Leave The Children Alone … Men, Be Good Men

Top secret


 My heart truly goes out to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics  … angry and saddened … for fellow-Catholics who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns.  Another story in the news: victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, get a settlement (Seattle).

*”The Archdiocese of Seattle … to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.” http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

“The agreement comes weeks after Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”   (Same article:  http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

Those words from Pope Francis stir up many questions:

“(The Catholic Church should) … take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”

Pope Francis’ words came, according to the article, within the last several weeks. And sexual abuse has been happening since … the 1950’s (?) … but they have made a profound observation that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders.  Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”.  Surely this does not suggest that the Catholic leadership is more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?  I wonder: if the sexual abuse was not exposed, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?



And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes?  The words “Hush Money” have been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse to be quiet about their abuse.  “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace.  Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been abused?  I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way.  Many victims kept silent for a long time.  Why?  Shame? Fear of reprisal?  Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”?  And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests.  For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but instead a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled.  You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do.”

The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous.  At least, there is some good news: the “Hush Money” is exposed; the sex offender priests are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known.  All of this as opposed to the secrets continuing.

  • Secrecy …
  • Is a predominant theme …
  • In the depravity / violence of …
  • Sex offenders …
  • And the fear / shame of …
  • Victims

When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.

Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.

*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone.
*$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month).
*$100 million in 2005, January.

“According to Donald Cozzens, ‘by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that… more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees.’  This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.”  http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

Between 1994 & 2009,there have been over 1,835 victims of sexual abuse.
Settlements / legal fees between 1994 & 2009?  $1.269 billion.

Here is the last piece in the story that brings about great disruption and immeasurable sadness from the link, http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer:

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,

“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”

REALITY CHECK, people.  Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing with all of these men and women who have been victimized.  For some, yes.  For some, no … for some there will be no healing.  And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say (my paraphrase) …

“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad.  And we don’t want to hear anymore about this.  Now, get out of here.”

Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.

The money …
d o e s   n o t    c h a n g e …
what happened.
The money …
d o e s   n o t    g u a r a n t e e  …
full healing.

Last question, maybe irrelevant:
Is there any correlation between victims of sexual abuse and suicide?

Those are just a few links to go to if you are interested.  All links are unanimous in their research: yes, there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and suicide. So, healing?  No, not for everyone.



Bear Conflict … Resolution???

I was not looking for any trouble.  ‘Serious.  But, I did try to sneak one in … through the wildlife neighborhood.  Tuesday nights I get the trash ready for the pickup on Wednesday morning.  Throughout the winter I brought out the heavy-lidded containers Tuesday night, with a great appreciation for this “hibernation” thing that bears do.

Summer has crept in, as I crept out with my trash containers each Tuesday night.  As of last week, “so far, so good”.  But tonight, my daughter came to me with some sparkle in her eyes, a mischievous smile, “Dad … I think there is a bear out there.  Stash (dog) is going nuts out there on the big deck.  I think I heard something down by the road, beating up on your garbage cans.”

I drove down in the jeep.  As soon as I saw the can laying on its side, its contents spilling out, I saw a black shape move behind, looking at me with his glowing eyes and his bear-smirk, and then he tore off through the trees. The plan was to get out, get the trash container back together again.  The bungee chords didn’t seem to be effective.  As I sat in the driver’s seat, looking around through the trees, my courage had an apparent deficit.
*I did not get a picture of the bear, but I went on line to find one that I thought might be similar … So, the picture below is NOT the bear that came to bother me last night; only a picture of a bear.

I had a tall metal red stick with me.  I have no doubt, whatsoever, that the stick was worthless, for this situation.  Finally, I stepped out, gazed into the trees.   I thought I would see Bear, peering at me through the trees.  Its  probably best that I didn’t see him.  Bear would be laughing, or posturing.  I knew this was ridiculous to drag my feet getting the can upright.  Once the garbage can was all set, I got back in the jeep, drove up the road looking for Bear.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.


 The home up the road, two houses down, had the evidence of Bear’s visit: two garbage cans, with much more of a mess than what was the case with my two garbage cans.  I turned around, drove back … homeward.  When I came over the hill, heading down, I saw the same trash can down, Bear walking away, not running … No, not running … just walking away toward the woods on the other side of the road, looking right at me.

This time, I jumped out of the jeep with my tall red stick, sprinted toward the bear, jumped on him, grabbed the hair of his head, and bit his ear.

HA!  Can you imagine?  No, I didn’t do that.  But I wanted to.  I was really ticked that the jerk came right back, less than 10 minutes later.  No, that’s not right.  This time my wife came up with a good idea that I had forgotten about: ammonia.  Yessss!  I went up to the house, procured the ammonia, came back, served a good helping, and I won’t know if it worked until tomorrow morning.  I’m not going out there again tonight.  As for “conflict resolution”?  No, I’m not interested.  But, I may have to re-think the whole garbage-can situation.




Winning Battles, Men

Don’t worry.  You are tougher than hell.  There is a substance within you that makes the demons tremble.  True, they mess with you.  They mess with me, too.  That is one reason conflict happens.  If the battle gets bloody, that’s okay.  You will listen to your heart, and the wisdom that belongs to you.  You may find yourself in a battlefield, no one in sight.  The ground’s ripped up, ugliness in the trenches.  You will wonder, “Where are the other guys?”  You may not see them.

(Image below: ecogentleman.com)


They are out there, somewhere.  Regardless of where they are, you know where YOU are.  And you are a warrior.  What else are you going to do?  You press on!  You own up to your pain, you’re wounds, your fatigue.  You consider that you are afraid.  You feel it in your stomach, and your mind is racing.  And you consider your courage.  Its there, in your heart and soul.  If you come across some enemies, you might be out-numbered.  But, you are still you: a force to be reckoned with.  Better men than you and I have died in battle.  It is not a dishonorable thing to die with courage and nobility and honor, knowing that you went down fighting.  A smaller warrior said to his larger adversary, “You very well may get the best of me.  But by the time it is over, you will know that you have been hit.”  Beware of the wrath of a patient man, when his anger manifests in an honorable way.  You will see strength, then.  And you might want to stand back.  

My Heart Goes Out To You

For so many parents: my heart goes out to you.  Not much needs to be said.  At times like these, an excess of words can be maddening . . .  for parents who are grieving . . .  to hear.  Unexplainable heaviness threw me into this post.  Yesterday one innocent young lady in high school was shot, in Denver, by a school shooter.  Claire Davis is in critical condition.  If you do pray, please send one up for her, and her parents.

Today, parents mourned the loss of their kiddos at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  It is believed that at least 24 school shootings have claimed at least 17 lives since what happened in the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Grieving, and hope.  My heart goes out to all of you who have lost children, regardless of what the circumstances were.





Forgiveness: It is NOT “Cut-&-Dry”

In the thick of a writing session, working on a dialog, I took (what I thought was) a wrong direction … For me, this is part of the writing life.  Sometimes its decent; sometimes its crap.

Two guys have a fairly well-established friendship of six to seven years.  Time rolls on, and they stay in touch: coffee; breakfast; good phone chats.  This (fictional) exchange is about the uncomfortable process of forgiveness that I am trying to work through.

“So, how are you doing with that co-worker situation?”
“Yeah, I forgave the guy.”
“Yeah, that’s old  stuff. (pause)  Are you picking up on something?  What you are thinking?”
“I was just thinking that you can do forgiveness one day, and your guard is still up.  Forgiveness might not be a one-time thing.  You may have to keep going.  If someone gives you “the cold steel blade in your back”, you can forgive: over and over and over and over.  Does that mean that you forget that this is an unsafe person?  If he hurt you once, he can hurt you again.”
“I know I have forgiven the guy, but I cannot shake the idea that he could betray me again.  That is part of his wiring.  So, yeah,  I’ve got my guard up.  Do you think that is wrong?”
“No.  You keep your guard up, and forgive the guy.   Forgiveness is not ‘cut-&-dry; it’s not simple.  I’m walking with you on this one because of my own pain.  Here is a question for both of us: ‘How do I  find freedom and some peace of mind knowing that I’ve been hurt, treated wrong; and at the same time, stay out of bondage to unforgiveness and bitterness?’     

A Man Laments; Then He Hopes

Several . . .  

https://i2.wp.com/userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/252/49135.jpgwinters ago,
standing on my merciless,
hellishly steep,
snowed-in driveway,
I screamed a yawp of rage and defiance:  


 (Picture of John Belushi)


It’s a 90-foot driveway, dangerous,  slippery, curving.  Once or twice a year I get fed up with my driveway, and release my wrath; and ideally, no one hears.  My Southern father could not have taught me about moving snow and immovable ice in the winter.  1985 was the year of my exodus, west, to Denver from the South.   Other issues have emerged over the years:  inadequate knowledge / skills stirred up discouragement and self-contempt:

  • “I am a lousy father”;
  • “I stink at projects”;
  • “I am a lousy provider”;
  • “Relationships: HA!”

I blamed my dad, at times, for not teaching me some of the things that I needed to know, in the adult world.  Some guys have a legitimate beef when it comes to their dad’s negligenceBut, I never had a legitimate beef about blaming my dad; and I never will.  My dad is the greatest man I have ever known.  The anger that echoes around the mountain from my nemesis of a driveway is more at myself than anyone else.  As a man, it was / is my responsibility to learn what I needed to learn; and to do what I need to do.  Wow: accepting responsibility.  Sometimes it’s ugly.  And hope is what comes to me, when I accept responsibility.

Those guys who don’t lament? ‘Never miss a beat?  Textbook fathers?  Swashbuckling husbands?  Driving BMW’s / Jaguars (etc.)?  Taking their families on exotic vacations?  Living in huge homes?  Wow.  Good for them. “Keep on, guys!”

Meanwhile there are some of us that fight off those DMPs.  (Dark Message Phantoms):

  1. “I am not good enough.”
  2. “I don’t have what it takes.”
  3. “If anyone knew I was a poser, they would not like me.”

The lies hit hard.  There is a profound choice men make: a) buy  the lies?; or b) …

refuse the lies, fight the lies, and grab truth as if your life depends on it.

When a man’s path takes him through a desert, there is something good just up ahead.  But a man still has to make a choice of either believing that he doesn’t have what it takes; or just stop / lay down / die; or press on because there really, really … is something good up ahead.   

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”  May seem a bit glib, or just a cliche.  Churchill’s advice is crucial: for our character; for our survival-thrival; for us to be the men we are called to be.    Churchill’s words address our temptation to quit or check-out for a while.  “Checking out” may yield a dangerous assumption, that we will come back later to get back in the game, which may not happen.
I, for one, believe in redemptive sorrow.  I believe in the importance of grieving well.  As one writer expressed, a writer I appreciate for his experience, “Rarely do I do pity parties. Rather, I simply accept who I am with all of my limitations and in all of my potential and successes.”  (Eric Tonningsen)  So, choose well; grieve well; fight hard for what you need to fight for.  And by all means, hope.

Remembrance of 11, September, 2001

The grief, the thankfulness, both happening in a place where the choices are made … to NOT forget the attack on the U.S., September 11, 2001.

That morning I walked into the men’s shelter I worked at, the chapel, and stood with a group of guys I worked with, looking up at the huge screen on the wall.  We were quiet, and stunned, watching footage of two different buildings spewing smoke; and the harsh footage replayed of the two planes flying directly into those buildings.  At some point, the news commentator communicated a report that had just come in, about a third plane that had crashed into the Pentagon.  Then John, standing next to me, his eyes expressionless, said in a low voice “Its still going on.”

I cannot fathom the courage, the thoughts of those who faced death, the first responders.  Remembering is a sacred piece of who we are.