The New Emangelization

This is the internet after all.  All sorts of trash exists out there.

Including this site with this interview, in which Cardinal Burke discusses how today’s lack of priestly vocations and even pedophile priests are the fault of women!

To quote the article that led me to the full interview, “the rampant crisis of pedophile priests was brought on by women who “feminized” the church and discouraged “manly” men from participating in clerical life… It should come as no surprise, given the extreme lengths the Church has gone to to cover up the abuse that has gone on at their hands for decades, that they are so ready to blame anyone apart from themselves.”

I expect there are a few people I’m related to who will eat up this idea of manly superiority and feminine inferiority, with regard to themselves.

But having gotten there, I read most of the original interview, and I’d like to draw attention to a different bit:

“…it was a long tradition in the Church, especially through the devotion of St. Joseph, to stress the manly character of the man who sacrifices his life for the sake of the home, who prepares with chivalry to defend his wife and his children and who works to provide the livelihood for the family.”

So if you’re going to agree with the Cardinal on all the other garbage, you ought to agree with him on this.

And Dad did this.  So why isn’t he considered a hero of the family?  Hell, why isn’t his contribution to the family even acknowledged?

I suppose I know the answer I would get:  the sin of The Divorce completely obliterates and overshadows 40 years of parenting and providing, of course.

That answer is fallacious, not to mention judgy — because AFAIK, no one on earth gets to rank another’s sins and virtues.  But they do anyway.

Not That It Matters

But the Pope seems to think a lot like I do.  He doesn’t like hypocrisy, for one — and he doesn’t seem to think atheists are all that bad, either, at least as long as they try to do good.

“There are those who say ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association’… [but] my life is not Christian…’

“There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal,” he said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist’.”

“‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Of course some excuse has already been concocted to ignore what he says (probably, in essence, taking the form of “because I don’t like it”).

Never mind that this absolutely, unequivocally, goes against Catholic doctrine.  I mean, he IS the Pope.

Of course, a lot of people have spilled a lot of virtual ink trying to find convoluted intellectual ways around that doctrine — especially with OMG THIS POPE.  Finally here’s a pope who sounds more like Jesus himself than any pope of my lifetime, and HOLY SHIT WE CAN’T HAVE THAT.

It would be funny if it weren’t sad.

Just google, “Catholics obey Pope” and you’ll find more against the idea than in favor of it on the first few pages of results.  Most of it is wordy, obfuscating, and difficult to read or decipher.  Sometimes you can’t even tell which side someone is on right away.

It’s always been my conviction that the more complicated your reasoning has to be to defend your position, the more likely it is that it’s faulty.  Going with the simple version usually gets you to a healthier, more honest position — even if it’s one you find unpalatable.

In this case, he’s the Pope, so that’s that.

Or it should be, if you’re honest.

And who is to say that god didn’t send this pope specifically at this time because he has a message that you need to hear?

“They complain,” Francis said, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” He explained that Jesus corrected them, “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.”

The disciples, Pope Francis explained, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.”

I know where my siblings learned that they can ignore the teachings of the Church when convenient.  That pesky detail never mattered to Mom, either.  Somehow she was able to square a solid belief in fortune tellers and astrology with her brand of Catholicism.

I didn’t think you were supposed to have other gods, according to that very first commandment.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2116

Mom also routinely claimed she had “had a feeling” about some occurrence or other, although this never quite extended to being able to figure things out ahead of time.

“God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2115

How many times did I hear the story about the fortune teller at the fair who told a teen-aged Mom that she would give up her supposed piano playing career, and when asked for more info the woman said, “Cross my palm with silver and I’ll tell you.”  But she and her sister didn’t have any more money that day, so the mysteries of the future remained unrevealed.

This poppycock stayed with my mother the rest of her life.  My guess is that it resonated with her feelings that somehow she had been cheated out of happiness or success — even if it was by her own life decisions.

She told this story to show how much she had given up, to induce guilt, to be a martyr, to get sympathy — as narcissists do.

What kind of a mom tells her kids a story like this, over and over?  Reminding them about how much she had given up and the implied regrets she had about it?  A selfish, unhappy mom.

Because it goes without saying that she didn’t wind it up with a big hug and something like, “But I have you instead and I love you, and that’s worth more than any stage career.”

Of course, her life decisions were mostly made with regard for Church doctrine:  keep having kids even if it (almost) kills you, don’t get divorced no matter how unhappy you are — because god will provide, he never sends you more than you can handle — well, that worked out great, didn’t it?

If “putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future” is so dependable, how come my mom had to have electroconvulsive therapy?  Because they don’t do that until things get really, REALLY BAD.

How come my sister became suicidal?

Where was god for them then?  How come he wasn’t helping, like all the promises said he would if you did what you were supposed to?

To which the answer given is usually some form of “it’s part of his mysterious plan.”  Completely contradicting all those previous promises is just part of the mysterious plan, I guess.  What a nasty trick to play.

I’ll raise a glass to Francis, but I’ll stick with atheism, because at least it’s never lied to me.

Yet Again, There’s A Name For It

Notes from here about “functional dependency” and “relational dependency”.

“Two kinds of dependency… Functional dependency relates to the child’s resistance to doing the tasks and jobs in life that are his responsibility. This means he wants others to take care of things he should… Don’t enable functional dependency.”

Relational dependency is our need for connectedness to others… when we are loved by others in this state of need, we are filled up inside. Because they need so much, children are especially relationally dependent. Over time, as they internalize important nurturing relationships, they need less; the love they have internalized from Mom and Dad and others sustains them. Yet, to our dying day we will always need regular and deep connection with emotionally healthy people who care about us.

“You need to promote and encourage relational dependency in your child to teach him that mature, healthy people need other people; they don’t isolate themselves… Help him see that needing love isn’t being immature. Rather, it gives us the energy we need to go out and slay our dragons.

Encourage him to express his wants, needs and opinions to those with whom he is close. This is true especially in his relationship with you. He didn’t choose to be in your family; that was your decision… don’t abandon him when he needs more intimacy…”

I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that my mother had functional dependency that was enabled by her use of her children, especially her oldest child, to take on her responsibilities.

“…resistance to doing the tasks and jobs in life that are his responsibility. This means he wants others to take care of things he should.”

I don’t know how her unhealthy functional dependency got started – maybe because she came from a large family of sisters and she didn’t have too much responsibility.  But that’s just a guess.

I certainly didn’t choose to be born — no one does.  My mom chose not to use birth control, instead putting faith in god and a lack of sex to prevent further children.  That failed, and she got saddled with yet another burden, a workload that she had no interest in.

As a child, I had normal relational dependency.  I didn’t get “filled up” by Mom.  I got some of this love from Dad, but it didn’t completely fill up the hole left by my mother’s neglect and rejection.

In fact, as children we generally learn… our first independent steps, and our first identity moves from none other than mom.

So I probably looked for it from the other adults in my life:  my older siblings.  One more of my mother’s jobs for them to assume, in fact.  No wonder my sister resents my very existence.  But that resentment is misdirected.

It’s normal for me to want or miss the connection with the people who once filled this need.  But they are no longer “emotionally healthy people who care about [me]”.

An Outsider’s View

“The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…

“Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power.

“…will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble…  if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted

“… any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy…”

any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and it always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it.

“…Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, etc., bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in a short period of time.

“…When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything you can do… no amount of understanding, no amount of respect, no amount of evidence is going to change their minds, assuage their fears.

“Of course, it didn’t help matters there were scapegoats available they could direct their fears, anger, and white supremacy towards… Why reevaluate your beliefs… when scapegoats are available?

From this article about politics, of course, but it applies to my FOO as well.

Their brand of fundamentalism is a combination of Catholicism, Mary/mother-worship, and blame-shifting.

I am the outsider, the convenient scapegoat who can be blamed for the problems; whose views, evidence, and explanations can be easily ignored; whose existence means they don’t have to think too much or feel too bad about what they did or allowed to happen.

Others put bad information — lies about me — into this closed system, those horrible things were unquestioningly believed, and it did a lot of damage.

More on Blind Tribalism

The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce

“But the Us in blind tribalism is creepy. In blind tribalism, the tribe’s guiding dogma doubles as the identity of the tribe members, and the Us factor enforces that concept. Conscious tribe members reach conclusions—blind tribe members are conclusions. With a blind Us, if the way you are as an individual happens to contain opinions, traits, or principles that fall outside the outer edges of the dogma walls, they will need to be shed—or things will get ugly. By challenging the dogma of your tribe, you’re challenging both the sense of certainty the tribe members gain their strength from and the clear lines of identity they rely on.

“The best friend of a blind Us is a nemesis Us—Them. Nothing unites Us like a collectively hated anti-Us, and the blind tribe is usually defined almost as much by hating the dogma of Them as it is by abiding by the dogma of Us.

And if there isn’t a Them around anymore — perhaps because he has just died — they will find a new Them to attack.  The one that was associated most strongly with the old one, perhaps.

“Whatever element of rigid, identity-encompassing blindness is present in your own tribal life will reveal itself when you dare to validate any part of the rival Them dogma.

“Give it a try. The next time you’re with a member of a tribe you’re a part of, express a change of heart that aligns you on a certain topic with whoever your tribe considers to be Them. If you’re a religious Christian, tell people at church you’re not sure anymore that there’s a God. If you’re an artist in Boulder, explain at the next dinner party that you think global warming might actually be a liberal hoax. If you’re an Iraqi, tell your family that you’re feeling pro-Israel lately. If you and your husband are staunch Republicans, tell him you’re coming around on Obamacare. If you’re from Boston, tell your friends you’re pulling for the Yankees this year because you like their current group of players.

If you’re me, try saying that your reality is that Mom was selfish, lazy, neglectful, and disinterested, but Dad really loved you.  That Joe & Susan were shitty, and they should feel bad about what they did, and apologize.  Try saying that you don’t want kids to your family and your MIL.

“If you’re in a tribe with a blind mentality of total certainty, you’ll probably see a look of horror. It won’t just seem wrong, it’ll seem like heresy. They might get angry, they might passionately try to convince you otherwise, they might cut off the conversation—but there will be no open-minded conversation. And because identity is so intertwined with beliefs in blind tribalism, the person actually might feel less close to you afterwards. Because for rigidly tribal people, a shared dogma plays a more important role in their close relationships than they might recognize…

“As far as society is concerned, when you give something a try—on the values front, the fashion front, the religious front, the career front—you’ve branded yourself. And since people like to simplify people in order to make sense of things in their own head, the tribe around you reinforces your brand by putting you in a clearly-labeled, oversimplified box.

“What this all amounts to is that it becomes very painful to change. Changing is icky for someone whose identity will have to change along with it. And others don’t make things any easier. Blind tribe members don’t like when other tribe members change—it confuses them, it forces them to readjust the info in their heads, and it threatens the simplicity of their tribal certainty. So attempts to evolve are often met with opposition or mockery or anger.

But without change there is no possible growth, personal or otherwise.

“…when you are the experiment, negative feedback isn’t a piece of new, helpful information—it’s an insult. And it hurts. And it makes you mad. And because changing feels impossible, there’s not much good that feedback can do anyway—it’s like giving parents negative feedback on the name of their one-month-old child.

Which basically explains why nothing I’ve ever said has been taken on board by anyone.

“…they were “trapped in their own history.

“…Being trapped in your history means you don’t know how to change, you’ve forgotten how to innovate, and you’re stuck in the identity box the world has put you in.

More confirmation that mostly, I’ve made the right choices:  to be myself, to speak what I believe to be the truth, and to rid myself of a whole litany of dogmas:  Catholicism, mother-worship, career choices, patriarchal thinking.  Phew.

The price has been what it was always going to be.  It’s a steep price tag, but it’s been worth it.


The Four Horsemen

These are the four things that indicate a marriage apocalypse is on its way:

  • Criticism

    Complaints are fine. Criticism is more global — it attacks the person, not their behavior. They didn’t take out the garbage because they forgot, but because they’re a bad person.

Both my parents had, um, “high standards”.  The difference was that Dad could help you learn how to meet them, whereas Mom simply criticized, for the most part.  I can remember her complaining about how I dressed –  but it was not so much an indictment of my clothing, but of me personally — “You’re SO DRAMATIC!” was her favorite.  In particular, I remember that she criticized the dress I sewed for Homecoming my senior year — not the workmanship, which of course she might have been able to teach me how to do better — but she complained that, “You can have a dramatic color, cut or style — but not all three at once!”  Of course, this was after the dress was well under way, if not finished.  (Besides, it was the 80’s.  And frankly, I loved it and I looked awesome in it.)

I can also remember that while she was staying with me for Joe & Susan’s wedding, at one point my own mother told me to my face that she liked Susan better than me, because Susan was “nicer to her.”  (Susan is a suck-up to whoever she thinks has power in any given situation.  I’m not the only family member who has noticed this.  One guess as to why my sister likes her so much.)

Mom actually said several hurtful things to me during this visit — she also voiced the actual statement that she would not bother to attend my wedding — but the one where she said she liked Susan better than me was the worst.  At one point my husband-to-be said, “Every time you go somewhere with your mother you come back crying.”  Finally he had had enough, and he picked her up from church and had a talk with her about her behavior.  Mom tried all her usual tricks to deflect accountability:  “You don’t know what their father did to me” was the trump card, of course.

So let’s think about that for a minute:  first of all, the assumption is that everything was 100% Dad’s fault — which at this point has been accepted for so long, it practically goes without saying.

Second, this is a MOTHER saying straight out to her DAUGHTER that she likes a woman who is practically a stranger BETTER THAN SHE LIKES HER OWN FLESH AND BLOOD.  WTF?  This is unbelievably nasty.  A mother telling her daughter that she doesn’t like her as much as she likes someone else.  Because that someone else sucks up to her, and feeds her sense of superiority — that is the hallmark of the narcissist.

ETA:  I recently recounted this incident to a longtime friend, whose mother was a kind, loving, generous woman — despite having some serious marriage issues of her own.  I can remember one year she and my other best friend’s mother each sewed their daughters a popular three-tiered skirt, and this woman made one for me too, so I wouldn’t be left out, because she knew my own mother wouldn’t do it.

When I repeated to this friend the words that my mother said to me, my friend actually physically flinched.

Third, my mother then attempts to blame her current nastiness ON MY FATHER.  What he did to her all those years ago apparently forces her to make these nasty remarks 20 years later.

It would be pathetic, if it were not pathological.

The sort-of-but-not-really amusing part about this is that she also habitually criticized my father for being critical.  “The criticism game is the easiest game to play,” she would sneer.  Projection much?

In contrast, I can remember having a phone conversation with my dad when I was in college, where I told him I got a 98 on an exam and he immediately asked, “Why didn’t you get 100?”  I called him out on that one, saying that 98% was frankly pretty damned good,  and a few days later I got a note from him that I still have.  It is very faded and torn, taped back together, and full of holes from having it pinned up on bulletin boards for probably 10 years or more, but the words are precious to me.

Congratulations on the superIMG_20140917_0003 test grades!  I guess I most times just expect you to do well, as you have always had exceptional grades.  You have to know how proud I am of you and your accomplishments.  You should do well in life if you continually strive to be the best at what you do.  Everyone can improve if they want to, the main thing is to want to.  Am proud of you!… Keep up the good work!  Until later — Love you!  Miss you!  Love, Dad

  • Contempt

    “…name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. In whatever form, contempt – the worst of the four horsemen – is poisonous to a relationship because it conveys disgust. It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with him or her.”

My mother referred to my father as a “bumpkin” because he came from a dinky little town in Iowa and she came from Chicago.  Another of her favorite nasty things to say about me was, “You’re so PRAGMATIC — just like your father!”  The tone of voice she used left no doubt that in her view, being either of these things was contemptible.

  • Defensiveness

    “…defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner. You’re saying, in effect, ‘The problem isn’t me, it’s you.’ Defensiveness just escalates the conflict, which is why it’s so deadly.”

Narcissism writ large.  Blame-shifting is an art my mother was a master of.

  • Stonewalling

    Tuning out. Disengaging. This doesn’t just remove the person from the conflict, it ends up removing them, emotionally, from the relationship.

I have very little to go on to get an idea of how my parents might have tried to resolve their difficulties, although with a narcissist it usually just isn’t possible.

Two things I can remember:  one is, I can remember running to the back door to greet my father when he arrived home (side note:  I believe I was the only kid who did this) and he picked me up, hugged me and carried me into the kitchen — whereupon he and my mother started fighting about something.  I can remember tugging on Dad’s ear and whispering to him to please stop, but it didn’t work.

The second example is from when I was in kindergarten, and includes both of the last two items:  blame-shifting and stonewalling.

To make decorations in preparation for Open House, we lay on pieces of brown paper and someone drew an outline to create life-sized portraits of ourselves.  I can remember working very VERY hard to re-create the pattern of interlocking circles printed on my blue corduroy pants, and I can remember being disappointed that I didn’t have time to finish drawing it over the whole area.  (I think someone noticed and was impressed by those efforts, but because of the rest of the story, I don’t think it was anyone in my family — it was probably the teacher.)

We also had to dictate a few lines about our families to the principal’s secretary, who typed them up on cards. The descriptions were posted next to each of our portraits, for everyone to see.

Mine said something like, “My parents fight a lot and my mother prays a lot.”

I don’t remember Dad’s reaction, but I remember Mom was horrified and embarrassed, and she placed the blame on me for not knowing that I should not have said those things.  (Pretty fucked up, yes?  but business as usual for the narcissist.)

But the other big clue was the second half of my statement:  “my mother prays a lot.”

10261759_701864376564285_892702048_nI have long felt that my mom was not very good at solving her own problems, which may have engendered her desire to be coddled and taken care of.  If you suck at running your own life, your options are threefold:  to figure out better ways to do things, to live with the way things are, or to get someone else to do the work for you.  She was apparently incapable of doing the first (or, as in my father’s note, she simply didn’t want to); the second was not acceptable; the third was her way of coping with just about everything.  I believe praying falls into that third category:  trying to get god himself to do your work for you.  Talk about narcissistic!  The almighty has nothing better to do?  JFC.

Martyrs R Us

Flylady says, “Nobody loves a martyr.”

My DH pointed out that there is indeed, one specific group that really does love a martyr.

Oh yes, the Catholic Church.

An organization that can bring itself to honor, beatify, and probably canonize, a woman who thought like this:

Most troubling was her commitment to publicly reaffirming the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy’s position on contraception at every opportunity. I found it difficult to see as a saint any woman who would advise the mother of a starving child to eschew contraception. Yet Mother Teresa did this. Consistently. And publicly...Teresa of Calcutta was no such missionary. It is precisely her willingness to validate the hierarchy’s position on “family planning” that renders her the favorite daughter of the hierarchy. …If the woman ministering to babies as they die of starvation can continue to preach against contraception…


She believed that poverty was a virtue to brought one closer to God.The more a person suffers, whether they ask for that suffering or not, the closer they are to God according to the warped fantasy of Mother Theresa…  She believed suffering was good, abortion was wrong, and birth control was evil. …Why would a sane human being refuse pain killers to a dying lady in pain, other than a belief in a God. And what a poor argument for an all loving God that would be.

Anyone who can sit and watch a baby starve to death — STARVE TO DEATH — and still actually believe that that is better than swallowing a pill, using a condom, aborting a clump of cells — I have absolutely no hesitation in calling that person a monster.

And this is what I find disgusting about the Catholic Church, and those who shut their ears and refuse to question this garbage because it is oh-so-holy.  Tell me what is holy about deliberately INCREASING human suffering?  That is not holy — that is sick.

One summer the sisters living on the outskirts of Rome were given more crates of tomatoes than they could distribute. None of their neighbors wanted them because the crop had been so prolific that year. The sisters decided to can the tomatoes rather than let them spoil, but when Mother found out what they had done she was very displeased. Storing things showed lack of trust in Divine Providence.

This is how belief in religion can actually make an otherwise intelligent person think that suffering is good, starvation is fine, prudence is a sin, waste is doubt, birth control is wrong.  Once you get those under your belt, I suppose it’s not too much of a stretch to decide that black is white, your mother is a saint, your father is a monster, crazy is normal, and the healthy family members are the ones with the problems.

There is always the danger that we may become only social workers or just do the work for the sake of the work.

Yeah.  That “danger” is that someone might realize that the Church is bullshit.  You don’t need God or Jesus or a church to do the right thing for another human being.  But you do need them to make life decisions that fuck over your whole family.  Like my mother did.

She had a blood clot in her leg when she was pregnant with her 4th child.  My sister seems to be under the impression that it had to be removed because it might kill the baby.  I am guessing they didn’t tell her the truth at the time, because she would only have been about 10 or so.  A doctor in Kansas City got the thing out of her leg with a pipette, which was frankly genius.

The medical opinion was that after that pregnancy, she should have a hysterectomy, because further pregnancies could also kill her.

My mother refused, because — you guessed it!  The Church said that wasn’t the right thing to do!

She went on to have two more pregnancies, and one of them produced me.  The one with me sent her over the edge of sanity.  I don’t know if it was spending nine months wondering if she would die, or if she was just mad as hell that (her medical condition + refusal of appropriate treatment) did not automatically equal a “get-out-of-having-to-have-sex-with-your-husband” card.

I strongly suspect that my mother’s view of her marital relations went something like this:

Sex is only for having babies.

I don’t want any more babies (despite what the Church specifically says in the marriage vows about welcoming children as a gift from God).

The doctors say if I have any more babies, I could die, unless I have this recommended procedure.

I choose to refuse this procedure because the Church says so.

This combination of my own choices means that if I have any more sex, I could die.

Therefore, I am no longer obligated to have sex with my husband, and he’s a bastard if he still expects normal marital relations.  (But I still reserve the right to get outraged if I think he’s having an affair.)


Well, what the hell.  It’s about as healthy a belief as anything else that comes from the Catholic Church.