Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Feeling Betrayed, Validated, and Brave

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty

Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you want to say
And let the words fall out
I want to see you be brave

Show me how big your brave is

--Sara Bareilles, "Brave"

Watching the Grammys was a last-minute decision. We'd kissed the kids goodnight but knew our congested sinuses wouldn't let us sleep yet. So we turned on the TV and I'm so glad we did!

I had never heard of Sara Bareilles--no, I really don't keep up with popular music--but I recognized Carole King right away. I sat absolutely enthralled with their amazing duet performance, only to be surpassed by their comments of mutual admiration afterward. Somehow the three minutes of interaction between those women affected me deeply. I have watched the segment again and again and replayed it in my head countless times.

Carole King's words, her music, the emotions she shared with Sara and all of us in the audience, along with Sara's passion and her song, felt like a gift with miraculous powers to repair some damage done to my heart long ago. I feel like a more complete person than I was before hearing them sing. The rest of the show was fun and amazing in its own way, but that one piece represented to me the magic of Art: sharing a gift with enriching powers of its own.

Perhaps "Brave" struck me the way it did because the last week has been so emotionally turbulent. Not in a bad way, but still...

Last week a shocking new series of revelations appeared on the Internet, exposing Bill Gothard, our cult leader of days long past, for the pathological fraud he was (and is). Reading the story as it dribbles out in serial form has been surreal. With each installment, I can picture my bedroom in Oak Brook, picture window facing Gothard's office across the driveway.

I learned while working on Gothard's staff that he was not what he appeared to be. Not what many of his followers took him for. Not who my parents thought he was. While we his brainwashed army of second-generation devotees mentally flogged ourselves for every potential breach of the cult protocol, Gothard did not adhere to his own "non-optional, universal life principles".

My husband and I each slipped away from IBLP quietly. I was sent away by Gothard in the summer of '99, Chris left on his own six months later. From that point, we set about freeing ourselves from the legalism and reprogramming our poisoned minds. We weren't aware of the poison at first, though. We were still nostalgic about our years at the Institute. It was where our relationship began, after all. We'd go back to visit friends occasionally, or just drive around the grounds reliving the good memories. Over time the locations lost their pull on us. We had dreams--sometimes nightmares--about going back to work there.

Judging Gothard's teaching by its "fruit", we concluded that many of his ideas were downright toxic. It was hard to speak out, though. So many of our friends, family members, and even new acquaintances were Gothard supporters, or had been exposed to his seminars in their youth and didn't see anything dangerous in them. We just sounded "bitter", the strongest pejorative in Gothardom.

When we felt safe we could sometimes talk about how "inconsistent" Gothard was in practice. Even this made some uncomfortable. People feel defensive when you question the authenticity of someone they trust, or trusted once upon a time. The more distance we put between ourselves and the past, the more clearly we could see that Gothard was just another manipulative cult leader. Sadly for us, he was a slick fellow who convinced our parents he had the answers.

I started this blog partly as a safe place to question the Gothard narrative and to recount my experiences and the "bad fruit" it produced. I tried to maintain an even, journalistic tone, even as I personally came to regard William Gothard as a fucking asshole, a sham and a predator hiding under a guise of exceptional holiness.

Reading the firsthand account of Gothard's former secretary over the last week, and watching others come out to corroborate her story, has been tremendously validating to me. While her tale might not seem all that offensive on the surface, it is damning when read in light of Gothard's own teaching and strict standards for others. He made generous allowances for himself, while tolerating nothing less than perfection and submission from his subordinates. He patently violated his own rules, which he marketed as the very wisdom of God. Nothing I have ever said about my former employer was as harsh as he deserves.
An IBLP seminar in Atlanta

As satisfying as it feels to be validated and to watch Gothard's house of cards collapse, it is exquisitely painful at the same time. I rejoice to see his empire fall, much as a former prisoner would applaud the demolition of the walls of his captivity. And yet, that empire was built of my blood, sweat, and tears. Thousands of us can point to pieces of our selves that we sacrificed to advance that sick man's vision. We lost much of irreplaceable value.

And that is why tears rolled down my face this week as I stood in my kitchen spreading cheese on lasagna noodles, listening to "Brave" and the rest of Sara Bareilles' album The Blessed Unrest. They were tears to memorialize the things I was encouraged to "yield" in favor of Gothard's ideal, for God's sake. These things died before drawing breath, miscarriages I never knew in an adolescence I never had: my first date, holding hands, a boyfriend, my first curious kiss in a quiet corner, even talking to male peers without feeling queasy, pulling on an old pair of jeans, experimenting with makeup, realizing I was a free adult in the eyes of the law, choosing a college major, getting a degree, a high school graduation for that matter, a prom dress, high school pictures, a wedding dance with my dad, my favorite artists in concert, feeling sexy as I became a woman, feeling the sun on my legs, getting tan lines before stretch marks, years when I could have been earning money or college credits...

And the pain of steeling myself to believe in "God's will"! Against my emotions. Against what my body was sensing. Of giving myself fortifying speeches in the corner every time I felt my heart would come out of my chest, reminding myself that my heart was deceitful and wicked and not to be trusted. The times I cried myself to sleep, or pounded out my frustration on the piano in the dining room because the rest of Christendom wouldn't see "the truth".

My friends and I made these sacrifices and others to serve our God by working for his "servant" Bill Gothard. Now, I want Gothard's empire to collapse, for the good of humanity. I am more than willing to help bring it down. At the same time, I recognize that each brick I tear out represents a child's education, a man's career, an abused child, a couple's budding relationship, all burned on the IBLP altar in the belief that God would be pleased.

But Bill was a fraud and his empire was built on lies. And we are all breaking the silence. So after I cried over my lasagna, I danced in my kitchen. Because bravery is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Book List

Check out the link on the side bar for a list of books referenced in past Heresy in the Heartland posts.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Who & What?

I thought 2013 would be about speaking up, about using my voice.

I did not expect to spend so much of it navigating a treacherous swamp of emotion, learning to exhale the panic as I searched in the dark for firmer footing. Turns out my voice wasn't very strong yet. This blog, and books, and friends, and therapy, have all helped me to process huge tracts of my past. I've grieved some losses, defused some old anger, let go of some expectations I'd always had of myself. I've opened some closets and exposed some dark corners to the light; I've tried to speak the truth always.

Now as a new year unfolds, I can stand on that firmer footing in daylight and look ahead.  It is as if I am picking up my trail again where I lost it a year ago. The skeletons are out of the closet, maybe the ghosts can rest now that their tales have been told. And I wonder, if the past can now be merely what was, what is now? I no longer feel like the girl-woman I was. But if I'm no longer she, who am I?

In many ways, it is a relief to be out of the "angry" phase. But now I am faced with the unsettling question of desire. If I am finally free to pursue what I like, unbound from ancient taboos as well as the expectations put on me by the culture I grew up in, the question becomes, "What do I want?"

I grew up feeling so far removed from "average" or "ordinary that I actually looked down on it. We were called to excellence, urged to be outstanding! For most of my life, I planned on being a world-changer. Some day when I was ready, God would unveil the special work he'd been preparing for me for. It took a long time to dawn on that me I may just be "me". Not special. Not elite in some mysterious spiritual realm. Just...ordinary. And that it's okay.

Are you saying I'm not actually some modern Queen Esther? I'm not God's secret weapon to advance his "Kingdom" and do battle with evil in the twenty-first century? I'm not special? Not more special than the lady who bags our groceries, nope. So I could just be a woman in the heart of the America's heartland who shops for groceries, takes kids to school, stays up too late with her husband, reads, writes, and waits for her crocuses to come up? Yep. Just a normal human being. Wow. I never imagined I'd be one of them. I thought I had to make my life count, prepare myself for something great. This is...quite an adjustment.

Somewhere in the middle of writing this blog post, I watched the German film "Wings of Desire", about an angel who, after an eternity of observing what has become the city of Berlin (in sepia tones), chooses at last to experience mortal life (shown in full-color) with all its myriad sensations and range of emotion. I felt I could relate to both Damiel's feeling of being an outsider and his decision to transition, his choice to live as a common human being.

But what is like to be an ordinary person?? How do I want to live?

That deep-rooted sense of destiny can be difficult to silence. Don't swear, it says. This is the Internet. What you post could cost you somewhere down the road. Don't expose your self. Be ladylike. Cover up. Don't use your powers of sarcasm; they always got you in trouble. Post nice things, like recipes. Well, screw that voice. I have been a good girl long enough.

I can use strong language. Online? At home? Online, but not in person? In person, but not online? With friends but not family? With family but not friends? In front of anyone and everyone? What if you want to run for office some day?! Sigh. You don't get it, do you?

I can be sexy. You mean for your husband, right? What about at home with your kids? Well, don't you think my girls need a good sexy role model? But in public you'll be nothing other than the wholesome domestic wife-and-mother, right? No pin-up pictures, please! No promises, old voice in my head. It's time to try on some other roles and see if anything else fits.

I can post what I think, even if it's risky. I can disagree with people who want to be certain that God will damn me to hell. But typing that just made you hyperventilate in a doctor's waiting room. Yes, even so. And I can delete the comments that trigger mini-panic attacks, comments from perfect strangers about how I "sicken" them!

I have reached this point by telling the truth--in my own head and out loud. So I'll keep doing that. Honesty and curiosity are part of who I am and I want to hang on to those. I am fiercely loyal in my deepest relationships and this year I am also swearing allegiance to myself. I can become my own champion. And, without abandoning my family, I want to pursue what makes me happy. It will probably involve some trial and error. Some facets of my self have been dormant so long I'd forgotten they were there at all. I want to uncover and develop them. I want to try new things and expand my comfort zone.

Life is too short to waste on what other people tell me will make me happy, or will keep me from being unhappy. It's time to choose for myself. Even it means making some mistakes or falling on my face a few times.

Because that's how normal people grow.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Library Shelf: Trauma and Recovery

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror
by Dr. Judith L. Herman

This comprehensive work examines the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and the related condition Complex PTSD. I started reading it over Christmas break and ended up with twelve pages of handwritten notes! Here I will highlight some excerpts that meant so much to me that I find myself bringing them with me to other texts.

This paragraph encapsulates the mental gymnastics that harm an abused child's developing brain:
She must find a way to develop a sense of basic trust and safety with caretakers who are untrustworthy or unsafe.... She will go to any lengths to construct an explanation for her fate that absolves her parents of all blame and responsibility. (p. 101)

Turns out all those psychological contortions serve a useful purpose, even if they have to be repaired later:
Double think and a double self are ingenious childhood adaptations to a familial climate of coercive control, but they are worse than useless in a climate of freedom and adult responsibility. (p. 114)

I gained a lot of hope from Herman's analysis and experience, but the most cheerful part was reading this:
Survivors of childhood abuse are far more likely to be victimized or to harm themselves than to victimize other people. 
...Contrary to the popular notion of a "generational cycle of abuse", however, the great majority of survivors neither abuse nor neglect their children.  (pp. 113-114, emphasis added)
From the time I got married, I was so afraid of repeating some kind of "cycle"--a concept the IBLP cult strongly promoted and mainstream culture continues to accept. My dear husband used to reassure me that I would not become [someone from my abusive past], but it helped to read this again. And again.

Hearing this from an expert did me so much good:
Since mourning is so difficult, resistance to mourning is probably the most common cause of stagnation in the second stage of recovery. Resistance to mourning can take on numerous disguises. Most frequently it appears as a fantasy of magical resolution through revenge, forgiveness, or compensation.

…Some survivors attempt to bypass their outrage altogether through a fantasy of forgiveness…. The survivor imagines that she can transcend her rage and erase the impact of the trauma through a willed, defiant act of love. But it is not possible to exorcise the trauma, through either hatred or love. Like revenge, the fantasy of forgiveness often becomes a cruel torture, because it remains out of reach for most ordinary human beings…. True forgiveness cannot be granted until the perpetrator has sought and earned it through confession, repentance, and restitution.
...Fortunately, the survivor does not need to wait for [a perpetrator’s contrition]. Her healing depends on the discovery of restorative love in her own life; it does not require that this love be extended to the perpetrator. Once the survivor has mourned the traumatic event, she may be surprised to discover how uninteresting the perpetrator has become to her…
Mourning is the only way to give due honor to loss; there is no adequate compensation.  (pp. 189-190, emphasis added)
Grieving was not a process I learned about as a kid. We never really grieved losses, because we were always looking forward to getting everything back better at an unspecified time in the future.  Our goal was to be able to say like Job in the Bible: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away... blessed be His Name." We "yielded our rights" to things both tangible and intangible so that we wouldn't be upset if we weren't allowed to keep them.

In the film "The Bells of St. Mary's", the doctor asks Bing Crosby's character, "Don't you people more or less go where you're told, without question?"

Bing, as the priest Father O'Malley, replies, "Yes, we're supposed to have the stamina to take it."

As a young adult, that was the kind of stamina I expected of myself. Job lost everything, but refused to despair and got twice as much of everything at the end of the story. He even got new children! All loss was merely temporary deprivation, and would be made right eventually in a perfect afterlife.

When I first learned about grief in the context of managing life transitions, it was the very beginning of my healing and recovery. (Thank you, George Hires, for insisting I should attend that workshop in the Philippines. I had no idea how much it would mean!) The notion of acknowledging the emotional pain of loss was new and life-changing. I find myself returning to that concept again and again as life moves forward.

Finally, this paragraph from a chapter on recovery well describes the challenge of adjusting to life under "normal" parameters, even while learning what those parameters are:
Survivors whose personality has been shaped in the traumatic environment often feel at this stage of recovery as though they are refugees entering a new country…. Michael Stone, drawing on his work with incest survivors, describes the immensity of this adaptive task: “Re-education is often indicated, pertaining to what is typical, average, wholesome, and ‘normal’ in the intimate life of ordinary people.”  (p. 196)

I so appreciate Judith Herman's work putting all this information together in one place. Even though her book is twenty years old now, the first chapters are great for putting the study of "shell-shock", "hysteria", and domestic abuse into a sociological human rights perspective. She makes some some sadly fascinating observations about Freud's early work with victims of sexual abuse, showing how he later chose "the path of least resistance" in adopting a philosophy that shamed victims and denied the truth of their own accounts.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has survived trauma or abuse of any kind, or who loves someone who has! Depending on what stage of recovery you are at, it may not be a quick or easy read, but I found the effort quite rewarding.

Monday, January 13, 2014

C. I. Scofield: Scoundrel, Shyster, and Scalawag

This colorful rogue is best known today as the editor of a best-selling reference Bible. But when his name appeared in newspapers across the nation after he presided over Dwight L. Moody's funeral in 1899, some Kansas communities took the news as insult added to injury. They remembered how C.I. Scofield, then a lawyer and corrupt government official, had skipped town years before, leaving his creditors in the lurch. When news got around that Scofield had become a minister of the gospel, some of these Kansans pressed him for restitution. According to an article in the Kansas City Journal, "Parson Scofield declared that he is poor and unable to pay."

Indeed, in her 2011 thesis, D. Jean Rushing reports that this antipathy toward Scofield had diminished but little one hundred years later:
In contrast, the Atchison, Kansas community still remembered Mr. Scofield’s reputation as a “scalawag” and his abandonment of his family over a century later. In 1989, Joseph M. Canfield offered his newly published biography The Incredible Scofield and His Book to the Atchison Public Library. The library declined Canfield’s offer with the reply “I don’t think we need his biography. Many Atchison citizens remember what a rascal he was.”      
("From Confederate Deserter to Decorated Veteran Bible Scholar: Exploring the Enigmatic Life of C.I. Scofield1861-1921")

Early History

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (sometimes misspelled "Schofield) was born in Michigan in 1843. His mother died three months later. Cyrus had several older sisters and was living in Tennessee with one of them when the Civil War broke out. Though only seventeen, young Cy enlisted in the Confederate Army by falsifying his age. His unit saw action in Virginia and Cy had plenty of time to reconsider. After a stay in a Richmond hospital, Cy wrote to the Confederate Secretary of War requesting a discharge because a) he was a minor, b) he was a Northerner, and c) he was in poor health. In September of 1862, Cy was given a certificate of discharge stating he was "an alien friend" of the Confederacy.

What happened next is a mystery. According to some accounts he was later conscripted and deserted to the North where he took an oath of allegiance to the Union. Scofield himself later told a version of the story in which he served to the end of the war (and received the Southern Cross of Honor for bravery displayed at Antietam). In any event, he eventually made his way to St. Louis to live with another sister.

Cyrus' sister Emmaline (also Emeline) had married Sylvester Papin, the son of a prominent French family in St. Louis. Papin, a lawyer, worked for the City Assessor's office and when his young brother-in-law escaped the war, Papin let him apprentice there. And so Cyrus Scofield began his legal education, specializing in issues of property: land grants, titles, and deeds.

Several wealthy and influential French Creole families had tight cultural and financial connections in St. Louis society. The Papins formed part of this circle, as did the widowed Helene LeBeau Cerre, whose daughter caught the eye of young Cyrus Scofield. In 1866, with a dispensation from the Church, eighteen-year-old Leontine Cerre and the non-Catholic Cyrus Scofield were wed in a civil ceremony. Two daughters arrived in quick succession, and were dutifully baptized at churches in Missouri. Abigail was named after Cyrus' mother, and Helene was christened after Leontine's.

Kansas Experience

As Cyrus advanced his legal education, Sylvester Papin sent him across the state line to represent the family in a land grant case. The Scofields, with Leontine's brother Henry, moved to Atchison, Kansas. (Maintaining the lifestyle they had enjoyed in St. Louis, the family had live-in servants, including a ten-year-old black female.) Cyrus continued to make contacts in the political world, catching the attention of prominent politician John J. Ingalls, who sponsored his application to practice law in the state.

Kansas politics was a rough-and-tumble world in those years, riddled with corruption and investigations, but Scofield waded right in and rose to fame quickly. The adaptive young man was elected twice to the Kansas House of Representatives, though from different districts each time. A son, Guy Sylvester, joined the Scofield family in 1872. The next year, Scofield helped John Ingalls get elected to the U.S. Senate. A week after taking his seat in the Senate, Ingalls returned the favor by getting the 29-year-old Scofield appointed U.S. District Attorney for Kansas. Scofield took the oath of office, swearing that he had "never voluntarily borne arms against the United States".

In December 1873, just six months into his new job, Scofield was forced to resign in a cloud of scandal and corruption that involved blackmail, bribery, and possibly embezzlement. Disgraced and in debt, he forged Ingalls' name "to secure funds for himself", a choice that severed that partnership for good. Cyrus and Leontine returned to Missouri with their girls and baby Guy. They were still living with his sister Emmaline, now a wealthy widow, when Guy died of scarlet fever. They buried the toddler in St. Louis in December 1974. After attempts to get legal work in St. Louis came to naught (he was never admitted to the bar in Missouri), Cyrus abandoned his wife and young daughters. By his own account, he had also become a heavy drinker.

Leontine took her little girls back to Kansas. Her mother moved in with them and Leontine went to work: first in a milliner's shop, and later at the public library where she worked for many years. Leontine was known in the community as a cultured woman and a good mother. She raised her daughters as Roman Catholics.

Scofield the Scoundrel

For the next several years, Cyrus was nothing more than a rogue and a scoundrel. In Missouri, he obtained money by forging his sister's name. But he could be far more creative.

In Milwaukee, C.I. Scofield assumed the alias "Charles Ingerson". Posing as a well-heeled cotton plantation owner from Mobile, Alabama, he checked into the Metropolitan Hotel and courted the attentions of a local young beauty--until his landlord had him arrested for vagrancy. Days later he was released, after sweet-talking his unsuspecting fiancee into paying his hotel bill. Two weeks later, he was re-arrested, but this time the young lady's resources were exhausted.

While C.I. was up to no good in Wisconsin, Leontine obtained a legal separation from him in Kansas. The marriage would drag on another six years on paper, with Leontine never getting a penny of support from her husband. At one point, C.I. wrote to Leontine, offering to invest $1300 on behalf of his mother-in-law. He must have been convincing, for Leontine sent him the money. C.I. dutifully sent back documents signed by a fictitious Charles Best. The whole "investment" turned out to be a fraud and the story later made it into the newspapers.

In late 1878, "Cyrus Ingerson" aka "Charles Ingerson" was arrested and jailed in Wisconsin by request of the the St. Louis Chief of Police, who came to personally escort the con-man back to jail in St. Louis to face charges of forgery. Scofield spent six months in jail that time.

Religious Conversion

In November of 1879, the case against Scofield was dismissed. Emmaline paid off some of his debts. And C.I. Scofield found a new shtick: evangelicalism. Details of his religious conversion are unclear, as there are multiple reported accounts. Some mention his time in jail while others credit a client of his [non-existent] law office with introducing him to Jesus. We know that Dwight L. Moody conducted a preaching crusade in St. Louis at that time and Scofield participated. And so began a lifelong partnership. Scofield got involved with Moody's St. Louis YMCA, joined a Congregational church, and quickly obtained a preaching license from the Congregational church association.

His preacher friends drilled Scofield in the latest Protestant Biblical interpretations, particularly those of Anglo-Irish preacher John Nelson Darby. Darby, an ex-lawyer and ex-priest whose radical ideas had started the Plymouth Brethren in the United Kingdom, had visited St. Louis several years previous, spreading his understanding of "dispensations",and prophecy in the Bible. Today Darby is credited with inventing the doctrine of "the Rapture", the idea that Christian believers will suddenly be swept up to heaven ahead of "the Tribulation". With little exposure to alternate points of view, Scofield became a zealous advocate of these new-found and unconventional truths. In no time at all, the recently-converted lawyer was pastoring a church of his own.

In 1881, Leontine Scofield filed for divorce, declaring C.I. an unfit parent. Her now-Protestant husband fought for dismissal, and denied "each and every allegation" in Leontine's petition. When word got back to Kansas that the infamous lawyer was now preaching the gospel, the people he had once represented took his wife's side. The Atchison Globe reported in June of 1881: "C. I. Schofield, who was appointed United States District Attorney for Kansas in 1873, and who turned out worse than any other Kansas official, is now a Campbellite preacher in Missouri. His wife and two children live in Atchison. He contributes nothing to their support except good advice."

Later that summer, a gossip column in an Atchison paper was also picked up by the Topeka Daily Journal:
Cyrus I. Schofield, formerly of Kansas, late lawyer, politician and shyster generally, has come to the surface again, and promises once more to gather around himself that halo of notoriety that has made him so prominent in the past. The last personal knowledge that Kansans have had of this peer among scalawags, was when about four years ago, after a series of forgeries and confidence games he left the state and a destitute family and took refuge in Canada. For a time he kept undercover, nothing being heard of him until within the past two years when he turned up in St. Louis, where he had a wealthy widowed sister living who has generally come to the front and squared up Cyrus’ little follies and foibles by paying good round sums of money. Within the past year, however, Cyrus committed a series of St. Louis forgeries that could not be settled so easily, and the erratic young gentleman was compelled to linger in the St. Louis jail for a period of six months.

Among the many malicious acts that characterized his career, was one peculiarly atrocious, that has come under our personal notice. Shortly after he left Kansas, leaving his wife and two children dependent upon the bounty of his wife’s mother, he wrote his wife that he could invest some $1,300 of her mother’s money, all she had, in a manner that would return big interest. After some correspondence he forwarded them a mortgage, signed and executed by one Chas. Best, purporting to convey valuable property in St. Louis. Upon this, the money was sent to him. Afterwards the mortgages were found to be base forgeries, no such person as Charles Best being in existence, and the property conveyed in the mortgage fictitious…
Among the many malicious acts that characterized his career, was one peculiarly atrocious, that has come under our personal notice. Shortly after he left Kansas, leaving his wife and two children dependent upon the bounty of his wife’s mother, he wrote his wife that he could invest some $1,300 of her mother’s money, all she had, in a manner that would return big interest. After some correspondence he forwarded them a mortgage, signed and executed by one Chas. Best, purporting to convey valuable property in St. Louis. Upon this, the money was sent to him. Afterwards the mortgages were found to be base forgeries, no such person as Charles Best being in existence, and the property conveyed in the mortgage fictitious…
In the latter part of his confinement, Schofield, under the administration of certain influences, became converted, or professedly so. After this change of heart his wealthy sister came forward and paid his way out by settling the forgeries, and the next we hear of him he is ordained as a minister of the Congregational church, and under the chaperonage of Rev. Goodell, one of the most celebrated divines of St. Louis, he causes a most decided sensation.  ...Schofield represent[ed] first that his wife had obtained a decree of divorce. When the falsity of this story was ascertained by inquiries of our district clerk, he started on another that a divorce would be obtained, that he loved his children better than his life, but that the incompatibility of his wife’s temper and her religious zeal in the Catholic church was such that he could not possibly live with her.
A representative of the Patriot met Mrs. Schofield today, and that little lady denies, as absurd, such stories. There was never any domestic clouds in their homes. They always lived harmoniously and pleasant. As to her religion, she was no more zealous than any other church member. She attended service on the sabbath, and tried to live as becomes a Christian woman and mother. It was the first time she had ever heard the objection raised by him. As to supporting herself and the children, he has done nothing, said the little woman. Once in a great while, say every few months, he sends the children about $5, never more. “I am employed with A. L. de Gignac & Co., and work for their support and mine. As soon as Mr. Schofield settles something on the children to aid me in supporting them and giving them an education, I will gladly give him the matrimonial liberty he desires. I care not who he marries, or when, but I do want him to aid me in giving our little daughters the support and education they should have.”    
(Topeka Daily Journal, August 27, 1881)

On to Texas

This article did not apparently circulate as far as the Texas newspapers. In 1883, C.I. Scofield was invited to pastor First Congregational Church (now renamed Scofield Memorial Church) in Dallas, Texas. In Dallas, he was ordained by a regional church association. After meeting church member Hettie (van) Wart(z), C.I. also decided to wrap up his divorce from Leontine, who had again filed for divorce. He had apparently changed his own definition of marriage, concluding that a marriage between a Catholic (pagan, as far as he was concerned) and a Protestant was not a Christian marriage, anyway. This time he agreed to let Leontine have full custody, but she had to give up all claim to child support or alimony. 

Hettie was also from Michigan, where she had attended teacher's college at Michigan State Normal School in Ypsilanti. Hettie's father had died years earlier, but her mother had married a domineering older man who was both physically and verbally abusive to his new wife and stepdaughters, to the point of threatening their lives. Three months after C.I.'s divorce from Leontine was finalized, he and Hettie were wed. After three years in Texas, Hettie's mother returned to Michigan and won a divorce suit against her horrid husband. Hettie gave birth to a son, Noel Paul Scofield, in Michigan in 1888. 

In 1886, Scofield hosted Moody's Dallas crusade. And he became a speaker in the Bible conference movement. Two years later, he published a treatise on premillenial dispensational theology. Later, his teaching on "dispensationalism" and a "pre-trib" ("any-minute") rapture would be disseminated across North America as notes in his famous reference Bible. Some of Scofield's views on the "end times" would one day form a theological justification for Tim LaHaye's popular Left Behind series as well as the Religious Right's support of American Zionism.

After meeting Hudson Taylor, famed missionary to China, C.I. Scofield founded the Central American Mission (later CAM International, now Camino Global) which began by sending a missionary couple to Costa Rica in 1890. He also helped start Lake Charles College in Lousiana. And he offered a Bible Correspondence Course which was later taken over by Moody Bible Institute. Today, Moody still offers certificates in the Scofield Bible curriculum.

Professional Bible Teacher

In 1895, Scofield moved to Moody's Massachusetts headquarters to direct the Northfield Bible Training School for a while. He also pastored Moody's church in Northfield. According to Scofield, he himself educated Moody on the subject of Bible prophecy. Never having studied Biblical languages, Scofield relied on a Greek lexicon for personal study. By then he was styling himself the "Rev. C.I. Scofield, D.D.", though he had never attended college in his life and there is no record of any institution conferring on him even an honorary degree.

Scofield presided at Dwight Moody's funeral in 1899. After that, he divided his time between Dallas, Michigan, travel abroad, his property in New Hampshire, and New York City, where he maintained membership in the exclusive Lotos Club, a very secular association with the aim of promoting the arts and "learned professions". When he was in Dallas, Scofield was active in the local organization of Confederate veterans, and was sometimes called on to give addresses extolling the virtue and faith of Confederate heroes. As Scofield played up his experience in the ranks (and kept quiet about his Yankee origins), the Dallas community soon accepted the popular Bible teacher as a "Confederate soldier and in every respect a distinctly Southern man in his sentiments".

By the time Scofield left Massachusetts, he was already planning a new edition of the Bible, with extensive interpretive notes of his own--the first study Bible of its type. Ardent evangelical premillenialist Lyman Stewart, president of Union Oil and sponsor of the series The Fundamentals, provided financial backing for Scofield's undertaking. Even with Hettie's assistance, the project took several years and numerous trips abroad for research and collaboration with scholars at Oxford. Some even credit Scofield with coining the term "Judeo-Christian" during this period; its first usage dates to approximately 1899.

Oxford University Press published the first Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Scofield and his editors made revisions for the 1917 edition. One of these was the inclusion of suggested dates for Biblical events, including James Ussher's placement of Creation around 4004 BC. Scofield's note suggesting there could have been an indeterminate chronological "gap" between the events related in the first two verses of Genesis puts him at odds with modern fundamentalist believers.

Scofield's Legacy

For the last two decades of Scofield's life, he was a mentor for fellow lay theologian and Moody supporter Lewis Sperry Chafer, with whom he founded the Philadelphia School of the Bible. When Scofield's health declined (rumors swirled among his colleagues that Scofield abused prescription alcohol), Chafer replaced him in the pulpit in Dallas and went on to found Dallas Theological Seminary. 

Scofield was estranged from all three of his children by the time of his death. His estate passed to both Hettie and Noel, with no mention of the daughters from his first marriage. Noel Scofield lived in New York until his death in 1962 and held the copyright to his father's Bible after his father's death. Noel refused to give interviews regarding his father and had no later involvement with the Dispensational movement.

Abigail and Helen Scofield both became teachers. Abigail taught at an elementary school, while her sister taught French at a girls' school in Kansas City. Abigail married Edward Kellogg, a dentist, in 1902. They later moved to California for Edward's health. There Abigail worked as a librarian and was popular in her community. Helen also married, but neither sister had children. When their father's reference Bible was published, the Catholic women who were his daughters received copies as "tokens of his love". Though they received no acknowledgement in his official biography in 1920, Scofield did maintain a correspondence with his adult daughters.

Leontine referred to herself as a widow after her divorce. She retired from the library in 1916 and passed away in 1936; her grave is in the Mt. Calvary Catholic cemetery in Atchison, Kansas. After Helen's husband died in 1941, Abigail, also widowed by then, returned to Kansas where the sisters lived together until their deaths in consecutive months in 1958.

Meanwhile, the annotated Scofield Reference Bible became a bestseller. Dispensational fundamentalism's favorite Bible remains in print today, having undergone many updates and revisions over the decades. Scofield's Bible notes strongly influenced the life and worldview of Jerry Falwell, who later guided the American religious right.

Volumes have been written about the numerous discrepancies in Scofield's official biography, written by Charles Trumbull. Biographer Joseph Canfield, who was raised under the strong influence of Scofield, Moody,and Darby and eventually came to view Dispensationalism as a cult, called attention to many of these discrepancies in his work, which he tried to donate to the Atchison Public Library, as we have seen. 

Throughout his life, Cyrus I. Scofield proved a resilient and adaptive man who not lack for ambition. His temperament allowed him to always keep moving forward, undeterred by and unchained to past errors. Whatever else, he was, Scofield was a self-made, and frequently re-made, man. 

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, 
he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  
1 Timothy 5:8

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Recovering from Trauma: Moving Forward!

It has been nearly a year since my therapist first used "post-traumatic reaction" to describe my overwhelming stress/anxiety symptoms. Last February I looked forward and knew climbing out of that awful place would take time and a lot of work. And it has. 

But I've made it to 2014, and it's starting to feel really good. 

I quit the college class that was the last straw for my nervous system, and, with my therapist's help, got a refund from the school. But I completed the biology course, breathing through the horrid panic attacks, chewing gum so hard and so long that my jaw ached for days, sipping Snapple through the lectures to keep myself grounded. I learned to do some yoga, and walked, and took my colored pencils with me to the park. 

I worked on building positive social relationships and minimized the unhealthy ones. I participated in a wonderful book club. I made new friends and had lunch dates with old friends, even when driving across town gave me panic attacks, even when my muscles would contract so tightly it was painful. I was always fine once I got there. Recovery itself often seemed an unwelcome extension of the trauma of the past. Why is it necessary to go through so much to be shed of what you never asked for in the first place?

Instead of taking more classes over the summer, I rested up. PTSD can complicate the simplest tasks, so I was careful to take on only the most manageable of projects. I had fun with my kids, enjoyed the outdoors, gave my daughter some cooking lessons. I read several memoirs (all by women), and half a dozen stories by Margaret Atwood. We skipped our big summer vacation and took a few shorter trips instead. Each success at meeting a goal helped restore my confidence a little more.

I kept writing, and reading, and talking to my therapist about the things too vulnerable, too wordless, to express here. Because what you get here has been processed. It seems there is always more raw material, though. If it bleeds when I touch it, it goes to my counselor, not here! 

My husband and I attended numerous local theatrical productions over the last year. We find theater to be so much more intimate than cinema (making it that much more rewarding, but psychologically wearing, at the same time). Each play showed me a little more about myself, sometimes triggering panic attacks in the process. I remember working hard to "ground" myself through several performances that hit painfully close to home, particularly "Other Desert Cities" (about painful family secrets and telling the truth), "Radiating Like a Stone" (about misogyny and women fighting for equality in Kansas), and parts of "How the World Began" (about faith, education, and human resilience, with a terrific scene of a post-traumatic fear response). We both had to ground ourselves hard to make it through the opening scene of "Doubt", even though we'd seen the film and already knew the story. 

When the kids went back to school, all three of them for the first time, and the house was quieter than it had ever been, I pulled out my old journals and started processing pieces of the past, bit by bit. Sometimes the entries there jog memories or questions that turn into blog posts. Sometimes I have to take time off afterward to reorient myself with another activity. I pace myself, stopping if my body reacts, so it's been slow going.

I have learned ever so much about PTSD, and especially Complex PTSD. I don't like it, but at least it doesn't scare me anymore. I feel hopeful again, like the worst is over and I survived it. I never want to go back there, but now I have tools for handling triggers and managing symptoms. I'm getting better at recognizing flashbacks and observing boundaries. And I am less afraid of people--perhaps less afraid than I've ever been. 

(Of course, it's still scary to write boldly and vulnerably like this. What if I have a panic attack tomorrow when I read a comment a stranger's left on one of my posts? Can I be sure my regained hope is not really braggadocio? It feels uncomfortably like giving a "testimony" in church about how you believe God's healed your cancer, and then having to start chemo the next month.)

I saw Disney's Frozen last month. Saw it twice, in fact. Elsa's song "Let It Go" instantly became my theme song for this stage of my life. The lyrics so well describe these months of liberating self-discovery. Here are some of my favorite lines:
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

Chris and I been leaving the past for a long time, but it's been gradual. We have gained momentum now. Our values are becoming clearer. The dynamics of our marriage are evolving. We have dramatically altered our parenting. The adjustments aren't over yet. But we'll get to where we want to be. And discover where that is!

In some ways I feel like a teenager, gazing at a vast array of possibilities, uncertain which path to choose. I just know I want to keep moving forward. After taking last semester off to focus on myself, recovery, and blogging, I'm excited to be dipping my foot into the pool of education again. Getting back into life, not holding back out of fear of being unable to keep commitments.

It is time to try new things again. Meet new people. Explore new places. Now that I understand who I was and why, it's time to find out who I am.