This one’s coming to you from the road. We’re in Branson for the weekend for the annual church district retreat. It’s a gathering of pastors and spouses paid for by the district to give us the chance to gather and unwind among friends and like-minded people. That’s the stated intent, anyway.
There’s a nice dinner Friday night; we missed it this year because we got a later start from home than in years past. Saturday morning, the pastors get together and do pastor stuff. They discuss theological issues or do some continuing-educational-like things. The pastor’s spouses (okay, the wives) talk about upcoming women’s ministry events. We get Saturday afternoon and evening to ourselves. Then there’s a buffet breakfast Sunday morning followed by a worship service, and we all head home.
One friend said she was surprised that I’d come at all, given that I’m so “un-like-minded at this point in (my) life.” She’s right—I don’t fit in here at all. But then again, I’ve never quite fit in.
I’ve never really felt welcome in the district. I’m the only person like me here. First I was a layman husband to a pastor; now I’m something of an apostate. The leader of the spouse’s group explicitly excluded me from the group because I’m a guy. But I don’t fit in with the men in the district because they’re all pastors. So there’s a bit of tension, at least on my end. Four or five years ago, I started drifting toward the back of the room during the worship service so no one would notice I wasn’t really participating.
The last time we came, I straight up left the room, and nobody seemed to notice.
If they did notice, they didn’t care enough to say anything to me.
It’s that kind of thing that really sticks in my craw. If we as a district are supposed to be this big family and care about each other, shouldn’t we look after someone who’s apparently checked out of things?
Then again, I pointed out to one of the wives that when I was excluded from the spouse’s group several years ago, they cut off communication in both directions. That happened at a time when I was still questioning my faith, and they excluded me from a group of people who could have at least tried to help me through a crisis.
They weren’t around to help me when Diana and I separated.
They also made it impossible for me to pray for their needs when I was still praying.
Why would you do that though? Why would you separate someone from a faith community, and separate that faith community from another person? Christians—especially evangelicals—are fond of saying “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” But why would you deliberately remove someone from a group of apparently like-minded people? Why would you avoid a relationship with someone who is, aside from gender, just like you? I’m a pastor’s spouse. I have many of the same questions and concerns about how to handle that life. By excluding me, they made it practically impossible for me to get answers to those questions.
And if you’re picking and choosing who gets to be in your group, it’s not a family. It’s a clique.
On the other hand, we get a couple of days away from home at a beautiful hotel paid for by the district, along with some spending money for the weekend. Over the years we’ve ridden the Branson Ducks, visited the Titanic Museum, enjoyed Dolly Parton’s Stampede, and taken a train ride. Some years we just hung out at the hotel or shopped a little. This year we chose a Saturday night dinner cruise aboard the Branson Belle.
Yep, I’ll happily spend their money even if they don’t want me in their little circle of special people.
I’ve often suggested that along with term limits, we institute age limits for people serving in various federal offices. The death this past week of Senator Feinstein at age 90 illustrates my concerns. She had absolutely no business still sitting in her seat and voting on bills. Her handlers and her family should be ashamed of what they did to her and to the country. Senator McConnell, now 81, is another example. He has obvious health issues and needs to step down.
Last week, Representative John James of Michigan introduced a Constitutional Amendment. Constitutional amendment would set 75 upper age limit for president, vice president, Congress members.
The bill, which has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, has no cosponsors. I’m not sure if that’s due to the subject matter, or Rep. James being a junior member of the House.
I’d love to see this pass, but the road for Constitutional Amendments is usually long, and this one could be contentious, so I doubt it’ll pass this time around. But I’m glad to see something like it introduced.
In 2002, a Texas court convicted Robert Roberson of murdering his daughter. The prosecution invoked Shaken Baby Syndrome, claiming that he’d caused her fatal injuries by shaking her “very forcefully.” At the time, authorities perceived Shaken Baby Syndrome as an action on the part of a frustrated caregiver who, in a fit of anger, shook the child so hard that they developed retinal hemorrhages, subdural hematomas, and encephalopathy. Occurring in about 4 children out of 10,000, SBS is the leading cause of fatal head injuries in children under two.
Prosecutors pointed to that fatal triad of injuries in Nikki Curtis, and investigators noted Roberson’s apparent lack of emotional reaction to her injuries and death.
But Roberson has autism. Autistic people are often referred to as “neurodivergent,” meaning they sometimes don’t exhibit the emotional reactions we’d expect from neurotypical people. So is it really fair to hold him to the same emotional standards as everyone else?
And now the science behind Shaken Baby Syndrome is being called into question. Read He’s Facing Execution For His Daughter’s Death. Now, Science Suggests It Was An Accident at The Marshall Project to learn more.
I found another interesting piece at The Marshall Project, this one entitled The Criminal Justice Issue Nobody Talks About: Brain Injuries. Her closing paragraph raises important questions.
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