Weekly Ponderings

Here are some articles and blog posts that made me think and taught me something new. Inclusion does not equal a full endorsement of everything at each link. Some parts I put in bold because they stood out to me. To read the entire article click on the link beneath each excerpt. ( The last quote and article is long but insightful for anyone interested in spotting predatory behavior and helps answer why abusers can often be found in places like church).

“If your doubts become so overwhelming that you wonder if you are losing your faith altogether, then you are in good company.

Having serious doubts about the faith that has been a (possibly the) central part of your life can be unsettling, confusing, and scary…

It’s still a widespread assumption that being a Christian is mostly about what you believe. Of course, how you choose to live is important — there are very few Christians who would deny that. But it seems to me that what matters most to the majority of Christians is believing certain doctrinal statements. If you accept these statement as fact, you are saved; not by doing good works, but by asserting the validity of a particular set of intellectual propositions

It’s fine (and necessary) to have ideas and theories and doctrines about God, provided we remember that as long as they are contained within language and can fit neatly into human brains, they are utterly inadequate. A human claiming to understand God is not dissimilar to a fruit fly landing on the tail of a Boeing 747 and claiming to understand the intricacies of aeronautical engineering.”
Faith in the Fog: Surviving as a Skeptical Christian by Emma Higgs

“Having a transgender child can be terrifying because loving my daughter without boundaries means my heart is broken over and over again by people telling me I don’t know what love is. It is terrifying to know some people think I am abusing my child for “allowing” her to believe she is a girl. It is terrifying to live in a world where people are so uncomfortable with what they don’t understand that they prefer to spit hate than ask for more information.”                                                                                                                         I Have A Transgender Child, And I Will Keep Telling Our Story Until The Hate Stops by Amber Leventry

“Someone recently asked me to come up with a list of 5 common misunderstandings I’ve noticed Americans tend to have about the Middle East, here they are:

1) It’s dangerous.  Sure, some parts are very dangerous but so much of the Middle East is much less dangerous than even the US.  If fact, a recent report ranked Jordan as less dangerous than the US – Global Peace Index 2017 So lets be careful not to discount the entire region as untravelable, when there are so many beautiful and safe places to visit in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and more!

2) People in the Middle East don’t like Americans and/or Christians.  Two places in particular that I have spent time that should reflect this, if it were significantly true, would be Palestine and Iraq.  Both places have lots of reasons to not be thrilled with someone like me, however, when I have gone and continue to go there and elsewhere in the Middle East, I am welcomed with unmatched hospitality.  I am openly American (with a couple truly unique exceptions you are very unlikely to find yourselves in) and open about my faith.   The key is not being an a$$hole about either, no one, anywhere likes it when we’re are being a$$holes 😉 …..”                                                                                   5 Common Misunderstandings About The Middle East by Rich A Rosendahl

“…there are a host of reasons why predators join organizations and if you think like a predator, it makes perfect sense. But there is something disturbing about why they would choose the clergy, or for that matter join a religious organization of any kind. It is disturbing because most of us don’t think about these things. Most people don’t think like a predator, but below are some insights that should make you think. These insights are based on conversations I and others have had with predators who intentionally sought to join religious organizations and from studying such individuals:

1.   As noted earlier, within organizations, predators have access to a ready/available pool of potential victims. Within a religious order, those potential victims are identified for the predator, who knows how often they will get together and where (Sunday worship service at 11:00 am, at the local chapel, for example). Metronomic frequency of meetings creates opportunities for the predator to exploit directly, or even at a distance, such as committing burglaries based on knowing precisely when no one is home.

2.   Some religious organizations require members to expose their faults, sins, or frailties in public. This is “manna from heaven” for predators who then use that information to better access or target their victims. Information like that serves to provide all the exploitable weaknesses a predator needs. As one predator told me, “With that kind of information I know exactly who to target and when.”

5.   Many religious organizations preach forgiveness, even for felonies. For predators this is truly a godsend. This means that if they get caught, they can ask for forgiveness and chances are it will be given, in a pious but naïve effort to help the lawbreaker “learn from his mistakes.” Unfortunately, the predator sees this as an opportunity to sharpen his skills and to do his crime again, perhaps this time more carefully

13.   Predators know or soon learn that society tends to revere and not question religious authority. People of high status such as famous coaches, TV personalities, politicians, and so on are often given great latitude to the point where allegations of misconduct, even serious criminal offenses are often ignored (Jimmy Savile in the UK; O.J. Simpson in the US).

14.   Parents may be more trusting of a religious leader than of the average person. As history has taught us, they may dismiss allegations made by their own children as to sexual abuse by a religious leader or they will remain quiescent so as to not “rock the boat.” It is very tough for parents, especially those from humble background or who are deeply religious, to go up against a popular or charismatic leader, “the church” or a large, well-financed religious order. Often, as we now well know, the fear of retribution, being ostracized or socially marginalized, or excommunicated keeps victims and parents silent. ”                                                                                                                                                   Why Predators Are Attracted to Careers in the Clergy by Joe Navarro

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