Category Archives: Christian fundamentalism

The Difference.

The sheets and blankets rolled into their customary clump again, like a load of laundry waiting to be sorted. There was the top sheet, placed to protect the rest from animal dander; the knit blanket; the small downy; and, somewhere impossible to determine, the sheet intended to cover the body directly – never found, just felt, in a tangle, around the calves.
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At her frustration, he cursed, and tossed them all on top of her, four frozen minutes later getting out of the bed and heading to the kitchen. He was finished sleeping, after all, and it was morning on his day off; five in the morning, but morning in his world, just the same.
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She really had no definition of love, apart from her own experience; as such, it likely differed from everyone elses. When she awoke in her morning, her first thought was usually about what she could do. Might she help clean, or find something else practical that should make all his days off easier before the inevitable return to the grind? Maybe there was a gadget to acquire, or some task she could cover; maybe a food, or a practice, that could increase the quality of his health or environment.
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Then, she’d set about to do it. She’d think about what she could do, for him, and then she’d do it.

Granted, sometimes there was a failure to recognize how he might want to spend a day, or how he might want to do something or have something done. Her desires for him, in conflict with those for himself.

This is how love was expressed toward her, indeed the only way it was ever expressed in her family, and that by the mother; Great-Gramma, Mammy and then mum were ever about doing what would keep the family going – sustained, protected, cared for. It was the definition carried down by her family, and its small, exclusive, Fundamentalist fellowship; a woman, after all, born to serve.

She, however, had inherited at least half of her father’s DNA and he was nothing if not independent-minded. While primitive in scope, he’d much preferred exactly the way HE did things, even when his wife felt differently about either the quality of his efforts or the choices he prioritized.

And, that had been their fifty-plus years together; mum, serving what she determined to be dad’s needs, and he serving himself.

She couldn’t think of a single thing that dad ever did for mum. Ever. Perhaps he’d tried, early on – only to be met by her bitter ridicule of the quality thereof. Yes; that was mum – a child of the Great Depression, who’d been raised to perform tasks for her very survival. There was nobody else who knew how any better than she, and she made sure that everybody knew it.

Now, she could hear him, even with the bedroom door closed, emptying the dishwasher of its cutlery – each fork and spoon, dropping into its slot in the drawer, like water torture during World War II, she envisioned, tightening her arms over both ears. Even in spite of his particular family dynamic – absent biological father, present if abusive step dad – he’d been raised to expect a woman to care for his needs, and to place them at the top of her agenda. Even when he didnt want her to, he still ultimately expected it.

This was generational. Eventually, many women got wise to the fact that, unless they did for themselves, nothing they really wanted out of life would come to them. That was when they began to put aside enough money to buy their own cars, and then their own homes, and to make lives for themselves.

Others continued in the tradition of their forebears, by: attracting the man they’d selected; manipulating him into supporting them; and, getting their needs met through him indirectly without his realizing —  including going elsewhere, behind his back, to get what he could not or would not offer, all within the framework of the life they’d maneuvered for themselves.

But, she was part of the generation of women which broke ground and established separate identities. In her case, truly believing that she would attract a man of such quality that he would actually want an independent female who would share in the load of life. Yeah; that.

That was her generation, and it pretty much left the men who were her contemporaries blindsided; who would be left to care for them, in the manner to which they had become accustomed?

In an effort to feel worthy, her generation of men had become the step-dads of their era. The new step dads – not like those of their own, bitter experience. They’d become the ones who rode in on their steeds, fully armored, ready to love both the single woman AND her brood of offspring left by the deadbeat in his wake. Hence the acronym: SMILF (and, the title of the new Tv show): Single Mother I’d Love to F@$k.

This was hard. The women watched, from inside the houses they’d bought and the full time jobs maintained, as the vast majority of their own men selected “unwed” or divorced mothers instead of independent women to care for and love.

It didn’t surprise her, at all then, that he remained curious about his ex’s daughter, even after the death of the girl’s mother. Neither was she surprised when he became annoyed every time she asserted a need of her own, however small or petty it may have seemed to him.

Unclasping her arms from about her head she shoved away the mound of covers and sat up, her aging, overtired body fighting to right itself. His mattress, designed to absorb the body’s configuration, had no rebound capacity. On this morning, even the bed was no help.

Playing second, third, even fourth – behind the dogs, the cat and the laying hens –  on this morning, her reality had come home to roost. Only she wasn’t home. Not really.  There was an old, displaced farmhouse about eighteen minutes northwest, one she’d acquired at age twenty nine for thirty four five at eight and a quarter fixed; paying on the principal each month, she’d become its owner in just under sixteen years. For her purposes, the location had been ideal; under ten minutes, in any direction, to get anywhere in town. On this morning, still very much the middle of her night, its walls were calling. Her house, her spouse.

She just had to get back to her established domain, and nurture it for herself. Today, she must. She had learned that, in spite of the overwhelm left in its neglected wake, that home was still her own. Her comfort zone wasn’t built for her; judged however by the outside world, she. had. built. it.

Yes, she had built it, just like he had built his own. The difference was: having spent a lifetime waiting for somebody to express as much interest in trying to care for her needs and enhancing the quality of her life as she did for the man for whom she now felt love, per this morning it appeared that she was still waiting.

Perhaps he did truly love her. Maybe tomorrow, she would know. But, even in the cold car, she could already feel it. Her bed. One warm flannel, and a fleece.

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© 11/30/17  Ruth Ann Scanzillo    All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thanks for being that good person.

littlebarefeetblog.com

“Is love a binder of wounds?

…or, merely a lubricant on a squeaking part?

…..or, an element of transition from rough to gem?……”

——  David Michael Sammarco  ©12/1/17

 

 

 

 

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© 11/30/17  Ruth Ann Scanzillo      All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thanks for being that good person.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

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The Truth.[ edited]

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Unheard of by the mainstream on any continent, the Plymouth Brethren were the collective, non-denominational Christian sect which held domain over the first twenty five years of my life. From infancy through the end of my university education I regularly heard, from their pulpit:

“We have The Truth.”

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But, of course, they didn’t.

They – their earliest Bible scholars hailing from Scotland and Ireland, establishing Assemblies in America by the late 1800s, enduring repeated schism through the 20th century, and continuing to splinter off across the threshold of the 21st –  just believed that they did.

And, this belief, once I realized that it was only a belief, set me on a quest which would become a theme, occupying my days for twenty five more years and beyond.

I’d embarked on my own, earnest search for the truth.

Only, this time, I would settle for nothing less.

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First, the intention was benign enough: just simply vow to always speak the truth. Seemed easy – never, knowingly, make a false statement, to anyone. I was confident that, were I to tell the truth, somehow nothing but the truth would return to me, in kind.

This confidence was uninformed.

As life took us all through various levels of schooling and gainful employ, it grew increasingly remarkable to me how frequently, and ably, those around me could toss off a lie.

My little brother, whom I genuinely loved, was particularly adept.

Too oblivious, and fearful, was I to realize that he had harnessed a tactic which, in many ways, was motivated by my own behavior; whenever he needed to assert himself in the eyes of both our parents and my [ then overshadowing ] presence, he’d pop another just as easily as a hen lays a hot one.

But, to my ears, the lies were both awe-inspiring and mildly frightening. I felt their power, the alternate reality they created, recognizing that all it took for that reality to take hold in our parents’ eyes was their trust in the veracity they had allegedly instilled in us. It would take years for me to realize that truth was a precious commodity, and that I was surrounded by imposters.

But, the fear of God had imbued me with a certain fortitude; I would honor the truth, all the more fervently.

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Few shared my passion.

Behavioral scientists had determined that those whose reality seemed hopeless would take to creating one in their own minds for solace. But, those who imposed theirs on others for personal gain were the real predators. Most had learned that trust was a vital prerequisite to contriving a convincing reality. Either these had been taught this by example, or some random experience had been brought to bear; whichever the case, trust was the liar’s first prey.

And, the liar succeeded by isolating the gullible, those whose trust, for whatever cause, was blindly automatic.

I was among their prime targets.

Initially, this made manifest in “the butt of the joke” which, of course, was yours truly.  Exploiting the trust of the gullible teaches that a lie can hurt, and I learned to feel its isolating pain.

Perhaps the memory of this pain dulled my resolve; admittedly, the time would come wherein my veracity would be tested.

The stage of life which presented the greatest challenge to my determined commitment to truth was young adulthood. A late bloomer by all standards, I was still living with my parents at age 25, following graduation from college. Once the opportunity arose to establish autonomy from them I moved out, while they were on vacation in Florida. My lifestyle, though hardly promiscuous by most standards, just prior to and following my leave taking I’d attempted to withhold from my family. This was my first venture into the realm of deceit.

And, because I had to justify this deceit in my own mind, rationale stepped up. Only one thing trumped full disclosure: the bonds of love. I needed my parents’ love, and that of my family; revealing everything about my life to them would have caused everyone involved pain, and created enmity, I decided.

Interestingly, now that I am older and fully autonomous, nothing about my life is hidden from anyone. There is no longer any motive for deceit.

(And, by way of history, my beloved brother cast off his childhood penchant in favor of a life as practical missionary. He has also, for 25 years, been the devoted husband to one wife, raised five boys, and repeatedly sacrificed his every personal desire in the service of his wife and family.)

Nevertheless, “bearing false witness” is the bane of both safe, and secure, existence. It renders a climate of suspicion, demands of its generation a degree of wariness that drains health, and obscures any possibility for mutual trust. A society of liars is, at best, one which renders its members in constant competition for power over the running story and the constituents in place to believe it.

All have known the discovery of a perpetrated lie. All know the stages of emotional response. And, all know the tenacious effects, long after the deed is done.

If I have a prayer at all, it is that humanity return to its earliest recognized truth, laying hold of and marketing its value to anyone who will hear. And, most of all, I pray for those with the courage to tell it.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  11/16/16     – All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your trustworthiness.

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Evolution and Christians of The Alphabetical Order.

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Yet another Sunday had come to its close. A certain combination of migraine medication side effect, rice pudding, the Autumnal Equinox, and the impending national election had proved a potent cocktail; I lay in bed, fighting a rare inability to fall asleep.

Sundays in my life had gone through a tangible evolution. What had been a consistent pattern of weekly church worship, from infancy through early adulthood, had been displaced by alternating themes: night shift sleep schedules; nocturnality; intellectual curiosity; and, ultimately, abdication (translation: loss of virginity). In my life, the Lord’s Day, like the Sabbath, had become indistinguishable from any other day of the week.

But, I would be intellectually dishonest were I to hide the fact that my belief patterns had also been morphing. The absolute truths put forth by proponents of the Holy Bible literalists had come into serious question and, with this, any commitment to a Christianity specifically defined.

What, after all, was Christianity? I’d read The History of Christianity, by Paul Tillich. I’d read other speculators, William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience among them. And, I’d read virtually every word of the Holy Bible – King James Version, Scofield Reference, and J.N. Darby translation. Raised by sectarian Fundamentalists to believe that the One Way To Worship was their exclusive domain, and accepting Jesus as my Personal Savior at age six, the moment I’d consciously set one toe outside of that sanctified corral had set me on a path leading directly to the Grand Nowhere.

Now, eyes to the ceiling in the dark, I ruminated. How many called to worship on that day, who called themselves Christians, were there, exactly?

Perhaps it was time to count sheep.

I began with the letter A.

A  — Abyssinian Greeks; Amish; Ames Brethren; Anglicans; Assemblies of God

B  — Baptists; Brethren, Church of;

C — Calvinists; Closed Brethren; Colossians; Converted Jews; Coptics; Corinthians;

D — Davidians; Denominationalists; Doctors of Divinity; Dogmatists;

E — Ecumenicals; Ephesians; Episcopalians; Evangelicals; Evangelical Frees;

F — Federated Free; Franciscans; Fundamentalists;

G — Galations; General Association of Regular Baptists; Gnostics; Gregorians;

H — Holiness Pentecostals; Holy Eastern Orthodox;

I  — Independent Baptists; Inter-Denominationalists; Irish Catholics;

J — Jehovah’s Witnesses; Jesuits; Jesus Freaks;

K — Knights Templar;

L — Laodiceans; Latter Day Saints; Lutherans;

M — Mennonites; Methodists; Mormons, Reformed;

N — Nazarenes; New Apostolics; non-Denominationalists;

O — Open Brethren; Orthodox Greeks;

P — Philippians; Plymouth Brethren; Protestants; Presbyterians; Pentecostals;

Q — Quakers;

R — Roman Catholics; Reformed, so called;

S — Scientist, Church of Christ; Seventh Day Adventists; Smyrnans;

T — Theologians, Academic; Thessalonians;

U — United Brethren; United Church of Christs’; Unitarians;

V — Vatican, The;

W — Wesleyan Methodists; Worldwide Church of God;

X — Xmas Celebrants;

Y — Youth Pastors;

Z — Zionists!

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Indeed. The alphabet proved a useful tool; its twenty six letters had successfully taken me across the spectrum of Christianity, from the Apostle Paul’s inception through to the present day.

Further research, beyond the ironic – though futile – quest for the letter “X”, revealed the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and their list of Official Denominational websites. In Hartford’s list, the number of entries for the letter “A” alone, while inclusive of other religions, exceeded the number of letters in the alphabet.

As I drifted off to sleep, a final thought formulated in my mind. It was neither a proclamation, nor a dogma, nor a tenet. Rather, it appeared as a challenge, in the form of this question:

When fairly addressing the argument for or against the theory of evolution, wouldn’t one only have to consider the history of the Christian church as evidence?

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 11/7/16    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect. Like my Mammy always said, “Prayer Changes Things.”

littlebarefeetblog.com