Lovely New Review

I so appreciate everyone who has taken the time to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Good reviews are the lifeblood of book sales-literally nothing else matters more.

This one made my day:

5 out of 5 stars

Harrowing, heartbreaking, and hopeful

Ronna Russell takes us behind the curtain of fundamentalist Christianity and reveals a world little of us know about. Her insular upbringing causes her to make choices about her partner and then her marriage that lead to heartache and more. Yet, her grit and resilience allows her to overcome her past and forge a positive future. This book is for any woman who has ever wondered whether it was too late to change her life. Russell’s answer is a definitive no.

More reviews on Goodreads

The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid for purchase on Amazon

Ahem, may I please have your attention?

These round cheeks overlook my desk, a constant reminder to relax, be free, and hang out once in awhile.

I’ll do those things later, but right now, in an effort to stay on task, I extend a sincere request for book reviews.

Would those of you who have read The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid kindly leave an honest review on either Amazon or Goodreads?

I have nothing to offer but sincere gratitude and a view of my office wall.

Thank you❤️

Party Train to Hippocamp

The road to Hippocamp Writers’ Conference is dark with no bathrooms and requires driving for hours through torrential rain, tunnels and construction zones, and being blocked in by eighteen wheelers. Holding my pee, I eased through the EZ pass gate where I took a wrong turn last year, nervous to get it right in 2019. I glanced at the map on my phone, but there were flashing lights all around and too many choices, so I took another wrong turn, but a different one this time, so not even the wrong surroundings were familiar. It was a brand new wrong turn, and now I’m in a detour lane with no shoulders or exits.

PROCEED TO THE ROUTE my British male Siri barks, clearly annoyed.

At this moment, from the bowels of my iTunes library, came the sound of an oncoming train-ch-ch-ch-ch WOOOOOOOOT WOOOOOOOOT ALL ABOOOOAAAARDParty Train by The Gap Band circa 1983 thumps out of my stereo speakers. PROCEED TO THE ROUTE British male Siri insists urgently. Every all aboard Anybody want to take this ride the funky beat surges louder.

My churning gut emits a fetid belch and I catch a whiff of nervous sweat blossoming in my armpits. PROCEED TO THE ROUTE PROCEED TO THE ROUTE British male Siri screams, as if somehow I can comply. I cannot PROCEED TO THE fucking ROUTE because I’m in a fucking detour lane in bumper to bumper traffic, flying through the darkening dark with orange and white striped barrels on one side and a solid barrier with angry reflectors on the other. Our reluctant trio flies on through the night, The Gap Band, British male Siri, and I.

Suddenly the highway widens into two lanes and traffic spans out.

Get down, get down, get down tonight We’re gonna party, gonna party on the train tonight…

Jesus Christ, can I take my hand off the wheel to turn off that goddamn song now?

The car directly to my left rear-ends the car in front of it with a screech and bang.

Nope.

Damp fingers grip the wheel until a blessed exit sign appeared. I silence British male Siri and an iTunes library in need of serious updating, and enter Lancaster, PA through side door.

P.S. Hippocamp19 was AWESOME and I am so glad I went. Next year I am flying.

gap band rear

Rape Culture: What the pedophilia cover-up at Calvary Gospel Church has in common with the Jeffrey Epstein case

We see it over and over in the news-priests in the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist scandal, Michigan State University, countless youth ministers in Christian churches… the list is endless. Adults rape children while other adults actively cover-up the abuse to protect their institution.

How can this be?

The short answer is that we live in a world wherein rape culture thrives. Rape culture is defined as follows, just so we are all on the same page:

Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these.

Pedophilia is a subset of rape culture, when the descriptions above are targeted at children. Because, honestly, if the bodily autonomy of anyone, man or woman, is not respected, it’s a short downhill slide to minors. What’s a year or two or three when you’re already depraved?

Children are generally more easily manipulated than adults. Kids who are poor, hungry, and lonely are most often the victims of sexual abuse. We see this in every story that comes to light. It’s the kids no one is keeping track of, the kids whose parents aren’t paying attention, and don’t have the resources to sue anyway. These kids have needs and when they are offered comfort, often don’t see the erect penis coming at them from behind the ice cream cone.

If they object or tell, they are shamed, blamed, and threatened. When Debbie McNulty told her pastor at Calvary Gospel about her molestation by a man in the church she was sent away with an “I’ll get back to you.” He didn’t, but somehow everyone in the church found out and blamed Debbie, who was branded a slut at eleven. Even the molester’s wife blamed her. Debbie’s molester was moved around, forgiven, and still pastors a church.

When Jeffrey Epstein ran an international sex trafficking ring for billionaires, a whole community of people knew: recruiters, pilots, housemaids, neighbors, etc. His victims, poor kids who needed money for food and clothes, were threatened to prevent them from speaking about their abuse. His joke of a prosecution chalked it up to soliciting prostitution, as if the little girls he raped were engaged in an equal exchange of power.

Men in power allowed him to get away with it.  They protected the system in which they control the power dynamic on a global scale. It isn’t one church or university or even government; it’s a world wide web of men. Yes, sometimes women are involved, but let’s be honest, it’s mostly men. Calvary Gospel’s cover-up of pedophilia in their church is a microcosm.

Their response to accusations of abuse is predictable. Accuse the victim of being a slut or a whore, no matter her age, and instantly no one cares about her. Easy-peasy.

She had it coming.

She was asking for it.

She wanted it.

You can’t rape a whore.

What was she wearing?

And there you have it, the men involved were seduced. They couldn’t help themselves. Even women will join in to hurl blame at the victims, so immersed are we in this culture of rape.

A shift is happening now, though. Not quickly enough, but change is coming, after millennia of voicelessness. For all of social media’s flaws, the ability to tell our stories to a wide audience is a pretty big plus. All it takes is one brave soul to go first and then other victims come forward. There are always other victims.

And then accountability begins, because everyone has to pick a side on this subject.

*Eve was framed.

A Brief Timeline of Sex Abuse at Calvary Gospel Church

This story is circulating on social media right now. There are a lot of moving parts, so I have put them all in one place. Links are below.

Circa 1980 – Debbie McNulty was eleven when a married man at church began grooming her. He quickly escalated from ice cream cones and hand-holding to sexual molestation and rape. Debbie told her pastor, asking for help and protection. She received none. The senior pastor did not go to the authorities, but he did blame Debbie. She was branded a slut and left the church as a teenager.

In 2017, during the #MeToo/#ChurchToo movement, Debbie began writing about her experiences at Calvary Gospel Church. Other victims came forward with similar stories, some publicly, some anonymously. Pedophiles never abuse just one child, especially not when they are getting away with it.

In 2019, Debbie wrote an open letter on her blog to the current leadership of her former church asking for acknowledgment, an apology, and reasonable policy changes. Soon after, the Facebook threats began.

This summer – Debbie and the other victims filed reports with their local police department and worked with the Wisconsin state legislature to present bills to close the clergy loophole and to get rid the statute of limitations for sexual abuse. They also told their story to a reporter at the local newspaper.

Yesterday – Now that the story is public, Calvary Gospel Church has circled the wagons to protect their own. The senior pastor received a standing ovation from the congregation in light of these recent attacks on his reputation.

He covered up the rape of little girls.

This is the very definition of rape culture.

Link list:

Debbie McNulty’s original blog post

Debbie’s open letter to Calvary Gospel

The Cap Times newspaper report

The press conference about the bills

Calvary Gospel applauds pedophile protector

Write It Yourself…

Memoirists often write for understanding, as I did. There is something about seeing your own words on the page that offers tangibility and perspective to experiences. When Dr. Thomas Fudge wrote Heretics and Politics, a book about the history of the United Pentecostal Church and a story that heavily involved my father, I was thrilled to be interviewed. Being asked questions about how I experienced life as his daughter was a first. No one had ever asked before. Why would they? I was long gone from the scene. A footnote.

I read Heretics and Politics avidly when it was released only to discover I was still little more than a footnote and felt unreasonably crushed. What was I expecting? To have my life explained to me or perhaps to have my father explained to me? How could anyone, even the estimable Dr. Fudge, do such a thing?

And then I remembered Toni Morrison’s words:

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

And so I did. Thank you, Ms. Morrison, for your words of truth and beauty, and the sharp nudge. Rest in peace.

Do you have a story to tell?

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid