Monday, June 30, 2008

Age, anger, etc.

Some of you have told me how discouraged you feel.

Me too.

Some of you have told me how angry you feel.

Me too.

When Southern Baptist leaders STILL refuse to do anything about reported clergy child molesters, it sends a message of “We don’t care.” That’s an inherently hurtful message.

It’s salt in the wounds. It’s a slap in the face. It’s a kick in the gut.

There’s no way to feel it as anything other than that, and so I’m not about to sugar-coat it and play some pretend game with you.

But I would encourage you to ponder things from a slightly different perspective, because I do believe that progress is being made.

For starters, many reporters are much savvier now than they were just a year ago. There’s a learning curve for journalists as they try to understand how Baptist structure is different and how clergy-perpetrators can hide within that structure. Many more journalists are now much further along on that learning curve. They’re beginning to see the big picture of Baptist clergy sex abuse, cover-ups, and denominational do-nothingness.

I believe that massive media pressure is what will ultimately bring about change. So with every reporter who begins to see the problem, there is reason for optimism.

Your voices help reporters as they travel their own roads of understanding.

Many of you have written letters to the editor and comments on blogs – newspaper blogs, this blog, and other blogs. All of that makes a difference. Reporters certainly look at the comments on their own news blogs, and I know for sure that some of them look at this blog. Your voices are being heard.

When reporters interview Southern Baptist officials, they sometimes put their foot in their mouth. And every time an uncaring, ignorant or revealing remark of a Southern Baptist official goes on record, it helps others to begin to see the problem. Nowadays, thanks to more media interest, Southern Baptist officials are having to talk about this stuff more often, and so there are more foot-in-the-mouth possibilities.

All we can hope to do is to try to show that the Emperor has no clothes.

Ideally, it would be nice to imagine that the Emperor would be embarrassed and would put on some clothes when his nakedness is pointed out to him.

But we can’t make him do that. We can’t control the Emperor.

All we can do is work to help as many people as possible to see the truth.

Many more people now see that, when it comes to dealing with clergy sex abuse, the illustrious SBC is an Emperor without clothes. Nothing has changed in what the SBC does. But something is changing in the eyes of others. And that’s progress.

Now… speaking about progress… I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m unintentionally progressing through this life a little too rapidly. Let me explain. I’ve noticed that, whenever a reporter asks how old I am, I almost invariably screw up the answer. I make myself older.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s an easy question. “How old are you?” Duhhhh. Somehow I can’t get it right. And typically, I don’t even realize my error until later, when I see the article in print. Then I say to myself, “Whoa, that’s not how old I am.”

So what’s going on? I mean… I know age is mostly a state of mind, and I don’t want to get caught up in chronology, but this still seems a bit silly. Why does my mind do a mental block on this? I’m not deliberately lying. If I wanted to do that, I’d make myself younger, not older.

So here’s what I think. I think that, whenever I talk about this stuff, it makes me FEEL older, and so my mind winds up thinking it IS older. Weird.

If you’ve got some other theory on why my mind does this, let me know. Or take my online poll in the right-hand column: “Why does Christa mistakenly tell reporters she’s older than she is?”

Meanwhile, I gotta go run. That’ll make me feel a few years younger, and maybe it will all average out.

Shine on!


Anonymous said...

Christa, If you have not seen this:

Perhaps it will help explain why so few care. Look what is being taught by our seminary 'scholars'. If anyone thinks this does not feed into this problem, they are kidding themselves. At the root is how we view those 'below' us...women and children.

This story about Prof Ware's teaching is gaining traction on the internet. Since I have been following him and other Baptist preachers, professors, etc for a while, I happen to know he has been teaching a twisted view of the pre-fall Genesis for some time now.

The SBC is making 'authority' over others an idol. They are devaluing women as a result. And they are doing this while screaming 'autonomy' for the local church when it comes to sexual abuse issues.

Can you say, hypocrite?


gmommy said...

For the record...just HOW old are you?????
I think the last I read said you were 56.
True or false???

I've been getting my age wrong for the past few years too:)

I think it requires relentless energy to speak out against clergy sexual abuse.
I'm sure your age is the least important fact on your mind when given the opportunity to take a stand for those the SBC leadership would like to forget.

Keep shining the light!!

Christa Brown said...

False. I'm 55.

gmommy said... DID make yourself older!!!
Now the record has been set straight!

Anonymous said...

Having a wife that was abused by a follow seminary student prior to meeting her has caused me deep to seriously at this problem. My prayers are with you in this fight. If someone thinks this only affects women and children they are sorely mistaken

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - you are absolutely right. The damage affects everyone. These awful, abusive, patriarchal attitudes that are being used as an excuse for abusive behavior damage men as well as women. Until we value and respect the strengths of both the masculine and the feminine inside of each of us, seeing the divine spark we all hold, the damage will continue. What's scary to me is that these guys get louder and bolder in perpetuating their poison all the time.

Christa - hope you are right and the pressure from mainstream journalists will begin to mount.

That's why it's so important for everyone to use their voice to speak out against these dark, oppressive, abusive theologies.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 12:13 - Thank you for reminding us about the terrible ripple effect of clergy abuse. It wreaks havoc, not only in the lives of the direct victims, but also in the lives of countless others - the spouses, the future spouses, the families. I know for sure that my own husband has suffered greatly because of what a Southern Baptist minister did to me years ago. My thoughts are with you and your wife.

Unknown said...

I read that article that Lydia was talking about yesterday. What crap, isn't it? And yes, unfortunately, too many people think like Ware. It's scary that he's a professor in one of our seminaries!

And, yes, that does feed into the problem - majorly. And I don't know how he can blame the wife because her husband is mean, hateful and abusive.

I wonder if he's married, and, if so, how he treats his own wife.

Anonymous said...

In regards to how victims are not the only ones affected but other family members as well...

Our sons stopped going to church when they found out what was done to their mother. They lost all respect for the ministers and those in ministerial leadership for not doing anything about it. They have lost respect for those who have not taken a stand to say clergy sexual abuse is wrong, should not be allowed, and taken what action they can to stop it.

I remember how our sons would say their prayers at night and ask about the missionaries, how they did devotionals, participated in prayer retreats, encouraged and prayed for their friends who were going through difficult times, and were leaders among the youth at church. They were sweet Christians and now feel betrayed by those in authority in the church.

They are still sweet young men, responsible and loving, who believe in God but want no part of organized religion when they know that those in leadership allow clergy sexual abuse to continue.

A mother's heart

Christa Brown said...

Anon 9:48 - Thank you so much for sharing your "mother's heart." How I wish Baptist leaders could see and understand the full extent of the harm they're allowing and perpetuating. And how I wish that they would begin to understand that it's not "merely" about the "bad apples." It's about THEM and about how they foster the environment that allows rot to spread within the bushel. I believe the far greater harm is the harm done by those who are not perpetrators themselves but who turn a blind-eye, cover-up, keep quiet, and in many cases, engage in outright bullying and intimidation of the victims. THAT is what kills the faith of many, and certainly what kills for them the sense of a faith community.

Anonymous said...


It is frustrating to know you have tried so hard to make something good come of something so bad and those power plasyers choose to ignore your cries.

I've decided that God will, most likely, have to take care of my Baptist predator. I have got to go on and live my life the best I can. My kids and my wife depend on me.

My choice doesn't lessen my feeling that predators need to be exposed. They do. For when predators are exposed, more children are safe. Not all children, but more children. It sounds so cliche, but one child saved is one less child abused.

I still applaud what you are doing to make a difference and I applaud what you have done for me personally. I realize you can't fight all battles all of the time but you have gone above and beyond.

Unless something drastic changes to allow my fight to continue, I will be laying my sword down and letting God take over. I'll continue to tell my story if it helps.

If I can help you in any way, please call or e-mail.. John Doe

Christa Brown said...

"I have got to go on and live my life the best I can."

John Doe: I applaud you. I think this is what we all learn to do in different ways and in our own ways... and in different ways at different times. I don't see it as "moving on" - at least not in the way that so many others tell us we should "move on." I see it as learning to carry on with our lives AND remembering - both at the same time.

This is why I have such enormous respect for clergy abuse survivors. Whether they speak softly or loudly, for every abuse survivor who confronts this even in their own head, they show courage the likes of which most Southern Baptist leaders cannot even imagine. We see and know that the veil between darkness and light is tissue-thin and that it has been rent asunder. We live WITH that knowledge. That takes courage. Meanwhile, religious leaders continue to find ways to minimize the horror of it, to deny the reality of it, and to turn a blind-eye to it. Why? Because if they allowed themselves to fully see it, it would rend their own little worlds asunder in ways that are too uncomfortable for them to even contemplate... and so they don't go there.

They so fear that darkness that they don't even allow themselves to look at it. There's no courage in that. By contrast, clergy abuse survivors see that darkness, confront it, and live WITH it.

Anonymous said...

I mentioned earlier of how it has affected my wife and still does. Ministers need to go back and look at civil justice from a principle of civil restraint.

Anonymous said...

All of the emotions of pain present themselves in this devilish behavior. The SBC has and will continue to loose credibility with communities all over the country as long as faithful people keep reminding them that all is not well in the SBC.