘authority.’ Either they suppose that authority is a pompous name for mere bullying, or else, at the best, they think that mere bullying is an excess of authority. Tyranny is the opposite of authority. For authority simply means right; and nothing is authoritative except what somebody has a right to do, and therefore is right in doing. It often happens in this imperfect world that he has the right to do it and not the power to do it. But he cannot have a shred of authority if he merely has the power to do it and not the right to do it…. To abuse authority is to attack authority. A policeman is no longer a policeman when he is bribed privately to arrest an innocent man; he is a private criminal. He is not exaggerating authority; he is reducing it to nothing.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
—From the essay, “True and False Comparisons”
This essay can be found in the Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton Vol. 37, available here.
HT: Ignatius Press
“Becoming aware of little things that need attention, and doing them exceedingly well for the love of God, is daily living lifted up into the heart of Christ. It means we arise in the morning, aware that this day is given to us that we may grow in love, grace and wisdom before the Lord. It means we realize that we have one more day to spend in the school of God’s love.”
- Catherine Doherty
My friend Karen posted a link to an article that captures the results of spiritual abuse. Hostility and opposition from those who hate Christians is one level of abuse. To have those you trusted with your soul and heart and mind, those who maybe even taught you what you should believe about God, to have them turn on you and discard you is a whole different thing. It makes you unable to believe any spiritual leader who says, “believe this”, or “this is who God is.”
I often see people linking to spiritual leaders on FB who have personally treated others worse than dog dirt. I think to myself, “They don’t know. I know who these people are screeching about worldview, etc. They are thugs. They lie. They destroy others without a conscience. They blame the victims and scapegoat rather than admit their own sin. They don’t care that they have destroyed souls. They just.don’t.care.
The Sola Sisters article accurately nails the fallout from such experiences.
Quotes from survivors of spiritual abuse express more clearly the effect of the experience.
•”I cannot express the deep anger this has left me with.”
•”This place is like a huge machine that sucks people in, chews them up and spits them out again.”
•”My husband finds ‘church’ impossible and has not been a regular attendee since last summer.”
•”This experience can damage the way we see God so that we distrust him as much as we distrust our pastors.”
•”I’m very cynical. But now, you see, I see a different side to people. I don’t trust people, I don’t trust people in authority.”
The long-term effects of spiritual abuse should not be minimized. In our experience the process of an individual coming to terms with what has happened can take years and there does seem to be a process to work through to come to some acceptance. It must be noted that for many individuals this does not happen and they remain angry. Their experiences invariably raise serious questions about God and the church. Many of these individuals will never attend church again.” (From Sola Sisters: Hope For the Spiritually Abused -Read the article here.
*A friend sent me this news story this morning. Dr. Warren Throckmorton has been covering the Mark Driscoll train wreck for a long time. He reports this morning that 21 former Mars Hill Church pastors have filed formal charges against Driscoll that surprised me not at all. The documentation from 21 former pastors pretty much spells it out. How did this kind of man end up in leadership? We spotted this 10 years ago, many of us. It was self-evident that Driscoll had no business in the ministry, period. Now he has left stacks of bodies behind. It took this long? Only in American Evangelicalism.
I came across an interesting article from Canada about the health-enhancing benefits of having good friends and social interaction.
“Those surrounded by a tight-knit group of friends who regularly gather to eat—and, crucially, gossip—live an average of 15 years longer than loners. Quality face-to-face contact is essential for a social species, writes psychologist Susan Pinker, citing research that shows it fortifies immune systems, calibrates hormones and increases chances of surviving heart attacks, strokes, AIDS and cancer.
“People with the most integrated social lives—overlapping relationships among friends, family, sports and other recreational or religious pursuits—have the best prognoses,” with the most life-threatening diseases.
It’s true even with dementia: A 2004 Swedish study found its lowest prevalence among those with the most extensive social networks.” (See full article here.)
Sadly, as the article points out, knowing and interacting with those closest to us is fading due to many factors in our society. The good news is that we can do something about that. It’s never too late to get to know your neighbors and carve out time for friends. I don’t enjoy large groups of people, but love to have coffee with friends one on one. These are the best kind of social networks, the ones where there are real faces across the table. I’m spending time that way more and more these days, and I love it! The side benefit is that it really is good for my health. (That’s me and Amy Spreeman of Stand Up for the Truth Radio, a recent coffee partner.)
Will finished up his hour of playing organ this afternoon with the Widor Toccata. It was tremendous fun to watch him at work.
Today Will spent an hour and a half playing music for an audience of 2—his mother and his little sister. He had the use of a church organ at St. Jude the Apostle (thank you!), and he gave me a going away gift of hymn playing. I thought I would share one. The video is from my phone, so the quality isn’t great, but the music comes through. What a beautiful thing it was to hear these beloved hymns.
I saw a photo recently of a graduation party for a high school girl. The year was 1946. The scene was a crowded Brooklyn apartment, a third story walk-up. The small table was cluttered with dishes. Seated around the table were a mom and pop and four high school girls with huge smiles, their moment of laughter and happiness caught on film.
There were no granite counter-tops in that kitchen, no gleaming stainless steel appliances and Italian tile back splashes (as nice as those things are.) But there were loved ones and friends together, enjoying each other’s company as they marked a life milestone together. That was a very rich family in that photo. They were rich in people.
I have a sister and brother-in-law who make a point to come from over 800 miles away for our children. One or both of them have been here for nearly every important life event the kids have had. There is a sound that always signals that Mike and Kris are here. It’s the laughter that goes on—the reminiscing about school days and neighbors and all the good times that have gone by. I learn about my husband’s childhood by listening, and I enjoy hearing about all that has made him the wonderful man he is.
It’s the people who enrich our lives. The time spent together around birthday cakes and graduations, and yes, funerals and family catastrophes and loss. You cannot buy this. You can’t rent it or advertise for it. People who love you are a gift from God. Don’t ever take them for granted. They don’t have to be there in our lives. They choose to be there. That’s what makes them so special. The love we give in return could not begin to pay it all back.
Will leaves for college on the 21st. His aunt is coming up in a few days just to spend time with him before he leaves and to be there when we drop him off. If there is one message I hope all of our kids take with them in life, it is this: People matter. Value them. Cherish them. Never use them and discard them. They are a one-of-a-kind gift.
Tom and Will have been gone on a father-son weekend since Friday morning. They have gone jet skiing, parasailing, biking and kayaking. But back at this end, Emmy and I have found ourselves a little forlorn. I miss the people. They are coming home this afternoon, and (for a few days anyway) the organ will make the floors vibrate downstairs, the trumpet will sound in practice, and the dear faces will be back at our own small table. It’s the people. It isn’t the same without them.
Thank you, God, for kind and loving people in our lives. We recognize this is a gift straight from you. Amen.