Tag Archive: Forgiveness


Dreaming

I keep dreaming about church, and they are always very vivid dreams.  Last night I dreamt about Talbot Street and David Shearman.  I dreamt he was having conversations for me to hear.  I wanted to ask him if he wanted to talk to me but I thought he might say no.  I dreamt about two little girls who looked exactly like Esther and Rebecca Shearman, but realised they might be their offspring or something like that.  I’m always really involved in the dreams and don’t like it if I am woken out of them by people banging doors or laughing or shouting.

There are a few ideas about dreams.  One is that dreams are symbolic.  Church is where most of my love and anxiety are.  I’m not sure what it can be symbolising.  Most of my actual anxiety at the moment is around finance and housing.  But church itself figures quite strongly in my thinking.  Sometimes I think I am going to hell.  Most of the time I think that, when I think about it.  My situation with church is so bad it burns.  At the end of my dream this morning I had some knitting and stitches were coming off the needle.  I asked my mother to get the needle and save the stitches, but she was getting it wrong.

My mum believes that the church is made up of people who love the Lord, to use her words, and that they don’t necessarily go to church, but they are the church.  For me it just burns and I feel as if hell has already started for me.  I’ve been told to stay away from the Shearmans, but Christianity is about forgiveness and that is inconsistent with forgiveness.  David Shearman was my pastor in my teens.  I think if I should be able to turn to anyone it should be him, regardless of the fact he has now stood down as senior pastor.  But he waved in my direction and said I wasn’t getting any of it.  I’m not sure why he felt he needed to do that.  It seems quite mean to me.  I find it frightening.

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In a sermon called ‘Final Words’, David Shearman’s last sermon as the Senior Minister at the Christian Centre in Nottingham, David talked about a man who had come to Talbot Street several years before claiming to have a message from God that was to be delivered to the people and not run past the leaders first.  David would not let him speak without first telling him, and when he tried he was drowned out.  He left in anger shaking the dust off his shoes, literally, saying the Spirit had been quenched.  David or another leader said yes it had, but that it was his spirit, not God’s.  He went to another church where, apparently, he caused a stir, because he was allowed to speak without checking it out first.  Eventually the man came back to Talbot Street apologising and asking for forgiveness and David said of course he forgave him and said ‘let’s pray’.

What worried me was what David said next.  It worried everyone else as well, because it was followed by several seconds silence.  I don’t know that it worried everyone for the same reasons.  What he said was, ‘he didn’t live very long after that’.  It seemed to me that he was saying that God had judged him by ending his life early.  He didn’t say that, but the suggestion seems to have been there.  Someone said to him in the past that he had noticed that if anyone opposed David things didn’t go well for them after that, and David told him he had learnt a good thing or that he had done well to notice it.

The Bible has stories of people’s lives ending early in judgment, even in the New Testament, so it isn’t easy to oppose the idea of it happening today.  But I do think it is rather dark and unhealthy if David was putting that idea out in relation to himself, especially given that the man had come back to ask for forgiveness.  I also think it is dark and unhealthy to be trusting the church to new leaders with the impartation of such an idea as his parting gift and reassurance.

I’ve thought about this several times since hearing it.  It is only over the last day or so that I have thought I might have misunderstood, and read something in that wasn’t intended, but in light of what he said before it isn’t unlikely that I understood it right the first time.  And if that is what he is saying about a man’s death, it makes sense that that belief will translate also into how he treats the living.  Some of the living he treats as though they were dead, as do other ministers.  Faced with ministers who behave that way the ideas of love and forgiveness have become inadequate for resolving and mending relationships.  This has been my experience.

As well as this, I was in a meeting where he preached and talked about where God had said something like heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool, where is the house you will build for me?  He interpreted it as God challenging the hearer to build Him a house.  That didn’t make sense to me, although now I can see the possibility that that was the right interpretation, but I thought God was saying He didn’t need a house and trying to stop the would-be builder.  The only reason I am doubting my own interpretation is because we could be said to need a house in which to worship God in peace and safety.

John 14

I’ve just read John Chapter 14.  It is full of ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in Me’, ‘I am in you and you are in Me’, and John 15, which I haven’t got to again yet, starts off with  ‘I am the true vine and My Father is the Gardener’.  It will go on to say that the disciples are the branches.  What struck me the most was the intimacy, like Jesus saying, ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cos every little thing is gonna be alright’.  It makes me pine for the days I had not heard of boundaries, for the simplicity of full surrender, total security in Jesus.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever been taught that forgiveness from the heart is not a contract or a transaction.  The Bible says that from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, yet we speak in terms of deliberate forgiveness of others for our own sake and not for theirs, as if the person being forgiven should not also be in our minds as someone who needs our act of forgiveness and who stands to benefit from it.

At the time of year that Jesus was crucified it was customary for a prisoner to be released.  The crowd was offered a choice between Jesus and Barabbas.  Barabbas was an insurrectionist, a revolutionary, it is said that he had killed people, but the crowd. in its manipulated and whipped up determination to be rid of Jesus, chose for Barabbas to be released instead of the Teacher and Healer and Forgiver of sins.  So supposedly Barabbas went free without penalty or any regard to boundaries.  Granted this was Pilate’s decision and not based in good theology.  So maybe this example falls down.

Part of the massive guilt I’ve felt about the way I tried to establish my personal boundaries in Church relationships when I had newly come across the concept has been that I felt at the beginning of that that in spiritual relationships it was different.  The Bible says act justly and love mercy (and walk humbly with your God), but we talk about forgive, but justice still has to be done.  Sometimes I want mercy without someone pursuing justice as they say they forgive, or talking about the consequences being distance and separation.  Certainly in Church relationships I have been afraid of making the wrong approaches in the wrong ways to people who are going to call me proud for seeking them out.  I want this inner crying to stop.  I don’t want to have to live with it for the rest of my life.

Love one another deeply, with a pure heart, fervently, it also says.  Does language like deeply and pure heart really allow for the insistence that love is first of all an action?  It could do, I suppose.  Maybe the action primes the pump.  But what if love, in sincerity, is first of all a feeling expressed in action?  You can tell I’m not a theologian, can’t you?  Or much of anything else.

I’m reading an introductory work to Foucault which has introduced me to the concept, in the chapter on madness, of knowledge as error.   Among other things Foucault was a hero to the antipsychiatry movement.   The writer, Gary Gutting, puts the word ‘creative’ in brackets before error.  It reminded me of the verse that says knowledge puffs up but love builds up.  1 Corinthians 13 says love never fails, although everything else will.

Relaxation Tape

I am listening to a tape that started off by saying that any sound would add to my relaxation.  I’m sure she can’t have meant doors slamming deliberately like bombs dropping.  This happens here every day.  I’ve reported it to the nurses and the nurses have talked to the other women involved but there has been no change.  I’m beginning to think about stopping respecting the night.  I can also do slamming doors.  The nurses aren’t here, they are in a building across the road.  They would have to get out of bed and walk over there (Oh no, there is a phone in the hall).  This shared NHS house is hell for me, as I thought it would be.  But one of the nurses told me they have done it to people before, and said it isn’t me or my fault.  So why aren’t they ejected if they are making people this ill and unhappy?  I told one of the nurses today that things are so bad in here I can’t cope and I want to pass out and collapse when I am out.  One of the people involved across the landing from me won’t even acknowledge me when I say hello or ask if she is OK.  Somebody I was talking to the other day (not about this) said it was obvious I was being abused.  It’s a shared house on an open ward and the treatment I am getting from the people I am sharing with is making me feel sick but all the nurses ever do is say they will talk to them.  I’m afraid to go down and cook and it is affecting my appetite.  The door slamming is unnecessary and violent and it shakes the house.  I’m even getting pain in my stomach when I try to eat.

Some people would say this is the result of unforgiveness . . .

Read it here in Scottish or English.

I was watching yesterday’s news coverage of Osama Bin Laden’s death, and found myself thinking, ‘A man’s a man, for all that’, and I knew it was a quotation, but I wasn’t sure where from, so I looked it up.  I was thinking it not to belittle a man and say he is dispensable, but to exalt him as a creature of intrinsic worth and nobility.  I was thinking it for Osama Bin Laden.  I was disagreeing with David Cameron and other world leaders who have expressed satisfaction over his death.  By extension I was also thinking it for the rest of us, including those of us who have found justification in holding the bitterness and unforgiveness that can allow us to say of a fellow human being, ‘good, he is dead’, rather than expressing regret that his killing was a necessary part, so we are being told, of bringing justice.

I believe that kind of expression of that kind of feeling brutalises and degrades us and makes us less than the ‘man’ that our own nature demands we should be.  The Bible says, in one of the Psalms, that we are gods, and that the big God gave His Son to die for our sins, while we were still sinners.  Jesus quoted that Psalm and said the scripture cannot be broken.

I have heard it taught that Islam was formed as a religion in direct opposition to Christianity and Judaism.  I think I heard that from Colin Dye’s platform.  I think we have to ask why.  Christians used to hold killing crusades.  Christians sided with Hitler in the killing of Jews.  Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ was one of my set texts at school.  It was about a Jewish money lender who lent money to a Christian on the terms that he forfeit a pound of his own flesh if he defaulted.  All the Christian’s ships were lost at sea.  A woman called Portia argued the Christian’s case in court, and he was reprieved because the forfeit did not mention the shedding of blood, and Shylock, the money lender, was mockingly and derisively invited to take the pound of flesh, but if in so doing he shed one drop of blood he would have a forfeit of his own.  I think it was his life, but I can’t remember.

The first line of Portia’s famous speech, ‘the quality of mercy is not strained’, is often quoted and held to be a thing of great beauty.  But earlier the Jewish money lender had a great and truly painful speech of his own, basically saying ‘I am a man like you’, and the one part I can definitely remember and that registers with me deeply on an emotional level is where he talks about being in the street and having people ‘spit upon my Jewish gabardine’.  And although the quality of mercy is not strained, it seems that, from his humiliation at the end, it was meant to achieve mercy for Antonio, the Christian, but to be a lesson, yet another painful life lesson, to Shylock, the despised Jewish money lender.  I would like to draw more points from this play but I am not familiar with it any more and would need to read it again.  Points about if Shylock had gained his money legally and honourably, why was he so despised by the people who borrowed from him?  Did they need to borrow, would they have needed to borrow if they had not been so greedy themselves?  So why despise their provider?  Shylock’s requirement of Antonio was probably meant only to express his own distaste at lending to a man who spat upon his Jewish gabardine, or represented people who did.  He never expected, in all probability, that he would be in a position to call for the forfeit.  It was probably meant as a verbal expression of hate for hate.  The fact he called for it is obviously inexcusable, but would have been an expression of his own sick feelings of hate and revenge brought on by the abuse and constant humiliation.  Antonio was a rich merchant.  Shylock was a rich money lender.  What was Shylock’s sin?  Without reading again, it must have been that he was Jewish.  Shylock the Jew did not kill Jesus any more than Antonio the Christian (by affiliation and Christian country ‘birthright’ or by life changing choice and conviction?) did.  But Shylock was hated.

I’m not sure what the point of that is in this post.  Maybe it is just a way for me to say ‘this is hurting me’, because I identify emotionally with Shylock in his feelings over the abuse he received, regardless of any consideration of business ethics and morality.  I started crying when I found and read the Robert Burns poem and found it so perfect and beautiful, and that feeling hasn’t left me while considering Shylock.

My church used to say ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’.  We are justifying hating both the sin and the sinner, and that degrades both us and the sinner.  We are justifying such hatred towards a man that we rejoice in his death.  He couldn’t have achieved anything without his followers, and even though their figurehead has died, passed through death, if they choose revenge rather than deciding to change track and work themselves for brotherhood and world peace, I cannot see how the death of Osama Bin Laden can be seen as an ‘important step forward’, or the similar words used by my own beloved and respected prime minister, David Cameron.  So I would want to appeal to both sides, in the name of God and in the name of love and humanity, to please cool it and stop the revenge and attacks and the seeking of ‘justice’.  I would want to ask that, as Christians, we love our radical Islamic enemies, enough to uncover enough humility of our own to consider what it is that has so filled them with hatred and be willing to apologise and actively pursue reparation and healing of relationships with them, to stop the self-righteous demands and invective, and to approach them with the love and honour and humility we should employ, according to the Bible, towards all men.  I’m not saying that I myself am good at that, but I hope the character of our leaders is made of such stuff that they might be different, and be so openly, and not try to ‘confound the enemy’ by presenting a different face publicly than the one they present privately.   Our enemies need to know and see that we are honest and open not only about our rights, but about theirs, and about our own failings, even historical, and willingness to make reparation.  I don’t believe it is true, for any human being, that violence is all they understand.  The Bible says that the desire of a man is constant love, and I think that goes for everyone, and we need to be braver in showing that.  Vulnerable love, not tough love.  Active and proactive vulnerable love and openness to others.  ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I understand’ and ‘yes, you’re right’ and ‘thank you, I hadn’t thought of that’, and even ‘I love you, are you OK, can I help you?’ love and pursuit of justice.

Love and concern for each other should flow from the top down and the bottom up and spread out and come in, and maybe then the right policies will be obvious and not take up so much time in our relationships, governmental and otherwise.  I want to see the leaders of my world loving one another.  Having therapy sessions and love-ins, most of the time, instead of arguments and policy formation.  If they can pass on the benefits of that to us and across international boundaries, it might change everything about our living and thinking and being in the world and with each other.

I believe all of this is part of our intrinsic worth and nobility which we abandon at our peril and that we need to rediscover, and part of what it means to be ‘A Man, for A’ That’.

In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

BBC World News again.

I’ve had a really rough day today.  Every day is rough, my neighbours never let up, but today was worse.

I said a lot of things through Google Translate, which I think is sometimes not that accurate anyway.  I also started to draft a post which I didn’t finish because my poor broken open, fragile mind and psyche had another shotgun hallelujah screeched into it by mad motormouth neighbour-mother. I even told her today that in my opinion she needed either to go to the police or get psychiatric treatment, and that I didn’t believe in psychiatry, just to emphasise how extreme her behaviour is and how much I felt she needed to take some action.  She often acts as if she is out of her mind.  And I don’t say that kind of thing, so something has broken down in me somewhere.

After saying that if they pray and also harass their prayers are also illegal, I switched BBC World News on and it was a special news report on prisoners of an uprising.  I don’t know if it was Libya or not, to show how little I was able to concentrate.  I remember one of the reporters said people were screaming and that it was one of the worst things he had ever seen, and that he had seen some pretty bad things.  I thought how often I react to reporters as if they are freshers with no relationship with people they interview and no understanding between themselves and the interviewee, even if they fight on screen like cat and dog.  I noticed the ears of one of the guys, they seemed to be translucent and letting through a red light from behind.  I’ve never seen ears like that.

But I was fagged out and tired.  I had just fought a battle with my neighbours for my legal right to not be harassed and felt I had made a positive step forward in asserting my right to live here in peace.  But I was tired and questioning myself and, while the television was on, I was working through the questions and how much of what I had said (ranted, thrown across the line) I had meant and was right and needed to be said, and I wasn’t really listening, it was just there, a relaxing, comforting hum in the background while I sorted my mind and feelings out.  I was calming down and feeling more settled and relaxed and happy with things (some people would say I shouldn’t have been, but that isn’t the point of this post) when Jamie’s tone started to take on significance and he emphasised ‘slow down’ or ‘slowing down’, and I looked up into his eyes feeling my attention had been forced onto him and away from my own thoughts and he had lifted up one of his fingers and was doing a hypnosis type movement with it, in front of the eyes, and because I was watching and because of everything else that has already gone, I thought he was doing it at me.  He was doing it at the camera anyway, obviously deliberately, I believe, with me watching, and I felt affected by it.  Whether it was real in intention or just a humorous or mocking caricature, it made me angry because it was deliberate, and I hadn’t wanted my attention forced onto him in that way, I needed the space I had to resolve my own thoughts in the situation I am in, 2000 miles away sitting on my sofa in a pain-filled violent harassment situation.  He was deliberately calling attention and short-circuited the process.

He said some other stuff, about someone not being welcome in the situation anymore, and because of the violent call on my attention I felt confused because I was still with my situation here and had been forcibly removed in my mind from it against my will and criminally, I believe, so I thought he was talking about here.  He put his hands up and opened them out like a book, which is another part of the gesture cluster, and I was just getting angrier, then he smiled as if he recognised a presence (whether it was an act or not I don’t know, it seemed real), held the camera with his eye then jerked away and hit the desk with his papers, which I always find really crude and violent as a form of command or territory marking, and called on his interviewee.  What is that about?  I thought it was a psychic thing.  He was using material from my Google Translate session and from my unpublished post.  I don’t understand the gesturing now, I thought it was a psychic thing, but maybe it is just bad handling of a transition into an interview, saying my stuff which he shouldn’t be accessing and defiantly holding the camera in a face off.  It’s still criminal.  It’s still a crime, using what I haven’t even published yet or never would have.  I’m not sure where he was getting the Google Translate stuff from, but the draft post must have been through WordPress or straight off of my computer.

I was so angry and outraged and afraid and offended and disturbed, I started to hear voices.  Ghosting voices, behind me, like the woman shouting hallelujah, but they seemed to be more in my ears.  I don’t know, it was just frightening and disturbing and horrible.  After a few minutes I shouted at her to shut up because it was 12.30 am here and there shouldn’t be any noise after 10 pm.  Then I thought, ‘is it her, it might not be’.  I thought about what was happening, how it seemed to be whispers insistent and crowding around my ear, and decided it was an occult manifestation brought on by the psychologically and spiritually violent and illegal thing which had just been done to me.  It just occurs to me now, as well, that it was my sister’s birthday yesterday, 9th March, and just like Jools Holland held a concert in my birth city on my birthday, Derek Acorah did a show on my sister’s birthday, so there might have been an occult connection there as well, as well as all the straight forward illegal stalking ones.  My sister has been harassed by satanists, who have told her so, if I remember it right.

But he just stayed there, Jamie, staring down the camera, just going on and on, and I was thinking ‘no, this isn’t OK, this is illegal and spiritualist stalking and you have just broken into my mind and life and home by your use of my material’, he laughingly talked about a ‘grievous and irreparable breakdown’, which was relevant to my post subject which is still in draft form, and went out on another laughed ‘grievously’, and apart from anything else I felt mocked and teased about something which, to me, is really serious.

The sports report came on and at one point there was a picture of a group of sportsmen screaming a psychologically disarming warrior type screech, and the presenter came straight backed insistently facing off into the camera instructing someone, on the wave of that yell, to ‘remember when’.  That isn’t good.  That is bad.  I can’t find the terminology for it at the moment, I don’t think I’m imagining it this time, I’ve just been assaulted by another yell from my neighbour as soon as I started to write this, at 2.30 in the morning.  But it isn’t good, what happened in the sports report, and as part of the psychological stalking pattern which is part of and enabled by access to facts and people, I know it’s criminal, whether people will acknowledge that to me or not.  Or do anything about it or not.  And they should.  They are commanding me as if they have a right, more or less saying, ‘you did this and you did that and we have a right to resist you’, but it appears to release something in the studio which is what I think they are after.  It is obviously something they like.  But they savage me to get it.  And all the banging and tapping, obviously and surreptitiously, is grossly offensive and distracting and psychologically violent, for those targeted and whose attention is held as it is visited on them, territory marking.

They were using Tiger Woods as well.  I feel really sorry for him, we all saw how they treated him and I recognise in him the same signs of having been deliberately broken down and crushed, as a person with an open faith/religious position involving a strong moral stance, and left wanting to beg and plead with those who have crushed him as if he needs their permission, as if they glory in making him feel his salvation and redemption, as well as their ‘well, we sympathise but it serves you right’ attitude, are in their hands, that I do in myself.  When I see that it upsets me and makes me really angry.  I want to cry for him and pull them off.  There is something in me, I want to physically attack them and force them away from him when I see them letting him express that extremity of pain and and brokenness and apparently be offering no sympathy or support.  They have no right to humiliate people like that.  Who are these fans that he owed the contents of his entrails to?  If he doesn’t know them, they don’t exist, they were made up for him to make him grovel.  If he does know them and they think it was any of their business, they are probably wrong, in my opinion.  I don’t think it should have been public fare at all, it should have been contained and I can’t see why there had to be a public apology.  The only people he owed anything to were his wife and their relatives.  But then maybe I’m just misjudging the media again.  As a if not the top golfer at the time, if it hadn’t been formalised publicly it would have leaked, which might have been worse).

I’ve thought several times about the sentence from ‘Field of Dreams’, about a baseball player called Babe Ruth, I think, where it says, ‘if we build it, he will come’.  I think he was dead and they wanted his spirit in the place they built for him.  That is what they are doing with – me?  Someone said just because you are in it it doesn’t mean it is about you.  There are lots of people I know ‘in it’.  Is it about us all or is it just general harassment?  Why are we all in it? But more to the point for me, why am I and my family in it, who have no public platform or role?  Many of the lookalikes and namesakes I see – have a working role in a place I have been associated with.  But some are just ordinary people I have met, very quickly after I have met them, placed in a cluster which makes it obvious to me, if to no one else.

I’m wondering if they’re holding a prayer vigil or something, in the apartment upstairs.  I just heard a tapping as I was working with the last paragraph, at ‘that’ point in my engagement and concentration, and I stopped and listened and inwardly examined and challenged it, and the woman coughed in a way which is obviously not my imagination.  I don’t want it, if that is what it is (I swear someone just cried out hallelujah).  They won’t go to the police.  It’s harassment (another cough).  I don’t even get my own head space and work space in the middle of the night, if they have decided to hold some sort of vigil.  (Pause to think and challenge and reject my feeling of responsibility to go and knock on their door and see what is wrong and if and how I can help, countered by another cough).  It makes me feel as if I am being horrible and unmerciful, but they have set this in motion themselves, I don’t think we understand each other, as far as I am concerned everything they are doing is illegal (I type in response to her nasty chav noise) and if they won’t go to the police instead of harassing and invigilating I can’t see what can be done even if – no forget it, I am not responsible. They only want to make me feel that way.  If they wanted help they would initiate finding it themselves.  It appears they obviously have not and therefore probably do not.  So on that horrible derisive sound which makes me feel my whole night is going to be punctuated by these outbursts, I’m going to see what I can achieve by way of sleep in bed.  At least these days I have decided I’m not just going to stay hysterically glued to my sofa and fall asleep on that, I do actually go to bed in my bedroom, which I think is better.  They are making me feel like a really bad person for standing up for myself and not doing their work for them.  Yeah, whatever.  I should show some concern.  It feels like the most appropriate thing to do.  It also feels like the most inappropriate thing to do, at this time of night.  I should shout ‘I’m sorry’ or something.

I’m sorry, I’m not going to, I’m going to bed.  If the news people’s (again) suggestion that the situation is too broken down and I’m not welcome anymore and they are going to get me out is true (they do this all the time) so be it.  I’m really upset by it and feel very insecure but/and I’m going to bed.  Schnor-di-schnor.  Goodnight 🙂  (Woah, very resistant sounding bang, followed up by a muffled ‘hallelujah’ when I started writing this comment.  Their hallelujahs are an illegal and criminal, at this time of nght, expression of witchcraft – not to mention communist-style torture – or have I done that already?

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