DAVID AND SOLOMON
SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE
T happens in all religious denominations. It is far more an abuse of power than it is of sex, far more an abuse of religion than it is of lust. Its effect is to murder souls, the soul of the victim, the soul of the perpetrator, for it is the murder of God, the murder of the reason for life.
David as a beautiful young shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16.12) was ushered into Saul's presence - and subjected to his madness and cruelty (1 Samuel 16.21ff, 18.10). He and Jonathan, Saul's son, deeply loved each other (1 Samuel 18.1, 2 Samuel 1.26). Had that love continued there would have been no Christ. David married Saul's daughter, Michal, but there were no children. He fell in love with Bathsheba and had her husband be killed to gain her as wife, thus committing VI. Murder, VII. Adultery, VIII. Theft, and X. Covetousness, breaking the most serious of the Ten Commandments (2 Samuel 11), apart from the first Three of honouring God and his Name. Nathan, whose name means 'gift', reproached him (2 Samuel 12). Nathan's reproach and David's repentance were indeed a gift, about asking God for forgiveness. Thus David unravelled Saul's evil wrought into his soul. Julian in her Showing of Love gives us David as an example for ourselves. When David died, his prayer to God was of thanks that he could now give to God everything, as all that he had had come as God's gift. 'All things come from thee, O Lord, and of thine own do we give thee' (1 Chronicles 29.14). That is also Julian's Prayer . Let it be ours to God.
The Westminster Cathedral Manuscript , Julian of Norwich, Showing of Love: 'God for thi goodnes geue unto me thy selfe: for thou art Inough to me. & I may nothyng aske that is lesse. that may be fulle worshyppe to thee. And yf I aske eny thyng that is lesse. ever me wantith. but only in the I have all'.
But his son, Solomon, the fruit of that sinful union, despite all of his abuse of wisdom, knowledge, power, wealth and lust, was chosen to build the Temple to God. In the medieval legends told by the Three Peoples of the Book, in Judaism, Christendom and Islam, it is said that he used magic and devils to construct it. Solomon did not repent of his evil. He had broken the First, Second and Third of the Commandments. Recently, an archbishop claimed that abortion was worse than clergy sexual abuse. Abortion is the murdering of a child's body and brings about the same trauma in its parents as experienced by victims of abuse, while sexual abuse by clergy is the murdering of a soul. Near Solomon's Temple is the place where babies where murdered, Tophet, in a return to an older religion, to which Solomon returned.
Christ was tempted by the Devil to hurl himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple so that angels might carry him to safety (Matthew 4.5-7; Luke 4. 9-12). But Christ forever rejects the Temple and the Devil (Luke 21). Dosteivsky brilliantly retells that tale with that of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov. It is his own tell-tale, for Dosteivsky was almost executed by Russia's Inquisitor and Czar. In literature and psychoanalysis the dream within the dream, the tale within the tale, is that which is true but which the dreamer wishes were not so. Though forced into silence through terror, Dosteivsky's story, displaced on to Spain and Israel, on to the Dominican Inquisitor and on to Christ, does get told and does help heal its teller enough to write his brilliant novels amidst his Pauline epilepsy, despite Christ's silence.
Christ told the Robber at his side at the Crucifixion who repented, that this day he would dine with him in Paradise (Luke 23.42-43). Be that Robber, that Good Thief. Christ might be silent to Pilate and to the Inquisitor, but he is not silent to you. He forgives you. He invites you to come up higher (Luke 14.10). Higher than we can ever come through ambition and crime.
Perhaps the Church has struggled ever since Solomon, since Adam, with the forces of darkness against the forces of light. When our godparents as our sponsors make our Baptismal Vows for us they are that we renounce 'The World, the Flesh and the Devil'. Later we Confirm those Vows. And can then receive the Bread and Wine of Communion with God. Some more extravagantly go so far as to repeat the Baptismal Vows in making the Monastic Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, the first against the World's temptations, the second against the Flesh's tempations, and the third against the Devil's temptations to disobey God and his Commandments, the Founder and the Rule. Those who do not go so far as Monastic Vows but still answer God's Call to the Priesthood, in which they administer the Baptismal Vows, are themselves under the deepest obligation to live out the Vows they so administer. If they fall, they can repent like David and like the Good Thief at Christ's right hand, and there shall be forgiveness. However, to choose to be Solomon is evil. David , the shepherd become king, chose God, and so did the Good Thief; Solomon, the builder of the Temple, chose the World, the Flesh and the Devil; likewise did the Bad Thief.
I wrote this essay, this booklet, for those of us who were, are, or come to be, on the outside, driven from the Churches because we have witnessed its Solomon aspect, its Saul aspect, rather than its David one, its Nathan one. We must talk of the ocean of darkness in order to find the ocean of light which overcomes the darkness. In 1996-97, I was on the outside, in a state of Excommunication, following four years of resisting not only sexual approaches but even attacks, and being told I could not be Professed by the Bishop to God, because I insisted on keeping the Vows I had not yet made. I lost everything, but far worse than the physical loss of all I possessed, was the loss of trust in God. That left me bereft and orphaned. Hurt in body, hurt more in mind, most deeply hurt of all in soul. I felt like the wounded traveller in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, robbed, stripped, beaten, and left for dead. I have since made the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience simply to God. But at that time I tried to return destructively to the Lay world with that sense of being utterly shattered and broken, not 'heart-broken', but 'soul-broken', the door of the Church being slammed shut against me because I kept the Vows. The Archdeacon said to me 'It's through no fault of your own that this is happening; it's the Lord's!' Later I learned his Bishop was even taking two million pounds earned over a hundred years by women and children, and destroying the library I had built, destroying all the women's communities in his diocese in order to have their endowments, while he was writing pastoral letters extolling the love between men as greater than that for women and as the Christian model of David, Jonathan and St Aelred. I knew all this was not God's doing, but rather that of women and men choosing the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Marlowe and Goethe, Mozart and Byron, as mirrors of themselves, gave us Faust and Don Juan caught up in the selling of their souls to damnation. But the lust for power and knowledge, wealth and sex, does not yield happiness. In an 'arabesquing' of words, Trusts become theft, Charities , cruelty.
I tried to conceive of myself as like Simone Weil , who chose not to become formally Christian; and I tried to imagine myself as like the New Mexico Penitentes , who were for a hundred years without a priest. I remembered my Quaker ancestry, holiness without sacrament. During that terrible time I was saying, like Catherine of Siena , 'God has played a cruel joke on me', and like Teresa of Avila , 'If this is how you treat your friends, God, no wonder you have so few!' During that terrible time I was asking why God made the stars untidy. My question in that time of terror was 'Was God, too, a sham'? It was Julian who helped me to reconstruct God in the City of the Soul. It was the Norwich Castle Manuscript saying the Church should excommunicate no one since Christ had communicated even Judas, that helped saved me. Like Julian I must now turn to help my even-Christians, all in the One Body of Christ. Those in exile for the same reasons. And those who drove us into exile, those who remain in the Church, yet break God's First through Third Commandments, and who are almost destroying God and the Church, who Crucify him over and over again. Who destroy the souls of the innocent. The millstone, stumbling block, scandal stuff of Herod's Temple-building, divesting widows and orphans of livelihood, life itself. Time to restore her son to the widow of Nain.
I was blessed in turning to the one person who had experienced what I had, who was my Good Samaritan . On a long walk he could say, 'I know what it is. It happened to me too. It is like seeing a most beautiful curtain, covered with angels. Then it lifts. And behind it is filth, reptiles, snakes, evil, everything that is ugly. The other seems to be a sham. And nothing makes sense.' It had happened to him when he had been a priest's server, with an intense vocation to the priesthood. Gradually I came to realise that the wounded traveller needs to be the Good Samaritan even to the Priest and the Levite who are also the Robbers. Who is our neighbour? Perhaps the one who hurts us most has been most hurt.
I knew this problem in America and in England amongst Anglicans. My landlord learned it as a child in Italy. But it is everywhere, rocking the Church and the Laity's faith in the Church, and in all the churches of all the denominations, especially in Australia, in Canada, of the immigrant churches, and in Ireland, the colonial church, the abuse of those who are orphans, widows' children. Even amongst Friends, amongst Quakers. As if an ocean of darkness is seeking to swallow up our immense ocean of light. Let us not let it do so. It is time to help wounded travellers. But first the symptoms. Let us not attack homosexuality per se. But we have the right to protest the exclusion and exploitation and abuse of the vulnerable and the weak, of the widow and the orphan, of the woman and the child, of the 'other', who is truly ourself by those masquerading behind God, taking God's name in vain. We are in God's image. All are in God's image. One only ceases to be such when harming another in that image. One excludes oneself from the Kingdom of Heaven to the extent that one excludes another from that Kingdom. That was Christ's anger against the Pharisees, that they divided themselves off from others, considered themselves more 'saved' than others, 'superior' to others. Instead, all are the One Body of Christ.
Earth Seen From Space
The stories, not just my own, but of all my family members, and others, kept crescendoing around me about abuse by the clergy. In what follows only the names are concealed to protect the guilty. I already knew intellectually that all was not well with my Church when my three sons in Sunday School were abused by a Canon. My sons said to me they would not go back. I respected their decision but continued attending myself, bereft, like Rachel, of my sons. Then I, too, left my Church because the same Canon, a rabid John Bircher, asked us to pray at Communion in Thanksgiving for the use of napalm in the Vietnamese War for saving American lives, as had, he said, the use of atomic bombs in World War II saved American lives. Actually, he was English. Next he caused the suicide attempt of one of my Black students at the Catholic university where I taught. At the Altar rail the Bread and Wine became for me the charred and bleeding and lynched flesh of Hiroshima maidens, Vietnamese children, Afro-American men. So I, too, could not stay. I spent a week in agony, completely lost, saying to myself I was a Donatist heretic, that the Sacrament was not invalidated by the priest's evil, despite my decision. Then a Catholic colleague told me of Quaker Meeting. (Strangely, he, like the Canon, was homosexual, later dying of AIDS. Those who wound and are wounded can also heal.) I took my children to Meeting that First Day.
For us the Sacrament became only and completely the gathered silence of Friends' Meeting for Worship - for many years. I and my children together wrote our letters requesting Membership in the Society of Friends, when they were seven, nine and twelve years old. Amongst Quakers, children, since the time of persecution in England and America when the parents were put in prison and the children continued to carry on Meeting for Worship, have had equal rights with adults in Membership. They are each others' even-Christians. It is the same in Judaism: the child and the old man reading the Torah in Synagogue are equal in status, having God's Word in them, before God. As was Jesus at twelve years old in the Temple. I still am Quaker. I loaned the Christening robe I had made for my own sons' Baptisms to a friend - and wept all the way through her son's Christening at an Anglican Communion, the sobs welling up from the depths of my heart. Christopher Luke's mother is now an ordained Anglican Priest. Then, after twenty years away from Communion, I was so called by God that I gave up all and entered my Community where I had gone to school. There was no turning back. I lived the Gospels, renounced my Professorship, my Citizenship, and gave my assets for university scholarships for Penitente women students, for hearing aids for deaf students. I was Clothed as a Sister, as a Nun, on 'O Sapientia', 1992. I discarded even my doctoral robes, won at Berkeley in the 'Sixties, through bayonets and teargas, while raising three small children as a single parent in poverty.
The nightmare began the Eve of that Clothing. It never stopped, those four years. The Canon had done all he could to destroy my children's faith. The Novice Guardian did all she could to destroy mine. To the world she presented an appearance of acceptable piety. Alone with her was to hear the opposite, opposition to the Gospels, to the Sacraments, to Christian truth, to Christian charity, and instead the advocacy of secrecy, hierarchy, cruelty, greed, lust, promiscuity, selfishness, racism, even murder. She embodied the exact opposite of all that I had been taught by the Sisters of the Community fifty to forty years before, who were garbed as was she and wearing the same girdle with the three knots of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. I could only weep in front of her. Nothing now made sense. God did not make sense. I could only pray that I could outlive the nightmare and come to restore the Community to its original Rule and Vows.
At the same time I received archival materials from a famous library where my father had worked as a boy with a strong Vocation to the Priesthood. He, too, had grappled with the lusts of Anglican priests and, as a poor orphan child, a widow's son, had eventually complied. From hunger and from hungering for fathering. But he would spend one First Day on the Quaker Meeting House bench in Oxford, the next Sunday as Server at St Bartholomew's there, realizing that his sinfulness made him unfit for the Priesthood, and becoming instead a writer and biographer and friend to Gandhi and Pope John XXIII. It was his brother who became a Priest and then Dean of a Cathedral. But he in turn was abused at Cambridge. Unlike my father, he capitulated to the system in his soul. In our family we fell into the pattern of helping those members who never gave help in return. The uncle, who baptized me, laying me on the altar as a baby, did not then help his sister when she was dying, or his nephew, my abused brother, when he was dying. Both had asked him that he Communicate them the Last Rites. He took for himself my childrens' inheritance. I was robbed of my life's earnings, because I trusted in the Church as the Gospels. I began to realize that the Priesthood is about privilege, not service, selfishness, not charity. I also saw how three generations of my family were hurt in their souls by the Church's duplicity, that this has gone on for generations, perhaps as far back as Solomon's days, and that it will continue for ever - unless we break the seal of silence.
I also could not help noticing that wherever this imposed and unconsenting sexuality, this abuse of privilege, is carried on, and most especially where it must be hidden and be secret , because of its wrongness in Godly contexts, it exhibits not charity but extreme cruelty, the greatest callousness to others, that it is profoundly racist and sexist, and that it is promiscuous, rather than faithful. That the dying are shunned. That widows and orphans are robbed. That families are rejected. That children are hated. It is not love. It is against the Life Force and its Lord, the Lord of Life, the Holy Spirit of God. It recruits at the times of greatest sorrow. It is a world gone mad, without God. Though it may masquerade as his Church. Though it may claim that the friendship of a David and Jonathan, as extolled in the writings of Aelred of Rievaulx (who was borrowing from pagan Cicero who in turn was borrowing from and misreading pagan Plato), is the Christian tradition. Judaeo-Christianity extols sexuality in heterosexual marriage. Pagan Athens, needing to limit population growth because of ecological difficulties, chose (playfully, tongue-in-cheek), to laud homosexuality. The companionship of David and Jonathan, of a Jesus and a John the Baptist, is a good in childhood. Do we choose Plato or Christ ? Cicero or Jerome ? Jonathan's love for David 'surpassing that of women' or the Holy Family 's Messiah ? Sappho or Cecilia ? I beg you, choose the Magnificat people. Choose the Beatitudes' people. Choose not self, but God. In that choice is joy and freedom and the Kingdom of Heaven. In the other, depression and despair, disease followed by death. They lie when they tell you that that bondage and tragedy is noble. You may sell your soul, but the Malign One, Father of Lies, need keep no bargain. And remember that, since he breaks covenants, so also can you to him. Return to and keep faith, instead, with the Father and Mother of Life. You are not the Malign One's slave. You are free, in God's image and likeness, to turn, and to return, to God. We are all Prodigal Daughters, Sons.
In France, when they pray the Lord's Prayer, they hold their hands up and out into the Early Christian orans position, completely open to God's reciprocating hands - which created us so marvellously. And they sing the Prayer, ending on a most beautiful high note, turning the word for evil, 'male', into utter beauty.
I have been asking how we can change. One way is through the telling of the tales. I open this Website (Julia Bolton Holloway) to such tale-telling that it may bring healing. And for each tale there shall be given to its teller a blessed olive leaf . Leaves for the healing of the nations.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life, with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22.1-2
Italian blessed olive leaves, Australian hazelnut
The delicacy of our Earth
At first I had thought we could heal the victims through their telling of their tales. Then I realized that exactly the same healing is needed for their perpetrators. That both are in equal need of forgiveness, of metanoia, of conversion, for their very great anger at the dying of God. That we must bring God back, that we must, all of us together, be the women, excluding no one, the servant girl in the courtyard by the fire on Good Friday, and the women coming from the Tomb on Easter Morn, however much the Gospel we proclaim may seem first to be an 'idle tale' to a Denying Peter (Matthew 26.33-35, 40-41, 45-46, 58, 69-75, Mark 14.27-31, 37-38, 66-72, Luke 22.31-34, John 13.36-38, 18.15-27, 21.15-22), to a Doubting Thomas (John 20.26-29), to a Betraying Judas (Matthew 10.4, 26.14-16, 47-50, 27.3-10, Mark 3.19, 14.10-11, 18-21, 43-45, Luke 6.16, 22.3, 47-48, John 6.71, 13.2, 23-30, 18.2-8, Acts 1.16-18). The miracle is that the Four Evangelists knew to tell these tales again and again against three of the Twelve Apostles, James, John and Peter, one of them the foundation upon which the Church is built. The Church, miraculously, did not censor the gift, the 'Nathan', of its Gospels. Medieval Popes woke to the sight of a cock on a column outside their bedroom window. Julian would be with those who were Christ's Lovers, like the Magdalen, and would seek to bring Peter and John, Thomas and Judas, and Margery and ourselves, to the Tomb, and heal them of their Denial, their Doubt, their Despair, and their Terror, showing them that Resurrection.
Pisanello, Saul/Paul's Metanoia within the initial S of a Gradual manuscript, Getty Museum
Punishment cannot stop the chain reaction. Instead it drives it into greater and greater terrorizing. Paradoxically, further and further Pharisaical purity, superiority. An ever greater hatred of those outside of power, children, women, minorities. That is really hatred of self, of weakness and vulnerability that was once one's own. I describe it in the essay on trauma. What can stop it is a Julian-like forgiveness for all, teaching us all that we have God's Word in us, that we are the Temple of the Spirit, the Throne of God, that he dwells in each Soul's City (1 Corinthians 6.19). This is what John Paul II so magnificently did in the humility of his Lenten Jubilee Pardon . Which is a Temple not made by human hands, but God's. Julian said all that to troubled Margery, and gave her the courage to journey to Jerusalem and to write her Book, to tell her tale, though Margery was both mad and illiterate. Her madness was partly caused by a priest. She then gets priests to write her Book.
Where this abuse goes uncorrected, as with trauma, it changes the brain's chemistry and can cause insanity, suicide, illness, death, alcoholism and worse addictions in those struggling to resist it and seal over its pain in their soul. Or its victims, in surrendering to its evil, yet not forgiving it, are condemned to repeat it in turn to others, their own souls being dead, murdered, broken, and requiring a constant Dracula-like sacrifice of other innocent souls about them for their hollow survival. It can become like Japanese knot-weed all over the Church, undoing all that the Church stands for, noughting God. It happens, too, in other structures, shattering these at their foundations and reason for being, and undoing all their goodness, such as structures for healing, structures for learning, even and especially the sacred structure of the family, profaning all these into evil. The evil needs to be undone, the tale told backwards, unravelled. In Julian's wise and beautiful words to Margery, her emphasis upon forgiveness and upon God's presence in the soul, we witness a miracle of healing which later Margery in turn can effect with others, damaged as she herself had been. 'Amazing Grace' was composed by one deeply involved in the slave trade, the selling and degrading of human souls, who then turned to God for forgiveness for his crimes. It's a favourite Quaker hymn. This, as well, is the principle - and the miracle - of Alcoholics Anonymous . This is the gift ('Nathan') which Julian gives us: God's grace and graciousness within our damaged souls.
My youngest son, who was
Jonathan (whose great friend when he was a boy is a Jewish
the most deeply hurt by all these forms of abuse, yet had a
wore into tatters, from a Friends' General Conference, which
'Every Person is a Holy Place'. Later he fed thousands like
New York, Washington and Philadelphia from a van called
The Shekinah can be here and now. The five smooth stones in
that slaughtered, murdered, Saul's enemy, Goliath the Giant,
the five small loaves in the boy's hand that fed, nourished,
families - more like twenty thousand people, of children,
a greater miracle yet, when we truly count the souls who
were present -
who are Julian's 'even-Christians'. By his wounds
we may be healed. If we repent of having inflicted them
. . . .
Meanwhile, I pray daily a prayer I found in my Community of the Holy Family, removing from it one phrase, 'to Solomon, the son of', in the hopes that Julian of Norwich is right, that time can go backward and God undo all evil, that prayers can be retroactive, and that my school can be healed by the Holy Spirit, in time past, present, future:
Hear us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, from Heaven Thy dwelling place, and as Thou didst give a wise and understanding heart to . . . Thy servant David, so vouchsafe to us Thy handmaidens the perpetual presence of Thy Blessed Spirit in our hearts and minds; that both by our life and communications the children whom Thou hast committed unto us may be truly taught and instructed, and, beholding the wondrous things of Thy Law may show forth Thy glory. O Lord our God, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who livest and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.
The European Community had a programme, called DAPHNE :
AIMS OF DAPHNE
~ to encourage the forging of collaborative networks, information-sharing and cooperative programmes that will add a European dimension to actions undertaken in the Member States and will reinforce cooperation between the different actors involved in the fight.
~ to support programming to improve understanding of the problem, with regards both to the vulnerable groups that are victim or potentially victim of violence, and to the perpetrators of violent acts.
~ to establish and share models of good practice in programmes aimed at preventing violence, identifying and reporting incidents of violence, protecting victims and potential victims, dealing with perpetrators and potential perpetrators, and rehabilitating and reintegrating those who have suffered.
~ to identify innovative and pilot projects that work at European level, to transfer their results to other Member States and to set up cross-border partnerships.But this disappeared.
Mercifully, John Paul II himself has spoken out in sorrow against abuse to women and children in prayer the Lent, 2000, in St Peters.
A Representative of the Roman Curia:
who have suffered offences
against their human dignity and whose rights have been trampled;
let us pray for women, who are all too often humiliated and emarginated,
and let us acknowledge the forms of acquiescence in these sins
of which Christians too have been guilty.
The Holy Father:
you created the human being, man and woman,
in your image and likeness
and you willed the diversity of peoples
within the unity of the human family.
At times, however, the equality of your sons
and daughters has not been acknowledged,
and Christians have been guilty of attitudes
of rejection and exclusion,
consenting to acts of discrimination
on the basis of racial and ethnic differences.
Forgive us and grant us the grace to heal the wounds
still present in your community on account of sin,
so that we will all feel ourselves to be your sons and daughters.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Kyrie, eleison; Kyrie, eleison; Kyrie, eleison.
A lamp is lit before the Crucifix.
VII. CONFESSION OF SINS IN RELATION TO THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE PERSON
A Representative of the Roman Curia:
men and women of the world,
especially for minors who are victims of abuse,
for the poor, the alienated, the disadvantaged;
let us pray for those who are most defenceless,
the unborn killed in their mother's womb
or even exploited for experimental purposes
by those who abuse
the promise of biotechnology
and distort the aims of science.
The Holy Father:
you always hear the cry of the poor.
How many times have Christians themselves not recognized you
in the hungry, the thirsty and the naked,
in the persecuted, the imprisoned,
and in those incapable of defending themselves,
especially in the first stages of life.
For all those who have committed acts of injustice
by trusting in wealth and power
and showing contempt for the little ones
who are so dear to you, we ask your fogiveness:
have mercy on us and accept our repentance.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Kyrie, eleison; Kyrie, eleison; Kyrie, eleison.
A lamp is lit before the Crucifix.
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