The Phoenix and Olive Branch

A spiritual abuse survivor blog by a daughter of the Christian Patriarchy movement.

The Phoenix and Olive Branch is now on Patheos!

Hi everyone!

An automatic redirect should be set up soon, but in the meantime, we’re live on Patheos! Please update your bookmarks, google reader, etc. The new URL is here:

See you over there!


Disability, Prenatal Testing and the Case for a Moral, Compassionate Abortion

Note: If the headline didn’t already clue you in, this is controversial subject matter. If you come away from this article thinking that I advocate genocide of a disabled population or the coercion of women pregnant with disabled fetuses into abortion, that I hate disabled people or think that Down syndrome people don’t deserve to live, you have failed to understand my point. Please walk away from the computer, breathe deeply, and start again from the beginning.

I believe that it is possible and desirable to respect disabled people while still working to eliminate genetic disorders so that children who might have had Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis (or any other disease) have a chance to be born without them. I believe that abortion of a disabled fetus can be a compassionate choice made for morally sound reasons, and does not at all conflict with the respect due to disabled people. I am firmly pro-choice, and I believe strongly that the wellbeing of all born persons in a family is paramount before considering the needs of a fetus. My position is that fetuses are incapable of being self-aware and therefore cannot experience suffering the way born persons do. The prevention of suffering is central to my moral beliefs.

If you’re already angry, please stop reading and go get yourself a nice cappuccino. Have a beautiful day. And then, if you still really want to read this, take frequent breaks to punch a pillow with a “hello, my name is Sierra” badge stuck to it.

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Doug Wilson Continues Attention-Seeking Rants Against Rachel Held Evans, Feminists

I blame Libby Anne for sharing this link and making me write despite my sore wrist!

Doug Wilson just can’t shut up about Rachel Held Evans, which is curious for two reasons: she’s already stopped bothering about him, and there are scores of other bloggers who are pissed off about his misogyny, and several of them have penises. Take, for instance, Unreasonable Faith’s Fifty Shades of Lipstick on a Pig, or all these people, or Fred Clark (Slacktivist)’s The men of the ‘Gospel Coalition’ really hate women.

I suspect that Wilson keeps doing this for the publicity (it’s always good, right?). He obviously hasn’t thought about that very much. Because the more he stirs trouble in the spiritual abuse survivor community, and in the Christian feminist community, and in the Community of Decent Human Beings on the Internet, the more his name will be linked in search engines with words like “hateful, racist misogynist.” And that’s what all his new potential converts will see when they Google to figure out who he is.

Unless, of course, he rigs the engines with money somehow.

Here’s yet another screed:

I love it when the guys get up a robust game of pick-up basketball. I hate it when some feminist sues the gym for the right to join in, because she is tired of all these lame traditionalist categories, and then, without any self-awareness at all, limps off the court five minutes into the game favoring her left leg because she got bumped on the right elbow, and spends the rest of the year writing letters to various authorities about how “hurt,” “offended,” and “deeply concerned” she is about how “dismissive” everybody was being about her perspective on this unfortunate affair.

Seriously, what would this guy do for a living without the feminist movement? He should be paying us all royalties for the privilege of making a living setting up and burning down straw feminists.

I love it when someone engages me in a meaningful debate about religion. I hate it when some misogynist windbag starts spouting off as if he can dominate the debate by shouting “I don’t like you, okay? I just hate your stupid face! You’re such a girl!”

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A short break

Hey everybody.

I want to apologize first for the unexplained silence on my blog for the past couple of days.

Truth is, I’ve damaged my wrist. Writing hurts. So I’m going to spend a couple of days icing and relaxing it and finding myself a wrist brace.

I’ll be back to my daily blogging soon, probably about a week. The move to Patheos should be complete at about the same time.

When I get back, the next round of answers to the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project will go up.

I’ll also post a few more installments to the Daughter of the Patriarchy series, describing the ways I started to detach myself from my church while I was in college.

Oh, and that series will also include a shout-out to the two friends who argued me out of my fundamentalist fog with the best of intentions and the best of results.

Talk to you all soon!



How do Food Stamps Work?

Courtney at From Austin to A&M has an excellent article about food stamps that helps bust a number of myths about poor people at large cheating the system and spending their own money on frivolous things like televisions. There is also the fact that the surplus of refined food products in the United States means that you can be nutritionally deficient while still consuming an excess of calories.

From Austin to A&M – Food stamps: How do they work?

Myth #1: There are no bread­lines any­more, so peo­ple need to stop act­ing like hunger is a prob­lem in the U.S. This is patently untrue. Peo­ple are still hun­gry in the U.S. and there ARE still bread­lines, they just don’t look the same. They’re spread out and less vis­i­ble. They’re in front of food pantries. When I lived in George­town, TX, there was a line that stretched out for two blocks in front of the food pantry near our house every other Sun­day. Bread lines are also at gro­cery stores at mid­night at the begin­ning of the month. I’m not the only food stamp recip­i­ent who goes to the gro­cery store at 11:30 on the 2nd of the month (my ben­e­fits are loaded on the 3rd) and makes sure to check out after mid­night. Bill Simon, the U.S. CEO of Wal-Mart, said in 2010,

“And you need not go fur­ther than one of our stores on mid­night at the end of the month. And it’s real inter­est­ing to watch, about 11 p.m., cus­tomers start to come in and shop, fill their gro­cery bas­ket with basic items, baby for­mula, milk, bread, eggs, and con­tinue to shop and mill about the store until mid­night, when … gov­ern­ment elec­tronic ben­e­fits cards get acti­vated and then the check­out starts and occurs. And our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are sub­stan­tially and sig­nif­i­cantly higher. And if you really think about it, the only rea­son some­body gets out in the mid­dle of the night and buys baby for­mula is that they need it, and they’ve been wait­ing for it. Oth­er­wise, we are open 24 hours—come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at mid­night, you are there for a reason.”

So our bread lines aren’t as vis­i­ble (remem­ber that food stamps are loaded on three dif­fer­ent dates, mean­ing the uptick in cus­tomers on one of those dates at mid­night might not be as obvi­ous to the casual observer), but many peo­ple are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to eat in this coun­try. The fact that 44,708,726 peo­ple, about 1 in every 7 Amer­i­cans, are enrolled in SNAP sug­gests that a lot of peo­ple are fac­ing eco­nomic hard­ships bad enough to result in food insecurity.


Sexuality Project: Life Outside the Bubble, Q. 5

This concludes the answers of first group of participants in the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan hereLet’s have a hearty round of internet applause for Melissa, Haley, Lina, V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne for their honest, heartfelt responses!

You might want to bookmark their blogs, too!

You can find Melissa at Permission to Live, Lina at Finding Snooze, Latebloomer at Past Tense, Present Progressive, and Katy-Anne at Katy-Anne Wilson.

And right now, I want to personally thank each of you. Melissa, I have really enjoyed the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of your responses. Haley, I am thrilled that you are finding yourself more and more free to express who you are. Lina, you have cracked me up throughout this whole series – you should seriously try stand-up comedy. V, it’s been such a pleasure to “meet” you and hear your story; thank you for being so frank. Latebloomer, you and I were separated at birth – I loved learning more about your experiences. Katy-Anne, I’m honored that you were willing to share all that you did and I hope that the process has brought some healing to you.

In the next few days, I’ll introduce the next six participants. The Sexuality Project is still open if you or someone you know would like to join in. Thank you all for reading, commenting, sharing and making this project successful!

Life Outside the Bubble

5. What, if anything, would you tell your younger self about sexuality and life outside fundamentalism?

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Sexuality Project: Life Outside the Bubble, Q. 4

This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan hereThe first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.

Life Outside the Bubble

4. What (and how) do you plan to teach your children (if applicable) about sexuality?

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Misogynist Pastor Doug Wilson Continues Gaslighting His Critics

From Gaslight (1944).

Gaslighting is a term derived from the 1944 film Gaslight. Here’s an excerpt from the plot:

Paula loses a brooch that Gregory had given her, despite its having been stored safely in her handbag. A picture disappears from the walls of the house, and Gregory says that Paula took it, but Paula has no recollection of having done so. Paula also hears footsteps coming from above her, in the sealed attic, and sees the gaslights dim and brighten for no apparent reason. Gregory suggests that these are all figments of Paula’s imagination.

Gregory does everything in his power to isolate his wife from other people. He allows her neither to go out nor to have visitors, implying he is doing so for her own good, because her nerves have been acting up, causing her to become a kleptomaniac and to imagine things that are not real. On the one occasion when he does take her out to a musical gathering at a friend’s house, he shows Paula his watch chain, from which his watch has mysteriously disappeared. When he finds it in her handbag, she becomes hysterical, and Gregory takes her home. She sees why she should not go out in public.

In short, gaslighting is a strategy abusive persons use to manipulate their victims’ circumstances and convince them that they (the victims) are going crazy and can’t trust their own instincts.

And gaslighting is exactly what Doug Wilson continues to do as more and more people object to his coercive, abusive, patriarchal model of Christian sexuality.

First he posts a cryptic message consisting of a blockquote from C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength:

“I see,” said the Director. “It is not your fault. They never warned you. No one has ever told you that obedience – humility – is an erotic necessity. You are putting equality just where it ought not to be.”

Wilson makes no comment – how about a little context here, eh? – so it’s unclear whether he’s trying to enlist the name of C.S. Lewis to make his misogynistic beliefs about sex more palatable or authoritative, or whether he is attempting sarcasm or irony.

A commenter who’s apparently on Wilson’s side can’t even make sense of it:

I’m a little confused by this response. I agree that egalitarianism is wrong. But:
First, the denial of egalitarianism does not imply that we should use the language you use.
Second, in your previous post, you said that conquest is something that both do to the other. That is, an egalitarian could agree with it. But that itself is odd, since your original quote was trying to show the difference between man and woman, and you can’t do that by appealing to a commonality. 
The whole thing seems hopelessly confused.

Then there’s “Reading tjhe[sic] Word“, a post in which Wilson argues this:

This is why Christian worldview thinking is not an optional add-on extra. We must know and understand the gospel of John, of course, and the book of Romans, certainly. But we must also know what to do with rap music, sitcoms, neckties, tattoos, secular universities, sports cars, and eye liner. If we are steeped in Scripture, but cannot read the world, we are helpless. If we are steeped in the world, but do not know what the Bible says, then we are just worldlings, plain and simple.

The problem that many Christian young people is that they are familiar with the things the world is dishing up, but they are like a foreign student memorizing phrases, without any understanding of what they mean. Familiarity is not literacy. And one of the prime indicators of whether you are literate or not—if you are a true child of God—is whether or not you hate it. The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. If you don’t hate a good deal of what is going on, then it is clear you can’t read.

Actually, I believe the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Find another scripture to justify your hate.

Also, “worldlings”? Really? I wonder if this means Doug Wilson is actually Marvin the Martian:

Marvin the Martian says you’re the looney tune, earthling.

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Sexuality Project: Life Outside the Bubble, Q. 3

This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan hereThe first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.

Life Outside the Bubble

3. Where have you found support? (New friends online, at school, at work, etc.?)

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Gospel Coalition’s Jared C. Wilson issues an apology for Doug Wilson post; Rachel Held Evans accepts

Breaking: Whether or not the ripples of the Doug Wilson drama have truly subsided yet, Jared C. Wilson has made a declarative apology for the Gospel Coalition blog post that set it off. Let’s acknowledge that before there’s any more news on the subject. I believe his apology is sincere.

Doug Wilson, not so much.

Rachel Held Evans, for her part, has responded graciously to the apology by saying on facebook, “Thank you, Jared Wilson and The Gospel Coalition for this gesture of humility and strength.”

Meanwhile, Heather at Femina piles on: A note for Rachel Held Evans, who apparently is the Person of Interest for the whole clan, despite the practically innumerable men and women who have commented on the situation.

Later today: back to your regularly scheduled Sexuality Project answers!

[UPDATE: Doug Wilson also apparently posted a quotation from one Robert Farr Capon, which is even more overtly objectifying and horrific in its theory of sex. I have pasted it below the jump. Super huge trigger warning for survivors of rape or sexual abuse, and for any woman who has ever had sex with a man or even thought about it.]

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