Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Beyond Grace

When you have a quiet hour to yourself, watch this beautiful little movie about two Conservative Laestadian sisters in Finland and their struggle with identity, faith, and family. It is in Finnish with English subtitles.

Produced by Mari P. Tervo, and shot in 2012 with volunteers, the film focuses on Elina, who has seven children and feels like she is losing her mind, and her sister Alina, who does not want to follow in her sister's and mother's steps, would like to become a minister, to have her own thoughts, and meet God on her own.

While the movie drags in spots, and the soundtrack is occasionally syrupy, I found myself moved. And hopeful.

Check out this blog for discussion of the movie.

This Finnish website has information about "spiritual violence," which is mentioned in the movie. The blogger Aila Ruoho is a consultant on spiritual welfare.
"In an unhealthy community, the more sensitive are vulnerable to a variety of mental health problems: anxiety, depression, fears, insomnia, nightmares, psychosomatic disorders, delusions, psychosis, and in the worst case, suicidal ideation." (rough translation of the original Finnish)
It's time for an American version of "Beyond Grace." I'm inspired. How about you?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Time Changes Nothing, People Do



"The only task worthy of our efforts is to construct the future."

Men of conscience and women of courage, please carve out an hour, sit down with your teens (if you don't have any, borrow some), and watch this powerful talk by Dr. Joan Chittister. She is a Benedictine nun, author, and co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

She believes in a God who is not sexist and will make you wonder why so many don't.

Afterwards in the Q&A, you can hear the list of countries that rank highest in living conditions for women. Before you listen, where do you think the United States falls on the list? Top five, top ten, or top twenty?



Sunday, November 03, 2013

What Makes Monsters of Men



At least 130 women and children drugged and sexually assaulted in their own homes, by members of their families and religious community. A community that perpetuates ignorance and unquestioning obedience to the authority of a few men, that places a low value on the human rights of women and children, that socially enforces a doctrine of forgive-and-forget, that values appearances over character, that nurtures a conspiracy of silence, stigma, shame, and lack of accountability . . . sound familiar?

When tradition trumps morality, this is what you get. And as we know all too well, it exists all over the world, not just among a few old-order Mennonites in Bolivia. The only cure is education.

Please share widely.

From the Jezebel article.
Over the course of four years, 130 females of a Mennonite colony in Bolivia reported that they'd woken up with raging headaches, bits of rope in their hair, pain "down below," memory loss, and blood and semen stains on their sheets. For the townsfolk there was no other explanation: a demon was raping their women.
From the Time news report:
The formal indictments list victims ages 8 to 60 years old, including one who is mentally retarded and another who was pregnant and sent into premature labor after allegedly being raped by one of the men — her brother.
. . . entrenched, patriarchal seclusion, say those familiar with such communities, can breed behavioral rot and a culture of cover-up . . .
And finally, these quotes from the lengthy, must-read, Vice article:
Those under the age of 18 named in the lawsuit were brought in for psychological assessment as mandated by Bolivian law, and court documents note that every one of these young girls showed signs of posttraumatic stress and was recommended for long-term counselling – but not one has received any form of therapy since their evaluations. 
. . .  if one woman didn’t want to forgive . . .  he would have simply explained to her that if she didn’t forgive, then God wouldn’t forgive her”.
"In any other society, by elementary school a child knows that if they are being abused they can, at least in theory, go to the police or a teacher or some other authority. But who can these girls go to?” 
“Of course it continued after that,” Agnes said of her father. “He just learned to hide it better.” She told me she doesn’t have faith “in anyone who after one week says they have turned their life around”, before adding, “I have no faith in a system that permits that.”
What can you do, where you're at right now, to help educate children in Laestadian communities?