Mental Illness, Evil, the Church and the Newtown Tragedy

Weeping is not the same thing as crying, It takes your whole body to weep, and when it's over, you feel like you don't have any bones left to hold you up.  Sarah Ockler

Pethras-CReative Commons
Pethras-Wikicommons

There are so many things to say, and so many things that have been said, about Newtown. TWW does focus on the state of the evangelical church in the world  (I like writing that since we never thought this blog would go beyond a small subset in the southeast United States). My hope is to look at how the church processes mental illness in these circumstances. It will take me at least 2- 3 posts.

In the context of this discussion, the role of guns in this tragedy will come up. It is not my intent to make any sort of political statement. During my regular "after church" lunch with my usual gang yesterday, I was impressed with the different positions held by my friends. All of them had good reasons for their thoughts. So, I do not wish to get political and I hope my words will convey that.

Finally, words cannot express my grief at the loss of the lives of those dear children and their teachers. Even this morning, looking at the pictures of the two little guys who will be buried today, I started to cry. I pray that my discussion on this matter will not come across as diminishing the pain that will last a lifetime for the parents, friends and siblings of these children.

I am so grateful for a faith that offers the hope of an eternity of love to those cut down after such a short stay on this planet. As one father said "My daughter beat us to paradise." I believe that is true.

As many of you know, my daughter had a large brain tumor at the age of 3. Despite an initial poor prognosis, she survived and is beginning a new job as a nurse in a major university's surgical trauma/transplant ICU. In other words, if you wake up and she is your nurse, something bad has happened. Her pediatric neurosurgeon at Dallas Children's Hospital and I would have some interesting discussions during her checkups. I will never forget when he told me that he felt like a caveman when he operated on a small child's brain. He lamented that we have only a cursory understanding of how things work. He likened our understanding of what goes on in the brain to our understanding of the universe. We know, and see, very little.

I want to say this up front. I believe that mental illness is just that, an illness. The person who is mentally ill is no more evil than the person who has cancer. Both mental illness and cancer are a result of a fallen world. However,  a caveat-is in order. Unlike cancer, some forms of mental illness can result in behaviors that can bring  serious harm to others. Therein lies the rub. How do we, as a society, and a church, realistically deal with our limitations in our ability to diagnose, care for, and treat, the mentally ill while at the same time protecting our populace?  

Another caveat is in order.  Not all mental illness results in harm to others. There is a difference between paranoid schizophrenia and autism. Also, some people can have more than one mental illness diagnosis at the same time. We wrote a post looking at the problems of mental illness and the church called  You Are a Dirty Rotten Sinner. The Schizophrenia Is All in Your Head link. It featured a remarkable article in Christianity Today written by a man who is both a committed Christian and schizophrenic.

Also, not all people who are evil are mentally ill. For example, a woman who hears voices telling her to jump off a bridge is mentally ill. Stalin carried out mass murders for political expediency.

Finally, I believe that the church has been singularly remiss in dealing with mental illness. There are some strands of so-called biblical counseling which believes that all mental illness is caused by sin. Said treatment then focuses in on the sin and ignores available treatment modalities for problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disease. I believe this naive and dangerous.

There is no question that Adam Lanza was a deeply troubled young man and had been troubled for most of his life. The extent of his illness was obviously missed by his schools, family and medical professionals. This is another problem with mental illness. Serious illness can be overlooked until it is too late.I will also deal with this in following posts.

So we are left with a conundrum. How do we as a society, and then, as a church, deal with mental illness? First, we must face our own beliefs and prejudices in this matter.

With that in mind, here are a few statements that got my wheels turning. The first is a comment on Denny Burk's post about this tragedy. I made certain phrases bold. Link

Tim Hawkins December 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm #
A thought came to my mind: for those who would donate monies to aid the victims of natural disasters, could those same make donations to church planting churches/ministries/networks to have new churches planted in that area in order to increase gospel witness for the long-term work that will need to be done in the lives of those affected by this tragedy. I suspect that the communitiy/ies (sic) affected by this will need a faithful gospel witness to be present there for a long time. If any of Dr. Burk’s readers have been considering doing church planting work, consider this area.

The second comes from Kevin DeYoung link

We believe you mean for good what a 20-year old murderer meant for evil (Gen. 50:20).
Make us winsome in our witness for Christ, especially those who will be called upon in the days ahead to give a reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15).

A Day for Hatred by Jen Wilkin was also posted at The Gospel Coalition link

On days like today I will reflect again on the ravaging effects of rebellion against God, multiplied across millennia, manifested in a freshly printed headline. The more shocking the headline, the more I must come to grips with my minimized reckoning of the severity of sin. With Nehemiah I will cry out, "I and my fathers have sinned," freshly grieved over the sins of others—yes—but freshly grieved over my own sin as well. I have not pulled a trigger, but I have harmed my share of victims. The killer lies dead, but I live on to harm again. On days like today I will renew my resolve not to participate in tearing down what God pronounced good at the dawn of human existence. I cannot stop a murderer, but by the grace of God I can stop sinning against those he has given into my care.

Then, there were the Mike Huckabee statements. I am giving two quotes. His first statement is the one for which he received enormous pushback, even from Christians. The second is his attempt to clarify. Link

Statement 1: We ask why there's violence in our school but we've systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools have become such a place of carnage? Because we've made it a place where we don't want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability.

Statement 2: 

…liberals were accusing him of saying that the shooting would not have happened if the United States had prayer in schools. Arguing that he "said nothing of the sort," Huckabee explained that he was talking about a broader cultural shift in which discussions about God, faith and morality are considered only appropriated in religious institutions, not the public square.

"It's far more than just taking prayer or Bible reading out of the schools. It's that fact that people sue a city so we're not confronted with a manger scene or a Christmas carol, and lawsuits are filed to remove a cross that's a memorial to fallen soldiers. Churches and Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are 'sinful' and we call them 'disorders.' Sometimes we even say they are normal.

And, to get to where we have to abandon bedrock moral truths, then we are asked, well 'where was God?' And I respond that, as I see it, we've escorted Him right out of our culture and we've marched Him off the public square and then we express our surprise that a culture without Him actually reflects what it has become.

Denny Burk commenter

The first observer makes an assumption that charitable money is better spent to plant "gospel" churches  to deal with this tragedy. How does this person know that there are no "gospel" churches in the area already dealing with this tragedy? I once visited a newcomers class in an Anglican church. One of the pastors discussed his plan to plant a church in a nearby town in order to "bring people to Christ." I observed that there were already a large number of evangelical churches in that small community. I queried whether it was necessary to add one more church to compete with the others. He seemed confused and said they were doing it so there would be Anglican churches in the area. Obviously, this had little to do with bringing Christ to the community. It was to bring a "brand" of the faith to the community. Is this what that person meant?

What does he mean by "gospel?" I must admit I am a bit cynical when I see this word bandied about. In some circumstances gospel equates to doing church my way. It can mean Jesus+complementarian or Jesus+Young Earth creationism. 

The other concern I have is that "gospel" churches are somehow better able to intervene in this situation better than skilled mental health workers. In fact, I contend that some of today's NeoCalvinists look askance at psychiatric intervention and believe the root cause of mental illness is sin. I think that view is sinful since it ignores medical research in favor of supposed "biblical" theories.

Finally, there is a lot to be said for giving money to aid the victims of tragedies such as hurricanes. For example, in Haiti, devastated by an earthquake, there were plenty of churches preaching the Gospel. The people needed help in obtaining food, water, medicine and lodging far more than another satellite church.

Kevin DeYoung

Why does DeYoung assume he knows that this young man meant evil? Once again, Lanza was mentally ill. For example, perhaps Lanza believed he was preventing these children from living a tortured life as he did. Even this man's own mother did not know what was going on in his broken head. The act resulted in a terrible tragedy.But, we may never fully know what was "meant" by Lanza's actions.

I am also planning on fining any reader who uses the word "winsome." According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary link winsome means "generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence."  This is hardly the word to use to describe our demeanor during such a tragedy. We need people with the ability to express deep compassion tempered by seriousness. It is the type of empathy that weeps with those who weep not a guy with clever, pleasing answers.

When my daughter was sick, a friend from my Bible study came to see us. I was feeding my newborn son while my daughter lay next to me, with her head bandaged, face swollen and hooked up to IVs . He just stood there, and finally said "I don't know what to say except I am sorry."  I almost started to cry. He wasn't winsome,  just willing to help by being there. 

Jen Wilkin

This response puzzled me the most. We have families grieving and a community reeling from the slaughter of little children. It is hard to picture anything more terrible than tiny children being killed in such a fashion. This woman claims she has harmed her share of victims, although not in the same way. She now claims she lives to harm again.

Does she not understand how ridiculous this sounds? This is on the same narcissistic order of CJ Mahaney proclaiming himself to be the worst sinner he knows. Only Calvinistas can make a game of "I am a worse sinner than you are."  Somehow, if they can "prove" they are the worst, or almost the worst, sinner then they are somehow better Christians. It is the opposite of humility and comes across as self-focused. No, this woman will never harm others anything like what happened in Newtown. Good night! Only in Calvinistaville.

Mike Huckabee

In the first statement, he said that schools have become places of carnage because we have removed God from the schools. How does one remove God from anyplace? Just because teachers do not say a rote prayer, God is no longer present? I always thought that God now dwelt with His people through the Holy Spirit so isn't God present when there is even one of His people present? Also, isn't God supposed to be omnipresent?

I never got the prayer thing in schools anyway. If a non-Christian prays, does that mean God is now present, according to good Baptist theology?(Huckabee is an ordained Baptist preacher). What if it is a prayer by a Hindu? Does that mean that God is now back in the school according to Christians? I'm confused but I think Huckabee is as well.

He then says that the first statement was misunderstood. He then claims that carnage occurs because we no longer allow manger scenes on public property at Christmas and because businesses must provide abortion pill coverage. Now I am truly confused.  If we allow manger scenes on public property and religious institutions do not have to provide abortion pill coverage (which will probably happen anyway), then we will prevent carnage? 

Finally, is he implying that we can stop a mentally deranged individual if we say he is a sinner instead of saying that he has a disorder? I think I need some help in understanding his trajectory.

These are just a few thoughts to begin the discussion on this tragedy. I plan to look at this issue in more depth on Wednesday and Thursday. I am really interested in getting our readers' thoughts on some of these quotes.

In the meantime, TWW's prime directive is to always remember the victims. May God strengthen the families left behind.

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 4:1-5:31 Mark 12:18-37 Psalm 48:1-14 Proverbs 10:26

Comments

Mental Illness, Evil, the Church and the Newtown Tragedy — 265 Comments

  1. “Tim Hawkins December 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm #
    A thought came to my mind: for those who would donate monies to aid the victims of natural disasters, could those same make donations to church planting churches/ministries/networks to have new churches planted in that area in order to increase gospel witness for the long-term work that will need to be done in the lives of those affected by this tragedy. I suspect that the communitiy/ies (sic) affected by this will need a faithful gospel witness to be present there for a long time. If any of Dr. Burk’s readers have been considering doing church planting work, consider this area. ”

    Do these folks even begin to consider how arrogant all off this faithful gospel witness stuff sounds like to others–I doubt it? It nauseates me.

  2. One thing noted in some of the New York Times stories on Newtown: that there are *lots* of churches there.

    I wonder if any of the people Dee cited happened to notice that there were Friday evening vigils in various churches in Newtown, and that press photographers took pics of some of them? (One that’s especially poignant – published by the NYT – is of people standing outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown while the service was in progress.)

  3. Jay Adams is the Ken Ham of the anti-psychiatry/psychology movement. He is highly regarded by John MacArthur and Doug Wilson.

  4. Eagle:

    If Newtown is typical it already has many churches. It boggles my mind how the Burkes of this world think adding one of their churches is really going to change things.

  5. It nauseates me too, Mot! It’s as if they believe that Jesus told them they will be blessed if they plant “gospel” churches (whatever a gospel church is I don’t know). They need to be on their knees asking God how he wants them to love their neighbors, if they don’t know how.

  6. I am glad you are exploring this topic, Dee, and am certain there will be many important concerns that come to light.

    I’d like to respond to the quote from Tim Hawkins. While I can understand that people with an entrepreneurial spirit tend to automatically think of church planting as a way to minister, his suggestion in this particular case smelled to me of “church planters as ambulance chasers.”

    I’ve not been particularly impressed with how the theologically conservative church in general deals with trauma, loss, and grief. (In part that is witnessed to by how they don’t deal well with survivors of spiritual abuse, and too often are creating victims of spiritual abuse.) So I have discernment gongs going off in my spirit that landing a bunch of church planters at a town where something like this happened is an aftershock disaster waiting to happen — regardless of the sincerity and gifting of the planters.

    You want to plant a church there? Send in well qualified grief and trauma counselors to serve however they are asked/invited, even if it does not include grief counseling. Then, if relationships arise with local people, who knows what God might do — especially if those who serve are willing to go there for perhaps the rest of their lives to become part of the community.

    But go in with a strategic plan to plant a church “for the glory of God and the gospel,” and you put the cart before the horse, not the heart before the course. Don’t pimp vulnerable people in the name of providence.

    You can quote me on that.

  7. Bridget:

    Here is what troubles me the most these days in my Christian walk–I can not tolerate the Burkes, etc. who must have studied and read about a different Jesus than I have. They seem to think they have all the answers. Their smugness is a major turnoff to me.

  8. Numo –

    I saw that clip and thought it was wonderful. It seemed like the Reverands of St. Rose of Lima knew that the people would want a place to gather and mourn together and they opened their doors for whoever wanted to come. I could picture Jesus is the midst of a group like this comforting the broken hearted.

  9. I 100% agree on the Jen Wilkin thing. It’s almost as if she wants to try for false-humility and tell others that she thinks she and everyone else that is a sinner is going to kill others. It makes no sense and it is making it more about her.
    I think it’s good for us to cry, to care, to offer help if needed and we can. BUT, to “take on” this pain as if we are the family and it’s something that we use to say, “oh, poor me” is ridiculous. we need to focus on those that are DIRECTLY involved and offer help or space or whatever they need.
    We absolutely have NO IDEA what these families are going through…victims and killers families. Yea, again, I agree, Jen went too far and internalized it to say that SHE is just as capable of killing?!?! NOT the time to be doing that.

  10. Bridget – To me, it is moving – but not surprising – that the priests at St. Rose of Lima did what they did, so that people had a place to gather, grieve and comfort one another.

    Like you, I can easily picture Jesus in the midst of such a gathering.

  11. have had a couple of encounters with Jay Adam’s work, and I deplore it. Way way back in the dark ages of my youth, when I did half a uni degree before dropping out, a group of us who were Christian social work students (from a wide variety of denominational backgrounds) started reading Competent to Counsel. We couldn’t finish it, we were so appalled by the lack of compassion and the rejection of the most basic understanding of psychology. It actually , now I think of it, feeds right into the mentality of churches who handle abuse so badly, since it basically works on the assumption that the person who comes to the counsellor’s office always has a sin problem they have to deal with — even if their ‘sin’ is a discontented attitude to their suffering. even as a naive bunch of 19 and 20 year olds, our immediate response was, “but what if the problem is that someone else is sinning against them?”

    The second time was years later, when I was dealing with some heavy issues and was confronted by some church ‘leaders’ and told that I should stop seeing my own counsellor (who also happened to be a Christian) and just rely on them because “we know the Bible and we’ve read Competent to Counsel”

    My reply was to ask if they knew anything about X, Y &Z (specific issues I was dealing with) “No, but that doesn’t matter because we know the Bible.” I told them that I preferred to put my trust in someone who knew something about those issues.

    The people of Newtown need to be wept with and loved, not preached at

  12. Tammy Carter

    Jen Wilkins sounds like a typical Calvinista. They love to point out just how bad they are. The more they moan and groan how bad they are, the more they seem to think it shows just how good a Christian they are. So, I have a solution. When CJ Mahaney, the Calvinista’s Calvinsta says he is the worst sinner he knows, I say “so be it.” Therefore, I think SGM should ditch him for the second worst sinner he knows. They would probably be better off.

    Secondly, Jen should be reported to the authorities since she believes she is capable of “almost” doing something as heinous. Good night, these people are strange.

  13. Alright, you are probably not going to like this, but other than the “calling sin disorders” thing, I liked Huckabee’s clarification.

    You say you don’t understand his trajectory, but he isn’t talking about cause and effect. He isn’t saying that more prayer in school or more manger scenes would prevent mass murders. He’s saying that the evidence is that we don’t care about God until we can blame him for the evil in this world.

    I do take issue with the “calling disorders sin”. This shows a lack of willingness to understand and deal with real medical issues. Sometimes sin does get labled as an emotional disorder, but disorders are real and you are leaving people out by not taking into account their real needs. First understand the problem, then try to understand how the individual is taking responsibility for their behavior. Don’t assume we all have the same sets of challenges to deal with.

    Regarding Burke, he’s making a time honored and tragic mistake. Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice is very direct about the kind of stuff that Burke is selling here. He talks about the words “justice” and “righteousness” and how often they are coupled together in the Old Testament. Justice means giving people their due: punishing the wicked and elevating the oppressed. Righteousness is a way of living that if everyone pursued it, would render justice unnecessary. This latter approach is what Burke is pushing for (let’s get everyone to live righteously, then we won’t have any problems!), but the Bible clearly commands both and not to do one at the expense of the other. This is not now social conservatives think.

    Regarding the “what he meant for evil”, I honestly don’t think it’s too far out of line. The point was not so much about the intentions of the gunman, but about God’s ability to turn evil for good. The specific language he used is a clear Biblical reference trying to make that point. It WAS an evil act– how much to blame a mentally disordered person is a difficult subject. Perhaps he could have said it better by saying “what the enemy meant for evil”.

    Wilken’s piece is just disturbing.

  14. Oh, I realize I attributed to Burk what was really a commenter. I misunderstood- please accept my apologies.

  15. I’ve spent a lot of time living in New England. Let me be the first to say, we DO NOT need TGC churches up there. Ask ministers of the faith, those outside the TGC circle, and they’ll tell you about the nicknames they’ve given to that crowd post-911. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, not plant churches aimed at wealthy suburbanites.

    And one more thing….

    Please take 5 minutes and read the absolute drivel posted on Denny Burk’s blog under the Joe Scarb post. None other than Frank Turk reveals the absolute crap that dwells in his heart and mind. I hope and fervently pray that fewer and fewer people will stumble upon his blog or his comments. He’s messed up.

  16. Dee,

    Great post and some keen insight into the thinking of some well known conservative bloggers.

    I have to say though that I am in pretty strong agreement that the shooter meant evil in all of this. Joseph’s brothers actions could be rationalized that young Joseph was tearing apart the family because of his father’s affection and favoritism. I would encourage you to rethink that particular critique. I think the shooter or perpetrator of a crime like this must be identified as one who meant evil, otherwise we will have abusers saying their intent was to show care or love to their victims. All that to say, I appreciate your general critique of some of the crap coming out of the Calvinista circles on this, but would like you to consider that the shooters intentions can be said to be evil.

  17. Planting churches?? to eat up MORE of people’s resources for salaries, square footage, utilities, office supplies, and furniture?? GOOD GRIEF

    Sounds like the Great Clips that just moved in 20 yards from the Sports Clips. And the Lowes that moved in 2 miles from the Home Depot. And the 4th Target to be built within 10 miles of where I live, so that no matter where I am I can be at a Target or a Walmart in less than 2 minutes’ time. Isn’t that just great?!

  18. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at a very young age and had to deal with it for much of my life. I also still have an anxiety disorder.

    I was told over the years by various Christians that I must not be really saved, because a genuine Christian could not have mental health problems.

    Still other Christians have very naive or insensitive views about depression and think if one just prays enough or has enough faith one can be healed of it.

    Some Christians suggest you read your Bible – Bible reading does not cure one of depression, neither does volunteering at soup kitchens and the like.

    A Christian doctor wrote a very good book about this topic. Used copies of it are for sale on online book store sites:

    Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded? Helping (Not Hurting) Those With Emotional Difficulties, by Dwight L. Carlson, M.D.

    Most Christians (including famous pastors Dr. Carlson quotes in the book above)are terribly ignorant and insensitive about mental health problems.

    Nouthetic counseling makes me want to vomit (Nouthetic counseling counselors use only the Bible alone to counsel patients. The upshot is they tell their hurting patients that their problems, even depression, is all their fault and is due to personal and/or unconfessed sin).

    I’m too sleepy to comment about other aspects of the post. I might do that tomorrow or later, but I at least wanted to discuss how dismal the church is in dealing with Chritians who have psychological problems.

    It’s okay and acceptable in Christian circles to have diabetes, cancer, a runny nose with sniffles, or a broken leg, but you’re a pariah if you admit to having bipolar disorder, anxiety problems, depression, or other mental health issues.

    There is all kinds of prejudice against Christians who are hurting emotionally or who have a mental health illness.

  19. I hate the word “winsome.” It reminds me of another word I hate, “wholesome.” Those words sound so goody-goody. I’ve been a goody-goody my whole life, but I hate frumpy words like that.

  20. Daisy, I understand a lot about your fight with depression and how the church can make it more difficult. Ultimately my ex used a depression diagonsis as an excuse for some really awful behavior, but as I was trying to be supportive through that I saw many people who really worked hard at it an were able to heal (not as in get rid of the depression, but as in be able to work through it).

    But I was fighting a battle on two fronts. One was against my wife who was consistently not following through with her treatment and lashing out at me, and the other was against my church, who thought that by supporting her getting treatment (other than Nouthetic counsling or the ladies of the church visiting to teach her how to be a proper wife, both of which I protested) I was not honoring my marriage.

    But I heard all of the garbage you are talking about. She just needed to “snap out of it”, or read some Bible verses, etc. I remember the pastor preaching a sermon while my ex was in a mental hospital and lamenting that we would turn to mental health professionals instead of the church. I was the worship leader of the church and he knew she was in the hospital- that stung.

    I remember in the church I went to after I left that church (and my divorce) a woman got up to share her testimony about fighting depression. She talked about how for years she wouldn’t take the medication thinking that Jesus could heal her and taking the medication was not trusting in the Lord. Well, she finally did and it helped her a lot. It seems she had done a lot of hard work, but counted the medication as part of God’s grace in her life. I broke down in tears during her testimony because it was wonderful to be in a church that saw healing from depression using medication as part of God’s grace, not something to be condemned. But it was also hard, because I saw this woman fight hard to live a normal life and that was something my wife would or could not do.

  21. Some christians are woefully, pitifully, pathetically wrong & judgemental about mental illness… Jay Adams makes me want to puke. Where is the love?
    On the other hand some get things so right…this Lutheran group sent their therapy dogs to Newtown…I’ll post a link later when I’m not on my phone. Lots & lots of silent love, that’s right calvinistas, love not speaking, not your ‘gospel’droning, something warm & alive & empathetic:)

  22. When I see the calvinstas use ‘winsome’ I now think ‘ win some, lose some…meh, who cares?’

  23. Dee, thank you for a perceptive post on a difficult subject. I have a relative who is mentally ill and it is very much a taboo in society (and the church). I look forward to reading more.

  24. We are fallen creatures living in a fallen world….we need help/hope/love.It never ceases to amaze me how, * men of God * become so alienated from fallen humanity, almost like they are hoping mankind disintegrates into hell so they can say,’told ‘ya so.”
    As for the church planting BS…..can’t they understand this reeks of predatory action. Swoop in and go after the wounded prey.
    Jesus worked, one on one, with the hurting…..personal evangelism is the heart and soul of sharing the good news.
    I live in CT. was born and raised in greater Boston area. Lived in greater Atlanta in the early 80’s went to a church that was going to plant a new church in NE…..do it the “baptist” way and souls would be running down the aisles to be saved. How do we stop the nonsense of convincing denominations it isn’t methods, programs,or conformity to rules, that brings salvation? Lord help us.
    Am so looking forward to the discussions on mental health in the church. From my own family experience with schizophrenia and my own battles with a traumatic experience in my youth, I know labeling mental disease and societal dysfunctions as, “sin” does nothing but hurt those who are suffering through great pain and angst. It’s a lonely, sad environment too many Christians suffer through and with, their entire Christian walk.

  25. Much mental illness and other brain wiring issues in our extended family, including bipolar and other depression, OCD, paranoid schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, ADD (that’s me), probably Tourette’s, and supposedly Aspergers. One cousin is in a mental hospital right now (she has been very ill for over 20 years) and my husband is a caregiver for another very ill (psych issues) relative. We would appreciate your prayers for both of these women and the others in our family who are mentally ill or are their parents/caregivers. Christmas can be especially hard.

    My thoughts on last Friday:
    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2012/12/advent-interrupted.html

  26. From a CNN article http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/18/us/connecticut-school-shooting/index.html?c=homepage-t&page=0

    “Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist and autism expert at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, also said the gunman’s actions can’t be linked with autism spectrum disorders.
    “Aggression and violence in the ASD population is reactive, not preplanned and deliberate,” he said.
    For example, sometimes children with autism will get violent because they are sick or frustrated and unable to communicate how they feel.”

    This is consistent with what I have seen with Aspergers which does not necessarily impede communication like other forms of autism: reactive anger but not premeditated malice. Very sweet when calm.

  27. @ Daisy & Jeff S.:

    I live in CT and some the churches (even ones from the opposite end of the state where I live) are sending parishioners to Newtown to get 1-2 day training as grief counselors. I’m unclear on the details of the program but I know Calvary Chapel and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are involved somehow. I know about it because a family friend went for the training. I bring this up because the parishioners sent don’t have to be trained psychiatrists/counselors (obviously or they wouldn’t need a crash course) and our friend said that the presenters said things along the lines of “we don’t need to be trained because we have Jesus/the Bible.” I hope it’s not outright nouthetic counseling; it didn’t sound like it was.

    I’m also disturbed by all the language being thrown around calling Asperger’s a mental illness. Aspies and spectrum kids are not mentally ill, their brains are just wired differently. But many people (includ. nationally known political pundits – always a good source of psychiatric advice, I know) are saying things like “Can’t we fix THESE PEOPLE?” or “THOSE PEOPLE need to be medicated!” “Those people” is classic “othering” and discrimination language. It makes it sound like Asperger’s automatically makes you murder people and can just be “fixed” with meds. This is so flat-out wrong I can’t even begin to describe how wrong it is and to be blunt, as someone who is likely on the autism spectrum, it’s starting to p*** me off.

    So many things about this shooting in the popular media are being handled terribly.

  28. @ Virginia:

    “Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist and autism expert at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, also said the gunman’s actions can’t be linked with autism spectrum disorders.”

    Thank goodness. He’d better tell that to the talking heads quick before they succeed in communicating to the public that Aspies are Public Enemy #1.

  29. Mental illness is a huge issue, and it seems to me that even today we are still scratching the surface when it comes to understanding it.

    Another good book I would recommend in relation to this is John White’s “Masks of Melancholy”. White was a Christian psychiatrist who had a balanced view of the issue (in my opinion anyway). I’m not sure if it’s still in print but it’s worth looking out for. White was not afraid to talk about the need for some patients at least to keep taking medication. At the same time he recommended two pastoral books by Christian authors, “A Lifting Up For the Downcast” by William Bridge and “Spiritual Depression” by Martin Lloyd-Jones. It is important to note however that neither of the latter two books, as good as they are, deal with the more severe illnesses where medication becomes a necessity.

  30. Silent observer

    Thank you for your kind comment.

    As far as we know, Jospeh’s brothers were not mentally ill. Therefore, they were making excuses for their actions and their actions were deliberately evil. They purposely sinned.

     The point I was making is that a broken mind does not process things in a rational way. For example, a psychotic might perceive a traffic cop at an intersection as an alien trying to abduct people. The actions of the psychotic might then be to kill the alien in order to prottect the lives of the innocent. Such a person did not mean to kill a traffic cop. He thought he killed an alien.

    Part of the role of psychiatrists within the justice systme is to determine whether or not the person knew what they were doing at the time of the crime. So,  on the part of a child abuser, the psychiatrist would proble to see if they understood their actions and whether or not they knew what they were doing was wrong.

    When my children were little, I spent a lot of time determining motives for their actions. For example, did my son deliberately decided not to take out the garbage or did he  just forget because his best friend came ot the door? The first would result in a punishment like no TV for the evening. The second would result in me helping him to make a chart of his responsibilities and strategizing how to remember when certain taks needed to be done. Motives are important.

    I highly recommend that you watch the movie, A Beautiful Mind, based on the true story of Nobel Laureate John Nash. This brlliant man was a schizophrenic. The movie brings you into his thoughts and throws you some surprises. My husband said that movie helped him more to understandthe struggles of the mentally ill than all his psych lectures in medical school.

    I hope this helps you to better understand my thinking.

  31. Brad

    Awesome comment!!

    You want to plant a church there? “Send in well qualified grief and trauma counselors to serve however they are asked/invited, even if it does not include grief counseling. Then, if relationships arise with local people, who knows what God might do — especially if those who serve are willing to go there for perhaps the rest of their lives to become part of the community.”

  32. Nicholas

    In some way I must insert this into my next post. Send “tratcs” for relief! Banging head against a wall.

  33. We believe you mean for good what a 20-year old murderer meant for evil Kevin DeYoung

    Of all the Clavinista beliefs, this is the one I find most appalling. Somehow, God allowed the slaughter of 20 children and seven adults because something “good” was to come out of it. This is a touchstone of Calvinista doctrine and the Calvinistas will quote Romans 8:28 ad nauseum: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

    My question has always been, how did this work out for the good of the victims? There’s no rationale on earth or in heaven to explain how this worked out for the good of 6 and 7-year old children who are now dead. It is not “God’s will” that horrible tragedies like this happen, it is up to us, by loving our neighbor, to do whatever we can to prevent them.

  34. Jeff T:

    Wonder what parents of small children who are quoting Romans 8:28 would say to someone who quoted this to them if their children were killed in a tragedy like Newtown. Why don’t these people just shut up!!

  35. I have an infamous mentally ill ancestor. His name was Edward Wightman. His claim to fame was to be the very last person burned at the stake for heresy in England. This was in the late 1500s and King James ordered him burned at the stake. I have read a lot on Edward and believe that he was mentally ill and some, maybe not all, of the heresy he spouted all over the place was due to his illness.

    But what satan meant for evil God used for good. Edward’s children moved to the colonies and were involved in the formation of the Baptist churches in colonial America. Their families married into other families involved in God’s work such as Roger Williams and Obadiah Holmes among many others. Obadiah is also the ancestor of Abraham Lincoln. You can kind of see how my family links together because of one mentally ill ancestor.

    What happened in Conneticut is heinous. I pray that God will be with these people in Newtown and use all this for the good.

  36. JeffS

    Enjoyed your thoughtful comment. I think it is very important in the dialogue about mental illness that we nuance our comments. So, for example, saying  “Perhaps he could have said it better by saying “what the enemy meant for evil”. It could be helpful if the speaker were to say that, by enemy, we mean Satan since today, many people might not have a clue what the enemy means. Satan uses all the frailities of mankind to his advantage. So, I would have no trouble with such a statement.

    As for removing God from the public square, that is an interesting debate. I wonder if people mean “removing Christ” from the public square instead? Why? Because our society combines an untold number of faiths-from Native American to Hindu to Wiccan and so on. When we talk about bringing God “back” to the public, do we mean to have a society in which we allow every faith to have a say? So, how would it affect you if a Wiccan got to say the opening prayer for a baseball game? In other words, the Romans, at the time of Jesus, had “gods” as part of their culture. Yet they persecuted the Christians and destryoed the Temple.

    Unless one is a dominionist, a subject I am dying to discuss at some point, how would you propose instituting a God that you worship as the one and only God of our country? And see how that has worked out in Europe. Lutheranism is the state religion of Norway and Sweden yet most people don’t go to church and the government, which became  liberal, controlled who is appointed to church positions resulting in a compromised church.

     

  37. Scott

    Did you know that I became a Christian as a teen in Salem, MA. At the time, I was the only Christian, apart from a couple of seminary students that I knew. I was able to make my way to Park Street Church in Boston which helped me on my way. Over time I grew to know a numebr of churches and pastors ministering in the area. I left a numebr of years ago.

    Could you give me an insights into the Christian scene in New England. I have a brother who spends his time between Revere and Milton NH. I would love to hear what is going on.

    I do not get Frank Turk and many like him. 

  38. My Southern coworkers (we have a virtual office) have expressed the opinion that everyone should be armed to the teeth. I have been very clear that I will not have a gun in my house. It’s not because I’m an ardent gun control person. If I was, I would have insisted we melt down daddy’s antique shotgun rather than find a place to store it where it wouldn’t get accessed accidentally by my now-blind father.

    Thing is, because of the stigma about mental illness in this country, I couldn’t tell my coworkers WHY I don’t have a gun in my house for protection, even though I’m a single woman living alone. I have a diagnosis of chronic major depression and I take medication on a daily basis so I can live a halfway decent life. But if there was a gun available to me, and I was depressed and thinking dark thoughts, what’s to say I wouldn’t blow my brains out (or at least try to)? I spent 10 days in a hospital in 1999 because I was actively suicidal–I KNOW I have the ability to do myself in if in the right mood. I don’t want a gun around here.

    To me, it’s the height of responsibility NOT to have deadly weapons around the house. But to my friends and coworkers who think guns will solve every problem of violence in the country…I can’t say this.

    I will say this, however…I’m thinking we also have to stop tiptoeing around discussing gun control in this country as well. We have to do something. And realize in the beginning, it’s not going to be perfect. We found that out with seatbelt laws. They had to be tweaked to move kids to the back seat and to buckle them up in special seats, because adult seatbelts and adult airbags can kill. But we can’t do nothing anymore. It’s not acceptable to me.

  39. Great post. The effects of mental illness vary from person to person, but often blurs the line between reality and fantasy, disrupts normal cognitive processes, which makes the word “choice” a misnomer.

    At age 17 I witnessed my own father “snap” into a state of psychosis, thankfully he is a peaceful man and he was very childlike as opposed to violent. But I can clearly attest that he lacked the ability to make reasonable judgement and broke about every social code in the book. (He was treated and is just fine now.)

    It is not hard for me to imagine how a person with a dark heart of anger, bitterness and rage when paired with mental illness could do horrible things. Mental illness does not negate the blame of sin, but sin does not negate the reality of mental illness either. Only God knows what He will hold Adam Lanza accountable for.

  40. SW Discomfort, that’s the reason I don’t have a gun in the house, either. I also deal with depression and I’m afraid that in a dark moment, I might use it on myself. The other reason is that I have a child with autism who can be very curious, and I don’t want him getting his hands on a deadly weapon.

    I don’t have answers for why the shooting happened. All I know is that my heart breaks for these people.

  41. I’d like to ask what difference there is between these people who want to plant (the proper kind of) churches and Scientology’s “Volunteer (really: Vulture) Ministers”?

    If you’re offended by the comparison, you should be. Because that’s how it comes across. These people are taking advantage of a terrible tragedy to sell their allegedly life-changing philosophy, which doesn’t even begin to address the issue at hand, which is the proliferation of guns.

    And you should know that the Vulture Ministers showed up in Newtown, just as they showed up after the Virginia Tech massacre. In Newtown, they were giving out “free hugs,” but that was preparatory to getting them sucked into the New Haven org so they could have their wallets hoovered. So yeah, the comparison is not just apt, but disgustingly true.

  42. “As for removing God from the public square, that is an interesting debate.”

    To be clear- I am not for teaching Christianity in schools or even school prayer. However, I am also of the opinion that we go too far in making sure no one has to ever interact with Christianity. My mother tells the story when I was growing up how the school was very inclusive during the holidays to have religious symbols for every faith. The symobl for Christianity? A Christmas tree.

    Some other examples of going too far: Schools that will only let Christians organizations meet before school hours not after. Or teachers not being allowed to even identify as Christians. Yes, a beloved teacher identifying as a Christian and even answering questions a curous student might have will influence that student, but that is not the same things as the state establishing a religion. Now if said teacher starts using his or her position to oppress students of a different faith, that’s when it becomes an issue.

    Our children are going to be influenced by all manner of things in this world. I would have NO issue with a teacher identifying as a Muslim and answering any questions my child has. I would have a problem if said teacher started giving my child poor grades based on my child’s faith.

    The line isn’t easy to draw, but I do agree we’ve gone too far.

    Now what that has to do with the shooting? Well I don’t agree that this is the cause- I do think that it is hypcritical for people to bring God into the discussion only when they want to blame him, but not when they are seeking to serve and honor him.

    Having said all of the above- my hope is not in the government, schools, or public systems of law and order. My faith will grow whether it is in the public square or not, and I will lead my family in faith no matter what the world is doing. My focus is always on sharing my faith with those who will listen, not trying to make people adhere to what I think is right out of obligation. So really the only point of all of this is- I’m actually fine with God not being in the public square. What I’m not fine with is only dragging him in to blame him and then escorting him out again when you’re done, especially when he is showing up in ways that are healing.

  43. Re: planting churches in areas following disasters
    After 911 NAMB diverted some disaster relief dontations to church planting work in the area. They were found out, called on it, and lost some degree of credibility over the matter. They have been clear in their disaster relief fundraising since and do a good job.

    Enjoy your stuff.

  44. “Not all mental illness results in harm to others. There is a difference between paranoid schizophrenia and autism.”

    I’m not sure if you meant to classify autism as a mental illness or not.
    Autism is a neurobiological disorder. It is not classified as a mental illness.

    That said, when people with autism become violent, that violence is usually directed at themselves–and if they do become violent towards other people, it’s usually in a lashing out fashion, mainly because they cannot cope with the situation at hand. The CT shooter, IMO, didn’t act in the heat of the moment. This was planned. If the shooter had any form of autism, it is mixed in with some other kind of disorder.

  45. Hi Tina – this is what I said yesterday on another thread :

    ‘I’d like to point out though that autism/aspergers are developmental disorders, not mental illnesses, although the possible social issues, isolation & so on, may very well contribute to such individuals also having mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety problems. This is where it all becomes very complicated…in things such as personality disorders which are called mental conditions, a sufferer may have had such poor nurturing during the first months of life that they are neurologically impaired when it comes to attaching to other people, feeling empathy & so on. This is not their fault, but may result in behaviour towards others that is considered ethically wrong, cruel or harmful…unless somehow their ability to feel for others is strengthened, or their poor behaviour replaced with better behaviour for compelling (to them) reasons other than fellow-feeling. Very very confusing.

  46. And Numo enlightened me with the fact that Autism is in the American Psychiatric Association’s DMV, which I hadn’t known, so there may be very good reasons that the public at large don’t understand teh difference between this & mental illness.

    I meant this to all be one post but my geriatric work computer wouldn’t let me write anything else in the box…

  47. I am a gun owner and thankful to have a means of protecting myself from someone who may try to harm me. Having once been grabbed and fondled by a man as I was out for a walk, I am not willing to be defenseless again. While I do not carry a gun in public, I always carry pepper spray. My husband does carry concealed.
    At home we use long weapons to protect our livestock and I keep a shotgun in my closet for defense against human predators.

  48. When I look at issues like this, I see both sides. The church historically needs to improve at counseling, and I have noticed that the secular world is often better than the Christian world in terms of books and the like. However, as a Christian….it is also true that premeditated, cold-blooding killing sprees are also the result of pure, raw EVIL and need to be dealt with as such…if I were there, I would have shot him without a qualm. And felt good about it. I would NOT have had any hand in rehabilitation or trying to understand “why.” The “whys” don’t matter anymore. I am glad he shot himself and saved the state millions in therapy and incarceration and lawyers. And I don’t feel guilty saying that at all.

  49. First, whenever something like this happens, somebody, somewhere, is going to shoot his mouth off.

    Does she not understand how ridiculous this sounds? This is on the same narcissistic order of CJ Mahaney proclaiming himself to be the worst sinner he knows. Only Calvinistas can make a game of “I am a worse sinner than you are.” Somehow, if they can “prove” they are the worst, or almost the worst, sinner then they are somehow better Christians.

    In other words, “WHAT ABOUT MEEEEEEEEE? IT’S ALL ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!”

    And as for Asperger’s, I have long suspected I’m borderline Aspergers. And one of my writing partners shows clear symptoms of Aspergers. I’m active in several offbeat SF & Fantasy fandoms, and they’re all well-seasoned with Aspies. Judging from their stories, an Aspie is much more likely to be the Omega at the bottom of the heap than anything else.

    And just last night, a friend related to me an encounter with a schoolteacher who said that Aspies, loners, and different ones are dangerous “infectious diseases” that schoolchildren need to be protected from.

  50. Of all the Clavinista beliefs, this is the one I find most appalling. Somehow, God allowed the slaughter of 20 children and seven adults because something “good” was to come out of it. This is a touchstone of Calvinista doctrine and the Calvinistas will quote Romans 8:28 ad nauseum: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” — JeffT

    I would really like to hear Eagle’s reaction to that one. (I would recommend body armor and a real solid bunker.)

    And how does that differ from “In’shal’lah… Eh, Kismet?”

  51. re: William Thornton on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:59 AM said: “Re: planting churches in areas following disasters – After 911 NAMB diverted some disaster relief dontations to church planting work in the area. They were found out, called on it, and lost some degree of credibility over the matter. They have been clear in their disaster relief fundraising since and do a good job.”

    Thanks for posting that William …

    From all I have seen of the Southern Baptist disaster relief system, it is stellar! It’s a case study example on timely, compassionate, and practical ministry. They keep their equipment maintained (vehicles, cooking stations, etc.), have periodic trainings to certify workers, and are on site as quickly as possible. Their system allows them to mobilize hundreds to thousands of qualified short-term workers quickly, and from all I’ve heard, have developed a good reputation for collaborating well in the work that they do.

  52. im Hawkins December 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm #
    A thought came to my mind: for those who would donate monies to aid the victims of natural disasters, could those same make donations to church planting churches/ministries/networks to have new churches planted in that area in order to increase gospel witness for the long-term work that will need to be done in the lives of those affected by this tragedy.

    This is somewhere between “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” and the Soviet one-size-fits-all response of “Increase Political Consciousness among the Masses.” With maybe a bit of sheep-rustling startup. And Selling More Fire Insurance.

  53. justabeliever

    I’m sorry that you feel that way. I think we should be saddened by the loss of any life regardless of whether they are the perpetrator or the victim.

  54. Fendrel – I would have felt sorry for him UP TO the point that he chose, with planning, to murder innocents out of his hatred for life, or possibly himself. Such men cannot be left loose in our society. Evil is not to be pitied – it has to be dealt with.

  55. “A thought came to my mind: for those who would donate monies to aid the victims of natural disasters, could those same make donations to church planting churches/ministries/networks to have new churches planted in that area in order to increase gospel witness for the long-term work that will need to be done in the lives of those affected by this tragedy.”

    I suspect there is another concern here. Money is not flowing as easily as it once was in the SBC. They are concerned. How can you plant YRR Calvinista churches without money? So, make the answer to the evil, planting churches.

    In any event, Burk is displaying the cult tactic of “doctrine over people” with his suggestion that churches be planted right after a horrible tragedy.

  56. justabeliever

    I am not saying that we shouldn’t protect society and if I had been there I would have tried to stop him by any means necessary to protect those children.

    However, I do not believe in “evil” per se, only evil actions. Adam was also a victim, maybe of mental health issues, maybe from abuse at home or as a child, we may never know, but had he not died, he still would deserve compassion and help even if it meant that we needed to keep him isolated from society indefinitely.

  57. “We believe you mean for good what a 20-year old murderer meant for evil (Gen. 50:20).”

    This is the problem with Calvinista doctrine. Since God controls every molecule, then He controlled the slaughter that took place. Humans are not really responsible nor can they make real choices. So when you have a verse like above translated from the Calvin paradigm, it becomes death instead of life. You have to have your child brutally murdered for God to show His glory and good to happen?

    “Make us winsome in our witness for Christ, especially those who will be called upon in the days ahead to give a reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15).”

    Oh Please. Definition of winsome which I think has been discussed here:

    charming: charming, especially because of a naive, innocent quality

    Does this ring shallow or what?

    we to be real, open, honest, transparent, wise, gentle.

    ARe they really suggesting being naive is a good witness? This word seems to be becoming another “role” to play in their world. Basically, when I see that word, I can only think: Be a fake for Jesus.

  58. “None other than Frank Turk reveals the absolute crap that dwells in his heart and mind. I hope and fervently pray that fewer and fewer people will stumble upon his blog or his comments. He’s messed up.”

    I simply don’t understand this comment. Also, Turk’s post on pyro today is outstanding.

  59. ” I have not pulled a trigger, but I have harmed my share of victims. The killer lies dead, but I live on to harm again. On days like today I will renew my resolve not to participate in tearing down what God pronounced good at the dawn of human existence. I cannot stop a murderer, but by the grace of God I can stop sinning against those he has given into my care. ”

    ACtually, it makes no sense. God pronounced His crowning creation, humans, as very good. We bear His image. It was corrupted by the fall, of course. She is tearing it down herself by putting herself in the same category as one who brutally massacred those children and adults. Unless there is something we need to know about her for future protection?

    Anyone else get the feeling that they are selling something as if such hyperbolic emotional words gain followers because they do not stop and analyze the word meanings but follow the emotion? Is this just more of Piper clones?

  60. A tradgedy of this nature may best be served by the local Christians doing the following. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself.

  61. A big question is whether or not we are willing to develop and devote the resources to deal with those kids whose particular mental illness makes them a danger to themselves and/or others. We ignore kids like these at our peril. Here’s an article about one from our area that murdered two women in Iowa:

    http://www.startribune.com/local/125693298.html?refer=y

    Here’s another article on a parent who faced agonizing decisions about her son:

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/18/us/connecticut-shooting-anarchist-soccer-mom/?hpt=he_c1

  62. So, in effect, you just took a national tragedy and used it as an excuse to criticize “calvinistas”.

    What’s new?

    I am assuming tomorrow will be criticize SGM day ha ha.

    Oh, and why is there no link to SGM Survivors on here? Curious about that.

  63. Jeff S makes some good points. I agree with him and will not repeat them.

    We may not like what Dobson said and how he said it, but the chilling fact is sometimes God does remove His hand of restraint and let us have what we think we want. Scripture is clear He sometimes does judge a nation with painful results. I have no idea if this is part of judgement or not. If it isn’t, grand. If it is, repentance is in order.

    Jen Wilkens is spot on from my Wesleyan perspective.

    All disease is the result of sin–no, not of the sick person necessarily but that is where our fallen world suffered ruin. Sin entered it and with sin, death.

    I’ve come to prefer the term brain disease or brain malfunction over developmental disability or mental illness. When the brain doesn’t work right, nothing does. Not learning, not moods, not reasoning, nothing.

    So in that sense this is the result of sin. Ancestral sin, as the Orthodox call it.

    I believe everytime we violate the will of God, telling ourselves our pet sin hurts no one else or that it is victimless or that we were born that way and cannot help it, we contribute to stalling “His kingdom come, His will be done.” In that sense I agree we all helped this to happen. It isn’t blaming the victims, but acknowledging we have chosen to be a sick culture.

    As to what needs to be done to prevent this type of tragedy? I believe we need to eliminate John and Jane Q citizen from having assault weapons. I believe the background check should be widened so that those with family members showing mental or developmental illness cannot purchase weapons.

    But mostly, we need to provide good, compassionate secure inpatient care for those showing breaks with reality BEFORE they commit murder.

    If the news is correct, this young man could not feel physical pain and also had frequent times of such severe withdrawal into noncommunication his mother would have to come to the school and get him back into the reality we all share.

    Sounds like psychotic breaks, and would be a clear indicator this young man needed more than mama and the school system could realistically provide.

    We need also much tougher laws punishing those who fail to report severe impairment. Had the good folks at James Holmes school been held accountable to report, had there been a state mental health clearinghouse to report him to, and had the courts ordered him into meaningful, compassionate SECURE treatment Aurora would not have happened.

    It is damnably difficult to even find a “bed” for those needing this treatment, and even harder to get them committed.

    As one who has been through a clinical depression that became suicidal, and with loved one’s who suffer both mental and developmental illness, I will say we need to take very seriously the fact that a broken leg isn’t likely to kill others, but the risk is tremendously higher with a broken brain.

    Better to commit, test, treat, and if possible street than to wait until disaster happens and then wonder why.

  64. So James Dumbson, you make God out to be evil, not just. That’s just great, God guns down little six and seven year olds for being born in a country that doesn’t obey your family values. You are a real friend, you know it? A very WRONG Job’s kind of friend!

    O man o man, I hate name calling and I hate sarcasm, so I never use it, but James just pushed me too far, I’m not responsible since he just made me crazy!

  65. STOP THE PRESSES, HOLD YOUR HORSES!!!!!! JAMES DOBSON HAS JUST WEIGHED IN ON WHY THE NEWTON SCHOOL SHOOTING HAPPENED.

    ARE YOU READY?

    God is judging America since we accepted abortion and are in the process of accepting gay marriage. — Eagle

    And we have another entry in the Christianese-shoot-off-your-mouth sweepstakes…

    1) When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    2) If at first you don’t succeed, Get A Bigger Hammer.

    3) Does God do anything besides thinking up new ways to Punish Punish Punish?

    4) “Remember James Dobson? Did a lot of good in the Christian community until fear of homosexuals drove him off a cliff with most of his constituency in the car.” — Internet Monk

    So James Dumbson, you make God out to be evil, not just. That’s just great, God guns down little six and seven year olds for being born in a country that doesn’t obey your family values. — Patti

    As Christian Monist said of Islam, “You end up with a God who is Omnipotent but not benevolent.” In’shal’lah…

  66. Romans 8: 28-30 only applies to believers. While I am profoundly affected by this terrible tragedy it is my prayer that many will come to know Christ personally and that God will be ultimately glorified through their lives.

  67. Shato

    I did not know that Mike Huckabee was a Calvinista. You taught me something. As for SGM, you do know that CLC voted to overwhelmingly get out of Dodge.

    As for criticising SGM, I think the lawsuit, which is evolving will speak volumes about SGM. It will be a moment of intense shame for many when the stories are told and CJ is deposed. CJ has been served in more ways than one.

    Having little children “forgive” their pedophile will not play well in the court of public opinion.Please feel free to click on them at the top of our home page. May God have mercy on those who showed such a lack of love.

  68. Shato

    As for SGM Survivors, that must have happened when we updated our list. As you can see, SGM Refuge is there. Thank you for picking up on that. I am correcting that immediately. We love the information found at SGM Survivors.

  69. Southwestern

    Thank you for your heartfelt vulnerability in sharing your reasons for not having a gun around the house. My thoughts and good wishes for adequate treatment and support are with you. I am so glad that you comment here.

  70. Tina

    Thank you for sharing so vulnerably as well. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you deal with you depression. i experienced some depression and anxiety myself, believe it or not, after my daughter was doing well. I think I finally gave myself permission to feel instead of holding myself together to support my daughter. I received some treatment and am doing quite well now.   I am so grateful for the counselors in my life who did not treat my depression as some sort of sin but as a logical outcome of serious stress. 

  71. Southwestern

    Love should be given freely, without an ulterior motive except to truly care for another.Jesus modeld such a love and that is what i believe is the basis of our faith. Our God loves all of us very much.

  72. William Thornton

    Awesome comment. I did not know that about NAMB. I have always admired the Baptist groups in my area who do so much in disaster relief.

  73. justabeliever

    Can we not pity him if he truly has a broken mind while making sure he is locked up so that he can never do this again?

  74. Searching

    That is good that Rick Thomas has done so. Do you know if he has any relation to Mahaney and TGC?

  75. Terminology can be a challenge.

    The words “sin,” “evil,” “brokenness,” and “mental illness” seem to me to all be applicable in this painful situation.

    Did young Mr. Lanza have a disordered brain, a mental illness, that led him to – for internal reasons we may never fully understand – attack an elementary school. It would seem so.

    Were those children and school staff and his mother all murdered. Yes. And murder is a grievous sin, a destruction of one image bearer by another image bearer. It is not right. It is wrong. Murder breaks peace, violates shalom, limits the intended flourishing of humanity around both the victim and the perpetrator. Regardless of how well he understood his culpability, Mr. Lanza sinned.

    What happened at the school was evil. Yes, yes it was. We need not say the perpetrator was a devil or more intrinsically evil than anyone else to say that Newtown experienced concentrated evil.

    And all of this, Mr. Lanza’s disordered mind, and the suffering he caused in killing – murdering – 28 people at an Elementary school is a downstream effect of the sin of our first parents, tempted by an evil angel, leading to all kinds of brokenness, including mental illness.

    For those of us here who are Christian believers, our theology can be wide enough to allow that, in a fallen world, brains break as well as bodies, without minimizing the reality that evil exists, and sin has devastating personal and social effects.

  76. Dee, thanks so much for addressing the mental health issue! There is so much misunderstanding and outright stupidity about mental AND developmental issues in the church. My heart goes out to Linda, Virginia and others who have to deal with it on a daily basis–right there with ya, gals and guys!! Non-affected family members just hold on, hoping, taking things one day at a time, learning as we go. I have a brilliant grown daughter with depression/anxiety issues, and we should have seen the signs and had her diagnosed and treated years before we actually did (at 16) but knowing we would get NO support from fellow Christians and hoping against hope that she would just “get better” as she aged, we waited. It is a lonely road for parents and children when there is is not the support (or the perception of support) needed. Thank God for Zoloft!!!

    Eagle: LOL on Jen Wilkins! Nice to have a laugh in the midst of tragedy. :-) HUG, you too.

  77. Dobson says: “I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me…” When Abraham bargained with God on the fate of Sodom, God said that for the sake of 10 righteous men he would spare the city. Does Dobson not think that God would spare our country in the same way?

    I have always had a difficult time of seeing Dobson as some modern day prophet. Jesus tells us that we will have trouble in this world, but through him we will have peace. Dobson wants to focus too much on the troubles when instead he should be pointing his followers to focus on the peace?

  78. Eagle – I can no longer call myself an evangelical for the reasons the commenter at MPT’s blog stated, and then some!

  79. They wonder where their audiences have gone. And someone in a board room is telling them, “Just be faithful to what worked back in the day.” — Eagle

    In other words, “Double down — except this time, scream LOUDER!”

    I can’t believe I was into James Dobson at one point also. I remember just watching Dobson grow weirder and weirder with the comments and the hate. — Eagle

    Probably explainable by Hardening of the Attitudes as time went on. (Kind of like how Rush Limbaugh lost what sense of humor he had and became more and more grandiose, taking himself way too seriously.)

    I think Internet Monk said it best about Dobson: “Fear of homosexuals drove him off a cliff with most of his constituents still in the car.”

    And what is it with Colorado Springs and Big Name Christianese Spokesmen? Is it the proximiity of the Air Force Academy, the thin air at that altitude, or what?

  80. Assault Rifles(TM) are the Muscle Cars of firearms. That’s their appeal to firearms aficionados.

    Oh, and a motive for all these sorts of massacres since Columbine, one the media never mentions:

    For a loser and a nobody, the media circus around these massacres is a ticket to CELEBRITY. “I’ll be dead, but I’m Gonna Be FAMOUS!!!!!!”

    This is the reason German police put a gag order on the German media when similar sprees go down in Germany (which they do at least as often as here): The less publicity, the less fame, the less chance of copycats.

    We’ve already had one copycat in SoCal. Guy walked into a shopping mall and popped off fifty pistol rounds into the ceiling. Not at anybody, just airconditioned the ceiling to get himself in the news. “I’m gonna be FAMOUS!!!!”

  81. The co-writer of Kirk Cameron’s “documentary” film Monumental has now chimed in with a full-on Reconstructionist take.

    You will be surprised, I’m sure, to hear that the culprit is not mental illness, but public education, lack of patriarchy, etc.

    “Connecticut and the other 49 states have rejected the original vision for education which was to develop the moral character of the students in favor of the fiction that everything is morally gray. That kind of education emboldens mass murderers like Adam Lanza,” said Dr. Foster.

    http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/8600371116.html

  82. Eagle – thanks so much for that link!

    Stephen Prothero – who wrote that post – is an excellent writer. I’d recommend his book American Jesus for starters.

  83. @ HUG…..agree the endless 24 hour media coverage is also an issue. When does the news reporting cross over the line into sensationalism? I like the policy of Germany. Let’s not feed an ill or depraved mind.

  84. Hi all

    Just a clarification-I do not believe that autism is the same thing as someone who is depressed. Autism is neurologic in origin. As we learn more about various neurologic, chemical and genetic deficits, I believe that we will find that manytypes of  deficits which affect the brain lead to various diagnosis. Mental illness is a junk diagnosis. It just means that something , somewhere, is not working correctly.

  85. to Dee – I don’t trust the system to keep him locked up. They are still trying to get Manson out. There are attorneys trying to defend KSM of 9-11 fame. Does not anyone believe in pure, unadulterated evil anymore? Am I wrong to be ANGRY? My thoughts are for the victim, not the perpetrator. I don’t care what made him do it – it makes no difference. 26 people are dead. I don’t consider the perp a victim.

  86. The co-writer of Kirk Cameron’s “documentary” film Monumental has now chimed in with a full-on Reconstructionist take.

    You will be surprised, I’m sure, to hear that the culprit is not mental illness, but public education, lack of patriarchy, etc. — ThatBadDog

    Again, “When all you have is a hammer…”

    And just like Huckabee, Dobson, Gun Control Activists, and all the other Kyle’s Moms, “What An Opportunity to Push Our Agenda!” As Chicago Mayor and Democratic Party Machine Enforcer Rahm Emmanuel put it, “Never let an opportunity go to waste.”

  87. These quotes illustrate many weaknesses in the evangelical response, but the one that’s common throughout is the impulse to get preachy when they should be quite and humble and full of empathy and compassion. Even Job’s friends stayed quiet for about a week before going off the rails; these guys started off right away.

    I have a family member who is deep into John MacArthur’s groupthink, so I keep tabs on it from time to time. I listened to his response to this tragedy also and was struck as I always amby how he basically got some theological truths right but at the same time focused almost entirely on how they were there to provide answers to people who (so he presumed) had none. He also said (wihtout any knowledge of the individual) that the shooter was controlled by Satan (Of course his crowd doesn’t believe in psychology either so maybe he was just being internally consistent. In any case, not very helpful.

  88. Eagle,
    I liked the CNN link too. Who was it that said these days non-believers seem to have better moral sense, common sense, and compassion; as well as reasonable and necessary philosophical questions about God? And that this was making Christianity inane and irrelevant in our society today?

    Oh yeah…it was me. :-)

  89. Well, so far the following Evils have been blamed:
    1) Semi Automatic Assault Type Weapons (TM).
    2) Lack of Prayer in Schools (Huckabee).
    3) Homosexuality (Dobson).
    4) Public Education (Huckabee and Cameron movie co-writer).
    5) Uppity Women (Cameron movie co-writer).
    6) Aspergers Syndrome (Beware Thou of the Mutant).
    Anyone see a pattern here? Like everyone’s looking in a mirror and seeing their own pet agenda & fear reflected right back at them?

  90. Oh, yeah.
    7) SATAN! (unnamed John Piper fanboy)
    While “All evil has one origin” (Chesterton’s Father Brown), with no further elaboration this one’s edging into Geraldine country.

    How about everyone in the country drop some tranqs and turn off the media for a couple days and mellow out and stop making like Job’s friends with the motor mouths?

  91. You’re gunna just love this one… parent tells 6th grader to take gun to school for protection in the wake of Newton shooting! — Fendrel

    Now that is News of the Weird material. Black comedy relief, if nothing else. Salt Lake City is now officially weirder than Tucson.

  92. As a teacher, it is hard to find words on how tragic this whole situation has been..I can’t even begin to fathom the horror the parents must be feeling…It is painful to consider the horror that humanity can inflict, especially on those so young and innocent.

    I am not surprised by the comments Dee cited above with some of those Christian leaders…It seems to be the norm these days, and although I usually am not bothered by some of things that were mentioned in their comments, these typical responses are becoming tiresome especially in light of a tragedy such as this.

    We need to be “winsome” for Christ? We need to plant more churches? We need to examine our “personal” sin and try to equate it to a sin of a mass murderer? We need to put prayer back in schools??? (The latter really takes the cake, considering I spend many of my days praying as a teacher on my own, and have on some occasions prayed in person for some of my students who requested prayer over certain needs)…

    I understand their points, but I just can’t help but think if this was really necessary at this time.

    A simple…”Your in our thoughts and prayers” (Similar to a note the President left on a whiteboard in a classroom in response to a teacher’s note on the same whiteboard thanking him from coming to the vigil Sunday.) would suffice in my opinion.

    Or even better, why not encourage the Christian community to pray instead of coming up with something like they did above? (Thank you for your call to prayer Dee/Deb)

    I guess it bothers me more to think that in Newtown they are probablly doing those things, and these responses almost imply they are not. I am sure they have “Gospel” churches and Christians who are doing every thing they can to direct people to the comfort of Christ and the comfort that is found in the Gospel…(Watching the Vigil Sunday night showed much of this)..

    Sigh…It just seems so fake to me..an opportunity for their voice to be heard at the expense of these hurting families…I am sure they care, I just question the wisdom of their response at this time.

    About the Mental Health issue:

    I am in full agreement with what the President said Sunday night when he said we must do EVERYTHING we can, with mental health officials, to make sure something like this NEVER happens again.

    Lanza obviously was mentally ill..But I am cautious to think this was beyond the realm of his control…More reports have come out that he destroyed his hard drives on his computers (to hide his plans, motive, insight??), killed his mother in his sleep., etc..

    Yes, he has mental health issues…but how much of this was planned…carefully..to achieve his goals? This doesn’t appear he just “snapped” one morning…But appearances can be deceiving.

    There is much we still don’t know..and I understand situations with mental health patients are far more complicated than they appear…I just hope our nation can seriously make some efforts to prevent this from happening again…No child should fear to go to school in this way.

    I also hope Christian leaders can learn when it is best to speak, and “what” is best to say when speaking.

  93. Even Job’s friends stayed quiet for about a week before going off the rails; these guys started off right away. — John

    John, these guys weren’t even on the rails to begin with. They weren’t even anywhere near the right-of-way.

  94. I went through spell of mild depression, fortunately I was diagnosed and given some meds for a year. “What do you have to be depressed about?” is the response I got. this little spell opened my eyes to understanding mental illness, I had no reason but I was, simple really. Two weeks into treatment and the world was a different place, no longer dark and angry. I can’t imagine what some people must go through, within themselves and with others.

    I did notice in the quotes in the post, everything was on a grand scale. Maybe it is time for much of christiandom to look at the small things the individual does. What about before the event? Do people have a place to turn to? A person to turn to? Why not spread a little Christ daily instead of waiting for ‘the big one”

  95. A simple…”Your in our thoughts and prayers” (Similar to a note the President left on a whiteboard in a classroom in response to a teacher’s note on the same whiteboard thanking him from coming to the vigil Sunday.) would suffice in my opinion. — Seeker

    At least somebody’s showing some class in this whole situation.

    And I give that note more weight than his formal Presidential speech at the vigil. In an age of media, a successful politician has to be an actor, and with an actor you’re never sure whether a display such as the speech is genuine or a scripted act. That note sounds genuine.

  96. I did notice in the quotes in the post, everything was on a grand scale. Maybe it is time for much of christiandom to look at the small things the individual does. What about before the event? Do people have a place to turn to? A person to turn to? Why not spread a little Christ daily instead of waiting for ‘the big one”? — Bobson

    Bobson, earlier this year Internet Monk had a three-parter on “Why can’t I just be an OK Christian”, regarding all the hype at the time for Radical Christianity, Ignite, Teen Mania, On Fire.

    We need more of Saint Therese of Liseuix’s “Little Way” and less grand scale On Fire.

  97. Jeff S, I am sorry for what you went through.

    Most people who have depression truly are debilitated and hurting from it and do not use it as an excuse to hurt other people or be lazy or irresponsible.

    Bible reading and prayer did not heal me of the depression, nor did putting other people first and serving them, nor did any of the other usual advice one gets from other Christians. I actually found these cliches annoying and insensitive, and people who utter them are clueless about what it’s like to have depression.

    Psychiatry didn’t help me either, neither did anti depressant medications, though I am not against either one, because they do help some people.

    I took Zoloft (anti depressant) for several years under a psychiatrist’s care. Rather than lifting the depression per se, the Zoloft made me walk through life in a daze. I didn’t feel depressed, but I didn’t feel anything else, either. I had to go off the medications.

  98. Bible reading and prayer did not heal me of the depression, nor did putting other people first and serving them, nor did any of the other usual advice one gets from other Christians. I actually found these cliches annoying and insensitive, and people who utter them are clueless about what it’s like to have depression. — Daisy

    Like Job’s buddies, advice is always easy from those who have NEVER been there themselves. Talk is Cheap.

  99. Hester said,

    and our friend said that the presenters said things along the lines of “we don’t need to be trained because we have Jesus/the Bible.” I hope it’s not outright nouthetic counseling; it didn’t sound like it was.
    My problem isn’t so much using Jesus and the Bible to comfort hurting people, depending on how and when it’s done.

    One of my problems with the “Bible only” (Nouthetic) counseling is that the Bible alone is not an end-all cure all for psychiatric or emotional problems, but they behave as if this is so.

    A person can read the Bible round the clock but still suffer from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or what have you; they will still need to take medications to control their illness.

    Diabetics still need to take insulin, even if they read the Bible all the time. Some people need to use eye glasses, inhalers, or pace makers, even if they are avid Bible readers.

    When we’re talking about bringing simple comfort to victims of a tragedy such as the school shooting, IMHO, no, one does not need eight or more years of medical school and a formal degree in counseling to be effective or competent at it.

    (Though maybe to prevent long-term psychological problems, some of them may want to later see mental health professionals on a regular basis.)

    One of the things I object to about Nouthetic counseling is its “blame the victim all the time for any problem, no matter what” philosophy.

    They do this by saying if something bad happened to you, it is because of a personal sin you committed.

    I read one book by a Christian counselor who apparently subscribes to that view point.

    He told a story in his book about a 35 year old woman he counseled. I forget the precise details of her story, but it was something like she was raped at nine years old by her father.

    The counselor who wrote the book said he advised this patient that she needed to examine her own “sin role” in the rape and take responsibility for the rape too (and the resulting fear/ anger at her father).

    I was very appalled by that view. I can’t imagine how a nine year old girl is in any way responsible for being raped, or that she should be told to feel accountable for it.

    Anyway, this counselor/ book author said this is a standard practice for him. He advises all his patients to own and take responsibility for their own sin, or sin roles, in whatever painful incident happened to them.

    This view does not take into account that there are times in life when a person played absolutely no role in his/her suffering, but was sinned against.

    I have a brother who I’m not totally close to. I only speak to him every so often. He has attended AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) for years.

    After I shared some personal heartaches with him that I had gone through, rather than show me empathy, he quoted ideas he learned from his AA leaders and said maybe I should reflect on what role I played in the incidents, as if to say I shared partial blame (where I did not; the other person instigated the events).

    I do see the value in asking victims to examine their roles to help them prevent repeating the same mistakes (e.g., women who keep choosing abusive boyfriends), but in the way A.A., other 12 step programs, and Nouthetic counseling work, when they say “what role did you play in this?” they mean “You are partially to blame.”

    The Bible actually speaks against that “blame the victim for her own pain and problems” view, in the book of Job and Luke 13:1-5, John:1-3.

    Sometimes people do bring on their own heartache and pain in life by making poor decisions, but then, there are times when bad things happen to you, and it was not your fault at all.

    To comfort another person, all you need to do is sit next to her as she cries.

    To comfort a hurting person, you don’t have to say anything, try to “solve” their hurt, quote Bible verses at them, explain why the tragedy happened, or offer advice; hurting people only (initially) need for someone to sit along side them as they weep or talk about what they’re feeling, and put their arm around them. And that does not take a medical degree or college education.

  100. Sorry about the messed up blockquotes in my post above. Hopefully everyone can see who was quoting who and follow the thoughts okay.

  101. HUG said,

    Like Job’s buddies, advice is always easy from those who have NEVER been there themselves. Talk is Cheap.

    In the last couple of years, I found an interesting blog page. A guy wrote about a pastor who recently came down with depression.

    I went to the link (which was to a video) to hear the pastor’s testimony. I forget what his name was.

    Anyway, this pastor said prior to getting depression himself, he admitted to being very ignorant about it. People at his church who had long term depression would come to him for help, and he said he would give them pat answers, like, “Read your Bible and pray.”

    He said after it happened to him though, he realized how shallow, wrong, and insensitive that advice was. He had to start seeing a psychiatrist and take anti depressant medication.

    It is kind of sad (and interesting) that some people do not really “get” other people’s suffering or appreciate it or c or case (including Christians), until it happens to them (or a very close loved one of theirs).

  102. justabeliever: Consider me another person who could not care less “why” he did it. He planned this and then carried it out, on purpose. There is no excuse. The shooter was not a victim in this, he created the victims. Like you, I would have shot him, with no regrets.

  103. This comment by John reminded me of something in the book I talked about above, by Carlson:

    John on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 06:30 PM said:
    I have a family member who is deep into John MacArthur’s groupthink, … He also said (wihtout any knowledge of the individual) that the shooter was controlled by Satan

    In the book “Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?” by Dr Carlson (on page 30 of the 1994 paperback copy of the book), he mentions he gave a partial transcript of the book in its early stages to a friend or patient, or someone.

    Carlson’s book is a little critical of MacArthur at points, so after the guy read the transcript, he had a conversation with the guy:

    Carlson asked: “Was I too hard on him [MacArthur]? Should I soften that part?”

    The guy replied: “Oh, no,” he said. “I attend John MacArthur’s church because I really like his expository preaching – but he doesn’t understand emotional illness. Whenever he preaches on this subject, whether it’s about the existence of emotional illness or the need to see a therapist, it’s really hard for me. There is no way I would ever tell a person at Grace Community Church that I am seeing a psychiatrist or taking medications.”

  104. Daisy,
    Thank you for you compassion.

    “Most people who have depression truly are debilitated and hurting from it and do not use it as an excuse to hurt other people or be lazy or irresponsible.”

    Yes, my ex went a few times to a mental hospital and I met many people who were depressed or bi-polar. I learned a lot from that experience and I saw a lot of people who were hurting and broken. This is why, despite the experience with my wife who used it as an excuse, I detest Nouthetic counseling and people trying to “treat” depression with arrogance and ignorance. There are a lot of people who want to heal, and they won’t get it by “confronting their sin”.

    I’m sorry that you have not been able to find help through therapy or medication. That must be incredibly difficult. I cannot imagine living in your shoes :(

  105. I am just plain disgusted when Christians purport to know the specific mind of God. — Dee

    Don’t remember where I first heard this one, but:

    “A fanatic is someone who does what God would do if God Only Knew What Was REALLY Going On.”

  106. Question, is there any moral precept given by God n the Bible with which you personally do not agree. In other words is there anything that God says is right, which you truly believe to be immoral?

  107. justabeliever

    I care about what made him do it. If we can learn why this happens, we may be able to prevent it from happening in the future. And i believe it will happen again in the future. 

  108. “Question, is there any moral precept given by God n the Bible with which you personally do not agree. In other words is there anything that God says is right, which you truly believe to be immoral?”

    There are passages that cause me great pause, but in these cases I assume that I am dealing with a faulty interpretation (either the translation itself or my understanding of it).

    When I have had chance to research seemingly uncomfortable passages in the past, the answers have always turned out to be profound and wise. I wish I had the time and energy to address all such passages, but alas, it takes a different set of skills than what I have.

  109. Fendrel – I certainly would care to chime in on this thread. It seems to me, by asking questions about God’s moral precepts, you are being totally unsensitive to the topic of the thread, which is not God’s moral precepts.

  110. Haven’t read much of the comments yet, I’ll catch up this evening (my time – early hours of the morning in the USA). But just wanted to chime in on the commenter on Burk’s blog.
    I can say with 99.9% certainty that person hasn’t been involved in disaster relief, nor does he have even a basic understanding of it. In relief situations and traumatic events, people don’t want a random stranger forcing themselves upon them to bark a tract at them. They want practical relief, practical help, financial help, and a shoulder to cry on. So a church wants to help post-disaster? Send money, resources, and food. Partner with local churches who can distribute that relief, and make sure to continue on after the media and rest of the world gets bored and moves on. Establish those relationships. You want to be a witness? Fine, but you do that through genuine practical help, not barging in riding your imaginary white horse distributing gospel tracts. People will find that arrogant and offensive.

  111. Eagle:

    Wow! I had not even thought of that yet. In the Southern Baptist World it is unthinkable for a woman to have authority over a man (I’m telling you–I do not know practically what that means). She most definitely is forbidden to preach. But as we saw in the Sandy Hook school shootings they can bravely protect their children the best they can and die if necessary protecting them. But the big boys in the Southern Baptist world will never get “it.”

  112. @ Eagle:

    “Soto, 27, a first-grade teacher, shielded her students and ushered them into a closet, putting herself between them and the gunman. She was found huddled with the children.”

    Forget Mark Driscoll. Doug Phillips, over and over again, lists “protection” as a male trait (as opposed to the female traits, “grace,” “hospitality,” etc.). So one has to wonder if he would approve of Ms. Soto’s action here. If he does approve of it, he is forced to admit that females can protect others and thus undermines his own position. If he does NOT approve of it, I am forced to conclude that he believes it would have been better for that whole classroom of children to be shot to death than for a female to protect another person.

    But hey, he’s a Reconstructionist and they’ve already said that the shooting happened because of government education. So he’s in good company with his fellow theological nutjobs.

  113. Addendum @ Eagle:

    Remember what I said on another thread about wasting the word “evil” on things that don’t meet the standard? This is what the Recons do by calling public school “evil.” And actually, if Phillips were to say that Ms. Soto should have called for help instead of doing what she did (though frankly, I doubt he’ll say this), he would be calling good evil. Warning, Will Robinson (see Isaiah 5:20)!

  114. Eagle,

    “What would the John Pipers, Doug Wilsons, and Mark Driscoll’s say to that?”

    Here is your answer, at least for Douglas Wilson.

    “Let me illustrate it another way. I believe I can say without controversy that I have dedicated a significant part of my life to getting Christian children out of the government school system. Those are my convictions, and I haven’t altered them. I am a declared and open foe of the whole system, as I think many may have gathered by this time. And yet, I want to say that Victoria Soto, the first grade public school teacher who gave her life for her students, was everything a teacher ought to be. There is no greater love than that (John 15:13). There is no finer teacher than that; she was no hireling (John 10:13). And I don’t care if she was a member of the Connecticut Education Association. If she was, then a member of the CEA crowned her teaching career with greater glory than I have done. If my politics on the thing blunt my ability to see that, I am more ideological than principled.”

  115. Lynne T,

    “have had a couple of encounters with Jay Adam’s work, and I deplore it. Way way back in the dark ages of my youth, when I did half a uni degree before dropping out, a group of us who were Christian social work students (from a wide variety of denominational backgrounds) started reading Competent to Counsel.”

    It was required reading at Liberty University when I was in the graduate counseling program. As I recall, most of one class during my first semester was on Jay Adams’ material.

    The unfortunate thing is, unlike you and your fellow students, my fellow LU students and I embraced it and believed it. I took what I was taught into the mental health field. I believed that sin was always the root of mental illness and troubled families. I believed if we prayed more, sought the bible more, and prayed out the demons, we wouldn’t need therapies and medications (which I’d been taught were only band-aids).

    Years into my career, I saw what God had been trying to show me – and what my counseling program hadn’t. We do need to pray for people who have disorders and disabilities. We do need to pray for their families. Our answers have been provided by God in the education, understanding, abilities, advancements, therapies, treatments, resources, and medications available to treat mental illness and support the families involved.

  116. Doug Wilson needs to go back on his Paxil/Clozapine…. — Eagle

    He’s not the only one.

  117. Remember what I said on another thread about wasting the word “evil” on things that don’t meet the standard? This is what the Recons do by calling public school “evil.” — Hester

    To where “Evil” is defined as “Anything *I* Don’t Like” and nothing more.

    Like the Sixties’ definition of “Fascist”: “Anyone who says ‘You can’t do that’ is a FASCIST!!!!!”

    Beavis & Butthead definitions.

  118. Fendrel – I certainly would care to chime in on this thread. It seems to me, by asking questions about God’s moral precepts, you are being totally unsensitive to the topic of the thread, which is not God’s moral precepts. — Retha

    I suspect this is another application of “If all you have is a hammer…”

    And I’m borderline Aspie and involved in fandoms full of undiagnosed borderline Aspies. (And general misfits.) Very often you get tunnel vision on one pet subject and attempts to turn all conversations/interactions onto that one pet subject. Drives you up the walls.

  119. Jeff T and Mot,

    Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite verses, but I’ve often wondered if I/we misinterpret its meaning.

    I believe God CAN bring good from this unspeakable tragedy, but I don’t believe He MEANT for 20 6- and 7-year olds and six teachers who tried to save them to be murdered, so He could bring about some good in His plan for their families, the community, etc.

    Although I believe He can bring good, I would never say that to a mourning parent, relative, or friend. All of my life, I loved children and wanted to be a mother. It was my greatest heart’s desire. After years of infertility, testing, a required surgery and incessant prayer by everyone who knew us, I finally got pregnant. I can’t describe the joy I felt. Nearly three months into the pregnancy, I started spotting. Nothing to be alarmed about, I was told. A few days later, more spotting. Went in for an ultrasound and received the crushing news. I had miscarried. I cried nearly non-stop for weeks. I was so angry with God. It felt like a cruel trick.

    Neighbors, friends, church members and family tried to comfort and reassure me. I heard it all – and none of it helped. In fact, a lot of it made me angry and more depressed. “It wasn’t meant to be.” “This was God’s will.” “God has another plan.” “God has a better plan.” “Something was wrong with it (the baby), and this was God’s way of taking care of it.”

    Several months after the miscarriage, I finally took the advice of my new gynecologist and went on an anti-depressant. I don’t think God planned for my miscarriage to happen, and thus that He meant it for good. I think it happened because we live in a fallen world and because our cells and our bodies and our physical functions aren’t perfect at times. But He DID bring some good from it, and eventually I was able to see that (though it wasn’t what I wanted or needed to hear in the aftermath).

  120. Eagle, saw this one from an SBC Calvinista blog linked to today.

    ttp://sbcvoices.com/am-i-adam-lanza/

    I think many of these young guys are trying to be Piper shock jocks.

  121. Eagle,

    Do you think rendering to Caesar what is Caesar means that everyone has to send their kids to public school? I’m not following you on your comments about Douglas Wilson.

  122. Anon1

    I couldn’t believe it. Do they not understand that there is so “Adam Lanza” in the vast majority of us? They trivialize the tragedy by doing so. It is the game”I am a worse sinner than you and therfore I am a better Christian.”

  123. Hester and others,

    I’ve read a bit about the changes to the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Changes were recently approved by the American Psychological Association (APA). DSM-5 will be published in the spring.

    Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) will now be a single diagnostic category called Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

    DSM-5 will move to a nonaxial documentation of diagnosis. There will no longer be Axis I for principle (mental) disorder, Axis II for personality disorder or intellectual disability, Axis III for medical or neurological disorder, etc. However, there will be separate notations for intellectual disability.

    With that said, I agree that disorders on the autism spectrum are different than mental disorders and personality disorders. In the case of the Newtown shooter, it appears that he had more than just a disorder on the autism spectrum. He possibly could have had a whole range of disorders.

    I believe there are a small number of people in the world who commit great evil, whether they have a certain disorder or not. But most of us do not. Most alcoholics, drug addicts, mentally ill, intellectually disabled, and personality disordered folks do not commit these great evils.

  124. “Oh Please. Definition of winsome which I think has been discussed here:

    charming: charming, especially because of a naive, innocent quality

    Does this ring shallow or what?

    we to be real, open, honest, transparent, wise, gentle.

    ARe they really suggesting being naive is a good witness? This word seems to be becoming another “role” to play in their world. Basically, when I see that word, I can only think: Be a fake for Jesus.”

    Anon 1,

    When I see the definition of winsome = charming, all I can think is that “charm is deceptive.” But it is typically the first impression a narcissist gives to the people he wants to impress. Charm is what draws people who don’t know any better to a narcissist. And I think this movement is chock-full of narcissists, from what I have seen. So when they declare their desire to be “winsome” all I can say is… how appropriate. You are right… it is another role to play – it is anything BUT honest. They have to be this way because they know they have to pull the bait-and-switch to draw people into their twisted system.

  125. Wendy

    i agree with this. “ In the case of the Newtown shooter, it appears that he had more than just a disorder on the autism spectrum. He possibly could have had a whole range of disorders.”

    That is the very real limitation of the psychiatric profession. They hand a diagnosis on an individual but it may be many, many more than one or even one that has yet to be described.

     
  126. Eagle

    One of the naive assumptions on the part of many is himeschooling or Christian school will turn out better kids. This is a funny fallacy coming from those who believe in election. Since “becoming a Christian” is predicated on a predetermined assignment of salvation, Christians will become a Christian no matter what schooling system they participate in. Once again, I am not a Calvinist but Doug Wilson definetly is. So, can we bypass election if we beat it into them hard enough? (PS My kids went to Christian schools so I am not denigrating anyone’s choice in this matter, merely the assumption).

  127. Seeker,

    Everything you said resonates with me. I said the same things in Dee’s previous post – and also to a few folks on facebook (where my comments were deleted).

    What Huckabee, Dobson and others have said are a blame-the-victims response. They are blaming public schools, communities and the culture for the “carnage”, because we and the government don’t do it in their prescribed ways.

    Huckabee asked where was God? God was at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. He was with every child. He was with every teacher and every staff member who knows Jesus and has the Holy Spirit within them. I read that the Newtown community has a larger than average church attendance. No doubt there were/are kids, parents, teachers and administrators who love Christ and pray for their students and schools. God doesn’t need every kid and teacher to say rote Christian prayers that may or may not be meaningful or appropriate for the individual. He was there, regardless.

  128. There’s nothing wrong with the principle of government run schools. Many Christians operate in suspicion of government and I have to ask …why? — Eagle

    They don’t want the competition. God is supposed to rule through Theocracy (and the Men-o-Gawd), not some Heathen Secular Government. Just another faction in the Power Struggle; Win At All Costs and Crush All The Others.

    They trivialize the tragedy by doing so. It is the game”I am a worse sinner than you and therfore I am a better Christian.” — Dee

    Yet another form of Christianese One-Upmanship.

    Just like High School.


    Eagle, saw this one from an SBC Calvinista blog linked to today.

    ttp://sbcvoices.com/am-i-adam-lanza/

    I think many of these young guys are trying to be Piper shock jocks. — Anon1

    And like Christianese knockoffs everywhere, they’ve got a ways to go before they can get up there with the originals, from Howard Stern to 2 the Ranting Griffin.

  129. Although I believe He can bring good, I would never say that to a mourning parent, relative, or friend. — Wendy

    Because that is right up there with the usual media “Shove the camera in their face, shove the mike in their mouth, and demand ‘HOW DO YOU FEEL??????”

    To me, both are mitigating-circumstance grounds for acquittal on any resulting Assault charges.

  130. Eagle and HUG,

    I also used to listen to Dobson and read his books faithfully. I agree that he got weirder and weirder.

    I was traveling a few weeks ago, trying to pick up something good on the radio and came upon his radio program. Not sure when the original broadcast was. He was interviewing a woman who’d written a book on the topic of cutting yourself slack and not trying to be the perfect Christian, friend, wife, mom, etc. I listened for a while because it sounded interesting. I can’t remember the author’s name or title of her book, but she had a lot of good stuff to say.

    One thing she said was that, regardless of school choice for your kids, believe that you’ve made the right choice and stop comparing yourself. Homeschool moms, public school moms, Christian school moms – stop comparing yourselves. Christian women, stop comparing your jobs, church involvement, organization skills, decorating skills, cooking skills, your kids’ extracurricular activities, etc. Be happy with who you are, what you like, your own strengths, your kids, etc.

    Every time Dobson would get a chance to plug homeschool, he would, which was awkward because it contradicted her point. Toward the end, Dobson started kind of arguing with the author. She said a couple of times, trying to agree with him and still make her point “…yes, this applies whether you homeschool or have your children in public school.” Toward the end of the interview, he shamelessly said, “Kids who are homeschooled turn out to be the most intelligent, educated, talented people… they turn out to be the most committed to honoring the Lord with their lives….” (paraphrased) Again, so awkward because this had really nothing to do with her book. It was about encouraging women, no matter their work or their particular strengths or lifestyle or school choice.

  131. Wendy, we I saw Huckabee in the original bit it didn’t come off as blaming the victims. It came off as blaming the culture we live in where so many seem to believe they will never answer to a Supreme Being. Sort of the mindset that “gee, if I get away with this and human’s don’t catch me I am home free.” His point was that if indeed this was an act of malice (not mental condition) the young man would indeed face the wrath of God.

    I live among and minister to gang members. They tend also to agree with Huckabee in some respects. They will tell you that there used to be limits to what a gang would do, or to what the cartels would do because they figured even if they got away with the crime, God saw and someday would deal with them. Now, anything goes.

    The cultural attitude that there is no God does seem to contribute to a hardening attitude of bullying.

    In that one respect I think he is right, however foot in mouth it may seem.

    We just don’t want to hear that, nor do we want to hear that our propensity to anger or stuffing our minds with violent “entertainment” contributes to an atmosphere where so many just do not know right from wrong.

    We’ve created a culture of death. Sometimes it comes back to bite us in the keister.

  132. Eagle,

    “Does the American Psychological Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) include Neo-Calvinsim? I would think a faith system that includes narcissism, feelings of grandour in response to evil would qualify someone as being mentally ill.”

    Great question! This should be submitted as diagnostic criteria for the next edition of the DSM. Maybe Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Neo-Calvinism type (NPD-NC type). Eagle, you’re so good at lists. I bet you could come up with an impressive list of diagnostic criteria for this disorder.

  133. Justabeliever,

    “I don’t care what made him do it – it makes no difference. 26 people are dead. I don’t consider the perp a victim.”

    To say we’re all grieved, distraught and angry is an understatement. And though I have four small children, including a 6-year old (the age of 16 of the victims), I can’t wrap my mind around what grief must feel like to the parents and families left behind.

    Grief, in part, is what makes many folks want to understand WHY he did it. Preventing massacres like this is another big reason. We must study and understand to take steps toward preventing this in the future.

  134. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Double down, that is the experience I had at my former church. The pastor’s daughter had a very public scandal, so when my daughter had health problems and problems in relationship with church kids, they condemned our use of therapists and medicine, then proceeded to take disciplinary action against her without verifying her Side of the story. They still blame her, and us, for causing problems in the church.

  135. About the thoughts of being ready to snap: I feel dirty as a human being thinking about this guy. I keep thinking we still have the sin nature and that any day sin is crouching at the door ready to overtake us. We have a lot of mental issues in our family. My cousin, a talented and famous local musician and a genius programmer, got into a drug problem after his sister drank herself to death at 34. He owned guns, and threatened to kill his wife and three precious sons before he killed himself. I wonder if I have the same capability.

    I’m so glad I don’t go to my former church any more. I’m sure I’d be hearing about the evils of public school, and the futility of mental therapy, and the bad bad Internet, and the news. I would be surprised if they didn’t know about this stuff. They didn’t know about the Cheshire home invasion, or anything that doesn’t come through Piper or the sanitized big name Christians. One of them even out up Huckabee and said “why isn’t he President?” And I’ve heard all the stinking platitudes from them, they need to start living in the real world.

    We have been going through a really rough time with my daughter’s health both physically and mentally. And someone threatened to shoot up the high school on Friday, the end of the world. Even though police said there is no threat, I told her to stay home on that day. I predict there a going to be a lot of snappers. I wish it was the end of the world, it would save all this anguish.

  136. Another question from me…

    The teacher who hid her children and then told Adam that they were not there, but in the gym. If morals are absolute things, was that lie a sin?

  137. Just wanted to point out that at least one of the children who died in Newtown was Jewish.

    I do not think the presence of God is dependent on there being xtians in a place – God is omnipresent, and many believe in him, even if not in the strict evangelical sense of who God is.

  138. numo

    Good point, but I doubt it will convince the idiots. They’ll probably say that they didn’t receive God’s protection because they reject their own messiah

  139. Numo,

    I agree that Christians don’t have to inhabit a place for God to be. God is ominpresent. But even the most cynical should recognize that it was children who mostly filled the Sandy Hook school building. God was there.

  140. Wendy,

    I appreciate your post. It bugs me when people say “prayer” has been taken out of schools (and worse….God has been taken out) just because teachers are not allowed to lead their students in a rote prayer every morning.

    I pray for my students often and I know many students who pray. Prayer has not been taken out of schools, and I believe God is very much present in our school…Even at Sandy Hook.

    Linda, I would agree that our culture has changed somewhat over the years…but I am always suspicious of the “good ole days argument”….(Not saying you are making that)…

    Although years ago children were able to say rote prayers in schools, what else was going on in our communities? I know for the area I live, in the deep south, we had jim crow laws, lynching, and the KKK. All this was going on while kids attended schools, say their prayers, and recite the pledge of allegiance.

    Darkness always abounds in our culture…whether through school shootings or the KKK….

    Fendrel,

    Not sure if this is the answer you are looking for, but I would say no…strongly. I think Jesus displayed time and time again with the pharisees that he was bigger than so called moral absolutes…I would say that is a complex situation.

  141. “The teacher who hid her children and then told Adam that they were not there, but in the gym. If morals are absolute things, was that lie a sin?”

    Fendrel,

    Lying to protect innocent people seems to be something God is overwhelmingly in favor of in the Bible. I can think of two stories in the Bible where God not only approves, but REWARDS people who lied to protect someone. In both cases, the liars/heros were women.

    One is Exodus 1, when the Hebrew midwives lied to save the infants that Pharoah had commanded to be drowned in the river. God “dealt well” with these women and gave them children of their own.

    The other is Rahab the harlot, who lied to her own people to save the Israelite spies sent to spy on her city Jericho. In return, her life was saved. AND she became the mother of Boaz (Ruth’s husband). In other words, not only was she rewarded with children, she became a mother in the line of Jesus – God himself.

    Also, every time I read about Jacob, I am struck by how dishonest he was (lied to his brother, his father, AND his father-in-law), and how God blessed him and made him the father of the twelve tribes of his people anyway.

    Take from that what you will… I still don’t know what to make of it. I just find it interesting.

  142. Seeker,

    Thanks for your comment. I posed the question because, for me, it is the perfect illustration then even most Christians have to agree with even though they insist there are moral absolutes. The point being, that 99% of the time, does not constitute “absolute”.

    For morality to be moral it must permit exceptions to the rule.

  143. LookingforYou,

    I would take from that the idea that even though Christians like to think that morals must be absolute in order to have value, that it seems patently untrue and as you pointed out, even the Bible goes out of its way to make the point.

  144. Of course though, now you must “explain” the 9th commandment, is it a command or isn’t it? If it is a command, the you need to “explain” how exceptions are permitted? Thirdly, if it’s not a command (absolute), then isn’t it reasonable to say that the other 9 commandments aren’t absolute commands either, including the 1st commandment?

    Just thoughts :)

  145. “For morality to be moral it must permit exceptions to the rule.”

    Fendrel,

    This is a fascinating point. One that Jesus made, I believe. When he worked on the Sabbath by healing, or allowed his disciples to gather food for themselves on the Sabbath because they were hungry. Which infuriated the religious leaders.

    For morals to truly be moral, they must work to SERVE people and improve life. When we insist upon doing what we believe to be “moral” even to the destruction of other humans, especially innocent ones, have we failed to be moral? This confuses and fascinates me…

  146. @ Wendy:

    “With that said, I agree that disorders on the autism spectrum are different than mental disorders and personality disorders. In the case of the Newtown shooter, it appears that he had more than just a disorder on the autism spectrum. He possibly could have had a whole range of disorders.”

    I agree he likely had more than just Asperger’s. My point was that I’ve heard lots of well-meaning people throw around the term “mental illness” when the only disorder that’s been mentioned is Asperger’s, so now their listeners are equating Asperger’s with mental illness with school shooters (whether the speaker intended that or not). And then they say things like “Can’t we medicate these people?” (no – Asperger’s can’t be fixed with meds) and “People like that should be locked up!” There’s very little caution and nuance and lots of people will walk away with the idea that all Aspies are dangerous, esp. if they are solitary, intelligent types like Lanza was. Also lots of people on the spectrum have other conditions (depression, social anxiety disorder, etc.), some of which are actually mental illnesses, which only confuses the issue further.

  147. Fendrel @2:28,

    You’re making my head spin! Ha.

    I would like to point out that the 9th commandment is not “thou shalt not tell a lie,” but “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” I think this is a command to not deprive a person of justice or their good reputation by lying about them (for instance, “setting a person up” for a crime, or giving a false testimony in court). I don’t think it’s a blanket statement that one must always be honest even when that honesty could destroy relationships or even lives. So I’m not sure that God’s approval of dishonesty in certain situations actually undermines the 9th commandment.

  148. @ gavin white:

    Thanks for sharing the Human Trafficking report Gavin, the increases are disturbing and alarming – and the figures for men, women and children are only guesstimates, with low conviction rates. I’ve downloaded the document and still digesting it. The maps on pages 36 (electronic page 40) up to page 43 are illuminating as to countries involved. I try to think of the individual faces that sit behind the statistics. Did you want to provide your own precis?

  149. I just came across this story today. A psychiatrist in France was found legally responsible by French legal system for one of his patients hacking people to death with an ax.

    Man who axed victim gets off, his shrink not so lucky

    Joel Gaillard of France was a longtime patient of psychiatrist Daniele Canarelli, but that didn’t prevent him from killing an elderly man with an ax.

    [So now the French legal system is making Canarelli spend a year in jail and pay a fine to the family members of the murder victims. The actual killer is not being held responsible.]

  150. Dee, you said:

    “How does one remove God from anyplace? Just because teachers do not say a rote prayer, God is no longer present? I always thought that God now dwelt with His people through the Holy Spirit so isn’t God present when there is even one of His people present?”

    This caught my interest because if it’s true that God is not in the schools anymore, maybe it’s not the “secularists” who are responsible for removing God from the schools (as if that were possible) by removing rote prayer, but the homeschool activists who are determined to pull all the Christians, in whom the spirit of God dwells, out of the schools. I’m being kind of sarcastic of course. I don’t think God can be removed from any place. And I certainly don’t think a lack of God’s presence allowed this tragedy to happen. I think He was there. And I’d be willing to bet He was actively fighting against it too.

  151. @ Jeff S:

    Thank you, Jeff. A lot of people on both sides of my family tree had depression, so I would guess there’s some kind of biological aspect to it, but I suspect in my case that codependency was at the root of mine.

    Ever since I found out I don’t have to be codependent anymore, most of my depression has lifted.

    If I have depression now, it’s more over circumstantial things I’m going through; it doesn’t feel like the same black pit of despair as before.

    I still have a low grade anxiety most of the time, with the occasional panic attack, which is no fun.

    I can tell you my 30+ years of experience of having depression did educate me to how insensitive or ignorant many Christians are about mental health issues, and I see now they are just as bad about codependency.

  152. Hester,

    There is so much the average person doesn’t know or understand about austism spectrum disorders. It seems that anything affecting behavior or learning can be labeled mental illness, which is the reason the public needs more education about both. Although we’ve made progress, there is still much stigma and misunderstanding about mental illness, intellectual disabilities, neurobiological disorders and the differences between them.

  153. LookingForYou

    I actually agree with your interpretation on the 9th commandment, although it seems that most Christians take it as a command not to lie, period. I am not familiar with the underlying Hebrew, maybe one of the other readers can chime in and clarify the text.

  154. elastigirl, you said:

    “Planting churches?? to eat up MORE of people’s resources for salaries, square footage, utilities, office supplies, and furniture?? GOOD GRIEF”

    That seems to be the drive behind the church-planting frenzy. To devour resources to serve themselves and the institution (oops, I mean God), not to pour them out to serve others.

  155. That seems to be the drive behind the church-planting frenzy. To devour resources to serve themselves and the institution (oops, I mean God), not to pour them out to serve others. — Looking For You

    And to grow grow grow (through sheep-rustling) into THE Megachurch of the area with it’s CELEBRITY Founding Pastor/Apostle.

  156. If God needs an invitation to be present in our schools, then He isn’t God, He’s Dracula. — Fendrel

    GREAT LINE!

  157. …and “People like that should be locked up!” — Hester

    “Before they can INFECT the other children!” in the words of that schoolteacher my friend related.

    In doing so, he just called me, the friend who related this, both my writing partners, my old Dungeonmaster, and most of those I know as Infectious Diseases.

    There’s very little caution and nuance and lots of people will walk away with the idea that all Aspies are dangerous, esp. if they are solitary, intelligent types like Lanza was. — Hester

    You saw exactly the same reaction regarding Goths and Trenchcoats and other Different Ones after Columbine. Including “grief counseling” search-and-destroy missions trying to get the Different Ones to incriminate themselves through journaling their feelings about Columbine.

  158. I also used to listen to Dobson and read his books faithfully. I agree that he got weirder and weirder. — Wendy

    When I first heard of Dobson (and listened to Christianese radio), he was based in Arcadia, California, close to where I grew up.

    Then in the late Eighties he moved to a larger office near Cal Poly Pomona (where I’d gone to college some 10 years earlier).

    Then he moved to Colorado Springs and became what he is today. I wonder whether the move to “Colo Spgs” was either what did it or sped up an existing process. There are so many Born Again Bible Beleiving Christianese Culture War Ministries(TM) in that town I wonder if he moved into an echo chamber and (like Rush Limbaugh) started believing his own PR without any check from external reality.

    And the progression of Clinton after Reagan/Bush and Obama after Dubya Bush couldn’t have helped. First you’re White House Guest and Kingmaker, then you’re out on the street with a hostile President, then you’re In again, then you’re Out again…

  159. The UMC portal has an excellent link titled: Why? Making sense….long title but you will see it.

    Excellent.

    It also has other excellent links and articles to help people come to grips with Newtown.

  160. @ Hester:

    I am a conservative Republican, and it does seem to me that much of American public life, including public schools, has not only departed from Judeo-Christian values but has been mocking them and has been trying to stifle them from expression.

    I don’t think if I’d go so far as referring to public schools as “evil,” though.

  161. HUG and Hester,

    You’re right. We have to be careful not to associate certain preferences or personalities (such as goth dressing), or someone with autism spectrum disorder, or someone with mental illness as an infected person who is going to do great harm to society. As I said earlier only a very small number of people, disorder or not, carry out such horrific crimes.

    Instead of stereotyping, we need to educate the public about mental illness, and as both of you have pointed out, the difference between mental illness and ASD. We also need to educate the public about the warning signs that a crime could be carried out. (There were warning signs with Adam Lanza – lots of them – and probably many that we haven’t heard about yet.)

    Some of you won’t agree, but we’ve got to do what we can to prevent guns from getting in the wrong hands. It’s harder to kill 28 people in five minutes by setting a fire or building a bomb. Not to say it hasn’t been done. Not to say that a person who wants to go on a rampage can’t obtain guns if they try hard enough. And not to say there wasn’t some planning by Adam Lanza. I believe there was some planning, but he didn’t have to plan a very crucial piece – where and how he was going to obtain weapons and ammo. Everything he needed was at his disposal.

    Brenda Ann Spencer is one of the original school shooters and one of only two documented females who went on school killing sprees. In 1979, when she was 16 years old, Brenda opened her bedroom window and began sniper-shooting children as they stood outside the elementary school across from her house. They were waiting for their principal to open the gate. Brenda shot and killed the principal and school custodian and wounded 8 children and a police officer.

    When questioned by authorities about her motive she stated, “I don’t like Mondays; this livens up the day… it was just a lot of fun… like shooting ducks in a pond.” Brenda committed the school shooting and murders without any planning using a rifle her parents had just given her for Christmas.

    The Irish band Boomtown Rats heard about the shooter’s comments while doing an interview in the United States. They went back to their hotel and wrote the song “I Don’t Like Mondays”. It was a hit around the world but was banned in the United States.

  162. One other observation I wanted to toss out there.

    Several times in the past, when one person has killed another one (in the USA), it is sometimes mentioned that the murdered was taking an anti-depressant medication, among other medications, and it was mentioned that the person may have seen a therapist for depression – all of which to imply that depressed people are violent, which is laughable.

    I remember that being the case with the wife of the comic actor guy from SNL, Phil Hartman. All the papers mentioned she was on anti depressants around the time she murdered him. I’ve seen several other similar news stories, where it’s mentioned the violent person had been on anti depressants, among other meds.

    Most depressed people direct anger inwards, towards themselves. Most of their thought revolve around how much pain they are in and how badly they want it to end.

    In most cases, if a depressed person were to commit a violent act, it would most likely be against themselves, not against a room full of school kids.

    Depressed people are sad all the time, not violent people who are having hallucinations of carrying out mass murder (unless they have some other kind of mental health problem on top of the depression).

    I cannot understand why so many in the media try to link depression, or anti depressant medication, with a desire or tendency to murder.

  163. @ Eagle:

    Well, there’s this. According to Charlotte Allen, “a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm” and “There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/335996/newtown-answers-nro-symposium#

    The next time a man comes at me with an A-15 rifle, I’ll make sure I have a bucket to throw.

  164. @ Haitch:

    Hi Haitch

    My initial observation is that with an expanding European Union, passport free zone, we have played into the hands of the traffickers. And by the time the victims reach my part of the world, they are not even classed as fourth or fifth-hand goods. It is truly appalling. I’m talking of trans-European trafficking here. Trafficking from Africa and South East Asia also follows an established pattern repeated abuse. However it is the trafficking within Eastern Europe that is most worrying because there are fewer restraints – the life is cheap mentality.

    Regard
    Gavin

  165. HUG and Hester,

    It’s so sad to me that people would have such a terrible attitude toward kids who are wired differently, introverted, or just generally different. That’s what I don’t like about the school system more than anything else (and why I homeschool) – the obsession with uniformity/sameness. They seem to care more about that than even academics. And I guess they have to in a classroom setting where they don’t have time to cater to various learning styles.

    It was kind of traumatic for me as a child when my kindergarten teacher decided that I needed to be held back. Not because I was behind academically (in fact I was the only kid who came to kindergarten already knowing how to read – no one taught me how), but because I was too introverted and sensitive. The next year I had a different teacher and she had no idea what to do with me since I already knew everything and was way ahead (my mom says she had me tutoring 4th grade students on how to read!), so the next year I ended up skipping 1st grade. But all the way through school my teachers complained about me because even though I got high grades, I was always in my own world and very shy. Teachers don’t like shy kids. :-( I remember in 4th grade, realizing that my teacher (one I really loved) would never think I was “good enough” no matter how hard I tried because I was shy. I cried till I made myself literally sick when I realized that.

    It’s hard enough growing up introverted without additional alienation. I’m afraid if people don’t start striving to really understand “different” kids and work with them as they are, additional alienation is exactly what will happen. Which will be bad for everyone.

  166. Question, is there any moral precept given by God in the Bible with which you personally do not agree. In other words is there anything that God says is right, which you truly believe to be immoral?
    ~ Fendrel ~

    Ya damn straight there is! Let’s say just for laughs that old Muff wakes up tomorrow in some alternate Rod Serlingesque universe in which the DRs (dominionist/reconstructionist) have taken over. Assume also that Muff just married off his daughter and that she was found to not have the tokens of virginity as prescribed in Deuteronomy chap. 22.

    Next thing you know [now it gets serious], the elders of the town show up with a flatbed truck full of gospel rocks to stone her with.

    When they demand that she be brought out so that they can administer the Almighty’s holy and just decree by removing evil from the community, Muff tells them to pound salt and clear off his property.

    Of course they’ll have none of it, so they give him leave to go back inside and bring out the young whore so she can receive her medicine.

    But instead of his daughter, Muff brings out his Remington 870 12 gauge, howls what can only be described as a cross between a rebel yell and a Native American war whoop; finally exclaiming: Let’s Dance!

    Fendrel my man, the question is answered.

  167. LOL Muff Potter (7:04)! I LOVE this comment! And I agree!

    However, I wonder if this is the same thing as a moral precept. It would certainly fall under civil OT law, but is that the same as moral? I think I disagree with pretty much every civil law in the OT – civil law being defined as how society should deal with those who break moral laws. Stoning? Burning? Being forced to sell sons and daughters into slavery to pay off debts? I wouldn’t want to see ANYONE go through that, no matter the crime.

    But amongst theonomists, I have heard actual arguments about whether or not stoning/burning should be the method used for the death penalty as opposed to the more humane methods WHEN (not IF – the ones I’ve known are postmillennialists and believe it WILL happen) Christians rule the world. Hearing them speak, I have to wonder why God ever introduced us to Grace if he doesn’t intend for us to make good use of it!

  168. Looking for You wrote:

    But amongst theonomists, I have heard actual arguments about whether or not stoning/burning should be the method used for the death penalty as opposed to the more humane methods WHEN (not IF – the ones I’ve known are postmillennialists and believe it WILL happen) Christians rule the world.

    “Just like Shari’a, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    These F’ers are Christian Talibani. That’s the only way to describe them. Except they’re duckspeaking a KJV instead of a Koran to justify whatever they want to do to throw their weight around (Divine Right).

  169. Ann wrote:

    Well, there’s this. According to Charlotte Allen, “a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm” and “There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers.”

    This reminds me of a friend’s description of Chinese school massacres (which occur in China on a regular basis because of a perfect storm situation of traditional social memes colliding with population control policy side effects). Since unification under the First Emperor Chin Shih Huang Di, Chinese culture has emphasized docility and conformity to the System above all else, and there are some grim race jokes about how Asians are not only the most neotenous of humans, but show the most characteristics of “domestication”.

    In Chinese school massacres (usually done by butcher knife, which does more damage to a child-sized body than a bullet as well as being “up close and personal” for the rampaging perp), the well-acculturated schoolchildren often just “freeze” and sit and wait there, quiet and docile (and winsome) until it’s their turn to be hacked up.

  170. Daisy wrote:

    Several times in the past, when one person has killed another one (in the USA), it is sometimes mentioned that the murdered was taking an anti-depressant medication…
    Most depressed people direct anger inwards, towards themselves. Most of their thought revolve around how much pain they are in and how badly they want it to end.

    I can vouch from experience that depression is much more likely to make you self-destructive than other-destructive. The question is, have some anti-depressants been known to have side effects that could lead to the depression being re-directed onto others? It could be an actual side effect exaggerated by the media.

  171. HUG, you said

    “Chinese culture has emphasized docility and conformity to the System above all else”

    Sounds like some other Systems that get discussed quite a bit on this blog.

  172. Wendy,

    I think *any* kids who are “different” (in whatever ways) tend to get classified as Problem Kids and treated as if there was something terribly wrong with them.

    At least, that was my experience as a young person. I was very bookish, shy and socially awkward, and depressed, too. At that time (60s-70s) clinicians didn’t even deal with childhood anxiety and depression, we had pretty rudimentary (and often seriously problematic) medicines, and Freudianism still reigned supreme.

    *Many* kids did not fit well re. those paradigms, and mental illnesses of any kind (even things like Generalized Anxiety Disorder) were VERY stigmatized.

    I’m far happier as an adult than I ever was growing up. (And I have a light box for my SAD, which is a real, biological thing and was definitely a factor for me, from childhood onward.)

    My thinking is that our understanding of both the brain (physiological/neurological) and the mind (cognition, how we process information, emotions, etc.) is still in its infancy, and that even though we claim to know a great deal, we really don’t.

  173. Re. brain and mind, I don’t mean to imply that they are separate things – they are very much (imo) interwoven.

    But I have also seen people – who should know better (MDs, people in the mental health field *and* nurses, etc.) act like real physical problems – endometriosis, for example – are “psychological” and thus are “the patient’s fault.”

    One quick go-round with the pain and fatigue cased by endo, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, and those people would be singing a different tune entirely.

  174. Daisy,

    “I am a conservative Republican, and it does seem to me that much of American public life, including public schools, has not only departed from Judeo-Christian values but has been mocking them and has been trying to stifle them from expression.”

    I just don’t get this. My children go to large public schools, and our Christian values have never been mocked. We live in a city that is liberal politically and voted Democratic the last election, but surrounding counties are conservative. We have a very diverse population due to families who have moved here from all areas of the country and world. We also have a fairly large immigrant population.

    Despite the diversity in my community and our schools, I do not hesitate to tell my children’s teachers that I’m praying for them. Most of the teachers we’ve had are Christian, and I know where many of them go to church.

    My kids say the pledge of allegiance every, single morning in their schools. Teachers who don’t have students with certain religious considerations (such as Jehovah’s Witness) wish their students a Merry Christmas, have Christmas trees in their classrooms, even discuss the birth of Jesus and Christmas traditions.

    Today, my 10-year old’s teacher made Christmas crackers (she’s an international teacher from London) and crowns with her students. She said the crowns symbolized the three wise men who came to see Jesus. Most teachers check with kids and parents to see if there are certain celebrations or topics that are off limits; otherwise, there’s some freedom there.

    When my 8-year old daughter was in kindergarten, her teacher organized a musical with all of the kindergarten students (160+) that included various Christmas traditions and stories from around the world, including the birth of Jesus. We had a Mary, Joseph, and a baby doll as baby Jesus and sang a Christmas hymn. Not one parent (that I know of) said anything derogatory about featuring the birth of Jesus.

    Seeker mentioned how we often look back and mourn the loss of “the good ole days”. I can’t tell you how many of my forty-something and fifty-something facebook friends have updated their status with something like this: If they would put God back in the schools, these shootings wouldn’t happen. Schools just aren’t what they used to be. Underneath that post, there will be 24 likes and several amens.

    I fantasize about writing a comment something like this: Huh? Are you kidding me??? Yes, teachers would sometimes read bible stories at the beginning of school in the mornings, but things were worse in many ways than they are now. Nobody cared if kids were insensitive to others because of their race or dress or social group or sexual orientation. Nobody cared if a kid was called a f–. Little was done to address bullying. We had drugs, alcohol, fights, sex, date rape, teen pregnancies, popular kids, unpopular kids, jocks, preps, freaks, geeks. Remember the guy in high school who came to school drunk every day – and brought more liquor with him? Remember the guys who were stoned all the time and sold drugs to other kids? Remember the student who got beat with a crow bar, by another student, in our high school parking lot? Remember when Tammy left school to drive her boyfriend home because he came to school drunk (different guy) and she was killed in a car wreck on the way to his house? Remember all the bomb threats that would get us out of school early? Remember the girl in 9th grade who busted into biology class with a knife and tried to stab our teacher?

    My school experiences were far from perfect. But I didn’t become a bad person, nor did most of my classmates, because kids rebelled. Rebellion is going to happen, whether there are bible verses taped to the walls or not. Ask my husband (in his late forties) who went to private Christian schools until 10th grade and then again for college.

  175. I have just a couple personal stories I’ve been thinking about– one might not be able to generalize from these to church or national policy, of course.
    Mental Illness: I have a family member who was hospitalized several times, and we’ve been talking about the shootings this week. She thinks it’s a mistake to put too much blame for these events on mental illness. She blames evil. She says she’s met hundreds of mentally ill people, and only one was homicidal. (He’d been caught with a knife over his stepmother’s bed saying “they” were telling him to kill her.)
    Murder: When the family in our church was killed in their home, I think 3 things might have stopped the gunman. 1: If he’d been locked up for raping his daughters. (obviously most child rapists don’t go on to kill their victims) 2: If police/courts had taken the family’s reports seriously and locked him up. 3: If Bob had owned a gun and used it. (He had time to call 911 when the gunman broke in, but police had no time to get there). Well, maybe (crazy speculation here) 4: Fear of Hell? Seems more and more of these crazed gunmen don’t try at all to “get away with it”– do they think they’re getting away with it by killing themselves?
    In Memory: Bob, Shirley, Vickie, and Ann Marie 12/09/89

  176. Wendy quoted huckabeeites, “If they would put God back in the schools…etc etc”
    I have a daughter who’s a Christian and teaches in a public school… So I conclude she brings God there every day with her.
    Conversely, last I checked, William J Murray, whose mum got God kicked outada schools in order to protect him from the evils of religion, has been an Evengelical Christian for over 30 years now.

  177. @ Wendy:

    We know a kid in Minnesota who reads his Bible to the other kids on the bus (at their request) and the driver does nothing. So much for God being “gone” from public schools. Or does this technically not count because it’s on the bus? ; )

    My black Pentecostal friend who is an ESL teacher says that in her experience, Jesus is only a problem in rich white suburban schools…not in the inner city or rural areas. This came up because when she had to go through the emergency drill with her Haitian ESL students and she asked them what they should do if there was a shooter, their first response was to shout, “We pray to Jesus!” Maybe she should have told them that God isn’t in school so that wouldn’t work.

  178. Daisy,

    “I am a conservative Republican, and it does seem to me that much of American public life, including public schools, has not only departed from Judeo-Christian values but has been mocking them and has been trying to stifle them from expression.”
    **********

    I do not agree.

    In the pubic school system where I live, they champion strong character. In fact, the whole city gets behind it. Community of Character, they call it. Each month, the whole school district focusses on a different character trait (honesty, compassion, integrity, respect, etc.). They talk about it in classes, there are assemblies that illustrate it. The city puts up banners aound town naming the character trait and perhaps some other words illustrating what it means. The word “hell” is not tolerated as an expletive in the schools (of course, this doesn’t stop colorful language amongst studens — but it is a deterrant.) When my son and his friends were in elementary school, they considered this word extremely off=limits.

    I live in liberal northern california. This is not all that unusual.

    I think part of the reason for this emphasis on character is how diverse the community is. Mutual respect is an absolute necessity. My kids all have friends who are sikh, muslim, hindu, buddhist, zoroastrian, jewish, mormon.

    *My guess is that it is not Judaeo-christian VALUES that are being stifled from expression, but rather things of a cultural nature.*

    While Christmas holds great meaning for many people, it is a cultural tradition. Public prayer done at non-religious assemblies (sporting events, graduations, etc.) is a cultural tradition from a time when the collective consciousness assumed everyone was “christian”. You simply cannot have a pastor or priest pray a christian prayer at a graduation ceremony, for example, without having many other religious clerics of so many other faiths participating as well.

    And here’s the clincher: christian values are no different from the values of all the other faiths I mentioned (barring the fundamentlist forms of any religion).

    Here’s an even bigger clincher: christian values as practiced by christian culture pale in comparison to what I see in these other faith communities. Christianity as practiced in christian culture has absolutely no claim to best practices of best values.

  179. @ Looking for You:

    “That’s what I don’t like about the school system more than anything else (and why I homeschool) – the obsession with uniformity/sameness.”

    Unfortunately (as I’m sure you know well) the same stuff can happen in homeschool circles. Obviously there’s the “denim jumper syndrome” flavor of this, but it can be more subtle and Aspies/introverts can have just as much trouble.

    I was never a girly girl and I was always a reader/nerd; I was also highly imaginative and loved predator animals (as opposed to the “nice” animals most kids like). Those alone resulted in me not having any female friends after the elementary years (I wasn’t pink enough), but when they were combined with my (probably) autistic social awkwardness, things got even weirder. The story below is the best example of how this usually played out (remember that I was basically ONLY friends with homeschool kids).

    I was invited to a female friend’s all-girl, tea party-themed BD party. We were all about 8-9, maybe 10 at the absolute oldest. The lunchtime game was to do essentially “play gossip,” where made-up news items (i.e., “the prince is engaged” or “black gloves are in style”) were written on index cards, then introduced into “conversation” and the girls would then chat and “gossip” about them. This made me wicked uncomfortable as I’m terrible at smalltalk, so I mostly tried to fade into the wallpaper, which worked fine until the note cards ran out and they went around the table and asked us each to come up with our own news item. At the time I was obsessed with fish and so help me, the only “newsworthy” item I could come up with was that a certain kind of mackerel had been found outside its normal range. I knew even at age 9 that this would go over like a lead brick, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything else to say so I said it. You could almost hear WTF emanating from the walls. Needless to say, I wasn’t invited back to her next birthday.

    My childhood in a nutshell: I was dead meat after all my friends “grew out” of animals at about age 7-8. And believe it or not, for some people it’s STILL a problem. (Feel free to laugh at that fish story…it’s actually kinda funny.)

  180. @ Elastigirl:

    “Public prayer done at non-religious assemblies (sporting events, graduations, etc.) is a cultural tradition from a time when the collective consciousness assumed everyone was ‘Christian.'”

    I think you are correct here…and there’s nothing preventing Christians in the audience from praying to themselves before these events. I myself have never really understood praying before football games, since they never ask for God to protect the players from concussions.

  181. The lunchtime game was to do essentially “play gossip,” where made-up news items (i.e., “the prince is engaged” or “black gloves are in style”) were written on index cards, then introduced into “conversation” and the girls would then chat and “gossip” about them.

    WTH??! This is way, WAY worse than any wedding/baby shower game that I’ve ever endured – and can someone please tell me how and why this game is even applicable to kids 8-10 years old?

    I do NOT get it.

    Hester, I’m not on the autism spectrum, but I’d probably have come up with something about wild animals or polar exploration or Tolkien at that age. Or else had the princess buckling some swash – how awful that you were made to go through this!!!

  182. elastigirl wrote

    And here’s the clincher: christian values are no different from the values of all the other faiths I mentioned (barring the fundamentlist forms of any religion).

    Here’s an even bigger clincher: christian values as practiced by christian culture pale in comparison to what I see in these other faith communities. Christianity as practiced in christian culture has absolutely no claim to best practices of best values.

    Not only do I hear you, I’m *so* with you on this.

    fwis, some of the most wonderfully sensitive and moral people I’ve ever known are Middle Eastern Muslims (mostly Arabs, but Iranians as well). I mean, they *so* outshine the majority of people I’ve known who claim to be xtian, it’s not funny.

  183. Oh… forgot to say that I would add many of the Jewish folks in my ‘hood, back when I was quite young.

    Outstanding people, truly.

  184. Hester

    Loved your comment. “I myself have never really understood praying before football games, since they never ask for God to protect the players from concussions.”

  185. Hester,

    Your story made me laugh! I can so identify with feeling completely socially awkward. I too was a bookworm/kinda nerdy. All through my childhood I can remember that on the rare occasion I did open my mouth, I got the incredibly uncomfortable feeling that what I had just said was either completely irrelevant, or completely stupid. I’d get blank stares, then conversation would move on like I’d never said anything. I never understood why. It still happens to me from time to time. I usually just avoid talking. Writing is a much better outlet. :-)

    You made a good point about uniformity/sameness in homeschooling circles. Probably even more exaggerated, actually, because of the stiff gender stereotypes. All girls are supposed to love tea parties. All boys are supposed to love being cowboys. I’m definitely not interested in that for my kids either!

  186. Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceptive = supposedly the least common personality profile on the Myers Briggs assessment.

    As all natural-born oddballs like me are.

  187. dee wrote:

    Tina
    Thank you for sharing so vulnerably as well. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you deal with you depression. i experienced some depression and anxiety myself, believe it or not, after my daughter was doing well. I think I finally gave myself permission to feel instead of holding myself together to support my daughter. I received some treatment and am doing quite well now.   I am so grateful for the counselors in my life who did not treat my depression as some sort of sin but as a logical outcome of serious stress. 

    Thank you, Dee. I’ve been fortunate to have similar support. My husband and I see a counselor monthly as a way to get a “check” on where we are. And yes, depression can be an outcome of serious stress!

  188. @ Numo:

    “I mean, they *so* outshine the majority of people I’ve known who claim to be xtian, it’s not funny.”

    Kinda like the fact that I could tell my atheist/agnostic friends about Mark Driscoll’s sex sermon and pornovision and their eyes boggle immediately, but my Christian friends do the Diplomatic Denial Dance or yell “WHATEVER!” at me?

    “WTH??! This is way, WAY worse than any wedding/baby shower game that I’ve ever endured – and can someone please tell me how and why this game is even applicable to kids 8-10 years old? …how awful that you were made to go through this!!!”

    LIKE! Where’s the like button? : ) In their defense, I did go willingly to the party…but even a 9-year-old can tell when they’ve just dug their own grave socially. I learned pretty fast that you’re not allowed to like talking animals unless you’re under age 10 or a professional children’s author – anything in between means you’re mentally ill and/or hopelessly immature. Not that I ever cared. ; )

  189. @ Looking for You:

    “All girls are supposed to love tea parties. All boys are supposed to love being cowboys.”

    I never saw any cowboys…around here most of them liked WAR FIGHTING WEAPONS WAR FIGHTING WEAPONS!!!!! So when I liked books with battles in them and hated tea parties I seriously upset their worldview. Although there always was the implicit assumption that it would be more acceptable for a boy to break out of his “box” than a girl, as long as he didn’t start liking obviously “pink” things like makeup and ballerinas.

  190. Ah, school awkwardness!
    Looking for You, I can so sympathise with your experience of being smart but shy. I was very lucky, though.
    Over here, our school year starts end January/beginning February, and to start Kindergarten (at least in New South Wales when I started) you had to either be 5 or turning 5 by the end of July. I’m a July birthday, so I’m in that group where I could be held back and be older, or let start and be younger than the rest of the year. I decided that I was going to school at four years old, and this in my mind was not up for discussion (there’s a willfulness on my dad’s side of the family that I inherited). My parents were worried I wasn’t ready – not because I wasn’t smart enough, I was, but because I wasn’t socially or emotionally ready. Fortunately the Principal at the school was fantastic, and suggested my parents let me start if I wanted to, because I could always repeat a year if it was too much. I never did repeat any years, but I was an outsider and shy and did cry in class far too often – really, what sort of 9 year old cries because they can’t do long division!
    I wasn’t a girly girl, I grew out of barbie a year or more before my friend did, so when she insisted we play barbies I’d oblige for a while and then my barbie would have an ‘accident’ and get lost in the bush or fall off a cliff or die in some other weird way (I was just a little strange) and then we could play something else. High school was better, because it was an all-girls academic school, meaning all the slightly weird smart kids were together in one place. I faded into the background a bit, but got on with everyone, which was a nice change.

    On Myers Briggs, I’m an INFJ, and I’m prone to analysis what I’m going to say before I say it, after I say it, how I should have said it, what others said, what I think about what I said, what I think about what I should have said, what I think about what others thought about what I said, and on and on in this ridiculous spiral of self-critique.

  191. Pam,

    I was one of the youngest in my kindergarten class too. I also cried a lot when I didn’t understand things – all the way through elementary school. Or at the slightest HINT that I had made a mistake. I see it in my son now, who I’m homeschooling. Though he is very extroverted, he gets incredibly frustrated with mistakes and I have to keep telling him it’s OK to make mistakes. They help us learn. Unfortunately I still do not practice what I preach.

    And yeah, I totally relate to the painstaking analysis of everything I say. This is probably a big reason I don’t talk much in person. By the time I’ve analyized to death what I wanted to say and my adrenaline’s pumping, conversation has moved on to the next topic. Or no one hears me if I do start to talk, even if I feel like I’m yelling! Then if I say something stupid, I NEVER get over it.

    I don’t actually know what my personality is. I stare at the meyers briggs chart and never quite come up with a conclusion – I think probably ISFP, INFP, ISFJ, or INFJ.

  192. Hester,

    Ah yes the war fighting weapons. Lots of those where I come from too. It seems the only toys they sell in the Vision Forum catelogs for boys are weapons, cowboy stuff, and survival gear. For girls its dolls and more dolls, and maybe some tea party stuff.

    Some friends of ours have some very real-looking toy guns. They are also extremely careless about where they let their actual guns lay around. I fear one day one of their children will get ahold of a real gun thinking it’s just a toy and have an accident.

  193. There are a lot of online versions of the test you can take. This one is pretty quick: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
    Of course, being an over-analyser, you’ll probably do what I do and want to say ‘it depends’ rather than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to many of the questions.

    The weird thing for me about talking in public, though, is I have gotten up and spoken quite confidently at conferences. It’s general conversation that’s hard. When I’m the one giving a talk, I have few problems. Otherwise, it’s exactly like you describe, repeating myself three or four times hoping to be heard and then giving up, or mentally kicking myself for my stupid wording of something.

    Best of luck with your son. It’s good that you can empathise with him and help him try and deal with the upset and frustration – because you and I know it won’t necessarily go away! But learning to accept making mistakes is always a tough process, and I don’t think any of us are ever fantastic at it. Oh, and I can beat crying through elementary school – I can remember crying (and trying so very hard to hide it) in year 8 maths. Absolutely mortifying.

  194. For whatever it’s worth, I tried the test…

    ENFP
    Extravert(11%) iNtuitive(38%) iNtuitive Feeling(12%) Perceiving(78)%

    You have slight preference of Extraversion over Introversion (11%)
    You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (38%)
    You have slight preference of Feeling over Thinking (12%)
    You have strong preference of Perceiving over Judging (78%)

  195. @ elastigirl:

    Thanks for the I info. I went to one sight to see what the testing was about. There was a $50 fee. I might try one of the free ones. Seems there are a lot of odd balls about :) Everyone I meet is peculiar in some way . . . maybe it’s really me?

  196. Pam, Looking For You, anyone else,

    Then there’s also this: The Highly Sensitive Person

    http://www.hsperson.com/

    •You are more aware than others of subtleties. This is mainly because your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. So even if you wear glasses, for example, you see more than others by noticing more.

    •You are also more easily overwhelmed. If you notice everything, you are naturally going to be overstimulated when things are too intense, complex, chaotic, or novel for a long time.

    •This trait is not a new discovery, but it has been misunderstood. Because HSPs prefer to look before entering new situations, they are often called “shy.” But shyness is learned, not innate. In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion. It has also been called inhibitedness, fearfulness, or neuroticism. Some HSPs behave in these ways, but it is not innate to do so and not the basic trait.

    •Sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures. In cultures where it is not valued, HSPs tend to have low self-esteem. They are told “don’t be so sensitive” so that they feel abnormal.

  197. ok — confession….in a question… does anyone else here besides me have a tendency to view the social world through self-at-16 glasses?

  198. Looking for You wrote:

    Hester,

    Ah yes the war fighting weapons. Lots of those where I come from too. It seems the only toys they sell in the Vision Forum catelogs for boys are weapons, cowboy stuff, and survival gear. For girls its dolls and more dolls, and maybe some tea party stuff.

    1) You have to start training and familiarization early if you want to crank out Christian Warriors Against Those Heathens. JIHAD!

    2) As for girls, they are supposed to be quiet and winsome as children at a Chinese school massacre. With Tea Parties like G3 Ponies.

  199. Hester wrote:

    I was never a girly girl and I was always a reader/nerd; I was also highly imaginative and loved predator animals (as opposed to the “nice” animals most kids like). Those alone resulted in me not having any female friends after the elementary years (I wasn’t pink enough), but when they were combined with my (probably) autistic social awkwardness, things got even weirder. The story below is the best example of how this usually played out (remember that I was basically ONLY friends with homeschool kids).

    I was invited to a female friend’s all-girl, tea party-themed BD party. We were all about 8-9, maybe 10 at the absolute oldest. The lunchtime game was to do essentially “play gossip,”

    Oh, Hester. You were a G4 Rainbow Dash/Twilight Sparkle stuck in a G3 Pony Tea Party… AKA Rainbow Dash in Pony Hell…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBffHmHzoiw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5vmXFhOARI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obSq7_Tw_ic

  200. I took the test, I’m ISTP.

    •You have strong preference of Introversion over Extraversion (89%)
    •You have moderate preference of Sensing over Intuition (50%)
    •You have marginal or no preference of Thinking over Feeling (1%)
    •You have moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (44%)

    The Thinking over Feeling surprised me but the difference was only 1%.

    Pam,

    Well I wasn’t going to include the time I started crying over a chemistry test in 11th grade but it’s true! Ha. And I adored chemistry.

    I’m like you, I’m also quite comfortable with public speaking. I got almost 100% in my college speech class. I taught my high school bible study and led worship. I have sang solos and played piano solos in front of audiences often ever since I was probably 10 with no problems. But in conversation I just can’t do it. I freeze up if I do get everyone’s attention. I’ve never understood that.

  201. elastigirl,

    Highly sensitive person… yep, that sounds like me. Easily overwhelmed, noticing subtle details (but usually missing the big picture – I might notice the red door on a house, but if the house were completely gone the next time I drive by it I’d probably not notice), deep reflection about EVERYTHING, can’t take a lot of intensity, shy and inhibited.

  202. HUG,

    Yep. Training to do battle. Cuz they’re MEN!

    The obsession with survival and worst-case-scenario stuff really gets to me too. I am NOT a worrier, I see no point. But worry and fear and paranoia are inherent to this prepare-for-worst-case-scenario kinda stuff. Conspiracy theories anyone? Makes me crazy!!!

  203. @ elastigirl:

    Yes, and when people say, “Oh, I’d love to relive my high school years,” I cringe. High school is the last timeframe in life that I would want to relive. I was ssoooo glad to move past high school.

  204. Looking for You wrote:

    Yep. Training to do battle. Cuz they’re MEN!

    As a militaria buff who’s old enough to remember when “war toys” were de rigeur for boys in general (i.e. pre-Vietnam, when WW2 movies were on TV all the time), I assume you mean emphasis or attraction well above-and-beyond the usual tough boy stuff?

    The obsession with survival and worst-case-scenario stuff really gets to me too. I am NOT a worrier, I see no point. But worry and fear and paranoia are inherent to this prepare-for-worst-case-scenario kinda stuff. Conspiracy theories anyone? Makes me crazy!!!

    Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory can mess your mind up but good. They are completely-closed systems which pinch you off behind your own individual black hole event horizon, outside of which is only The Conspiracy. No such thing as a reality check possible (“That’s what THEY want us to think!”). Evidence against The Conspiracy is Proof of The Conspiracy. Lack of evidence for the Conspiracy Theory is Proof of The Conspiracy. Anyone who doubts the Conspiracy Theory is Part of The Conspiracy.

    According to Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies (good read on the subject), Michael Moore after making JFK said in an interview (after several “is that what THEY want me to believe?”s) “Was there even a World War Two? Was I even born? Do I even exist? Or is that all what THEY want me to think?”

    And Fundagelical Christians seem especially prone to Grand Unified Satanic Conspiracy Theories — “The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs! We Won’t Be Taken In!”

  205. Bridget wrote:

    Yes, and when people say, “Oh, I’d love to relive my high school years,” I cringe. High school is the last timeframe in life that I would want to relive. I was ssoooo glad to move past high school.

    Remember Twilight (sparkle sparkle)? How the Immortal Hunk (sparkle sparkle) had spent the past 100 years attending high school after high school? Never mind the usual “100+ years old and never got laid”, 100+ YEARS IN HIGH SCHOOL IS *THE* BIG RED FLAG.

    I could only conclude that Stephanie Meyers’ high school career was far different from mine, since she wants to go back and be in High School forever…

    “I was a Football Star in High School. Once I SCORED THREE TOUCHDOWNS IN ONE GAME!” — Al Bundy, forty-something loser from Married with Children

  206. @elastigirl re: viewing the social world through self-at-16 glasses.

    hmm, haven’t had a question posed like that before, so I’m intrigued. The answer is probably. Would you also mean the imprinting that occurred by 16 and remains?

    I strongly identify as a HSP. My revelation came watching Therese Bourchard’s You Tube clip http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/03/17/video-the-highly-sensitive-person/

    I’ve always been told since forever ‘you’re too sensitive’. I was fascinated by Elaine Aron/Ted Zeff’s reveal of the cultural take on HSP’s, where in China they are valued (and have higher self-esteem) whereas in North America (and Australia, naturally) they aren’t.

    I get really blank looks if I excitedly reveal ‘I’m HSP’ so I keep it to myself. I read a comment once where someone whinged about a HSP friend they had to travel with who was aware she was HSP and insisted on many modifications to the friend’s great annoyance. So I keep this knowledge to myself and it’s nice to do this blurt on TWW !

  207. elastigirl wrote:

    does anyone else here besides me have a tendency to view the social world through self-at-16 glasses?

    I can’t remember which celebrity said it (I’m too lazy to dig out my quotes book), but she suggested that in fact we don’t progress socially beyond our school years ie the groups we do or don’t identify with. I’ve found this to be roughly true.

    Even at the time when I was being patted on the head and told ‘school years are the best years of your life’ I would internally grimace and think, ‘nah, there’s got to be way better than this !’ And it is.

  208. INFP too though I probably veer all over the place with these things.

    Fendrel, would you like me to dig out the ‘shadow side’ of ENFP ? I’ve got a good book on all of these !

  209. @ JeffT:

    It’s a required response based on their understanding of divine sovereignty. There has been much discussion on this topic around these parts. The key difficulty, as I see it, for the Calvinistas, is the idea that God wills evil like this to happen because it glorifies him in some way.

    It’s amazing to me that some within the Calvinista movement are so quick to bestow the label of heretic on people, when they are making God the source of evil (albeit implicitly, through their theology).

  210. @ Looking for You & HUG:

    There’s also been several bloggers who’ve pointed out that children’s clothing in general has very strict gender delineations by color. Girls get pink and purple. Boys get blue and sludge. (Sludge = olive drab, brown, black and any other color that will hide mud stains.)

    I still run afoul of this rule. I love purple, but look horrible in Barbie pink and love green and blue. I’ve also been known to ask complainingly why men get to wear khakis and turtlenecks year after year after year, but if I did that I would be relentlessly mocked and told that I shop at “Forever 63.” Double standard, anybody?

  211. @ HUG:

    “Remember Twilight (sparkle sparkle)? How the Immortal Hunk (sparkle sparkle) had spent the past 100 years attending high school after high school? Never mind the usual ‘100+ years old and never got laid,’ 100+ YEARS IN HIGH SCHOOL IS *THE* BIG RED FLAG.”

    I never understood that either. Why if Edward is immortal is he wasting his immortality in high school? Doesn’t he have better things to do with his time than sit through the same biology class over and over and over again?

    I’m trying to read that book and write my sarcastic notes in the margins. IT’S. SO. HARD.

  212. My extrovert factor was 100%, and I was also surprised at my 1% thinking over feeling Fendrel.

  213. @ Looking for You & HUG:

    “The obsession with survival and worst-case-scenario stuff really gets to me too. I am NOT a worrier, I see no point. But worry and fear and paranoia are inherent to this prepare-for-worst-case-scenario kinda stuff. Conspiracy theories anyone? Makes me crazy!!!”

    That and “worst-case” has a different meaning for these folks than for normal people. Most of us use the term “worst-case” to refer to things like the impending defense cuts. Doomers use it to refer to things like complete devaluation of the dollar; collapse of oil-based civilization and a return to the 1790s; and a worldwide bird flu pandemic that kills off a third of the world’s population.

  214. I got INTJ:

    You have strong preference of Introversion over Extraversion (78%)
    You have moderate preference of Intuition over Sensing (50%)
    You have moderate preference of Thinking over Feeling (38%)
    You have moderate preference of Judging over Perceiving (56%)

    What’s that mean? Not sure I understand the specific terminology differences (spec. between intuition vs. sensing and judging vs. perceiving).

  215. Haitch,

    Viewing the social world through self-at-16 glasses = approaching the rest of life as a means of redeeming the self-branding that occured time & again through those poignently awful moments of age 14-17. Perhaps it’s a quest to re-brand ourselves. Or perhaps a more reasonable way to put it is to UNBRAND ourselves.

    As we get to know and understand ourselves more and more.

    As well as “unbranding” all the “types” of our high school peers, who we continue to encounter wherever we go the rest of our lives.

    And discovering that they have as many neuroses as I do. And as many wonderful traits. Many discoveries to be made.

    (this is all hyperbole to some extent)

    I do enjoy maturing in years and experience.

  216. “HSPs unite! And then disperse and retreat into dark rooms by ourselves.”

    elastigirl,

    HA! I do adore being alone. I spent 3 weeks in a hospital alone, far from anyone I knew a while back. Due to my complications, I wasn’t allowed to leave my hospital room at all. It was WONDERFUL!!! I wasn’t bored even for a second, and I didn’t even watch TV. I don’t ever tell anyone how much I really enjoyed that experience. They would think I’m weird. I got homesick for my hospital room for months afterwards.

    Are you a mom elastigirl? And if so, how do you cope? I adore my children but I do have a hard time with the relentlessness of never getting alone time. I find myself staying up till 5 AM some nights just to relish the silence and time to let my thoughts run wild.

  217. Mr.H wrote:

    The key difficulty, as I see it, for the Calvinistas, is the idea that God wills evil like this to happen because it glorifies him in some way.

    Christian Monist said it best:

    “You end up with a God who is Omnipotent but NOT benevolent.”

    In many ways, defining God as Infinite POWER and ONLY Infinite POWER. Bringing in all the baggage about POWER.

  218. Hester wrote:

    @ Looking for You & HUG:
    There’s also been several bloggers who’ve pointed out that children’s clothing in general has very strict gender delineations by color. Girls get pink and purple. Boys get blue and sludge. (Sludge = olive drab, brown, black and any other color that will hide mud stains.)

    Others have pointed out that 100 years ago, the color codes were the opposite of today’s. Pink was considered a very masculine color and blue feminine.

    “Sludge” — never heard that one before. Kind of like the original definition of “khaki” — “Dirt Color”.

  219. I am very much in the HSP category, too, and make a fair number of modifications in order for there to be a lot of quiet, down time and time to think.

    Can’t live without any of those things, really.

  220. RE: Looking for You on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:34 PM,

    Glad you enjoyed my humorous and yet not so humorous Twilight Zone scenario. It was only intended as a whimsical response to Fendrel’s challenge on the subject of “Biblical” morality.

    I’m hoping I understood Fendrel correctly, in that humans can agree upon universal proscriptions against say murder and theft, but not sexual mores, which may have divergent standards or non-standards depending on the culture & people involved.

    I find it odd in general, that evangelicals in times past could find all kinds of work arounds for murder and theft [eg. the genocide of Native Americans & theft of their lands] , but would [and still do] always maintain Kant’s categorical imperative that infractions of a sexual nature [always the most egregious] are always wrong and can have no wiggle room.

  221. Looking For You,

    Yes, i’m a mom of 3 kids. Yes, alone time has been hard to come by. I, too, relish the middle of the night. I think 2:30 am was my latest, drinking in every word and picture of Nat’l Geographic, investigative reporting programs on PBS, Ken Burns documentaries, Bill Moyers and Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose (love those guys), or a good book.

    It’s getting easier, now that they’re getting older and more independent.

    Reached a breaking point 2 years ago (a number of unique as well as mundane factors, such as constant togetherness and being talked to non-stop). Told my husband, “I’m done”, while folding the 3 billionth tiny piece of clothing & sobbing. He said, “Go anywhere you want. I’ll work from home this week. Go visit a friend [in another state]. Go anywhere you want. Take 1 week, 2 weeks, whatever it takes.” He is very good to me.

    I didn’t end up going anywhere. A few hours after this conversation, I suddenly found I was at peace. I remember distinctly noticing how some spot on my forehead was suddenly totally relaxed (hadn’t noticed the knotted ball of stress and tension that had been there until it went away). It was knowing I could go if I needed to (which would have been very temporarily) which diffused it all.

  222. Something that just came together today:

    You know what a schoolyard massacre is?
    IT’S A DO-IT-YOURSELF REALITY TV SHOW.
    A REALITY SHOW THAT’S A *GUARANTEED* HIT.
    INSTANT (IF POSTHUMOUS) REALITY TV STARDOM.

    To the point of even jerking a chain extending all the way to the White House. (“Dance, President, Dance!”) Imagine the feeling of POWER that could give a disturbed loser. Or someone who’s just mad at the world and consumed with revenge.

  223. Muff Potter wrote:

    I find it odd in general, that evangelicals in times past could find all kinds of work arounds for murder and theft [eg. the genocide of Native Americans & theft of their lands] , but would [and still do] always maintain Kant’s categorical imperative that infractions of a sexual nature [always the most egregious] are always wrong and can have no wiggle room.

    Well, if you’re personally benefiting from it…

    And “infractions of a sexual nature” are JUICY JUICY JUICY.

  224. Haitch
    Enjoyed watching the clip. And yes, memories that stir the heart are better than theology.

    My best memory is picking strawberries with my great uncle in his back garden on the cliffs of the Bullers o’ Buchanan north of Aberdeen, wild and remote.
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  225. Havin

    Utterly glad to hear that you think memories that stir the heart are better than theology and that you never have tongue in cheek moments.

    I have a wonderful image of you both strawberry picking, though I do think this is a female pursuit (gathering) and you would have been better placed complimentarianly by chasing wild boar (hunting).

    Best wishes
    Haitch

  226. Haitch – Thanks for the video link; didn’t know the show existed and really like it.

    Igor… mafia?

  227. 30 years ago, I married into a large family, many of whose members have been dealing with similar threads of mental illness for most of their lives.

    They are all kind, intelligent people who were raised as Christians, and most of them would adamently profess to being Christian. They suffered no child or sexual abuse. They all live in pleasant, middle-class neighborhoods. They haven’t even experienced the trauma of losing someone within the family, and their family reunions are all well-attended and eagerly anticipated. But if one of them suddenly shot up a public place and killed innocent people, I have to confess that I wouldn’t be all that surprised.

    Why? Over the past 30 years, it’s been obvious to me that there is definitely something infinitely different about my husband’s family’s patterns of thought. What’s even more remarkable is that a cousin who was raised by another family altogether also has this same difference, so to me, it’s obviously genetic rather than something learned or something chosen.

    I do believe that there is evil in the world, but I also believe we need to be very cautious in labeling what we see as such. In New England in the mid 1800s there was an outbreak of tuberculosis. People in Connecticut blamed those who died of the disease, believing they were vampires who returned at night to feed on others who then came down with the disease. Sounds silly to us now to blame vampires for the common spread of a contagious germ, but in those communities, the sick person was “evil” and responsible for killing innocent people.

    Sound familiar?

    We don’t know anything about what was going through Adam Lanza’s head. For all we know, he could have experienced an overwhelming schizophrenic incident complete with voices telling him what to do. He was only 20 — a prime time for schizophrenia to show symptoms. If that was the case, would it be any more evil for him to kill others before killing himself than a tuberculosis patient would be evil for unknowingly spreading germs to others?

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there was nothing wrong with Adam Lanza. That he was the all-American golden boy, active in sports and church as well as his academics. Let’s say he had a girlfriend and a job and he was enjoying college. If THAT Adam Lanza decided one day to shoot up a classroom of first graders, THEN I would agree with you that THAT might be an example of evil. But that’s not what happened – that’s not who Adam Lanza was…
    And I believe the only one who knows Adam Lanza is God.

  228. I see the same thing in the Native American community I live in. There, Christianity frequently equals oppression and genocide. But you’ll never meet more respectful, thoughtful, and gentle teenagers anywhere else in the world. They are being raised spiritually with love. I think Christ would have a hard time making the case that they should ditch that and follow a faith which nearly wiped them out.

  229. Haitch
    I should have explained that these were not lie back in the straw and catch the sun strawberries, oh no, these were wild Highland strawberries guarded by ferocious haggis.

    Gavin

  230. Gavin wrote “guarded by ferocious haggis”
    I photographed the following disclaimer/warning in a Scottish cafe:
    All our haggis products are made from free-range wild haggis that roam about our very own haggis sanctuary…. Remember….”A happy haggis is a tasty haggis.”
    Please enjoy haggis responsibly.

  231. Gavin, the resolute haggis whisperer – I tried to explain haggis to a West Papuan friend. I’m still trying….

  232. While we’re on haggis, I had a lucky escape last February above Glen Shiel when I disturbed a hibernating haggis – the ones in Glen Shiel have a venomous bite (albeit mildly so). Fortunately, it was too sleepy to jump up, and my winter boots are fairly thick… so we both got on with our respective lives. All in all, a memorable day, what with re-visiting the summit of Sgurr Fhuaran more than 20 years after my first ascent and getting a view this time. Didn’t get a photie of the haggis, though.