It’s Called Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/03/its-called-post-traumatic-church-syndrome-and-yes-its-real/

By Reba Riley

If there’s one thing I know the power of, it’s a name.

For the better part of a decade I suffered from a chronic mystery illness that was attacking me from the inside out. Countless doctors and specialists couldn’t diagnose me, couldn’t give me a name for what was happening. They told me it was all in my head — that I could pull myself out of it if I just tried harder.

I believed them.

Debilitating fatigue and pain became a way of life. My physical distress was second only to the mental torture that went like this, “I am doing this to myself. I do not have an actual medical condition. These symptoms are not real. There is nothing wrong with me.”

But there was something wrong with me. After eight years of sickness, a doctor handed me a slip of paper. On the paper was the name of the disease I had been fighting; the disease that had been fighting me.

I wept with joy. (Which confused my poor doctor more than a little bit.)

I had a name. The symptoms were real. I did have a medical condition. I was not doing it to myself.

Because of the name, I found out I was not alone; there were thousands of other people dealing with the very same condition. Because of the name, I discovered community, support, resources, and treatment. Because of the name, I recovered.

Because of the name, fatigue and pain are no longer a way of life for me.

Which is why I am giving a name to a spiritual condition that is even more real and more dangerous than the disease that robbed me of my physical health for many years:

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.

PTCS presents as a severe, negative — almost allergic — reaction to inflexible doctrine, outright abuse of spiritual power, dogma and (often) praise bands and preachers. Internal symptoms include but are not limited to: withdrawal from all things religious, failure to believe in anything, depression, anxiety, anger, grief, loss of identity, despair, moral confusion, and, most notably, the loss of desire/inability to darken the door of a place of worship.

The physical symptoms of PTCS — which may or may not be present — include: cold sweats, hives, nausea, vomiting, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbance, rashes, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure — oh, to heck with it. The symptoms are as varied as the people who suffer them.

There are degrees of PTCS — maybe you can still walk into a church, maybe you can’t, maybe you take the long way on the highway to avoid the sight of a steeple, maybe you’re even standing in the pulpit. But the one thing we all have in common is that we crash into religion when we go looking for God.

And the crashing has left us with spiritual whiplash, broken bones, bruises, welts and lacerations. It has left us feeling alone and scared and suffering. It has left us with a boatload of internal and external symptoms the persons of spiritual authority tell us are all in our heads and would go away if we just had more faith.

Don’t believe them.

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is not in your head, and you are not alone.

When I tackled my own case of PTCS and blogged about it (http://thirtybythirty.com/), I received story after story — in person and via email and snail mail—from people who were suffering from PTCS. Our stories may be different, but the result is the same: we yearn for God without being bound by dogma and subject to spiritual abuse.

Though I wish I could give you an answer of how to recover from PTCS in 800 words or less, I can’t. (It took me a year and a crazy journey through thirty religions to recover from my own case of PTCS.) Each journey back to spiritual health is as unique as the person taking it.

But what I can do is hand you this virtual slip of paper stating the condition you’ve been fighting — the condition that’s been fighting you. I can tell you there are thousands, maybe even millions of us. I can tell you that I recovered, that healing is available, that God will meet you wherever you are or aren’t.

But most of all, I can tell you a name. Sometimes a name is halfway to healing.

‘We Are Brothers,’ Pope Declares in Heartfelt Message to Pentecostals

The Holy Father told the audience at Kenneth Copeland Ministries that he was speaking to them ‘heartfully’ as a ‘brother’ and that the ‘tears of love’ will help unite Christians.

by CNA/EWTN NEWS

– Shutterstock

FORT WORTH, Texas — Pope Francis sent a video message to a gathering of U.S. Pentecostal leaders, voicing his “yearning” that separation between Catholics and other Christians may end.

“We have a lot of cultural riches and religious riches. And we have diverse traditions,” he said. “But we have to encounter one another as brothers.”

“Let’s give each other a spiritual embrace and let God complete the work that he has begun,” he said, adding that “the miracle of unity has begun.”

The Pope quoted a character from Alessandro Manzoni’s novel The Betrothed, who says, “I’ve never seen God begin a miracle without him finishing it well.”

“He will complete this miracle of unity,” the Holy Father said.

Pope Francis’ message was delivered to a meeting of the Fort Worth, Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries by Pentecostal Bishop Tony Palmer, who had recorded it on an iPhone in a Jan. 14 meeting with the Holy Father. Palmer knew Pope Francis from his time in Argentina, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. The video was later uploaded to YouTube.

The Pope described Palmer as “my brother,” saying the two have been “friends for years.”

His message began in English, but then switched to Italian, telling his audience he would speak “heartfully” about “the language of the heart.”

He said this language has “a simple grammar,” with two rules: “Love God above all, and love the other because he is your brother and sister.”

“I am speaking to you as a brother … with joy and yearning,” the Pope continued.

“It gives me joy that you have come together to worship Jesus Christ the only Lord and to pray to the Father and to receive the Spirit,” he said. “This brings me joy because we can see that God is working all over the world.”

“We are kind of … permit me to say, separated,” the Pope said.

“It’s sin that has separated us, all our sins, the misunderstandings throughout history. It has been a long road of sins that we all shared in. Who is to blame?”

“We all share the blame,” Pope Francis said. “We have all sinned. There is only one blameless: the Lord.”

He voiced his hope that this separation between Christians ends and that communion be restored.

“Let us allow our yearning to grow. Because this will propel us to find each other, to embrace one another and, together, to worship Jesus Christ as the only Lord of history,” the Pope said.

At one point, the Holy Father referenced the Old Testament story of Joseph, saying Christians must “cry together” as Joseph did with his brothers.

“These tears will unite us, the tears of love,” he said.

Mutual Prayers

Pope Francis asked the Pentecostals for their prayers and promised to pray for them.

“I ask you to bless me, and I bless you. From brother to brother, I embrace you. Thank you,” he said.

At the end of Pope Francis’ message, the audience gave the Pope a standing ovation, and Pentecostal minister Kenneth Copeland encouraged the audience to respond to the Pope’s words.

“Come on, the man asked us to pray for him,” Copeland said with enthusiasm.

“Oh Father … we answer his request,” Copeland prayed. “And since we know not how to pray for him as we ought, other than to agree with him in his quest and his heart for the unity of the body of Christ … we come together in the unity of our faith. Halleluiah!”

He said the congregation prayed for the Pope “in the Spirit” and received “words that are not our own.”

Copeland and the congregation then began to speak in tongues.

Friendship With the Pope

Before the video, Bishop Palmer spoke of his relationship with the Catholic Church and with Pope Francis. He said he considered Pope Francis one of his three “spiritual fathers.” The two studied together and met often.

He recounted that Pope Francis called him just after Christmas 2013 and invited him to Rome.

“I said to him, ‘Pope Francis, I can’t believe that you’re phoning me. I don’t know how to react to you,” Palmer told the congregation. “I said, ‘You’re the Pope of the universal Church … 1.2 billion people. And I’m just an everyday clergyman doing his bit for the kingdom.”

He said the Pope assured him, “We are brothers. Nothing will change our friendship.”

The two met Jan. 14 and “made a covenant to work for unity for the Church.”

Though Palmer was eager to have Pope Francis make a video, he did not voice the suggestion. Rather, the Pope suggested it.

“This is history: that we’ve got a pope who recognizes us as brothers and sisters, speaks to us as brothers and sisters and has sent us a message,” Palmer said.

The Pentecostal bishop also discussed the need for Christian unity.

“I’ve come to understand that diversity is Divine. It is division that is diabolic,” he said, saying that Christian unity is “the basis of our credibility.”

Bishop Palmer cited the 1999 “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church, saying it “brought an end to the protest” of the Protestant Reformation.

He called on Protestant evangelical leaders to sign the agreement, also reciting Jesus’ prayer that his disciples “may be one.”

The Endless Slaughter Of Christians Is In Our Midst

By Ted on March 7, 2014 in General

http://shoebat.com/?p=48100&preview=true

Exclusive
By The Persecuted Christian and Theodore Shoebat

It was said that Cain lived his life as a wandering vagabond, but now we see the saints, traveling from city to city, treading upon the earth, walking on the path of uncertainty, not knowing to where Providence will lead them, without the much desired knowledge as to when the torment will cease, and the road to bliss discovered under the dark clouds of fate.

They run from the rapacious hands of wicked men; they flee to one place, and then to another city of capricious hope, and when they receive the morose and indefatigable hatred of the heathen, they flee “into another” (Matthew 10:23), without knowing as to when the sharp stones of the sons of Belial will appear to pierce the holy temples of the Holy Spirit.

Such is the existence of the Christian, whose days are just as precarious as the waves of mankind’s journey to life’s end, ascending up to the realms of vain hopes and the dimmed twilight of humanity’s night sky of ceaseless darkness, descending to the never ending waters of capricious miseries, and then transcending to the terrifying and still state of quiet despair, in the unstable seas of the purest evils.

Our contact from Syria, The Persecuted Christian, has lived in this life of uncertainty. Both his father and sister were brutally executed in the bloody Massacre of Dweir after refusing to convert to Islam. The Persecuted Christian himself went to Saudi Arabia, and when the government was getting more suppressive, we rescued The Persecuted Christian and settled him in the UK.

But The Persecuted Christian’s aunt, Nazmt Toume, fled the village of Dweir after the jihadists attacked, and resided in the Arman District, and just a day ago, she was martyred, and with the shedding of her blood, she now experiences the eternal bliss of Paradise.

She was residing in the village of Arman in Syria; the Muslim jihadists launched two rockets into the area, and one of them landed right where Nazmt was standing. Right at the moment when the rocket exploded, a car bomb erupted on the spot where the rocket landed, and she received the burning impact of the two weapons of Cain.

Her legs were severed from her body, and she bled to death.

Actual photograph of Nazmt Toume

We are working tirelessly to rescue Christians in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and other lands where the sword of Islam has been unsheathed, and Christians like Nazmt Toume, are being killed, raped, kidnapped, and tormented every single day. Rescue Christians is now working on the ground in Syria and Iraq as we are partners with Sister Hatune Dogan who already has saved thousands of Christians from death. We can save and protect many more Christians in Syria and Iraq with your help.

Sister Hatune has been awarded the Order of Merit by the German Government for her work (equivalent to Congressional Medal of Honor). Please click here to partner with us to save thousands more from the Islamic oppressors. All donations are fully Tax deductible.

Nazmt Toume’s nephew, The Persecuted Christian, who we rescued from the clutches of Saudi Arabia, the Whore of Babylon, is now very active in providing us with stories of Christian persecution in Syria, and knows innumerable Christian families in Syria.

He wrote his impactful sentiments of the deepest lamentation over the murder of his dear aunt, in these words:

Some people can’t speak about it, where does it go? The body remembers everything. Excessive amounts of time and energy are spent trying to remember conversations we once had, to create the statements that were never voiced, or to imagine reactions never received. These are heavy bricks to carry for endless days, months, or even years.

Did anyone hear the song of death? I hear it every day in Syria; I hear it sang by my beloveds, the death ghost is chasing them everywhere, saints are followed by demons. Resting in heaven, peacefully easing my mind but with conflicting thoughts that often leave much pain in a heart filled with agonies following their martyrdom.

She missed them; she missed her brother and her niece and it was her time to leave. She left quickly without a goodbye; she left with no remembered sigh. It can be more challenging to remember so-pleasant memories of the time you had with your family and relatives who passed away, while the clock is ticking hours and days to receive the shocking waves. Today my aunt passed away and May God rest her soul in heaven to light the way.

Most Death incidents help us mourn the loss of a loved one, how to cope with yearning, how to adapt to the emptiness following the death of someone so significant in your life that the mere thought of living without them feels incredibly overwhelming and incapacitating.

I realized I saw her face today
In the sparkle of the morning sun.
And then I heard the angel say
“Her work on earth is done
I thought that she had left us
For the stars so far above.
And then I heard the angel say
“She left you with her love.
I thought that I would miss her
And never find my way.
And then I heard the angel say
“She’s resting with your father and sister away”

And now we see the state of the Christian’s existence, ever watchful for the coming light of hope’s dawn, and ever knowing on the perpetual darkness that lies before his eyes. As Our Lord tells us,

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24)

Observe that He says strive, which is quite significant; for it indicates that the life of the Christian is one of endurance, and not of comfort. Therefore, the life of a Christian is one of suffering. As Our Lord declares:

ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

Life is a journey to a place where there is no end, where there is no journey. The process of the journey is worthy of the runner, who sprints through the lingering labyrinth of the race till the line of victory is met with the burning feet of the holy warrior, who strives to the narrow path that leads to everlasting life.

Will you, dear reader, run this difficult race with us, and rescue the persecuted Christians who are enduring through the narrow path? Will you run this arduous race with them? Or will you put your talent under the ground and do nothing. Will you watch your brethren lay dying and suffering on the road of tyranny, and be as the priest who, when he saw the tormented man lying alone on the lonely earth, “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31)? Or will you be as the Samaritan who, “when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him” (Luke 10:33-34)?

The choice is yours, to do the work of God or the work of the callous priest. Which one will you be? Please have pity on the oppressed Christians, and give what you can to deliver them from this suffering.

Poll: 70 Percent Of US Millennials Say Religious Groups ‘Alienating’ Youth

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/03/03/poll-70-percent-of-us-millennials-say-religious-groups-alienating-youth/
March 3, 2014 11:07 AM

WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Nearly one-third of Millennials who have left their childhood religion cited anti-gay teachings as a major factor, with 70 percent of young Americans agreeing that religious groups are alienating their generation.

A new survey of more than 4,500 respondents from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows a dramatic shift – and widening gap — in Americans’ views on gay marriage and religion. Support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percent in the past decade, with 53 percent of those surveyed backing gay marriage.

But the most significant support of same-sex marriage comes from Millennials (ages 18 to 33), with 69 percent backing marriage between gay and lesbian couples. Millennials report a nearly 20-point gap between the views of their families and the views of their friends regarding gay marriage.

Support for gay marriage shows a massive generation gap between the Millennials and the only 37 percent of the “Silent Generation” (ages 68 and older) who show support on the controversial issue. The survey also showed a widening gap between Democrats and Republicans regarding same-sex marriage. Sixty-four percent of Democrats (64 percent) and 57 percent of independents said they support gay marriage, compared to only 34 percent of Republicans.

And Millenials reported that negative church teachings and other organized religions’ views on LGBT issues has played a role in their rejection of their respective childhood faith.

“While many churches and people in the pews have been moving away from their opposition to LGBT rights over the last decade, this new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,” said PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones. “Nearly one-third of Millennials who left their childhood religion say unfavorable church teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people played a significant role in their decision to head for the exit.”

Among Millennials who no longer identify with the religion in which they were raised, 31 percent say that negative teachings about, or treatment of, gay and lesbian people was either a somewhat important (17 percent) or very important (14 percent) factor in their disaffiliation from organized religion.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans were far more likely than other Americans to report leaving religious life – 37 percent of LGBT Americans are now unaffiliated.

A 2012 Pew Research Center poll found that one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in the survey’s history.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).

Researchers cited the “friends and family” effect of having close friends and family who are gay as one major factor behind growing support behind LGBT issues.

“Few changes over the last 20 years have had a more profound effect on support for same-sex marriage than the increasing number of people who now have a gay friend or family member,” noted Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. “The number of Americans who have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian has increased by a factor of three over the last two decades, from 22 percent in 1993 to 65 percent today.”

– Benjamin Fearnow

The End of Religion

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/netanel-milesyepez/the-end-of-religion_b_4874864.html

 

Religion as we have known it is breaking down. The evidence is everywhere we look. It is in the despicable rhetoric and violence of politically-oriented religious extremists, far and near. It is in the scandals and abuses plaguing our current ecclesiastical structures. It is in the surface tension between the “religious right” and modern culture, in the growing indifference of that culture to religion and its occasional disgust with it. And yet, I want to make it really clear: It is not religion itself that is so evidently coming apart in all of these examples; it is an old and outworn idea of religion as an-end-in-itself, as an idol that has — for far too long — been mistaken for its maker and its goal. It is that idol which is now being broken. No, religion will go on; it is how we relate to it that will change, and must change if we are to reclaim its genuine usefulness to us.

Over a century ago, the Russian philosopher, P. D. Ouspensky, explored the symbolism of “The Tower” in the Tarot deck as an important metaphor for religion. The tower, he said, was begun in a time before memory, as a monument to the sacred, a reminder of the true tower in each of us, its every level representing a level to be climbed on the inside. But even before the foundations were fully laid, some of the builders began to “believe in the tower of stone they had built,” and to teach others to believe in the same. To them, the tower was itself sacred, and they soon tried to control access to all its doors and windows, and to occupy the summit and the very “rights to heaven,” as they saw it. They even began to fight over these rights in their confusion. Thus, of all the people of the earth, the worshippers of the tower were the most surprised when heaven spoke from beyond its walls in the form of a lightning bolt, sending its priests sprawling to the ground where they lay helpless amid the rubble. Now, says Ouspensky, all who look on its ruin and see its broken summit — open to heaven as it always should have been — know not to believe in the tower.[1]

As the metaphor suggests, the real issue is one of remembering the original function of the tower, of maintaining one’s awareness of the true meaning and purpose of religion, i.e., that it is a reminder of the sacred. The problem is, it is just so easy for us to forget that religion is not itself sacred, but merely a vessel for the sacred. Although, truth be told, I wonder how many people ever made the distinction in the first place. I don’t think I would be going out on a limb to say that religion is not well understood in our culture. Often, it is assumed to be “right” and “necessary” by the religious, or “backward” and “unnecessary” by the secular; but how many people really know anything about it in itself, about its function, or how it works? How many people, religious or secular, can actually give a working definition of religion? Perhaps if we really knew something about the true end of religion, we might better understand why religion as we have known it is currently breaking down, and more importantly, get a glimpse of what is currently evolving — namely, the religion of spirituality.

But let me back up a step and propose a working definition of religion:
Religion is a sociological construct meant to take us back to the primary experience from which it arose; it enshrines an ideal and provides one with a structured approach to spiritual awakening.

That is to say, religion is what follows in the wake of the spiritual luminary’s breakthrough experience; it is what happens after Muhammad receives his revelation, or the Buddha his awakening; it is what their disciples cobble together from reports of those experiences, using them to make a ‘map’ to lead themselves and others back to the source experience. As the Buddha himself taught: religion is like a raft one makes and uses to cross a river; once you are on the other side, you needn’t to carry it around on your back![2] Religion is just a means to an end, not the end itself.

We must always remember then that the map is not the sacred territory; it must be used by us (though with its original purpose in mind) and not the other way around. As the brilliant Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi once put it (while commenting on the abuses of various religious extremists), “Good religion puts itself in the service of God; bad religion puts God in the service of religion.”[3] It is the latter that usually has us so upset with religion, that causes us to question its foundations, and which is the cause of all that seems to be breaking down in religion. But this is religion misused and misconstrued. It is a false religion that puts the sacred in its own service. False religion is to true religion what the cancerous cell is to the healthy cell. It is this imposter that provokes our most vehement objections, and which now has us looking up at a broken tower and boldly declaring, “A new day for spirituality!” (while we wave goodbye to the “old-time religion”).
(This is part one of a three-part series of articles on The Religion of Spirituality. The second part will be called, “Spiritual and Religious.”)

References:

1. P. D. Ouspensky, The Symbolism of the Tarot: Philosophy of Occultism in Pictures and Numbers, tr. A. L. Pogossky, New York: Dover Publications, 1976: 48-49.

2. “The Raft Simile” in the Pali Alagaddupama Sutta.

3. Heard directly from Schachter-Shalomi after he gave a Yom Kippur sermon at Makom Ohr Shalom in Los Angeles, California, in which he used this formulation for the first time, ca. 2009.

Well, we may be looking down the throat

It seems to appear that this Tuesday may well be a catalyst that throws the world into the proverbial abyss.
Many talking heads are talking about the financial collapse of the US starting on that day, which in turn will collapse the rest of the global economy.

Only our GOD for certain though.
We do know from Scripture that perilous times will come, we know of wars and disease, of hunger and death.
All of these things have been occurring throughout history so to say these particular events signify the Second Coming may be a bit presumptous; but we do know history does repeat itsself.
That being said, if the date setters are correct then stay tuned because it will get interesting very quickly.