Gentle Fudge
religion, politics, current events, and other fashionable dinner conversation.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Minority Report
On Sunday, it was announced in a local paper that UVa would alert parents of students if students showed signs of mental illness, focusing on those who were "a threat to themselves or others." To make sure that this policy did not violate HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that all competent adults are entitled to, UVa's Visitor's Bureau made sure that their clause read that they would only allow notification if there was " 'substantial likelihood' in the near future that their child will harm himself or others, as evidenced by the student's recent behavior or any other relevant information."

This reactionary invasion of adult privacy comes in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting from a year ago. Again, understand that the shooting hit home for me. It was mere hours away from where I live. I knew friends who attended, people who lost loved ones, people who almost lost loved ones. It isn't something I take lightly. But 'criminalizing' those who have mental illness or those who express frustration and then labeling those individuals as "unstable" -- as our medicated society is so apt to do -- will only create more walls and close off communication from the still-developing mental health field and those who are considering pursuing treatment for multiple reasons.


The Individual
Anyone who has considered that something has been wrong knows how long that thought has lingered in the back of the head. And how long it took to come to the personal realization that something actually was wrong, that it all wasn't just in the head, and to start looking for help. How many voices, both personal and professional, sneered to the contrary. How many medical tests proved the opposite. How many doctors have been seen. How many insurance payments have been made. How many years were been wasted. How many different diagnoses were made. How many miles were driven. How much hope was lost. How many different drugs were tried. How much sleep was lost. How much money was spent. How many friends were lost. How many relationships were strained or dissolved. Sometimes it works. Sometimes you wonder if it ever will.

The Family & Mate
Anyone who has had to break the news to family that they have a mental illness knows that there are as many reactions as there are species of butterflies. Some are accepting and stay the course throughout treatment. Some deny everything. Some tell you it is your fault and walk away. Some tell you if you had prayed more or had more faith, G-d wouldn't have deserted you with this illness. Some run hot and cold. Some are too caught up in their own world to care. Some ignore it and don't do anything. Some make fun of it. Some try to exorcise your demon. Some are just as ill and don't see it themselves. Some are confused and don't know what to do. Some lecture and become self-righteous.

The Friends
Friends often have similar reactions as family, depending on closeness. Many feel helpless and don't know what to do. Many go on and pretend the illness doesn't exist because they don't know any better.


I've been through this mass production myself, as I'm manic depressive lite. (Bipolar II to the less poetic.) And that's as personal as I'm getting in this edition. It's right back to the usual chewy news and religion after this.

Sure, this sounds all romantic and mysterious, but it can be absolute hell -- or heaven. I couldn't blame any friend or family member for any reaction. It is very much like a death and there is a grief phase. But could you imagine a stranger giving you this news instead of your loved one? There is no way I would want my school giving such personal news in place of someone I knew. I prefer to be in control of who in my family I tell. I know who I can trust and who will shun me.

I sought feedback on this in the political scene, from those who know Delegate Rob Bell, the head of this policy. Of course, this would only apply to 1% and not the 99% who eventually seek treatment. Tangent: it reminds me in a way of the parable of the 99 sheep and the 1 who gets away, lost, who was chased after through rocky crags and prickly thickets, and brought back in. (Why is it always 99 and 1 with politicians? With bipolar, the stats are around 97% normal and 3% irregular. Maybe the math needs to be easier...) And of course a judge has to make the determining factor that the individual is a danger [to society]. Duh. I know that. But I also know that if you are in a psychotic state, you can be committed temporarily without a judge's order. To be committed permanently, you need a judge's order. Without the family's permission. And even then, there is room for debate. All this was looked at based on Cho, who was court-ordered to get help. But he didn't want to. You cannot force someone to get help who does not want it. Anyone ever live with an addict?

Oh, and the policy would only qualify for those students still qualifying as dependents and would only go to the custodial parents. So again, privacy is not an issue. Right? And of course, if a friend or family member mentions to one of the 99 that (s)he needs help, (s)he will get it. Because that's what all the research from the parents, patients, advocates, mental health professionals, police, school officials, and others had showed... goddIlovestatistics. Everything is happy-happy and this is the perfect plan. They all lived happily ever after.

But again, how do you determine 'dependent'? On a tax-return? Or someone who is a minor? Any parent of course would want to know about his or her child, because you will always be a kid to your dad or mom. Or step-parents. Or grandparents. Or whoever raised you. Come to think of it, who qualifies as the 'custodial parent' in this policy? I detest legalese.

And an energy efficient light bulb will suddenly appear over an individual's head once a friend or family member sees something wrong and suggests getting help. "I never thought of that..." Hmmm... ok, in some cases, usually with depression, that does happen. In most cases, there is an inkling that something could be off and no one else sees a damn thing because it's easy to mask or con out of or ignore. And it can take years for reality to sink in.

Anyone who has been through the mental health system knows that it needs some serious tweaking. It can take years to get an accurate diagnosis in many cases, let alone getting around to deciding to seek help. As the old joke goes, it only takes one psychiatrist to change a light bulb, but the light bulb has to want to change.

The last thing we need from The Powers That Be is heaping those who wish change for themselves into the same basket as more dangerous disorders. Someone with major depression is different from general depression is different from schizoaffective disorder is different from an anxiety disorder is different from a compulsive disorder... and there are all different colors and flavors and mixtures of each of these and we all get different treatments.

Have any of these representatives pushing policy been through any of this themselves or read the actual bills instead of getting briefed by aids, well-meaning parents, school officials, and lobbyists? Are they aware of the personal implications for the individuals, the time it takes to go through the system, the backlash once a diagnosis is made, once the family or friends have been told? And now there is the added fear that someone will see something, label it as a 'danger,' and tattle to mommy and daddy without telling us. That's how I interpret the policy.

There needs to be better dialogue regarding mental health and mental illness and the stigma needs to be taken away instead of being feared and again associated with Bedlam, jackets and/or restraints, and psychotic killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Cho.

Those in legislature and pushing these policies have little understanding behind what they are pushing. It isn't going to be a quick fix. It isn't black and white, cut and dried, or easy. Not everything is prevented or seen, especially mental illness. We can always look back with our 20/20 hindsight and hypothesize on how things could have been done differently and prevented. Not everything can be predicted. Humans are entirely too unpredictable, unstable. The wiring is faulty. For the most part, it works. But every once and a while, there is a glitch in the Matrix. We find it, we use the duct tape, solder a little here and there, and we move forward.

I'm getting tired of taking my shoes off at the airport, wasting good shampoo, and trying to figure out if hair sculpting wax is a liquid or a solid according to whichever random NSA agent. This is the same instance. We are reacting to a random, tragic and violent event that happened instead of seeking prevention through good dialogue and looking at our available resources, improving them.

Please petition your House Representatives, letting them that this is a very slippery slope regarding personal privacy, mental health and treatment of it, and encourage them to look at alternatives.

Those in the Virginia who supported this policy:

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posted by Sara @ 10:02 AM   2 comments
Tears for Tech
It's been a year and two days. Technically. It's a leap year. Virginia Tech is going through mourning. Yesterday marked the anniversary of the massacre of 32 students and teachers killed in a thoughtless shooting. Life truly is grey.

I've visited the campus and memorial. Everyone is chatty around the quad. Looking around, there is no sign that a killer walked the grounds. Life goes on.

You walk up the sidewalk to the stones marking the names. There are signs saying not to leave memorials or pictures. Of course, they are ignored and there is solitary poem here or a faded photo there. Then all conversation stops. Just stops. It doesn't dribble away. It just stops. Dead silence. You hear the scuffing of shoes against the concrete. If the person in front of you pauses, you pause. No one is in a hurry. If someone sneezes, you let it fly away in the breeze. The space is sacred and all who visit know this. When you leave, you stroll slowly and talk of the event, where you were, what you were doing. Life looks backward and to today. You forget what you were doing up until that point. Tomorrow doesn't matter anymore.

And now politicians, bureaucrats, and officials muddle over what to do elsewhere to prevent this from happening. But that's for another time.


posted by Sara @ 9:33 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Xyience to be Sold for $15 Million
The latest in our little saga is that Xyience is to be sold. My many thanks to Mr. Bergeron for his assistance in this unraveling of an energy empire in the great City of Sin. As my cable hasn't been hooked up for over a year, I had to wait for months, catching old fights off Netflix, to see the switch on the MMA center mat from the usual slimline can -- and I did look for a switch. I listened for new sponsors. I watched for sponsor changeovers from fighters. That's pretty much the only reason I checked in from time to time while the other half indulged his guilty pleasure of watching ultimate fighting. Truth be told, it is a fascinating sport. I prefer it over boxing. Human chess wits mixed with the gladiator gore of ancient days.

But enough pithy prose... on to the meat of the matter:

Xyience to be sold for $15 million

Posted: 4/3/2008 10:21:46 AM

A Nevada bankruptcy judge approved the $15 million sale of Xyience Inc. Tuesday after rejecting a last-minute offer for $15.5 million.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal­ reported that Judge Mike Nakagawa rejected the bid from Medici Group Holdings of New Zealand because the company failed to meet the bidding deadline. The Journal reported that the company called 90 minutes before the hearing and failed to send a representative to the court room.

Jim Morgan, the attorney for Xyience’s unsecured creditors, urged the judge to accept the larger offer, the Journal reported, saying that it represented a better deal for the company’s estate.

Manchester Consolidated Corp., whose offer was approved, will pay $200,000 in cash and assume $14.8 million in debt, the Journal reported. Medici reportedly offered $15.5 million in cash.

Morgan also asked the judge to delay the sale of Xyience for two days to give another potential bidder time to respond, but Greg Garman, an attorney for Zyen, opposed the delay. The Medici offer should not be considered because they failed to meet bid requirements and make a deposit, he said.

"All we have is a ghost (bidder)," Garman said.

His client, Zyen, stands to benefit from the sale. The company – controlled by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta – signed Xyience as a sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which the Fertittas also own.

Zyen extended two loans to Xyience totaling $14.7 million ahead of the sale. The Journal reported that the terms of those loans gave Zyen the right to recover debt before other creditors.

Source: Staff

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posted by Sara @ 5:47 PM   1 comments
Monday, April 07, 2008
Don't Ask Don't Tell
I will rarely post anything personal on this site because everything online is a public forum -- how quickly we forget that. Teens post their innermost thoughts and whine when parents discover a crush's name, not respecting 'privacy'. Employees are fired when opinions are posted about the competition or those at the workplace.

This is not an online diary. It is meant to be informative and opinionated -- and self-therapeutic-- and from time to time I will drift into the realm of the current state of the Church at large.

My opinion is made known, usually by the slant of my writing or articles chosen. Example from an OutofUr blog. I pulled the article and a few choice comments from both sides of the fence as well as my own. Understandably, the discussion was a little heated as this is a big red button in mainline xtianity.

There have been many "changes" in the faith and this is one of those things that I'm sure you can disagree with me on and still go to heaven. That's not the point. The point is to Love the LRD your GD with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you can't do that, then you have made yourself G-D and are committing idolatry. And last I checked, there weren't two different G-ds for each half of the Bible.

But that's another sermon for another time. I just live what I believe. Conversion by concussion doesn't work. It only leaves others with bad pain.

February 27, 2008

A Big Can of Worms

David Swanson reports on opening events from the National Pastors Convention.

David Swanson agreed to leave frozen Chicagoland to labor in sunny San Diego at this year's National Pastors Convention. He'll be sending us updates throughout the week of the goings on there. This is his first post.

I arrived at the National Pastors Convention in California a day early to catch one of the pre-conference seminars: Emerging Critical Issues Facing the Church. (For this Midwesterner, the sunny blue skies of San Diego were another reason to come early.) The seminar featured four panelists—Scot McKnight, Phyllis Tickle, Andy Crouch, and Tony Jones—addressing four critical issues: the role of Scripture, the church and politics, homosexuality, and religious pluralism.

These issues are as controversial as they are critical. This was clear from the spirited conversation between the panelists, the passionate questions and comments from the audience, and our moderator’s repeated requests for civil interaction. Allow me to summarize two of these conversations.

Scot McKnight introduced the section on the role of Scripture. “Since high school, I’ve been perplexed about how we [Christians] read the Bible,” he began. Specifically, Scot was puzzled by how we decide what parts of the Bible were for “then” and what is for “now.” He went on to define four ways Christians make these decisions. The “return to restore” method believes we can return to a New Testament form of Christianity in order to restore the Biblical texts to their original meanings. A less idealistic version of this is the “return and retrieve” method, through which the reader approaches the text in order to decide what can be retrieved for our lives today. The panelists agreed that every Bible reader does this to some degree. The question, of course, is how we decide what to retrieve and what to leave behind. Still others approach the Scriptures through his or her “sacred tradition,” allowing their particular tradition to shape their understanding of the text. Finally, Scot described the “primacy of Scripture” method of biblical interpretation. Rather than reading through the lens of tradition, this method reads with tradition. Scot believes this is the most helpful way of reading the Bible, for it allows the church to be constantly reforming.

If Scot is right that we read the Bible in these different ways, and if he’s correct that reading with tradition is the ideal, then how do we preachers and teachers help our church members read this way? Is it enough to allow our preaching and teaching to be formed by the primacy of Scripture, or must we be more blatant in explaining our methodology?

Reading from an article he wrote in 2003, Andy Crouch introduced the third critical issue facing the church: homosexuality. According to Andy, “Humankind is not divided into homosexual or heterosexual categories. We are all sexual beings who tend towards self-satisfaction.” Additionally, many churches rally around these categories, “which leads to a double standard: chastity for those who are gay and a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy regarding sexuality for the rest of us.”

While the panelists disagreed on whether or not homosexual practice is sinful, they were clear that the church must do a better job of pastoring those who are gay. Phyllis counseled the pastors in the room to “remember the human side—these are people, not theories, we are talking about.” Scot added, “The challenges for those pastors who are more traditional is how to create a safe environment for those who are gay to worship.” The evangelical church, he said, “has mostly failed in this area.”

Tony stated that the critical question for most churches is not whether to care for those who are gay. The question many in church leadership are wrestling with is, “Can a gay person can serve in leadership? And at what level?”

Can churches that understand homosexual practice to be a sin actually provide a safe space for gay worshipers? And regarding Tony’s question, should gay members of your congregation be allowed some opportunity of leadership? At what level?

David Swanson is pastor of missional ministries at Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Posted by UrL on February 27, 2008


Sounds like some good questions to me! Especially as a seminary trained gay Christian!

Posted by: PomoProphet at February 27, 2008

"Should gay members of your congregation be allowed some opportunity of leadership".

I guess I am totally misunderstanding the question here. And I think I've misunderstood this in churches for a little while now. I'm not understanding the use of the word "gay" or "homosexual". Is the question asking if someone is allowed into leadership who struggles with the temptation of homosexuality but doesn't actually commit an act of homosexuality? Or are we assuming that the words "gay" and "homosexual" are people who are actively practicing this behavior?

If someone struggles with the temptation but does not give in, then allow them to lead and show the rest of us how to have that strength in our own lives as well. But if it means people who are actively participating in a homosexuality then I wouldn't say that they should have any level of leadership.

Now this doesn't mean I don't want them to come to my church. I've known many decent, good people who are practicing homosexuals. But I know I would not ask them to teach, preach, or give any sort of spiritual direction.

But why do churches always make things into a "gay" vs. "straight" issue? The places of our worship should be safe for anyone with any issues to come and feel free to connect to God. It doesn't matter whether you struggle with homosexuality or pride or jealousy. Do we all agree that people sin?

But while I write this down, I know there is someone who will disagree with me on the issue of struggling with homosexuality. Thank you for reading my comment. I look forward to what other have to say.

Posted by: Thadd Sparrow at February 27, 2008

"Should gay members of your congrgation be allowed some opportunity of leadership?"

You have gay members? That is a problem in itself. Gay attenders, no problem. Membership should not be offered to anyone engaged in flaunting a sin, whether they be homosexuals, straight adulterers, or something else abhorrent to God.

Posted by: Richard Dennis Miller at February 28, 2008

Why is homosexuality the ultimate test of deciding who can be in leadership and who can not? What about a person in leadership who is exposed as being addicted to pornography? What about an adulterer?

In the latter two cases many times pastors or leadership are allowed to stay provided that they work on restoration. (of course this varies some) Why not work the same way with homosexuality?

Homosexuality is a sin, we know that. We know that ultimately we are to work at loving the sinner and helping them be restored to being more like Christ.

The question really being asked here is "will the church be mute about homosexuality, or will they look at it the same as any other sin?"

What Tony Jones and the others in the Emergent movement are articulating is (at least I think) a position of love and acceptance to the homosexual who feels they would never fit in a church. Ultimately them being allowed into leadership is a church by church decision. Only the local body will know the character of the person, where they are with God, how they are working on the sins in their life etcetera.

Posted by: Carl Holmes at February 28, 2008

Why do we want churches to be safe places to worship?

Light and truth and mercy are risky and dangerous and threatening.

Posted by: Nate at February 28, 2008

"should gay members of your congregation be allowed some opportunity of leadership? At what level?"

this sounds like "should we allow the children to ride elephants during the sermon?"

there is a lot of don't-ask-don't-tell going on in churches. we have become so afraid of being honest with each other and being real that no one will let any one in any more. one reason I like my church is because the music group I play in is full of "real" people. I hate defining them as that. but there are too many churches full of the usual self-perfecting congregations who believe you have to clean up before you can get through the doors. this is why my generation is leaving in droves.

homosexuality is a hot-button and it shouldn't be. it is becoming less and less of an issue with my generation and the next one coming up.

cue: you can begin warming up your Bibles to start quoting from Paul and Leviticus now.

south africa condoned apartheid for decades, citing the biblical stories of Cain and Noah as the "mark" placed by G-d and by the curse from Noah, thus creating the black race. slavery was condoned for years because of verses in the Bible. women and their places in leadership (or lack of places in leadership), inability to own property, keeping quiet in church, and being a physically and mentally weaker sex because of verses in the Bible. financial prosperity is condoned by numerous preachers due to a select few verses in the Bible and woe to those who do not believe because it is their lack of faith. And then there is 'biblical' marketing...

we often read what we wish to read. I have not read anything regarding homosexuality from Christ, for or against. really, he spoke more on the Kingdom of Heaven and money more than anything. I think these were far more important, so I've focused more on showing Christ to those who need him than focusing on someone's sexuality.

I have seen many circumstances and issues "change" due to culture and time. we no longer stone non-virgins, grow our beards long, or call ourselves 'people of the way'. we even adorn our places of worship with one of the ghastliest ornaments of torture known in history. homosexuality may be one of those things that is changing. I accept my homosexual brethren and sisters because I am told that I am to love my neighbors as myself. I cannot judge them because this is a gray area for me and because I have a hard time seeing G-d as some angry Zeus character.

let the casting of stones begin.

Posted by: Sara at March 4, 2008

In responce to Sara, your generation is not leaving the church in droves in fact the Evangelical Church is thriving because they teach truth concerning scripture. And they are not saying get your act together before you come to God we all come to him sin and all, but upon coming we confess our sin and repent of them.
Your sarcasm concerning Lev. and Paul is surprising coming from one who claims to be a believer. Do we throw those scriptures out because our culture has "evolved" beyond them? God forbid, let me cling to his words all of them rather than the winds of cultural change. You mention treatment of blacks, but true believers could not condone the slavery of blacks in this country, it was scripture twisted to fit what sin people wanted to justify. The beards and calling ourselves people of the way, outwardly , surface things, not the things of the heart God is looking for. Take away the scriptures about Homosexuality and view Gods creation on its own and you'll see Homosexuality is unnatural, our bodies were not made for it, any Doctor can tell you that. Lets stop making God in our image, he is a God of love but also a jealous God, a Just God, a Holy God and a God of Wrath among countless other attributes.

Posted by: Rich at March 5, 2008


I also love my church because people are not afraid to be real and don't have to be perfect. As someone who works with sexually broken people, I can say that I believe sexuality is deeply important to who we are as humans. Jesus showed great compassion for sexually broken people.

We can talk about whether homosexuals are sexually broken (I happen to think they are); but if God is indeed calling people out of homosexuality, then it isn't because he is angry, but because he is compassionate.

All this being said, I really agree with where you are starting: God calls us to love our neighbors. And we love because he first loved us, not because he threatens us into submission. I hope I can love in the same way you aspire to.

Posted by: Nate at March 5, 2008

We are not called to be perfect and holy and blameless. We are called to love others and to come as we are, without judging others that we don't know. It is then that we receive grace and forgiveness. We judge and rebuke others that we DO know -- Christians -- because we are to hold each other accountable. If you find my method a little rough, that is your perception. And Christians CAN use sarcasm and satire to make a point, especially those who "claim" to be believers. Seems I tweaked a nerve with you, sweetie. But be very careful how you go about ministering to others lest you lose out meeting some fascinating souls. Don't forget that we are all eternal beings (C.S. Lewis).

Until then, see you on the other side. I'm sure you'll find many surprises.

Deut. 6:4,5; Lev. 19:18; Mt. 12:29-31
" 'Hear, O Israel, The LRD our GD, the LRD is one. Love the LRD your GD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength... Love your neighbor as yourself' There is no commandment greater than these."

Matthew 21:31-32
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."

Posted by: Sara at April 1, 2008

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posted by Sara @ 12:15 PM   1 comments
About Me

Name: Sara
Home: gypsy wanderer, United States
About Me: Those who know me find me stubborn, opinionated, open-minded, strong-willed, of some intelligence, and yet they still hang around.
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Love God. Love all. Serve both.

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

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