Tag Archives: lament

“…vital for all involved in any pastoral ministry.” Review by Mary Caygill of Adult Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions

Adult Sexual Abuse in Religious Institutions:
Faith Seeks Understanding

By Anne Stephenson 2016, Garside Publishing, 86 pages
Reviewer: Mary Caygill

in Methodist newspaper Touchstone March 2017

In this book’s opening pages the author states clearly her intent in writing this resource, which is nothing less than naming what she calls the elephant in the room no one wants to name, and especially no one within religious institutions.

The naming of this ongoing reality is exactly what this author does. She claims quite rightly that no religious institution is devoid of the need to deal justly and compassionately with both ‘victim’ and ‘abuser’ when incidences of adult sexual abuse are brought to light and faced up to.

I deliberately choose to juxtapose these two words – ‘justly’ and ‘compassionately’ – as this is the approach the author takes in this valuable resource written out of personal experience.

The subtitle of the book – Faith Seeks Understanding – captures accurately what this book sets out to accomplish and I believe achieves in a most succinct, readable, and informative manner. As such, this book will be a valuable resource for all manner of people both inside and outside of religious institutions.

The author conveys well the complex issues that frame instances of sexual abuse. She helpfully identifies some of the key warning indicators along with some of the key psychological frames of reference that we need to understand to grasp the full extent of adult sexual abuse and particularly how and why it occurs within the context of religious institutions.

It is fair to say that all religious institutions have needed an urgent wake-up call to become aware of the realities of adult sexual abuse by its spiritual leaders. This crisis and the way it has been addressed have proven to be very impetuous.

In many cases there is a need to both address and  establish far more robust procedures that work towards ensuring the pastoral and ethical accountability of those in key positions of trust and influence.

The language used by the author of ‘offender’ and ‘victim’ are rightfully used throughout the book to clearly identify and then address what is at heart an abuse of power which breaches the all-important ethical principle of ‘fiduciary duty’.

As the author establishes, within religious institutions this amounts to breaking the sacred trust between the leader (the one with power) and the congregant who has deemed the leader to be trustworthy.

Because of this sacred trust the consequences are life- changing and the healing required is immense and of a specialised nature both for the victim and offender. The author conveys well the full extent of both the abuse and the healing journey required.

I commend this book as a valuable pastoral resource. It is vital for all involved in any pastoral ministry.”

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Free Sample – Forty – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for ordering links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Forty

I’m not good at being patient
but God always hears me when I call

Lifts me up when the time is right
steadies my stumbling feet – I’m still walking

I was pretty depressed there for a while
but now I’ve got a fresh song in my heart

People have been noticing – they seem impressed
some have even started asking about Jesus

There’s not much joy in the idols of culture
but great reward in simply having faith

If I think about my life, it’s full of miracles
things that can’t be explained any other way

God isn’t demanding payment for this blessing
that matter’s already been taken care of
Jesus came, just as predicted in the stories
did everything God said was necessary

Jesus delighted to do what God wanted
heal us – forgive the sad things we’ve done

This is so important we should tell everyone about it
it’s heartless to keep such good news to ourselves

God’s love and constancy anchors our hope
we’d be adrift and lost without mercy like this

When I look at the world – so many problems –
my confidence shrinks and life feels hopeless

Without Heaven’s grace I’m certainly a wreck
my many faults keep catching up with me

But God gets me through – no, more than that
I’m overcoming things that used to bring me down

Let’s pray everyone finds this joy, this help
the poor and weak who need to know they’re loved

Come quick Lord – please don’t wait too long.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Free Sample – Thirty – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for ordering links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thirty

Lord I want to say thanks
I’ve got a passionate song in my heart
your love fills me with joy
I’m throwing off the drab colours I used to wear
I’ve a mind to dance in the street

My life was a real disaster
I was self-destructive, depressed
it was all about me, and I knew that was
    a loser’s game

When I yelled out to you for mercy
I was afraid you wouldn’t notice
but you came over and lifted me up
out of that hole I’d dug myself into

I’m standing on solid ground again
it was a long and lonely night
but morning’s come, and I’m wide awake

Sing to the Lord everybody
tell the world how good God is
there might be anger, but it never lasts
this love, however, goes on and on.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Sample – Seventy One – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s another sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Seventy-one

Create a quiet place in me, Lord
hush the babble of my mind
the racing of my pulse
then my heart will begin to hear
    your ‘gentle, murmuring voice’

Slow me down, Jesus
I need to take time
to see the beauty of creation
the exquisite intensity of your care
that way I’ll come to appreciate
    and be thankful

Teach me to listen, Abba
to the cries of those in need
the questions of the confused
    so I can learn compassion

In this unquiet world
help me to find a quiet place
    and a quiet time

Lord, I need to hear
the counsel of your spirit
the poetry of your love
then I’ll have something to share
    with those who cannot hear you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Sample – Forty Five – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s a sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Forty-five

I never had a song worth singing
until I wrote a song for Jesus

No-one is finer than you, Jesus
you set my voice free, like ink on paper

Your words are grace and power
richness and inspiration spill in your footsteps

I’m in awe of such strength and wisdom
overwhelmed by how impressive you are

Everything you do is amazing
each word rings with the chime of truth
your meekness shows us what justice looks like

The world’s power-brokers are pathetic by contrast
nothing on this planet can stand up to you

When the dust of Armageddon settles
you’ll be the only one left standing
Earth will be as it should be at last

You’re the champion of all that’s good
we, your companions, are bathed in joy

Beauty and romance will return to Earth
songs of celebration ring out after all these years

Women love you, men revere you
some gladly leave all else to follow

You see the best in us, Lord
inspire us to be more than we are

Though all we have is rags and dust
we bring it to you, and you spin it to gold

We’ll be beautiful, as you said we would
our anxiety and shame all washed in joy

At last we’ll truly be Children of God
it’s what we’d hoped for, but never thought we’d see

We’ll keep on telling this story, Jesus
everywhere, every day, we’ll remember you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Sample – Eighteen – from Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent

Here’s a sample poem from Mark Laurent’s Redemption Songs.

The book is available in print and in 3 eBook formats – see below for links.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Eighteen
Your love, Lord, makes me strong
I’ve needed safety and you’ve been my shelter
when I’ve had to fight you’ve stood beside me
In the past I’ve played some deadly games
got mixed up in all sorts of unhealthy schemes
I was my own worst enemy much of the time
I finally cried out for help and you heard me
and your answer shook my tree to its roots
everything I held dear was consumed
by the fire that accompanies you wherever you go
You covered me with darkness – a cloud of unknowing
restless winds howled through every crack
till I was broken, defenceless, and couldn’t even pray
naked and exposed, and ready to be saved
When at last I stared into the dry-bottomed pit of myself
and the enemy within could no longer hide his face
that’s when you reached me
that’s when you showed me your love
Lord, you’ve scrubbed me clean – made me well
I’ll not turn my back as I did before
you lit a fire in me that eats away darkness
Now I’m ready to take on the night
run up the hilltop and stand there
meet that old enemy of mine out in the open
blow him away with the words you gave me
sing out your name – ‘Save! Save!’
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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“…insightful, and often deeply moving.” Review by Jim Consedine of The In-Between Land

Book review published on Tui Motu Interislands Facebook page 4 August 2015

The In-Between – Land, Psalms, Poems and Haiku
By Mark Gibson

Review By Jim Consedine

“Mark Gibson is a Methodist minister, a 6th generation Cantabrian, attached to the New Brighton Union parish in East Christchurch. He has been their minister right through the earthquakes and has been very involved in community re-building since. East Christchurch is the most damaged suburban part of Christchurch. Mark also leads the River of Life project and co-leads the Avon Otakaro Network – both based in the east.

These groups with others are struggling to maintain public access and ownership of red-zoned areas (earthquake damaged land where no building is permitted) between the city and the sea. They are struggling to make the Government and the local authorities hear what ordinary people from the grassroots say regarding their future. This struggle is reflected in much of the poetry.

In this, his first book of psalms, poems and haiku (small 3-line poetic observations), Mark shares with insight observations into the ordinary everyday things of life. One can feel the ground shaking as he describes huddling under the kitchen table, or being caught in his church, or being on the beach as the quakes rumbled. One can see the sunsets, hear the birds and wonder at the beauty of these parts. One can feel the creative Spirit of God echoing through the lines of this deeply spiritual man.

The In-Between Land is insightful, and often deeply moving. It carries the reflections of a man with a heart for justice and the soul of a real poet. Let’s hope we have more from Mark’s pen in the future.”

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