Lies and Secrets are the Currency of Control.

Three things cannot long stay hidden:

The sun, the moon and the truth. – Buddha

In this post I will attempt to talk about two things that have deeply effected my childhood, adolescence and in fact, are still causing me pain today. 

Lies and Secrets.

I struggled writing this post.  Lies and secrets are interchangeable to me, so closely linked and at some times the same thing.  Others of you reading this will have a more defined understanding of these two terms but my mind is still unravelling the threads so I apologise.  

Lies and Secrets

Lies and secrets make up the major part of my life.  The effects of which are continuing to unfold in my life now.  Secrets do not go away. It may take decades but most resurface causing pain and trauma. Many of you may have read my story of finding out about my biological father on Ancestry DNA.  You  can read about it here.  When your Father is Not Your Father.

“Family secrets are like vampires. They never really die, and can always come back to bite you.” 

Alberta J. McMorris, Mercy: a love story

Even decades on when I thought I was free of the cult and free from my upbringing, secrets keep coming back to bite me.

My Childhood.

Imagine walking through kilometres of marshland and boggy soil.  One minute your foot is on hard ground, the next it is sinking in mud.  It all looks the same and it is impossible to tell the firm ground from the quicksand.   Inevitably you end up with both feet in the mire and you are sinking.  You reach out for help, shouting “ I’m sinking, this ground is unstable”. Only to be told that the ground is solid and you are making it up.  

“Don’t be silly, you’re not stuck, you are standing on rock solid surface”. 

This is what it is like to be raised by a pathological liar.  You don’t know if you are safe or sinking.  Up is down and east is west.  You don’t trust your own perceptions and you are constantly told that what you discern is wrong. 

They have you believe that you are: ‘making it all up’.  You are the one to blame.  You have a dirty mind, you are a liar,  you exaggerate,  how can you think such evil things?

It is a life of smoke and mirrors.   The abuser does this to regulate your behaviour and to control you. They are skilled at  hiding their infidelities, addictions, illicit behaviours and the best way to get away with it and cover the shame is to make you believe that it never happened.  

Another term for the behaviour of a pathological liar or narcissist is Gaslighting.  “Gaslighting” is a term that originated with the 1938 stage play, Gaslight, by British writer Patrick Hamilton. However, most people are familiar with the story through the 1944 film of the same name, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Boyer convinces his wife (Bergman) that she’s imagining things, most notably the occasional dimming of the house’s gas lights, as part of his plot to steal her deceased Aunt’s money and jewels. (The lights dim whenever he’s in the attic, searching for the treasure.) Over time, Bergman comes to believe her husband’s lies and, in turn, to question her sanity (Source).

Gaslighting is where the abuser convinces you that the lies are truth and that your truth is the lie.  Whereby you doubt yourself and your perception of reality, your memory and your sanity.   You lose your confidence and become immune to trauma and abuse.  In most situations you simply give up because you can never ever get to the truth.

“The thing about families, Arlo thought, was that there was always some question nobody wanted to answer for you, and it was like a stray thread pulling loose in a sweater. You could tug at it all you wanted, but in the end, all you’d have was a pile of twisted yarn.” 

Sarah Sullivan, All That’s Missing

To be honest,  when I have found out about some of the appaling secrets,  the overwhelming feeling is relief. “I’m not going crazy”.   The trauma of the secret is secondary to the revelation of the truth.  Abused children value the truth just about more than anything else.  “Just tell me the truth, tell me I am not going mad”.

“Nearly every person has a million secrets they’re carrying around,” says Barry Lubetkin, the founder and director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy. “They can be the silliest things, or they can be very significant, like I cheat constantly on my taxes”.

We all tell lies at some point even small lies.  However, narcissists and psychopathic liars simply don’t care about the truth. They prefer to tell lies and gain control over people than be honest.  They will never, ever, reveal their secrets.  

Their lies are the gatekeepers of their secrets and they are the best liars in the world.  Why:  because they fully believe their own lies.  They could take a lie detector test and pass.  It’s called cognitive disonnence.

For narcissists and psychopaths, secrets and lies are currency.  

Lies and secrets are two of the tools that they use to manipulate and control you. Secrets are their super power and lies are their shield of confidence.  

It is your word against theirs.  As they are usually in a more powerful position they know that if they hold their ground, you will eventually back down.  Without proof there is no truth.  Even with proof, they will still lie.

If someone has a secret on you, they can use it against you to control you. 

“Whether man or beast, the secrets you kept in the fathoms of your heart always held you to ransom.” 

Dianna Hardy, Reign Of The Wolf

I grew up in a large family full of secrets.  I was also raised in a cult who were adept at controlling people with secrets and lies.  Discretions and sins, told in the confidence of the confessional, became the currency of control.  If you stepped out of line suddenly one of those secrets would be released to errode and undermine your authenticity.  To keep you small.  To keep you pliable. 

“Did you know that she once had an affair? She can never be trusted”.

“I wouldn’t believe what he says,  he has been known to have a problem with pornography”.

Secrets are Currency of Control

Within this ,community my mother had an affair with one of the leaders.  The cult leaders used her affair to control me

I was told that I carried a familiar spirit of adultery which meant that I had to be monitored.  My natural sanguine effervescent personality had to curbed and contained so that I didn’t fall into sin.  Being born me,  meant that I could sin more, attract sin and be a sin.  An outgoing, talented, creative soul was a recipe for evil.  On top of all that,  I had to be careful that I didn’t lead others into sin and make them fall.  I was assigned monitors and was reported on weekly.   This monitoring or reporting to the elders went on for about 6 years on a weekly basis and then for the next decade but through the covering of my husband.  Of course the more information they got about me the more they could control me.  I am aware now as an adult that I was also being groomed by a sexual predator and that this was a way he could keep me close.  He was the leader of the cult at the time  (a story for another day). 

I recall one time when I was at home on the weekend.  It was a hot summers day.  We were lucky to have a backyard pool.  I loved to swim so was of course in the pool enjoying the summer day.  I had also just been given my first and only bikini by an aunt outside the cult.  I figured that I was home alone so I ‘should’ be safe to try it out.  Wrong.

Unexpectedly the music director/elder, his wife and young family arrived to enjoy the pool and escape the heat.  They were close family friends.  At the time I was 14.  The wife and children came into the backyard and I excitedly waved that little girls over to come and hop in the pool.  I looked up at their mother and noticed the look of disapproval on her face.  Where is ? I asked (her husband).  

“Lisa,  he is sitting in the car in the heat.  He could not come into the backyard with you looking like that.  You will need to go and change if you want him to join us in the pool”.

I thought I was safe in my own backyard.  Nope.  I was too naive to feel ashamed.  I was however very confused and felt blame.  I was horrified that my actions had caused someone to not be able to enter our home.  I raced to get changed,  apologising profusely.  Needless to say I never wore a bikini again.  I had been the cause of much offence.  This I knew would be used against me in the future.  I could be easily punished because of this.

When I reflect on this story now I laugh at the power of a bikini that would cause a grown adult male to avoid our backyard.  Also – how dare they.  I should be able to feel safe in my own backyard.  I was a minor enjoying the privacy of my own home.  Isn’t he the one with the problem?  Unfortunately logic is something that I had to learn after I left the cult.

 “The truth will set you free, but you have to endure the labor pains of birthing it.” 

Iyanla Vanzant

A truly free person, according to Don Miguel Ruiz, is immune to both the neurotic and normal attempts of others to regulate his or her behaviour. The advice he gives us for accomplishing this is to make the following agreement with ourselves: “Don’t take anything personally.”  When we agree not to take anything personally, we regard all attempts by others to control us as statements about them, not about us. By refusing to take threats, criticism, evasion, complaints, praise, or disapproval personally, we act upon our own reality, not upon theirs (source).

The great teacher of truth Jesus, tells us that:  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

How does the truth set us free and what is truth? 

Truth is rare.  In my experience anyway.  Some people don’t even know what the truth is or they fear the truth.  

Truth is fact,  it is reality.  When you are dealing with people who constantly invent their own reality truth is hard to find.

In the end the way to find the truth is to be true to yourself.  To come to a place where other people cannot define your reality.  We can live and act upon our own reality.  Be true to ourselves and to what defines us.  

Secrets and lies are always born and flourish in the darkness.  Truth lives in the light.  When we turn a spotlight on the darkness we find freedom.  We may find pain initially but we will eventually find freedom. 

 “The truth will set you free, but you have to endure the labor pains of birthing it.”  (Iyanla Vanzan). Sometimes the truth is painful which is why it was hidden in the first place.  We are worried about what others will think.  

“What will people think of our family, of our marriage, if they find this out?”

You know what.  I don’t even care anymore.  I am so tired of secrets and lies that I truly don’t care.  The pain of the lie/secret is so much worse than the truth.  I have always told my children,  I don’t care what has happened,  what trouble you have got yourself into, but don’t lie to me.  

Just recently some horrific secrets have come into the light within my extended family.  Too awful for me to write about.  When I found out the reality of what had happened I picked up the phone and told every single family member:  Aunt, cousin, sister, brother, uncle, son and daughter.  I heralded the news and wore the pain, shock and horror.

The buck stops here.  I pulled back the blanket, told the facts as I knew them to be and let the truth take its course.  It was crippling, it was painful but it allowed light and healing to commence.  Some family members were not happy and would have preferred that the truth remain a secret.  Most were beautiful, supportive and appropriately appalled. Additionally, I was aware that we had a whole generation watching how we handled this.  When I was a teenager trauma was minimised and hidden.  I wanted to be an example to the next generation, that the truth is worth fighting for.  It is worth the pain.  It is worth the disclosure.

We cannot heal or be whole if we are spending all our energy protecting lies and secrets.  Together we can face any problem but I refuse to entertain lies and secrets anymore.  

Maybe this is what freedom looks like?  

Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.

NOTE: When it comes to secrets I am aware that I live in a privileged time in history. In the past secrets saved lives. You did not have a child out of wedlock, it was not possible. There was no contraception, therefore – a lot of babies. There was social shame attached to divorce and unwed mothers. Sexual abuse was less understood and swept under the family carpet and mental illness and suicide not understood at all. Therefore I am aware we are dealing with a generation of older relatives who are conditioned to ‘not air the dirty laundry”.

This is a fascinating story about fear and lying by Dr. Habib Sadeghi. As I finish this post I thought that this was a great analogy of the deadly power of lies and fear.

“My wife and I were touring the Amazon jungle when our guide suddenly stopped. Carefully, he reached down and picked up a spider from a tree branch. He easily manipulated the hairy tarantula by its bulbous abdomen. We were amazed. It didn’t move. It was completely frozen, like a statue. Our guide said the spider wasn’t dead, just temporarily anesthetized. 

He pointed to a tiny, pearl-like object on the back of its abdomen and explained it was an egg, planted there by a parasitic wasp. The spider had been stung and temporarily immobilized so the wasp could transplant its egg. Soon, the spider would shake off the trauma and go about its life as usual; completely unaware of the danger it carried.

Days later and without warning, the tarantula would stop cold in its tracks. Within seconds, a new wasp, that had eaten the spider from the inside out, would emerge from its abdomen and fly away, leaving behind the empty carcass of its host.

Like the wasp larva, feelings buried alive never die, especially fear. Lying comes from fear. It’s born from our traumas, disappointments and betrayals and is always the result of something that’s happened to us. You may be late meeting someone and blame it on the traffic or cover up being fired to avoid embarrassment. The scenarios surrounding why we lie are endless. The fact is that our lies are born from our traumas, both big and small.

“Lying comes from fear.”

When we are stung by life’s traumas, especially the big ones like losing a job, relationship, financial security, or our health, we become frozen in place like the tarantula. We rarely give ourselves enough time to process the hard lessons (truth) of the situation. We may grieve briefly, but then we anesthetize ourselves and it’s on with life”.

The Mistake I Made With My Grieving Friend

If you wanted to know how to support someone sturging with grief this article is bloody brilliant. It talks about ‘conversational narcissism’. Where we insert ourselves into the conversation instead of listening. Great read.

This excerpt was taken from We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, by Celeste Headlee. Headlee is the host of the daily news show On Second Thought on Georgia Public Radio.

A good friend of mine lost her dad some years back. I found her sitting alone on a bench outside our workplace, not moving, just staring at the horizon. She was absolutely distraught and I didn’t know what to say to her. It’s so easy to say the wrong thing to someone who is grieving and vulnerable. So, I started talking about how I grew up without a father. I told her that my dad had drowned in a submarine when I was only 9 months old and I’d always mourned his loss, even though I’d never known him. I just wanted her to realize that she wasn’t alone, that I’d been through something similar and could understand how she felt.

But after I related this story, my friend looked at me and snapped, “Okay, Celeste, you win. You never had a dad, and I at least got to spend 30 years with mine. You had it worse. I guess I shouldn’t be so upset that my dad just died.”

I was stunned and mortified. My immediate reaction was to plead my case. “No, no, no,” I said, “that’s not what I’m saying at all. I just meant that I know how you feel.” And she answered, “No, Celeste, you don’t. You have no idea how I feel.”

She walked away and I stood there helplessly, watching her go and feeling like a jerk. I had totally failed my friend. I had wanted to comfort her, and instead, I’d made her feel worse. At that point, I still felt she misunderstood me. I thought she was in a fragile state and had lashed out at me unfairly when I was only trying to help.

But the truth is, she didn’t misunderstand me at all. She understood what was happening perhaps better than I did. When she began to share her raw emotions, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to say, so I defaulted to a subject with which I was comfortable: myself.

I may have been trying to empathize, at least on a conscious level, but what I really did was draw focus away from her anguish and turn the attention to me. She wanted to talk to me about her father, to tell me about the kind of man he was, so I could fully appreciate the magnitude of her loss. Instead, I asked her to stop for a moment and listen to my story about my dad’s tragic death.

From that day forward, I started to notice how often I responded to stories of loss and struggle with stories of my own experiences. My son would tell me about clashing with a kid in Boy Scouts, and I would talk about a girl I fell out with in college. When a co-worker got laid off, I told her about how much I struggled to find a job after I had been laid off years earlier. But when I began to pay a little more attention to how people responded to my attempts to empathize, I realized the effect of sharing my experiences was never as I intended. What all of these people needed was for me to hear them and acknowledge what they were going through. Instead, I forced them to listen to me and acknowledge me.

Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency to insert oneself into a conversation as “conversational narcissism.” It’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself. It is often subtle and unconscious. Derber writes that conversational narcissism “is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America. It occurs in informal conversations among friends, family and co-workers. The profusion of popular literature about listening and the etiquette of managing those who talk constantly about themselves suggests its pervasiveness in everyday life.” Derber describes two kinds of responses in conversations: a shift response and a support response. The first shifts attention back to yourself, and the second supports the other person’s comment. Here is a simple illustration:

Shift Response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Me too. I’m totally overwhelmed.

Support Response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Why? What do you have to get done?

Here’s another example:

Shift Response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Me too. These things are falling apart.

Support Response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Oh yeah? What kind are you thinking about?

Shift responses are a hallmark of conversational narcissism. They help you turn the focus constantly back to yourself. But a support response encourages the other person to continue their story. These days, I try to be more aware of my instinct to share stories and talk about myself. I try to ask questions that encourage the other person to continue. I’ve also made a conscious effort to listen more and talk less.

Recently, I had a long conversation with a friend of mine who was going through a divorce. We spent almost 40 minutes on the phone, and I barely said a word. At the end of our call, she said, “Thank you for your advice. You’ve really helped me work some things out.” The truth is, I hadn’t actually offered any advice; most of what I said was a version of “That sounds tough. I’m sorry this is happening to you.” She didn’t need advice or stories from me. She just needed to be heard.

This excerpt was taken from We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, by Celeste Headlee. Headlee is the host of the daily news show On Second Thought on Georgia Public Radio.

Is Love Enough?

Is love enough?  Lisa Hunt-Wotton

This week for me was a dark, but illuminating space if that makes sense.  We are in a disturbing season on planet earth in so many areas its enough to make you want to hide under the bed and never come out.  The world seems to have been turned topsy-turvy and all the absolutes that we used to count on are shifting.  People we used to trust seem to be on the other side of the fence and leaders that we could count on are… well… lets just say, less than worthy of being followed.

This week I had several uninvited and robust discussions with people about same-sex marriage.  I was clobbered with bible verses and thrown to the mat over what were obviously very important views for these people.   Several people threw the love word at me.  Yes, if you can throw love.  ‘Love does not come into the picture here,  we are talking about the preservation of marriage’ (bit ironic that one).  OR ‘I do love them,  I just don’t love what they do’.  ‘There is a lot more to consider in this issue than just love’.

I was a little shocked to be honest and began to question my own theology.

Have I got this all wrong?

Is there more to consider than love?

Am I watering everything down?

Is love too weak a position to have these days with ‘the world escalating to the New World Order (where all sorts of unspeakable things are going to happen) and we (Christians) are in danger of  being overthrown and jailed for what we believe.”  (Yes this was said to me)

Many sleepless nights ensued.  When finally I felt a whisper of hope.  Literally a whisper of hope which woke me up yesterday.

Love, faith and hope remain but the greatest of these is love. (I Cor 13)

d6ef571732df78aac3cbdc1b219dc6b1--tatoo-faith-faith-hope-love-tattoo-wrist

Where is the good news people?  We are supposed to be the people of good news.  Even I am scared of Christians at the moment.  Where is the faith, the hope and the love? No wonder people are abandoning religion at staggering rates.  Some of you are terrifying.

The greatest of these is love.  Love is not weak, it is not an alternative theology and Yes it pretty much is all that you need to consider.

GOD IS LOVE  – hello.  It is who He is.

“Love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God … for God is love” (1 John 4:7–8).

Love is the greatest commandment (Mt. 22:36-40)

Love is the greatest thing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Without love, nothing matters. (Gal. 5:6)

The fruit of the Spirit is love. (Gal. 5:22)

IF we are to throw the sacred texts like weapons at people then please get it right.

Jesus has to be the interpretative key to everything in the Bible.

Jesus was asked this:   “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment.  The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”  All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.

School of Love

How many years have  you spent studying love?  How many workshops, conferences, books, schools have you attended on love?  We were never called to be church goers, or even Christians.  We are called to be disciples.  Disciples are students and our teacher   Jesus, came to teach us about love.

I would like to see less doctrinal wrangling in the church and more love. Brian McLaren,

We are called to love

Jesus teaches us to love God and to love others.  Imagine how the statistics of rape and domestic violence would fade away if we truly learned to just love our families?  But He didn’t stop there.  He asks us to love the ‘other’.   The outsider, the outcast, the stranger, the alien, and even the enemy.  With the SAME love.  To treat EVERYONE the way that we want to be loved and the way that we want to be treated.   There is not longer US and THEM there is only US.

images-6

How does this stack up with our behaviour, language, engagement and response toward the other?  To refugees,  muslims, LGBTI, homeless, other ethnicities.  Is it loving?  Jesus’ rather clear teaching on love of enemies has been consistently ignored by all the mainline churches.

Conversation of love.  “Tell me your story?  What has life been like for you?  Help me to understand.  How can I support you, sit with you, listen to you?   What breaks your heart?  What is hurting right now?

We should see all people as brothers, sisters, neighbours, loving them as ourselves, standing with them in unity.  Loving someone includes understanding them.  Walking alongside them through all of life’s ups and downs.

Think of your child, your grandchild, your partner, your best friend.  You don’t abandon them, or cut them off or turn your love off like a tap if they make a mistake or stumble.  True love is selfless, it is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.

John offers an insight that resolves the paradox: if you don’t love your neighbor whom you have seen, you can’t love God whom you have not seen (1 John 4:20). His words recall Jesus’s own words: “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). (Source)

“Sacred texts always maximize your possibilities for life and love, which is why we call them sacred. I am afraid we have for too long used the Bible merely to prove various church positions, which largely narrows their range and depth. Instead of transforming people, the Biblical texts became utilitarian and handy ammunition. Rohr.

Love for the other also extends to love for creation.  When God told Noah to make an ark, is was not just to save humanity.  It was to save all of creation.  All the differences, paradoxes and opposites shut up inside a boat with the door locked.  What a picture of the preservation and celebration of diversity and otherness.

ff5c3321df6de1b075232966d351b736--lettering-for-tattoos-word-tattoos

In conclusion, I would have to say that love IS the only thing to consider.  Love is enought.  If I am wrong, then I will gladly be wrong on the side of love.

 

“Jesus does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them”. (Saint Therese of Lisieux)

“All that we do is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself because God is love”. (St. Maria Teresa of the Cross [Edith Stein])

Featured image by Trunk Animation.

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

How Men Face Their Trauma

This is an excellent read, tailored to men about how men heal from trauma. I found this really helpful. I hope that you do to. Lisa.

Getting High on Recovery

How Men Face Their Trauma2

Sean Swaby tells his story of trauma and healing.

___

Trauma.

Ask a man if he has experienced any trauma and he will probably just shrug his shoulders. He will tell you he’s never faced any of it, so go ask the next guy.

The reality is that most men have experienced some level of psychological trauma.

What is trauma?

Trauma can be defined as situational or chronic.

  • Situational trauma is a car accident, one incident of harm or an overwhelming experience (such as witnessing someone being hurt, shot, or murdered).
  • Chronic trauma is where a person experiences ongoing traumas that include (and are not limited to): emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and even spiritual abuse. For a more exhaustive list, click here.

According to PTSD United, 70% of us have experienced at least one trauma. If you dig into the statistics, you soon realize…

View original post 1,156 more words

The Virtual Reformation 

What is happening in the world today?   Brilliant article by Jane Caro about how the world got into the state that it is in at the moment. 

The Virtual Reformation

BY JANE CARO
In this new ‘Age of Anxiety’, where the world’s future appears unprecedentedly bleak and volatile, historical parallels between our times and the Protestant Reformation can draw some comfort – and some alarm.
In 2017 we live in a world that is gripped by fear.
Social researcher Hugh Mackay has dubbed our times an ‘Age of Anxiety’. All the old certainties have been turned upside down and the only thing that we are told we can rely on is an ever-increasing pace of change.
To a jittery population that is cold comfort. In our existential dread we thrash about for people to blame: the left, the right, Muslims, refugees, feminists, believers, unbelievers, terrorists and that reliable old omnibus – political correctness. The one thing we all agree on is that the future looks alarming and unpredictable. We are, we believe, in uncharted waters.
But perhaps that is not so. Perhaps human beings have been through something like this before.
*
In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and changed the world. Prior to this technical marvel, every book had to be handwritten, predominantly by monks laboring in scriptoriums.
Information was controlled by a tiny number of educated scholars, most of whom were priests of the Catholic Church, and almost all books were Bibles. The rest of the population were mostly illiterate. Information was guarded zealously and people were woefully ignorant.
Those in power liked it that way. The many Bibles and religious texts that were laboriously produced by hand were written in Latin, a language ordinary people did not understand. When people participated in worship – and it was compulsory – religious ceremonies were conducted in that same dead language, with the priest behind a screen, his back to the congregation.
Worshippers were only permitted to participate in a pre-ordained, ritualistic manner. Indeed, it was one of the tenets of the Catholic Church that ordinary people should neither read the word of God nor pray to God directly. Their only contact with their maker had to be through a man of God: a priest. 

Everything else was heresy. In this way, the priests and the Church controlled virtually all information for centuries. And through controlling information, of course, they also controlled the population.
*

In my other life, I have written a trilogy of young adult historical novels about Elizabeth I, and this has meant I had to research her life and times. As I did I began to see powerful resonances with the present.
Elizabeth Tudor’s very existence was a direct consequence of the dramatic changes occurring within the power structures and organisation of the world at that time. Changes that were the result – as I suspect they always are – of a technological innovation.
In the 1500s it was the printing press. Elizabeth Tudor was born in 1533, during the tumult that followed the first information revolution. We are currently living through the second.
It was the invention of the printing press that gave rise to the Protestant Reformation. Suddenly, books (most of which remained Bibles) could be produced more rapidly and in greater numbers, and at much lower cost.
With more books available, supply created demand. People, particularly those with means, began to learn to read. Even before Martin Luther nailed his ‘The 95 Theses’ to the church door in 1517, cracks were beginning to appear in the ironclad control the Catholic Church had previously exercised over access to information and knowledge.
Even the language of knowledge started to change. Luther translated the Bible into the German vernacular, and William Tyndale translated it into English. Such was the Church’s fear of the spread of information that both men were excommunicated. Tyndale was eventually condemned as a heretic. He was strangled and his body burnt at the stake.
But even in the face of such draconian consequences, the public continued to demand their own direct relationship with God and their right to read the Bible in their own language. 

What people were really agitating for, perhaps, was access to information and knowledge. They were no longer willing to know only what the priestly class wanted them to know.
Elizabeth I’s mother, Anne Boleyn, a devout and evangelical Protestant, is famous as the coquette who held a King’s ardour at bay for a decade until he eventually made her Queen. It was Henry VIII’s determination to get a divorce from his Catholic first wife, Catherine, so he could marry Anne that led to his countries’ break with Rome and the establishment of the Protestant Church of England.
Henry was a Protestant for political, dynastic and sexual purposes, but Boleyn was a true believer. Her tenacious commitment to ideas, such as each Christian’s right to a direct and personal relationship with God, was one of the reasons she made so many powerful enemies.
In response to the Protestant schism and the threat it posed to their power and control, the Catholic Church burnt heretics, hunted them down and tortured them. The Spanish Inquisition was formed to stamp out heresy. Huguenots were massacred in France and wars were fought between Protestant and Catholic nations. Elizabeth herself lived under a Catholic fatwa. (Protestants, of course, were brutal and fanatical, too.)
The Catholic Church had to learn to share power…with the growing secular society that emerged as a result of widening education.

None of it worked. The Catholic Church had to learn to share power. Not only with Protestants but with the growing secular society that emerged as a result of widening education. From ruling half the planet, to such an extent that Pope Alexander VI actually divided the new world in two and gave one half to the Spanish and the other to the Portuguese, Catholicism became just another branch of Christianity.
As education and knowledge spread, Enlightenment followed the Reformation, and then all the liberation movements that emerged thereafter, including the abolition of slavery, child labour, and increased rights for women. After all, if every man could have his own relationship with God, why not every woman? Why not every slave?
This democratisation of the word of God led inexorably to democracy itself; predicated on the idea that all men (even, perhaps, women) were created equal. Everyone ended up entitled to not just a relationship with God but with a vote and a say. One followed inevitably, I think, from the other. As those in power understand only too well, once a few difficult questions began to be asked, a great many more would follow.
*
The internet is at least as revolutionary as the printing press and we can already see the effect it is having on today’s information gatekeepers. In the West, these are no longer the churches, although they battle on manfully. 

The mainstream media, particularly newspaper proprietors – the high priests who used to set the daily political agenda – big business, banks, retailers and governments are all feeling the loss of control. Many are thrashing about in protest, trying to hold onto a power that they once acquired so effortlessly that they may have begun to see it as a divine right.
Now that everybody with a smart device has access to the media as well as the ability to create content themselves, things that used to be kept quiet are getting out; everyone can have a direct relationship with what used to be privileged information.
Most recently, WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have brought that home to the powers that be in no uncertain terms. I can’t help wondering if Julian Assange, Snowden and Chelsea Manning are the William Tyndales of our time. They can expect – and indeed have received – no mercy if they are.
Wherever you look in the modern world, old certainties are collapsing. Bricks and mortar retailers are struggling to hold onto customers and profits. The music industry has returned to concerts and touring to make money, not just because of internet piracy but because even when fans legally purchase their download, prices (and so profits) have collapsed. The troubadour, it seems, is back.
The same is true for books, films and TV. Advertisers are in a cold sweat about how to catch viewer’s attention in these days of fragmenting media, Apple TV, Netflix, IQ, live pause and fast forward. Those that rely on making a profit to exist are badly shaken.
Rupert Murdoch began his attack on the new media landscape by berating public broadcasters like the BBC and ABC, aware that their publicly subsidised model allowed them to offer viewers much better service than his stations could afford. Public broadcasters are now under siege around the world.
Murdoch’s desperation about holding on to the readers and viewers has led to staff at some of his newspapers using the new technology to break the law and invade the privacy of those who attract the attention of a fickle public. Arguably it is the sense of having lost control that drives people to take escalating risks.
Newspapers – direct products of the invention of the printing press – appear to be on the brink of extinction, at least in hard copy and on weekdays. And news stories no longer break on the evening news or in first-edition headlines, or even on radio. They break on Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook. 

The witnesses to momentous events now upload their smart phone photos and videos instantly. Who needs an expensive camera crew anymore?
Newspapers – direct products of the invention of the printing press – appear to be on the brink of extinction.

Even that indomitable old dame feminism has found herself firmly back on the political agenda, thanks to women’s unmediated voices on social media. When the women of India find the courage to march in the streets to protest the endemic rapes in that country because access to social media (even the poorest have smart phones) has at last given them a voice, you know the world is changing.
The current outpouring of rage by women over the treatment of the Stanford rapist is also an expression of the new capacity to speak up and speak out. LGBTQI activists are asserting their rights just as emphatically, further panicking those who see power as a zero sum game. 

Polish women have marched in their thousands and gone on strike in their millions in protest against proposed draconian laws against abortion. Their combined voices are forcing politicians and church leaders to take notice.
The response of today’s powerful class to their comprehensive loss of control mirrors that of the Catholic Church five hundred years ago. They are furious and they are fighting back.
Politics have moved sharply to the right. Only three decades ago, it was a conservative Fraser government in Australia that reacted with compassion and generosity to the first boat people from Vietnam. Today even Labor appears to be in some kind of competition with its conservative counterparts as to who can be most cruel.
The election of Donald Trump, the triumph of Brexit, the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson – all are signs of such fear-based responses.

It is human nature to react to a sense of losing control by clamping down twice as hard on anything you can control. Hence the triumph of the measurement-maniacs in areas such as health, education, government policy and management theory. I have even read an article touting a new quantitative process for ‘objectively’ measuring success in the arts.
Worse, what now goes by the once liberal term of ‘reform’ often looks much more like old fashioned authoritarian ‘control’ when scrutinised. As author C. J. Sansom warned in the preface to his dystopian novel Dominion, forget fascism and communism, what we may be facing now is the development of toxic democracies based on nationalism and xenophobia, both favourite boltholes for the frightened and insecure.

 The election of Donald Trump, the triumph of Brexit, the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson – all are signs of such fear-based responses. If things feel out of our control, we turn to leaders who find us scapegoats to blame.
*
But it is in climate change denial that the powerful most resemble the Catholic Church of the 15th century. Faced with the literally earth-shattering realisation that the old economic model of continuous growth is starting to decline and that the planet’s resources are not infinite, many of those running the world have reacted by closing their eyes and covering their ears.
Like the Inquisitors of old, they prefer to accuse climate scientists of heresy and conspiracy than listen. Using somewhat more subtle tactics than burning or torturing, they have still managed to intimidate many – including our public broadcasters – into a nervous silence or, at best, spurious attempts at balance. 

Professor Brian Cox debating One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts on the ABC’s Q&A was a recent example. I won’t labour the point by mentioning Galileo, but you get the idea.
Of course, such tactics didn’t work for the Catholic Church then and won’t work for the powers that be now. But if history is any guide (and it’s the only one we’ve got) we should expect the powerful to fight back hard and to fight dirty for some time before they bow to the inevitable. 

The fear and loathing around debt and deficit, the constant pressure on public services, particularly those that serve the vulnerable, are examples of desperate attempts to take back control.
Living in a constant state of ‘crisis’ helps keep people docile. Frightening them into compliance by taking away social safety nets is another way, as is exhausting them by making jobs insecure and asking them to work until they drop.
Increasing the barriers to further education is another method of keeping control in the hands of the already privileged. Noam Chomsky put it like this in a speech on the cost of public education in May 2011:
Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a disciplinary technique, and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalised the disciplinarian culture. This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.
I’m not saying political leaders have done all this consciously, or as some sort of conspiracy, but, as I was taught in my advertising career long ago, if you want to know why someone does something: follow the benefit.
The part of the world, however, where the impact of this latest information revolution may be most powerfully felt did not experience a reformation last time around.
As I was taught in my advertising career long ago, if you want to know why someone does something: follow the benefit.

We can see that already in what used to optimistically be called the Arab Spring. Not just the explosions of dissent in Egypt, Libya, Syria and, more surprisingly, Thailand and even Hong Kong, but also the general resurgence of fundamentalist Islam (and Christianity, for that matter) makes perfect sense when looked at through the prism of history.
In 15th century Europe the once all-powerful church tried – vainly, as it turned out – to shut down access to newly available information and to continue to control the population. In the 21st century, extreme anti-information movements, like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and now ISIS, are attempting to do the same thing.
They will fail just as they did five hundred years ago. So will the authoritarians and the previously all-powerful information gatekeepers in the West. The only question is how long it will take until they do.
*
We do not have the same luxury in terms of time that we had in the 15th century. Climate scientists believe it may already be too late to cap global warming at two degrees and no one really wants to contemplate what effect uncontrollable global warming may have. Add to that the super-destructive weapons that technology has put into the hands of modern humans and I cannot help fearing what state the world may be left in once the virtual reformation has run its course.
In the words of George Santayana: ‘Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.’
My only hope is we repeat them in a hurry.
Jane Caro is an author, novelist, journalist, broadcaster, columnist and social commentator. She spent thirty years as an advertising writer and her creative work has won many national and international awards. Her most recent book is Plain-Speaking Jane (2015).

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there including my own and to my husband Philip.

It was my father who taught me to value myself. He told me that I was uncommonly beautiful and that I was the most precious thing in his life. Dawn French

This is a simple DVD Tribute to Dads.  Enjoy

One of the greatest gifts my father gave me – unintentionally – was witnessing the courage with which he bore adversity. We had a bit of a rollercoaster life with some really challenging financial periods. He was always unshaken, completely tranquil, the same ebullient, laughing, jovial man. Ben Okri

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Over a Million Refugees Reached Europe by Sea in 2015, the U.N. Says

More than 80% landed in Greece, with most of the rest making landfall in Italy

http://time.com/4163932/europe-sea-migrant-crisis-refugees-arrivals-million/

 

You can also read more about the issue and the work of Samaritans Purse here.

Friday Arts Day: Treatment 

Bindi Cole Blogs
TREATMENT

Posted: 28 Oct 2015 01:47 AM 

Bindi Cole Chocka 

Come to this amazing art tour of the Western Treatment Plant!

 It’s free and going to be awesome and will fill up fast. I’ve created Scratch’n’Sniff cards and a new video work that I’m excited about. The other artists are Catherine Bell, Megan Evans (whose work I’m in love with), Shane McGrath, Techa Noble and Spiros Panigarakis. The whole thing has been curated by David Cross and Cameron Bishop. Here’s the details:

http://www.melbournewater.com.au/getinvolved/events/pages/treatment-public-art-display.aspx
The TREATMENT project has enabled six artists to explore and interpret the Western Treatment Plant.
The project tour provides an opportunity to explore the landscape, history, science and innovation at the Western Treatment Plant through art. Organised by Deakin University School of Communication and Creative Arts, and supported by Melbourne Water and Wyndham City Council, the artists have spent six months exploring the plant’s sights, sounds, textures and even smell to create their artwork.
Their artworks will be temporarily displayed at the plant during November with the free bus tours being used to move the audience throughout the site.
The art tour will be run over two days:
Dates: Saturday 14th & 21st November 2015

Bus Tour Times: 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm. Tours are 80 minutes.

Location: WTP Discovery Centre, New Farm Road, Werribee
Melway Reference: 205 E12 (take the Princes Freeway exit after Werribee Zoo if travelling from Melbourne)
Cost: FREE 
Bookings are required. Bookings and enquiries should be directed via 131 722 or enquiry@melbournewater.com.au

The tours run for 80 minutes, staring and ending at the Discovery Centre

There’s walking involved, it’s not a fully accessible tour

Minimum ages do apply – children must be at least five years old

Clothing requirements apply and people won’t be able to participate in tours if not in long pants/trousers and fully enclosed, flat shoes (not sandals)

See you there!

Bindi

%d bloggers like this: