It isn’t just Catholics

I cling to Christ.

It really isn’t.

I was moved and grateful for the words of a staunch and devout Catholic friend that I’ve made here, BeautyBeyondBones, in reference to the avalanche of horrifying news that has overtaken the Catholic church in the past few weeks. But I feel very strongly that she, and the rest of us who profess any form of the Christian faith, ought to know by now (or be emphatically reassured if we don’t) that this isn’t, in ANY degree, a problem primarily constrained to the Catholic form of worship.

To that degree, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity WORLD magazine took this week to prioritize a report on the rampancy of sexual abuse within Protestant circles. WORLD’s reporting on this and related topics have grown increasingly more thorough, and I hope they continue the trend, as there is room for more growth; but this is a solid installment. I am especially appreciative of how Olasky (editor in chief) and his team have called on the expertise of Rachel Denhollander (Christian, lawyer, and first to bring charges against Larry Nassar) and the profoundly RIGHT example of Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in handling the discovery of a predator in their midst.

Here is the link to the full WORLD article: Crouching at every door

And here are a few choice quotes:

 

“Although the decentralized nature of Protestantism makes statistics very hard to find, we’ve particularly found opportunities for abuse and cover-ups in three kinds of situations.

“(1) Some congregations have dominating pastors with unchecked authority.

“(2) Evangelical culture has a conference and lecture circuit with celebrities and quasi-celebrities who come to cities for weekend workshops and one-night lectures that provide opportunities to sin and go, leaving behind casualties.

“(3) Megachurch leaders face the ordinary temptations but also extraordinary pressure to cover up problems, knowing that a sniff of scandal will summon packs of critical reporters.”

 

“Mary Lou Davidson Redding, a retired editor of The Upper Room magazine, says she warned conference directors about Hensley for many years. Here’s her account: In the early 1990s at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Eastern Carolina State University, Hensley had tried to slip his hands onto her breasts while she was in a dormitory hall, stopping only when someone walked in on them. When Redding later told a friend what happened, that friend rolled her eyes and replied, ‘Oh, is he still doing that? He was supposed to stop.’

“More from Redding: ‘People knew his behavior, and he was still being invited to conferences.’ She decided to warn people about him. When she saw his name on a conference brochure, she called the directors to tell them about her experience with him. No director she warned ever disinvited him: ‘They overwhelmingly said to me they want their conference to be a success, that people are coming because he’s going to be there.'”

 

“The few cases mentioned in this story should highlight the fact that sexual abuse is not just a Catholic problem. It’s also a Protestant problem, and a deeply human one.

“Our investigations show that many churches and ministries have not always done a good job protecting and empowering the victims. As cries of #MeToo reverberate across the nation, so too have stories of #ChurchToo, in which men and women within evangelical churches voice their own tales of long-suppressed guilt, shame, and anguish. They say their trauma isn’t just from the violating act itself: Trauma festered when trusted church authorities failed to believe or protect them, failed to report the crime to legal authorities, failed to change the institutional culture that enables and minimizes the severity of sexual abuse.

“Yet because this issue has become so public, more and more churches are acknowledging the existence and severity of sexual abuse within their communities, as shown in many cases mentioned above. More churches are asking for help to help the vulnerable, so this could be a wake-up call for the Protestant world.”

 

Let it be so.

–GM

 

I can has time? Also, immigration

Hi friends!

Well. All I can say is I’m sorry I haven’t been writing. I miss it, but I literally haven’t had the time to post. We went on vacation for a week, and we’re also in the process of buying a house and trying to sell our current home. This of course involves packing and moving and cleaning and mounds of paperwork. And I’m also teaching a Poetry Workshop right now, gearing up for another Latin Camp, trying to think about organizing my materials for my classes starting up in the fall… oh yeah, and I’m a full-time SAHM, too. And we’ve got more changes afoot than even all that entails! So… my plate has been just a wee bit full. Just a wee bit.

I have been nominated for some lovely awards and challenges, and I can’t wait to dig in and participate. I’ve got posts in the works for those things, but I just can’t find time to sit down and complete them yet; hopefully, after the move, things will settle down just enough for me to start finishing them. For right now, I just want you to know how much I continue to appreciate the follows, likes, comments, and encouragement! You all are just lovely.

Finally, even though I can’t contribute much of my own material to the important dialogues going on right now, I’d like to share a few things that I’ve read that have been super helpful and informative for me as I process the issue of immigration in America this week–particularly the issues surrounding children. If this isn’t a gritty problem, I’m not sure what is, and I bet all of you feel the same.

So, in an effort to promote bipartisanship, facts-with-less-hype, and a heart for the other less fortunate, here’s what I’ve been reading:

What You Need to Know About Families Separated at the Border – a calm, collected, compassionate, fair, and useful report by Matthew Soerens, the US Director for Church Mobilization for World Relief, a non-profit started after WWII to provide humanitarian aid to refugees. They also published a very helpful infographic, which I’m sharing here and encourage you to share widely as well:

The Immigration Facts on Separated Families

The Making of an Online Moral Crisis – Alexis Madrigal gives a remarkably thorough summary and analysis of all the information (and misinformation) that has exploded over the national consciousness on this issue… and a succinct meditation on how some of the most nightmarish things actually have the power to pull us together, not drive us apart.

Tattoo – a classmate of mine from Mike Pence’s alma mater wrote this account of friendship with an illegal immigrant. If you’ve never met one, please allow Ben to introduce you.

As I think of all it will take to move my babies five minutes across town in the next few weeks, I’m brought up short at the thought of single parents who have moved mountains of terror and death to bring their children to a new home in our country… only to have those children ripped away.

I’m not ashamed of my privilege, but I sure as heck am not going to keep it to myself.

If you live in the U.S., please call and write your congresspeople to help give these children and their parents a taste of the freedoms and safety we enjoy without thinking every day. World Relief has a very easy to use, no-strings-attached petition and email form to help you do just that. Remind our leaders that human rights have no borders, and that the future of these children could impact us all. If we’re that worried about terrorism, let’s not give them a personal reason to hate us.

A 2-year-old seeks asylum with her mother at the border.

(John Moore/Getty Images)

 

–GM

 

Concert Attire–Suitable for Whom?

I’ve had the pleasure of singing in the chorus of Verdi’s Requiem with two different orchestras this spring. Both of them have had performance dress codes. The first one was nothing more specific than “all black, from ankles to wrists,” across the board for men and women, given as a verbal statement by the choir director during rehearsal.

When I asked this director if my cap-sleeved choir gown from old college choir days would be acceptable (does it literally need to go to my wrists, or is that an expression?), he explained that, in his words, “As a boy teacher, I have very limited capacity to answer this question–in fact, I had to google ‘cap sleeve’. You’re probably fine, especially if you’d have to scramble for another option. The idea is that if everyone is in all black, there aren’t one pair of arms or legs to draw attention. My guess is that some of the college students won’t be entirely strict on this, so I think it wouldn’t be just you.”

 

As it turned out, plenty of the college singers and others among us had widely varying sleeve lengths, including some just like mine, so it wasn’t anything to be concerned about–and I very much appreciated the director’s attitude to the whole affair. 🙂


 

Now, contrast that with the written instructions received from the director of the second chorus I’m singing with. This is word-for-word:

CONCERT ATTIRE

Men’s Guidelines: White long sleeve tux shirt, black tux pants, black tux jacket, black tie, black socks, black polished shoes.

NOT ACCEPTABLE: Plain white shirt, brown socks, brown shoes. No perfume or heavy hairspray or deodorant scents.

Women’s Guidelines: Please wear black concert attire made of dressy fabrics such as chiffon, velvet, or rayon. Wear a dress or skirt floor length or mid-calf. Dress pants are ok (polazzos). Black suits ok. Sleeve length should be three-quarter length or long sleeve. Please wear loose fitting outfits that are flowing and drape freely. Make sure outfit is black. Keep it formal! Keep it modest! Undergarments should be black if there is a chance of showing. Wear black shoes and black stockings. Peep toe is ok.

The following things are NOT ACCEPTABLE: Garments made of heavy cotton, denim, corduroy, twill, leather, or chino. Low cut gowns or tight fitting slacks. Anything that is “see-through” in nature. Purple, brown, or dark blue outfits. Heavy black belts with big buckles, jewelry made of twine, rope, or beads, extra large earrings. Sandals or clogs. Tan or beige stockings. Sleeveless or shortsleeved tops, tank tops, spaghetti straps, bare midriffs, bare shoulders, skirts above the knee. Plunging necklines. Long slits in the skirts front or sides. Long dangling earrings or excessively shiny rhinestones in either earrings or necklaces. Perfume or heavy hairspray or deodorant scents.


 

…You might suppose, given the level of detail this director supplies with regard to the women, that perhaps there are many youthful, body-image-confident college-aged women populating our numbers.

In fact, no such thing could hardly be further from the truth. I’d be extremely surprised if he actually believes any of the grandmas among this obviously very conservative group of ladies (judging from conversational snippets in between singing) have any inclination whatsoever to wear midriffs and spaghetti straps to the concert.

I do, however, have a bit of wardrobe advice for the author of this handout, as he seems to be in need of it:

misogyny is showing

At least this fellow didn’t think to google “cap sleeve”… well, not that it would have mattered, really. It’s been an extraordinarily tiring last few weeks, and I have already given all the bothers–including any that might have gone toward finding a second performance outfit that checks ALL the copious boxes.

But even if I had any bothers left to give, I probably wouldn’t, anyway, on principle.

I’d much rather stand on mine than his. 🙂

Keep it gritty, lovelies!

–GM