05.05.09

Choosing a Book Title

Posted in Excerpts at 08:40 am by admin

Choosing a Book Title

Choosing the right book title is a very difficult and important decision.  The title has to describe what the book is about and should inspire a person to buy and read the book. So, I am often asked about the meaning of my title, Divine Betrayal.

Looking back on my life, I find that I was betrayed in many ways.  The very first betrayal occurred when a trusted missionary friend, Brother Widmer, sexually abused me when I was six years old.  In describing the abuse perpetrated by the Catholic clergy, the word “betrayal” is commonly used.  The betrayal is not only of the child, but also of the parents.  Someone they totally trusted, a spiritual guide or model for themselves and their children, betrayed their trust. 

In recalling my experience, it was significant for me to remember that I did not tell my parents.  I kept it to myself.  Why did I do this?  First, I was afraid that they would make me discontinue my “story-telling sessions” with Brother Widmer.  Second, and most importantly, I did not think they would believe me.  I did not feel safe in sharing my questions about Widmer’s behavior because I was raised in a “closed” religious system. My definition of a “closed” religious system is a system where questions and doubts are not allowed and where doubt in any form is SIN. So, it would have been sin for me to question a leader’s behavior or suggest that he was doing anything wrong.

Also, I was afraid my parents would accuse me of imagining it since I knew they could never see Brother Widmer as a pedophile.  In their view, a man of God would never be capable of such an act.  That is why my parents defended Brother Widmer when he was accused of child rape.  I have read scores of letters they wrote to relatives, friends, and even to the head of the Assemblies of God Mission Department defending “dear Brother Widmer, who is being persecuted by the devil,” referring to the legitimate accusations leveled against him by the community.

Closed religious systems are very subtle, and it took me years to realize that I was trapped in one.  My mother and father were wonderful, sincerely devoted Christians, but there could never be a two-way conversation between us. They “had all the answers” and could not be questioned because their answers came directly from the Bible, the Word of God. The consequences of questioning and doubting were eternal damnation and separation from God, but the most devastating consequence for me, their child, was the loss of their love. 

I believe that this also is betrayal.  Many fundamentalist parents today, like my parents then, do not allow their children to question anything or act out some of their doubts, and this is often damaging for the children.  Extremely religious parents often use fear, rejection, and a heavy dose of guilt to manipulate their children to agree with them and never question the faith. This kind of manipulation occurs by some members of all forms of religions. Radical sects within Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Protestantism believe that only they have the direct path to eternal salvation and try to convince everyone to follow them. The ones that are hurt the most by this type of extremist fundamentalism are the family members.

I not only feared God when growing up, but I feared the rejection of my parents if I did not follow their belief system.  Religion is important in the upbringing of children, but it should never be associated with threats of rejection, removal of affection or the disowning of a child.  This is damaging.  Today my religion is an “open” system. I believe in a loving, forgiving God; not one that governs by a set of rules determined by a church or family.  

 

 

 

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