This is an edited version of something I first published on 23rd June 2010.  I’m calling out names and saying what happened, since one of those names came up for me early this morning in an email log I am writing to myself for future official use, hopefully.  In the meantime, when I add to that log people in the media use what I have added, or make their programmes unavailable (all this I have noticed at other times I have written).  When this post was first published I was a committed vegan and a convinced pacifist.  I look back on who I was then with admiration and at least a little regret that I am no longer the same person.

At least, that is what I have been taught.  I have been taught that the Bible is the sword of the Spirit.  Having been taught that, and having believed it for so many years, it is the book I feel most relaxed with, and that helps to bring some peace into my world.  If I don’t read it, my focus goes all over the place.  As a vegan and a pacifist, though, I have problems with some of its content that I used not to have.  And I can’t think of a safer person to be around, or someone more representative of Jesus’ teaching (and I want to be known as both of those things) than someone who will not kill for either appetite or personal, or even national, security.  If I will deliberately do harm for ANY reason, I might do harm for ANY reason.  And I won’t.  I want people to know that about me, and to know it is OK for them to be the same.  I am an aggressive non-killer (aggressive and violent are not the same).  I am frightened of the blindness of people who are not, and particularly of the ways they might express that towards me, feeling as vulnerable as I do.

I’m hearing a big suggestion, at the moment, that a decision has been made to attempt to home medicate me, since I haven’t been dealing well with things round here.  The suggestion is definitely there and deliberate, and is either true or a lie.  If I stick around long enough I will find out, if they don’t just back off.  Either way, no formal approach has been made to me to try and help in any other way.  I find it abusive at a cellular level.  (Hmm, cells.  That, with all the yelling and other weirdness, isn’t part of Colin’s code to break me down, is it?  It’s only just occurred to me.  I’m sure he wouldn’t like me saying it, but I read a book of his called ‘Prayer Explosion’ where he talked about praying in code.  He used the IRA bombings as an example, saying at one level he was praying about the bombings, and at another, not openly acknowledged but deliberate, level, he was praying about a problem in the church.  I stayed home one Christmas Day and read the book.  I felt racked.  I kept bursting into tears.  I thought it was a good experience.  I was happy to be doing it, I thought it was a worthwhile way to spend Christmas Day since I couldn’t or wouldn’t get my head around making myself vulnerable enough with the people I wanted to be with to try and break my isolation.  I spent other Christmas Days the same way, sometimes.  I loved the time with God (as I saw it, and am sure it sometimes was), but it never made much difference to what was going on.

What I said about reading the Bible, I said it because I just did, and it settled my mind.  But while I was thinking afterwards it occurred to me that, in Pentecostalism, which has been a huge part of my background since about 12-13, I often heard that I should read and carry my Bible, because it is my sword.  But it ISN’T my sword.  It isn’t MY sword.  It is the sword of the SPIRIT.  I think there is a problem with seeing it as MY sword, because that means, often, I will wield it in relationships.  If I see it as the sword of the Spirit, its first and maybe its only place of operation, as far as I am concerned, should be in my own life.

The image comes from Ephesians 6, where Paul writes that we should be equipped with the whole armour of God.  The whole passage is metaphorical, so there is no reason for believing that to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, means to walk around literally with a book called the Bible in your literal hand.  Revelation 1:16 says that the person who appeared to John had a two-edged sword coming out of his mouth.  I was going to say ‘Jesus’, not ‘the person’, because that is the way I have been taught it.   But I looked it up on www.biblegateway.com and the first version which came up was the NIV which says, in verse 13, that it was one who looked like ‘a son of man’, not ‘the Son of Man’.  The Son of Man is a phrase from Ezekiel which Jesus applied to Himself, but it is my impression that, originally, it wasn’t referring to Jesus, even prophetically.   In Ezekiel it was the way God addressed Ezekiel.   But Jesus used it for Himself.  I like this, and its apparent ambiguity in Revelation in the NIV.  I can’t comment on the accuracy of the translation.  From what I learned at Bible College about the original language form (or was that only Hebrew and not Greek?  I can’t remember, and this isn’t a scholarly piece or meant to be, so I’m not going to look it up, but if I do later I might edit this) it’s as good a translation as any other and holding both this and other translations opens up possibilities if you don’t insist on putting them in opposition.

Who IS this son of man?  Just because it says in Revelation things we normally associate with Jesus, the NIV doesn’t make it clear, in the immediate passage, that it IS Jesus, so maybe it should be seen as having a wider application on a metaphorical and spiritual level than just to the person of Jesus.  What does it mean to be a Christian?  What does it mean to be full of the Spirit, to have the Spirit of Christ?  To be baptised in the Spirit?  It isn’t just a mind thing.  The Holy Spirit is in us and all around us.  He is the connecting force.  If we are ‘baptised’, we are soaked through.  Impregnated with the character of the baptising agent.  That is what we are and what we always are.  The Spirit of Christ is the human spirit as much as it is God’s Spirit.  They are inseparable and interchangeable, even in the Bible.  Bruce picked up on this 2 weeks ago at the 5pm service, or the 7pm service, when I wrote my open letter to Colin Dye (I published it as a separate blog, because I thought it might get wiped).  It was the week they had the visiting speaker at the 2.30 service, someone Rogers.  It took me a long time to write that entry, and already at the 2.30 service they were showing signs of having seen it, even though I hadn’t published it at that point.  I hesitated over using the word ‘spirit’ and whether or not to capitalise it, and Bruce ran with it.   I hadn’t published it at that point, or if I had, I hadn’t told them or given them a copy.  And I haven’t given them the blog address either.  I only sent a copy to Colin and Gabriel, and they had just left for a conference before I even sent it.

(Please note, I am not teaching, I’m just writing a blog entry.  My impression is my impression now, without re-reading.  You would have to read it yourself to form your own impression.  I’m just thinking onto the keyboard, trying to find a better shape for my motivational beliefs than the one I have carried for so long.  So I refuse to be held to account by anyone else’s assertion [usually covertly made, just like the threats and vitriol.  Or is that a misinterpretation of intent?  If you weren’t creating a context for me to interpret it in it wouldn’t even be an issue] that I am putting out a false teaching.  It is just food for your own thought and research.  This is a blog, not a teaching platform, which for so many years I have said I do not want, because I believe it goes against Jesus’ teaching.  But maybe that too is my misunderstanding.  Jesus stood up and taught (or did He?  Didn’t He normally sit DOWN to teach?), and although He told His disciples not to be called teacher, he did tell them to teach.  But what is teaching?  My question is not ‘is it ONLY standing on a platform’, but ‘is it standing on a platform AT ALL?’.  If we shouldn’t be called ‘teacher’, how can a situation arise where someone IS called a teacher that we ‘should’ listen to?  Listen to?  Talking and listening are not the only things required for learning.  Jesus said teach them TO DO everything I have commanded you, and forcing an earbashing on someone isn’t the way learning takes place for a child, so why should it become so for adults?  Head knowledge isn’t training, and telling people who have sat at desks and completed written assignments that they ‘are trained’, and saying their practice should conform to that ‘training’, leads to pride and elitism if a person is given authority on that basis.  (I know what I mean!)  In my opinion, all teaching and learning should be organic, hands on and relational.  THAT would do away with the professional classes, wouldn’t it?  It would also do away with state control  (I can’t write anything at the moment without doubting it, and I doubt that already.  Also it is not a commitment to a belief or an ideal, just a conclusion that I am coming to, rightly or wrongly, in my own head in this blog entry).

My reservation is over things like medicine, and the fact that I know that will be one of other people’s main reservations.  Am I thankful for modern medicine?  I don’t know.  I am as dependent on it as other people, at least when it comes to taking paracetamol for a headache or to deal quickly with cramp, which is more likely, but that doesn’t mean I am or should be thankful.  If I had a better lifestyle, I wouldn’t need the medicine.  And I believe in God, specifically I believe in Jesus, and I have already experienced healing through prayer myself, so I know He heals.  I mean physically.  I know He heals in other ways than physically as well.  One day, when I was 19 and still in Nottingham, I was at home reading the Bible and God said to me ‘I am the only psychiatrist you will ever need’.  I have never ceased to believe that.  It was a ‘holy place’ moment.  I knew it was true.

I read a book once called ‘Roots and Shoots’.  It talked about the root determining the fruit, and it was about psychiatry and other therapies.  For Christians, the roots of psychiatry are bad because its agenda was explicitly to eradicate religious belief and ‘superstition’.  So any manifestation of those things is at best marginalised, in the psychiatric model, and at worst costs people their freedom and a right to protect the inviolate state of their own bodies.  I suppose I mentioned psychiatry because it was in a mental hospital where I got into the argument about the roots of modern medical practice having come from robbing graves when research on bodies was illegal.  It BEGAN with illegality and a lack of respect for the person research was being carried out on, and for their relatives.  It hasn’t changed very much.  MANY people say they feel as if they are treated like meat, but the media doesn’t give many of them airtime (unless something undeniably awful comes to light, then they will bandwagon with it, how can they not and save face?) and the politicians vilify their own who say so.  WHY?  Why would they do that?  What could be the motive?  Who is it that they do not want, ordinarily, to benefit from otherwise acceptable people saying such ‘awful’ things?  Could it be the people they call mentally ill?  Maybe their thinking hasn’t gone that far, I hope it hasn’t.  But if hospital staff are rude and treat people as an inconvenience and a nuisance, why is a politician , OF ALL PEOPLE, slammed for saying so?  That was my experience as well.  The nurses would have loads of time to hold rowdy discussions in their office, and very little for the patients.  There was even a photograph in the ward showcase of a drinking party with one of the nurses totally out of her face, and they were expressing concerns about MY (non-existent) alcohol problem!  I, particularly, did not want to see one of my nurses in that state, not even in a photograph.  It was up there, on a psychiatric ward, supposedly portraying ‘normal social behaviour’ among staff in their time off.  Proactive they were not, except for making sure people got up, washed (sometimes), ate and were medicated.  They bullied you so much, or allowed bullying without comment, during the day and at medication times, you knew that if you didn’t queue you would be in trouble.  If you refused your medication they threatened you, even though they knew as well as you did if you had managed to get hold of the information in spite of that stance, that you had a right to refuse and to wait to see the psychiatrist to have it reviewed.  I refused one night and they threatened me with an injection, and when I said that I had a right to refuse and that the right thing to do was to refer me back to the psychiatrist, they still insisted verbally and said it wasn’t true, and I spent the whole night in fear that they were going to burst into the room.  I remember I was really upset that night by the way they handled it, they really made a barney of it, as they so often did about things.  They never retracted their insistence, but also they didn’t force the medication.  But it was like a cold war, and it was a constant state of existence.  And then they would come on friendly and expect you to be as well.  Or in conversation they would sternly say that you had refused your medication, even while, until you saw the psychiatrist, they weren’t forcing you.  But you were never in peace.  They had to maintain power.  They wouldn’t even acknowledge your right to exercise that right and be treated like someone worthy of respect for doing so.  When asked for time they were always busy.  Maybe people wouldn’t have had to ask if they had spent time developing a relationship with patients anyway.  Most of the time they didn’t.  Even if they were in the same room, ‘observing’, they would normally be reading a newspaper.  Most of the time the system was so abusive, even if not everyone in it was, and you knew nothing would change even if you spoke to someone who seemed to be reasonable, it was quite rightly beneath the dignity of most people in there with a modicum of self-respect to go cap in hand asking for time.  Even if you did it often didn’t happen.  I remember I was buttonholed to sit down with my nurse and work out a care approach for myself on the ward.  That was the end of the care plan.  All the time I was there it was never implemented, at least not insofar as a written commitment from the staff to spend time talking was concerned.  You were told you could approach your named nurse, but if you did you were always told they were busy, and promises to get back to you rarely materialised.  If someone became insistent, they got the door shut in their face, or worse.  It happened to me and others.  And often, if an incident arose, the nursing staff withdrew and wouldn’t participate, and no debriefing was offered, no process of resolution, and it would be handed over to the next shift, and they also wouldn’t mention it, and if you tried to bring it up with them they were reluctant to talk about it, and instead of offering any kind of counselling or discussion which ended up in them giving ground or acknowledging that ground might need to be given, you felt either told off and disapproved of, or dismissed. Even with senior nursing staff.  The whole attitude to care was ‘you will do this or we can (normally expressed as ‘we will’) make you’.   A choice appeared to be being given, but really there was no choice.  That is bullying.  It’s the approach that was used almost invariably and routinely with me.  Even if I managed to voice my rights so they backed off, as happened with one man, he continued to bully me so much, even in the act of backing off, I ended up sobbing on a chair, unattended and ignored, for half an hour or more.  He wanted to give me extra medication for some reason, I can’t remember why, and in the end I was begging him not to force it on me, and he grabbed my hands hard and twisted them.  He was the same person who, when I first went in and decided to handle myself as their equal and not as someone in need of medical care, and to make requests as their equal (it was for a pen and paper or a phone to phone a solicitor, or something) he said ‘who does she think she is, the queen?’  I put in a complaint, and he denied it.  I believe the other staff would have backed him up in that denial if I had tried to pursue it any further.  But I was devastated.  I believed I was acting with appropriate self-respect and was trying to show my presence of mind in the only way I had available, and he mocked me for it.  And that made me angry, and he didn’t care, he just acted as if I wasn’t there.  I was saved from the second incident, the crying incident, by a fellow patient who gave me half a banana and talked to me, otherwise I couldn’t have stopped.  Another time a girl decided to throw some old newspapers away.  A male nurse asked her why she was throwing them away, and she said they were old, and he said ‘who told you you could throw them away?’  Her answer was right.  With full dignity she said ‘God’.  She wasn’t being strange or anything, just getting rid of some old newspapers that were cluttering the day room.  And I don’t think she was being sarcastic either, she was a religious person according to her own Asian tradition.  I can’t make you feel this as I felt it, but he came straight back at her (I can’t describe his attitude, except that it wasn’t professional) and he said ‘where’s God?  He’s not in here.’  It was also not a genuine, open question inviting conversation, and none followed.  I felt awful, partly because my own first admission involved a nurse asking me ‘what was happening?’ and when I smiled and said, ‘something to do with heaven, I think’, she dismissed it, saying I was very much on the earth.  Then someone behind me who sounded like Colin Dye (I wrote and asked him, but he never replied) said ‘hmm’, in agreement.  I was on my back on the floor, Toronto style.  I felt hurt, and because I thought it was Colin, still with my eyes closed, I tipped my head back with my throat exposed, and I was thinking ‘I love you’.  At which point the person, whoever it was, was obviously crying and got up and left the room.  He was sniffing back the tears.  I wrote and asked Colin, and I think I might have told him this, but he didn’t answer me, whether I told him everything or not.  This is while I was suspected of a sexual offense on an 8-10 year old boy, a suspicion I didn’t know existed and which took me years to work out, piecing things together.  I have since heard a piece of audio which confirms the existence and origin of the accusation, even down to the use of the mother’s name, my name, and the place where it was supposed to have happened.  And I think the person involved tried to code it to me in the audio that they were sorry, because they realised they were wrong.  But in those days I didn’t understand the code.  That’s if I was even listening.  The only reason I wouldn’t have been would have been if I had been in hospital, and I can’t remember.

For one thing, the Bible is not the only manifestation of the word of God.  There are some things the Bible doesn’t talk about, because they are present day and were not around when the Bible was written.  But we still need God to speak to us about them.

I believe the word of God found in the Bible releases the wisdom of God, and light and understanding, for present day situations.  My experience often is that if I just open the Bible and start to read, something in it will spark understanding of what I am dealing with in my life or open my mind to a different perception.  For instance, this afternoon I decided to read the Bible when I felt I was getting too bothered about the way one of my neighbours is acting towards me.  It opened first to Ezekiel, I think, then to Maccabees (I’m not sure if the spelling is right, I only read the Apocrypha for the first time last year, which was when I decided to buy my first copy of a Bible which included the Apocrypha.  I thought that, if I didn’t believe something, I should at least find out what it was I didn’t believe).  I went past those and ended up in the New Testament at the story of Zacchaeus, and reading that he was a little man trying to see Jesus made me feel a bit differently towards my verbally aggressive neighbour, at least for that moment.

The argument about the origins of our medical knowledge and grave robbing?  I lost it.  Really, it never happened.  At the time I was up in arms at the thoughtless hypocrisy of a medical system with that KIND of illegal foundation treating me as they were for fear that I might myself do something illegal, and so treating me with legal backing, at least, they always said that.  I meant it.  But the nurse I said it to, one P J Charters, turned away from me and gave a dismissive and annoyed laugh to the other staff and said, ‘this makes me really angry’.  But like Tommy would have said, ‘why?  why can’t you just have the conversation?’  Thinking about it, his attitude was an invalidation of me as a person, because that is a serious view which I hold, and it would have been right to deal with it, and with me, with respect.  It’s supposed to be about mental stuff, right?  If you can’t even have such a serious and situationally relevant opinion taken seriously enough to discuss it, how does that help a person’s recovery from illness or trauma?  This man is a contributor to formative writing within the profession.  He is also a Christian belonging to a major London church (Ichthus, Sydenham) which would be in relationship with the leaders of St Barnabas, North Finchley, where the sexual assault accusation came from, and I believe he spoke to at least one leader there and that he knows about it.  One day I was on the concourse between the wards in Guys Hospital, when the wards were there, and somehow we got into the beginning of a conversation, I can’t remember what about, and I ended up saying I was too scared.  Instead of saying ‘OK’, and leaving it, he looked at me and said, ‘are you going to let that stop you?’  While I was sitting there trying to find a way to deal with that, within myself, he just stood there staring at me, then turned away and left the building.  I can’t remember why, I felt he had provoked the situation, and I believe at that point he knew about the accusation, but he never tried to talk to me about it.  When I tried to disengage from his control, he forced it back on me, and once, when he was about to leave, I think I had been afraid to ask him all through his shift if I could talk to him about something and I asked if we could talk, and he said, firmly, ‘tomorrow’.  I was upset by that because I thought it was uncaring and unreasonable, and when tomorrow came, he didn’t look for me to talk about whatever it was, and I was too offended to go to him.  The reason I was upset when he firmly turned away was that I knew I had approached him with normal and appropriate self-possession, and a clear mind and he turned away from me and I felt that my normal, non-dependent presentation had been invalidated.  He was facing off with me.  It was the same day he walked away from me asking if I was going to let fear stop me, I think, that I followed him 5 minutes later to the train station (I was free to come and go), thinking he wouldn’t mind, especially in light of what he had just said to me, and he got off the train and walked back to the hospital, and as he did he shouted at me, ‘there are boundaries, and YOU aren’t allowed over them’.  Did he then have the sexual accusation in mind, the one he never even told me about?  I told him I didn’t want benefits because I wasn’t mentally ill, one day in my flat, and he wouldn’t discuss it, he just said he thought I was, and that he didn’t mind his taxes being spent on looking after me.  But I did, and even then, he offered me no explanation as to why he thought I was mentally ill, and this accusation must have had a bit to do with it.  One day, he turned up at my door, and I had been listening to the radio, knowing that something was going on, but not making written or phone contact at that time, and he asked me who I had been talking to.  I don’t think I had talked to anyone, and I didn’t want to say anything about what was happening on the radio because I knew how they treated that, but I was fairly up and I said, ‘I’ve been talking to the fairies’.  I had no suspicion as to why he would be asking the question and he didn’t give me a reason, but he already knew I believed things were being said on the radio which I hadn’t given them.  There are other people on the wards as well who feel the same way, or rather, know the same thing, but it is insisted to be mental illness.  I suppose he must have been aware himself that something was happening when he asked this question of me, and that he thought it had come from me.  The hospital ward and its staff were often all over the programme, ‘Casualty’, even at that time.  I joked with him once that the charge nurse on Casualty looked like him.  He said a lot of people say that.  I don’t know if lookalikes of all the other staff were on there as they are now.  But I think something like that was behind his question.  I started talking to him, on the doorstep, about the bible saying that brother will betray brother to death, and that that was how I felt about the way the mental health system was being used towards me, and he said he didn’t see it like that.  But he never put the accusations or gave the reasons behind his questions, and I was clueless.  He passed off the lookalike of him on Casualty as a coincidence.

I mean (OK, here we go, my neighbour’s been shouting again, and he’s freaked me.  Should I hold back, with that, and threats of depots (or worse) being made, and no one committing to me?  It’s all words and pleas and linguistic manipulation and theatre, but no one ever says, Sue Barnett, in Bulgaria, we ARE talking to you, we are as desperate as you(!?), please come and see us’, just what feels like threats and intimidation to get me to squeal, from all sides really, sometimes).  I feel as if I am committing the unforgivable sin here, while you mess around with threats and uncommitted pleas.

But as I was saying, I mean, he’s a Christian, right, PJ Charters?  One day he was running a workshop which I attended with one other person, another patient.  This person did most of the talking, it seemed to be the way that PJ wanted it.  He was talking about feeling as if his girlfriend was following him, and a song which kept being played.  Near the end I had a question of my own, and the question was, ‘where does forgiveness come into it?’  Where does forgiveness come into helping you deal with this kind of thing?  He’s a Christian.  He stared at me and didn’t answer.  If he knows anything about what is happening now, neither he nor anyone else has made an effort to communicate that fact, so presumably he is still not taking responsibility.

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