Category Archives: Christianity

“A Mother’s Love” by Kelly Fratamico

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Mary_Cassatt_-_Mother_and_Child_%28The_Goodnight_Hug%29.jpg

“Mother and Child (A Goodnight Hug)” (1880) by Mary Cassatt, Source https://www.wikiart.org/en/mary-cassatt/mother-and-child-1880 (PD)

Readers of my other blog A Lawyer’s Prayers will be familiar with Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia https://www.clcphila.org/, a non-profit whose predecessor I had the opportunity of co-founding.

Through the efforts of volunteer Christian attorneys and paralegals, CLCP provides the poor of Philadelphia with legal services at no charge.

This is one story [1]:

“In 2016 Maria, a native of the Dominican Republic, sent her two young sons, to live with their father in the US.  She could not afford to come with them, so stayed behind…Maria made this sacrifice so her sons could receive a better education and not be influenced by violence in their town.

Maria was finally able to join her sons and their father in the United States…in the summer of 2021.  However, their father became abusive with Maria and tried to keep the boys from her.  With the help of the police and her sister, she was able to retrieve her sons and move into a place of her own.  However, Maria…was scared that he would use the court system to take  her sons from her.” Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Poverty, Religion

Reliving Trauma, Part 2

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Spaghetti_%26_Meatballs_%284%29_%2838218925246%29.jpgSpaghetti and Meatballs, Author John Freeman
(CC Attribution-2.0 Generic)

The Weight-Loss Battle

Again and again, you resolve to lose weight.  At times, you make heroic efforts in this direction.  You try fad diets, and supervised weight loss programs.  You try home exercise equipment and gym memberships.  You fast, may occasionally purge.

And you do lose weight, sometimes substantial amounts.  But as soon as you have acquired an attractive wardrobe in a smaller size, your weight shoots up again.  It is as if you were fighting a force outside yourself.

The pain of this is excruciating.  Giving away – one after another – the pretty items of clothing that no longer fit, you feel as if the flesh were being ripped from your bones, piece by piece.

This happens time after time, over the years, stripping you of hope.

Self-Control and a Negative Inner Dialog

Disciplined in other areas of life, you revile yourself for a lack of self-control where food is concerned, further contributing to an inner dialog which is already wholly negative.

You do your best to live a life of integrity.  But nothing you accomplish has value in your eyes, so long as you continue to have weight issues.

Scalding encounters with those who make clear their disgust at your appearance only reinforce your sense of worthlessness.

Weight Issues/Eating Disorders as a Substitute

Weight problems and eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.) can arise from other causes than abuse [1].  But when abuse of some kind has occurred, they frequently serve as substitutes – an alternate focus for our shame, safer places to put our pain.

We may agonize over the difficulty of losing weight.  But, chances are, that is preferable to agonizing over the incest to which we were subjected.  The difficulty of the struggle reflects the depth of the wound. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

To Believe


TO BELIEVE
Lyrics by Matt Evancho

“Before I lay me down to rest
I ask the Lord one small request
I know I have all I could need
But this prayer is not for me

Too many people on this day
Don’t have a peaceful place to stay
Let all fighting cease that your children may see peace
Wipe their tears of sorrow away

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow’s counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each prayer

Let me try always to believe
That we can hear the hearts that grieve
Please help us not ignore
The anguished cries of the poor
Or their pain will never leave

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow’s counted
That you hear their cries and listen to each prayer

Father, as you see, I’m just a child
And there’s so much to understand
But if Your Grace should surround me
Then I’ll do the best I can
I promise, I’ll do the very best I can

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow’s counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each prayer
(Hear each cry and listen to each prayer)

Help us do Your will our Father
In the name of all that’s true
And we’ll see in one another
The loving image of You”

Wishing you all a blessed Easter!

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Discernment, Intergenerational Trauma, and a Red Panda

Turning Red Trailer, Poster and Images Revealed by Disney and Pixar

There is a heated debate surrounding Disney Pixar’s latest animated feature Turning Red, a cartoon about a 13 y.o. girl who magically transforms into a red panda [1A].

Many critics have praised the film, calling it a celebration of teen girls [1B].  Others view it as a narrative on intergenerational trauma [1C].  Still others see the film as demonic [2].

Plot Line of Turning Red

Mei’s mother expects her to work in the family temple which honors the red panda.  With puberty, Mei begins turning into a red panda, herself, whenever she experiences strong emotion.  She learns this problem has plagued the family for generations.  According to Mei’s mother, the cure is a ritual which buries happiness and passion, along with anger and fear.

Intergenerational Trauma

Intergenerational trauma is a concept used to explain how the traumatic effects of a historical event may be passed from one generation to the next [3][4].

Despite having survived a Nazi concentration camp, a grandmother who coped there by repressing her emotions may remain distant from her family for decades afterwards.  This will impact not only her children, but their children, and so on.  Generations of denial, emotional distance, and defensive behavior can result.

Intergenerational trauma is associated with rape, sexual abuse, murder and other forms of severe trauma.  It can be passed on even if the trauma is never identified by name or discussed with family members. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Fire Shut Up in My Bones

“…you may try your best to repress a truth, but you cannot because it hurts!  It’s literally painful.  And until you release it, it will feel like a fire shut up in my [your] bones.”

-Charles M. Blow, Author of Fire Shut Up in My Bones

Tickets are sold out to jazz great Terence Blanchard’s [1] “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” [2], the first opera by a black composer to be featured at New York City’s prestigious Metropolitan Opera.

This is not “Oklahoma!”.  There are no songs here that will become popular hits, later sung by schoolchildren.  The music is instead somber, in a minor key.  The story is powerful and moving – a coming of age story set in the Deep South; a story of sexual abuse and resilience.

That story is based on the autobiographical memoir [3][4][5] of New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow [6]. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Evil Never Rests

Evil eyes Royalty Free Vector Image - VectorStock

The past two years have been eventful for the world.  First, Covid dominated the news. Now, the tragic war in Ukraine (with 115 children killed, 140 injured, an untold number orphaned, and 1.5 million made refugees) is a major focus [1][2].

The following events have, also, taken place. They demonstrate that evil never rests:

  • Incest — Gucci heiress, Alexandra Zarini, has alleged that her stepfather, Joseph Ruffalo, sexually abused her between the ages of six and twenty-two. Her lawsuit has fractured the family, and confirmed that wealth is no safeguard against child abuse [3].
  • Catholic Church Sex Scandal — Retired Pope Benedict XVI (former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) has asked forgiveness from victims for his mishandling of four Catholic Church sex abuse cases [4]. Ratzinger did not in so many words apologize or accept blame. He continues to deny personal responsibility for the rapes and sodomy perpetuated by his failure to curtail the ministries of pedophile priests when complaints first surfaced [5].

Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Politics, Rape, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse

The Side of the Angels

File:Madonna with child and angels.jpg

“Madonna and Child with Angels” (1674) by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy
(PD-Art, PD-old)

“In the absence of light, darkness prevails.”

-Motto of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, “Hellboy” (Dark Horse Comics)

Heart wrenching tales of abuse could easily fill these pages.  Generally, I try to stay away from stories of that kind.  Too often, they leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.

When I do write about lost lives, the words are my poor attempt to honor those lives and bear witness to the loss.

It may be some small consolation that such children have gone home to God.  Their pain is over.  That should not, however, diminish our outrage.

There are, of course, countless unreported cases of abuse.  Names we will never know, though God is familiar with them all.

While those victims are gone, their struggle ended, our obligation is to fight on.  It is a way of fighting darkness and death, fighting evil.  We may not have been in a position to save the lives of those children.  But we can try to save our own.

Our struggle with darkness is not insignificant.  We may feel isolated, may feel that our scars are overwhelming.  And, in truth, those scars may last a lifetime.  Which makes our struggle all the more heroic.

If the lost children could speak, they would applaud our efforts.  They would wish us Godspeed.  They were not able to live in this sad world any longer.  But we may yet triumph for their sake.

In fighting the scars, the darkness, we are on the side of the angels.

“Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.  Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will…Praise the Lord, my soul” (Ps. 103: 20-22 NIV).

Originally posted 9/24/17

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Cyberstalking

“Stop Cyberstalking” Jpeg, Source http://noalciberacoso.blogspot.com, Author Mirar abajo (CC BY-SA 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic)

You have a brief romance, then a break-up.  But the short-lived romance does not end there. 

Revealing photos of you appear online.  You find yourself locked out of your Facebook account.  Then the password to your bank account is changed, without your knowledge. 

And that is only the beginning. 

Next your ex claims that you have been stalking him.  To prove it, he points to threatening texts and emails on his phone you did not actually send.  The court issues him a protective order. 

Now, the situation really escalates.  Your one-time boyfriend reports that you violated the protective order, though you did not.  You find yourself arrested.

If all this seems farfetched, think again [1].

Not only is technology being used to embarrass and frighten [2].  Electronic communication can be utilized to manipulate the legal system, tying the lives of former spouses and romantic partners into knots.

Untying those knots can be both expensive and time-consuming.  More often than not, legal representation is required. Continue reading

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Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Law, Religion, Violence Against Women

Sexual Assault by Fraud

Informed Consent' and Why it Doesn't Work

Image courtesy of PetaPixel.

New Jersey nurse, Mischele Lewis, fell in love with the wrong man [1][2].  It was a mistake that would propel her into a world of deceit.

Lewis, a divorced mother of two, believed she had found true love.  The object of her affection, William Allen Jordan a/k/a Liam Allen, described himself as an undercover operative for the British Ministry of Defense.

Jordan turned out to be a con man and convicted sex offender, with ex-wives on two continents, and a half dozen children.  After wearing a wire, Lewis managed to secure a conviction of Jordan for scamming her out of funds. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, Justice, Law, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault

NXIVM and Other Cults

DOS brand as per Government Exhibit GX-352 in US v. Raniere, Source https://www.courthousenews.com/former-slave-master-describes-sex-cult-branding-ritual/, Author US Attorney’s Office, EDNY (PD as work product of federal govt.)

And Jesus answered and said to them:  ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many’ ” (Matt. 24: 4-5).

NXIVM is old news.  Keith Raniere has joined the ranks of such infamous cult leaders as Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, and David Koresh [1].

But the NXIVM phenomenon has lessons for us.  Here are a few:

1.  A charismatic leader may not be what he claims. 

All that glitters is not gold.

Though venerated as a virtual god, Keith Raniere was originally an Amway distributor [2A].  The self-proclaimed guru and life coach called himself the “smartest man in the world” when, in fact, he had difficulty completing college.

2.  The endorsement of celebrities is no guarantee of an organization’s trustworthiness.

NXIVM was supported by Seagrams heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman, to the tune of some $85 million [2B].

Among the celebrities who once endorsed NXIVM were actresses Allison Mack, India Oxenberg, and Sarah Edmondson [3].  Keith Raniere even appeared with the Dalai Lama.

3.  Hierarchy and ritual are no guarantees of an organization’s spirituality.

NXIVM had both.

4.  Finances often reveal the true nature of an organization.

Actions speak louder than words.  Lofty sounding goals are not enough.

Keith Raniere promised his followers they would change the world [2C].  Instead, Raniere’s actions confirmed his desire for sex, money, and power.

Legally, NXIVM was comprised of dozens of shell corporations, their finances dubious [2D].  Functionally, NXIVM was little more than a pyramid scheme, designed to bilk Raniere’s followers of their savings [2E].

A seemingly endless series of classes were heavily promoted. All promised self-knowledge and self-improvement, albeit at a cost.  Meanwhile, members often went unpaid for their labor.

Raniere’s earlier venture, Consumer Buyline (a multi-level marketing company) was shut down in 1993 after being investigated for fraud by 20 states.

5.  Excessive control is a major red flag.

There is a fine line between indoctrination and brainwashing; that line must not be crossed.

New members were introduced to NXIVM’s philosophy of “rational inquiry” at intensive, 14 hour-per-day seminars lasting more than 2 weeks.

Loyalty to NXIVM was emphasized over loyalty to family.  The dress, diet, and life decisions of members were all closely regulated by NXIVM.  Even the weight of members was monitored.

Other tactics employed at NXIVM included sleeplessness, isolation, starvation, corporal punishment, and coercion via blackmail.  Cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, also, used “love bombing” – excessive displays of attention and affection intended to overwhelm [5]. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion, sex trafficking, Slavery