Thursday, April 20, 2006

Things That Make Me Rant

Life goes on, and things other than cancer can still get me good and frothy. Namely, watching an episode of Dr. Phil, and getting the news that our church is considering hiring a "lay minister."

Each, completely unrelated to the other.

Someone has presented a proposal that we hire one of our members (non-theologically trained) to be our "lay minister," since we can't afford a full-time real minister. In addition to all kinds of logical, sentient arguments, this just affects me on such a visceral level. It makes my stomach hurt. I think seriously entertaining the idea is going to hurt our church. The idea is to present just the idea of hiring a lay minister to the congregation without attaching a particular candidate to it. Except, we're a medium-sized church -- but a small one, if you know what I mean. Most everyone already knows the person who made the proposal (who also wants the job). So then, it no longer becomes an academic question, but a personal one.

But for the record, out of all the 100 reasons I think it's a bad idea, the number one reason:

It will damage our credibility.

We live in a part of the country where most people don't know what the heck a Unitarian Universalist is. I know, I know ... I've narrowed it down to that tiny part of the US that includes every place but Boston. We struggle to educate people that we are, indeed, a real religion. Just a couple of years ago, in Texas, the state comptroller tried to yank our tax-exempt status away. Calling someone who is not qualified a "minister" -- lay or no -- does not serve us well. It adds to the belief that we are some fly-by-night, make-it-up-as-you-go, anything-goes group of people.

I will save the other 99 reasons for some other day.

Okay, watched Dr. Phil today. (Cut me some slack, it's hard to read while nursing a baby. And watching Andrea Immer when you can't drink is depressing.)

He had on a father, stepmother, and two daughters. Led by the stepmother, the family was claiming that the elder daughter was clinically narcissistic and what could be done about her?

Then the story comes out ... her mother died a few years ago from cancer, 6 months later the stepmother moved in, removing all evidence of the mother, they took the daughter on a "vacation" trip, then dropped her off at a treatment center in Mexico where she stayed for a year and a half, (and that first year they didn't talk to her by phone at all) ... oh, and the center has since been closed by Mexican authorities for rampant abuse. The stepmother said if the elder daughter died tomorrow, she wouldn't shed a tear.

OMFG! To give him credit, Dr. Phil tried to tell these parents that they were wack (not his exact words), but fuggedaboutit. As far as the father is concerned, this girl was born bad, he hasn't done anything wrong, etc. etc.

The reason why this is bothering me so much -- besides the obvious -- is because it so mirrors a situation I found myself in a few years ago. A situation where I quietly showed my disapproval, which was, of course, easily ignored. I still really hold it against myself that I didn't say "What the bleep are you doing???"

In a nutshell: had a friend who was a stepmother. She became convinced that her pre-teen stepdaughter was sociopathic. Not in the "kills animals" way, but in the "can function in society" way.

She completely cut the stepdaughter out of her and her husband's life. (Yes, I blame him even more for not standing up to her and saying, "This is my daughter!")

The final straw was when I went over to their house and there was a big sign posted in their back yard. "R.I.P. Tammy*" (*not her real name). What is that? I asked, appalled. "She's dead to us," my friend explained. At my horrified look, she earnestly said, "No, no, it has to be this way."

NO. My mother had to bury a dead child. I have been fighting with every breath of my body to keep a child alive. You, who have a living child, are not allowed to proclaim her to be dead.

Bless my parents. What was beat into us (metaphorically) was "I love you. I'll always love you. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, I will always love you. There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you."

And believe me, my siblings and I tried! ;)


Mary-Elizabeth Sierra Lanham's Mom said...

We are 23 months from the first sign of trouble. It is great to be heading on this trip.

When you worry about your daughter's memories of the events and the trauma, know that I have to believe that good memories made now help.

It will be an adventure. One of our friends that is going to join us leave tomorrow. We all leave on Tuesday BCD.. Before Crack of Dawn. Thanks for the kind words. Just know that we are now rested and less traumatized and ready to make this journey to another part of the world. Your time will come.

David G. Markham said...

Rant on Lizard Eater.

I especially like your comments about Dr. Phil's show and the family cut offs. I wrote an article on my blog using your description as the key. Thank you for your articulate story.

Anne said...

This is horrible. I hope that Tammy is somewhere now with people who love her. That is just horrible.

Sam said...

I saw that Dr. Phil episode and OMG I thought the same thing. WTF?